Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cinnamon Pull-Aparts

A few months ago I bought a bun pan.  I was so excited about said bun pan that I wrote an entire blog entry about it.  If you are also excited, you can read or re-read the entry here:

Anyways, as exciting as the pan is, it has created a problem for me.  Not a big problem in the grand scheme of things - it is, after all, just a bun pan - but a problem nonetheless.  My bun recipe makes 16 buns, but the pan only has space for 12 buns.  Crisis!   Obviously not, but I did need to adjust what I was doing to account for the difference.  

I tried a couple of possible solutions.  I made 12 larger buns out of the recipe.  This did not work well - the buns got too big for the pan and they fused together.  They were no longer cute and didn't bake as nicely.  I bought a second pan and baked the other 4 buns in it.   This is a rather wasteful solution because my oven only holds one pan at a time so I had to bake for twice as long - not worth it for 4 buns.  I don't want to switch recipes because this is my old faithful recipe - it really never lets me down.

Last weekend I had a bit of a brain wave - why not try to make a dessert with the remaining dough?  I was inspired by the cinnamon pull-aparts that I had in McDonald's last time I was in Canada.  I decided that I could use the extra dough to create something similar - after all this is the dough recipe that I use when making cinnamon buns.  And my boys love cinnamon buns.

So I used the extra dough to make some dough "nuggets" which Big Boy rolled into little balls.  We threw these into a greased pie tin and then sprinkled on some cubed butter (about 1 tablespoon), brown sugar and cinnamon.  I let this concoction rise and then I stuck it into the oven after the dinner buns were done.  The oven was at 180 Celsius and the pull-aparts cooked for about 20 minutes.

The result was a goopy and delicious cinnamon dessert.   I made some icing sugar and water icing and drizzled it on before I served up.  The kids loved it!  I will definitely make it again.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Skyfall at the Belmont

Last night was a really nice treat.  My husband and I went to an event at the Belmont Theatre – a private screening of Skyfall, the new James Bond film.  We don’t go to the movies often, so this was a lovely treat!

Prior to the screening there was a cocktail reception with James Bond-themed drinks and other beverages.  After the reception we all went upstairs to a small but comfortable theatre and watched the film. 

I really enjoyed the film.  It was everything that James Bond is meant to be.  There were explosions, car chases and impossibly tight situations.  Part of the film even took place in rural Scotland.

The film opened with a chase through Istanbul and there was a really neat sequence where James Bond and a villain chase each other over the roof of the Grand Bazaar.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Time Change

Yesterday we rolled back the clocks here in Scotland.  I find it funny how this 1-hour time change is such a hassle when, as a family, we have experienced dramatic time changes (11 hours being the worst) with little or no drama.

Little Boy is clearly still using the old time - he was up with the chickens yesterday and he was dozing at each of his meals.  By the time we put him to bed last night he was absolutely desperate for sleep.

Hopefully he adjusts fully within the next couple of days.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


On Thursday I went downtown and it was a lovely day.  I was struck by how pretty Aberdeen is in the fall.

It was a very different story on Friday, when I took these pictures:

Hmmm....extremely variable weather....where have I experienced that before?  Seems like we didn't leave home sometimes!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pink Eye

We've moved on from the flu, and now Little Boy and I have both contracted pink eye.  Lovely...

I contacted our GP surgery this morning and asked them about what I should do.  I was a bit surprised by the process.  

The receptionist at the surgery told me that conjunctivitis (pink eye) is handled by pharmacists and I should go down to the chemists with Little Boy and they would take care of us.  So we drove to our local Boots and waited in line to see the pharmacist.  Once we had spoken to her we had some good news and some bad.  The good news was that there are drops to provide relief for Little Boy.  The bad news was that there was nothing for me.

What surprised me was this.  I gave the pharmacist our details and she wrote the prescription for Little Boy.  Then she filled the prescription - for free!

The whole process took about 45 minutes, but it was basically "one stop shopping" with no money spent.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Halloween Finger Puppets

This is the second week of fall holidays for other schools, but Big Boy's school only has a 1-week fall holiday.  This means that many of his activities are cancelled for the week and we have some extra time for activities.  Yesterday I decided that we would make Halloween finger puppets.

We used a kit to make the puppets.  The kit was originally purchased by a friend from Sainsbury's.  When my friend moved away she gave my kids a bunch of unused craft supplies including this kit.

The kit was easy for Big Boy to use, but Little Boy could not do anything without assistance.  The puppets are made of thin foam sheets that are curled into a cone shape.  The kit came with a small tube of glue, but it was not strong enough to hold the "curled" foam sheets so I had to use a clip to hold the shape of the puppets while they dried.  It took the kids about an hour to make the puppets and I'm sure they will have fun playing with them.  I'm also sure that they will not last long - hopefully until Halloween!

Brave Big Boy

I had an annoying schedule planned out for this week.  Big Boy and I both needed to go into the medical centre and I needed to go for 2 reasons.  When I called to set the appointments up, they assured me that we would require 3 appointments because there were 3 different issues.  And not only that, but they could not make any of the appointments back-to-back or on the same day.  So my initial appointment schedule was this:  me on Monday after school; Big Boy on Tuesday after school; and me again on Wednesday morning.  Sounds like fun….3 separate trips to the medical centre, all with Little Boy in tow and 2 with Big Boy along.

Yesterday (Monday) I hauled the kids over for my appointment, a vaccination.  While they were reviewing the vaccination information with me, I asked a question about Big Boy’s vaccination – scheduled for Tuesday.    The nurse offered to do Big Boy’s vaccination then and there, saving me one trip to the medical centre – hooray!

