A Mish-mash of This Past Week

Here's a snapshot into my past week, because I know y'all woke up this morning wondering how my week was going.

When we spoke of 'our girls' over the past week, there were five delights included, rather than the normal two. Here are our girls heading off for the day to Luskentyre beach in Harris. 

Now, those of you who have no idea where Luskentyre is, or what the beach looks like will probably have thought, 'Oh, that's nice for them ...' . However, those of you who have been to Luskentyre, or who know what it's like will have thought something along the lines of, 'Oh wow! The lucky dippers! That is such a beautiful place!'. 

Am I right?

*      *      *

At one of our morning worship times, we were reading in John chapter 7. Verse 43 struck me:

"So there was a division among the people because of Him."

We were talking afterwards of how that is always the case: Christ always divides. The truth is that we are either for Him or against Him. Much as I'd have liked to have believed before I was saved that I was in some middle-ground - that, even though He wasn't precious to me, that I wasn't against Him. But whatever I felt like, the truth stands: I was against Him. Praise Him for taking me out of that miry clay, and for setting my feet on a rock - on Christ Jesus Himself.

That led us to not only thinking how Christ and the Gospel divides, but how it unites.

And it sure unites! Here we were, a group who, only days ago, had never even met and who now felt completely at one, as brothers and sisters in Christ. What else would take young ladies from the west coast of the USA and a middle-aged couple from an obscure island off the coast of Scotland and unite them the way the Gospel does?

Nothing, I tell you. Nothing!

But all good things must come to an end, and on an early morning we headed over to town to see them onto the ferry. It seemed like they'd only just arrived, and now they were leaving us. 

Girls, we had such a great time with you here, and we certainly hope we'll meet you all again.

Haste ye back!

*      *       *

This week, our nation rejoiced with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge over the birth of their son, and so we raised the flag in honour of our new heir. Thankfully, he was born when we had little wind, otherwise our honouring of his birth would have been done in another way.

Maybe with cake. 

Oh. Hmmm ... maybe it wasn't so good that we had no wind.

HRH, Prince of Cambridge has been named George Alexander Louis. I had a Homeschool on the Croft FB poll the other night, and that was not the name we chose. In fact, Calum came out as our first choice, though we - and some of the readers - were a wee bit biased in that choice. 

Some of the other favourites were James, Albert and Arthur. 

*      *      *

We have had the most wonderful weather over the past week. The other evening, I sat down after a day of almost unbroken sunshine to watch the sun set over the Atlantic. 

Ahhhh .... peace.

*      *      *

Yesterday, towards the end of the day - actually, it was around 7pm, which is technically evening, I guess - the Builder and the Wee Guy mowed the grass.

When you double the workforce, you halve the work.

Sounds like a good idea to me.

And finally, it was done!

Well done, boys!


Our New Friends ...

Over the past days, we have been blessed with the company of three delightful girls from way over on the West coast of the USA.

They sailed into Tarbert, Harris, having travelled through Scotland and through the Isle of Skye that day. 

Here they are, standing on the Edge of the World (or at least on the northernmost tip of this island, which makes it close to being the edge of the world, surely).

You can read about our lighthouse here.

On our drive around Ness, we stopped to have a look at these pigs. The piglets are so cute.

Here are our lovely girls sitting on the wall at Port Beach.

Great fun!

On Friday evening, we had a crowd of young and not-so-young folks for a barbecue. After we'd eaten, we sat around this campfire singing hymns until the early hours of the morning.

But before our singing time, there had to be the obligatory football.

DR and Catherine have wonderful memories of their 'foreign legion' soccer team in Grand Rapids last year. I was able to convince them that regardless of how wonderful their team was, they did not play with this view for a backdrop.

Isn't that right, Catherine?

At least my lovely nephew agreed with me.

Isn't that right, Ross?

Happy days ...


From the USA's West Coast to our West Coast

For the past couple of months, we've been looking forward to a visit from three friends from waaaay Over There. Yesterday, they finally arrived, and because they arrived in Lewis via Harris, and because the Harris terrain is so different to the Lewis terrain, we stopped between their arrival in Tarbert and their arrival in Ness a couple of times. 

