Today's Blether with Patrice and the Gang

1. What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Same as I had every other day! A mug of tea and some toast. Just plain wholemeal bread toasted with butter. That's what I begin every day with. Right now (just before midday) I had a coffee with a slice of still-warm Lemon Loaf.

The Wee Guy isn't well these days with a fluey-type virus that's fairly doing the rounds just now. Right now, he's on the sofa, we're watching a DVD on the Fall of Rome, and enjoying the cake together. 

2. What's your favourite kind of juice?

I'm not a huge fruit juice drinker, really. The Builder begins his day with a glass of fresh orange juice, but my day must begin with warm drinks: water and tea. I do like fresh orange mixed with lemonade, and if I'm every eating out, that's what I drink with my meal.

3. Have you tried Pinterest yet?

Oh, Patrice, I have stayed away from it. Catherine and Katie do some browsing, and show me bits and bobs from it, but I am determined not to get caught up in it. I have enough on my plate! To be honest, I'm not sure I 'get' it properly, and I want to leave it like that ... for now anyway

4. I can't wait for __________ from my garden (or farmers' market).

I can't wait .... just to get started! I have itchy feet to just get going. I can't wait to begin planting seeds in trays and pots, and then to watch the green popping up through the soil. I love it! I know the kids all laugh at me, but it really does make me Ooooh! and Ahhhh! No doubt, there will be many, 'Am-a-zings' to be heard. I am not allowing myself to look at a seed until this (paid) work on which I'm working just now is done. I'm half-way through it just now. Thirteen programmes down ... thirteen to go.

And then SEEDS!

As for what I'll be eating: I can't wait for the baby carrots - they are the tastiest little babies ever. I can't wait to have my own coriander again - a plentiful supply of my favourite herb to chuck onto curries and Mexican dishes. I also can't wait to make PW's salsa again. (I'm linking to my own post on it, because I took it from PW's book and can't find the recipe on her site. Apologies to PW if it is there, and I just haven't found it.) Her recipe transformed salsas for me (though all you guys across the Pond probably knew all this stuff about salsa long, long ago).

5. The worst job I ever had was _________________ .

You know, I don't think I've ever had a really yucky job. Yep, I've been spoilt all my life! Whilst still at school, and then at college, I worked summers and Saturdays in a newsagent's shop in Stornoway. I liked my workmates, and the work was great. So, no bad memories there. Having left college, I worked as a hairdresser in my Dad's salon. I wouldn't go back to that working life, but it certainly wasn't real hardship. Since graduating from University, I have been a stay-at-home-mum, and all my work has been 'from home'. Finding the time in which to work is an issue, but the work of translating (mostly) educational materials is something I love. So, as you can see ... I've had a doddle of a working life. 

I don't want to go on and on and on about being a SAHM, but I simply wouldn't swap my 'job' for anything in the world. I am so, so thankful that I'm able to be at home with the kids every single day, and in addition to simply being at home, I cannot believe how blessed I am to be able to homeschool them as well. I truly am blessed beyond words, and I do realize it. 

And on a day like today, when the Wee Guy is not toddy - to be able to sit with my laptop and do some work, whilst being able to keep him company on the sofa ... well, that says it all.

"The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: Thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea I have a goodly heritage." 
Ps 16: 5, 6

(Because I have this 'work' right now, and because I'm running on a really tight schedule, my blogging and my commenting on other people's blogs has fallen slightly by the wayside. I am able to read blogs, but unfortunately I don't comment as often as I normally would. (I do like to comment often on the blogs I read, otherwise I feel like I'm an eavesdropper!). So, to those of you who normally know I've popped by because I say Hi, please know that I probably still have, but until this work is done, I am really having to limit my stopping-by time. Hopefully, I'll be back to my normal can't-keep-her-thoughts-to-herself Anne in a couple of months' time) 

Lovin' y'all,
the somewhat-busier-than-normal Anne :)


Jehovah Tsidkenu

While I was doodling about in the kitchen the other evening, I was listening to this sermon. In the sermon, Rev VanderZwaag quoted this beautiful hymn, which has always been one of my favourites. Possibly even my very favourite of all time.

