Tuesday, 31 May 2011

A council with a sense of humour!

One day last week my husband had some meetings in Dundee. 

I don't know what you think of when you think of Dundee, but I'm afraid I come up with every stereotype under the sun. I shan't list them here as I'm sure they are untrue, I've just never had the chance to find out.

 Sorry, to any Dundonians who might be reading this!

It's the last place I would have expected to see such a funny sign as this....

This is why I will never have a dog unless we ever live in a large croft where he can run free. 

Dirty nappies and baby sick - no problem.

Doggy mess - no thanks!

(Oh, and the fact that most of the men in my life are allergic to dogs should help too!)

Gaelic word of the day:
cù  (coo) - dog

Monday, 30 May 2011

Miscellaneous Monday

Today's post is basically a selection of random images from the last week.

On Saturday there was a military parade through town.

This regiment, who have recently returned from Afghanistan, were granted the freedom of West Lothian, and that's what the parade was in honour of.

Here are the older boys, two of their cousins and the Lord Provost.

Another day last week we visited the garden centre to find a local petting zoo there.

Since James and Calum are allergic to furry things, this meant they could only hold the reptiles - no complaints from them! 

Now, some art-work to finish.

David has really begun to show an interest in his drawings. He never had any time for it before now.

This is his self portrait.

The sign reads, this is David (sho da-ee-vee)

Here are Prince William & Kate Middleton on their wedding day.

And so as not to leave Alasdair out, here is the sheep we made together last week.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Things I'm loving Friday ♥ - on a Saturday!


There have been a few things to love about this special Assembly week.

Monday night.

Then lunch in a posh hotel on Thursday, followed by a ladies mission meeting for the assembly. Not only did I get to catch up with one of my cousins at both the lunch and the ladies meeting, but I also met some older ladies I haven't seen for over 10 years at the tea & cakes that followed the meeting.

My cousin and I also had the delight of finishing off the home-made ice cream at the posh lunch. The staff put all the plates of food in the middle of our big table and you had to help yourself. However, lunch was over-running slightly and so all the others had to get back to the Assembly. We were the only two who didn't and so it seemed a shame to let the ice-creams go to waste!

Now, I can see a pattern developing here, as it's time to move on to last night's meal and my two puddings!

The food last night was excellent. Really, really tasty and good sized portions.

For pudding I had chocolate and orange cheesecake. So did my brother's wife. As I put my spoon down on my clean plate I looked over at her almost full plate. She couldn't finish it as she said it was too rich for her. Everyone else cleared their plates (the other pudding was a huge slab of sticky toffee pudding) and I asked her, 'Are you really not going to finish that?' She answered, 'I'm really not. Take it!' So what could I say?!

I should also add that my philosophy is a treat now and again does you no harm. Ok, so I had two big treats, two days in a row, but it's not like I over-indulge every day! Still, it might explain why my SIL is thinner than me!

Here she is, pretending not to notice I'm taking the photo. The slightly blurry man next to her (who moved at the wrong time) is a lovely gentleman who used to be out at the church's school in Lima, Peru.

I said yesterday how much fun our table was.

The other people at it were two couples from my dad's church back in Lewis.  

The man closest to me is married to the lady on the left. He is one of my dad's elders but I have known them for as long as I can remember, long before my dad became minister there, as they stay right across the road from my granny.

The other man is a deacon in the church. His wife is in pink. She was very helpful to me when I was at University and wanting to gain experience to put on my CV for applying to teacher training college. She was a head-teacher of a school back home (now retired) and allowed me to come into her school and work with the music teacher there in my summer holidays from Uni.Uni summer holidays are much longer than school ones! 

Meanwhile, my granny seemed to be having an equally good time at another table!

That's her on the right.

Finally, the hotel had some lovely views over Edinburgh and I'll leave you with this one.

This is the Balmoral hotel on the left, North Bridge running through the middle, and Waverley Station at the bottom right with all the glass and going right under the bridges.

Gaelic word of the day:
Dùn Èideann (doon ai-chen) - Edinburgh

Friday, 27 May 2011

Late Night....

....so I'm off to bed.

I don't usually post on a Saturday, but I'll put my usual Friday 'Things I'm loving' post up tomorrow instead of tonight.

We were out for dinner at a hotel in the city to celebrate (if that's the right word) the end of the General Assembly with my parents and about 30 other guests invited by my dad. 

It was a little boy-free night, so ourselves and my brother and sister in law were able to enjoy a relaxed dinner.

