Calum's Camera

Wednesday 24 February 2016

Calum (13) has been interested in photography for quite a few years now, and so last summer, just before the school holidays started, he and I went halfers on a slightly fancier camera than the point and shoot one that he had. 

Firstly we spent a couple of months reading reviews of different bridge cameras to see which one we thought was best for us. When we finally settled on one, I agreed that if he was able to save up half the cost of the camera I would pay the other half and then the camera could be shared between the two of us.

Several months later, and it's still on my to-do list to learn how to use the different settings on it other than the fantastic auto scene recognition settings! It's also fair to say that Calum has used it a lot more than I have, but that's also in part due to the fact that I use my phone to take most of my photos - it has such a great camera and I love the simplicity of it auto uploading them all online for me.

I have, however, been meaning to share some of the amazing photos that Calum has taken with our/his new camera for some time now. It's hard to narrow down which ones to share though, so I thought for now I'd stick with a few he took in the autumn.

The first ones are from our holiday beside Loch Awe in October. He's captured the tranquillity and unspoilt nature of the loch quite perfectly in these.

Every morning while we were on holiday, before we had breakfast, he would head off for a walk to the loch-side with his camera to photograph the loch but especially to get a shot of the ducks. He has taken SO many photos of ducks and birds since he got the camera, but these are a couple of the best.

He also managed to get a couple of really great close-ups of Fraser (2). The first one has Ally (6) in the background too. They were watching something on a DVD and didn't know he was photographing them.

I love how he has captured Fraser's serious face. And how it shows off his enviable eyelashes, little button nose and chubby cheeks.

Finally, for now, here are a few fun shots from Bonfire Night, when he was trying out some of the night time settings while his brothers and cousins made pictures with sparklers.

Next step with that setting is to try writing words with the sparklers, but I don't think there will be any sparklers in the shops until next autumn!

I know I'm a little biased but aren't they great photos? He's thinking of entering the one of the duck face (the proper kind of duck face, not the annoying kind that bombards social media) in a competition.

My dad is a big fan of photography so he better watch his step as there is a new kid aiming to take over as the official family photographer!

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Makings - Healthy Junk Food

Monday 22 February 2016

Last week was the half term holidays here.

We didn't have anything much planned, which was just as well as I spent the first few days sofa-bound after a run-in with one of these...

I stood/slipped on one of Fraser's Mega Bloks and went over on my ankle the Saturday at the start of the holidays. It was only when I sat down at the end of the day that it began to swell up and by bedtime I couldn't walk on my left foot at all. After a sleepless night I had it X-rayed on the Sunday. There was nothing broken but I was advised to stay off it completely for around 72 hours.

Since, as I said, we had nothing planned, and the boys didn't have to be anywhere it was actually a pretty good time to be immobile! My brother had brought me round the crutches that he has kept in his garage since he tore his cruciate ligament a few years ago, which meant that I didn't need to hop everywhere around the house, but I couldn't carry anything and so the boys were very diligent about bringing me hot drinks. David (10) was especially good at making sure that I had everything I needed, and would bring me a selection of treats before going out to play football in the garden!

Although, a little while after bringing me the box of treats above, he came over, looked in and asked, 'So are you going to eat that Creme Egg or not?' He was rather pleased when I said that he could have it instead.

Being forced to sit on the sofa all day long for a couple of days meant that I could indulge in some guilt free crochet time.

I restarted the rainy day cardigan that I shared a couple of weeks ago. Remember I said that there were some mistakes in the pattern but that I had kind of worked my way around them? Well although it looked OK, I knew that the fact that the increases weren't consistent and that one side sloped more than the other would bother me, and so I decided to restart it with the amended pattern.

This time I'm much happier with it, although I'm still not convinced that the pattern is entirely correct. I managed to get the body and one button band done before running out of yarn.


That then left me with the decision to make about what small thing I could crochet in the day or two it took for the yarn to finish the cardigan to arrive.

First of all I thought about starting this month's Little Box of Crochet, which I have been holding off until this cardigan is finished, but then I decided that as he had been looking after me so well, I would make the Amigurumi Burger that David has been asking me to make for him since the summer!

It is from issue 55 of Mollie Makes magazine and really is the cutest thing.

It is crocheted in Stylecraft Cotton and includes the burger, bun, cheese, lettuce, tomato and onions.


David is delighted that I finally got round to making it for him!

But that left Ally (6) wanting a little bit of crochet junk food too. He asked if I would be able to make him a doughnut.

That was a really quick make. It took around an hour to make the doughnut, using an adapted version of a pattern I found on Pinterest.


He too was delighted with his junk food. He named his doughnut Donnie the Doughnut and spent the rest of the week taking him everywhere with him!

As for my foot, well I began to put some weight on it again by Tuesday evening and by Wednesday I was back in the kitchen baking. I still had a bit of a limp until the end of the week, and it still begins to ache if I walk too much, so I guess I can still use it as an excuse to put my feet up a little more often than usual!

