29 March, 2013


While we aren't quite sure if the warmer weather is here to stay, we are loving whatever season this is! Don't mind the hats and jackets in the photos below, we had warm sun high in the sky and here that is a treasure. Spring is welcome in St Andrews, whenever she wants to come around.

26 March, 2013


Purification is a sweet and flowery blend packed with citronella, rosemary, lemongrass, lavandin, Melaleuca alternifolia, and myrtle. Its another oil I've been thankful to have on hand during the winter sick months as it is great at cleansing and sanitising. It can also be used topically on the skin to cleanse and soothe. 

Here are just a few ways we use Purification around our home:

AIR FRESHENER: Several drops with water in a spray bottle to freshen and cleanse the air. I especially like to spray this on our curtains and throw pillows. This same mixture can be used as a bug spray in the summer.

ITCH RELIEF: A drop applied directly to insect bites soothes and minimises itching.

PAIN RELIEF: A drop applied directly to cuts and scrapes soothes the wound.

BLEMISHES: A drop applied directly to blemishes helps to clear skin.

HAND SANITIZER: A drop rubbed between hands is another great alcohol-free hand sanitizer.

ODOUR CONTROL: Several drops on a cotton ball (here, cotton wool) placed in air vents, cupboards, musty rooms, etc. controls odour and pollution.

FLU PREVENTATIVE: A drop in the palm of your hand, mixed with a bit of coconut oil and applied around the inside of your nostril with a q-tip (British: cotton bud) wards off the flu.

There you have it, some of my favourite uses for Purification. It's sweet and refreshing, and possibly one of my favourite scents. Go grab yours!

23 March, 2013


Day One we loaded up the camper and made it into the Highlands. The drive was snowy and cold, Philippa slept and Sebastian and Katharina shouted out every semi (here, "lorry") we passed. We drove through Inverness, straight down the loch and spent Monday night camped on Loch Ness. We warmed up Tuesday morning with fruit and omelettes, and espresso for Peter, made on our little stove, before hitting the road.

1. "This is the most beautiful place in the world." 2. Loch Ness 3. camped out on the banks. 4. "look mama, carrots before breakfast!" 5. patiently waiting for breakfast. 6. windy at Loch Ness 7. my smart gentlemen 8. at Loch Ness 9. feral goats 10. a dam off the A87 11. en route to Skye 12. Fort Augustus 13. the Highlands 14. at Eilean Donan castle.

Check back for our night on Skye, mountains, ocean, and more mountains!

21 March, 2013


We arrived home a couple hours ago, the van is mostly unpacked and all three littles are down for the night. Peter's off to a business meeting and I may be up all night sorting through hundreds of photos of the Scottish Highlands.

While the journey was far colder than we anticipated, especially in the evenings, the daytime scenery was breathtaking. We traveled 600+ miles in 4 days and stopped at every other pull-off for photos.

Sebastian and Katharina are happy to be home; it seems their toys may have missed them. They were patient stars the entire trip and we never could have dreamed to ask for greater children. They rock.

I can't wait to share photos as I sort through them. Check back soon! For now, here are a couple shots from our drive through Glencoe today.

18 March, 2013

Tonight we're camped out on the banks of Loch Ness with crashing waves ten feet out our camper door. The white noise is phenomenal.

Sebastian, Katharina and Philippa are sound asleep in the overhead hammocks and Peter and I are snuggled up on the bed beneath. The air is frigid, but we're cosy in this neat little house on wheels.

I'm off to get some sleep. Tomorrow we hunt for Nessie.

13 March, 2013


Today we left Sebastian and Katharina in the best of hands, and I boarded a train bound for Edinburgh with my love and my littlest. We spent a large part of our day at the U.S. Embassy registering Philippa's birth and applying for a passport and completing everything else that comes with having a child born abroad. The second part of our day was spent searching for the Apple Certified computer repair store somewhere along Queen Street.

Philippa soaked up a whole day as an only child and we slowed the day down and drank in her sweetness. We've never been parents of one, and though it was simpler, we were eager to get back to our vivacious duo.

