25 September, 2014


Happy Thursday, everyone! Here are this week's portraits.  I didn't pick-up my big camera once last week, so these photos are from the archives, and Sebastian's was taken by his Papa.

Things are proving a bit crazy as the semester takes off and we last-minute try to arrange funding for the academic year and make big decisions about our future. Sorting funding is never exciting, so I'm thankful for Peace & Calming.

We so excited to announce big news for our life after St Andrews next June, so check back soon. I'm a girl that lives for change and happened to marry an incredibly spontaneous and adventurous soul, so we're walking on a lot of excitement here lately.

Pin the Tail on the Donkey arrived today- in plenty of time for this weekend's celebration. We're wishing we could make the cakes and hang balloons already. The weather is forecasted to be 60's and clear; we can't wait!

Sebastian Grey// sometimes prefers snuggling over sleeping. He says it comes with nearing age three.
Katharina McCallum// asked seriously, "do you think we should throw Philippa in the rubbish bin so that she doesn't steal my blankets anymore?"
Philippa Byrde// she likes to sing to us at dinner, and if anyone tries to join in she stops and says, "I'm singin' it, guys."

22 September, 2014


One day over the summer I craved buttery, doughy, chewy classic chocolate chip cookie. And so I found the most delicious, most perfect batch of chocolate chip cookies I have ever made/had/seen.

They are perfect in every way and I wouldn't change a thing about them. Gluten- and refined sugar-free would be a perk, I suppose. But, they're so great we made them a few more times, just to be sure we really did love them.

Everyone says allowing cookie dough to rest is vital to perfect cookies, and it's true. This time I was willing to wait because I was craving a perfect cookie.

They are the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever had. Full stop. Also, you don't need a mixer!

Here are Sally's not-so-secret secrets to getting a perfect cookie:
  • Under-bake them (though we all knew that one). They continue to bake on a hot cookie sheet when removed from oven.
  • Cornstarch - for thickness and softness
  • More brown sugar, less white - moister, softer cookie
  • Extra egg yolk - chewier cookie
  • Rolling dough taller rather than wider - insures thick cookies
  • Melted butter (this was new to me!) - also increases chewiness
  • Patience to chill the dough - thicker cookie 
I believe good chocolate chip cookies are a worthy splurge.

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups (280g) all-purpose flour, measured correctly and carefully
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup (150g) light brown sugar, loosely packed
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (180g) chocolate chips

In large bowl toss flour, baking soda, cornstarch, and salt. Set aside.

In medium bowl, whisk melted butter, brown sugar, and white sugar together until to town sugar lumps remain. Whisk in egg, then egg yolk. Add vanilla, whisking.

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix with large wooden spoon. The dough should be very soft yet thick.

Fold in chocolate chips, incorporating as evenly as possible (the melted butter makes this a bit trickier, but do your best to pack them in).

Chill dough for 2 hours in refrigerator, or up to 3 days. Chilling is mandatory.

Remove dough from fridge and allow to sit at room temperature for several minutes. 

Preheat oven to 325ºF/160ºC. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll dough into large pieces, using about 2 tablespoons of dough per cookie.  Be sure to roll cookies to be taller rather than wider, to ensure a thick finished cookie (mine were more like cylinders than balls).

Bake cookies for 7-8 minutes. They will look very soft and undone. Remove from oven and allow to sit on the hot tray for 10 minutes before transferring to wire rack.

(Original recipe found right here).

16 September, 2014

Update time, since nap time is running longer than I thought and I'm supposed to be making a grocery list but ideas of complete meals are escaping me.

Peter and I on our way out of a strange and persistent bout of sickness through which we ate (drank?) loads of chicken soup, and consumed an average of 30 lemons a week. It's never fun, but we're thankful for the resources we have to have been able to keep all the children healthy through it.

Peter is eager for his semester to start tomorrow. He's looking forward to his classes and professors, a much more laid-back year, and 15,000 words in graded coursework in lieu of final exams. This year he also finishes earlier than ever before-- 12 December! It's looking to be a great final first semester.

