A Must See

I saw this on Like a Warm Cup of Coffee.

I am not going to comment, but you have got to listen to, and watch, this and this.

There are no words. Only tears.



There was a fank on Saturday. Some sheep were having their dipping.

I know absolutely nothing about the whats, whys and wherefores of this whole process, so I'm going to ask my daughters some questions.

Me: What is a fank?

Girls: A 'fank' is a number of pens joined together, where the owners work on the sheep - there's a place for shearing, for dipping, for dozing....

Me: Uuuh - they snooze whilst working on the sheep???

Girls: (loudly and clearly) d-o-s-i-n-g. The giving of medicines.

Me: So a 'fank' is a 'thing', a 'place'? But I hear them saying things like, 'There's a fank on Saturday' ??

Girls: Yes, because the word is also used for the events that take place in the fank. So, when the men of the village gather their sheep for dipping, or dosing (remember, medicines - not sleeping), or shearing, on a specific day, they call that a 'fank day'. 

Me: How often do the sheep get a dipping? Get dipped? (Not sure of terminology, but too scared to admit that!)

Girls: Once a year.

Me: What's it all about?

Girls: It's their bath. To clean them up.

Me: But the 'stuff' they're dipped into isn't as gentle as bubble bath, is it? 

Girls: No. It's poisonous to us. Very dangerous. That's why our menfolk are clad in waterproofs, and our kids are kept at a safe distance.

The men push the sheep into the dipping 'bath.

Notice the 'man' in the middle here. It's my boy. My boy! I need to have a word with Big Brother.

The sheep are allowed to swim for a couple of minutes whilst they regain their breath. They're then pushed right under to make sure they've washed behind the ears.

Here they are.......somewhere?!
I believe this is them getting dunked. No goggles, no nose peg. Such cruelty.

And the escape. Phew!

They may be clean, but I bet they're traumatised. 

Poor sheep.


Yesterday's Mish-Mash

I'm going to post some photos from yesterday.

Just a mish-mash. It sums up my brain!

I made some Apple Tarts. The recipe I use for the pastry is really not a pastry recipe at all. In fact, it's a recipe my mum got about 30 years ago from a lady in our village. That 'lady' was the Builder's aunt, so she became my aunt some years after that. These things happen in communities like ours. We marry folk we've known all our lives, and our parents have known their parents, or worked with them, or are related to them...... Eeek! I didn't just say that. Honest, it's not true. Don't believe it. There's no evidence for it.

Is there? 

Well, I'm the epitome of sanity. Amn't I? Well?? 

Okay, don't answer if you really feel you can't.

Where was I? Oh, yes - Apple Tarts.

This is the recipe I use for the 'pastry'.

6oz marg
2oz icing sugar
vanilla essence
6oz plain flour (all-purpose)
2oz custard powder

Mix butter and icing sugar. Add vanilla essence. Mix.

Add the other ingredients.

It's very basic, and was really the recipe for little biscuits I used to make. I made some of these yesterday with the left-over pastry, so I should have taken photos to show you. When they're done, I stick them together with buttercream icing in between.

So, as you see, it's not really a pastry recipe, but it's lovely in desserts. I use it for my Lemon Meringue Pie too.

This is it ready for going into the oven.

The top always cracks a bit.
Any advice on how to prevent this would be gratefully received.

I love the pie, warm with vanilla ice-cream.
The Builder and the Big Brother love it with hot custard.

Either way, I do like it. A lot.

After that, when the Big Brother came home from work, the rams were to be gathered.

As usual, he couldn't do anything without me.

Well, okay - without my kids. Same thing.

I help just by being there. Just by having my camera.

And the sound of my voice soothes them as they work.

Well, it might....if I dared open my mouth.

The rams (and yes, I recognised they were rams without my kids having to tell me) had a pedicure last night.

I'm not kidding, by the way. They also had their wool trimmed and dyed.

I think the world's going mad. All except me, of course. The epitome of sanity - that's me.

The weather is sooooo cold. Can you see it from the photo?

The temperature was around 9 degrees (48 F), with a strong North-easterly wind.

It was freezing, and that's why I retreated to the safety of my Family Room to take this photo.

Here are some of the other rams this morning, oblivious to the beauty of the scene behind them.

DR and Katie had to put last night's pedicured and spruced-up rams back into the field this morning. Here they are en route.

Don't they look lighter on their feet. I think the pedicure did them the world of good.



I cry. A lot.

We read together every day, and for the past while we've been reading this book:

We sit comfortably, and I begin to read. It goes so well to begin with.

And then the inevitable happens. It goes something like this.

There's a pause in my reading. One of my daughters looks and then rolls her eyes.

My other daughter begins to sniff. She's mocking. 

The pause continues, because I can't breathe. Therefore I can't talk. And then I try to talk. It comes out in a squeak. And I say, 

'But can't you..sniff...see. It's...sniff... so sad'.

At this point, the wee guy will normally say, 'Mum...sigh... it's only a book'. C'mon - READ!'

'But....sniff....squeak...I can't. I'm....Can't you... sniff...see. The....poor... squeak...man.

Deep breath.

Right, I'm ready. I'll be okay. I'll be fine for the rest of the chapter.

I seldom am.

I wish I cried elegantly. Do you know what I mean? I see women on TV who are able to cry beautifully. They are able to carry on talking - or even singing, for crying out loud - whilst a tear gracefully falls down their cheek. They still look beautiful. Their eyes aren't red or puffy. Their faces don't contort. They still seem able to breathe.

When I cry, none of these things are true. I can't breathe.

My eyes go red and puffy. 

My face finds odd contortions, previously unknown to mankind. 

And I can't talk (one generally needs to be able to breathe to talk). 

