Monthly Archives: March 2012

Merry and brave

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Our seasons seem to have decided to move on- Spring has sprung! I saw quite a few lambs and calves about today as we drove to the beach for an afternoon picnic. But this year Spring seems to be slightly confused, as you may have guessed by the fact that we had a beach picnic today! Yup, blazing sunshine and no rain, and sunburn! We didn’t stop to think about sunhats or suncream, so we’re a bit pink in the face tonight! Let’s hope the sunshine regulates, and shines throughout the summer, and not just for this week in March! March has brought some quite windy, wet days as well though. I feel for all those daffodils in our garden, being tossed about mercilessly. But still, they hold their heads up proudly, defiantly cheerful in the face of bleak days and bitter winds. Daffodils are such courageous flowers. They are one of my favourites. Courage and beauty are themes paralleled in the book ‘Rilla of Ingleside’ (from the Anne collection, by L M Montgomery) which I am reading just now. The ladies of Ingleside resolve to be ‘heroines’ in the midst of the turbulence and menace of war. The daffodil bravely flowers under the first timid warming rays of the sun, while most of the other flower kindred snuggle deeply down, defiantly deferring until the coming of warmer days. Daffodils have such courage. They delight in bursting forth to beautify the earth, despite the harshness of the wind and rain. They are content to sway back and forth, (or whip and lash back and forth as they do here on the rim of the Atlantic!)  glowing with the very essence of the sun above. Such joy. It cheers me up to see their happy faces seeking the sun.

Yellow seems to be the colour of spring around here, with the daffodils, and the gorse bushes flowering as well. Gorse is another of my favourites of the botanical world. They seem so dependable, and solid. Untouchable, with their pointed needles. Their gnarled branches speak of wisdom, and their delicate bright yellow flowers reveal a sense of humour, delighting in existence under the sun and in the face of the wind. There is a combined flavour of old age and youth with gorse. Their crowning glory, it has to be said, is the perfume of their flower. So delicate and winsome, with a comforting tone of coconut. Yup, the glorious scent of coconut in the wilds of Scotland! We don’t smell it as strongly here at home, where the surrounding area is so open and the wind blows it all away. But it is just beautiful in the sheltered area around my parents’ house. Beauty is all around us, all the time, I have to admit. But it’s easier to see it illuminated in spring sunshine.

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Evolving Pinterest?

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I thought I’d share some further posts I’ve come across that continue the topical discussion of Pinterest and issues of legality. Kirsten of DDKPortraits was contacted by the founder of Pinterest in response to her post discussing her concerns with Pinterest. Head over to her blog to read her update ‘My date with Ben Silbermann…’ and don’t forget to delve into the many comments for more interesting and informative reading. If you like the idea of Pinterest, are an avid user, or even have some spare time, I definitely think it worth the time reading. Also, she has some pretty cute baby portraits to raise a smile and a ‘coochie-coo’! The relative ‘newness’ of Pinterest and the certainty of future development, evolution even provides comfort and assurance to some, The Mom Creative for one thinks the issues will be resolved. I think they will too. If Pinterest wants to stay at the top of its game, it will have to. But I think a lot of damage could be done in the meantime, with people misusing the tool. There may be a big legal wake-up call before Pinterest can evolve much. Also, how could they not know what they were setting themselves up for? With a legal team? They certainly covered themselves! There are a number of informative comments on DDKPortait’s post. I haven’t deleted my Pinterest account either, just addressed the way I use it. Making a Mark shares things from the artist’s perspective. Again, note comments as well as blog posts.

Has anybody found any other interesting and informative articles?

Enough of the cyber-world, I’m heading outside to the real-fresh-air-world to attack some overgrown plants!

cold toes

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Our boiler is on the blink again. well, it hasn’t really been fixed properly since the last time it wouldn’t switch on. I don’t like red glowing ‘lock-out’ lights! And Ruairidh is away for a couple of days, so there is just me trying to warm up the house! And I don’t even have the option of a fire to warm my toes as  the fireplace still isn’t in full working order. The rim has yet to be put in place, a messy, dusty job, as Ruairidh will have to cut out a slight groove for it to rest in because, unfortunately, it’s a bit deeper than the previous one. And I think a little bit has to be sanded off the back of the wooden mantel to get it flush with the wall, and then it will be finished! Maybe next week. Ruairidh is away at translation meetings until Wednesday, so nothing will happen this week anyway.