Jehovah Tsidkenu

I once was a stranger to grace and to God,
I knew not my danger, and felt not my load;
Though friends spoke in rapture of Christ on the tree,
Jehovah Tsidkenu was nothing to me.

I oft read with pleasure, to sooth or engage,
Isaiah’s wild measure and John’s simple page;
But e’en when they pictured the blood sprinkled tree
Jehovah Tsidkenu seemed nothing to me.

Like tears from the daughters of Zion that roll,
I wept when the waters went over His soul;
Yet thought not that my sins had nailed to the tree
Jehovah Tsidkenu—’twas nothing to me.

When free grace awoke me, by light from on high,
Then legal fears shook me, I trembled to die;
No refuge, no safety in self could I see—
Jehovah Tsidkenu my Saviour must be.

My terrors all vanished before the sweet name;
My guilty fears banished, with boldness I came
To drink at the fountain, life giving and free—
Jehovah Tsidkenu is all things to me.

Jehovah Tsidkenu! my treasure and boast,
Jehovah Tsidkenu! I ne’er can be lost;
In thee I shall conquer by flood and by field,
My cable, my anchor, my breast-plate and shield!

Even treading the valley, the shadow of death,
This “watchword” shall rally my faltering breath;
For while from life’s fever my God sets me free,
Jehovah Tsidkenu, my death song shall be.

Aren't these words wonderful? If they are wonderful to you, praise God for giving you a heart that can see the wonder in them.

If you can read them and not be moved, pray to God that He would give you a new heart - one that would bow down before the wonderful Saviour, and sing with joy at His amazing, finished work of salvation.... a salvation that's freely offered to you in the Gospel.

"Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near."  

Have a blessed Lord's Day, y'all.


Mini Pavlovas

The other night, we had a bit of surprise get-together in my sister's house for my brother's wife's 40th.

Get it?

Anyhoo, I was making some mini pavlovas for our surprise get-together, and even though I didn't have my camera and the camera I was using didn't have proper working batteries, I still thought I'd give you the pleasure of my poorly taken photos of the mini meringues, and if this isn't a cracker of a run-on sentence, I don't know what is.

Here are my ingredients: eggs, caster sugar, cornflour, vinegar and vanilla essence.

When the egg whites are stiff, I add the cornflour-vinegar-vanilla mix.

After this the caster sugar is added, one spoonful at a time, whilst whisking continually.

Dollop the mix onto baking paper, 

and use the back of the spoon to make a well in the centre.

They are then ready to pop into the oven.

It's best to make pavlova in the evening, and when they are ready in the oven, turn off the oven, but leave the oven door closed. 

Leave the pavlovas in overnight, but if you make them on a Saturday night to have for your Sunday dinner, please make sure that no one puts the oven on in the morning for the Sunday roast, before removing the pavlovas.

Why am I warning you of this? 

... Yep, you guessed it. Been there, done that.

For the filling, because I'm not a great fan of cream, I mix whipping/double cream with strawberry yoghurt (or whichever flavour you prefer). If you mix yoghurt and cream in the same amount, it whisks well.

(A mixture of raspberry and peach flavoured yoghurts with the cream is lovely. Lubberly jubberly)


3 egg whites
7 oz caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 150 C.

Mix cornfour, essence and vinegar in a cup. Set aside.

Beat egg whites until firm and fluffy. Add cornflour, essence and vinegar mixture. Add sugar slowly - tablespoonful at a time. Continue beating until mixture is stiff and shiny.

Place in the oven. After initial 15 mins, turn oven down to 75C. Leave in oven for additional 45 mins, and then turn oven off, but leave door closed for as long as possible, preferably overnight.

(I doubled this recipe. Sadly, I don't have photos of the finished pavlovas with the whisked cream/yoghurt and chopped strawberries on top. Oh, camera, how I miss thee.)


Another Chat, and This Time I'm On Time!

1. What's your favourite kind of salad?

I had never had Caeser salad until 2001 when my Mum and I visited Canada. Ever since then, it's been a real favourite. Of course, we don't really live in a 'salad climate', so it isn't the priority on our menus. Normally, we would think of ... our favourite Stew; our favourite Soup; or our favourite Pudding. 

