chicandsimplesewingTwo new projects that have me really loving my new sewing machine aren’t actually quilts, but shirts. The first, in a lovely Liberty lawn, is from Christine Haynes’ Chic and Simple Sewing. This was actually the first time in my life that I made a muslin (or in regular-speak, a practice shirt to check the fit) simply because I love the liberty lawn fabric far too much to cut into it without a lot of thought. The first draft was in left-over quilting cotton and is therefore far too smock-like. With the lawn it’s a lovely floaty shirt that I’m wearing regularly to work. (Pattern for the Back to School Shift dress shortened to low-hip).

scoutteeThe next shirt is a Scout Woven Tee from Grainline Studios. This is actually the muslin, made from left-over fabric from Fraser’s quilt (men’s shirting). It’s a 6, but I graded down to the size 4 under the armholes (I had to take in my French seams for a more flattering fit). I also added two inches in length to make sure there’s never a gap between it and my jeans – the pattern is on the short side for anyone with a long torso. But aside from the length which is easily adjusted, it’s a brilliant pattern and I love the bias used to finish the neckline. This version is a bit too boxy, although improved by the cardi I think, but I suspect that a version in the Liberty Lawn will have a more flattering drape.

I’ve also made a few more pairs of the Liberty knickers, similar to these (photo not supplied for obvious reasons). One pair was shipped off to Jen – I can take requests but only if your hip measurements are the same as mine. I love these, although now that I’ve put the word knickers on the site I’m waiting for the avalanche of soft-porn spam…

And my iron is broken – not able to produce steam. The lawn irons like a dream even without steam but the shirting is really struggling. I’ve a £50 gift certificate for John Lewis that was earmarked for more exciting things but a new iron it is… Any recommendations?

New Year with the Mosedales

theboyswithmarisca We spent the New Year with the Mosedales down in Yorkshire (I’ve heard them talk about moving “North” when they moved from Bedford to Shipley but it’s still almost 6 hours south of here). It was a brilliant special visit to give the kids a chance to play together – the boys love Marisca and she’s grown up so much since our last visit in July 2011. Tim’s lovely camera has once again snapped a fabulous picture of the kids and has posted links to the walk, ice cream playbarn and diner, and our fab New Year’s supper.

Tim was exceedingly brave and made mince pies with all three kids as soon as we walked in the door. They were lovely and well appreciated by the adults! (Bottom picture).

thomasquiltBut the really special thing was meeting Thomas, who at six weeks old was absolutely gorgeous. I probably stole him a bit too often to get a cuddle – especially from Tim who’s back at work now and probably missing having a good snuggle with his wee boy.


Thomas is lying on his new quilt here – whipped up from a lovely batch of organic cotton fabric that I found at M is for Make. Unlike some of the quilts I’ve made lately, the fabrics are from multiple designers – meaning the colours aren’t a perfect fit. I wish I did this more often as patchwork that’s too matchy-matchy defeats a bit of the magic. It’s hard to do this though without seeing the fabric in person and our local quilt store isn’t exactly carrying the ranges I’d prefer (but then I’m not the typical client so that’s reasonable). What I’d love to have is a local shop carrying liberty fabrics and organic goodness… but fortunately there’s the internet…

Merry Christmas 2012

Christmas morning this year was a lovely and quiet family affair. As much as we miss family on Christmas, sitting with the boys and slowly (it took all morning) opening presents and enjoying them was wonderful. Fraser made us coffees, we tried out the boys new scooters, bike (Fraser), and skateboard (Duncan), and then wandered up to the kirk for the 11am service.

christmascontrasts If anything, this was the year of the Christmas nativities. Duncan was in three (school, Beavers, church) although his class did another at the school assembly. Along with Duncan at church, Fraser was in the nursery nativity and also dressed up to go and sing carols at a local seniors home with the library. I think by the time the last one rolled around the boys were nativitied-out, but they definitely are ace on the Christmas story. It’s a vast difference from the multicultural area of Toronto that I grew up in where Christmas activities at schools had to be inclusive of all the kids who weren’t Christian.

I feel like I should be showing pictures of Cory and I as well, but somehow they’re never as good (even if they do show me wearing my lovely Brora wool shawl that some wonderful husband bought me). Actually I was mid-haircut Christmas day. I took the scissors to my hair on the 23rd and added some layers and a side fringe. It wasn’t short enough though so a few days ago I cut it a bit further. When the boys protested (aren’t all women supposed to have long hair) I explained that it would look much better after being under a bike helmet and they agreed it was a good choice. Duncan’s comment “riding a bike is the most important thing in our family isn’t it” was corrected by Cory to be “not THE most important thing” but the meaning is the same. I will probably visit the hairdressers in the next month and get it properly cut – but for now I still think it’s an improvement on a daily basis from how it looked before.


