Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Potions, lotions and emotions

It's all a bit quiet in blogland right now - and that is as it should be in this fine summer weather. Right now I am enjoying living life instead of writing about it - and so many things have been happening that to report it all would be too much of a task. So, a quick catch up here, and later on the gardening blog.
Anyway, i have been doing a bit of potion making! I have been inspired by The Holistic Beauty Book by Star Khechara - a fabulous book full of mouthwatering recipes for body lotions, face oils, scrubs, bath melts etc. The white stuff in the jar is vanilla body butter, made with coconut oil, cocoa butter and a vanilla pod - how bad can that be? I am sitting here smelling like a bounty bar - it is so delicious. The other small jar contains fragrant rose petals from the garden, macerating in organic almond oil, and is almost ready to be used as a base for more body cream and a face oil.
I have had a go with her Irish moss and soapwort shampoo, but, as it has to be made fresh, you really need to have plenty time to rub it through a sieve and rinse all the bits out your hair. Possibly not a good time is when your husband is heading out to work in 5 minutes and you have a 2 year old running around! It did leave my hair smelling and feeling gorgeous though, so i will pencil in a pampering session soon.

The jar at the back contains my staple nettle infusion. I make this up most days, sometimes I use borage, milk thistle or raspberry leaf for a change. Now, this is not your normal herbal tea bag type tisane. This is a full on brew - two handfuls of dried herb steeped in boiling water for four hours in a sealed jar. Just the stuff for the mother of a nursing toddler - especially one of advancing years (the mother, that is :))

Now this stuff is my new morning elixir - the green smoothie! After reading Green for Life by Victoria Boutenko I knew I neededto get more raw greens into our diet. I have to say I struggle a bit with salads - it takes so long to munch through even a modest portion of the stuff. Now I just add a large bunch of leaves - lettuce, chickweed, spinach - whatever I have that looks good - to a cocktail of fruity things and whizz it all up - delicious! We are already feeling some benefits from it - more energy and less likely to snack on sugary things. Also - well, I was going to include the word 'motions' in the post title, but lets just say things are moving along nicely;)
The recipe above was - 2 handfuls of an oaty seedy mix (I used the Food Doctor's porridge mix) " smaller handfuls of raisins, soaked overnight in 1 cup of water. In the morning I picked 2 spinach plants that looked as if they were going to go to seed and a wee handful of chickweed and added them with the oat mix to the blender along with 2 bananas and the remains of a punnet of blueberries - whizzed it up and enjoyed the thick creamy result.

And as for emotions - well, today my darling husband is going to hand in his notice at work - yes he is finally going to retire! It is a big thing for us, but more so for him. He has spent the last 38 years as a doctor, most of it in psychiatry, and has loved every minute. He took a long time to reach this decision, but now it has been made and by the end of September James will have 2 full time parents at home. Lots of exciting plans are being discussed - ideas floated and dreams dreamed right now. So many challenges, changes and good times ahead - will keep you posted. Who knows? this may mean I get the breakfast dishes washed before lunchtme!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Book Sharing Monday (x)

This week we have gone for a beautifully illustrated autobiography - War Boy, by Michael Foreman. I bought this book 20 years ago for my eldest daughter when she was studying WWII
at primary school. Now she is a primary teacher herself! It is the author and illustrator's childhood memoirs of growing up in a Suffolk coastal village (Lowestoft) during the war.
It is such an evocative and moving book, and perfectly captures the strange and unique atmosphere of wartime rural Britain.

The images are full of immense detail - the kind of things that a child would notice, but an adult might not remember. That is what makes this book, I think. Michael's mother - widowed a month before his birth - ran the village shop, which was always full of soldiers, sailors and villagers.

It was so difficult to pick one image to share - there is so much on every page.

Like this picture of Children's Corner at the beach. Of course the beaches were all out of bounds for the duration - this was the Front Line.

Tales of childhood games, home life, the coming of the Yanks, the naval base, air raids, bombings, sailors and soldiers billeted in the local houses. I could go on and on, but for me, this image and these words encapsulate this strange interlude in our history.

Christmas night, 1942, I remember looking back into the room as Mother carried me to the stairs. A sea of faces in the smoke. They were dressed as soldiers and sailors, but wearing paper hats. other boys' fathers, sitting round our table wishing it was their little boy they had just kissed goodnight.

Join in and share more books at Serendipity.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Shadow Shot Sunday - Birds in the garden

Hens and sparrows enjoying an evening drink in our garden.

I love how the sparrows cling on to the kniphofia and sip from the flowers. They could almost be Scottish Hummingbirds.

See more great shadows at Shadow Shot Sunday on Hey Harriet.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I love dirt!

And I love little dirty feet too :)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Book Sharing Monday (ix)

This week we have chosen Peter in Blueberry Land by Elsa Beskow for Book Sharing Monday. This story was first published in Sweden in 1901, and is a delightful and timeless tale. It tells the story of Peter, who goes deep into the forest in search of berries for his Mother's birthday, but can't find any. Then the magic begins and the Blueberry King appears to help him.

