Monday, 30 September 2013

Make it Monday - Alasdair's Granny Square Blanket


Well, my aim was to get this blanket finished before the new baby comes along and I did it!



Last week's task was to sew in all those loose ends on the back before I could add the finishing touch of a border round the whole blanket.

And here is the finished blanket!
It's the biggest blanket I have made so far and took me just about three months of working on it on and off to finish it.
Here it is with the proud little owner giving you a sense of scale.


He has tested it out on his bed....


...and if it wasn't so dark in the photo you could see how well the colours go with his Thomas the Tank Engine duvet covers.


He has also tested it out for snuggly-ness....


....although he's not the only one who has tested that aspect of it!


He has also said that he doesn't mind sharing it sometimes and so it has proven to be the perfect size for snuggling up for some after bath reading time.



In fact I have even come through to find the teenager of the house wrapped up in it whilst reading on the sofa, but I won't affect his coolness rating by sharing a photo of that!


Wednesday, 25 September 2013

No boomerangs allowed.

Those of you who have had the joy of living with a 4 year old at any point may well remember the constant, constant questions that seem to fill their days. Their minds seem to be working overtime as they try to work out the world all around them and they have questions about everything!


Some of Alasdair's questions these days I pass on to his oldest brother - that is those that are super hero or transformer or soldier related. Then there are the tougher questions that need to wait for dad to come home and answer. But mostly the way his little mind works is quite hilarious!



For example, the other day we were watching some Looney Tunes cartoons and he asked,


"Why is he called Sylvester? Syl-VEST-er? Is it because he wears a vest? Because he doesn't look like he is wearing any clothes!"


But one of the funniest things he has said this week was when we were out and about in the car at the weekend.


We stopped at a set of traffic lights that looked just like this....


Suddenly Alasdair piped up from the back,


"Huh? That traffic light says - No. Boomerangs. Allowed."


Sure enough, closer inspection of the lights showed that he was absolutely right!


We saw the same sign in the hospital car park on Monday when he had a check up with the Dermatologist.



As we walked back to the car he said,


"Look Mam, no boomerangs allowed in here either!"


I still haven't told him want the sign actually means. I'd rather he keeps his sweet, funny little idea of what it means for now!


Monday, 23 September 2013

Hitting the headlines...

Well we didn't quite hit the headlines, but last week I received an email from a reporter at one of our Scottish newspapers asking if she could interview me about our experiences of living with eczema. It was National Eczema Week last week and they wanted a topical article for their Women's section.


I was only too happy to help out and so later on in the day completed an interview over the phone.


At tea time the same day a freelance photographer came out to take a photograph of our family to accompany the article. He took lots of fun shots of the boys as well as the eventual family photo that appeared alongside the article.


The article appeared in the paper on Friday and you can read the online version here.


Overall I'm quite pleased with the article. They only made a few mistakes - Alasdair was never in hospital for three months but AT three months, and the baby photos they used were all of Calum, not Alasdair like they said. I did send them some photos of Alasdair as a baby too, which showed even worse eczema, but to be fair to them they did look very similar!


I'm hoping that someone somewhere who might be struggling with a child suffering from eczema might take some help from the article and at least know that they are not alone, because on those long itchy nights it can certainly feel that way sometimes! I'm also glad that the local eczema charity, Eczema Outreach Scotland, are given a good mention in the article as they are a really friendly help for families dealing with eczema.


What I really loved about the article though was the excellent family photo that was taken! I don't know when we last had one taken of all of us and I love the way he caught James looking at Alasdair.




Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Recipe of the week - Cajun Chicken {Gluten & Dairy Free}

This is one of my favourite quick and easy dinners and is always a hit with the boys too. It uses my three favourite spices - ground cumin, ground coriander and paprika.

I should say, I'm not really sure how we came around to calling this 'Cajun' chicken. It just seemed sort of Cajun styled to our Scottish taste buds and so I do apologise if there are any Cajun food connoisseurs out there! 

To feed 4 - 6 you will need:

500g chicken breasts, diced
3 tsp ground cumin
3 tsp ground coriander
3 tsp paprika
a little oil for your pan

For serving you will also need:

rolls (gluten free or normal) 
potato wedges (optional, but these are our favourite accompaniment)
green salad
and maybe a few onion rings too!

~Simply mix all three of your spices together in a shallow dish.

~Then add in your chopped chicken and mix until the pieces of chicken are well coated in the spices.

You might not have quite such a handsome assistant as I do but that's OK!

