28 July, 2014


It feels so nice to be back in St Andrews-- a special bubble of a town that we quickly tire of when there, but every time we leave we find ourselves eager return.

Now we're all trying to be patient awaiting Peter's homecoming. We're on day 2-- ha!

We spent this morning and well into the afternoon building sand castles and splashing around on East Sands. We packed a picnic and took the day slowly, tiring everyone out along the way. We can't wait to go back with our kite.

Sebastian Grey//  said to Peter one evening last week, "Oh my! Papa I am just so glad you are home! Papa, I want to pray for you." With his hands on Peter's face, "Dear Jesus, thank you so much that my Papa is home. Amen."
Katharina McCallum//  first one in the water, last one out. Every time.
Philippa Byrde//  has started sharing some of her sister's clothes this week! She also insists she needs panties.

23 July, 2014


We had a great morning at a park with new friends despite none of us sleeping much last night because of intense heat and humidity. We now need to focus hard on packing and cleaning for our move Saturday.

Happy Wednesday, everyone! It's another hot and sunny one here. We're looking forward to a picnic dinner in the park tomorrow as Peter winds down this half of his work.


Caramel -- quintessential English clothing. Don't you want your babies in all of it?

 I love the colours at Eloise + Oliver. 

We just might get Partylicious supplies for our next birthday party.

...where we'll use big balloons from The Carousel Show.

I can't get over this bunk bed.

I'm in love with this jumpsuit.

We're excited to make these crackers once we move.

Have you seen the easiest way to shuck corn? I wonder if it's possible without a microwave?

I can't wait to buy this cookbook.

Even if you're not a mother, MOTHER is so great.

21 July, 2014


The kids' portraits this week are all from our rainy + foggy trip to Glencoe, and all taken by their Papa!

Sebastian Grey//  we told him he could choose one rock to take back to the car and he picked a boulder as big as his head.
Katharina McCallum//  said last week, "I will do what you say, Mama. Does that really honour you?" Yes sweet pea, that really honours me.
Philippa Byrde//  had her first ice cream cone on our trip! She says she liked it enough to have another one-- ha.

20 July, 2014


Yesterday we all slept until eleven and woke to heavy clouds promising rain.  Peter suggested we rent a car for the day and escape the bustle of the city for some mountain views and waterfalls in the Highlands. I couldn't object.

Peter picked up the car by himself while the kids and I packed a picnic, pyjamas, and things for the road. We told them Papa was bringing back a surprise, and we were going on an adventure. None of them expected him to come back with a car.

So we made it to Glencoe in the pouring rain, and stopped for a hundred photos and to play in waterfalls along the way. The kids dosed on and off all through the day, between Do you Wanna Build a Snowman and The Cranberries, Peter I talked about education and traveling, and savoured the quiet time all together.

On our drive back to Edinburgh we stopped in a little one-road village for dark chocolate, raspberry ripple, and banana marshmallow ice cream cones (Philippa's first!), which ended up being the best ice cream we've had in Scotland to date.

In the hustle of life, it's sometimes hard to believe we're so close to scenery this stunning and tranquil, but we are thankful it's only a few hours away because all needed an escape this weekend.

16 July, 2014


I love my mother-in-law's mac & cheese best of all. I've tried Martha Stewart's, I've tried Smitten Kitchen's, and sometimes we'd pack a couple boxes of Annie's around the edges of our suitcases when we visit family in the States (until I read this about dehydrated cheese powder). Still, nothing beats Ma Hopkins' recipe.

We've made this so many times we never follow a recipe, but I did make it yesterday and tried to note the proportions so I could post it here.

This recipe has been slightly adapted as the original was not gluten-free (though she's since adopted a strict gluten-free diet) and we've discovered we like it best with browned butter. Possibly my favourite thing about this is the generous amount of sauce, so if you do decide to bake it, it hasn't dried out by time you serve.

Mom's Browned Butter Mac & Cheese
serves 5

500g pasta of choice (we like this or this).

200g cheese, grated* 
1.5 cups (~375ml) organic whole milk
1/4 cup pastured butter (we like Kerrygold best)
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder or cornflour
1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
generous sprinkle garlic or onion powder
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Optional: bread crumbs

Cook pasta as directed.

