Friday, 12 September 2014

Strawberry Jam #DDDHMC

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Welcome to the first edition of Diddle Diddle Dumpling's Home Made Christmas! To kick things off I've went with something that's fairly simple & a favourite in every household - the humble Strawberry Jam! This is one gift that will always be greatly received. But if you want to try your hand at it, you need to get moving as they'll only be in season for a few more weeks; after which you'll struggle get any in the shops. But don't worry, the great thing about preserves is that they last for ages, hence why the first few tutorials in Diddle Diddle Dumpling's Home Made Christmas will be of this nature.

What You Need.   
1kg Strawberries (ideally home grown, if not Scottish/British are tastiest).
1kg Jam Sugar.
Juice of one Lemon.
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract (optional).
3-4 Jam Jars with lids (450g is ideal).
Wax Discs.

Method.   


  1. Wash your strawberries, cut them in half if they're quite big & sterilise your jars.
  2. Pop the strawberries & lemon juice in a large, heavy based pan - ideally a jam pan - and heat for a few minutes to allow the strawberries to soften.
  3. Add all the sugar and stir on a low heat until all the granules of sugar have dissolved.
  4. Add the Vanilla Extract. This part is optional but gives the jam a little bit extra flavour.
  5. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil for 6 minutes or until it reaches it;s setting point. To check the setting point, spoon a small amount of the jam out and onto a cool plate. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then with your finger, check that it is of the consistency you'd expect of jam. If not, continue to boil for a couple of more minutes & check again.
  6. Allow the jam to cool in the pot for around 10 minutes before spooning it into the sterilised jars. Ensure your jars are still warm as cold jars are likely to crack due to the heat of the jam.
  7. Place a wax disc of the top of the jam & seal with your lid. You should get around 3 jars but I like to have an extra jar sterilised & ready, just in case there's more than I expect.
• • •

The great thing about jam is that it literally keeps for years. It is vital that your jars are clean & sterilised though, to ensure no spores or dirt are present as they'll ruin your jam and make it inedible. Don't be tempted to skip that step! Otherwise go for it and give jam making a try for yourself. Just be sure to share your experience & photos using the Diddle Diddle Dumpling's Home Made Christmas hashtag on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram; #DDDHMC.

Next week I'll be sharing another jam recipe and be sure to stay tuned over the coming weeks for more info on designing your own jar labels, different ways to sterilise your jars & the first home baking gift of the series.

Happy making,

Adapted from this original recipe.
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Thursday, 11 September 2014

Diddle Diddle Dumpling's Home Made Christmas #DDDHMC

Diddle Diddle Dumpling Homemade Christmas.
It's an acceptable time to start talking about Christmas, right? Who said no? Well I dub you Scrooge! It's never too early to talk about Christmas! In which case I bring you *drum roll please*
Diddle Diddle Dumpling's Home Made Christmas.

We all know Christmas is a pretty pricey time of year, particularly when only just returning to work after Maternity Leave, with one kid whose birthday is in November & another whose is in January (whose bright idea was that?). But it doesn't have to be expensive. Last year, being on only Maternity Pay & refusing to do Christmas shopping with a newborn, I made some nice little jars of chutney for the grandparents & some artwork by the kids for their Aunties. Both were received with great positivity, which has encouraged me to go all out this year & make a whole selection of home made Christmas gifts.

Ok, ok... Obviously, it is still a little early to be thinking about Christmas in great depth but there is method to the madness. My first few home made gifts are jams, which require fruit which will be out of season by the time Christmas comes around, so to make the most of the home made Christmas, preparation starts now. From now until Christmas, every Friday I'll be posting a Diddle Diddle Dumpling's Home Made Christmas tutorial. Food will be a big feature of this because, well, who doesn't like food gifts? But stay tuned for other homemade gift ideas including cuddly toys, quilts & anything else that I fancy trying my hand at. I promise lots of sewing, baking & maybe even some candlestick making! Not only that I'll be posting advice on getting the best from your homemade gifts, how to cut down on the already minimal costs & there will be some inspiration posts in there for good measure too.

