Thursday, 26 May 2016

May is always a bit of a funny month, I think.

We have it in our heads that it is going to be a lovely warm month, gently getting us used to the sunny summer that is just around the corner. In reality, it is often cold and wet, but with just enough warm sunny days to keep that hope of summer alive!

This May hasn't been so bad weather-wise, but has still been nothing like the kind of weather I always imagine May will bring.

Still, although I am way behind where I would like to be with planting things in the garden, it has been great to spend a large part of this month enjoying the outdoors again after a disappointing spring.

David (10) and Ally (6) have planted their sunflower seeds and are having a competition to see who can grow the tallest one.

Champion sunflowers are still a long way off though, as the little seedlings are only just popping their heads through the soil.

I haven't managed to plant my courgette, spinach or salad seeds yet, but I have planted out some beautiful bargain plants I got at Aldi.

I especially love this purple Clematis.

My mum bought Fraser (2) his own little gardening set so that he can help out too!

We have had lovely sunny, eat ice cream in the garden days...

...and we have had play in the muddy puddles in between the torrential rain shower days.

We have enjoyed our walks in the woods beside the house, where we looked for signs of Spring.

Calum (13) has been keeping up with his wildlife photography.

He has a folder full of photos that he is trying to narrow down to just a few to enter into the local show when we go home to my parents' in the summer!

May is also the month of Monday holidays, this May there were three Monday holidays from school - as well as a Tuesday holiday and a Thursday off for the Scottish election!

On one of those Monday holidays we headed out with the boys' cousins, my sister in law and my mum, to enjoy a walk and a picnic in a country park nearby.

Fraser and his little cousin managed to play around in the middle of their big brothers playing a game of football, without getting stood on or tripped over!

May saw us enjoying outdoor drinks at the garden centre. Outdoors, and warm too!

Finally, May is also the month of exams, and this year James (16) has been sitting his first major ones. He is sitting his National 5s, which are the new name for Standard Grades, and the equivalent to GCSEs in England and Wales.

He has been off on study leave for the whole month while he prepares for his 8 subjects. 5 are done, 3 to go.

Fraser has loved having his biggest brother at home throughout the day.

He enjoyed having him come along to do the food shopping with us on one of his breaks, and the wee trip to the coffee shop there.

But one of the best things about having his biggest brother home, is the amazing train tracks he can build for him!

He has one more week of study leave left and then it's back to school again. After that it's only around 4 more weeks and the summer holidays are here!

How has everyone else's May been? Are you counting down the days to the summer holidays yet? We haven't started counting down the days yet, but I can't believe they are just around the corner. Roll on those lazy days!

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Recipe of the Week - Pear, Raspberry & Orange Cake {Wheat & Dairy Free}

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Back in the autumn my mum was asked to take part in filming a few recipes for a Gaelic Cookery programme that is shown on BBC Alba.

The first couple of recipes were shown a couple of weeks ago, and you can watch the episode here if you want to see them.

Her two chosen recipes were: something with duck - I'm really not that keen on duck so I didn't pay that much attention to that one! - and this Pear & Raspberry cake.

I've adapted it to make it safe for our free from boys and also think that there needs to be mention of orange in the title as the orange flavour comes through quite strongly too.

The first week I made this we had it for pudding after dinner one evening, and it was so popular that I was asked to make another one for pudding a few nights later. Which was fine, as the recipe only uses half a tin of pears and it meant I could use up the rest of the pears!

Since it proved so popular in our house, and it is always popular whenever my mum makes it too, I thought it only fair to share a written down version of the cake.

It can be eaten warm as pudding with ice cream or cold with a cup of tea or coffee.

You will need:

2 eggs
6oz sugar + an extra 2 tsp
3oz dairy free margarine
75ml oat milk (or your own choice of suitable dairy free milk)
5oz Doves Farm Gluten Free Self Raising Flour
1 orange, zested
1 tsp baking powder
1 tin pear halves, you will need about three pear halves, sliced
about 100g raspberries, fresh or frozen

-Preheat the oven to 180C and line a square baking tin.

-Beat the eggs and sugar with an electric whisk for about 5 minutes until light and fluffy.

-Meanwhile, melt the margarine and milk in a pan.

-Cool just a little bit before pouring onto the eggs & sugar mix, still whisking.

-Add the flour, orange zest and baking powder and then fold in gently so that you don't knock out all the air you have whisked into the eggs. It is more like a batter mixture than a cake mixture so don't be alarmed if you think it looks thinner than a usual cake mix!

-Pour into your cake tin and then arrange the sliced pears in rows on top of the mixture. They will sink in! Then dot the raspberries around the mixture too.

-Sprinkle the extra 2tsp of sugar over the top and bake for around 20-25 minutes.

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Makings - Scheepjes CAL Weeks 1 & 2

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

The Scheepjes Crochet Along (CAL) began two weeks ago. For the next 14 weeks there will be a pattern released each week - the first 12 weeks or so the patterns will be for squares and the final couple of weeks will be all about the joining and border.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I have chosen the 'Dance in the Sea' colourway for the blanket as it reminds me of the beaches back home.

I also mentioned that I didn't have any illusions about managing to keep up with the weekly releases, as there are four squares to be made each week. I did, however, promise myself that I will try not to fall more than 1 or 2 weeks behind.

So, since the last couple of weeks have been quite busy - with me working making my Gaelic cards for a craft table at our local Mod a couple of Saturdays ago, and then my poor husband going down with Pneumonia around the same time, although he didn't get the official diagnosis until last week - it wasn't really until this past weekend that I was really able to get started on my CAL.

This is where I'm at now.

Week 1 squares are completed and I'm now on the second of the week 2 squares.

The first square was quite straightforward, and includes a popcorn stitch motif in the middle.

Week 2 is a solid square of star stitch, a really fast working and hypnotic stitch!

I do love the shade of this green. It reminds me of sea glass.

This is my first time using Scheepjes Colour Crafter yarn, their equivalent and competitor to my usual DK yarn Stylecraft Special DK. I've seen many crocheters who are taking part in this CAL saying how much they love the Scheepjes yarn and prefer it to the Stylecraft. It is really lovely and soft, but I'm not sure if I prefer it to the Stylecraft yet. I'm going to reserve my judgement until I've made quite a few more squares, and maybe even until I see how the finished blanket feels.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I am on a mission to finish at least one more of my week 2 squares before the Week 3 one is released tomorrow!

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