29 August, 2014


It is hard to believe we are 34 weeks into this project already. I can't believe how this year has flown. We're looking forward to all the things the rest of it has in store and the things 2015 promises as well.

This week the girls' photos were taken by their Papa on our berry-picking adventure earlier this week.

We move this weekend to stay in a friend's house until we can reclaim Ivybank next week. We've counted this morning we have moved five times this summer and 15 times since getting married in 2009! While none of us are bothered moving about, we are excited to settle back into our own home next week.

Sebastian Grey// at bedtime after Peter and I tucked him in, "Mama, I want you to close the door tonight since you're the beautifulest."
Katharina McCallum//  said, "Eat your crust Byrdie, that makes your hair really strong when you grow up."
Philippa Byrde//  perhaps one of the funniest new things she does: stares at people out of the corners of her eyes. We'll try to snap a photo next time she does it.

19 August, 2014


Peter returns this weekend and we can hardly wait! In the meantime we're keeping busy (extra busy this week, it seems) with friends and each other. Today we ordered a quiet morning in, which everyone needed. I'm thankful my job is one that allows Tuesday mornings to start at 9, with snuggles and two back-to-back episodes of Busytown Mysteries in bed before making our way downstairs for scrambled eggs and toast.

  Sebastian Grey// said, "Did you know guys, this plane has two wings, and that means it's called a bi-plane." Can you guess what he's been interested in lately? Also, guess what he wants on his birthday cake.
Katharina McCallum// when the other two laugh at my exaggerated reactions to their smelly feet, Katharina will become offended and ask, "Can you say mine smell like baby flowers instead?"
Philippa Byrde// tells people she is two, and the saddest part is she is looking it! She also wants a kitten named Anna or Elsa, hates wearing diapers, and always asks to sit on the counter while I cook.

13 August, 2014


I've been eager to make these ever since I saw the recipe a month ago and I am so glad we finally did. The littles and I agreed we'd like to make a batch of these a week - ha! They're great as a snack or compliment to a bowl of soup.


Ideally one would use freshly milled flour for optimum nutritional value but alas, a mill has not been in our budget this year. We use this right now.

The original recipe says this makes 120 crackers. It's hard to say how many we got, because I  the littles insisted we needed to taste at least one from every batch, plus seconds. I don't think we got quite 120 but a single recipe makes a good amount of crackers.

Homemade Yoghurt + Spelt Crackers

3 cups whole grain spelt flour
1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
1 cup full-fat organic yoghurt
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature (+ 2 tablespoons melted butter)

1. Stir flour, salt, and yoghurt in stand mixer with dough hook (kneading by hand worlds as well, if your KitchenAid is packed away like mine). Knead until dough forms a smooth ball.

2. Place in mixing bowl and cover with tea cloth. Allow to rest overnight or up to twenty-four hours.

3. Once dough has rested, preheat oven to 450ºF/230ºC.

4. Knead softened butter into dough. (Dough will be slippery and you may think you've done something wrong. Carry on). Divide into smaller balls to make rolling easier.

5. Generously flour work surface and rolling pin. Roll dough into 1/8-inch thick disc. Cut rounds with a small cup or cookie cutter.

6. Brush each unbaked biscuit with melted butter, prick tops with fork to prevent puffing, and sprinkle with coarse sea salt if desired. Bake for about six minutes, or until brown and crispy (we like ours on the softer side).

12 August, 2014


We had a great time at Cairnie last week with a handful of good friends. We went in the morning with a packed lunch and plans to kill the entire day, which wasn't hard to do.

We ate lunch in a giant teepee, and had our fill of slides, shoots, inflatables, and buggy rides. Sebastian liked driving his sisters around the farm on the powered tractor. Katharina's favourite was the slides and Philippa couldn't get enough time on the trampolines.

By time we were finished with the rides, trampolines, slides, and corn maze, we opted out of berry picking since it was already 3 hours past nap time (ha!). So we bought berries in the farm shop instead. I was completely thrilled with my purchase of 5 pounds of strawberries, nearly 2 1/2 pounds of cherries, and 600g of raspberries for less than £15.

When the rain came, as it often does in Scotland, we took cover under the bridge in the corn maze. Not fifteen minutes later the sun was shining again and we headed back out for more play.

We just finished off the last of our strawberries yesterday and are still talking about the rides today.   We can't wait to take Peter back this Fall.

11 August, 2014


Sebastian Grey//  whispered to me with his eyebrows raised, "Did you know, when I was a grown up boy, I used to be. . .a race car driver!?"
Katharina McCallum//  called her Papa in London last week, "Hello? Papa, can I get this beautiful long dress at the fair in town? It has flowers on it. It's just £12!"
Philippa Byrde// counts "one, two, t-ree, four, fi-e sh-ix, sh-evan, eight, niine, TEN!"

06 August, 2014


Last week we made a belated birthday cake for what would have been our first twins' fourth birthday.  The little ones were ecstatic to be making a birthday cake, and it was balm to my heavy heart to answer their every question.