First up is Strawberry Jam, which will be going live tomorrow.

I've also decided to start a hashtag for you to keep up with any of the latest creations (mine & yours!) on social media. Instagram is where I like to post sneak previews of what I'm up to so come follow us at @amylorimer and be sure to let me see what you get up to too, using the hashtag #DDDHMC.

Stay tuned,

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Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Living Arrows 36/52.

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So we all know that David enjoys stealing John's cars. But surprisingly, John isn't too keen on the idea. His solution? Play with them right back on the sofa where David can't reach him. And regardless of that fact, scream and shout at David if he even so much as glances at a car. At least he'll throw a less desirable toy at David in an attempt to distract him... Not quite what I meant by "sharing with your little brother" though, son.
living arrows


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Thursday, 4 September 2014

On Going Back To Work...

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"It's my day off." Does it make me an awful mother to say that? When I went on maternity leave & once David was born, I felt like I'd never want to go back to work. Being at home with a newborn & a toddler was lovely; dare I say, 'easy'. But as the months went on, John grew further into the terrible twos & David became more demanding. The days of being able to chill out with John happily playing & David sleeping all day were short-lived. Now our days are non-stop - literally.

From 6am to 8pm, I do not stop. Whether it's drawing pictures of poop for John (yes, really...), pulling fluff from David's mouth or cleaning the never ending mess; even in the brief moments that I do get to sit down, it usually involves someone sitting on top of me - generally with their finger up my nose too. Truth is, being a Mum of two is bloody tough. With one baby, you get to a point where you think, "yeah, I've got this!" A point where life just falls in to place, with only minor hiccups along the way. With two, this doesn't happen.

It's no longer a case of working our way through just one developmental phase, or planning our day around one kids nap times. There's two little bodies that suffer with illness, two little boys constantly wanting attention. Even when both boys want the same thing at the same time, it's simply impossible to evenly divide myself between them. I sit down at the end of those tough days when both boys are going through developmental phases,  frustratingly skipping naps, whilst simultaneously choked with the cold, and wondered how on this earth we all made it to bedtime alive. Don't get me wrong, there's a whole lot of good in there too and each bad day is easily made up for in the moments when John cuddles an upset David singing Twinkle Twinkle and saying, "it's ok, Day-bid. Mummy & Don here." But when you are having one of these awful days, all you long for is a day off.

Any parent can tell you there's actually no such thing as a day off. Even when you're not with your kids they're on your mind. But the next closest thing is a few hours away from them where you can all breathe & do something you enjoy. For me, that's work. If you read my 50 Facts About Me, you'll know I'm not a sociable person at all. Work is my 'social' time, my time to have adult conversation, to interact with people who actually talk back. Like everyone who works with the public, I occasionally have a wee moan about it but honestly, I love it. Not only do I work with some pretty great folk but I get to meet & talk with a huge array of people and talk about a world that genuinely interests me. Because although talking about John's love of Norman Price, or why David shouldn't eat toilet paper is great, it's not exactly stimulating chat.

Plus I get paid & when you have debts, money is another pretty big factor in choosing to go back to work (but y'know, shhh - we're British and don't talk about money..!). However, surely it doesn't actually make me an awful mother to admit I need some time away from my kids? I hope not. It preserves my sanity which can only be a good thing, right? Best of all, I get to pick up a toddler from nursery who almost explodes with excitement in telling me about his day & a baby who looks at me like there is no one else in the world he would rather see. What better way to end a 'day off'?

Did you go back to work after having kids? What were your reasons?


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Tuesday, 2 September 2014

50 Facts About Me.

The number one thing I look for in seeking out new blogs to follow is a relatable blogger; which is funny because I feel like I don't really talk about myself here very much. So what better way to rectify that than with some facts about me. Inspired by Jess at Our Baby Blog, here's my 50 ever-so-interesting facts about me...

Mummy with toddler John.