Here are 'our girls' in a slightly damp, misty and breezy Harris. I do love driving through Harris on beautiful, sunny days, but there is something just as spectacular about the mountains, the valley and the lochs when there is low cloud and mist.

We just had to stop at this sign.

Finally, they were in Lewis!


A Birthday and Patrice's Chat

Hi Patrice! I don't want to hear you moaning about the heat today. Not a cheep out of you, please, because we are wrapped up in 55F 'heat', with winds up to 40mph, and dampness.

Now, I don't wish to moan about the weather. I know we are well off compared with many others who suffer dreadfully because of the elements, but .... Yes, you knew there was gonna be a BUT there, didn't you.... How we would love blue skies, temperatures soaring into the 80s (okay, the 70s would be wonderful. Yes, even the 60s would bring a smile to my face right now.), and just enough of a breeze to keep the pesky flies and midges away.

Given the choice, I'll keep the weather we have rather than be tormented by these wee critters.

Now, onto more pleasant matters. Those of you who follow Homeschool on the Croft Facebook (by the way, I'd love to shorten this when I write about it, but the shortened version looks like this: HotCroft. Hmmm, I don't think so ... And so, full title remains. Now, where was I? Oh yes, I remember).

Twenty years ago today, God blessed the Builder and me with our first child.

He was, and still is, such a blessing to me. To us.

Ten years after DR was born, we were blessed with another son. Calum is so like DR and in many ways it really is like have DR all over again.

Calum is a very lucky chap to have a big brother like he does.

Yep, very lucky indeed.

The boys in our family come in three sizes: small, medium and large.

And boy, do I love 'em all.

And now onto Patrice's questions for this week:

1. Have you cooked any interesting dishes lately?

Not really. I find, more and more, that I tend to cook the same things over and over. Because there are kids and adults eating together, I tend to be cooking for substance rather than style, for ease rather than for finesse, and so the same staple meals get repeated again and again.

Can you say that - 'repeated - again and again'? Yes, I suppose you can. 'Repeated' would mean it was done twice (at least). 'Again' would mean it was done at least another twice. And the second 'again' would mean it was done at least another twice. So, I have to have made the same meals at least six times.... Phew! Glad we cleared that up.

This is a staple for us: Chicken Thighs.

Mind you, I seldom roast the veg in the same dish. Normally, I stuff each thigh with flavoured Philadelphia cheese - either chilli, or garlic and herbs. I roast them in one dish, and roast the veg in a separate roasting dish.

This pasta bake with chicken and broccoli tends to vary according to what is to hand, but some variation of it is a fairly common occurrence.

Roast chicken - always handy. Tomorrow I plan to roast a couple of chickens and serve it with salad-y foods. It's my attempt at summer living.

Sadly, this is not a common meal for us.

If you haven't seen Our Delicacy before, you really don't know what you're missing. Fortunately, you can click on the link to read all about it.

2. What question would you like to ask Wendell?

Does he think he'd enjoy the Guga if he comes to visit? I wouldn't share it with many friends, but I think Wendell is special enough for me to share it with.

Last year, we shared it with this fella:

But apart from himself and you, Wendell, there aren't many folks with whom we'd share our delightful Guga.

3. Have you had any thoughts of Christmas yet?

Yes, in fact we were talking about Christmas last night. We had the great pleasure of having some friends that DR and Catherine had met in the USA joining us for Christmas.

We had a great time with them, and yes, even though it's now July, we are still talking about their time here.

Here they were, on a Harris beach, on Christmas Eve.

Hang on ... What?? You mean next Christmas.

Gracious me, Patrice! Have you lost your marbles??  

4. Do you make jams and jellies?

Nope. And I'm yet to get over the last question, so I can't say any more than that.

5. Do you have any board games that you enjoy?

Yes. I do love Monopoly. Sometimes, over the winter, we can have Monopoly games that stretch over a whole week. We have some cunning players who almost always win. We have others who blow their cash 'investing' and end up broke before the first day is over.

You know who you are, folks!

See you next week, Patrice, and once again, thank you so much for having us on your porch.


Just Another Day in the Life of ...


Often, whilst musing over life's great philosophical questions, I think of my blog. Not because my blog is a great resource on the answers to life's great mysteries, but rather because I have blog readers who generally have answers to my kind of questions.

