Thursday, 28 January 2016
Monday, 25 January 2016
I'm sure I've mentioned before what a wonderful place Instagram is for us crafty types. It's full of crafters sharing their makes, ideas and inspirations. Yes, it's also full of a lot of selfies and duck faces, but the people I follow aren't into that side of the site, thankfully!
My Instagram friends share photos of their crochet, knitting, baking, families, day to day lives and a bit more crochet.
It was there I first heard about the Little Box of Crochet, a monthly subscription box containing everything you need for a crochet project. I've seen quite a few of these sort of monthly subscription boxes around. Some are aimed at crafts for kids, others at home cooks, but this was the first one I had seen for crocheters. It seemed like something I would love but as it was just before Christmas I had more than enough to do without adding a new project and so I decided not to subscribe quite yet.
Soon people began sharing pictures of their first boxes and then the second, which contained everything needed to make a beautiful pair of wrist warmers, and by the time the January box came out I had decided that, yes, this would be a perfect little treat for me.
The trouble was that by then the subscriptions were all full!
Thankfully a few more slots were released a couple of weeks later and I was fortunate to get one of these. A couple of days later and I received my happy post, on a day that Bob the Builder and his gang were busy fixing things.
The box was even more beautiful than I had imagined, a really high quality sturdy box that I am already imagining putting to good use as a craft supply storer!
Once I delved into the box there was everything needed to make the ear-warmer - gloriously soft scheepjes yarn (a yarn I have never used before but will definitely use again), a knit pro waves soft handled crochet hook, stitch marker, pom pom maker, and even a little tea bag so that you can enjoy a cuppa while crocheting. There was also the pattern for the ear-warmers, which was designined by Kate from Just Pootling, and a little newsletter from Amanda, the lovely lady behind Little Box of Crochet.
The pattern was really straightforward and easy to get into the swing of. Look at those cute little pom pom stitches.
But still need to sew in those ends before assembling it!
Thursday, 21 January 2016
At this time of year, when the weather is so grey and the days feel like there has hardly been any daylight at all, it's hard to resist the lure of a comforting pudding.
We don't eat pudding every night of the week. Just on one or two week nights, but always on a Sunday. For week night puds I want something that I can rustle up pretty quickly, ideally something that I can throw in the food mixer and let it do the work while I get the next stage of dinner on the go.
That's what I love about this pudding, which came about as a result of re-vamping our old favourite, Magic Chocolate Pudding. (You can find the recipe for that one here.) All it takes is throwing the cake ingredients in the mixer, let it mix for a few minutes, scrape it into your dish and then pour the sauce mixture on top. After 20-30 minutes in the oven you have a pudding AND a sauce.
The revamp of the chocolate version didn't come about as a result of us being tired of it. Imagine the suggestion of me tiring of a chocolate pudding?! No, I decided to try something different as my husband would far rather a lighter, fruitier pudding than a really chocolatey one, so this one was concocted with him in mind, and I'm so pleased with how it turned out that I thought I'd share it here.
The lovely lemony zing from the sauce is perfect for lifting your spirits on a grey January day. I also think it would be lovely with a handful or two of blueberries stirred through the cake mix before it's baked, but one of our boys would seriously object to that so I haven't tried that yet!
Monday, 18 January 2016
16 years ago today our oldest boy was born.
He kept us waiting for 10 days after his official due date, the second latest any of the boys were in arriving - beaten only by Alasdair who was 11 days late.
James was named after my dad, and my grandfather- and quite a few generations of James' before them too. My father in law's middle name is also James so the name comes from both sides of the family.
Right from the earliest days he was a happy, smiley little man.
James aged 6 weeks
James aged 10 weeks
I remember when that photo above was taken. He was only 10 weeks old but to me that was already so old and it was impossible to remember life before him!
I've had fun going through old photo albums and thought it would be fun to mark his 16th birthday by looking at all of his birthdays through the years.
Starting with his first birthday.
His first birthday cake was a simple one with a picture of La-La from the Teletubbies drawn on it.
He loved La-La!
The album with his 2nd birthday photos in it must be in the loft as I can't find it anywhere else!
