Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Snowmen



It was the Sunday School Christmas party on Saturday. It also snowed! A fairly rare occurrence for us here on the islands - and by most people's standards, it was only a light dusting - but to us it was just so exciting. Of course, we had to make the most of it right away - these opportunities don't come around every Winter.


So - we built our Snowman - and pretty fine he looks too. Mind you, we used up most of the snow  making him, and by the evening, he had left with the heavy rain, but we were glad to meet him all the same.


Then we had our contribution to the party buffet to make - marshmallow snowmen! Quick, simple, effective and very delicious. What a jolly little group they make.


They are easy to make - no baking, just assembling with the aid of some melted chocolate ( how bad can that be?). melt a bar of white chocolate and pour a teaspoon into the bottom of a paper case. Push a marshmallow into the chocolate - sandwich another marshmallow on top with some more melted chocolate. Then melt some dark chocolate - half a large bar will be enough and use it to stick a giant chocolate button on the top of the 'head'. I then used a bag of Twirl bites to make rough top hats - you could use any suitable shaped chocolate confection to do this. using a cocktail stick, paint on the face and some buttons. Finish off with a red candy lace scarf, and a sprinkling of edible glitter, just for a wee touch of Christmas bling. Perfect.


Luckily, there were a couple of out-takes that didn't make the final cut.
 Cooks perks  - yes - perfect ;)


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Don't call me....



Think I'm going to be offline for a wee while! That is how my phone and broadband connection box looked after the most horrendous thunder and lightning storm I've ever heard. We are all fine. Hoping that the fleeting 3G signal is enough to post this. Be back when I can xxx

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Seven things


























❄ Walks in the sunshine

❄ Hot chocolate with friends

❄ Well loved stories

❄ A bit of mismatched darning

❄ Walks in the moonlight

❄ Beginning to look a bit like Christmas?

❄ Sunday afternoon by the fire and perhaps a little mulled wine aperitif - yes!

Wishing you all a peaceful week ahead. xx

Friday, December 5, 2014

Taking a bow


Sharing a moment that I want to remember. No words, just a single special image. Joining in with Soulemama for This Moment. Wishing you all a wonderful weekend xx


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Home and Away


We set off from our local airport, (love the shop) expecting to fly to Inverness. The weather, however, thwarted our plans, and as we circled the airport for the umpteenth time,the Captain announced that due to the fog, we would be diverting to Edinburgh. A bus would be laid on to transport us the 3 hour journey back up to Inverness. Well - as we would have missed John's appointments and had planned to head down to Edinburgh the following day, it would have been a pointless journey.


So a quick call to the hotel and we were booked in for an extra night. Fortunately John's consultant was able to arrange for him to have his MRI scan in Edinburgh, and he will telephone him this week to discuss the result.


Actually, it was a bit disorientating to find ourselves in Edinburgh almost two days ahead of schedule. Friday to Monday was pretty much packed with family visits, and so this extra time was very unexpected. We had a relaxing day around the hotel, James and I went for a swim, did a bit of shopping, had a nice meal, and generally enjoyed being back home for a while. 



The following day, James and I visited the National Museum of Scotland - a favourite place of mine growing up, but James had never been before. There was so much to see, and we spent the whole day browsing happily around part of the Natural Science collection. Lots of scope for future visits.



But we couldn't leave without paying a visit to the Lewis Chessmen - found on one of our favourite beaches. James remembered when they were exhibited on Lewis a few years ago.


Then it was into a weekend full of family visits. Most of the time they came to see us at the hotel, but we had a few trips out and about too.  I had a problem with my iPhone battery, so I am a bit short on photos of everyone, but hopefully you get the idea.














All that and more. What a wonderful weekend, and how good it was to catch up with grandchildren, Finlay and Erin. (The film wasn't too bad either!)


Then when we returned to the island, a very welcome face was waiting to welcome us home. Breagha and her Mum and Dad are staying with us for a few days. So -I'd say December has started off pretty well so far.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

In my kitchen



Marshmallow top hats - classic children's party food. Melt some chocolate over a pan of simmering water - this was a 100g bar of Dairy Milk. Pour a spoonful in the bottom of a paper case - push in a marshmallow and top with a chocolate bean.


Foraged mussels from the shore - bit on the small side yet, but very fresh and tasty.



