Monday, 23 December 2013

8 weeks old

Our sweet little man is now 8 weeks old.

 

8 weeks.

 

In one sense it seems such a short time but in another it already seems hard to remember what life was like without him here.

 

8 weeks was how old James, Calum & Alasdair all were when their eczema started. James' was a moderate sort of eczema, seeming bad enough at the time, but Calum and Alasdair's went from nothing to severe pretty quickly.

 

8 weeks old and here is our beautiful wee Fraser....

 

 

It looks like he is going down the same road as all but one of his brothers.

 

I had him at the doctors on Wednesday as his forehead was so sore looking and he had angry red patches on his chest and the top of his back too. Our doctor is wonderful, in my opinion, and so sympathetic. He remembered Alasdair being just the same and looked up the treatment the dermatologist had prescribed for him after his hospital stay when he was 3 months old. He was also more than happy to refer Fraser straight on to dermatology if that was what I wanted.

 

I was happy to see how things go over the next few weeks first.

 

So, the little man has his first ever course of antibiotics as the doctor was almost certain he had the beginnings of a skin infection. He is such a good boy at taking them too. I remember his brothers gagging on the medicine when they were a similar age but he takes it quite happily!

 

I must admit I felt rather disheartened for a little while on Wednesday when we came back from the doctor. About the thought of our beautiful wee man having to go through what his (equally beautiful) brothers have. He has been such a contented wee soul and I wondered whether that would change if his skin became so sore.

 

Then I read about someone who's 6 month old baby was due to have heart surgery that day. That kind of put things into perspective a bit!

 

And Alasdair was actually pleased to hear that Fraser has eczema as he said, 'he's just like me!'

 

So I suppose that, hard as it might get for him (and I'm praying that he doesn't get anywhere near as bad as Calum and Alasdair did!), he has plenty brothers (and a daddy) who have been through it all too and can empathise with him.

 

The patches on his back and chest have cleared up a lot and his forehead is looking better than it was.

 

And so far he has remained the contented, smiley wee thing that he was before all this started.

 

 

Monday, 16 December 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like.... - part 2

Last week was another of those blink and you miss it sort of weeks.

 

There were various Christmas things on for the boys and my mum and dad were down for a few days too. My mum was down for a week when Fraser was 3 weeks old but this was the first time my dad was able to meet him. They have 8 grandchildren - all of them boys!

 

I was going to share a few photos of bits and pieces from last week tonight but Calum (11) wanted me to share this instead. He learned how to play his favourite Christmas song in one evening last week. We don't have the music for it so I just taught him how to play a section at a time and he's remembered it since then.

 

I would like to point out that our house is always this calm and tranquil.

 

Really.

 

Ok, well, sometimes!

 

Listen out for Fraser chatting/singing along too. Very cute.

 

Monday, 9 December 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like.....

 
 
On Saturday these two went out with daddy to choose this year's tree. David (8) chose last year's tree and took his responsibility very seriously. He wanted to choose an equally good one this year. He did in fact choose an even better one. Lovely, full and round.
 

 

 
 
On Saturday evening it was the boys' responsibility to hang the ornaments. They love to rediscover the ornaments each year and reminisce about them.
 
Here is Alasdair hanging his favourite ones....
 
 
 
 
....and here is a close up of them.
 

 

I didn't realise what an investment those Thomas ornaments were when I bought them ten years ago. Back then we just had two boys, aged 3 and 1. I never imagined then that ten years later the ornaments would still be as popular and that we would be blessed with 5 boys.
I see those trains hanging on our tree for quite a few years to come. In fact, even when the boys have all grown too big for Thomas the Tank Engine, I know that I will still be hanging them up to remind me of these days when they were small.

Those kissing reindeers on the right below are one of my personal, non boyish, favourites. I cross stitched them a few years ago.
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
Our tree is a Caring Christmas Tree. I know I have mentioned them before as we get one of these trees every year. The money raised from selling these trees goes towards helping the charity my husband works for help the homeless in many different ways.
 
So whenever we look at our tree, not only do we feel the joys of this time of year but it also serves as a constant reminder to us of those who are less fortunate than us. We are blessed in so many ways and I would never want for any of us to forget that and take it for granted.
 

