Sunday 28 July 2013

Project 365 21st -27th July.

Another busy busy week, almost the end of July, weeks of the Scottish school holidays have passed us by, but we have been having a lot of fun this week, It is great that the kids are just round the corner, Fifi can go play with her friends and pop in, I can phone and take them out at the drop of a hat, and their mum can drop them off if she needs to go and do things.


Quite like these walks round the fishery, such a great place to be when dry and sunny. May change my mind in the winter, though I am sure it may have a different beauty.

reflections ( again)


Keeping Bob amused out the back door, some paving slabs and some chalk. I laid him on the slabs and drew round him and he coloured himself in, he acquired his artistic abilities from his maternal grandmother.

Bobs artwork


I had the children whilst their mum and her OH went off for the twenty week scan. There was an open day on at work so I took the children along to have fun. Sadly for them they were the only children there, I think everybody else that turned up were staff on duty out for a nose.

The official photographer spotted the children and asked if he could use them for some photographs to mark the event, needless to say they said yes. You can read all their fun here.

weaving a clootie tree


Got my new camera today, decided I wanted one as it si something I use regularly. It has a few really good points and at least one bad one that I have found. More info to follow at some point.

Wet for a walk round the fishery this evening, and the children were making each other dizzy. Got too close to the pond once or twice and I had to stop them from twirling into the water.

Love the reflections in the pond behind them did not notice them when I took the photograph.



This is a picture took from the stairs at the train station, and then zoomed in to get the flowers growing on the roof, just cos I could!!

far away and close up


We went and did a shopping to buy baking ingredients, all in the name of my blog of course. You can read about our fun here. 

Here is Bob using his superpowers to open the (automatic) doors for us.


Here are the twins again. Dinky on the left is a girl, Minky on the right is a boy, technology is wonderful, they look little more than blobs to me. The grandchildren are over the moon at one of each.

In for six weeks and it is getting there.

Well its nearly six weeks since we moved into this house, and a lot of little bits and pieces have fallen very nicely into making the house a home.

We went and bought stone coloured bedding to fit in with the bedroom, our last room was blue so the stuff we had just didn't match in. Sadly our headboard is blue but we will find one that we like that matches better at some stage in the near future.

shelves in the cupboard under the stairs. 
OH has been busy doing all the man jobs around the house , yes yes I know sex equality and all that, I am sure I could have managed them myself but why have a dog and bark yourself? He has been  putting flooring down in the loft, adding extra shelves in cupboards, screwing shelf units inside larger cupboards to gain more usable space.

There is a tap in the garden to connect the hose to, having said that when we borrowed next doors pressure washer for the slabs we also borrowed their outside tap, Scotland does not have water meters, and they said we could use it any time we wanted,  but ours is in now. This means we can wash the car, water my vegetables next year, clean out the chicken shed when I get chickens next spring whenever we need to.

bye bye paint and grain

He has been painting door frames, making them white instead of the paint and grain. It was in the bottom hall, right up the stairs and round the bedroom doors. The stairs were painted before the carpet went down, much easier than trying to avoid brand new carpet. The downstairs doors and frames I believe are destined to be a darker colour to match the door and the paintwork in the living room.

This house has a few advantages over the other, we have a third room so have a permanent guest room as well as the sofa bed in the children's room. This gives guest somewhere to sit and watch TV if they want to.

One of the things I dont like about it is the layout downstairs. If you open the front door to anybody
the kitchen and bathroom from the front door
then they can see right into the kitchen and bathroom, The kitchen does not have a door at all due to the layout, and the bathroom door never stayed shut, this now has a roller ball catch on it.

Also the downstairs has laminate flooring, honestly don't know why anybody would put this down by choice all the dust just wafts off to the corners, in our case into the kitchen and bathroom when either of the downstairs doors are open, it will get replaced at sometime as well. We were going to carpet on top of it but apparently you cant. To make matters worse the kitchen light switch is on the opposite side to the last house, so you go in, reach to the right, and then curse yourself and reach to the left instead.

the car from the living room
I also want to add some blinds downstairs. We are now living on a road unlike the last few houses we have had, and the living room is set down about two feet lower than the outside pavement. So anybody walking by when the car is not in the driveway can see right into the room. Yes the car is parked right outside my living room window, so we don't get the best view I have to say. I was looking at wooden blinds for the two windows in the living room, one at either end, both windows are a different size and theses are made to measure so will be ideal. To finish the windows off we need nice bright red curtains to compliment the wallpaper.