Actually thinking of Salads can often make me want to go and put on another cardigan, or add another peat to the fire.

Figuratively speaking, as we have no peat fire. But ... Watch this space. That's all I'm saying.

2. How old were you when you learned to cook?

Oh, I don't really know if that's a question I can answer with a specific age. I think I just learned bits and bobs over the years in Mum's kitchen, and since I've been married the learning goes on and on. I am learning so much over these past few years. Now that I don't have the busy-ness of babies, it does give more time for browsing and trying new ways of cooking. Catherine and Katie are very keen cooks, and love to try out new foods and cooking methods. They are teaching me loads, and so the learning goes on and on.

3. What's your favourite kind of store? (grocery, garden, department, cooking, bookstore, etc)

Oooooh ... I can scrub the grocery one first. No, no, no.

Garden store: yep, I enjoy this, and especially if I'm able to actually buy something.

Department store: Not really. I'm not keen on shopping in this way at all. I think my years in Glasgow gave me my fill of these kind of shops. I have no inclination to go to the mainland for department store shopping. In fact, I'm getting a headache just thinking of it.

Cooking store: Ahhh, that sounds gooooood. I could browse in one of these all day but, like Patrice there is the possibility I would be driven mad with desire!

Book store: Oh, Patrice. Now you are talking. A bookstore with a coffee shop and comfy sofas ... really and truly, I think this must be my idea of an almost perfect day out.

4. If you could have lived during another time in history, what era would that have been?

I think I would be in the era of the Pioneers. I know that doesn't make a lot of sense, because had I been in that era, I'd have been here in Lewis, living a life of a great deal of hardship, but I love reading of the Pioneers and their journeys Out West.

They really touch my heart (as do many others), but I often think of some of the Scottish Highlanders who lost their homes during the Clearances, many of whom made their way across the Atlantic out of necessity. Because of their lives of hardship 'back home', they would have been used to tough times, and would have thought little of travelling west to look for better pastures. I think of them praising God that, though they had been thrown out of their homes and off their land in the Highlands of Scotland, yet God had a better plan for them. Many Scots made good lives for themselves and for their families in America and Canada. They took their strong faith, their work ethic and their commitment to their families across the ocean, and 'all things worked together for their good'.

And for the good of America and Canada, I believe. Of course I'm biased, but I do believe that the Scots who went across to these lands in past centuries gave these countries more than possibly any other group of people.

Maybe that's too skewed, and too biased. I'm willing to be corrected if I'm wrong, and I'd love to know what other Americans, Canadians and Scots think. 

5. I'm looking forward to _______________ .

The Plot!

I have work I must get done in the next few weeks before I 'allow' myself to begin planting seeds, but I can't wait to get my hands dirty again and to begin to see seedlings popping up out of the soil.

I. just. can't. wait...

These were Thyme seedlings from last year. I'm excited just looking at this photo.



A year ago this week, I posted this, and as the Wee Guy will be doing much about the same tomorrow as he was doing in this post, I will re-post last year's round-up of the Scanning Day.

The sun rises. Today is the day.

... the day we take them to the local midwives and get some serious scanning done. Today, we find out whether 'It's a boy!' will be said more or less frequently than 'It's a girl!'.

No?? What do you mean we don't find out if they're expecting a boy or a girl??

(Oh, and did y'all notice the 'we'? Ahem.)

Serious discussion is all part of the day. See Katie sitting up on the wall? See the roadkill on her head? 

Nice. Not.

These, of course, aren't Big Brother's sheep.

They're not Blackface Sheep. Clearly.

You wont know this Wee Fella. He's my soldier-shepherd.

"Hallo, pal. This is your Mum. You remember - the one who wouldn't allow you to take the sword and shield out to the fank, even though you told me there would be rebellions to quash all the way between home and there."

I am so glad to see that, despite your lack of armour, you reached the fank. You, BB and cousin Daniel all safe and sound. Amazing, eh?

The scanner-man is inside this simple, er, box.

The man on the outside sprays the sheep with the appropriate colour.

Erm... red for a girl and blue for a boy, I think.

"What was that, BB?"