 

 
 

 

 

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Christmas Recipes - Chocolate Reindeer Cake {Gluten & Dairy Free}

 

 

Now before I start properly, yes I do realise that this is another chocolate recipe, but (a) it's Christmas, and if you can't indulge at Christmas then when can you? And (b) chocolatey treats are few and far between when you are on an allergy restricted diet!

A lot of children dont like the richness of traditional Christmas Cake and pudding so this is a fun alternative for them. You can make this by using ordinary self raising flour, margarine and milk without altering any quantities if you don't need to cater for allergies.

 

The cake is basically my Old fashioned chocolate cake recipe, which I shared in my very first ever post here, but instead of cooking it in round sandwich tins, cook it in a long rectangular tray-bake tin. It will need slightly longer to cook, although not too much longer.

In a bowl mix:
6oz wheat free self raising flour (I've found Doves Farm to be the best)

2 0z cocoa


In a pan mix:

4oz dairy free margarine

4 oz sugar

4 desert spoons golden syrup

and heat gently until melted.


In a jug measure:

1/4 pint soya or rice or oat milk

and beat in 2 eggs.


~Now add the egg/milk mix to the melted margarine mix and then add all of this to the flour mix.

~Whisk with a balloon whisk until the flour is all mixed in.

~Pour into your greased and lined tin.

~Bake for around 20 mins at 180c.


Make butter icing made by beating together:

4 oz dairy free margarine

10oz icing sugar

2 oz cocoa powder.


You will also need:
2 cinnamon sticks (the antlers)
a pinch of dried cranberries, or a glacier cherry (the nose)
2 dairy-free white chocolate buttons, or a couple of blobs of white icing (the eyes)

Once the cake has cooled it is time to start cutting the shapes. These measurements are very rough. I don't measure them!

Place the cake with the longest sides across the top and bottom. Using a sharp knife cut off a chunk, from top to bottom, of about a quarter for the head, leave 2/4 for the body and cut the final quarter into four slices (across the way) for the legs.

I hope that makes sense!

If you think your cake is thick enough to do so without it crumbling, slice each section through the middle so that you can sandwich them together with some of the chocolate butter icing. If your cake isn't thick enough it won't need this extra layer of icing anyway as it will be covered in the stuff!

Now arrange your pieces on a large plate, or foil covered tray if you don't have a plate large enough, and cover the whole cake with the rest of the chocolate buttercream.

Add the antlers, nose and eyes, using a dot of buttercream on the buttons to make the pupils.

I know he looks too cute to eat but once you have a taste of the chocolate cake you will feel better about it!


Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Christmas Recipes - Chocolate Yule Log {Gluten Free & Dairy Free}

 

I've made a chocolate log to have as one of our puddings on Christmas Day every year since I was in 2nd or 3rd year at high school. We learned how to make one in home economics that year and then I made another for Christmas Day. After that it just became the tradition that I would make a chocolate log each Christmas. It wouldn't seem like Christmas dinner without one now!

 

This recipe isn't the one I used way back as a 14 year old (I'm not even going to try and work out how long ago that was!) but is the recipe we use to make one of Calum's favourite cakes - Jam Roly Poly - adapted to make it chocolatey. The step by step photos in this post were taken whilst making the jam version so just imagine that they are chocolate coloured!

 

If you want to make this with 'normal' ingredients it will work fine, just use plain flour rather than self raising. The reason I use self raising in my gluten free version is simply because I prefer the texture it gives over the gluten free plain flour. The plain flour gives a much drier texture, making this too hard to roll.

With wheat flour though you won't have to worry about this, and making it with self raising flour will make too fat a cake, again trickier to roll.


You will need:

4 eggs

4oz sugar

4oz Doves Farm Gluten Free Self Raising Flour

1oz cocoa powder

Some extra sugar for sprinkling

Dairy free chocolate buttercream for filling (or cream if you aren't dairy free)



~Using the whisk attachment on your free standing mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together well until they look really light and creamy.