We are also on the lookout for a nice bold predominantly red picture, probably either floral or modern art for the wall in the living room. Should all be looking like home by then.

This is a sponsored post, the ideas are all my own.

Saturday 27 July 2013

UK BIZDEV Flora baking and picnic shop #cbias

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client.

When I was asked to do this I was over the moon, the grandchildren love to bake. As far as I am concerned one of the best inventions to the baking market in a long time is Flora cuisine, so easy to use with children, no need to cream, and more to the point Bob friendly, doing this sort of thing sums up my blog nicely, having fun as a gran and building memories with the grandchildren. Not that I need posts like this to do it, we bake regularly. 

I phoned my daughter when I saw the email and asked could I pick up the children and take them shopping, and as they were actually in Sainsbury's at the time I decided my shop would be done there. 

We sat in the canteen and discussed what we were going to make. We have a few restrictions when baking, all Bobs stuff has to be dairy, egg, wheat, gluten and nut free. Any more normal baking I do now I do diabetic friendly as OH is diabetic.

Bob checking the ingredients list to see if it safe. 

So Bob decided he was going to make cakes and have some with butter icing on and as he likes using ready rolled icing then he would decorate some with that as well. 

Fifi decided she would make cakes, use butter icing on some, squirty cream on some and rolling icing on others. We also decided we would do some crispy cakes as well. 

Bobs cakes

4 oz Flora Cuisine
4 oz sugar
2 bananas mashed
8 oz gluten free self raising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoon rice milk

Bob weighing out his Flora cuisine.

Weigh all ingredients into a bowl and mix. Place in cake cases. cook for approx 15 mins at 160 oC

putting his mix in the cases

Fifis cakes

6 oz low fat Flora margarine
4 oz fruisana sugar (only require 2/3rds of normal amount)
3 eggs
10 oz self raising flour
2 oz wheatgerm

Fifi with the hand held mixer

Cream margarine and sugar.
add eggs and mix
stir in half of flour and wheatgerm, then stir in other half.

Place in cake cases and cook for 15 mins at 150 oC ( fruisana sugar cooks at a lower temp than normal sugar)


150g dark cooking chocolate
75 g low fat Flora margarine
5 tablespoons agave syrup
300 g honey and nut clusters

Melt first 3 ingredients carefully over a low heat.
Once melted stir in the clusters, adding more in needed.
Place in cake cases and refrigerate until cool.

putting the clusters into cases

The butter icing I made was a compromise, we used a dairy free tub margarine and fruisana sugar and some icing sugar, this keeps it safe for Bob but also friendly for the diabetic.

Cream 5oz margarine.
Add 1 teaspoon lemon extract
Mix together 5 oz fruisana ( equals 7.5 oz normal icing sugar) and 2.5 oz icing sugar.  Beat into margarine.

We used butter icing on both sets of cakes. The children also rolled out ready made icing, cut circles to cover the top of the  and cut out letters to make their blog names.

Bob spreading his butter icing

Bob did his cooking first so there was no risk of cross contamination. He then amused granddad in the garden making arrows and seeing who could throw nearest the target they put out.

keeping granddad amused while the cakes cool. 

We all had a great time, can work on Fifi's mental maths while cooking, getting her working out quantities.

Bob with his name cakes

and Fifi with hers.

I made a google+ album as well if you want to pop over and see more of the fun, it is here 

Thursday 25 July 2013

Have you heard of Action Medical Research?