Lots of good fun too, with the Blueberry Boys and the Cranberry Girls, and Peter has a wonderful time - and his Mother has a wonderful surprise birthday present.

When he got home, he drew a birthday card for his mother. (His big sister helped him with the spelling) Here it is. He picked these flowers for his mother too, and put them round the basket of berries.
His mother was very pleased and said it was one of the nicest presents she had ever had. "Where did you find all those berries?" she asked. But Peter smiled and shook his head. it was a secret between him and the King of Blueberry Land.

I like a mother who knows when to let things lie - little boys need to have some secrets :)

See more book shares every Monday at Serendipity.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Undeniably delicious, but...

The month of June is full of various local festivals - every Saturday, one or two Sundays and other odd days through the week, depending on the particular village or town. Today was our village procession and fete - a small affair compared to the one pictured on a previous post. Nevertheless, we do like to support local community events, so off we went - despite the drizzling rain. No photos of the parade as it was so wet and cold, but later we all repaired back to our house for a buffet lunch. I made this fabulous orange and raspberry cheesecake for desert - definitely worth a photo, even if I almost forgot and had to rescue this slice before it met it's fate.

Less tasty, however, is the amount of plastic packaging I used in the making of this culinary masterpiece. None of this is recyclable in our area. I am quite ashamed of this, and so I should be. I am going to try harder to source non plastic, and it can be done, with a bit more effort. It did make me think about the tons and tons of plastic waste going to landfill. What's the use of buying organic raspberries, strawberries and cream if they are wrapped up in non reusable plastic cartons? How many households in West Lothian are piling up plastic waste in their dustbins for their Galaday lunches and barbecues during the month of June? How many articulated lorries are spewing out exhaust fumes carrying their cargoes of plastic food storage boxes up and down Britain's motorways? My head is about to explode just thinking about the ramifications of my cheesecake. I think I'd better go and lick the plate.

Shadow Shot Sunday - Butterfly World

James and I went to Butterfly and Insect World near Edinburgh earlier this week. Here are a couple of shots from our visit.

Fly along to Hey Harriet for more Shadow Shot Sunday pictures.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


We have too much stuff in our house. I keep saying that the house is not big enough for a family of 5, but I know that if we could downsize the amount of unnecessary stuff we have then we would have room for another family! We always feel so much better when the house has been decluttered - you can sense the chi whizzing around, reaching places it has not been able to get to for so long. This state of lightness does not last too long, sadly. However hard we try - however many times we vow 'never to buy anything new unless we really need it, have thought about it for 3 days and have taken something to the charity shop to keep the balance' - stuff creeps back in.
No more! Things are changing. Over the next few weeks this house will be systematically decluttered. This is happening and I feel so much better knowing it. We are gong to sell some stuff at a car boot sale, ebay a couple of things, freecycle some and charity shop the majority of things.
To start of we have the help of the wonderful Kristine, who, apart from having the same name as my younger daughter, hosts Throwaway Thursday on her blog. the challenge is to grab a bin bag, set a timer for 30 minutes and throw clutter into the bag. Kristine (my daughter) and I took up this challenge today - focusing on clothes. We were absolutely ruthless - any item we found ourselves thinking - "well... I might wear that again..." had to be firmly thrown out. We were very pleased with ourselves and both bags are destined for the Salvation Army shop in the next town. I feel so light I might even fly there.

Monday, June 15, 2009

I see the moon!

Well - a boy was not tired the other night so we all went for a late night walk. James had to take his very powerful binoculars in case the moon came out.

Book Sharing Monday (viii)

Our choice for Book sharing Monday today is a well read favourite here. Saturday with Mez, by Lauren Serafin, Jason Rohrer and Mez. A beautifully photographed and hand bound board book, with simple text this tells the story of a day in the life of Mez, a nursing toddler.

Gorgeous black and white images photographed in natural light take us through Mez's morning - breakfast, dressing, shopping, eating, napping, going on a cycle ride and sleeping - oh and breast feeding. This is James's favourite page - we can look at this for ages and ages.

They stop to say hello
to a dog named Buddy

I am often very grateful to this book. When a sleepy boy is not keen to go to bed, and wants 'one more story' this one often does the trick - it seems to remind him of something he might like to do :)

Happy Book Sharing Monday. Visit Alex's blog to see more.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Shadow Shot Sunday - after the shopping

We have to travel about 10 miles to get to our nearest wholefoods shop, but we don't mind because it is in the lovely historical town of Linlithgow. After our shopping we did some touristy things, so come and join us.

First stop is our favourite organic cafe next door to the shop. James always has an apple juice and a giant freshly baked chocolate chip shortcake, while I just have a plain water (haha). I love how someone's shadow is reflected in the back of the perspex chair.

