There is a hymn that is sung at new years called 'Ring out Wild Bells.' The lyrics read:
Ring out wild bells to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty night.
The year is dying in the night,
Ring out wild bells and let him die.
It is sung in a minor key and has a mournful tone. Its three verses sing the message to ring out the old and ring in and even better new. It speaks of 'larger hearts and kindlier hands,' and the song finishes with a bright and hopeful major chord.
We all have hopes for better days and better years to come. The older I get, the more I understand that to have 'better days,' you must experience 'not-so-good days'. I have found that, with larger hearts and kindlier hands, even bad days can become better.
Speaking of larger hearts, I loved the guests we had at Willowbrook on New Years Eve! The Reyes family came and stayed in The Loft: Tami and Frank from Southern California, and their son, Justin, and his wife, Laura, and their four children from Puyallup, WA. The kids thought that The Loft was a fabulous place. After thoroughly exploring it, the thing they wanted to do most, was to have a tea party! They rang in the new year Tuesday evening and had tea and scones the next morning. The weather cooperated, and we were able to get them on E-bikes to tour the Cascade Trail. Justin captured the all of the fun on a darling video posted on Facebook. (Click HERE to view.)
I so enjoyed having the Reyes family stay here! They promised me they will come back this summer for some glamour camping. I'm looking forward to their return.
If you are looking for a fun little getaway, keep The Loft in mind. You can find pictures and availability HERE.
If summer glamour camping is your thing, you will want to book soon to get the dates you want. High Camp is in high demand in. Click HERE.
Tea & Concert on January 18th ~
I'm so looking forward to this weekend's Tea and Concert with Sharyn Peterson and Matthew Rehfeldt. There are a few seats left! We will be serving English Tea complete with soup, salad, savory tea sandwiches, sweet cream scones and homemade sweets. Sharyn will be playing violin and viola, and Matt will be playing cello and acoustic guitar. The concert will be an hour-long and will explore a variety of styles including classical, contemporary, jazz, love songs, and even some movie themes. Click the button below to make your reservation.
So Valentines Day is just a month away and I am looking to create a memorable event for tea lovers and plant lovers. I'm readying the greenhouse for chamomile starts, and I am inviting YOU to be part of the planting! On February 15th, I will host 'Seeding and Tea.' Schedule your tea time for 11:00, 1:00 or 3:00. You will first enjoy tea and scones in the elegance of the Tea Room or the Green Room. Then, those who wish to participate in planting chamomile seeds can do so in the dining and billiard rooms.
A flag with your name will be inserted into each tray that you plant. In May, when the starts go into the ground, the flag will mark the area of the chamomile field that is connected to YOU! The best part is making a memory with friends and family while being involved in something big (like helping plant a chamomile field.) Make your reservations by clicking HERE. $25 per person.
There is a sleepy little town in Southern Nevada that I have tender ties to. Named Panaca, it is where my father grew up. There is a warm water spring just outside of town, and I have fond memories of swimming there as a kid. Each summer when we went to visit Gram, she would load up a picnic basket full of fresh-baked cinnamon rolls and sandwiches. Then, with us kids sitting on the tailgate of Old Yeller, her '68 Chevy pickup truck, we would trundle down the dirt road to the spring. I can still feel the warmth of the water, the squish of the mossy bottom through my toes and the nibble from the guppies that had no fear of frolicking kids. The whole scene was like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting.
We had a reunion with family and friends in 2016 to share the history and create a connection for the next generation. We camped at a place called Cathedral Gorge. If you are traveling to the Grand Canyon or Zion National Park, Panaca is a hidden gem that is worth the detour. The Cathedral Gorge Campground, just a few miles from town, has plenty of shade for summer camping, and the limestone canyons make for great exploring. The hike to the lookout is a fun family-friendly trek.
We stopped for pictures at Gram's house (this one is of Kjaisa and Aliece, my daughters). There, my dad told stories from his growing-up years. He had aunts and uncles across the street and down the lane, and together they planted huge gardens and had parties to husk corn, fruit, vegetables and meat, and make jerky. (Can you see where I get the idea for Friendship Seeding and Tea?)