I received a very lovely e-mail from Tedi who works for a PR company on behalf of Action Medical Research, I have to say I had never heard of the charity. I liked her approach and how she taken the time to read my blog before she approached me. Her opening lines were

Having already raised 5 children and now with 2 grandchildren and one with several health issues and special needs, I thought this offer might hold special interest for you. Action Medical Research has a great deal of reach within the cycling community but has not had much exposure with Mums and children. We feel like the Blogging Community could help bridge that gap and let people know how many events they have to offer and how easily everyone can get involved in ways to help raise funds to help support research into many issues that burden children and their families.. Let me know if you would like to work with me on this. Thank you for considering it. ~ Tedi 

So I popped over to have a look what the charity was all about and thought it is something I would like to share on my blog. Please feel free and share with your readers, and also consider them as a charity if you are doing a fund raising event.

So who are Action Medical Research?

Action Medical Research is a UK-wide charity saving and changing children’s lives through medical research. We want to make a difference in:

  • tackling premature birth and treating sick and vulnerable babies
  • helping children affected by disability, disabling conditions and infections
targeting rare diseases that together severely affect many forgotten children

Medical research for children is a neglected area and ACTION MEDICAL RESEARCH relies entirely on public support. With increased public awareness and support, they will be able to fund even more life-changing research for some of the UK's sickest  babies and children. We are asking bloggers to use social media to spread the word on the wide range of fund-raising events people can participate in throughout the year, as well as the good work the organization continues by funding the search for answers to prevent childhood diseases and illness associated with pre-mature birth.

Whatever a persons ambition, sporting ability, or location, ACTION MEDICAL RESEARCH offers incredible events with excellent support, providing the opportunity for all who wish to participate. Every event helps fund medical research to treat sick babies and tackle premature birth, to make life better for children with disabilities and to target a group of rare diseases that together severely affect many forgotten children. Events throughout the UK, Scotland and Northern Ireland include Cycling, Running, Trekking, Open Challenges, Overnight PLOD Walks, Team Challenges, Bring Your Bear, Walk for Tiny Lives, Social Events and Fairs. To find out more about different types of events in specific areas, see

A great event for Mums and children is the very popular Bring Your Bear. Up and down the country thousands of schools and nurseries will choose a day from May onwards when the children bring their teddy bear to a party. Every child brings in two pounds with their bear, as a simple and fun way to support vital research to help babies and children. 
Here is a link with some great Paddington activities you can use with your children to help raise awareness of ACTION MEDICAL RESEARCH and the Bring Your Bear event.

One piece  of research that I like is the issue of feeding premature babies, Fifi was born at 29+6 weighing 3lb 3 oz.

Fifi in her incubator

The way premature babies are fed in hospitals could be set to change following the results of a research programme – funded by children’s charity Action Medical Research* – which were published online in the journal Pediatrics, 9 April 2012. 

You can read more about this important issue here

Please feel free, pop over and have a read, share with family and friends, and maybe even consider fund raising for them in some capacity in the future.

Disclosure - I received a 12 inch Paddington Bear from AMR but would have happily shared without.

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Willow weaving, smoothies and a treasure hunt

At work a few weeks ago on the tables was a poster advertising what seemed like a fun few hours out. It said it was for staff (thats me), patients, and service users - well Bob qualifies on those grounds so as I was watching the children today whilst Daughter No 1 and her OH went for the twenty week scan to see what sex the twins are. You can see for yourself here, So I had thought we would go along and join in the fun.

This morning we had heavy heavy rain and amazing thunderstorms, the first break in this hot weather we have had at all. Luckily enough just after 11am the rain stopped and so we decided to go anyway and hope the rain stayed away, it did.

We arrived just after 12 to find two ladies setting up what I was to find out was a clootie tree, for the un-initiated like myself a clootie tree is explained here  This was being run by a lady called Lise Bech who runs bech baskets, you can read about this talented woman here. Lise explained how she harvests her material, how it is soaked in the river to make it soft and pliable for a week before she attends such an event as this. The children and I put the first three wish rags onto the tree, and Lise helped us all weave our wishes in.

We then wandered down to the main area where they had marquees set up, there had been a tai-chi demonstration on but we had missed this whilst doing the weaving.

We then wandered into the other marquee, this was a health information marquee, the children spotted some stop smoking information and freebies and Fifi picked some up for her mum, as Fifi tells me smoking when you are pregnant can harm your babies, and she does not want mum harming Minky and Dinky.

