Another Year

We grieve with Great Britain at the passing of beloved Queen Elizabeth II on her death yesterday. Shedding tears here. It was her appointed time dying at Balmoral, a place that seemed to bring her lots of comfort. We have no idea how the grieving period in Great Britain will impact our trip this coming week but our time will be historic. 

Today is Dear’s 69th birthday.  We will be celebrating his last year in his 60’s tonight and tomorrow, too. All these photos I’m sharing today are from 2006 when he was in his 50’s. We recently copied the photos from a disc from our trip with friends on what we called a Walking Tour of Great Britain. We were in Conwy Wales, The Lake District, Oban, Edinburgh and York from May 2nd until the 12th, 2006.

We flew into Manchester. There were six of us on this trip. We rented a vehicle and headed to Conwy, Wales.

The view from our bedroom at our Bed and Breakfast in Conwy.

The 2nd day in Wales we attempted to climb Mt. Snowden.

Still smiling at the beginning of the hike. It really was a difficult ascent and much more difficult descent because of the slipping steep shale path. Jan and I made it 2.6 miles and we decided to turn around and head back. The other 3 troopers carried on for another mile but had to turn back because of the high wind. It was windy enough to move our bodies. In total 5.2 miles for Ellen and Jan, 7.2 miles for Bob, Dear, and Jody. We were sore and our knees suffered for the rest of our trip.

The very bright side to this day was our dinner at Bistro Conwy. One of the best meals we’ve ever enjoyed at a restaurant. Leek soup w/potato and bacon, Casaba salad with melon-strawberries-kiwi-with a raspberry sorbet sauce-mushroom tartlets-lamb shoulder in reduction with potatoes and vegetables. Sticky toffee pudding with chocolate sauce for dessert.

From Wales we traveled to the Lake District and stayed on a working farm. We had a few Derwent River walks.

While Bob, Jan and Jody scaled this path to the top of Cats Bells, Dear’s knees stopped here on this grassy knoll and we made our way back to our Farmhouse B&B.

From the Lake District we traveled to Oban, Scotland.

From Oban we took a ferry to the Isle of Mull and traveled across the island to catch a ferry to the little island of Iona.

From Oban we traveled to Edinburgh.

In Edinburgh we visited Elephant House with ties to the writing of the Harry Potter books.

Our last stop was York and we enjoyed our favorite Sticky Toffee Pudding here.

We won’t be enjoying Sticky Toffee Pudding today but hopefully within a weeks time we will.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

We really enjoyed this dessert while traveling in Great Britain so duplicating it for special meals here on the other side of the Pond was a fun adventure for me. It’s a warm dense cake with a caramelized sauce. There are many versions of Sticky Toffee Pudding and this is one that has been successful and good. Don’t let the pudding confuse you. It’s not like our creamy soft pudding. This “pudding” is cake like.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 x 13 inch pan

Pudding:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 8 ounces dates (pitted and chopped into pieces)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups boiling water

Sauce:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 – 3/4 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups whipping cream

You will need extra whipping cream to top off the cake with when ready to serve.

Directions:

For the pudding:

  1. Cream butter and sugar.
  2. Beat in eggs one at a time and incorporate completely.
  3. Fold in flour.
  4. Put the chopped dates in a separate bowl.
  5. Pour the boiling water over the dates and add the soda to this mixture.
  6. Give the water time to be absorbed into the dates.
  7. When water is mostly absorbed add the flour mixture and blend well.
  8. Pour the mixture into prepared pan.
  9. Bake for 40 minutes. Time may vary slightly depending on your oven.

Sauce:

  1. Mix all ingredients and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  2. When cake comes out of the oven poke the top of the cake evenly with many holes.
  3. Pour half of the sauce over the top of the cake evenly.
  4. Allow Sauce to soak into cake.
  5. When ready to serve cut cake into squares and place the squares on your dessert plates.
  6. Top with remaining sauce that is hot onto the warm cake.
  7. Top each serving with a dollop of whipped cream.

 

We’ve been dreaming about going to England again so this is a recipe that came to mind.

Time to Party Hodgepodge

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It’s Wednesday so it’s time to answer the Hodgepodge questions from our gracious hostess Jo From This Side of the Pond

1. What advice would you give yourself as we begin this new year?

I’ll borrow this paragraph from our Christmas letter and say continue doing this!

“We are digging deep in our Bibles and some trusted commentaries, soaking up the Truth of the Gospel and asking God to increase our faith and our love for God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son who is our Lord and Savior, and the Holy Spirit who is our Comforter. We don’t want the ‘oil in our lamps’ to be nonexistent when the “Bridegroom” returns.

2. If you could throw a themed party for yourself what would the theme be?

Oh how I love a themed party! I’ll choose a British Pub Party with all the trimmings and don’t forget the bunting!

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Way back in November of 2013 we put on a British Pub dinner party as a thank you to our friends who let us use their parents home in Cornwall for a few nights on our trip to England in September of 2013. We traveled with our son Josh and DIL Laura.  It was so much fun to try to turn our home into a British Pub. We called it The Three Birds Pub and I added the link to my post if you’d like to see our old house converted to a pub.

3. Tell us where you were and something about what life was like when you were 20- 21.

I was living in my parents’ home in La Mirada, California. I was commuting to college at Cal-State L.A. completing my degree in Home Economics with a fifth year program of student teaching to earn my Elementary (K-8) Teaching credential. I was working part-time for Montgomery Ward at their appliance servicing center. In late Spring of 1972 when I was 21, I met Dear who was part of a Christian Band that my best friend auditioned for. The band toured England that summer. When they returned they needed to replace an alto and I auditioned for the group and became part of the band. Something sparked between Dear and me and we went on our first of many dates in October of 1972.