But Big Boy did not share my enthusiasm.  He had a wobbly lip and his eyes were filling as he said “But Mom, you said only you were getting a needle today…”  I replied that he could get the needle on Monday or miss school for it on Tuesday.  This was a risky move, but I was sure that he was so excited to see his friends after the fall break that he would not want to miss Tuesday.  I was right, and he decided - after a lot of dithering - that he would like to attend school for the whole day on Tuesday and he also would not like to come back to the medical centre an extra time.

With the big decision having been made it was my turn to get my needle.  I am terrified of needles, but I make it a policy to never let it show in front of the kids.  I asked the nurse if I could look away and not view the needle and then I toughed it out.  My needle was quick. 

Then it was Big Boy’s turn.  He hesitated in taking off his sweatshirt, but finally resolved to be a brave boy.  He marched over to the seat, and said he was scared but he would do it.  I told him that he would not have to look if he did not want to.  He did the opposite.  He watched and listened to every aspect of the needle.  Later that evening he even told his dad about the sounds that the needle made, and how long it took for the vaccine to go in.  And how it felt.   Yeeeeeech.

When his needle was done, he could not hold it in any longer and he started to weep silent tears.  He looked so sad.  I tried to comfort him, but Little Boy chose that exact moment to pull off his hoodie and beg the nurse for a needle in his arm…. he actually started to have a bit of a tantrum when his request was denied!   This comic relief gave Big Boy time to pull himself together before we left the examination room.

I’m proud of Big Boy and how he held up through his “surprise” needle.  We have come a long way since his last set of vaccinations in Edmonton (summer 2011), when 2 of us had to hold him down…his grandma will remember that appointment…..

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ladurée Macaroons from Harrods

My friend went to London and brought me back a most thoughtful gift of Ladurée macaroons from Harrods.

It was an incredibly thoughtful gift and it came beautifully packaged.  The kind of gift that is impressive based simply on presentation.  Here are some photos.

Not only did the macaroons look gorgeous, they were delicious as well.  The outer portions were light and airy with a hint of flavouring, while the middle fillings were rich and flavourful.  Of all of the flavours in the box, my favourites were lemon, strawberry and chocolate.  The strawberry flavour was incredibly intense.  There was only one flavour I did not like - ginger - which would satisfy ginger-lovers with it's concentrated ginger taste and scent.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Curses! Foiled by the flu....

On Thursday night my husband came home from a business trip.  As always, while he was gone, there was “kid health drama.”  Little Boy had a most disgusting illness and I think it was the flu.  I spent a large part of the holiday week doing “sick” laundry and trying to decide what to feed a delicate tummy that was still hungry.

On Friday morning, everyone seemed healthy, so we packed up on a pre-planned weekend away.  We drove down to Dundee using the scenic coastal route and had a lovely time travelling through picturesque small towns.  We checked into our hotel in Dundee and then headed out to the River Tay to check out the waterfront.

We visited the tourist information centre and then took in 2 ships.  First we saw the Discovery, an explorer’s ship that was used for the 1901 British Antarctic Expedition.  Then we saw the Frigate Unicorn, an historic wooden warship.  The Unicorn is one of the six oldest ships in the world.

After our ship-seeing we had M & S sandwiches for supper and then turned in for the night.  On Saturday morning we woke with 2 more family members suffering from the flu…Big Boy and my husband.  They were too sick to enjoy the rest of the weekend, so we cut our losses and headed home.

I find it interesting…I had the flu jab about 2 weeks ago and no-one else in the family had it.  I am the only one who has not had this flu-like illness…coincidence?  I wonder if it is worth it for everyone else to get the jab at this point, Big Boy is scheduled to have it on Tuesday.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Aberdeen Art Gallery

Yesterday, I took Big Boy to the Aberdeen Art Gallery.  Big Boy has been asking to go to an art gallery because he is studying Vincent Van Gogh in school, so I thought we'd check out our local gallery to see what he thought.

The Aberdeen Art Gallery is not huge, but there are a few exhibits that caught our attention.  We started out looking at the Victorians, and Big Boy was really impressed with these paintings.  It helped that we met a friendly gallery volunteer who showed him a few interesting points in some of the pictures.  She also let him see the keyboard of the old organ in the gallery - and he was really impressed.

We moved on to more modern art, which Big Boy did not have a taste for.  To keep him engaged, I decided to ask him what he saw in the pictures.  Currently the gallery is hosting a retrospective of Gary Hume work called "Gary Hume Flashback."  The pieces are very modern and generally contain one element that is recognizable.  As we viewed each piece, I asked Big Boy "what do you see in this picture?" and he answered correctly - hands, feet, bear paws, doors etc.  I was really pleased that he was looking at and paying attention to these pieces even though he did not particularly like them. 

This strategy totally backfired when we passed the piece pictured at this link (but if you are sensitive or easily offended, you may not want to visit the link):

He guessed what this picture was showing immediately.  Later, when we found the friendly volunteer again and she asked what pictures he liked, he told her that he liked a certain Victorian painting but in a fit of giggles he told her that the funniest one was the painting of "poop."  She thought this was charming, but I thought it was a bit embarrassing.  

The volunteer then suggested we check out the watercolour gallery, and Big Boy really liked 2 paintings of Dunnotar Castle.  While these paintings had an identical subject, they were very different in style and mood.  My favorite watercolour painting was this one:

We spent about 1.5 hours at the gallery, and I think all in all it was a successful visit.  We both learned a lot!