So, we are makin' a birthday cake but they are still not with us? Will we sing to them? Our big brothers? Katharina showing her uncle the cake on FaceTime said, "This is the cake, it's for Hugh and Leif's birthday. They are dead but we are celebratin' them still!" And celebrate them we did, complete with a tear-jerking toddler rendition of Happy Birthday to You.

This cake was a lemon and lavender buttercream cake I had seen months ago and have been waiting for a reason to make it-- this seemed perfectly fitting. We decorated it with lavender from our old house's garden.

Lemon + Lavender Buttermilk Cake

for the lemon buttermilk cake:

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs + 2 egg yolks
zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF/175ºC. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans and set aside. Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed using paddle attachment. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Turn mixer to low and add lemon zest, vanilla, and eggs -- one at a time. Scrape bowl.

3. On low speed, in alternating batches, add dry ingredients and buttermilk. Mix until combined.

4. Evenly distribute the batter between cake pans and bake for 22-24 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

for the lavender simple syrup:

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon culinary lavender* 

Add all ingredients into saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until syrup begins to boil. Reduce heat to low and cook until mixture thickens into a syrup (about ten minutes).  Strain out lavender and set aside. (Reserve 1/4 cup for frosting).

for the frosting:

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup lavender simple syrup

(or use the Buttercream in the original recipe)

In electric mixer, beat cream until soft peaks form. Do not over beat. Gently fold in vanilla extract and lavender simple syrup until combined.

for the lemon glaze:

2 cups icing sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoons milk

Stir the lemon juice into the sugar. Add in the milk until sugar is dissolved and desired consistency is achieved.

To assemble: divide the lavender simple syrup between both cakes and brush over top. Place first cake on plate and spread buttercream/frosting over top. Top with second layer. Gently spread lemon glaze over top of cake, allowing to drip over the edges. 

*I did not have dried lavender and used 3 drops lavender essential oil. If you use this instead, simply stir it into the syrup at the end.

So moist with a perfectly soft crumb, it's worth every step. We'll definitely make this again. Happy birthday, Hugh Taylor and Leif Nicholas.

You can find the original recipe here.

04 August, 2014


We are just over a week into the rest of our summer without Peter and I'm grateful to report all is going well. Minus a rough night with a lost pacifier, things have been pretty smooth. We're focusing on staying busy, positive, and patient. We've had incredible weather, which makes it easier to spend a whole morning and afternoon at the beach or park, which we surely do.

Sebastian Grey// likes: licking sand off his face, collecting rocks, making new friends.
Katharina McCallum// likes: the beach, long dresses, long hair, sun hats.
Philippa Byrde// likes: shoes, being a big kid, backpacks.

01 August, 2014


I realise it's been ages since I've blogged a proper update. I've found writing to be harder the busier life becomes, so for the rest of this summer and into autumn, I'm purposing to keep life simple enough that it doesn't slip away. Simple enough to ferment my own food and still make our shampoo and read 7,000 picture books a week. And I have hopes of writing a bit more too.

So here it goes.

Our time in Edinburgh was wonderful in all sorts of ways. It started with two weeks of what felt like a holiday while Peter's work hadn't begun and we got settled in our new place and learned the ins and outs of living in Edinburgh's West End. As one does on holiday, we ate out a few too many times and Peter and I made every night after bedtime a date-night-in. An early night for us became crawling into bed before 2am-- ha!

And yet again, life in Edinburgh just felt right to us. We'd both say, more right than anywhere else we've lived. We do still hope to settle down there next summer, whether with BlackRock or another firm.

It's worth mentioning the unbelievably warm welcome we received from the wonderful people at St Columba's-- young and old families, settled down, in their careers, raising their children. We are so thankful for the friends we made there and none of us felt ready to leave them.

While Peter worked 7am-8pm on average (with his hours during presentation week being about 7am-2am), the littles and I thoroughly enjoyed the City again. We picnicked once a day in one of the many parks, we baked together and had playdates with new friends. By evening, everyone was hot and worn and bedtime was welcomed.

With Peter working hours longer than those he clocks in student life, weekends were always exciting and precious. We purposed to fill them just enough to enjoy without burning anyone out. We picnicked and took trips to the museums, zoo, and Highlands.

Last weekend we furiously packed and made the trek back across the Forth Road Bridge to St Andrews, where we had one night with Peter before he caught a morning train for London. Peter and I had a delicious dinner at The Doll's House, and drinks at the Central and the Criterion, before he left.

In the busyness of packing and cleaning and returning keys and making arrangements we both missed what would have been the fourth birthday of our first born sons and our first twins. Though Peter couldn't be with us, the kids and I made a birthday cake to celebrate their lives that never breathed this earthly air. How we love them!

I need to go stretch and drink a bottle of water, so I'll leave this here.

Happy Friday, friends! Hope your weekend is great.

p.s. if I haven't said it before: I post almost daily on Instagram-- you can follow me here if you so desire.