The past three weeks have been so busy, I feel like I’m emerging from a cloud that has enveloped us entirely, cutting us off from the realities of the lives of friends and family living in the free air of another world. More time seems to have passed than the date on the calender reveals. Intense times. Wonderful time with our friends in church and visitors over the weekend of communion and fellowship. A hectic day of a visiting committees and meetings with the congregation. Sad days with the death of an elderly lady, she was the oldest member in the congregation. And still more death touching the local community at the end of last week. This particular cloud continues into this week as they investigate and seek closure. Death, the intruder. And yet it is reality, it is the most certain thing about life. How it shocks us. We get so comfortable, so preoccupied with things that don’t matter. Are we living a life that is worth living? Do we make the most of our days? Do we allow the risk of being honest, of opening our heart in truth, in the knowledge that there is no time to be afraid, to hide behind our walls? I don’t like living on my own. Whats more, I’ve learned I’m rubbish at being on my own. I don’t look after myself, I have no discipline without the accountability of other people, the needs of other people, the motivation and comfort that comes from the companionship of other people. That is, people in the same building or close daily interaction. So, I need to challenge myself over the next couple of days, not to waste them, or to waste myself, or the time that has been given to me. What a gift we have been given! Even with cold toes.

Pinterest Update

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Hold your pins folks! Here follows a quick note on some Pnterest issues I discovered just today. I just stumbled upon some interesting research with regard to Pinterest, and its legality. Yup, LEGALITY. I know a lot of the information is with regard to the States, how knows where we stand over here, but it still raised some concerning issues with regard to my responsibility and liability with copyright issues in particular. I also found the control Pinterest takes of images rather disconcerting. I recommend all Pinterest users to read these blogs (I mention and link to below) and get informed. I LOVE the idea of Pinterest, it is such a useful tool. But I am uncomfortable with the setup and the details they have in place at the moment. I am so guilty of clicking the ‘yes-I-have-read-the-terms-and-conditions’ for these kinds of things (*inconsequential* things, nothing can happen to me with this- kind of things), when I really don’t, and I certainly don’t UNDERSTAND them. So, I won’t be pinning anything until some changes come about, I’m even considering pressing DELETE. Such a shame, with such a useful and inspiring tool. I’ll be chasing down things that I pinned as well, despite the fact the I attributed to the source, I’m not comfortable with how these images can be manipulated through the site. For example, Pinterest doesn’t use thumbnails or lesser quality images, but the real deal. My apologies to you if I involved you or your images in this. I can but claim ignorance on my part. I hope to remedy somehow, and hope they haven’t spread far and wide on Pinterest boards-eek! You should see how ‘viral’ some images can go, for example, LivingLocurto’s owl smores photo (click to see the search on Pinterest). It’s crazy! Even if the source is included, problems rear their ugly head. Have a read of LivingLocurto’s post, and another important one at DDKPortraits (especially of interest to photographers), Geekgeek’s article packs a punch. Hubpages gives some good advice on using Pinterest. Learn what I didn’t realise (thick-headed me) don’t pin what isn’t yours, or what you don’t have explicit permission to pin. According to Geekgeek: ‘“Liking,” commenting, and re-pinning are all valid ways of interacting with other people’s pins. If someone else pinned it first, you don’t have to worry about holding the copyright.’ I’m off to do some damage control. Not that I initiated most of my pins, I found I mostly re-pinned what was in my interest areas on Pinterest already. Question, how many of those held the copyright themselves?

P.S. I am going to investigate a replacement tool for Pinterest, i.e. a notice/pinboard for the internet. Evernote looks interesting at a glance.