I certainly do not cry elegantly. Or gracefully. Okay, so the fact that I don't do anything elegantly or gracefully is irrelevant here. You didn't need to bring that up, thank you.

I wish I didn't cry so much. In another post, I may give a list of ten things that make me cry. Most of them are ridiculous, though some are not.

Just for a hint......read on.

This came in the post the other day.

Our son moves on to another stage in his life.

So, no prizes for guessing what I did.

I cried.

What do you mean, 'What?!'

I told you. I cry. A lot.



Y'all know by now how I love my vegetable plot.

And you probably know that when I think of plants, I think of...
...something like this

or this

or even this

ooooh, or this!

You see, until I discovered the wonders of a vegetable plot, I'd never kept anything green alive for more than a week.

It may have been my aversion to the colour.

Or it might have had something to do with the fact that I have to remember to water them.

You see, we live off the West coast of Scotland. When we plant stuff outside, we don't have to water them very often. 

But inside is a different story. I have to remember to water them, and this is the problem.

It's the remembering. That's my difficulty.

So, what on earth was my friend, Dawn, thinking when she gave me thirty Strawberry runners last Monday? 

They'd been on sale, she said. 
Postage had been free, she said. 
Hardly cost anything, she said. 
No matter if none survive, she said.

She clearly has a great deal of faith in my green fingers. Or not.

Anyway, I dutifully planted them on Tuesday. It was so cold outside in the 'greenhouse', I took the compost, the tubs and the plants into the Utility room. 

And here they are having been planted. 

Not looking great, are they?

But today, aren't they looking perkier?

Definitely looking brighter.

So who knows, Dawn. We may be having strawberries and cream on the patio next summer after all.

Well, drop the 'outside on the patio' part. 
This aint Virginia. Or Colorado. Or Michigan. Or Pennsylvania. 

This isn't even the mainland of Scotland, for crying out loud.

But if we are eating strawberries from these plants next summer (I use the term 'summer' loosely - I simply mean during the months of May to August), I sure will be letting you all know.

In fact, I may call in the local radio station, such will be the amazement!

Watch this space!


Thinking caps - get them on

We're going to set up a blog for the girls.

We have a few thoughts in terms of what to call it, but I thought we'd open it up.

Get your thinking caps on!

What would you choose for the girls' new blog?

Answers on a postcard. 

No, not really.... on the blog will be fine!

Daughters. Aint nothing like 'em!

I love having daughters.

I may have mentioned this before, but it's worth saying again.

The fact that I'm saying it today has nothing to do with the fact that today, Catherine made these. 

Cinnamon rolls

...with maple frosting.

The recipe is here, on the Pioneer Woman site.

That's where you can find the recipe.

As for the hired help? She's not for sale!


Photos from the Builder

The Builder left really early the other morning to go to work in Harris.

He took some photos en route.

This is in the Barvas Moor. 

This is morning mist in the foreground.

Just beyond the heather is the mist, but further away than that is Broad Bay, with Point jutting out in the background.

And finally, one taken in Harris!

Don't you love the sign in the foreground?! It means 'Road Narrowing'

Uuuhhh.... you mean even narrower than what I've just driven through?!


Chicken Pasta dish

Meredith Ivy, at Striving to Serve at Home, is launching a new-menu-a-week challenge. I'm joining the challenge, and here's my 'new meal' for this week.

Next week, Catherine will choose and make the new meal, and then Katie will do the same the following week.

That's the theory anyway.

I just haven't told the girls yet. But, as you can see, I have written it on my blog.

So there's no getting out of it for them. I'm good like that.

Yep? I thought you'd agree.

Aaanyway, last night's dinner was a variation on the Pioneer's Woman Chicken Spaghetti.

Ready for the oven.

I slow cooked a chicken, and used the meat from the whole chicken for this.

Into the bowl with all the roughly cut up meat, went:

tin of Cream of Chicken soup
tin of Cream of Mushroom soup
2 cups Chicken stock
2 cups grated cheese
1 red pepper, diced
broccoli florets
black pepper
cayenne pepper
Cooked (al dente) pasta

The original recipe asked for spaghetti, broken up roughly into 2-inch pieces. I really don't know why pasta twists, or similar, were not used. I had a mixture last night, but I wouldn't bother with the breaking-up-of-the-spaghetti next time! It'll be the twists!

This is all mixed together, placed in the casserole dish, and sprinkled with more grated cheese.

Place in oven for 30-40 mins

I served this with home-made potato wedges.

The meal was more of a success than I'd thought. The Builder liked it, as did the Builder's Big Brother. And most of the kids liked it, although we did have the obligatory picking-out of 'undesirables' (peppers mostly!)

It's also possible to make this dish and freeze it. That's a real plus for me, and I definitely plan on doing this for when we have folk staying with us.

All in all - a very positive verdict.


Whoopie Pies

Today, we made the Whoopie Pies, recommended at No Place Like Home.

I love the story of the how the name of the cakes came about .... you can read it at No Place Like Home.

We made some with the mallow filling.
Now, I liked the texture of the filling, but I found the taste a bit bland.

That's not to say we didn't eat them, as evidenced by the fact that this was the one and only mallow-filled-whoopie-pie I was able to photograph.

This one has now gone too.

It's always best to do away with all the evidence before Builder and Son come home.

It calls for less explaining that way.

Anyway, I then decided to make more and give them a buttercream filling.

Except that we realised we already had chocolate buttercream in that Catherine had made the other day.

Now, chocolate can never go wrong. Not ever.

I much preferred this to the mallow. But it's all a question of taste.

Verdict overall: Well, they were nice. They are nearly all gone!

But I would probably prefer cookies. 

And I would definitely prefer cupcakes. 

But I will make them again. Unless the Builder gives them a thumbs-down. 

I never make things again if he gives the thumbs-down. 

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