New Blog Host

I’ve moved this blog to a new host, so make sure you aren’t checking here… but at sparrowhopes.com!


i’m a knitter!

Today I have finally gotten around to posting the gift I was working on for my sister, Mari. My sweet little sis and her husband are expecting their first child and she (it’s a girl!) will be here so soon! Her due date is May 12, and while I’ll have to wait to see her in person a little while longer, I’m eagerly counting down the days for that first iChat to see my beautiful niece.

Mari had a baby shower that I so wanted to attend, but living in Edinburgh just made that impossible. But, with the help of my mom I was able to send along a little gift to join in the fun. I’ve recently taken up knitting, and who knew how much I would actually enjoy it?! I’d made several attempts at knitting in the past, but only ended up with half finished scarves. However, knitting a sweater for a baby comes together so quickly, and it is just so cute in all its itty-bittyness that I now find myself hooked!

The idea for this project came from my crafty friend Rachel, who told me about a blog she reads where the mother is making outfits for her daughter by knitting sweaters and sewing dresses to match. That sounded just up my alley as I LOVE a theme! So, I decided to make three outfits (0-3 mo, 6-9 mo, and 12 mo +) and then add an age appropriate book to go with each. So fun!

If you’d like any info on the patterns I used just leave a comment or email me and I’m happy to pass the info along. And now, on to the outfits!

(0-3 mo)

(6-9 mo)

(12 mo+)

Thanks, Mom, for the pictures! 🙂

etsy round-up

Hi dear blog loving friends! It’s been a while. Don’t worry, I’ve still been busy crafting, I’ve just been working on some top secret projects for my sweet sis. I promise to post pictures once she’s received the gifts, but for now no peeking!

Instead, I thought I’d share an etsy round-up and tell you about a great swap one of my friends in Edinburgh is currently hosting. It’s so fun!

First the round-up. For as long as I can remember I’ve loved stationery and letter writing. As a kid I had a close friend move to Italy and we spent several years exchanging letters and then I also became pen-pals with one of her Italian friends. So many wonderful memories of eagerly anticipating a letter, picking out just the right stationery, and learning the art of writing meaningful letters. Sadly, I’ve gotten out of the habit with the onslaught of email, but I’m resolved to reconnect with my letter writing self and these notecards are the perfect encouragement to get me to pick up my pen and start writing.

There are so many beautiful options when it comes to purchasing stationery. I especially love the letterpress technique, and really appreciate the whimsy that is so much in fashion at present. Today’s round-up is a *small* sampling of some of the gorgeous/fun/creative notecard sets available on etsy. Hope you enjoy them!

(l to r, top to bottom)

SilhouetteBlue – Breeze Stationery Set

Vanessa Boer – Hedgehog and Fox Note Card

Vintage Paper Boutique – Dressmaker Post Cards

We Heart Paper – Letterpress moustache notecards

Half Full Martini – Bird Sihouette Thank You Cards

Naomi Lynn – Wallpaper Stationery Set

Brookish – Mr. Darcy Proposal Notecard Set

Humunuku – Vintage Bike/Watch Carte Postale

Lucky Bee Press – Hedgehog Letterpress Notecard Set

Aren’t these lovely? I especially love the set by Naomi Lynn, and everything in her etsy shop is equally delicious. You really must give it a look.

And now for the swap! My good friend Rachel has a lovely crafty blog, and since meeting her I have greatly increased my ability to knit. Seriously, who knew knitting could be so fun? Currently she is hosting an entire month devoted to letter writing, and I for one am inspired. As part of this month-long write-a-thon, she’s hosting a letter writing swap. This is a chance for you to get paired up with another stationery aficionado, swap letters, and get some fun new stationery. How can you say no to that? Plus, you might just get me and I promise to send you a whole lotta love from the UK. Click this link to check it out to get all the details. Now, go sign up, the swap sign-ups close March 16! I want to send you a letter!

We woke up this morning to another windy and rainy day here in E-town. Thankfully, I had a yummy soup and long anticipated project all lined up and ready to go. So, while the weather may have been less than ideal, J and I had a lovely little domestic day in.

When J and I got married I hated mushrooms. As a young child I apparently loved eating raw mushrooms, but from adolescence onward I viewed mushrooms as gross, slimy things to be avoided at all cost. (I had a particularly awful sautĂ©ed mushroom encounter in Santiago, Chile when I was 17…) However, J grew up loving mushrooms and his family had them often, so as a new member of the family I decided to just go ahead and give them a try. And guess what? They weren’t bad. In fact I really liked them raw, and as the years have gone by my love of mushrooms has only grown. I now love them in any form and J and I enjoy them so much we are gearing up for this next fall, and once we return to the states plan to buy a couple of these. I know there must be others of you out there scarred from early childhood experiences of poorly cooked mushrooms, or even worse mushroom soup from a can (bleh!). I promise you this recipe is so much better than any other mushroom soup you’ve tried that it may just be able to win over even the most skeptic mushroom-haters. So, don’t hate, cook! I think you’ll be really glad you did.

Mushroom Soup
adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home


  • 15 ounces fresh mushrooms (try a combo of whatever is fresh at the farmer’s market, or a mix of shiitake, portobello, and cremini… really any mixture will do, you could even use dried mushrooms in a pinch)
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves, divided
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts, thoroughly cleaned (2 leeks)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • truffle oil (optional)
  • lemon


Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry paper towel. Don’t wash them! Separate the stems, trim off any bad parts, and coarsely chop the stems. Slice the mushroom caps 1/4-inch thick and, if there are big, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

To make the stock, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped mushroom stems, the onion, carrot, the sprig of thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add 6 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of stock. If not, add some water. (I know this step seems like a lot of effort, and if you really have to you could use store bought vegetable stock. However, this stock is absolutely gorgeous and is a large part of what makes this soup so delicious, I highly recommend trying it!)
Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining 1/4 pound of butter and add the leeks. Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown. Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes, or until they are browned and tender. Add garlic and stir for a minute or two more. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot. Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the half-and-half, cream, and parsley, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and heat through but do not boil. Serve hot and garnish with the following: Mix together a pinch of salt and pepper with the zest of one lemon and the juice of half of it. Drizzle the soup with a drop or two of truffle oil and place a slice of grilled crostini topped with a bit of the lemon zest mixture on top of the ladled soup. Delish!

