Friday, July 31, 2009

The Giraffes who came for tea.

Along with Pooh Bear and the neenaw car - it was quite a party :)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Season Table and toys

This is our Summer seasonal table - still has that big old sun there and a couple of gorgeous fans I found in the fair trade shop in Linlithgow for £2 each! They have been used quite a bit already, as the conservatory gets really warm during the day. Wooden bowl full of shells, flower heads, seed pods etc, a couple of bug and butterfly spotter guides for easy access, James's gardening gloves and his watering can which he allowed me to use as a vase - containing some roses, hydrangea and lavender from the garden. Hanging above is a bee mobile with willow hives and paper flowers. The bees are made from pine cones with yellow wool wrapped around them and greaseproof paper wings. I first saw this idea on Mama4's blog - A Smile a Day. Mama's were much better than these, because she had used alder cones, which are more bee-like. Mine are far more blowsy.

I am going to be changing the location of our table soon, as this space is right by the side door - the family and friends door. As a consequence, my seasonal display often feature items such as car keys, the dog's lead, handbags, soft drink cans, and once (shock) a fag packet :0. Just to make the point - here is a picture I took yesterday just after the organic box was delivered. James immediately made for the punnet of raspberries, and i couldn't resist snapping the moment. Later on when I downloaded the days shots I noticed my 'seasonal display' lol. I have a space in mind, but it needs a lot of decluttering and some shelf building.

Now shelf building is not a problem for my clever husband. He has just constructed this masterpiece to hold James's toys and books. These were previously stored in various boxes and in different places around the house. This did not work as chucking everything into one box means that the toys at the bottom are rarely played with,and play can be limited. I felt it was important that his toys were in the family living space, as that is where we spend our time. I don't like the idea of him having to go to his room to play - he doesn't have a room anyway as we co-sleep and his older brother and sister have the other bedrooms. This is a really small house - a bit like the Tardis in reverse, it looks like a sizeable bungalow from the outside, but inside it is a typical 1930s design. Of course we didn't really expect to have such a wonderful addition to our family when we first moved here!

Anyway, I am really pleased - no - thrilled with how this has turned out. All the toys are now accessible and together; cars in one basket, blocks in another, dressing up clothes - you get the idea. James has already played such imaginative games with toys he had forgotten about, and his creativity seems to have taken a huge leap. Happy, happy happy me!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wonderful Word Wednesday

Today I am going a wee bit academic for my wonderful word. Back to my first anatomy and physiology lectures in fact. This word randomly jumped into my mind last week, but i am wondering if it is related to James and his love of water - the sea, puddles, harbours and rain are all favourites right now, but try to get him in the bath or shower - no way!
So, my word is Hydrophillic - which means water loving, as opposed to hydrophobic - both words fit James at the moment :)
These words are terms used to describe the molecules which make up the cell membrane - the phospholipid bilayer. The molecules have hydrophillic heads and hydrophobic tails and look a bit like this:This is how the membrane that surrounds all our cells is made up. I could go on, but I'm sure it is searchable if you want all the hydrogen bonding and negatively charged ions and stuff.
Hydrophillic - my word of the week. Thank you Tired Mummy for Wonderful Word.

Monday, July 27, 2009


This afternoon John wanted to go into town for a haircut, so James and I decided we would go along for the ride. James was hoping to buy another boat from one of the charity shops, so I suggested that he donate an old toy that he didn't play with anymore. He was quite amenable to this idea and selected a Postman Pat figure complete with mail trolley, that he had inherited from one of my step-grandsons. He was very excited about this and wanted to put it in his own bag to give to the lady himself. We took a couple of bags of books with us too.
Well, he didn't get his boat, but he did find a yellow digger and a wooden tractor instead. The lady in Barnardo's was very pleased to take his donation and made a wee fuss of him, which he always enjoys. Then we found a bag of large lego type pieces in the Capability shop for 50p and the lady there gave him a little Eskimo figure she had sitting on the counter.
We met up with Dad, who was sitting reading on a bench outside the barbers. James stayed with him while I investigated the British Heart Foundation shop. When I returned, (with a skirt, a top and a couple of good children's books) he had built a large tower, helped by Dad and an older man who had been sitting on the bench too. They were totally engrossed in their construction project and the man was genuinely sorry when we left for home.
On the way, we passed another 2 charity shops - Help the Aged and Sense (more books, a jumper, shirt and wellies for James). In each place and along the way, people smiled, chatted and generally took an interest in him. All the shop volunteers made a fuss of him; an elder from the Islamic community centre, who was browsing in the Sense shop came up and shook his hand; and, as a group of teenage boys passed by, one of them said to the others "Awww,did you see that cute wee boy?", and they all turned round a smiled at him
I was struck by the way these folk, strangers to us, all immediately resonated with James's natural innocence. There is something so touching about a child's wonder at the world; and the world responds back. I hope James will never lose that sense of wonder and innocence.