On his third birthday he had a little football cake. This was around the time that Calum, then 3 months old, was really struggling with severe eczema. James' was moderately bad at the time too, in fact I would have thought it worse if Calum's hadn't been so severe. So life was pretty tough for a while with two little boys with such intense skin care regimes. Plus very little sleep.
But by the time of his fourth birthday we had the skin care regimes down to a fine art. Their eczema was still there but I guess we had just become experts at managing it.
I think they could almost pass as Alasdair and Fraser in this photo!
Aged 5 and James was into his space phase. It was also the first year he had a party for his birthday with other friends around and not just his cousins.
The 6th birthday photos must be in the same place as the 2nd birthday ones as I can't find them either, so let's move on to his 7th birthday, which was around the time he started on his superhero phase.
When James was turning 8 he had a huge fascination with the Ancient Egyptians. It also happened that at that time there was a big exhibition of Egyptian treasures in the O2 in London. There was also a really great offer on train tickets to London at the time - I'm pretty sure that we got returns from Edinburgh to London for £5 each! So for James' 8th birthday we all took a trip to London for a couple of nights to go and see the Egyptian treasures.
When we were back home again he got his cake, which was shaped like a Dalek from Dr Who. My brother thought it was some sort of bug but James knew what it was meant to be!
By his 9th birthday he had brief obession with Ben 10, but still loved all things Egyptian and received quite a few Egyptian themed presents.
Aged 10 he had discovered Club Penguin and asked for a Club Penguin cake.
When he turned 11 he was still very interested in all sorts of history. His birthday party was a Medieval Banquet.
His cake that year was quite a work of art and is worthy of it's own photo!
I took his continued love of Captain America and Marvel as inspiration for his 12th birthday cake, this red, white and blue concoction.
When he became a teenager he asked for a chocolate cake. Simple.
You may remember me sharing some of these cakes in previous years, like the one he had for his 14th birthday which was meant to look like the Marvel badge. I love this photo of him and his cousin Finlay - a fellow Marvel fan!
Almost up to date now, and onto last year's cake which was this chocolate M&Ms cake.
And finally his 16th birthday, which we celebrated at the weekend rather than today as James has Army Cadets on Monday nights and so wouldn't have time to enjoy his birthday dinner and cake.
Birthday boys always choose the birthday dinner and this year's choice was no different than what he has asked for for the last five or six years - home made steak pie, which we had with roast potatoes, roast parsnips and veggies.
When I asked James what he wanted for his birthday cake this year he said, 'Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate.'
I think I fulfilled the brief!
Chocolate cake surrounded with chocolate fingers and topped with milk & white coated chocolate Oreo truffles as well as coconut truffles.
Thursday, 14 January 2016
Tuesday, 12 January 2016
- writing to Santa
- painting owl decorations for the tree
- making pom-pom robins for the tree
Speaking of the tree, decorating that was quite an adventure for some!
Every December the high school that the older two boys attend hires Edinburgh's Usher Hall for their Christmas concert and it's always a wonderful evening of music.
This was the 4th year that James (15) has taken part, playing trombone in the school wind band. This year Calum (13) took part for the first time, having joined the wind band as a trumpet player.
They don't scrub up too badly do they?
As well as all the usual Christmas events, we had a family celebration to fit in the week before Christmas. My mum celebrated her 60th birthday and my sister in law and I worked together to put on a special family dinner for her.
One of my contributions was to make the cake.
Here is my mum with all of her grandchildren.
As for the actual day of Christmas, we spent it much the same way as we always do, with my husband's parents and sister joining us.
Dinner was, of course, a big turkey with all the traditional trimmings.
There had to be a selfie taken at some point during the day.
And my Christmas Pudding flamed very nicely indeed!
We even managed to get an updated photo of all of us together, thanks to my husband's sister.
The days following Christmas and leading up to Hogmanay were suitably lazy and largely spent indoors as the weather was so awful.
We did venture out to the cinema one day though. The older boys went to see Star Wars with a cousin while I took the younger boys to see the Peanuts movie, which was a lovely little movie.
Then it was on to Hogmanay, which we spent through at my in-laws'.
All of the boys, except for Fraser (2), stayed awake to see the New Year in at the Bells.