Thursday, July 28, 2016

One Hundred Fiftieth Anniversary of Beatrix Potter's Birth

Today is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter.  In her honor I thought I would post my visit to Hilltop from last year. So come along with me to a very special place.

Today is a day I have dreamed about.  If I admit it, if I were only able to visit one place in England, it would be Hilltop. Visiting Hilltop, one of the homes of Beatrix Potter, has been dream of mine for a long time.  I've loved her charming books forever.  Her beautiful artwork is truly a gift from God.  Sometimes when a dream is about to be realized one can be afraid that the real thing will be disappointing.  Believe me--I was not disappointed!

Our apartment is only 27 miles from Hilltop!  This is the main reason we chose to stay in this location.... But it took us 1 1/2 hours to get there.  The M5 and A roads were just fine, but then we took a B road that was curvy, narrow and quite scary.

See the stone wall on the left--that's where I was sitting in our car, trying not to say too much to Grayden as he carefully drove us along curves and hills and more stone walls.  

Along the way carpets of bluebells made the drive beautiful and more enjoyable.  It was a drizzly, rainy, moody day.  Anticipation of what was to come made it all very mystical and magical.

After driving at very slow speeds we finally made it to Near Sawrey--the town where Beatrix Potter bought her beloved Hilltop!

Beatrix Potter bought  Hilltop in 1905 as a retreat away from London.  She purchased Hilltop with money from her first book-- The Tale of Peter Rabbit.  She loved the area around Hilltop and it's not hard to see why!  It served as inspiration for her books that followed. 

Upon arriving at the car park for Hilltop, rain was falling.  We were early (on purpose) to be able to get our tickets.  Hilltop is very popular and has a timed ticket schedule.  We were early enough to pick up our tickets for the first opening at 10:00am.  A few cars began to fill the car park.  Everyone wants to come to Hilltop!

It was time to make our way up to Hilltop.  We followed a hill up a narrow pathway made of large rocks that was lined with flowers.

We're almost there!  I can't believe it! 

There she is!!

The nice National Trust docent invited us in!  Oh my, yes I'll park my brolly at the door and yes you can wipe the rain off my jacket.  We don't want to harm anything in Beatrix Potter's home.

We made our way inside to a sitting room on the left.  It was cozy with a roaring fire to warm us.  There were low beams and the ceiling was covered in wallpaper.  I'm quite emotional at this point as I can't believe I'm standing where Beatrix Potter once stood.  Everywhere there is charm.  To the right is another room that is filled with lovely china that Beatrix collected.  She was from a wealthy family and attended many antique shows with her mother.  It was pointed out that she and her mother didn't have much in common but they both loved to go to antique sales together.

Toward the back of the sitting room was the scullery where Beatrix prepared meals.  To the left of the scullery were stairs we climbed to see four rooms.  One was a room of her collections with a lovely dollhouse.  Another sitting room with a piano and beautiful photos of her and her family. Her bedroom with her lovely tester bed and bed coverings and memorabilia all about.  She added an addition so she could have proper light for her art studio.  She never wanted electricity in her home.  This room was filled with her brother's artwork.  Bertram was an accomplished artist as well as their father.  There were very large paintings that lined the walls.  Sadly no photos are allowed inside, but you can go here to see her bedroom.

I can't begin to describe how I felt in her home!  Her love of nature was everywhere.  Beatrix Potter, I felt your spirit in your beloved Hilltop.  I'll never forget it!! 

As we left her home I turned around and gazed upon this special place. We wandered about the property.

Upon leaving the gate we spotted Castle Cottage, the home that Beatrix and William Heelis shared after their marriage. It's the white house on the right. 

When we planned this day before leaving home, I told Grayden I wanted to stay all day in Near Sawrey.  I did not want to short cut this visit.  So next to Hilltop was The Sawrey House Tearoom that we had to go visit.  We read on their menu that Beatrix Potter would often come and have afternoon tea here.

The vistas from this property were lovely!  These photos were taken from the inside the Sawrey House Tearoom.

After having a lovely soup for lunch it was time to take another look around Near Sawrey.  It's so charming and quaint in this area.  What a wonderful place to live!  I hope it never changes.  Beatrix Potter was a big proponent of the National Trust and gave over 4.000 acres of land, 16 farms and cottages, cattle and Herdwick sheep for future generations to enjoy.  Her gifts were the largest the National Trust had received and enabled them to create the Lake District National Park.  Thank you, Beatrix Potter!

Beatrix Potter, you have left a imprint on my heart that will always be with me.  Thank you for saving this beautiful place and more to be enjoyed by generations and generations to follow. 

from left to right--Beatrix Potter, Beatrix Potter with bunny, Beatrix and brother Bertram, Beatrix and William Heelis, Norman Warne(Beatrix Potter's editor and fiance')

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Chicken Fajitas

Do you like fajitas?  Whenever we go to a Mexican restaurant it is a choice of many in our family. We eat a lot of chicken and I'm always looking for new ways to prepare it.  I thought I would try to replicate this yummy dish at home.  It's quite easy and I thought it would be nice to try on the grill.  Well, it's been so hot and humid I really didn't want to cook outside.  So I decided to use the oven instead.  Of course it can be made in a skillet, but I like the taste of roasted vegetables better than sauteed ones. 