There was no running water in the house when my dad was a boy. They would haul drinking water from the spigot at his uncle's house across the street and wash water from the irrigation ditch. They had a privy behind the house, and they would bathe in the kitchen with a galvanized tub and water heated on the wood stove. My dad was a teen when the family finally built a bathroom in the house. It was good for my kids to hear these stories. The house is no longer in the family, but the lot behind it is, and in the shed there we found Gram's flamingo pink kitchen chairs! They had been there for over 25 years but were still in great shape. Mark and Patty Kubeja had their trailer there and said they would bring them to up to Washington for me. (I have great friends!)
The pink chairs are having their second round of making great family memories in The Loft. The place is full of nostalgia, from the old Bellingham High School gym floor right down to the retro kitchen. It has the feel of Gram: fun, down-home, and quirky-cool.
That story segues me to another story so that I can finally give you a recipe!
When I was going to college, I planned my summers to work hard, then spend the last two weeks of summer vacation at Gram's. I had so much fun hanging out in Panaca, swimming at the spring, raiding Gram's sewing closet, and making friends with the locals. I remember driving Old Yeller down main street with Amy Wadsworth, flying a kite out the window. (There wasn't much to do in town.)
Gram would get the travel bug, and we would load up and head out to visit family in Southern California, doing Disneyland and spending days at the beach. She had the best polyester double-knit swim suit and bright colored sun hat! I loved going to the beach with Gram.
But on to the recipe! Gram introduced me to what some call German pancakes, some call puff pancakes. I call them an easy way to get lots of eggs into a kid that wont eat them!
I remember the morning Gram told me she was going to bake me breakfast with a recipe that didn't have any leavening like baking powder. She said the eggs were the leaven and I remember my teen brain (thinking I knew it all), being sure it wouldn't work. Then she created the most amazing puff-muffins that raised up huge, then fell into a custard-like pancakes. I put peanut butter and Aunt Jemima syrup on them and experienced a fresh-new taste-memory.
I made them recently, and it took me back to that summer morning in Panaca, with the fun, down-home, quirky-cool Gram of mine.
Here's the promised recipe!
Gram's Puff-Muffins 8 eggs 1 cup flour 1 cup milk dash salt
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Place two muffin tins in the oven to heat. (I use the costco size muffin tins, but it works with regular size as well.
In a bowl crack the eggs and whisk.
With a mixer, blend in flour, milk and salt.
Open oven when fully heated and drop a sliver of butter into each muffin tin. Use a brush to coat butter on the bottom and sides. You will want enough butter to leave a bit of a pool in the bottom of the muffin cup.
Pour in batter to fill half of the cup.
Bake until puffy and the color of the picture.
Be careful not to overbake as the puff muffin can turn dry. Better to underbake which makes it moist and custardy. The Puff Muffin will fall when you take it out of the oven, so make sure you gather everyone around when you first take it out for the Wow factor.
Please let me know if you try this and how it works. If you have a favorite recipe, please share it! Click HERE to email me.
If you have made it this far in the newsletter, I appreciate and applaud you.
Teacup Time ~
In one of my first newsletters I shared the story of my first collection of teacups. I told how I went to pick up a vintage vacuum I found on Craigslist and wound up with teacups too! The one pictured below, part of that collection, was hand-carried from England. I have always loved paisley and have made my fair share of paisley-print outfits in my day. I've had paisley bedspreads and curtains and scarves. I LOVE paisley. So, can you see why I would be drawn to this teacup?
Since the theme of his newsletter seems to be family, I thought it fitting to share the 'cousins' I found. A year after finding this first paisley teacup I acquired another large collection of teacups and found its cousin! The numbers on the bottom of each cup reads 505 and 525. I call it the Paisley Teacup Reunion (PTR)
If you have a favorite teacup, please share the story with us, including a picture, by clicking the button below!