Book sharing Monday (xiv)

This week we are reading Dinosaurs and all that rubbish by Michael Foreman, which we bought in a very cosy 2nd hand bookshop opposite The Meadows in Edinburgh.

In this fable, Man has stopped at nothing in his bid to reach the stars. He cuts down all the trees, burns whatever he can in his attempt to build a rocket. Smoke and fumes poured out and the Earth was soon covered in waste and rubbish. When all the damage was done, Man finally set off in his rocket to the stars.

The heat of all that rubbish woke the dinosaurs who had lain asleep underground for thousands of years. This is James's favourite page.
A dinosaur held his nose
as he looked around.
"POOH!" he said.
There is nothing on this planet but mess.
If we are going to live here
we'll have to get busy"

So they clean up the Earth, and forests and flowers grow again - the world becomes a beautiful paradise once again. Meanwhile, Man has reached his star and found that there was nothing to see. He sees a beautiful blue star in the sky and sets off for it. Once he arrives he doesn't recognise the planet that he had trashed before, and thinks he can take over. The dinosaurs have other ideas, and soon put him right, reminding him that the Earth belongs to everyone and they must all play their part in enjoying and caring for it.

A very relevant read in the current environment. Interesting that it was first published in 1972! I wonder if the planet would be in better shape if the dinosaurs had woken up then.
Share lots more books at Canadian Home Learning.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Shadow Shot Sunday - Gate between darkness and light

Walking along a shady wooded lane, this gate seemed to open up to the light.

See more light and dark partnerships from around the world at Shadow Shot Sunday


I have been experimenting a bit with raw food lately, after finally coming across a raw no-cook book that contains recipes that are actually accessible - do not require several pieces of horrendously expensive equipment or bizarre ingredients sourced from mountain lakes in the middle of the high Andes. Jennifer Cornbleet's Raw Food Made Easy has some of the most delicious recipes I have tasted. You do need a some kind of blender or food processor - even a stick one works.
Just before we went off on our break, I made Not Meat Balls in a raw Marinara sauce with courgette pasta.

Forgive the blurred photograph, but if you are ever to try a raw food recipe it should be this one - especially the sauce
I have a veg peeler which does very thin pasta shapes, so I used that to slice my courgettes, but I have done a tagliatelle type with a potato peeler.

Marinara Sauce

1 ripe tomato
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes in oil (or soaked for 30 mins if dried)
1/2 red pepper
2 tbls olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 crushed garlic clove
1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp salt
dash black pepper and dash cayenne.

Blitz in blender or food processor and keep in a sealed container (up to 3 days in a fridge)

Not Meat Balls

1 cup walnuts (soaked for 6 - 8 hrs)
1 tblsp lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp tamari
1/4 tsp garlic powder
dash salt
1 tbsp minced parsley
1 tblsp minced onion

Place everything except the parsley and onion into a food processor and blend into a paste. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and still in the parley and onion. Will keep for 5 days. Make up into ball shapes and serve on top of courgettes with sauce drizzled over.

