Storm Front Arriving: A View from the Baseball Field

As I sat at my son’s baseball game on Sunday this week, an unforecasted, unexpected storm front moved in.  We watched as the thick ominous massive gray clouds worked their way towards us, as we sat in the hot sun under bright blue skies.  Wind started whipping us from behind. No one was prepared for rain, but being Northwesterners and baseball moms, we all had umbrellas in the car, alongside the bottles of water, extra coats, blankets, sunscreen, snacks, stadium seats, and folding chairs (you just never know what you’ll be needing.)  This was the championship game of a 4 day weekend tournament.  Please don’t get rained out!  Please don’t see lightning!  The wind started to hit us in the face, blowing the storm straight our way.

The player’s pants were waving in the wind, but the rain held off.  The game ended up being a blowout in just 5 innings as we had used up all our pitchers and had to put in boys that hadn’t pitched in 2 years.  My son, the catcher, ended up having to pitch the 4th inning. The 18U team won the day, defeating our 16U team.  The last required inning, our coach told the boys to go out and play any position they wanted – first come, first served.  They had a blast playing that last half inning, laughing and being goofballs, yet still trying to do their best.

The rain came down in buckets just minutes after loading up the car.



18 Spots for Afternoon Tea in Britain I Really Must Visit

I have a great love of history, afternoon tea, and Britain.  I have discovered online several tea shops I really must visit when I go.  There are teashops on every corner, but you must do some research and seek out ones that really make you feel you’ve stepped back in time.  I don’t want to go to just any old tea room.  I can get tea in my B&B.  I can get tea at McDonalds.  I want to find a tea room that makes me say to myself “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.”  I want ambience.  I want atmosphere.  I want character.  I want quirky.  I want to feel I’m in England. There are many gorgeous 4 and 5 star hotels who will serve a beautiful afternoon tea, but I don’t want to be charged an arm and a leg and I probably wouldn’t have appropriate clothing with me.  I love the smaller home grown tearooms or ones attached to a historic spot I might want to visit anyway. When researching, I found a frustrating number of tearooms that don’t show any photos of the interior of their shop, or only show photos of the food they sell. My motto is, if they are afraid to show photos of their restaurant, then its probably someplace I don’t want to go.  There are many more tea rooms I would love to visit, these just happened to catch my eye.  I might float my way through Britain!

Some of these require reservations or 24 hour notice. A few are closed in the winter months. Check websites before just stopping by.

I want to take a tour of England and plan a route so I can stop at each of these:

Blackbird Inn, Brighton

Blackbird Inn, Brighton

Old Bakery Tea Room, Newark on Trent

Old Bakery Tea Room, Newark on Trent  Now that is atmosphere!

The Swan Hotel, Wells

The Swan Hotel, Wells What a view!

The Blitz Tearoom & Jazz Lounge, Kettering

The Blitz Tea Room with a focus on WW2


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The Apothecary Coffee & Tea Shop, Rye

The Apothecary Coffee Shop, Rye

Screen Shot 2018-06-12 at 11.39.49 AM.pngTymperleys in Colchester, Essex

The Bridge Tea Rooms, Bradford on Avon

The Bridge Tea Rooms, Bradford on Avon

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The Slaughters Country Inn, Gloucestershire

The Slaughters Country Inn, Gloucestershire

Bishopstrow Hotel, Warminster Wiltshire

Bishopstrow House, Wiltshire an 18th Century Manor House

Woolley Grange Hotel, Bradford on Avon
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Woolley Grange Hotel

Woolley Grange, Wiltshire a Jacobean Manor House

Almshouse Tea Shop, Axbridge


Alms House Tea Shop, Axbridge Somerset

Screen Shot 2018-06-12 at 12.51.28 PM.pngRydalmount Tea Rooms. Rydal Mount was the home of poet William Wordsworth



Old Farm House in Burley, New Forest

Old Farmhouse in Burley

Barnsley House, Cirencester

Barnsley House Hotel


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Mt. Ephraim Topiary Gardens kitchen tearoom, Faversham

Mt. Ephraim Topiary Gardens

Kelmscott Manor tearoom, Oxfordshire

Kelmscott Manor   The retreat of artist and designer William Morris

Corfe Castle tearoom, Dorset

Corfe Castle

A Deer resistant garden in the Pacific Northwest

There are a surprising number of plants you can grow in the the garden, even when you are occasionally visited by deer.  The deer in my garden tend to leave the following plants alone.  There are a number of plants they will nibble on occasionally but not really harm, such as the summer spireas, golden chain tree, ornamental cherry trees, camellias, red maples, japanese maples, smokebush, mock orange,  and several more.

I have found deer tend to not prefer plants with strong scented foliage or ones with rough foliage.  Herbs do well.  With plenty of natives in the area, they only cruise through my back yard like a trip through the salad bar, picking up a few things that look tasty.  In winter when they are hungry, they are a lot less picky.

For a full sun garden:

For a part sun garden:


Soft Peanut Butter Cookies

Softer perfectly round cookies. So quick to make, why would you ever buy at the grocery store?*

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup real butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/4 tsp vanilla

1 cup all purpose flour

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup quick oats

1/4 cup ground flax seed meal

2 Tbl wheat germ

1/2 cup chopped unsalted dry roasted peanuts

Heat oven to 375 f. In a mixing bowl beat butters and sugars until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Slowly add dry ingredients until combined. Roll or scoop about 1-1/2″ balls. Don’t flatten. Bake 10 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet a minute or two before moving to cooling rack.

Alternates: add chocolate chips or use chunky peanut butter.

Banana Chai Bread

A nice tall loaf, moist, and full of flavor

My husband loves banana bread, and we always seem to have bananas past their prime on hand.  I’ve adapted an old recipe of mine by adding chai spice and using greek yogurt instead of milk. I prefer to use real butter rather than oil for the flavor it brings.  I also prefer to add maple flavoring rather than vanilla, which is a good thing considering the price of vanilla lately!

Banana Chai Bread

1/2 cup plain greek yogurt

1/2 cup real butter

1 tsp maple syrup flavoring (mapleine)

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp chai mixed spice (see below)

2 med/lg bananas, mashed

2 eggs

2 cups flour

1/4 cup ground flax meal

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 cup walnuts, chopped

In saute pan over medium heat, toast walnuts until lightly browned. Set aside to cool. Using mixer, combine butter & sugars.  Add yogurt, eggs, flavoring, spices, and bananas.  In small bowl combine dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients last.  Use 9×5 baking dish, spray bottom only.  Pour in mixture. Bake at 350 for approx 1 hour.


Chai spice mix:

1 tsp each: cinnamon, cardamom, cloves

1/2 tsp each:  ginger, nutmeg, coriander

1/4 tsp: white pepper

approximate proportions – alter to taste

The Garden Before the Rain

In the Pacific Northwest, we thrive on rainfall. This afternoon forecasts call for a good soaking rain which is what we really need. My garden needs it. The mountains need the snowfall. We are woefully in need of rain. Lawns shouldn’t be turning brown in early June.

I am preparing myself for the rain in the best way I know how.

Cut the peony and rose blooms and bring them indoors stat! Being forced to enjoy the blooms in a vase on my dining room table is a sacrifice I’ll just have to make. (Sarcasm intended.)