Our table was by far the most fun, and involved two puddings for me!

But I really must get off to bed.

I'll tell all tomorrow :0)

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Great Granny and the shopping trip (and a completed WIP)

This afternoon myself and the boys took my brother and my granny down to the shopping centre.

My granny was very keen to get to Marks & Spencer while she was here so that's where we headed.

After a little walk round the store we stopped for tea and cake.

Mine was a lovely Earl Grey and an even lovelier Caramel Slice.

Then we hit the shopping trail again and granny got what she was after.

My granny is in her 80s, so walking was a lot slower than the breakneck speed the boys usually like to take, but they were very patient.

I also finally got round to sewing the little faces on the baby blankie toys.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Great Granny and the General Assembly

We have had another busy couple of days here.

My parents, other brother and my granny (my mum's mum) all came down on Saturday. It is the first time my granny has been off the island in nearly 6 years!

Here she is with my younger brother (standing) and her seven great-grandsons. (She has two great grand-daughters too, my cousin's girls, who live down south)

The reason she has made the momentous journey is that the church's annual General Assembly is on all this week down here, and my dad has been elected to be the Moderator. The Moderator changes each year, is chosen by the other ministers and has usually been in the ministry for around 25 years or so. He is the chairman for the Assembly, where various reports are given of work done in the church over the last year, mission reports and  other sorts of minutae of business. 

The Assembly starts on Monday evening with an address given by the previous year's Moderator, and then the new Moderator takes the chair. The Moderator's family have a reserved seat right at the front of the church. Not ideal when you have four boys to keep still! Plus my brother's three boys! They all behaved impeccably, thankfully.

After all this there is a reception for those taking part in the Assembly and the guests of the Moderator. It was lovely to see a good number of people from my dad's congregation had made the journey down to share the occasion with him.

The reception was held in the rather grand Edinburgh City Chambers.

After some food there were a few speeches given by people chosen by my dad. Once again, all the boys behaved well, despite their late night.

James did his usual expert job of keeping Alasdair entertained....

...and I think they may have broken a few hearts with how handsome they looked!

More information about the Assembly can be found here.

I've been forgetting to add this the last week or two....

Gaelic word of the day:
eaglais (egg-leesh) - church
an Eaglais Shaor na h-Alba (an egg-leesh hiir na h-alaba) - the Free Church of Scotland 

Friday, 20 May 2011

Recipe of the Week - Cappuccino Cupcakes

It's been a hectic couple of days here, with various check-ups at the hospital amongst other things, hence the neglecting of the little blog this week. So, the best way I can apologise  is with cupcakes!

Technically these should be called Mochaccino cupcakes, as there is chocolate in them too, but they look like little cups of cappuccino. Plus, I always think that Mochaccino sounds a bit pretentious, so Cappuccino it is.

These are Calum's favourite flavour of cupcake at the moment.

You will need:
6oz Doves Farm Wheat Free Self Raising Flour
2oz drinking chocolate or cocoa powder
8oz light brown sugar
6oz melted dairy-free margarine
4 eggs, separated
about 100ml very strong coffee

for the icing:
4oz dairy-free margarine
12oz icing sugar
left over strong coffee

~Mix the flour and cocoa together in a bowl and add the sugar.
~Just using a hand held whisk, beat in the melted butter, egg yolks, and about 60ml of the coffee. Mix until smooth.
~Meanwhile, beat the egg whites with a mixer until stiff peaks form.
~Carefully fold these into the rest of the mixture. Don't add them all at once but in two or three batches.
~Share the mixture between cupcake cases. I usually get about 2 dozen from this mix.
~Bake for about 20 minutes at 180C.
~While they are cooling beat together the icing ingredients. You might not need all of the left over coffee. Just add as much as you want to get your own desired flavour, and without making the icing go runny.
~Ice the cupcakes and then dust with a sprinkling of cocoa powder.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

How cute is this?

Almost as cute as the boy who made it.

David's class went on a trip to the National Gallery today. They were told all about the different paintings and statues they saw, and he told me ALL about them all! He's quite cultured for a 5 year old!

Then they made these little animals.

He chose to make a lion.

I love his little face.

Like I said, almost as cute as the boy who made it!

Friday, 13 May 2011

Little Sports Stars

The boys' school has been celebrating 'Health Week' all this week.