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Recipe of the Week - Secret Heart Lemon Cake {Gluten & Dairy Free}

Thursday 11 February 2016

With Valentine's Day falling this weekend I thought it worth sharing a suitable recipe this week. I first shared this recipe for Valentine's Day 2013 but as I have gained so many new followers since then I'm sure there is no harm in sharing it again!

You will need to set aside a couple of hours to make this cake, although it isn't really all that labour intensive. A lot of the time is taken up with the cake baking in the oven so you can go ahead and do something else.

If you don't think you have the time to make a secret heart cake then you could also just make a simple Lemon Loaf using the recipe below. I know any of the men in my life would be more than happy with a plain old Lemon Loaf!

You need to make double the amount of mix that you would make for your usual loaf cake recipe, so if you are wanting to make just the one Lemon Loaf rather than the heart cake, then simply half the amounts below.

One final point to remember, is that to make this strictly gluten free then please replace the oat milk with any other dairy free milk alternative (rice, soya, oat, almond). Our boys can eat oats OK and I like to use oat milk in cooking as it doesn't have a strong flavour. Rice would probably be the next best alternative as it also has very little flavour, but it's not recommended for under 5s.

Anyway, the cake...

You will need:
8oz dairy free margarine
10oz sugar
2 eggs
1 cup of oat milk (or other dairy free milk)
16oz Doves Farm Gluten Free Self Raising Flour
rind of a lemon
pink food colouring

for the topping:
juice of the lemon
3-4 tbsp sugar

you will also need a lined loaf tin and a heart shaped cutter.

Part One
~Beat the margarine and sugar well in a mixer, or with a hand held mixer, until it looks light and fluffy.

~ Meanwhile beat the eggs & the milk together then mix the flour & the lemon rind together.

~Add a little of the egg mix to the butter/sugar mix, beat well and then add a little of the flour mix, beating well again.

~Keep alternating a little of each of the two mixes until everything is mixed together.

~Take about half of the finished mix and add to another bowl.

~You now have two equal bowls of lemon loaf mix.

~To one of these bowls add the pink food colouring and mix well.

~ Pour your pink mix into your lined loaf tin and bake at about 190C for around an hour. You might want to check it after about 50 minutes though, depending on your oven. When it's ready, allow to cool on a wire rack for about half an hour or so.

Part Two
~Once your pink mix is cooled enough to handle, slice it up as though you were going to serve it. 

~Take your heart shaped cutter and cut a heart out of the middle of each slice.

~Re-line your loaf tin and add a small layer of the plain coloured loaf mix to the bottom.

~One by one, add the hearts, standing upright on their points, in a line until the tin is full.

~Use the rest of your plain mix and fill in the gaps down the side of the tin and then cover the top too.

~Put back in the oven, this time for about 30-40 minutes. It will be nice and golden on the top and a skewer stuck in the side (not in the middle because remember the middle bit is already cooked!) will come out clean.

~When you take the cake out of the oven, mix together the topping ingredients and drizzle over the top of the warm cake.

~Cool down again on a wire rack.

~Best served with a nice cup of tea and your true love!

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Makings - On my hook

Monday 8 February 2016

January was a satisfying month for finishing off crochet projects.

Firstly, as requested, here is my most recent make, the completed ear warmer from my Little Box of Crochet post. I'm rather pleased with both how cute it looks and how cosy it is.

Just before making the ear warmer I finished off something I had started before Christmas. It was a gift for my mum and I forgot to take a photo of the whole scarf before giving it to her! I took this close up to show the stitches and the yarn, but I thought I'd wait for better lighting to take a proper photo. The weather has been so dull that the day with proper lighting didn't arrive before I gave it to my mum!

Anyway, what you can see is that it is made of some very fuzzy and fine mohair yarn, this one here, and took me right out of my Double Knitting yarn comfort zone! 

My first completed make of the year was this cute little cardigan I made for my niece's first birthday.

The pattern is from Simply Crochet magazine, issue 32, and uses Drops Nepal yarn, a wool and aplaca mix. I didn't realise when I ordered the yarn that it was a hand wash only yarn, so have apologised to my sister in law for giving a hand wash garment to a one year old!

Still, it looks cute and looks even cuter on my niece.

Finally, onto what is currently on my hook.

I saw this pattern on the cover of the latest issue of Inside Crochet and thought it would be cute for 2 year old Fraser.

I had the perfect rainbow colours in my Stylecraft Special DK stash and set about making it last week. Only I didn't get very far into it when I realised there must be some mistakes in the pattern! I have a few Instagram friends making the same cardigan who had also discovered the mistakes and so I didn't feel so bad when I realised it wasn't just my understanding of the pattern!

By then though, I had made some adjustments of my own and it seems to be the right size and shape when I try it against Fraser. I'm just not sure if I should continue with it with my own adjustments or if I should get the amended pattern from Inside Crochet.

It does look lovely and cheerful, doesn't it?

I managed to snap that photo in the brief 10 minutes of sunshine we had at lunchtime today, the first glimpse of blue skies and sunshine we have had this year I think! Just as I began to think how lovely everything looked in the sunshine and how happier everything felt (and how dirty my windows were looking!) it disappeared again.

I think I'll just muddle on with this rainy day cardigan and let the rainbow on it brighten up the days instead!

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