For example:

Why is it that on a day when my kitchen table looks like this ...

I decide to bake?

This is a serious question, needing serious thought.

Why did I not spend the day sorting out the books that lay on my table overnight, waiting for a new day, new energy, new light?

Who in their right minds would think it was sensible to make the other end of the kitchen look like Beirut when one end of it already looked like a storm had hit?

Who else would have walked into my kitchen today, seen a table strewn with the Wee Guy's school books and thought, 'I think I'll bake'?

These are the questions with which I am faced as I head to bed.

Why did I not finish sorting the Wee Guy's books into neat little piles?

This book for the bin.
This book for posting online in the hope that someone will find a use for it.
The book for this coming year's schooling.
This book for the cupboard. Either because I can't bear to part with it, or because I may genuinely find some use for it another year.

Oh well, tomorrow is Thursday, and Thursdays are good Sorting Days. Aren't they? I'm sure I heard that somewhere. Maybe it was Winnie the Pooh who said it, and we all know he was a font of wise words.

Or a bear of very little brain, maybe.

Another question: 

... for those of you who make your own coleslaw. Apart from cabbage and carrot, do you add anything else. 

I like red onion. When we had our own Spring onions, I used to add them, but I think I prefer the red onion taste.

And for my final question today.

Why is it, when the rest of our island was bathed in sunshine, we had fog?

Bruce and John Wayne don't mind. (By the way, do you like their sheared look?)

I miss the sun, and I really don't wish to have to travel out of Ness for it. It's the holidays; I don't like leaving home during holiday times ... Okay, so I don't particularly care for leaving my home any time ...

Maybe tomorrow the sun will burn away our haar, and if it does, no doubt I will let my readers know. After all, that's what bloggers do, isn't it?


Fruit Loaf

I mentioned the other day on Facebook that I was making some Fruit Loaves. A fellow Facebooker asked for the recipe I used, and so here goes.

I normally double the recipe, because the loaves freeze so well. It's also one of the Builder's favourites in his 'piece box' - good ol' Scottish term, that! - and the more I can make together, the handier my joyous piece-box-filling life is.

The original recipe, which I'll give, makes two 2lb loaves. I've found that the mix slightly overfills the tins, giving the bottom of my oven a lovely sprinkling of burnt cake mix. I do try and avoid incidences that force me to clean the oven whenever I can, and not being of that efficient breed of women who remember to line the bottom of the oven with a lining to pick up the cake debris, I have been forced to find a way of stopping the overflow.

After all, who on earth wants to be doing oven cleaning?

And so, by making double, I find I have the ideal amount for three 2lb tins and two 1lb tins.

Did y'all get that? (3 x 2) + (2 x 1)

That make it simpler?

Here is the recipe as found in the Free Church cookbook. 


2 cups raisins                            6 oz (175g) butter/marg
2 cups sultanas                          1 lb (450g) plain flour
2 cups water                              2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 cups sugar                              1 tsp ginger
2 eggs, well beaten                    1 tsp cinnamon
                                                  1 tsp mixed spice


1. Put raisins, sultanas, sugar and water in a pan. Bring to the boil, simmer for 2-3 mins and allow to cool.
2. Add beaten eggs to cooled mixture and stir well.
3. Rub butter into flour and add dry ingredients.
4. Add 'moist' ingredients to 'dry' mixture and mix well.
5. Spoon mixture into 2 greased and base-lined 2 lb loaf tins.
6. Bake in a pre-heated oven 180°C/350°F* for 1 – 1¼ hours.

* Everyone gets to know their own oven, but I have found 160°C works best for me.

The butter has been rubbed into the flour. Here is the recipe doubled - two bowls, two pans.

And, as I was saying, this amount of cake mix makes 3 of the 2 lb loaves, and 2 of the 1 lb ones.

Spread liberally with copious amounts of butter.


Happy Independence Day!

This is from a couple of years ago, and is re-posted to prove that us Brits hold nothing against you Americans for your treasonous patriotic acts over 200 years ago.

After all, why would we care that you felt willing to fight and die just to get rid of our governance over you? What is it to us that you preferred liberty over security?

As I say .... not offended at all.


Happy Independence Day, all you American-not-wanting-to-be-British-any-more ....er, friends.