Laundry Sacks x 2!

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while will be well aware that space in our little flat is at a premium. For a long time now J and I have been trying to figure out a better way to store our dirty clothes as there isn’t room for a proper laundry basket. The default became an awful florescent pink Rubbermaid tub that we used for shipping stuff over here when we first moved. A complete eyesore. But thanks to an easy pattern out of this book, the Rubbermaid is no more! (This book has lot’s of great ideas, but I’ve found the directions a bit cumbersome… better for those with a bit of sewing experience.) Our laundry has now found a nice new home on the back door to our wee box room. And our bedroom just gained back some highly prized floor space. Success!

book list 2010

Edinburgh has proven to be the perfect city to read in. Long, dark winter nights leave lots of time for cuddling up under a blanket with a good book and a cup of tea, while the long summer nights are perfect for grabbing a book and blanket and heading to a park to make the most of the gloriously long summer days you get this far north. Add to that a fabulous book club and a wonderful group of friends that are as enamored with reading as I am, and this past year has proved to hold some of the best stories I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying in a long time.

So, in chronolgical order, I give my book list for 2010:

The Elephanta Suite: Three Novellas, Paul Theroux
When We Were Romans, Matthew Kneale
English Passengers, Matthew Kneale
Gourmet Rhapsody, Muriel Barbery
Broken, Daniel Clay
Masterpiece, Elise Broach
A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube, Patrick Fermor
In the Time of the Butterflies, Julia Alvarez
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer
The Careful Use of Compliments, Alexander McCall Smith
The River Why, David James Duncan
The Help, Kathryn Stockett
Home, Marilynne Robinson
Girl With a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier
Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
The Island, Victoria Hislop
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark
The Lacuna, Barbara Kingsolver
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling
Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor
Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson
Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides

I love the way a good story can completely transport me to another time and place, and yet continue to reverberate in my own life long after I’ve finished reading it. Out of the 22 books I read this past year, the following are at the top of my list and books that I would hardily recommend to all.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer

This book is a quick read, but a very sweet story that is written through a series of letters. It is set just after WWII and tells the story of the island of Guernsey (one of the islands off the coast of England). It is a very tender book, and a great vacation book or one to curl up with over a cup of tea.

The River Why, David James Duncan

David James Duncan has long been a favorite author and The River Why only reinforced my love of his writing. This story is based in the Pacific Northwest and reading it transported me back home and helped to ease some of the homesickness I was feeling shortly after we moved here. He also wrote The Brothers K which is another excellent book and either one would make a great addition to your book lists for 2011.

Home, Marilynne Robinson
Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson

Marilynne Robinson is an author I’ve heard about, but had never read anything by until this year when I read Home. This book holds some of the most beautiful prose I’ve ever read and a story that has stayed with me and continued to touch me months after my first reading. Because this book had such a profound impact on me I had to read Marilynne Robinson’s other two novels, Gilead and Housekeeping. These books are equally good and all three have already become dear favorites that I return to regularly simply to soak in more of the beauty of both the writing and the stories. Read them, you won’t be disappointed.

I’m now busy pulling together a list of must reads for 2011. So far my list includes: To Kill a Mockingbird (Lee Harper), Wuthering Heights (Emily BrontĂ«), Sister of my Heart (Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni), The Sweet Life in Paris (David Lebovitz), Persuasion (Jane Austen), The Country Diaries: A Year in the British Countryside (Alan Taylor), and At Home: A Short History of Private Life (Bill Bryson).

My reading goal for 2011 is to read thirty books, so I’m happily accepting book suggestions. Any ideas would be most welcome!

a winner!

Hi all! Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by to join in the fun of giveaway day. Isn’t it great? I just love see all the crafty goodness happening (literally) around the world. I’m so pleased to announce that Emily has won this year’s giveaway, coming in at lucky number 72!

Here’s her post:


With toes still cold from an outing hours ago, I’d say any place warm… maybe a trip to the Caribbean to enjoy the white sands and blue waters. I’m not picky – any island will do!

Your giveaways are just lovely. One of my sisters is our true world traveler and this set reminds me so much of her – I love it.

Thanks again everyone! Hope you enjoyed the fun as much as I did, and thanks as always to Sew Mama Sew for bringing the crafting community together!

happy giveaway day!

I hope you’re all enjoying the fun giveaways happening all over the blogosphere today! If you’ve not already done so, be sure to head over to Sew Mama Sew to check out all the fantastic crafting blogs and giveaways taking place. They’re wonderful!

And now, for my own giveaway… Living in Edinburgh has really renewed my love and passion for traveling to new places. As such, I thought I’d pass along that same spirit of adventure by giving away a travel clutch and luggage tag. I hope you enjoy it! To enter into the giveaway, simply post a comment sharing where you would like to travel to if you could go anywhere you liked and money was of no concern. Top spot on my current destination wish list? Morocco! Also, please be sure to leave some way for me to contact you so I can get ahold of you if you win! Then, on December 17th I’ll randomly select a winner and announce it here on the blog. Happy blog surfing everyone!