4. What’s on the menu at your house this week?

What menu? We fly by the seat of our pants.  It might be high time I planned for a week. I know that part of our meal on Tuesday will be artichokes and a Caesar salad with leftover chicken. On Wednesday I think I’ll pick up a couple curry dishes from ‘Thai to Go’ since I’ll be in town for a portion of the day. Red Curry for Dear and Yellow Curry for me. We do have a birthday dinner party planned for Sunday evening in honor of Dan and Jamie who both have birthdays soon. I’ll let them choose the entre they would like.

5. What should you do more of this year?

Walk

Less of?

Wasting time…

6. Insert your own random thought here.

21 and in love…

Thank you Lord for creating us as man and woman and loving us and sustaining our love all these years!

The Three Birds Pub…

…or Public House. All secrets will be revealed and all projects will finally be shared from the mysterious sewing and planning for this evening of “Celebrating” good friends and good food.

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We had a wonderful time at a “Thank You” celebration at this old house Pub on Sunday November 10th. We wanted our friend from England (who now lives in Washington) to know how much we appreciated his offering of his parent’s home in Porthtowan to us this past September. He not only offered their home but also gave us some great recommendations for things to do while we were there.  Our guests were very surprised when they arrived to our house Pub on Sunday!

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We decided to name our pub “The Three Birds” because of the 3 birds on our stained glass window.

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The reader board is from a business our son Josh had when he was in high school. Dear spray painted one side of it with chalk board paint that you can buy at craft stores. We used Union Jack duct tape to frame the chalkboard and frame some other signs that we made for the evening. Our daughter in law, Laura, did all the printing on the chalk boards. The printing on the signs were my effort…oye.

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In England a lot of Pubs have Beef and Yorkshire pudding as specials on Sundays so we decided to do the same since our meal was on a Sunday, too.

As you stepped into ye olde pub you were greeted with various scarves from English premier league futbol (soccer) teams.

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We had lots of fun with our signage…

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We carried the bird theme wherever we could. These sweet birds were in a flower basket that Josh and Laura gave me for Mother’s Day symbolizing my 3 little birds that are all grown up now.

2013-11-10 Pub Night2Laura printed the names on the place cards, too. See the bird place card holders?

Pub Night 045This was another Chalk Paint project that Dear painted for me. I bought the white photo frame from Michael’s on clearance for $11.88. I liked the shape of the wood frame. Dear took the glass out of the frame and spray painted it with the Chalk paint. We let it dry and waited a few days before we treated the chalk paint as directed by rubbing chalk all over it and then wiping it off. Now it was ready to go. I stuck on the stickers and Laura printed out the menu.

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These banners were some of my sewing experiments. The front banner is just a short twine tied between our island pen lights with 3 of the 12 napkins I made for the table. There were only 9 of us at the table so I used these 3 to fill in the air space in our kitchen/eating area trying to cozy things up to look more like a pub. I’ll be brave and show more close up detail on my sewing efforts at the end of the post.

Pub Night 025Each place setting had a poppy broach that I made by cutting off individual poppies from a bouquet stem of poppies that we bought at Hobby Lobby. I used wire cutters to do that and then attached stick on pin fasteners on the backs so they could be pinned on easily, or not so easily as it turned out. The reason we decided on the Poppy broaches was to commemorate Remembrance Day/Veteran’s Day since our time together was on Veteran’s Day Weekend and Poppies are worn extensively in England during this time.

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The centerpiece was filled with some items that we would see on pub tables when we were in England and some things I added. I wanted to use as much pewter as I could.

Pub Night 011I used pewter mugs that Dear and I bought in England in the early seventies for our flower arrangements.

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The napkin rings were silver tea pots. All the plates were made in England. I used a combination of three different blue and white transferware.

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These are the rough cut napkins that I made from a yard and a half of British themed fabric. I was able to get 12 napkins from the yardage I bought. I trimmed the runner with some bias tape I found in my MIL’s old sewing box. I also used bias tape for the little triangle cut outs that were left over from my original Pub banner.

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Now to the most important reason for our evening…our guests!

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The lovely ladies with their poppies on. Left to right, Katie, Laura, Gwen, Terri, and Sophie. Terri and Gwen are sister in laws. Terri is married to Gwen’s brother Luke. Luke was too sick to be able to join us. Sophie is one of Terri and Luke’s daughters.

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Our guest of honor Gabriel with his wife Gwen and Josh and Laura. It was fun to share our England experiences with our friends and to thank Gabriel in person for his generosity to us and his great suggestions on what to see and eat in Cornwall.

Last but not least was our dessert.

Sticky Toffee 017Sticky Toffee Pudding. I will be posting the recipe at Mennonite Girls Can Cook on Wednesday, November 13th.

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We said farewell to our guests with our stomachs full and our hearts full. A most wonderful evening. Our kids helped us clean up and we went to sleep content with visions of Prime Rib and Yorkshire pudding dancing in our heads. If you want a tried and true recipe for Prime Rib and Yorkshire Pudding for your Christmas Holidays this year make sure you order one of our Celebrations Cookbooks. If you gift someone with this book you are also gifting children in Kenya who need clean water to live well. All of our author royalties go to this cause.

Sticky Toffee 013For the next couple days I think I’ll sit with my feet up and enjoy this book that I first heard about on Vee’s Blog, A Haven for Vee.  It finally arrived last Saturday. We ordered it before we traveled to England! What is on your schedule this week?

I’m linking up to Cuisine Kathleen’s Let’s Dish. As soon as her direct link is up for this week I’ll add it to my post. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to link up. Looking forward to seeing what’s going on in Dish world!!