A few days away

We had a couple of days away in the campervan last week. Just back down to South Ayrshire to a great wee site we had come across the other week. With John's fast approaching early retirement, we have been looking at various options regarding property and self-sufficiency, so we were back down to have a more detailed viewing of one we had previously looked at. Not sure though. Now that the dream is about to come true we are beginning to feel quite confused as to what our ideal place actually is. When it was still a dream it was fine - we had no shortage of ideas and plans. Now - well - when we are looking at land we are going to be making our living from, it seems quite different, and very daunting.
As I sit here typing this in my sunny conservatory, looking out at my garden, listening to the birds singing, I wonder why we want to move - what is wrong with this house? Surely the most important space is inside my head, anyway? Then I notice the background hum of steady traffic passing right outside the front gate, and remember.
The right place will come to us at the right time.
Anyway, here are a few pictures of our very wet holiday. James seemed to live in his Muddy Puddles suit and wellies, but it meant he could still have fun in the rain.

We even managed some fairly strenuous hiking, although James has now decided that he will never go in the sling again.

This little lamb adopted us for part of our walk. James said she was Uan, The Little Lamb.

It was so windy at Girvan beach, I thought James was going to take off like a balloon in his rain-suit!

But he managed to stay on land and played with all the seaweed that had been washed up.

Then he and Dad climbed up onto a rock in the middle of the sea!

Despite the strong winds on the beach, the harbour was very still and calm. I suppose that's the point of a harbour.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Harry Potter: variations on a theme (part 2)

Anyway, this was not meant to be a critique of the Harry Potter phenomenon. I just always feel the need to do some (fairly extensive) scene setting before I get to my main point. So here it is.
We arrived at the cinema for 10.30 am, and had to sit through 30 minutes of adverts for various products and forthcoming attractions. Now, we don't have a television. (My older children have portables in their rooms, but you would be taking your life in your hands trying to negotiate a safe passageway to the on button, never mind locate the remotecontrol . ) Furthermore, it has been at least 3 years since I last went to the cinema, so I have not been subjected to on screen advertising for some time. I even commented to my daughter that I was a bit dazzled by it all.
It was a very interesting experience watching these short pieces of film, designed to draw the audience in to wanting - no, needing that product. The adverts were for various products - mobile phone companies, computer games, children's sweets among others. What struck me most was how aggressive the tone of many of these ads were. The computer games featured monsters breaking down walls, explosions with great plumes of smoke billowing towards us, lots of shouting, noise and general chaos. The advert for thechildrens' sweets featured 2 young children, aggressively interrogating their Dad, who had apparently eaten all of a particular variety, in the style of a macho detective show.
The atmosphere grew progressively darker with the forthcoming attractions feature. What an array of doom laden, depressing and gloomy movies we have to look forward to. Even the 'comedies' were all about bad things happening to people. Each trailer seemed to open with either a huge explosion,someone's face contorted in a scream, fighter spaceships blasting through the screen, even, bizarrely, special agent guinea pigs blasting on to the screen in fighting poses.

Is the world really such an anguished place? Is there no room for love, gentleness or positive images of family life? Is there any hope? The world I saw portrayed in that half hour before the 'main feature' filled me with despair. Did my fellow viewers feel the same, or was it just that I now watch in a different way? My daughter said she doesn't pay attention to ads and they just wash over her. Is that true?
Martin Large, in his excellent book Set Free Childhood, describes the TV Brain phenomenon. Studies have shown that watching TV inhibits the working of the left brain, which deals sequentially with logic, language, analysis and reason. The right brain, which primarily deals with images, colours and emotions, is thus given free reign. He quotes a study in which the conclusion was "Television is a communication medium that effortlessly transmits huge quantities of information not thought about at the time of exposure" (my italics).
I think it is time we paid big attention to what we are being given to watch on screen. It is only by paying attention that we can begin to think ourselves out of this sad and unhappy place. Otherwise we may be sleepwalking into the kind of 2012 future that the entertainment industry presents us with. There - see! I have begun to portray life as a potential apocalyptical event. Voldemort round every corner, death eaters trying to break into my house; I hear the deep gravelly voice saying "it begins..."Where is my wand when I need it?

Book Sharing Monday (xiii)

This week we have chosen an old book that my mother used in her nursery class back in the 1970s. It has since been enjoyed by all 8 children in the family. It is The cow who fell into the canal by Phyllis Krasilovsky. This is a very funny book about Hendrika, a dairy cow, who lives on a farm in Holland. All she does is eat and give white creamy milk to the farmer Mr Hofstra to make fine cheeses with. Hendrika is unhappy, however, because she is fed up with seeing the same things every day, and wonders what the city is like. One day she falls into the canal. She is so fat she cannot climb out, but she eventually manages to clamber into a little raft. The raft takes her on a wonderful journey down the canal towards the city.

