Wednesday, 29 June 2011


Hip-hip hooray today because:

~ after nearly two weeks with no phone or internet connection, it was finally sorted today. What should have been a simple switch-over from one provider to another, wasn't quite. 

~after nearly two months of near constant rain/heavy showers/generally poor 'summer' weather (even by our low Scottish standards!) the sun has been shining for 4 days on the trot and is forecast to continue for the next few days too.

~in one and a half days the boys will be finished school for the summer :0)

~in a little over a week the boys and I head up home to my parents for a few weeks (my beloved will join us half way through). I'm not so hip-hip hooray about the long drive north on my own, but I've have done it no problem every summer for the last 5 or 6 years so I know once we get going it will be fine. The 2 hour 40 min ferry journey at the end is a doddle!

~it stayed dry for our Sunday school picnic on Saturday too. Here's a couple of shots of the sack race to finish.

Our David, second from right, looks like he has taken off in this one! I love the way this captures his competitive spirit - he won too.

And on the contrary, it looks like daddy can't even get off the ground in this one!

It's good to be back :0)

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Internet Troubes

Firstly, Happy Father's Day too my husband, the best dad I could ever have imagined for my boys.

Secondly, just to let you all know that I may be a little awol the next few days. I like to try and keep my blog updated Monday - Friday, unless we are majorly busy.

We were supposed to be switching internet providers last Friday, and were all excited at the prospect at our new wireless internet, but there has been a slight technical hitch, a fault in the exchange somewhere, which means until the repair man sorts it we are without phone or internet.

My clever brother showed me how to hook up my mobile to the computer and use it as a modem, but since my mobile has very poor reception in the house, it's a pretty intermttent substitute!

So if I'm absent for a few days, then thats why!

I miss my internet connection!! 

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Recipe of the Week - Homemade Butter

Now wait, don't think I've gone all super-mum on you.

I don't make our own butter every week. Or even once a month. Just occasionally, as a treat.

It is so much easier to make than you might think, and a great way to use up any cream that you have in which might be on the turn.

If I ever see cream in the reduced section of the supermarket, as it is going out of date, then I will buy it for butter. As a bonus, you also get the Buttermilk from it. Perfect for making up a wee batch of scones to partner with your butter.

You will need double cream for this, which I think is known as heavy cream in the US? The quantity doesn't matter.

OK, let's get started.

~Pour your cream into a free-standing mixer. The free-standing part is not essential but it will save your arms! This also works best if you have a 'K-beater' but I'm pretty sure it would still work with a normal beater.

~Start mixing your cream, like though you were just whipping it up as normal.

~The difference is that you keep on beating it after it reaches that lovely thickness that would be so nice with strawberries. This is where it starts to feel wrong - all those years of trying not to over-beat your cream! It starts to look thicker and almost grainier.

~Keep on beating and beating and then suddenly the magic happens. It splits into two parts, the butter and the buttermilk.

~Just a bit more beating now, until the butter has all come together in a smooth lump.

~Now you need to pour the buttermilk into a separate dish/bowl/jug to use for something else. Put the butter into a clean bowl.

~Because there will still be a little bit of buttermilk left in the butter, which will cause your butter to go rancid, you now need to wash it out. All you have to do is pour on some clean, cold water and squeeze the butter with your hands. You should see some more of the white buttermilk coming out. 

~Tip out the 'dirty' water then pour over some more clean stuff. You should do this a few times, maybe about 5 or so, until you can see the liquid is clearer.

~Add a sprinkling of salt, if you like, and shape your butter to how you want it.

~You should store it in the fridge, but take it out for a while before serving, to make spreading a bit easier!

Don't give any thought whatsoever to the fat content!

Although, in my opinion, it's so pure, and you know exactly what you are eating, unlike margarines with their di-whatevers and everything else in them!

And don't forget to make the scones. 

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

King David's Tower

King David is one of my favourite Biblical characters.

Did you know, though, that there was a  King David of Scotland? Two actually.

You have to go back to the 14th century to find David II, son of Robert the Bruce, but there is still a part of a tower built in his time remaining at the castle.

The previous time we had visited the castle, our David was nearly 2 and I got these photos of him next to the sign.

On Monday night, I though it would be sweet to see how he looked in the same place, now aged 5.

My own little King David.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

An Evening in the Great Hall of the Castle!

Oh, and what an excellent evening it was too.

Quite a few months back, September I think!, I briefly mentioned the really cool project that James' class were involved in at Edinburgh Castle.

In collaboration with Historic Scotland, they were to be Gaelic Junior Tour Guides for the castle, and film an educational DVD that will be shown to visiting groups for many years to come.

Once a week, for quite a few weeks they walked up to the castle (about a 15 minute walk from the school) to learn about the history of the Great Hall. They were then involved in writing the script for the DVD before filming it, wearing specially made costumes.

Last night there was a special reception held for parents and other invited guests to celebrate the launch of the DVD and the children's 'graduation' as the Edinburgh Castle Junior Tour Guides.