We poisoned ourselves and made the wrong decision by choosing McDonalds for lunch. Both Peter and I discovered afterwards that we haven't missed it one bit, will most likely never eat it again in our lives, and probably still abided by our vegetarian diets because there's bound to be no meat in a McDouble. (Hold the horse).

Every time we visit Edinburgh we say how we hope to settle there one day. We love gothic architecture and cobblestone streets and closes leading to underground pubs. Today was wonderful in all sorts of ways.

1. happy travellers 2. on the train 3. lovely sky 4. bundled-up 5. red church door 6. Waverley Bridge 7. Milne's Court 8. back at the station 9. Firth of Forth 10. sleeping traveler 11. in her own train seat


Can you hear crickets chirping on this blog? Peter's computer crashed two days ago so we're a bit handicapped in the electronics department at the moment. I'm able to write a bit on my iPad while he's dusted off his quill and inkwell to finish (read: start and finish) his philosophy essays due Friday.

While we're still waiting to hear the verdict on the now lifeless device, I pray not all's lost: thousands and thousands of memories -- our engagement days, wedding and honeymoon, newlywed life, two years of adventures in Scotland, the births of our three children -- all on there and not a byte backed up.

So excuse the sporadic posts for the time being. I plan to be back up and running within the next week or so.

08 March, 2013

1) first time in the baby swing 2) a rare occurrence: they match. 3) auntie sarah's glasses 4) another rare occurrence: papa had time for horse rides.

06 March, 2013


If I haven't mentioned before, I love chocolate. I also love to bake. And these two loves paired together can birth one pair of unsightly hips. But every now and again I just need a brownie fix. I've vowed to create more waist-friendly desserts in the future.

But enough of that, because this one is not.

(This recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen, and it's lovely. But I added a wee bit of my Young Living peppermint oil to the batter and also created an icing. Now they explode in your mouth. This peppermint flavour was unlike any I've tasted before and I'll never buy regular peppermint extract again).

Best Cocoa Brownies (with mint)

10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (65 grams, though some brands may weigh more) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt (or a heaping 1/4 teaspoon flaky salt, as I used)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup (65 grams) all-purpose flour
3-4 drops therapeutic-grade essential peppermint oil

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot. It looks fairly gritty at this point, but don’t fret — it smooths out once the eggs and flour are added.

Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Spread evenly in the lined pan.

Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Pop them in the fridge to cool.

Mint Icing
1/4 cup icing sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
5 tablespoons softened butter
1 tablespoon milk
3-4 drops peppermint essential oil

These proportions can be varied for different consistency. It also wouldn't hurt to cut back the sugar and up the cocoa, says my hips.

Lather brownies with mint icing. Slice while still cold for perfect cut. Devour

04 March, 2013


Philippa Byrde is 4 months today. She thinks her fists belong in her mouth now and has recently developed a great love for Sophie. She sleeps great, takes eating seriously, and has even started reaching for big kid food. Thank goodness she loves kisses, because we can't count how many she gets a day.

03 March, 2013


Yesterday was high sun and mid-50's, and I couldn't get enough. This day probably goes down as one of our greatest days here yet.

I ran errands with Philippa in the morning, and stopped for tea at a newly-opened cafe downtown. Without the bulky double pram, we were able to stop in any and every little (read: tiny) shop our hearts pleased.

After lunch I took Sebastian and Katharina to the sea to burn energy before home group while Peter studied Aptitude Tests. I don't have much forethought when it comes to planning walks to the sea, and most certainly don't find time to check the surfers' websites for the tidal patterns.

It seems like more often than not we head over in the afternoon when the tide is so high it's crashing into the wall separating the hill the coastal path runs along from the sand. But this day was perfect.

The tide was out and we had what felt like miles of sand to tread with tiny feet. I let Sebastian and Katharina down and kept my distance so they could explore on their own. Sebastian took to running straight across the beach, and Katharina straight for the water.

1) the path we walk nearly everyday to the sea.  2) testing the wellies.  3) ecstatic.  4) out for a jog.  5) selfie.  6) beach babe.  7) love these two.  8) selfie #2.  9) like his father: he's never met a stranger.  10) shoeless bird-watching twins.  11) our magnificent beach.