~While this is mixing you can prepare your Swiss roll tray. Grease it lightly and line with baking parchment/grease proof paper.
~When your eggs and sugar are ready gently fold in the flour and vanilla. Try not to mix it too much or you will flatten the lovely air bubbles you have just beaten in.
~Bake at 200C for about 12-15 minutes only. It is important not to overbake. If you do the cake will be too dry and rolling it won't be so successful!
~The cake is ready when it is lightly golden.
~While the cake is baking, prepare a sheet of baking parchment/grease proof paper slightly larger than the baking tray. Sprinkle it all over with your extra sugar.
~When you take the cake out of the oven, carefully but quickly tip it upside down onto the prepared parchment and sugar. Peel off the baking parchment that was on your cake in the oven.
~Now cover with a clean, damp tea towel and leave to cool down.


~When your cake has cooled, spread your chosen filling all over the cake. Then, starting at one of the short sides, roll up the cake. You can use the baking parchment to help you push and roll.

Because gluten free cakes tend to be a bit more crumbly I don't try to spread any chocolate buttercream over the log like I used to when baking with wheat flour. If you are using wheat flour then do go ahead and cover the log in icing and finish off the decoration with fork markings to make it look like a proper piece of wood!
 
I think the little cracks in the cake make it look quite wood-like anyway, and we just finish our decor off with a good sprinkling of icing sugar snow. And, as you can see in the top photo, last year Calum (11) made a cute little Robin out of sugar paste as a final flourish!
 

 

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Christmas Recipes - Stained Glass Biscuits/Christmas Biscuits

 

I first posted this recipe two years ago but there is no harm in repeating it again as it is, I think, a lovely wee tradition. We also use this recipe, minus the stained glass part, to make up simple Christmas biscuits. We don't bother with any fancy decorating on them, just a sprinkling of icing sugar, as you will see from the photo at the bottom of the post.

 

The recipe I use is adapted from a Nigella Christmas biscuit recipe.

 

To make wheat & dairy free Christmas biscuits you will need:


10oz Doves Farm Wheat Free Self Raising Flour
2tsp mixed spice
1tsp ground cinnamon
3 oz dairy free margarine
3 oz light brown sugar
2tbsp runny honey
1-2 beaten eggs

~Put the flour and spice in a food processor and blitz until mixed.
~Add the butter, then blitz, then add the sugar and blitz again.
~Now add the honey, blitz it in, and slowly add the eggs.. You probably won't need all of the eggs, but you might, so go slowly here, stopping the blitzing when everything comes together as a dough.
~Now roll out your biscuit dough on a floured surface and cut out your shapes then place on greased baking trays.
~Once on the trays cut out a shape in the centre and place a boiled sweet in this centre.








~If your sweet is too big for the hole in the biscuit, just crush it up a little with a pestle and mortar and fill the hole with chunks of sweetie instead.

~You will also need to make little holes at the top of each shape you plan to hang on the tree. Use a skewer or cocktail stick for this.




~Bake at 180C for around 15-20 minutes, after which your biscuits will be golden and the sweets will have melted and filled up the middle.




~Leave to cool on the trays as the stained glass centre will be hot, hot, hot!




~Once cooled you can thread them and hang them up. If you find that the hole has closed up a little in cooking, thread a needle and sew the string through it. Works perfectly!


They look so pretty hanging on the tree with the fairy lights shining behind them.

 
 
And the non-stained glass version.....
 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, 2 December 2013

Christmas Recipes - Easy Peppermint Bark

It appears to be December already.

 

I mean, the calendars and Advent Calendars are all telling me that it is, but what I want to know is, what happened to November?! I mean, where did it go to so fast? Did anyone else find it flying by or was it just that we were so busy loving on our new little man?

 

Anyway, December is indeed here, and boys both big and small are getting excited for all the festive fun that it brings with it.

 

I've always thought that the run up to the big day of Christmas is just as exciting as the day itself and am so pleased to see the boys thinking the same way. As I was baking some mince pies the other night James told me that Christmas was his favourite time of year, not because of the presents, but because of all the traditions we have. And not fancy traditions either but simple ones. Like mince pies, making decorations, our Jesse tree devotions, getting together with friends and family, and some more Christmas baking!

 

So, since I think Christmas baking is such a comforting, homely tradition I thought I would celebrate the first week of Advent by sharing some of our favourite recipes each day this week.