So, time for a few photos of the evening, some of which were taken by Calum.

The outside of the great hall, built exactly 500 years ago by King James IV.

Inside the hall. 
The tables are only there for the children's play. In the middle, closest to the fire are James and his wife, the English Margaret.

I don't have the photos to show this, but on the side of the hall where the King sat, all the stone carvings and stained glass related to his family. On the Queen's side they related to hers.

Some courtiers.

My favourite courtier.

The graduation photo.

My favourite courtier with his two friends, the King's servant and the shipbuilder who built the roof.

Yes, that's right, shipbuilder. Roof.

 James loved his fleet of ships so much he wanted the roof of the hall to look like an upturned boat. And it does. My photo of that is stuck on my phone, but another day I'll show it. It's quite an amazing roof.

It was after 8pm when we were leaving, and such a beautiful evening.

The castle gives such amazing views over all of Edinburgh.

Remember my post a couple of weeks ago about our child-free meal in a posh hotel? I ended with a shot of Edinburgh and mentioned the Balmoral hotel. Straight ahead, in the middle of this photo is that same hotel, from a different direction.

At the bottom of this photo is Princes' Street Gardens.

I should rename my blog, Kirsteen's Scottish History & Tourism Blog!

It has been such a great opportunity for them to be involved in this and definitely the kind of experience that they will remember for many years.

Oh, and a report of the evening and project can be found on Historic Scotland's site, here.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Recipe of the Week - Butterscotch Sauce

Most of the baking I do caters for the allergy boys too, but there are a couple of things that are just so much better in the full allergy-packed version and so I make two batches.

That's not to say that the boys don't enjoy their allergy free version. Their taste buds are a little different, in that they have never tasted the 'normal' version.

Then there are those things (like pastry) that I haven't quite mastered in a gluten free version, or tray bakes that can't be adapted and so I only make the one milky version.

This week's recipe falls into the first category, I make two batches, but unless you are on a Dairy-free diet I would not recommend making this with anything but the 'normal' ingredients. Don't even be tempted to use some healthy margarine instead of the butter. You need the butter to give it that silky richness. Mmm, I'm getting hungry just thinking about this sauce!

You will need:

75g  butter
100g light brown sugar
 4 tbsp white sugar
 5 tbsp golden syrup
250ml cream

(to make the dairy free version, then obviously substitute dairy free margarine and soya/rice cream.

~Melt the butter, sugars and syrup in a pan over a low heat. 
~Once the sugar has dissolved, bring it to a gentle simmer and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
~Take off the heat and add the cream. Stir until it's well mixed in.

You can serve this hot or cold.

We like it hot (or cold, actually) with a quality vanilla ice cream, or to liven up a fruit salad, or with our pancakes. I'm sure the options are endless!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Work in Progress Wednesday - One of mine and one of James'

This last week has seen lots more of these coming off the crochet hook.

I'm trying to build up a supply of items that I can stock my little online shop with. I don't want to launch it until I have a reasonable amount of things to put in it!

Some of these corsages will also be going to my mum. The ladies in her church have a meeting at the end of the month where they will be selling things to raise money for the church's Missionary appeal. I've found some perfect sized boxes to put each corsage in, to package them up even prettier.

Moving back to the subject of my shop.

I also can't launch it until I get a suitable name for it. I'm coming up with nothing so far. I want it to reflect the folksy, handmade side of everything. It won't just be crocheted items in it. I want it to reflect me too, my patriotic side, my arty side. I wanted a Gaelic name at first, but then realised it was probably no good to have a name that no-one could pronounce!

All suggestions will be most gratefully received. I might even send a wee corsage to the person who comes up with a name I want to use!!

Onto James' project now.

He has a presentation to give to his class on Friday about his personal project. This term the teacher let them choose their own individual projects and he has chosen Roman Gladiators.

He plans to talk about the different types of Gladiators, their weapons, how they fought etc.

He has drawn a poster with the different Gladiators on it, complete with fold down flap showing their weapons.

He has also photocopied handouts to give to everyone, made a papier-mache helmet and made a short Lego animation of a Gladiator fight that he plans to show at the end!  

I may be biased, but I think he has quite a talent for art!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Birthday Photos

As promised last week, here are a few snaps of little man's 2nd birthday.

It turned out to be the hottest day of the year so far, so we dug out the little paddling pool to keep the boys cool.

The birthday boy enjoyed ripping open the presents without any help.

He loves his new Iggle Piggle, complete with jammies.

He also loves what he calls his 'Nomna boat' (Thomas boat), although it's not a boat, from my husband's sister. We have it in the family room just now and he climbs into it with some of his toys.

Then there was his new train set from us. He really LOVES trains now, which is just as well. All the other boys were big train fans too so we have acquired quite a collection over the years!

In fact, the other boys still really enjoy playing with trains too, so they have all been having fun with this one.

And let's not forget the cake.

Plain on the outside.....


....a riot of colour on the inside!

To end with, here is a clip of him trying to blow his candles out.