Now Hendrika wasn't too sleepy to open her eyes.
There was so much to see on both sides of the canal!

She has a great time on her travels, and causes quite a stir when she goes exploring the town. Fortunately she meets Mr Hofstra, who is selling the cheeses, and he helps her to get back home, where she resumes her grass eating. She is much happier now that she has new things to think about.
Broaden your horizons at Alex's blog on Book Sharing Monday.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Harry Potter: variations on a theme (part 1)

I had a rare morning out with just my younger daughter today - we went to see the new Harry Potter film. I am not a fan and would not normally have gone, but her boyfriend was not keen and everyone else seemed to have seen it already. So - off we went for the 10.30 am showing. The last time I was at the pictures so early was when I was 7 and the local Miner's Welfare Society started showing old 50s movies on a Saturday morning - King Kong, I think it was!

My Harry Potter credentials are limited. I have only read books 1 - 3 and seen the first 2 films. I became disillusioned when he sold his soul to Coca Cola, and more so when I attempted to read Book 4 and realised *whispers* - the writing was not very good and the plot was weak.
I enjoyed the first book, though. It was fresh and exciting, and was a great story. I remember reading it out loud to my children and husband. Every night I read a chapter - they all crowded round me as I, in my most dramatic and camped up style, related the tale of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's stone. As we neared the end, they were desperate to discover the identity of the rogue teacher. I kept them in suspense until the following evening. I can still see their expectant faces as I read the words: "It was Quirrel"and hear the gasps of surprise! "NO!" "Well I never thought of him!"
Anyway, I didn't think I would have too much trouble picking up the plot - and so it proved. I only had to ask who 2 of the character's were. The film itself was fine - not much in the way of a plot, but lots of whooshing and shooshing noises, flashing lights and smoke. The plot hinges on eavesdropped conversations of a cruicial nature, a saved memory bank, and snooping about in shadowy places. It's not really a stand-alone film - no clear beginning or ending, so is definitely meant to be seen as a series. The time passed quickly enough and before we knew it we were out blinking in the sunshine, shocked to find it was 1.30 in the afternoon!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Shadow Shot Sunday - In the night kitchen

There has been a dearth of shadow opportunities this week, due to very rainy weather here I took these shots in the kitchen the other night. I had been in bed asleep, awoke in the early hours and decided to get up for a glass of water. The neighbours' outside lights were still on, shining through my kitchen window, and I was greeted with the shadows of my kitchen utensils hanging from their rack.
See what wonderful shadows are being cooked up at Hey Harriet's Shadow Shot Sunday menu.

Friday, July 17, 2009

In between the showers.

We draw chalk pictures on the doorstep. Then the rain comes and washes them away - and we can start all over again. Brilliant!

Rosy Butter

I made the Rosy Butter from Star Khechara's Holistic Beauty Book this evening. It smells utterly divine, and feels so silky. It is made from macerated rose oil (a jar of rose petals steeped in almond oil for a month), shea butter and essential oil of rose. There is quite a lot of the latter, so it was a bit pricey, but - well - I'm worth it. At least I know exactly what is in it, unlike the chemical cocktails from the company which uses that tag line n their advertisements.
I am going to try a lavender version next. Rosemary might work too - and lemon. There could be no stopping me now!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Throwaway Thursday

This week I decided to clear out my 'important papers expanding file'. This had been lying behind one of the chairs in the front room for a few months. It had expanded so much it had burst open and however hard I tried to stuff it under the chair, if company called - it kept sneaking out, demanding attention. So, attend to it I did. The small pile on the right contains the actual 'important papers', whilst the humongous green bag contains the trash. How many torn, empty envelopes does a person have to file before they are committed to an institution for the terminally cluttered? Why did I need to file every single piece of paper from car and home insurance policies that expired 8 years ago? 2004 MOT certificate for a car that we no longer own and was written off in 2008 anyway? No idea.
Kristine invites us to de-clutter our lives every Thursday. A wee bit at a time :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

This boy

Has not had a bath since Saturday and does not ever want to go to bed. He wants to stay up all night and eat corn on the cob.