Also in there was a chance to pick your own fruit and make a smoothie. I explained to Bob that he
could not have one as they were using strawberries and kiwis, both of which he is allergic to. But the lady told me she had clean blenders in a box in case people with allergies came along, so he was over the moon he could get one. She did cover herself and say there may be a risk of cross contamination, but risk looked very minimal to me and Bob has to live a normal life.  Now remembering this is a health promotion being run by the NHS the blender was powered by a bike, and to get your smoothie you had to peddle!! Bob was far to small to reach so Fifi had to do the peddling for both of them. Whilst she was on the bike the chain came off so the ladies had to fix it.

the photographer taking pictures

stood on the seats for the photographer
While we were waiting for the bike to be fixed the official photographer came in and asked me if he could use Bob for some photographs of the event, I said yes as I knew mummy would not mind. He then asked Bob if he could do superhero poses, to which Bob tells him his name is Bob the Superhero.

When he realise I had two children with me he asked Fifi if she wanted to be in as well, so she willingly said yes. So we wandered off to where he wanted the photographs taken, took some of them walking and then stood on the seats that are carved from trees. I was in fits at the antics of Bob as he willingly did what the photographer asked him, shouting and cheering in all the right places.

Fame over we went back to find they had fixed the bike and the children could get their smoothies.

As by this time we had missed the bird box demonstration we had hoped to see we went to do the treasure hunt. This had been set up along one of the paths that have just been finished.

The clues were in no particular order, you had to find the answer to the clue, write down what the answer was and then find a letter and write that down. Once you had found all the letters you had to rearrange them into a phrase, this took us a wee while as we were playing with silly ideas and having a giggle, the phrase we came up with was "walk a bit more" This may have been easier for the children had there been clipboards available to lean their paper on, but then as they were the only two children there I am not sure if they were expecting children or not. Everybody else seemed to be staff out on their lunch break.
Clue 1
wrong fruit on the wrong tree, I'm bright yellow can you find me?

clue 2
Like silk thread spun on a tree, don't let yourself get caught in me

clue 3

I'm not your breakfast , but you might be mine,

clue 4
In me an old once stood, now I've gone for a walk in the wood

clue 5

Watch out! there's a bad bug going about

clue 6
 having no body I'm quite miserable, I'm the gardener turned invisible

clue 7

Out of season I'm to be found, big and orange and not on the ground

clue 8

I'm round and big as you can see, the farmer's tractor is stuck without me

clue 9

I'm a hobbit, quiet as a mouse, can you find my hidden house?

This was Bob's favourite as he was knocking at the door to see if anybody was in.

Clue 10 led to a picture of an  owl, in the hollow of a tree, but did not come out well enouh to use. 

Whilst in the woods we spotted butterflies, apparently there are foxes, pheasants, and a deer as well as a large hare called Big Eric. There was a lady there sculpturing a hare out of branches that is going to sit on the hillside. May take the children back one day and go and walk the twenty minute walk and see what we can see.

Results of the 20 week scan

Twin B (on the left), currently known as Dinky, is a little girl. Twin A, on the right, known as Minky, is a boy! 

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Hue Animation - our first thought and first review

I was sent out this with the intentions of passing it onto Daughter No1 and the grandchildren, here is there first thoughts and their first videos

What is hue animation? You can find there website here .


The complete stop motion animation solution.
  • Hue Animation Studio contains everything you need to create animated videos
  • The fully-featured animation software is easy for kids to use, and has been designed for education
  • Stop motion animation software joins together a series of snapshots to make a movie, as in theWallace & Gromit films
  • Suitable for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X
  • Make your art and craft sessions come alive. A great gift for children aged 5+

The Hue Animation Studio contains everything a budding animator needs to begin creating stop motion animation videos.  Children can discover, imagine and create stop-motion animation through powerful, easy-to-use, animation software complete with Hue’s market leading Plug ‘n’ Play HD camera with built-in microphone and a unique flexible neck for unlimited positioning options. 
The software (used in schools and at home) helps children to create simple visual adaptations using toys, modelling clay, play figures and stop-frame animation techniques.  The process of animating with the Hue Animation Studio encourages children to learn a diverse range of skills in both a fun and stimulating way.  They can create a story, create characters, make them from clay or plasticine, design and make sets, compose soundtracks or select appropriate recorded music to enhance a film.
Whether you’re five or 95, you can’t go wrong with Hue’s full feature animation suite!