In saucepan melt butter over medium heat until liquid. Whisk constantly. Continue until butter separates and milk solids sink to the bottom and begin to brown. Whisk in arrowroot powder or cornflour. Add salt and garlic powder, stirring constantly. 

Slowly pour in milk, whisking until smooth. When milk is heated through, add cheese(s). Stir frequently to prevent burning and to incorporate cheese thoroughly.

When sauce is smooth, add to drained, al dente pasta. Stir until pasta is well coated. Transfer to casserole dish.

If desired, sprinkle with gluten-free bread crumbs (we like to make our own with old bread) and bake at 175ÂșC until golden. (Peter prefers this without the breadcrumbs on top and we are always eager to dig in, so usually omit the breadcrumbs and baking step).

Serve with roasted greens.

*we always mix it up-- last night we used a mild organic Welsh cheddar, sometimes we use edam, cheddar, and parmesan; Peter loves it with goat's cheese...you catch my drift. Make it your own

14 July, 2014


Sebastian Grey//  between throwing out his pacifier entirely on his own and buying new boxers last week, he feels like he's basically the world's coolest guy.
Katharina McCallum//  got her first purse last week. I didn't realise £5 could produce s o  m u c h delight. So far it's packed with lip balm, hair ties, tissues, and a car for Sebastian.
Philippa Byrde//  spinning kids on the round-about. Also, she refused to sleep in this weekend.

09 July, 2014


Here's an incredibly summery recipe for a citrus body scrub that is so food-grade you could technically lick your fingers clean.

This recipe is ridiculously quick to throw together and smells divine. You could use grapefruit, orange, or lemon oils and zest. I've used lemon in this one.

Citrus Sugar Scrub via Coco's Well

1/4 cup organic coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup raw cane sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest from organic, unwaxed lemons

Melt coconut oil until liquid. In medium-sized bowl mix melted coconut oil, olive oil, sugar, and lemon zest. Add lemon oil and mix until well combined. Use liberally on body, avoiding face and eyes. Store in a glass jar.

(Remember to be cautious when using this scrub on skin that will be exposed to direct sunlight. The citrus oils cause skin to be more sensitive to sunlight and can increase your chances of burning. I'd recommend using this scrub at night or taking extra care to protect your skin if you've used the scrub in the last 12 hours and it's particularly sunny where you are).

07 July, 2014


Sebastian Grey//  still prefers the baby swings after taking a flip off the big kid ones.
Katharina McCallum//  threw away her paci last week (!!).
Philippa Byrde//  snuggles in bed with me every morning before starting our day.

Linking up with Kristin this week. Ashlee is taking a break on portraits for some of the summer.

02 July, 2014


This trip has been a year in the making, so Saturday morning we all woke nearly bursting with excitement. We boarded a double-decker bus bound for Edinburgh Zoo, with coffee, cinnamon rolls, and our picnic basket.

The morning was cool but sunny, and later in the afternoon a light rain shower blew in and forced us to take cover in the chimp house, which was welcomed by all of us-- chimpanzees are always a riot.

All in all, the zoo was not the most impressive that we have ever visited and we didn't leave tempted to buy season passes, but below are our highlights. The little ones are still talking about the trip this week.

If you brave the giant hill beyond the cats, the views from Lookout Point are beautiful and there is a coffee stand with a couple picnic tables at the top to rest and enjoy the views.

Sebastian liked the big cats best (though we never actually found the lions) and Katharina wore her new zebra dress to see the zebras, though she says her favourite animal ended up being the tigers. Peter also liked the tigers, and the monkey house is always my favourite.

Philippa adored the penguins and even showed us her pudgy penguin waddle. She says they were her favourite. The area at Penguin Rock is beautiful with some small cafes and a large grass space, where we ate our picnic and the kids later played on the playground.

Edinburgh Zoo has two pandas on loan from China. We booked a slot to see them and were fortunate enough to get to see both wide awake gnawing on their bamboo lunch, which is apparently a rare thing as they sleep for 20 hours a day. Rumour has it that the female may be pregnant but no one can say for sure just yet. Did you know pandas spend most of their lives alone, and only come together for 36 hours a year to mate?

So there you have it-- three stars from the Hopkins crew. All in all, it was a great day and just being together made it worth it to us; it is hard to ruin family days. Maybe we'll hit it up again next summer to see that baby panda.