31 December, 2014

THE HOLIDAYS & FIVE YEARS

Happy Christmas! Happy Hogmanay! Happy New Year!

Our week has been f u l l in the sweetest way possible. 

Christmas Eve we flew to London and after a fairly restful night's sleep at the beautiful Novotel Hotel we boarded a trans-atlantic flight for Detroit, where we spent Christmas and my birthday with my parents, all eight of my siblings, my brother's girlfriend, my brother-in-law, and my two nephews and newly-adopted niece.

It was the first time we had all been together since Philippa and my sister's youngest son were born. Basically, it had been several years, and it was s w e e t.

After a few days in Detroit we drove to Ann Arbor to meet up with good friends we've known from St Andrews since before Philippa was born. In St Andrews John and Debby treated us and our children as their own and have been pouring richness and wisdom into our lives ever since. We will treasure them forever.

From the University of Michigan campus we drove to Pittsburgh to surprise Peter's mom and siblings. We were hesitant the surprise would work as we'd purchased plane tickets months ago and had to lie through our teeth to keep them in the dark, but the mission was successful.



And today is our wedding anniversary! Five whole years with my love. How richly blessed I feel, to have done nothing to deserve such a kindness from the Lord. My cup runs over. 

Happy 2015! Every anniversary Peter and I draw up a detailed list of the ups and downs of our year. It turns out 2014 has been a good one with struggles, sadness, and the loss of my dear friend, but also gorgeous travels, provision in ways we couldn't imagine, friendships grown and new friends made. Life is a treasure. Here's to a fresh start and new adventures in 2015. Much love, all.

24 December, 2014

MEETING SANTA || THE COCOA TREE, PITTENWEEM



Saturday we boarded a bus bound for Pittenweem with some of our best friends-- Eric, Stephanie, and their daughter, and our littles' best bud, Charlotte. Stephanie's been like my sister in Scotland and I'm so thankful for our late night walks, phone calls and dozens of daily exchanged text messages. Conveniently, she lives not ten houses down the path from us.  Basically she's been the friend I had prayed I would make in St Andrews; our husbands laugh at how long we spend chatting to each other but we argue time just ticks doubly fast when we are together.

Anyway, she had received word that Father Christmas was due to visit The Cocoa Tree Cafe.

Most of us inhaled peppermint oil the bumpy, winding, thirty-three-minute ride (bless public transportation) but we found Santa. The children's responses were varying-- most cloaked in at least a bit of uncertainty. Philippa said he was gross and graced us with the typical terrified-toddler-on-Santa's-lap shot. Sebastian carried on an in-depth conversation with the man, and Katharina asked for a second photo with him before we left, but cautiously watched him our whole time at the Cafe.

Once warmed up, we wandered the darling streets of Pittenweem before catching our return bus. If you're ever in the East Neuk looking for a place to stop, this coastal town is worth a visit. We loved their chocolate drops and hazelnut hot cocoa.

Happy Christmas Eve, all! We are so excited for what tomorrow holds! xo

19 December, 2014

SNOWBALL COOKIES



The first on our list of Christmas baking this year: these delicious Snowball Cookies, or simply, just Snowballs as Sebastian calls them.

I'd never made these before but have had them at various parties and cookie exchanges throughout the years was thinking about them recently, wondering what went into them. Turns out they're ridiculously simple! And even Peter's eyes widened when he bit into them. Find the recipe below. And MERRY CHRISTMAS! I love Christmastime.

 

Snowball Cookies

1 cup softened butter
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar (divided into 3/4 cup and 1/2 cup)
1 cup pecans, ground coarse
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour

Cream together butter, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, and vanilla. A stand mixer would be easiest but I just used a wooden spoon and elbow grease.

Grind up pecans in a food processor or blender.

Add flour to butter mixture 1/2 cup at a time, and when all is incorporated, add in pecans.

Roll into balls and bake at 350ºF/190ºC for about ten minutes or until cookies are beginning to brown.

Allow to cool for one minute and roll in remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar.



You can find the original recipe right here.

12 December, 2014

49/52

The weather here has been colder than I remember in past winters, though I doubt it actually is; I must say that every year just after I exclaim I am a fair weather girl and permanently belong on a beach. Nevertheless we wear wool and light the fire and drink Scottish honey in hot lemon water and suddenly, Winter is lovely. Even romantic.

We stayed home all of today and painted through the morning, topped the paint off with glitter, and hung our posters throughout the house. Voila, it sparkles and it's magical.

Philippa properly looks like a toddler now, and I have nothing more to say about that because she was supposed to stay our baby. Sebastian is still gunning to read and will often scream for us from his bed at night, and once we've hurried in there to see what on earth could be the matter, he calmly asks, "Does Christof begin with 'c'?"

Katharina has this new smile that melts my heart (below). Her end-of-term dance recital is tomorrow and we can't wait to see what she's been up to in class! She and I are also planning a date for Wednesday, because it's been a while since we went out, just the two of us. She's asked for a scone and maybe tea, but if the place she hopes to go to doesn't sell tea, she's "pretty sure they probably sell water." And I told her, darling, we live in Great Britain. You'll get your tea.

Happy Friday! We're looking forward to finishing up Christmas shopping this weekend, hand-delivering some Christmas presents, and getting over coughs so we can start baking an overabundance of Christmas cookies!

xo, Angela





Sebastian Grey// got new Cars boxers today and exclaimed that he likes them so much he is going to wear the Francesco Bernoulli pair to his wedding!
Katharina McCallum// the new smile, it kills me.
Philippa Byrde// ever since I got back from London will occasionally cry, "I'm soo saaaad!" When asked why, "Becaussse I just want my Paaapa."

07 December, 2014

47/52 & 48/52

Playing catch-up on portraits this week! Life has been truly sweet, and I haven't done well at photographing it, but as my husband says, "some [most] moments are just meant to be enjoyed by those present."

Peter has eight days left in this semester and as always, we can hardly wait. This year has flown by and we're a bit uneasy about how fast next (and last) semester will go. But all is well here.

It's December! my favourite time of year. And we've started saying Merry Christmas to people on the street. Next year I'm looking forward to new photo projects, but won't be returning this one. Do you have any fun suggestions for photo challenges?

These three darlings light up our lives and we're feeling a particularly deep reward in this season of parenting them.  Merry Christmas, all. 'Tis the season. xx


Sebastian//  after months of praying for one multiple times a day, a toy motorcycle showed up in his underwear drawer this week.
Katharina//  was gifted a Belle dress and crown today and has been walking around the house saying, "Oh, now I'm a real princess." We're a bit amazed at just how girly she's become.
Philippa//  munching on a rambutan. Have you tried them? You should-- they're strange, but new favourites here!



Sebastian//  has announced that since he knows all the letter sounds and how to write most of them, he's ready to start reading "so I can read in my bed at night with my lamp on." Steady, boy!
Katharina//  never not reading. Or dancing or singing.
Philippa//  was up ten times through the night with a stuffy nose, which was worse than she ever was as a newborn or three-month-old or one-year-old. Lots of snuggles and naps here today. . .

p.s. have you checked out my nephews' portraits lately? They're darling!