Top: trying on the new headlamps from Bompa. Duncan’s wearing his new bodywarmer while Fraser’s doing his best Dr. Who impression.

Middle: Duncan dressed as Joseph for the Beavers’ Nativity, Fraser at Christmas dinner.

Bottom: A photo used for this year’s Christmas cards, December 1st 2012.

Canada 2012

Our night away to celebrate ten fab years of marriage was only possible because we were in Canada and had grandparent babysitters. Previously our trips have been more work than holiday – as much as we’ve loved seeing family, it’s absolutely exhausting to travel with little kids. But this year, our kids didn’t seem so little anymore and while last year was fun and the year before no one was actually sick, this year we actually felt like we were on holiday.

The CN Tower was something we’d always put off doing until the boys were older; because of the cost and the hassle of having to make the trek into the centre of Toronto. But this year we gave it a go and the boys loved it – jumping on the glass floor and delighting in the fear of all the adults around them.

The old turntable at the base of the tower (with a brewery!) was great for the Thomas-obsessed (Duncan) in our household too, although we’d have loved a proper pub with a patio right there. The weather was great, and after a really old Aberdeenshire summer, 20 degrees C felt balmy – T-shirts rather than jumpers are a bit of a treat for us.

We went back to the zoo (with the cousins), the science centre, and a harvest pumpkin festival. Every day was about doing something rather than just walking to the park and visiting Timmy’s for coffee. Not that coffee at Timmy’s is a bad thing …

The highlight was meeting Reese of course, the first girl cousin on either side of the family. Duncan was especially taken and asked if we could take her home with us. I don’t think any of the adults were particularly keen on that though! Four boys and then a lovely wee girl makes for lots of excitement. It’s great to see Duncan get to be the big kid and Fraser was far more able to keep up with Carson this year (who’s only 6 months older). I never had cousins that close to my own age growing up and it’s a lovely thing – especially seeing how close Cory is as an adult to some of his.

And what else did we do while we were there? Well what else can you do? Although even splitting this beer, Cory and I didn’t manage to finish it. The complementary glass looks great as a vase in the kitchen though.

(Also – reading through previous years posts has reminded me that websites are very good for keeping track of my hairstyles through the years – I’m tempted to go short again).

Ten Years

Ten Years, two continents, two kids, two career changes, and still best friends. Ten years ago was the best decision we ever made.

Courtesy of my parents babysitting, we spend a night in Niagara-on-the-Lake celebrating and in some ways it feels like no time has passed since our honeymoon in Quebec City; a play at the Shaw festival, a pub meal, and a lazy morning with coffee at Balzac’s. I think we need more weekends away in our lives these days, even with the boys. More adventures, less routine.

Autumn walks


I’ve a head cold, my annual craving for poutine, and due to work deadlines, about as much energy as a tree sloth. But today was the first autumn walk, where the temperature is this side of crisp and the air tastes better than in the summer. Soup, blankets, magazines, and a wood fire are seriously calling my name.

Autumn skies


Autumn may be coming but if it means less wet summer rain and more frosty crisp mornings, I’m all for it. The fire’s been on, I’ve a stack of books awaiting to read, and the sun’s setting again before 10 pm. I love the seasons and autumn is always a favourite.

six: happy birthday duncan

You’re six! Six sounds significantly older than five somehow, like you’re over the half way mark to ten and time’s speeding up. (Time speeding up is my excuse for posting your birthday message a full month late, sorry love!). This year’s seen you grow up a lot as well, both with the emotional maturity you’ve gained from your first year of primary school and the new skills that have come with that. I’m so excited for you that you can read. I know there’s still a bit of practice to go, but it’s mostly you gaining confidence in yourself as school’s not really pushed your limits (with reading, however they’ve pushed your limits for sitting still!!).

You’ve not changed that much this year though, biking is still your favourite thing and you keep getting better and stronger at it. How long until you ride beside me and push me up the steep hills instead of me pushing you? It’s brilliant that we can go out for a 10 km bike ride now and I really love cheering for our favourites in the Tour de France together (even if we don’t always cheer for the same guy – your loyalty to British riders (Cav, Wiggins, Millar) is rock solid while I pull the Canadian card and cheer for random favourites like Voekler). One of your favourite birthday gifts was your new helmet, a Danny MacAskill style one, to fit with your ambitions to be a stunt biker. Fortunately you don’t have your mother’s balance so this isn’t completely out of reach.