Sebastian and Katharina are eagerly awaiting their birthday celebration, mostly for the cakes. Exclusively for the cakes? They got birthday cards with stickers inside in the mail from their great-grandmother this morning and their reactions humbled me.

Aside from squeals and laughter, their conversation went something like this as they looked at the cards and stuck stickers all over them:

"Oh I am so happy!"
"Wow, this was so so sweet of Mare-Mare!"
"SO kind!" 
"Can we take our nap with our new birthday cards?"

I want to be beside-myself-thankful for even the tiniest things in life too. To have a child's heart.

Peter gave Philippa fringe one spontaneous night while she played in the bathtub and now she wears pig-tails nearly every day. We love when she wraps a hand around each one and says, "Now haf peeg-tails!" She swells even her brother and sister's hearts and in the past few weeks has made great progress interacting with them as a friend not a naughty baby sister.

We've loved watching her relationship with Katharina blossom since we've moved them to the same bedroom. They sing together and talk about their babies and buggies and long hair and ice cream.

Further from home but actually home, the Independence Referendum is this week and our household is anxiously awaiting the outcome. Though we know this decision has been made before Mr Salmond was even birthed there's no doubting a "yes" vote will affect even us. Three years ago our "big plans" involved returning to our homeland and putting down roots in NYC, but we've been in Scotland for over three years now and we've fallen deeply in love with the UK and a cosmopolitan lifestyle.

Our dreams shifted from a fast-paced life in the Big Apple to Edin-brah, where we imagine buying an old place outside the city, having a couple more babies and just as many chickens and kittens named Basil and Polly, with city-life and Europe at our fingertips. A "yes" vote will change all of that and settling in Scotland would be virtually out of the question as the greatest (and wisest) financial institutions may be forced to leave their gorgeous, historic Georgian offices in the Capital and head south.

We know Who's on the Throne and we're thankful for that. In the final 48 hours, if anyone has a solid, un-emotional, compelling reason to stand behind the "Yes" campaign, we'll hear it. Otherwise, no thanks.

Happy Tuesday, all! We're enjoying a great week getting back into life's swing, with so many library books that we maxed out each of the littles' cards- ha!

I'll be back this week sharing the best chocolate chip cookie recipe to date.


15 September, 2014


Sebastian Grey//  loves all things boy, especially emptying and reloading his and his Papa's matching cap guns.
Katharina McCallum//  asked, "We shouldn't hate, but should we hate evil spirits?"
Philippa Byrde//  got fringe over the weekend. We love how much rounder they make her chubby face look.

10 September, 2014


Sebastian Grey//  drawing and writing. Always drawing and writing.
Katharina McCallum//  started tap and ballet class last week.
Philippa Byrde// sings, "B-I-N-G-O, B-I-N-G-O, Bingo. . . naaame-o."


Somehow things turned busier than I anticipated and Monday didn't feel like a Monday and I missed posting portraits. But they should be up later tonight, if all goes well. So stay tuned.  Until then, here are ten photos for the tenth day of September (how??).

Most is well here-- Peter and I came down with coughs (which may or may not be allergy-related) shortly after moving back to Ivybank, so we're nursing those and enjoying this last week together before his schedule starts picking up. Sebastian and Katharina turn three (how??) in two-and-a-half weeks so party planning is in full force. Today we have sunshine; so much sunshine.  Lots to be thankful for, friends.

Happy Wednesday.


1. morning play-doh time  2. sunflowers from our neighbours  3. a lunchtime walk  4. the boys won this pellet-firing tank at a model train exhibition. it's a bit much for the 2-year-old but perfect for his papa- ha.  5. still peeling apples  6. sauce all winter  7. thankful he takes it upon himself to lend a hand  8. a productive afternoon  9. after nap berry-picking  10. our lovely garden herbs are starting to fade as summer draws to a close

01 September, 2014


Sebastian Grey// has hardly left his bedroom/the playroom since we moved. He sings "These are all my favourite cars, favourite cars, favourite cars. . ." to the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down. It does kind of feel like Christmas unpacking all the things you haven't seen in months.
Katharina McCallum// loves trampolines.
Philippa Byrde//  had three bowls of oatmeal for breakfast yesterday.