Pancakes

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*disclaimer : links may stimulate mouthwatering reactions; contains food imagery; if hungry, do not click*

Today turned into a pancake day. Yes, I know it was a bit late, but it was planned this way. Kind of! Pancake making had been suggested as an activity idea for us to do with the local youth club that we help run, and I had pencilled it in for tonight’s activity. It was my turn on the rota, cunningly devised by moi, as I have been wanting to try out our new electric pan/hotplate and pancake making were the perfect opportunity. Our household grew up wolfing down a multitude of pancakes that Mum made on her electric pan. Mairianne and I graduated from watching on the sidelines, to helping flip the pancakes, and, in the end, making them from scratch, all by our chuffed-selves! Of course, Mum has the best knack! As did her mother before her, and its Granny’s recipe we still use. Pancakes, otherwise defined as ‘dropped scones’, hold many happy childhood memories. We loved arriving for a visit at Granny and Grandpa’s in Callanish when Granny was making pancakes. She kept the little crunchy tidbits that fell on the pan all for us! The dog didn’t like missing out on his treat that day though! Mum used to make pancakes at our Primary school’s gala day- EPIC pancake making days that raised a lot of money. I think it was definitely in the top three favourite stalls at the gala. Pancakes make great Christmas presents, and a batch is always made when family come home for a visit, or somebody is going to visit them on the mainland. My brothers would never forgive a lack of pancakes and scones from visitors from home! What do we do with all these soft, brown, airy, slight-sweet, beautiful morsels? Apart from (grudgingly 😉 ) giving them away, basically, stuff our faces with them! They are best, of course, hot off the pan. With a good layer of golden syrup, or butter and strawberry jam *mouthwatering moment*. Another favourite is toasting tham from frozen, or frying them to go along with a fried breakfast. Who couldn’t appreciate toasted/fried pancakes, bacon and maple syrup? Cold, they are popularly topped with combinations of butter, jam, whipped cream, crowdie (cheese made from buttermilk) and cream. Or creme fraiche for the healthier eaters. We love to have pancakes along with soup, especially lentil or scotch broth. Such a versatile cake, or scone. The different denotations can cause some confusion. Our ‘pancakes’ are smaller, thicker and denser than you might expect. But yummy all the same!

Mum’s electric pan supplied a LOT of pancakes over the years. It sadly gave up the ghost a few years back, and as Mum had initially received it from her sister in Canada, a replacement was hard to come by. Impossible it seemed. We couldn’t find anything like it on the market over here, or online. It seemed the express, consistent pancake making era had come to an end. Our hope failed. But it semed we gave up too quickly! One of our wedding gifts was an electric pan/hotplate!!! (I’m not sure how to define it. I suppose the box would show a title, but it’s downstairs as I write this, so it will have to wait!) It advertised cooking things like prawns, but it was perfect for pancakes too. I think Mum gasped when we opened it! “Where did you get that?” she demanded of the gift-givers (thankfully folk well-known to us and of good humour!). As it turned out, it was to be found in a shop in Stornoway (yes, Stornoway- who would have thought of looking there?!!) at a bargain price. The next day, Mum was the proud owner of an electric table pan. Of course, she inaugurated hers months ago, but ours only made it out of the box today!

Making pancakes on the new machine at Youth Club tonight

I did do a quick trial run before youth club, to get acquainted with the new toy. It behaved beautifully, despite my messing up of the recipe (disaster always follows the hurried baker!). Well, not a complete disaster, they were edible, I just mixed up tsp (teaspoon) and tbsp (TABLEspoon) with the margarine and syrup. They were just a bit heavy. The mix was much better later on. They ‘kids’ did all the measuring etc, and did really well spooning the batter and turning the pancakes. I think (and hope) they enjoyed it, we leaders sure did anyway! Hot pancakes and syrup opened a new world for some anyway, and another will surprise them tomorrow at breakfast- I recommend pancakes, egg and bacon! Many of our family and friends will be aware that we have a fondness for baked goods at breakfast time, so this will come as no surprise. You know about the pancakes, but what do you think of fried duff? (Duff is our version of a ‘clootie dumpling’- another post entirely!) I would like some more practice with the electric pan, to try and figure out the best temperature etc, but I’m really chuffed with this kitchen toy wedding gift. May it prove as successful in our family over the years as yesterday’s Canadian Pancake Queen  proved to be until the end of its days. And I think Pancake Day will be a future favourite with our youth club!