You’re still an introverted dreamer, with a life plan to become an inventor and create all sorts of wonderful things. Your enthusiasm for creating things, whether out of lego or just in your imagination, is one of my favourite parts about you. I think being an inventor, or your back-up plan of a scientist and an engineer, is perfect.

Of course being an inventor isn’t your only plan, you’re going to be a drummer and thanks to a loan from Iain Robertson we now have a snare drum for you to learn on. You know who you want to marry too, and since you picked one of your best friends, it’s a good choice. I’m not sure about your plan to have two sets of twins though – but there’s still a lot of time for you to change your mind.

I love your caring nature, your sensitive connection to others, and the fact that you still want to cuddle and kiss your mum. If you would clean your room, make slightly less noise, and get dressed when I asked you, I think you’d be perfect. And you are one of the perfect parts of our family.

Happy Birthday to our amazing six year old!
We love you,
Mum and Dad.

jubilee and the olympic torch

Lots of stuff happening around here! The Queen’s 60th Jubilee meant parties at school and nursery, a wonderful community fair, and a lovely party at a friend’s place (who gamely invited over 100 people to help them celebrate. And then this week we had the Olympic Torch come through the village, which was a brilliant event with the whole village and more turning up to have a mini-celebration on the main road with homemade torches and a musical performance by Duncan’s school. My cynical distaste for the corporate nature of the Olympics didn’t expect much but this actually was special, with the torch bearers coming into the Primary school beforehand to talk to the kids and then returning two days later so the kids could all see and hold an Olympic torch for themselves. It was a good reminder of what the Olympics should be about rather than how much it costs and who’s sponsoring it and I just might be starting to look forward to the Olympics now.

four: happy birthday fraser

I think to you, Fraser, it’s felt like you’ve been three and three quarters for a very long time. Not only have most of your close friends already turned four, but this is the first year you’ve been really aware of time and age and even fractions so your birthday was long awaited. The excitement just made it more special, with even Duncan completely hyped up – more so than he seems to be about his own birthday in ten days.
This has been the year that you’ve amazed us all. Somehow starting nursery school convinced you that you were a big kid because all of a sudden you learned all the letters and most of the combined letter sounds, can count to 100, do simple maths, understands phonics, and are this close to actually reading. Some of this is from playing homework while Duncan does his every night but a bunch of it is just your desire to learn – which I hope doesn’t get worn out of you by peer pressure and the institutional nature of real school. You have another year at nursery though before starting primary one which is a good thing socially and physically. You are still my baby (although you hate it if I say that) and need downtime in the afternoons and cuddles on a regular basis.

It’s also been a tough year physically for you Fraser, I think you was sick from our October trip to Canada all the way through to mid-January and beyond. It took months to get fully recovered to your cheeky self and there was a lot of worry in there for Cory and I. You lost a lot of weight around Christmas, weight you don’t have to lose, and I feel like we’ve spent the past four months on a fatten-Fraser-up programme with mixed success. Even though you are still very underweight, I’m trying to step back and not think about it though as I don’t want to put you off the enjoyment of food and mealtimes. And after numerous doctor’s visits and blood tests you are fine – it was just the exposure to illness at nursery since you have only ever really been at home with me and with Kirsty when I’m working.

And it’s been a good year for you physically too – you can ride a pedal bike confidently (without stabilisers). You figured out the basics last June when Duncan’s old bike was passed to you but since you weren’t big enough to get your feet on the ground, you needed help to start and the only way to stop was to have a controlled fall over to the side (which you gamely did). But around Christmas time you grew and now you’re super fast (in your words) and love the freedom your bike gives you. Cory’s just bought you a couple golf clubs too and you’ve figured out a swing – time for some special daddy-fraser time at the golf course we think! But the thing that you’ve loved best is that you’re old enough to climb mountains! You reached the summit of Bennachie in February and Scolty in March and we’re gearing up for a trip up Clachnaben. They may be small mountains, but mountains they are and I think they make you feel like you’re a superhero. We’re pretty impressed to at your perserverance and ability to keep going when you’re shattered. You’re tough that way and that makes us proud (and reminds me of your dad).

Happy birthday to be most wonderful four year old we can imagine! Lots of love,
Mummy, Daddy, and your best friend and big brother Duncan

Photos from top to bottom: coffees while camping on the Jubilee weekend, birthday excitement, we did have some nice weather in the garden a while ago, and a favourite hiking photo from February.