 

Today's recipe is a super easy one to start with. Even someone who never bakes could rustle this one up no problem. I have now delegated this one to James (13) and he has been making at least two batches of it a week since the beginning of November. The reason for him having to make so much is that it is just so simply delicious! Once you have one slice, well, you can't just have one slice! I should also say that I had never heard of Peppermint Bark until I saw this recipe on PaisleyJade's blog a few years ago so it is really her to thank. Or for your waistline to blame!

 

 

You will need:

400g milk chocolate

400g white chocolate

1-2tsp peppermint essence/flavouring

2 candy canes, crushed.

 

~ Melt the milk chocolate, spread evenly in a tray bake tin then leave to set.

~ Melt the white chocolate and then add the peppermint essence. How much you need really depends on the brand, some are more minty than others so it's probably best to add 1 tsp then check the taste before deciding if you need to add more or not.

~Spread the white chocolate over the milk chocolate and then sprinkle with the crushed candy canes.

~ Once it is all set cut into squares. If you cut smallish squares you can tell yourself that you can eat more slices since they are only small.

 

Now wasn't that easy?!

 

You could also make this up with Dairy free versions of the chocolate but we haven't been able to get hold of Dairy free white chocolate for a while now.

 

Oh, and before I finish up. Little Fraser is 6 weeks old today. He has been smiling for a wee while now but whenever I tried to capture it with the camera he would stop! I finally did today though, so here he is...

 

 

Just had to share that too :)

 

 

Monday, 25 November 2013

Weekend Busyness

We are kind of getting into a routine here now.

 

Fraser is 5 weeks old today and growing so fast!

 

He still looks for a feed every 2 hours or so which is probably why! Still, it gives me an excuse to indulge in a few extra calories each day, and I am so enjoying being able to eat chocolate again after 9 months of hardly being able to look at it.
 
And feeding a hungry baby meant that it only took two weeks after he was born before my skinny jeans fitted again.
 
 
Moving on from the smallest boy to the biggest boy though.
 
James attended his first Army Cadet camp this weekend. He was only away for two nights and came home absolutely exhausted but he loved it. He also passed his first test to earn his first ranking and so was really pleased.
 
 
He wasn't the only boy who was busy though. Calum & David went on their first Aunty Anna hillwalk. My husband's sister is an avid hillwalker, usually spending most Saturdays up a hill somewhere. She is also a great photographer. Just look at the photo she took of the two boys at the summit of the hill!
 
I'm sure it could be used as an advert for the Scottish Tourist Board. Who wouldn't want to come to Scotland after seeing that view?!
 
 
Oh look, another photo of Fraser :)
 
 
Since it was just me and the youngest two boys at home on Saturday (daddy was at a conference), Alasdair was a little bit lost without his big buddies and so once Fraser went for a wee snooze we made some Christmas biscuits together.
 
 
We didn't just make Christmas shapes though. We made one big biscuit especially for Alasdair - Mickey Mouse, who he enjoyed for supper on Saturday evening!

 

 
 
Oh OK, one more photo of Fraser. To make up for the two weeks without a blogpost :)

 

Monday, 11 November 2013

Remembrance Sunday

Each year the boys who are old enough usually take part in the Remembrance Sunday parade with their Boys' Brigade company.

 

This year our loyalties were tied as James was to take part in a different parade now that he has also joined the Army Cadets.

 

Originally we had thought that we would all go to watch James' parade, as it is the main one in the town, but the Boys' Brigade leader offered to give Calum and David a lift home from their parade as she was keen for as many as possible to attend their one, leaving us free to watch James in his first Army parade.

 

I didn't get a great photo of them all before we left, as we were rushing out of the door when I remembered to take one. Once we got home they were out of their uniforms before I had the chance to get another one!

 

 
 
James' parade took place at the town's Civic Centre. When we arrived, the combined school's pipe band were playing and James was one of the cadets handing out poppies and programmes and looking after the veterans. He is one of the cadets on the far left of this photo.
 
 
 
The rest of the cadets were in the parade along with more veterans as well as the air cadets.

 

 
It was a beautiful bright morning but also the coldest, frostiest morning of the autumn so far as well. We were well wrapped up, which was just as well as we were standing in the cold for an hour and a half! My toes were a little numb by the time all the poppy wreaths below were laid down!
 

 

 
As for Fraser, well, he was snug as a bug in his little snow suit, hat and a couple of blankets and managed to sleep through the whole thing - bagpipes and brass band and everything!