Yes, today, in this corner of the United Kingdom, from which you wanted freedom (not that I'm offended or anything), we celebrated.

Mostly we ate:

These cookies were made by a real, authentic American, so they tasted extra special.

We then sang your National Anthem. Who decided on this tune, may I ask? It must have been someone with an uncommonly large singing range. Down to your boots the notes go, then up to the stars. 

Phew! You could still decide to go with God Save our Queen. You know, if y'all decided you were mistaken with all that 'No taxes without representation' stuff back in the 1770s, and if you did a wee bit of apologising, maybe a little grovelling.... we'd take you back I reckon.

Just think, you could be singing our National Anthem next year. Just think how easy it'd be on y'all.

After our attempts are your anthem, we decided to head to the beach. Wait for this: we had temperatures of 21C today. Twenty-one! It was actually warmer outside in the garden than in the house. I could almost have been in America.

 I think this girl was guilty of a treasonable offence.

Calum was too: he said something nasty about George III (I can't think what on earth he might have against King George III. After all, he was an okay guy, wasn't he. All he did was lose us America, and what's that between friends.)

Calum, I charge you with making derogatory comments regarding King George III, who, after all, never caused any harm to his nation.  

Guilty as charged, m' lud.

 This year, we signed the Declaration of Independence.

And so it's Goodbye from all of us for another year....

.... even from Jackson (who didn't seem to treat the flag with the greatest of respect, despite all my warnings).  

Sshhhh. I know this is not appropriate on Independence Day, but when I asked Jackson to show a bit more respect to The Flag, he very snootily said, 'Er, remember who I am? I am Jackson. Enough said.'

I am sorry. I do try, but sometimes a dog makes up his own mind.

Happy Independence Day to you all!


One Hundred Chats on Patrice's Porch!

Patrice, what an achievement! Thank you so much for your wonderful hospitality over the past one hundred weeks ... I have missed some, but I have loved joining you on a Tuesday for that chat and a cuppa.

Okay, so I often don't grace you with my presence on the Tuesday. Or even Wednesday some weeks. But that's because sometimes I love having your porch all to myself. And having Wendell's company all to myself.

Again, you have thought of great questions, so here we go with your hundredth list:

1. What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?

To "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness... ".

2. Do you have houseplants?

No, not one. I've never had a houseplant that survived more than a week, so I spare them the pain and don't bring them into my home.

Can I also let y'all into a little secret? I'm not too keen on them.

There, I've said it out loud. I love flowers (ahem, Builder... just in case you were wondering). And I love plants outside. I especially love outside plants that are growing into stuff you can eat.

When this ...

becomes these ...

and inside, is hiding this perfect specimen ...

Head over to this post to see more of this amazing vegetable, the Romanesco.

(Did you link? Did you also link to the YouTube video, Donald in Mathmagic Land? If you didn't, it really is worth doing.)

This talk of my vegetables is making me miss The Plot more than ever. Maybe next year, she says, sighing wistfully.

3. Do mosquitoes bother you or leave you alone?

Lewis, I can assure you, is a mosquito-free zone.

Now midges? Oh, they are a different story.

4. What's your favourite charity, if you have one?

We sponsor a guide dog, called Sparkle, with the Guide Dogs association. It was reading about Jesus' healing of a blind man and the care He showed, not only for people's spiritual well-being (and of course, that is primary) but also for their physical well-being that led me to supporting Guide Dogs. A blind person's life is totally transformed if they are able to have a guide dog.

(Hearing of all she is learning to do is giving Jackson some, erm, issues, so we keep rather quiet about them. Suffice to say - and keep it to yourselves, please - she is amazingly clever. She's younger than Jackson, but, oh boy, is she smart.)

At the moment, I am prayerfully looking into sponsoring a child. I linked to this article on my FB page a couple of weeks ago, yet another encouragement to go in the direction of sponsoring a child.

5. Do you like mint? Which variety is your favourite?

I have never grown mint, nor have I used the leaves of the herb. Please don't judge me...

Katie made a chocolate mint fudge a couple of weeks ago. For some reason, I cannot find a photo of it, so here is a link to the recipe she used. It did make me decide that this was my favourite mint. Ever.

Once again, Patrice, thank you so much for having us on your porch. Here's to the next hundred!

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