Oh, apparently, it's got nothing to do with the gender, but you and I knew that all along. It's one colour for one lamb, another for twins, and another for triplets.

Or, if the owner prefers, it's all one colour, but it's a spot on the shoulder for one, on the middle for twins and on the derriere for triplets.

Got it? Yep, me too.

This wee guy was with his dad. Now, seriously, you guys have got to hear a wee fella blether in Gaelic like 'one of the boys' to know just how adorably cute it is.

This little guy spends a lot of time with older folks, and you can tell it. On his talk. On his walk. And on how friendly and sociable he was. He was a real cracker.

Oh, Shhhh, everyone. BB is talking.

And if he is, you'd better Be Quiet and Listen.

(I asked Big Brother how John Wayne had Bruce had, er, performed. As you know BB loves to talk and go into all the detailed information with his very knowledgeable sister-in-law. You didn't know that? Oh yes. Well, kinda.

Anyway, the boys done good. I knew y'all would want to know.)


No Camera, but I can still Chat ...

I have been so negligent this past week. I have missed you, dear blog, but circumstances just will not allow me to come and talk to you as often as I'd like. I'm glad of Patrice's weekly chat: I love the blether and the chance to meet up with the other bloggers on The Porch.

This week, Patrice asks:

1. Did you do anything special for Valentine's Day?

Erm.... Nope.

By that, I mean n-o-t-h-i-n-g. Last year I wrote this post on Valentine's Day, but this year, I didn't even do that.

If you read last year's post, you'll understand why it doesn't put me up nor down.

2. What was the last craft item that you made?

Oh, Patrice! Erm ... Uhhh ... Hmmm ...

I have no idea! But I'm guessing it must have been whilst still as school!

3. Are you planning a garden? Are you swamped with seed catalogues?

Oh, Patrice, Thank You! We had a question on Valentines... a question on crafts. I was thinking I'd have nothing to talk about (now, wouldn't that be a first). But  now, you come up with The Perfect Question.

My plot. My PLOT!!

It's now mid-February, and there's a wee while until I can begin planting, but I am enjoying going through last year's notebook with all the info from the plot, and browsing the seed catalogues. We've decided this year to make the plot slightly smaller, but be more intentional in what we grow. All being well, I may, in years to come, have the luxury of time to experiment and grow different varieties etc, but for now the primary aim of the plot is to feed our family. That means we'll stick to the carrot seed that worked the best the last couple of years. The cauliflower and broccoli - same. We'll grow our 'staples' and leave the 'fun stuff' for later years. Anyway, I wont say any more about this just now - a blog post is in the making (the first of many, undoubtedly, about The Plot!).

From last year, some brassica seedlings. I love this stage.

4. What cosmetics do you have in your purse?

Strooooooth. Another 'pass'. Of course, here on this side of the Pond, our 'purse' is the little wallet into which you place your money. What you call a 'purse' is what we call a bag, handbag, shoulder bag, or something similar. Anyway, the answer remains the same: no cosmetics.

Oh well, hang on. I do have hand cream in there at this time of year. Does that count?

You'd call these purses, wouldn't you?
(This photo was posted when I was doing the Harris Tweed posts, and the bags were in the process of being hand made - hence them being handle-less.)

5. When there is a room to be painted in your home, who does the painting?

Funnily enough, we are talking about some painting needing done now. We moved in here about five years ago, so the whole house was painted then, in one go. It was the Builder's sisters who did most of the painting then, but I'm not sure we can call on their services to touch up rooms here and there. Our hallway is needing to be redone, but of course we lost our paint pots in the garage fire and now we haven't a clue what our colours were called. 

You guys have no idea - I mean NO idea - what choosing paint is like in this house. The last time it went something like this...

I see lots of gorgeous photos in magazines of how I'd like my room (let's take the Lounge). I cut out pictures, I go into our local paint shops and come home with dozens (er, yes, dozens) of paint colour cards. I then narrow my choice down to about, er, nine or ten colours. I buy tester pots of each colour, take them home and proceed to paint sections of the appropriate walls in each of the colours. I mull over the choices for days. I drag siblings, in-laws, out-laws, friends, all-and-sundry in to help me choose. Eventually, I come to a decision.

I choose some shade of ... Magnolia.