1. My best subject at school at Art. I even planned on going to Art College for a while.

2. I've been blogging for around 10 years. And this isn't my only blog (oh, cryptic!).

3. I'm pretty tall. 5'11" to be exact.

4. My favourite bands are Busted, Fall Out Boy, Funeral For A Friend, The Used & My Chemical Romance.

5. I'm absolutely rubbish at replying to emails & texts. Apologies too anyone waiting to hear from me...

6. I was a major emo-kid in High School. (Explains the musical choices...)

7. I'm a bit of a computer geek who's particularly obsessed with HTML.

8. I've had every hair colour under the sun. I even won Most Frequently Changing Hair in our school yearbook.

9. My favourite films are A Clockwork Orange, Trainspotting, The Great Gatsby & Step Brothers.

10. My favourite animals are donkeys.

Mummy with toddler John & pregnant with baby David.

11. My Mum is my best pal. (Aww!)

12. I've my whole wedding planned. And have done since I was, like, 10. (C'mon, Iain!)

13. I always wanted sons. I grew up with two sisters so have had enough girls in my lifetime!

14. I only speak to one person I went to High School with. The rest I can happily blank on the street.

15. My first job was in a florist/cafe. For years I wanted to train as a florist (& still kinda want to...)

16. I'm pretty anti-social, really... Nah, really I just prefer my own company.

17. The first time Iain & met, I was quite drunk, running around the street with no shoes on. He was in a Santa costume, also quite drunk. Although we don't count it as our first meeting.

18. I get really bad sleep paralysis, especially when pregnant. In fact, I was my first 'symptom' with David & prompted me to do a pregnancy test.

19. I met McFly back in 2004 after designing the program cover for Live & Loud. Tom chose my design as the winner.

20. I've got a bit of a stationary obsession.

Mummy with baby David.

21. I couldn't ever leave Scotland. It's the most perfect place in the world to me.

22. I am addicted to Diet Coke. And Cadburys.

23. For someone who is pretty unsociable, I have no issues with getting on a stage and talking to masses of people. Alter-ego, perhaps?

24. My favourite books are The Catcher In The Rye and Trainspotting.

25. I dream of living in an old house on Portobello Prom.

26. My future pet is a retired racing Greyhound.

27. I use coconut oil for everything. Iain thinks I'm a touch mad because of it.

28. I love Scottish & Irish accents. Any other accents are likely to annoy me.

29. My favourite meal is lasagne. I could eat it by the bucket load.

30. I moved in with Iain within a few months of knowing him. We've lived together ever since.

Mummy with toddler John & baby David (somewhere...).

31. I'd love to learn to speak Arabic.

32. I have 14mm stretched ear lobes and my belly button pierced. All my other piercings have now been removed.

33. My feet are a huge size 9. For years I couldn't get nice shoes, although it's becoming easier now.

34. My alcoholic beverage of choice is a fruit cider. Kiwi & Lime or Raspberry & Mango, please!

35. Overall, I love my job.

36. I love them smell of my boys heads. Even though they've long lost the new baby smell.

37.  My blood type is B+, the same as my Dad.

38. I had laser eye surgery in 2009. Before that I was considerably short sighted.

39. I'm a registered organ donor, stem cell donor & blood donor. 'Give what you'd take' is my outlook.

40. I have a scar through my left eyebrow. I fell when I was 9 and smashed my glasses over it.

Mummy with toddler John.

41. My favourite colour is yellow. (If my yellow iPhone didn't already give that away!).

42. I used to be obsessed with Busted. Particularly James Bourne.

43. I don't drive. Public transport & my legs get me everywhere I need to be.

44. My first camera was from Boots & was lime-green with a tiger on the front. It came with a matching bum-bag.

45. I'm voting Yes.

46. I'm a dab hand with a sewing machine. I've even considered using my knowledge & skills to start a business.

47. I don't do well without sleep or food. (Hint; avoid me if I'm hungry or tired. Or y'know, feed me & let me sleep...).

48. I used to love shopping but now that I have kids, I can think of a million & one better things to do with my time.

49. I want to start vlogging but I'm too self-concious about my acne to do so.

50. For most of my teenage years I wanted to be a model. I even got to the regional finals of GMTV's Search for a Curvy Supermodel & was on TV!

Mummy with toddler John & baby David on Portobello beach.


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