As James becomes more and more talkative, I realise that many of the phrases he comes out with are ones he has heard me say first. So - one of his well used phrases is " aweebit" This is used in many situations - usually involving food. If I am cooking, or preparing the dinner, or even opening the fridge - he will stop whatever he is doing and come running up shouting "A wee bit Mummy - just aweebit!" I do feed him - honestly. Sometimes if he wants to breastfeed during the day, he will pull at my top, smile so sweetly and say "aweebit Mum"
I must say this a lot too - "OK. Just a wee bit then" At least it is a wee bit positive.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Book sharing Monday (xii)

Every week I wonder what I will do for the next Book sharing Monday post. Usually, though, by the time Sunday comes around, a book has emerged. Maybe one that I have come across by accident - tidying up or whatever, but more often than not, James will pick up on a book and it will be read constantly for several days. This week, then, he has chosen Mother Goose, or the Old Nursery Rhymes; illustrated by Kate Greenaway.

His favourite rhyme at the moment is this one.

Diddley diddley dumpty
The cat ran up the plum tree.
Give her a plum
and down she'll come
Diddley diddley dumpty.

Nonsense? I don't think so. Children learn so many things from nursery rhymes: language, poetry, numeracy, ethics, history, and hints of what to expect as they grow older. Also - we have a plum tree, and next door's cat, Milly, likes to sit in it - so, everyday life is reflected too!

Join in on Book Sharing Monday - go to Canada and visit Alex @ Serendipity.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

More gratuitous seaside pictures

We spent the end of yesterday afternoon on the beach at Girvan, South Ayrshire. It was almost deserted, apart from the occasional dog walker. The weather had been warm, but became a bit dull and windy. We had some great beach fun anyway. Running, splashing, dancing, even a spot of Tai-Chi - with a great backdrop!

Keep enjoying the summertime. xx

Happy Birthday

My elder son was 18 on Wednesday. It hardly seems possible that so many years have passed so quickly. His was the easiest and quickest of all my births - and he certainly has been the most laid back of all my children. It was also his lovely girlfriend's 18th on Saturday, so an action packed week of celebrations has ensued. Sadly, I didn't get any usable shots of Friday's party (aarghh!) so here are some others taken during the week.

Wednesday night was a big night out in Livingston with friends, but he made time to blow out the 18 candles on his raspberry victoria sponge cake, with us before he left. Little brother James helped, of course.

Opening his present from big sister Karen.
(Ignore the temporary barricades in the background. These were meant to keep the hens in their own yard - they obviously worked well as you can see!)

Out for a lunch in a posh local restaurant today with Gran and Papa, Karen and husband, Daniel, grandson Finlay, John and James. Other daughter, Kristine, is away at T in the Park, and K's girlfriend had to work.

Anyway - Happy Birthday K . He is off to university soon to study Chemistry (with a year in Australia). Then he will save the world by inventing a sustainable and totally renewable, non polluting fuel. wonder what he'll do in the afternoon?

Shadow Shot Sunday - Clyde Coast

Yesterday we took a wee afternoon run down to the coast of Ayrshire. It was a gorgeous day, but later on a strong wind whipped up the sand on Girvan beach. The visibility was not great, so there was a bit of a shadow shortage. Ah well - here is a grainy image of Ailsa Craig - a volcanic plug that sits in the middle of the Firth of Clyde. For the next week, golfing fans will become very familiar with this sight as the TV crews of the world descend on Turnberry for the British Open Golf Championship. It tends to feature in panned out shots from the course. Personally I would rather sit and watch the light changing on Ailsa Craig than watch golf, but each to their own.

This is another misty view, this time of the beautiful island of Arran, taken from Girvan harbour. The profile allegedly resembles that of a sleeping warrior. I have spent countless childhood holidays studying this skyline and cannot quite see it - I am happy to keep trying though.

Boats in the harbour.

James on the beach before the sandstorm. Arran is just visible on the horizon.

Visit Hey Harriet for great shadow shots around the world every Sunday - wherever you are.