Yep. I am, on the painting issue, quite predictable. If only I could save myself the hassle and rigmarole beforehand, it would all be very simple.

Family Room walls.... Magnolia.

You can tell from my use of old photos that my camera is still well and truly not working. I think the lense is irreparable. And I think I may cry.

Have a great week, y'all (I love saying that. You can't tell from the screen, but it is said in an authentic accent. It really, really is ;)


This Week on Homeschool's Facebook

My camera is broken.

A minute's silence is in order. Thank you.

Today, instead of a post, I'm going to paste the Homeschool on the Croft Facebook page statuses I've had all week. Hang on, is that statuses, or statusi, or neither?

I've just checked:

Not all Latin words ending in "-us" had plurals in "-i".
"Apparatus", "cantus", "coitus", "hiatus", "impetus", "Jesus",
"lapsus linguae", "nexus", "plexus", "prospectus", "sinus", and 
"status" were 4th declension in Latin and had plurals in "-us".

I knew that.

So, is status the plural of status. Like sheep being the plural of sheep. If anyone knows this for definite, could you please let me know. I'm not sure I can sleep tonight without clearing this up.

So, here are the week's status(es):

4th February:

Jackson and balloons .... made for each other

4th Feb

Can you feel the excitement??

I do love a good Scotland-England rugby game..... Bring it on!

6th Feb

‎...not that *I* ever would ...

7th Feb

Pre-natal scanning happening today.

Er.... the sheep, guys.

(I'll post about this some day next week....)

8th Feb

So, Rick Santorum won two caucuses and a primary last night.... 

What does this mean? Comments please :)

8th Feb

Katie to Catherine: "Catherine, you have had no experience of the French Guillotine .... When you do, you can give me your opinion."

9th Feb

Not that I'm obsessed or anything, but .... punctuation makes *all* the difference. 

Yet again ;)

9th Feb

Best tip yet for saving money on heating: Mop the floor first thing in the morning.

Stroll on! I felt like I'd run a marathon....

10th Feb

What a quiet house! Two of the older kids are away for a church weekend. The other away for an overnight in Skye. 
I guess I'll be talking to myself even *more* than normal, then.

10th Feb

Our Wee Guy is online checking out Farmland for Sale in South Dakota.

These Little House books have a lot to answer for ;)

11th Feb

All my tabs closed last night (all, er, 28 of them). There were so many important things I had to read.... so important I can't remember any of them (!).

11th February

I've just seen this list in a comment - concerning problems with the UK economy:

Problem areas?
1 Complete lack of regard for manufacturing.
2 Hardly any MPs with backgrounds in maths, science, engineering or even in private sector management. 
3 Weak education system with rampant grade inflation. 
4 Taxing wealth creation, subsidising indolence.
5 Measuring the size of the economy by spending, rather than output. 
6 Putting industrial costs up with daft ideas like wind power -yes it's necessary to pay for windmills AND the backup power station for when the wind doesn't blow. Much cheaper to move the factory to China, even if the net effect is increased CO2 footprint.
7 Attempting "free trade" with other nations who don't follow the spirit of free trade (fixing currencies, subsidising their own industries etc).

Discuss :)

So, for those of you who don't follow me on Facebook, you now have some idea of the great Wonders of the World you're missing. Or not.


Lamb Stew

I've never followed a recipe for making Lamb or Beef Stew. I mean to say ... Stew is just one of those things that 'mum always made', and you flour some meat, brown it off, onions, chuck in the veg, stock, simmer, blah blah blah.

But yesterday, Katie was making dinner so she checked out a couple of Stew recipes for ideas. I have to say, it was the nicest stew I think I've ever eaten. It was still a basic, old-fashioned stew, but it was well seasoned, had some red wine, garlic, and a tin of tomatoes in it. Into the slow cooker it went, tempting me for the rest of day with the aroma.

I then made dumplings and chucked them in for the last half-hour or so.

Just like Mama used to make!

Oh boy, it was delicious.

Mashed potatoes and Stew.... there just aint much to beat it on a winter's day.