It's hardly a recipe to prepare this yummy dish.  I always have the ingredients in my pantry to make a lot of different meals and I was happy I had everything I thought I needed except the seasoning packet that most folks use.  I really don't like prepared mixes so I mixed up a few spices to make a good seasoning for fajitas.

Chicken Fajitas

  1. 2 chicken breasts sliced very thinly
  2.  2 red bell peppers sliced into strips
  3.  1 large onion sliced 
  4.  1 tablespoon of fajita seasoning *
  5.  2 tablespoons olive oil
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Spread evenly into a large baking sheet lined with foil for easy cleanup.  Place into a preheated 400 degree oven for 20-30 minutes until your chicken is done.

We like flour tortillas for our fajitas that have been heated in a dry pan for 15 seconds on each side.  I served these plain but of course you could add sour cream and cilantro if you wish.  I made rice and added a can of black beans.  That was dinner that everyone said we should add to the rotation of meals.  You can also slice beef very thinly and make steak fajitas if you wish.

Fajita Seasoning *

  1. 1 1/2 tablespoon of chili powder
  2.  3/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
  3.  1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
  4.  1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes or more if you like it spicy
  5.  1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
  6.  3/4 teaspoon of paprika
  7.  2 teaspoon of ground cumin
  8.  1 teaspoon  kosha salt 
  9.  1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Mix all of your spices together and use what you want on the chicken and veggies.  I used a tablespoon.  If you saved an old spice bottle, you could use it to store the remainder with your spices.  I just put a label on mine marked it with the date.

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. Virginia Woolf

Friday, July 22, 2016

Summertime with Children

Children adore summer more than anyone I know.  As we become adults with obligations summer can sometimes lose its sparkle.  Even gardeners have problems as the days become hot and humid.  The flowers need constant watering if none comes from the heavens.  I really start to complain when I feel I must stay inside with air conditioning.

  But children dream of forever days without school.  Endless times to enjoy doing what they wish.  I remember as a child thinking summer lasted forever.  I believe my grandsons think the same.  In my family we always dreamed of going to the beach.  My parents loved the beach and passed that love to their children.  All six of us packed into our 1955 Desoto and headed to the beach every summer for a least a week.  When I think of all the things my parents hauled there for us I am astounded.  We looked like the Beverly Hillbillies as we headed down US 60 to our favorite beach.  My aunts and uncles and cousins would all stay in cottages nearby.  I tell you it was heaven for us. I would live at the beach if I could.  Of course one wonders if one lived there would it also become old hat.

This week we headed to a resort in Williamsburg where we all gathered to enjoy some time together.  The younger grands still have that sparkle that I recall from days gone by.  I love being reminded of this.

Children also remind me of their endless energy.  Thank goodness their Dad was there to take up the slack when  Boo and Bear were tired.  Our oldest grandson was there as well, but he's not the water lover these guys are.

These boys enjoyed countless hours in the pool indoors and out, played putt-putt golf, Foosball, ping pong and indoor games of German Checkers.  Our oldest grandson wanted to go to Busch Gardens so we picked the coolest day of the week, only a high of 89 degrees!  We all enjoyed seeing them enjoy themselves.  I must admit I was happy when they said they had done everything they wanted and wanted to go back to the resort.

Making memories together is so important.  Family is my world.  I'm so happy that my world is not what I read and see  on television.  Yes, I am concerned for all that happens around us and realize we are not immune.  We must make our corner of the world a better place for the sake of our children and our children's children.


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Lemon Blueberry Tea Bread

What do you do with an abundance of lemons in your refrigerator?   Yes, make lemonade or make lemon blueberry tea bread.  It's not often I make sweets around here, but when I do the request is usually for something with chocolate.   I'm offended when I have to throw food away so today I decided I needed to use up the lemons.  It's a hot and humid day and normally I would not be heating the oven.  

This recipe has been in my file for years.  It's wonderful with hot tea, but today we'll enjoy it with a tall glass of  iced tea.

Lemon Blueberry Tea Bread

  1. 1/3 cup of melted butter
  2. 1 cup of sugar
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
  5. 1 1/2 cup of flour
  6. 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  7. 1 teaspoon of salt
  8. 1/2 cup of milk
  9. 2 tablespoons of grated lemon zest
  10. 1/2 cup of chopped pecans
  11. 1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease an 8 x 4 loaf pan.