~Add the chicken to a pan that has been well heated with a little oil in the bottom. You might need to do this in batches. You don't want to be mixing the chicken about but put the pieces in the pan and then cover with a lid. Once one side is cooked turn them over and cover again. Using a lid keeps the chicken nice and moist.

~Once cooked serve on rolls with mayonnaise and a bit of green salad. If you are like us then do try it with some potato wedges and onion rings too! 

Monday, 16 September 2013

Better late than never!

No, not a blog post!


Last Wednesday was my birthday. Now that you know when it is, you can't very well forget! In our house September 11th isn't associated with the terrors that the rest of the western world associate it with. In fact, not only is it my birthday but it's also my father in law's birthday too!


Anyway, Wednesday was a busy day, with Alasdair and I out of the house all day until we collected the other boys from school. Wednesday after school is also when I teach piano and so from the time we get home from the school run until dinner time I'm busy with that. To top it off, my beloved was away with work so there wasn't really much chance for me to chill out!


I did, however, get some lovely homemade birthday cards.




Calum wanted to bake me a birthday cake, but he also wanted to wait until daddy was here to have it with us, and since he was away every night until Saturday then that's when we had to wait until to have it.
It was worth waiting for though.
He used my Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake recipe, which you can find in my very first ever blog post here.
He piped the writing on top and James added a few decorative flourishes too.
It really was as good as it looks!


Tuesday, 10 September 2013

34 Weeks


In theory I only have less than 6 weeks left until we meet our new little one.


In reality, based on the arrivals of previous little boys, I know that this is more likely to be between 7 and 8 weeks away. My first was 10 days late, second was 7 days late, third was 3 days late. By the time our fourth was due I joked that following this pattern meant he would show up quite close to his due date. He turned out to be our latest, at 11 days past his official due date. So this time, I'm not expecting an early arrival either!


Still, the end is in sight, although I haven't reached that stage where you are desperate for it to be over yet.


I rather like my little baby bump still. Although at times I feel like a beached whale, and picking things off the floor is becoming ever more of a chore, I have been fortunate with each pregnancy that any weight gain has been purely baby. I'm pretty sure this has something to do with the fact that I get so sick and that I go off so many of my favourite foods - yes, morning sickness is still there some mornings and I still have no real desire to indulge in anything chocolatey like I usually do.


I haven't reached the thoroughly exhausted stage yet. Someone asked me recently if I was feeling very tired yet and I replied that running a household of four boys is tiring anyway so it's hard to tell if I'm more tired than usual! Having said that, I do relish the chance to sit down and put my feet up with a spot of crochet. But then, I relish that normally too!


Last week was my most recent check up at the midwife and everything seems to be going fine. Bloods taken at the previous check 6 weeks earlier were all fine, blood pressure was normal, no swollen fingers or feet and baby is behaving and lying head down.


My only complaint just now, other than morning sickness, is late night heartburn. I haven't quite got to the stage of swigging Gaviscon from the bottle at bedtime as in previous pregnancies but I'm almost there!


Because we are assuming we will have another late arrival we haven't got a thing ready for baby's arrival yet either! I haven't bought anything for my hospital bag and all of the baby stuff is still up in the loft. I've told myself that when I hit 36 weeks we can start getting things a bit more organised.


We also haven't agreed on any names. The boys have their say too and there are a few names that we all agree on but we haven't got an overall favourite yet.


Despite my unreadiness for everything to be over yet, the boys are getting more and more excited to meet their new brother or sister, which is lovely to see. Alasdair (4) is forever asking random questions about what babies do and don't like. And what they do. And will it grow up to be a boy or a girl. And when can they start to play. And my favourite of all his questions, when the baby is born will my tummy be small again and can I wear my red spotty dress because that is his favourite!


Thursday, 5 September 2013

Recipe of the Week - Mint Aero Slice

Time for a return to the Recipe of the Week, I think. I'll need to get back working on my Gaelic word of the day too, which has also fallen by the wayside a little!

Anyway, I was inspired to make this by a lovely minty slice I tried at one of our favourite coffee shops. I'm still not really that big on chocolatey things this pregnancy, which I'm sure you all know is very unlike me, but I tried it out nonetheless. It was a big hit with the two boys who can eat it (as well as with daddy) and so it didn't really last longer than a few days in our house. I'm not sure how long it would last if I was in my usual chocolate loving state!

The recipe is basically the same as my Malteser Slice, only with Mint Aero Balls instead of the Maltesers. After I had made it, my sister in law suggested that she was going to try it out with Orange Aero Balls, which I hadn't thought of, so there's another variation for you if you like chocolate and orange.