A make your own pizza party! Lots of good food, fizzy drink and chat. They seemed so grown up, suddenly - such a nice wee bunch they are too.


Little cups of roasted beetroot and fennel soup for a lunch party starter. Peel and thinly slice 3 or 4 medium size beets, a medium onion or 4 shallots and a garlic clove Sprinkle over 2 teaspoons of fennel seeds, salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and roast until beetroot is tender - about 30 - 40 minutes at 180 C. Blend the mixture and the juices until smooth and add 500 ml chicken or veg stock. Bring almost to boil and serve with a drizzle of cream.


Sausage rolls chips and beans with a good red - why not?




Oh yes - and  salted caramel sauce - supposed to be for ice cream, but was mostly spooned straight out of the jar.

A few of the things happening in my kitchen in November. Roll on December :)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Around the Croft

 

It's been so long since I posted a croft update - two whole seasons have come and gone and here we are heading into Winter already. Even James remarked this evening on what a quick year it has been.  This year has been so different for us, with John's cancer diagnosis and treatment, and all our focus has been on just getting through.


The work still goes on though - and I've had to keep a lot of plates spinning over the last 6 months. I've managed - just, and I've had help from friends and neighbours too. But, there's no getting away from it - changes have had to be made to suit our current circumstances.


The livestock have been sold. The sheep went to the August sales, and the cattle were bought by a lovely man who is building up a new Dexter herd. We were sad to see them go, but it really was the best decision for me - and for them too. My step-daughter was here to lend a hand, as well as some of our neighbours, and we soon had them loaded and on their way.

Their new owner is delighted with them, and, reassuringly sent this picture of them enjoying the lush pastures. I have to say, too, that during the recent gales and storms here, it was a real relief not to have to worry about them.


The sheep and lambs went to the mainland too, but we still have a flock on the croft. One of our neighbour's is using our top field for tupping. The ram is fitted with a harness containing a coloured marker. When he has had his wicked way with a ewe, the evidence will be clearly visible ;) A different colour is used each week, until all the sheep have been covered. It's a good way to work out when the lambing season will begin and end.


The garden was badly neglected this year. There have been some small harvests - and I still have chard and broccoli on the go, but there have been a few steps backwards this year. Never mind - the garden will still be there next season.


I'm still picking sweet tomatoes, though - very pleased about that.


I planted a lot of spring bulbs outside, but I am going to do tulips in pots this year. The ground is just too wet for them, so I will bring them on and then plant the pot out. I've brought a few plants and cuttings in to overwinter in the polytunnel. You can see the broad bean plants, still in their root-trainers, where they gave been since last Spring. When I, at last, got a chance to plant them out in June, I found they had rooted solidly into the ground. Obviously they didn't do terribly well in that restricted space, but I managed to get a few pods, which have been saved for next year's seed.


All summer, I have been steeping herbs and fruit in vodka. Now they have been strained out and the liquor added to a sugar syrup. By Christmas time, they will be just perfect for tippling. I have fennel, elderflower and raspberry. 


So that's my quick roundup of crofting matters for now. I'm sure there has been more, and certainly there have been ideas and plans for the future discussed, but so much is on hold while we wait to see how John's treatment has worked out. Next week we travel to the hospital on the mainland to see the neurosurgeon and oncologist, so we should have a clearer idea of where we are then. xx

Friday, November 14, 2014

Eight


Sharing a moment that I want to remember. No words, just a single special image. Joining in with Soulemama for This Moment. Wishing you all a happy weekend xx


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Autumn scenes















We may not have forests full of autumn colour here, but we can still enjoy the shades of the season all around us. The moor has a burnished glow that is just as glorious as any woodland right now. The grass and the shoreline are full of different shades of browns, golds and reds and oranges. The leaves of the potentilla are like a golden carpet, and mushrooms and fungi are appearing everywhere.
Mick and I are still walking this same route everyday. He has an ongoing excavation down by the shore - a rabbit hole, most likely. He spent a fair bit of time today, snuffling and scratching at it.  I left him to it and wandered around. I saw a wren, and almost got a good shot of a buzzard (I think). I went to sit on my favourite rock, looking out to sea, and eventually Mick came and joined me. The wind was strong, and there was a fair bit of swell in the water, but the rain stayed away while we were out. It was a good walk.  

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