My daughters review. 

We were sent a stop-motion animation kit by Hue animation to test, play with and review.  The kit contains an HD webcam, stop-motion animation software, and modelling clay, everything you need.

The kids were very excited to try it out – Fifi has being doing a lot of stop-motion animation on the iPads at school, and Bob has done some at home, so both were keen to get going.

This is the first movie they made

The software included in the pack (SAM animation) is simple and easy to use – the kids worked out how to add sound to videos within a few minutes, although Mum didn't.   It has all of the normal stop-motion animation options, for eg onion skin (overlays the last picture onto the preview screen for the next so you can see where to move items to etc), options to add and delete frames (useful when fingers get in the way!), and add sound, either voice that you record yourself or music tracks.  The webcam comes with a built in microphone to allow voice recording.

The software also has a time-lapse option, where it can be set to take a sequence of time-lapse pictures automatically, with a good amount of settings for time between pictures and length of sequence.
There are various other settings and options available for use, which haven’t been explored yet, but Fifi is desperate to have another go and see what she can do.

This is the first one they made all by themselves, they worked out how to add audio, but all you hear is the background television. They will learn how to add voice shortly

The webcam itself is good quality, and comes with a flexible neck, so it can be bent into almost any position, which caused much hilarity when Bob was taking upside down pictures!  It also comes with a USB stand, so it can be plugged straight into the computer, or used on the stand, giving it a longer reach and more flexibility.

The only (minor) negative I have found with the kit is that it is much better suited to a laptop.  We have desktop computers, which has left us limited as to where we can film, as the camera needs to be plugged into the computer at all times.  With a laptop, we would have a lot more freedom, and could even take it all out into the garden.

So far, the kids have had a lot of fun making films, and I’m sure there are going to be a lot more made in the foreseeable future.  

Why not go and look how other reviewers have got on, you can find them on Facebook or Twitter

The improvements in the garden

One of the upsides to this loooonnngggg hot spell of weather is that OH has been able to get out into the garden and do some clearing, cleaning and tidying. The downside to the long spell of hot weather is is it  far too hot to work in the garden. I think since we moved in five weeks ago we have had just one day of rain.

So OH has been out in the garden making a huge impact just by cleaning, clearing and tidying.

Stage 1 - putting up the fence that was lying down


Now the fence is up the shed can go where it was lying, building the base

ready for the shed

finished and painted

plenty of weeds growing both in front of and behind the back fence

with plenty of nettles on the slabs at the top end, notice how grubby the slabs are

Next step was to clean the slabs in the front garden, from this

 to this, the ones near the steps are grubby cos all the water ran towards them and there was nowhere for it to go.  Since this was taken we have pushed it back more

and the edging stones were done as well. The wall is going to need re-pointing before it collapses under the car one day.

Then the back was done. Again a huge difference thought the back ones are going to need some sort of patio cleaner to get them properly clean, but at least at the moment they are not going to be dangerously slippy as they had been when wet.

Next stage was behind the tall fence you can see at the bottom. The fence post's  are totally rotted and it is being held up by what will be the chicken shed and next  so it will stand up by itself. doors fence. So OH has half the fence to allow him to move it, clear what is behind so that new posts can go in

As you can see there is all sorts including another small fence, dead plants as well as holly and brambles.

Some of the chopped down bushes.

The rotted fence was pulled out and taken to the dump

Next door had also been doing some work in their garden, the first part of which was to take the tree down as it is in the way of putting up their new fence.

This is the garden as it stands right now. Weed free, shed up, back fence propped back up, it will be getting sorted properly at some point. Really we need a make over as I want the bottom grass bit to be a veg patch but it is full of rocks and rubble. The grass does not look to bad from here but close up it is very very patchy.

The potted plants came with us from the garden at the old house.