For this recipe you will need:

4oz butter
8oz milk chocolate 
3 tbs golden syrup
8oz digestive biscuits, crushed
a couple of bags of mint Aero balls, which is roughly about 8oz (or you could use the same weight of mint Aero bars.) Keep about a handful of the balls separate and crush these to use to decorate the top of your finished slice.
about 8oz milk chocolate to spread on top.

Super easy to make.
~Melt the butter, chocolate and syrup in a pan over a low heat.
~Leave to cool for at least 20-30 minutes. While this stage is not essential, if you want to have some nice chunks of mint Aero in your traybake then you need to make sure the chocolate is cooled enough that it won't melt your Aero. The first time I tried making this I didn't cool the chocolate for long enough and the Aero al melted. The resulting traybake was still delicious, lovely and minty, but I wanted to have those nice green chunks throughout it too.
~Add the digestives and the Aero balls.
~Spread into a traybake tray and allow to harden for a couple of hours.
~Melt the remaining chocolate, spread over the top and then decorate with the crushed Aero.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

A new friend for the boys

Remember only a few weeks ago how sad the boys were that their surrogate pet, Auntie Anna's dog, had to be put to sleep? Well, we knew it wouldn't be too long before she began looking for a replacement for him, but we didn't think she would find the right dog quite so quickly.


Like her previous two dogs, the new one is a rescue dog and she collected him yesterday.


Isn't he a beautiful looking dog?

He is a 2 year old Collie/Jack Russell cross and has such lovely colouring.


After much debate about what to call him, she has decided to name him Shadow, because of the dark fur on his back.


Although he has only been in his new house for 24 hours, the boys were eager to meet him and so Auntie Anna brought Shadow to meet his new buddies this afternoon.


He seemed quite at home with the three youngest boys.


And Calum especially is delighted to have a new furry friend. He can't wait until Anna thinks the time is right for Shadow to begin his dog agility training!


Monday, 2 September 2013

Miscellaneous Monday

I always feel as though I have neglected my corner of blog-land when I go for a week or more without posting, and I also miss the interaction with my readers too. The reason for my absence last week was not an exciting one but simply that I was full of the cold! Whenever I get a proper cold I get a horrible dry, barking cough which I know must drive everyone around me quite mad, it certainly does me! 

For a few nights in the middle of last week I was hardly able to sleep because of the cough and found myself sitting downstairs at 2am drinking hot toddies. That's hot water, honey, lemon and a dash or two of whisky (purely for the medicinal properties of course!) These always remind me of when I was younger and my dad used to make me up what we called a 'potion' when I wasn't well. I should make it clear that he did not add the whisky back then! Instead, and because I'm not really all that fond of the taste of honey, he would add a couple of teaspoons of raspberry jam to hide the taste, which made for a lovely soothing warm fruity drink.

Anyway, I've been feeling a lot better since the end of last week and am almost back to full health again.

Here are a few of the things that have been going on in the last week while I've been absent.

David (7) and Alasdair (4) set up an animal hospital one afternoon and looked out all of their doggy teddies.

Here Alasdair is carefully giving this doggy a jag. He said that the dog needed to have the jag three times and there is a perfectly good reason behind why he thought this. You see, he always comes with me to my midwife appointments, the last of which was about 6 weeks ago. It was the week of routine blood tests. There was a student midwife in the clinic and I agreed to let her take the blood. I did warn her, however, that I don't have great veins and that quite often they don't succeed in getting blood first time, which she didn't, and so the midwife herself had a go, which was successful. Because I am rhesus negative and my husband's blood group is positive I also need to get a couple of anti-D jags throughout my pregnancies (and after delivery if baby turns out to have the same blood group as daddy) and so it was also the scheduled week for one of those, making three jags in one clinic. Alasdair's little game makes perfect sense in that context!

We ticked another Herbie movie off our list (two more to go I think.)

James (13) continues to love making Airfix models. Here he lets Alasdair help him paint one of the Spitfires.

Calum (10) and David have both joined our local rugby team in the last couple of weeks. They both love the full contact, physicality of the game. Calum was proudly counting the bruises up last week after training! When signing them up I had to fill in a form confirming their eligibility to play for Scotland, should the day ever arise!

And finally, as well as the usual rough and tumble moments, there are also the calm ones. Like on Saturday morning when I found Alasdair and Calum watching some cartoons like this...