Dumplings recipe:

4oz/100g Self Raising flour
2oz/50g shredded suet
Salt and Pepper

(I doubled the recipe, and I was making it in the slow cooker, so it had been cooking for more than 2 hours)
  • In a large baking bowl mix the flour with the suet and a pinch of salt. Add 3 tbsp cold water and stir. If the dough is dry add more water until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough.
  • Divide the dough into 8 and shape into balls with floured hands. Leave to one side.
  • After the stew has cooked for 2 hours, remove the lid, check the seasoning and add salt or pepper to taste, then add the dumplings, cover with the lid and cook for a further 20 minutes. Serve hot.


Another Blether with Patrice

Hi Patrice, 

Here we are again with our weekly get-together. You know, you will soon have Spring, wont you? Does this mean we will soon have our chats on your porch again? It's been lovely to sit cozily inside these past weeks, but it will be nice to sit out on your porch again too. I'll begin answering the questions now...

1. Stephanie asks, "What kind of competitions do you prefer to watch: dancing, singing or cooking?"

Cooking, I think. I am fascinated by the artistic flair and the imagination of these cooks. I don't get many - indeed any - ideas from programmes like Masterchef. These guys are in a league of their own, but I still love to watch them, and drool over their creations.

2. My Kid's Mom asks, "Do you work? Are you retired? Are you a stay-at-home mum?

(a) and (c) I guess. I'm a stay-at-home mum, I homeschool the kids, and I work from home translating materials into Gaelic. 

3. Empty Nester asks, "What's your favourite thing about winter?"

Oh, I love the early, dark nights. I love that by four o'clock my brain is telling me it's evening and that I ought to be winding down. Of course, it's not so great because dinner still has to be made I can't actually wind down, but still ... I love the feeling

When we get snow I love that too. I love really cold, sunny days with snow on the ground. We hardly ever get weather like this, so when it does happen, it's extra special.

This was Christmas day last year. It was freezing, and the kids and menfolk went down to the machair for some sledging. Here's Grampa - yes, Grampa - on the sled. I blogged at the time about it.

And here were the kids last year building an igloo.

4. *I* asked, "What do you love most about where you live?"

Oooh, where do I begin? I love the view from my kitchen window ....

... in summer, 

and in winter.

But all my reasons for my loving where I live are not visual. I love living where I grew up, where the Builder grew up, where our kids have a dozen cousins within a few miles of them. 

I love the security of living here. I love living from day to day and never giving a moment's attention to crime - at least crime that may affect me personally. I don't live with certain things on the back of my mind, as they were when we lived in Glasgow. That is a real blessing.

I love living in what most people in our country would call the 'back of beyonds', 'the sticks'. I don't get in the slightest bit offended when we are referred to as Teuchters, or some similar term (a bit like some others may be termed Rednecks ;). I am quite happy with the millions in our country who live in cities and have never had the privilege of being 'country folk' believing us to be deprived of 'real life' in some way.

I've seen 'real life'. They are welcome to it ;)

5. Did you or your children (grandchildren too) ever have a doll house?


Oh, you want more? Well, I never had a doll, so I think the doll's house may have been kind of pointless. Well, hang on... I could have parked my cars in it, and I could have housed my soldiers in it. I would, though, have had to paint the walls a dull camouflage colour, otherwise the soldiers may have felt a little odd. I'm not sure pink walls would have been conducive to good soldiering skills.

I just (as you will have guessed by now) never played with dolls. My girls were (slightly) more doll-y than I was and they did have baby-type dolls, though no Barbies. Oh dear me.... how I, er, dislike these dolls. 

((Shhhh. I actually hate them, but I have told my children so often that they ought not use the word 'hate'. As a consequence of this, I am forced to use the word 'dislike'. You may, however, come to your own conclusion about my true level of dislike for these .... things.))

6 Wendell asks, "If horses have blankets, why don't they get a pillow too?"

Wendell, I do believe that's an excellent question. And I think you ought to take this all the way. If you don't get satisfaction with a simple request, take it to the small claims' court. If ALL else fails, our European Court of Human Rights will listen to you.  

* * *       * * *       * * *
Well, Patrice, I'd better dash now and get some work done. We've had some lovely, winter weather this past while, but today we're back to gales. See you next week on your Porch!

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