Then we head up to the Palace - birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots.

A rather blurred shot of the Palace entrance, but I liked the shadow here.

Down to the lochside to visit the swans.

And then a good run around under the trees.

Window shop for more shadows at Shadow Shot Sunday.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


After my wandering post yesterday, my Dad told me about this today. Needless to say I am most unhappy.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


A few hundred yards aways from our house, a new railway station is being built. A rail link, closed in the late 1950s, is being reinstated, affording us direct access to both Glasgow and Edinburgh by train.
The work is really intensive right now,with the construction of the station, the car park, and all the attendant bits of concrete laying that seem to go on with such projects. James is in his element and he likes nothing better than to go to the farm road adjacent to the site and watch the diggers do their stuff - and there are some seriously heavy duty pieces of equipment trundling up and down our road. A sign informs us that the first train will depart in December 2010.

Now - this is a good thing. It's what we all want - a decent public transport infrastructure - taking polluting cars off the road - connecting communities, more opportunity for all. Not to mention the knock on effect of elevating the house prices in the area. We will live within easy walking distance of the station, 20 -30 minutes until we are in the centre of either of our two major cities.
But... we are losing too. The redundant railway had become a much used and loved cycle path and walkway. A wildlife haven and just a place to escape. Setting out for a walk we would decide which way to go - east or west - always reminding me of Proust's dilemma - the Guermantes way or the way by Swann's. West was always better in the summer and winter - the territory was open, the skies huge, and the verges covered in wildflowers. Spring and autumn was the time to head east. Long sweeping avenues of beech trees, fields of baby lambs, or silent sheep, blackberries and rosehips were the treasures to be found there. Artworks were dotted along the way, - it was sad to see one of them dumped and broken at the back of the site huts.
I walked here most days during my pregnancy with James - normally towards the west, as my favourite tree was there, and I would touch it's trunk and talk to it.  The morning that I discovered I was expecting a baby and the age of 45, I met 4 magpies on the trail. My husband's tree was on the eastern path - an old beech that looked like Treebeard from the Lord of the Rings. Walking with James - either in the buggy, or the sling was an almost daily pleasure. We threw autumn leaves in the air and tried to catch them, played inside the hollow tree, listened to the music of thewind rattling the broom seedpods, watched a hairy caterpillar cross the path in front of us, and played for hours in a flooded low lying section. All this is gone, save the memories; the trees cut down, the water drained, the wildlife concreted over. Our paradise is being paved.
Network rail have pledged to reinstate the cycle path, but it will run alongside the railway. Until then we have to find other places to wander. I know I will use the new rail service, and I will say how great it is to be so close to the station, two great cities on my doorstep - and it will be. But it won't compare with sunny days spent splashing around with a laughing boy..

Monday, June 8, 2009

Thank you Shell xxx

We loved our package of old buttons. It was so nice of you to think of sending us some. James particularly enjoyed using them in his latest construction project.

Check out the blog of the very talneted Shell at My Handmade Haven - a very lovely and creative lady.

Book Sharing Monday (vii)

This week we have chosen a rollicking rhyme Slinky Malinky by Lynley Dodd. It is a great read aloud story poem which allows me to camp it up in my most dramatic fashion ;)

Slinky Malinky is a naughty cat, a sort of feline Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, who likes to go out at night and steal all the neighbours' belongings. One night, however, he goes too far....

All over town
from basket and bowl
he pilfered and pillaged,
he snitched and he stole.
Slippers and sausages,
biscuits, balloons,
brushes and bandages,
pencils and spoons.

... he bungles the job, wakes up the family and his nocturnal wanderings are curtailed. He becomes a respectable kitty in the end, but i am not sure how long it will last. Great fun.

Check out other book shares at:

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Shadow Shot Sunday - Gala Day Parade

Today was our local Gala Day Parade. Schools, organisations and businesses and individuals come together and enter decorated floats, or dress up and walk around the town accompanied by various bands. This year's theme was Homecoming Scotland 2009.
Here are two Scots boys, my younger son and my grandson, waiting impatiently on the parade to start - flags at the ready

First came a man selling balloons...

...then the Gala Queen's carriage...

A brass band...

...and a pipe band (of course).

Then I looked across the road and saw this...

Our old picture house, now a community theatre and arts venue.

Hope you enjoyed my shadow parade. See lots more Shadow Shots at Hey Harriet.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


James has been loving these warm days and spends most of his time getting down and dirty, running about in the garden. I love to watch him and it is great to see him so active - especially after his accident in the winter, when he fractured his femur. There is not much sign of the injury now - a wee bit unsteady on occasion, usually when he is tired, but on the whole it is a distant memory.So - he rolls about in his tent...

...fixes my car with a yellow playsilk...

...fends off hidden dragons with a skytail ball...

...and brings a whole new meaning to co-sleeping!

Exactly what a 2 year old should be doing, really:)