They have had lots and lots of chances to try out different sports; gone for Ranger led canal walks; Calum's class climbed one of the hills in Edinburgh; David's class went on a 'Teddy Bear's Picnic' to the Botanic gardens; James' class did a mountain biking obstacle course; they learnt a bit more about healthy eating; and the week ended with them being allowed to dress up in sporty clothes today for a wee parade around the playground.

James was desperate to go as Andy Murray. He loves the fact that his dad is the 'real' Andy Murray. His middle name is Andrew too so he is kind of an Andy Murray too.

Calum was wearing his new football strip for Inverness Caledonian Thistle, the team he has decided to follow.

And David has decided to follow mummy's family and support Rangers. He wore his new strip too.

Just to continue with the healthy eating, when we came home at lunchtime (half-days on Friday's  - love them!) we made up a batch of lilac cupcakes.

We found the cute little elephant toppers this week in the supermarket.

Now that's my kind of healthy eating!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Work in Progress Wednesday - Crochet Baby Blankie Toy

Short and sweet tonight.

The week we were away on holiday I rustled up a few of these baby blankie toys.

Since we were away I didn't have the stuffing for them so since we got back they have been sitting waiting for the little finishing touches.

Now that they have my attention all they need are some facial features.

I know safety eyes would look best, but since they are for small babies I didn't want to take the risk of them coming off so I'm going to sew on the eyes and a little mouth & nose instead.

These too, as well as the blankets, are heading off to The Mercy House.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Meal Planning

I have been writing out a weekly meal plan for some time now.

I find it really does cut down on your shopping bills to know what you need to buy for the week ahead. Or to not decide one day that you will make X for dinner, only to find you need a certain ingredient for it, pop out to the shops for said ingredient and then buy a whole pile of other stuff too.

It doesn't mean I won't buy anything that is not on my list but on offer.

When I am doing the food shopping, if I see a meat or something else that is freezable on a good special offer, but that isn't on my meal plan for that week, I will probably buy it and pop it in the freezer, then include it in a following week's meal plan.

I have been known to succumb to the odd chocolate offer too :0)

I was quite excited to see that Sainsbury's (my store of choice!) have this last week launched a 'Feed a family of four for £50' meal plan.

Feed your family for fifty pounds

The meal plan includes breakfast, lunch and dinner for 7 days, with the recipes and shopping list. It doesn't include any snacks or puddings but I don't think that is too big a deal. I bought extra fruit for some of the snacks, the rest will be home baking anyway, as will any puddings.

We will have to modify things a bit, with all the food allergies I need to cater for, but on the whole I'm planning to stick to the menu, which we started last night.

The dinner menu is:

Monday - Meatballs & Spaghetti 
(two lots of pasta, one normal, one wheat free)

Tuesday - Vegetable Stir Fry 
(I'm planning to add the left over beef from Sunday's roast. The suggested protein was peanuts, which are a BIG danger in this house!)

Wednesday - Sausage & Bean Hotpot

Thursday - Cottage Pie 
(an almost weekly choice in our house anyway)

Friday - Salmon Pasta Bake 
(again, two lots of pasta needed)

Saturday - Toad in the hole
 (I just can't get wheat & dairy free yorkshires to work, so as well as this I'll cook wheat-free sausages for Calum & Alasdair and they can have them with the mash.

Sunday - Roast Chicken

It's really nice to have the menu's made up in advance, and I think Sainsbury's are planning a month's worth, so I'm looking forward to what next week has in store - thanks Sainsbury's!

Monday, 9 May 2011

A walk in the woods

Straight across the road from where we live are little woods where we go for a walk nearly every Sunday afternoon, after our Sunday roast.

(This is my beloved's favourite Sunday lunch - Roast Beef & Yorkshire Puddings)

It's a lovely wee walk to do in all seasons, but since we do this walk so often I've never taken my camera along before. Yesterday I remembered.

So, come along for a wee stroll and I'll show you the highlights. 

First thing we come across on our walk is the duck pond.

The ducks are quite tame as most people who go there bring them some breadcrumbs.

Then we go off through the woods.

There are these wooden walkways over the really muddy parts. The boys pretend that the walkways are train tracks and that they are the trains.

No walk is complete without a few sticks.

Here are 'Moses' and 'Aaron'.

The main thing the boys were looking out for on yesterday's walk was bluebells.

And we found them. 

Don't bluebells make you think of little fairies? 

Perhaps I read too many Flower Fairies books when I was younger. Not much call for them in this house anyway!