In a mixing bowl, beat together butter, sugar, eggs and lemon juice.  Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and then add alternating with milk.  Fold in nuts, lemon zest and nuts.  Pour into loaf pan and cook for 60 to 70 minutes until a tester comes out clean.  Invert bread onto cooling rack.  While your bread is still warm mix together the glaze.

2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1/4 cup of white sugar 

  Pour over the still warm loaf.

Do you do much baking in the summer?  Or do you avoid the extra heat in your kitchen?

I do hope you are enjoying your summer. ♥

Friday, July 8, 2016

St. George

While we were in Bermuda we took the ferry to St. George.  This island is a quaint quiet place that holds great history for me and my family.

The forty-five minute ride over was enjoyable on this ferry that will accommodate 250 passengers.  We were surprised to see it come into the dock with a Rhode-Island Ferry sign on the side.  It seems the Bermudan government leases this ferry for a million dollars for three months of every summer to accommodate the flux of tourism.  One local fellow thought they should just buy the ferry and not lease it.  I'll have to agree with him. 

The water was relatively calm.  Fort St. Catherine was in sight as we rounded this bend.  It is the largest fort in all of Bermuda.  It was constructed in 1614 and it had numerous upgrades in the nineteenth century.  It now houses a museum of Bermudan history.  St. Catherine Fort was the landing place of the 1609 crew and passengers of the Sea Venture. ♥

The ferry begins to approach St. George.

St. George is a World Heritage Site designated by UNESCO.  St. George is named after the legendary dragon slayer and patron saint of England.  This is the place that Bermuda began.  The Sea Venture shipwrecked here in 1609 during a horrible storm and possibly a hurricane.  All on board survived the wreck.  One hundred fifty souls!  All but two of these passengers continued with their original purpose to reinforce the settlement at Jamestown, Virginia.

We stepped off the ferry to see beautiful St George.  The houses are so colorful and happy looking.  The roof line of most homes is quite interesting.  Bermuda has no fresh water lakes or rivers so the islanders have to save their precious water in a collection cistern.  This is an example of how the rain water trickles down these steps and then into a cistern.

Pink Oleander 

Bermudan Flag and the flag of Great Britain

There were flowers everywhere, even at the gas station.  Which by the way sold gas at 1.98 a liter!  Bermuda is a very expensive island to live on.  Most of the locals use the ferries or some other form of  public transportation.  One young lady told us she has a motor bike that she uses as it was too expensive to operate her vehicle.

Across from Town Hall we walked the bridge to Ordnance Island where a modern replica of the seventeenth century ship Deliverance sits.

 After the Sea Venture crew made it ashore they wanted to continue on to Jamestown by building two vessels with the cedar from the island and the wreckage of the Sea Venture.  The Patience was the second vessel that was built.  My ancestor continued the journey to Jamestown, Virginia on the Patience.  I cannot tell you the emotion I felt on this island touring a tiny vessel that sailed many more miles to the New World!  We were reminded that this replica of the Deliverance is a much more substantial vessel than the original one was.  There are plans to build the Patience replica and I would be honored to go back to visit it one day.  The Bermuda built ships arrived in Jamestown in May 1610, their supplies helped to save the surviving settlers.  As a result of their efforts the first English settlement in the New World was made.  We were so happy to board the replica and see how it was for these brave souls.

I wondered as we walked around what my ancestor must think of  his descendant traveling on a large cruise ship to an island he wanted to leave!  I was walking where he walked.  I was full of emotion.

The Admiral of the Sea Venture fleet was Sir George Somers.  There is a bronze statue of him on Ordnance Island .

Walking around St. George we were greeted with beauty and joy.

I love these umbrellas made from Palm fronds.  They provide the much needed shade on this very warm day.  Take note of the stockades.  This was the colonial beginning of Bermuda and has a feel of any colonial town along with the good and the not so good.  There was even a ducking stool for all the women who gossiped.  If you want to see a reenactment that takes place in St. George you can go HERE

As the afternoon wore on we decided it was time to take the ferry back to the Royal Naval Dockyard.  If you ever get a chance to go to Bermuda, don't miss St. George.

As we were riding the ferry we spotted St. David's Lighthouse.  It was built in 1879 to keep mariners from getting too close to the hidden reefs that surround this area.  When we visited Bermuda many years ago, we visited this light up close and personal.  My sister loved lighthouses and that was a must for her.

Our memories of this trip will stay with us for a lifetime.

On Tuesday evening as we were leaving Bermuda, Grayden and I were having dinner at a table that faced this gorgeous sight that I love.  The pilot boat was guiding the ship into the channel and we reflected on all that we had seen.  St. David's light came into view as well as the houses on St. George.  I couldn't help but think of my ancestor as this was near the spot they suffered the terrible storm and tried to stay alive.  I cannot imagine what they were feeling. The human spirit is so strong and so amazing!  Our grandson is named for this brave soul.  He went on to Virginia and became a member of the House of Burgesses.  He survived the Indian Massacre and saved many lives.

Yes, this was a very meaningful trip.