Friday, February 27, 2015

Scotland: Grasmere Gingerbread (England)

I first heard of Grasmere Gingerbread while reading an article in my favorite magazine, Victoria, several years ago. Of course I wanted to go in person, but of course I thought that would never be a possibility. 

But there we were in the Lake District, just a few miles from Grasmere! So we had to stop! 

Sarah Nelson began this gingerbread bakery in the 1850's and her recipe is still used. The recipe is so secret that it is kept in a bank vault! The bakery is located in this tiny little building (which I believe was an old schoolhouse).

Doesn't the window look delightful?

You can see the "queue" forming at the door. Inside there was just enough room for the single-file line and you had only enough time to state your order, pull out your money, and leave! No stopping to drink in the surroundings!

Here's a closer look at the window:

This is the inside -- a tiny little nook for serving the customers! I guess the rest of the building is used for baking! And the rich, deep, gingery smell filled the place!

Here's another look at some of the shelves (if one had time to actually choose something). See that "Farrer's" on the shelf? That's my favorite black tea!!! It's "Lakeland Special" and it is SO good.

One last little look inside -- you can see I was snapping pictures as fast as I could before it was my turn to grab a few packets of gingerbread.

Here we are back at the cottage with our gingerbread:

And this is what it looks like inside! I'm sure the size and texture looks strange to most people. I think of gingerbread as dark and cakey. This is thin and crunchy -- more of a ginger shortbread. If you like ginger, it's delicious! Especially dipped in Lakeland Tea!

Since Sarah Nelson's gingerbread recipe is locked in a vault we can't make our own, but I did find this recipe in "Great British Baking" and it looks quite close!

And that's the story of our visit to Grasmere Gingerbread!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Words and Wool

For the most part, I have been spending my "wool" time sewing spring flowers. But, today I pulled out the little tea cozy I'm knitting for one of my smaller pots. It's the Ribbed and Ruffled Tea Cozy pattern here. Nice and simple knitting!!

Here are the flowers I have been sewing. I just need to add leaves, and then pins, and then labels, and then tags. Need to have them done by the end of next week!

And as for books, here's what I finished recently:

Own Your Life: Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love by Sally Clarkson is another must-read from my favorite mothering author. She talks about coming to grips with your real life and accepting the situations you are in and aiming to live them to the fullest -- your emotional life, spiritual life, your mothering, your living situation, your marriage.

  A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter by William Deresiewicz was a really fun read. Deresiewicz analyzes Austen's six novels and pulls out of them life lessons that Austen communicates and brings them to life in his own circumstances and search for friendship and love. It would have been fun to read all six novels alongside this book, but I don't have time for that now!!!

The Jane Austen Rules: A Classic Guide to Modern Love by Sinead Murphy is a little book that pairs well with the one mentioned above. Murphy pulls out of Austen's novels timeless wisdom on courtship and marriage. It's a quick read and perfect for Austen enthusiasts.

The Hunger: An Irish Girl's Diary, 1845-1847 (My Story) by Carol Drinkwater was just the thing to read while studying the Irish troubles of the 19th century. I'm impressed with this series, "My Story." All the books we have read so far have captured our interest and really helped us to see and feel what it was like living in these times.

Upstairs & Downstairs: The Illustrated Guide to the Real World of Downton Abbey by Sarah Warwick is another book focused around life in a country house in the Edwardian era. It's written around one day in the life of both master and servants and is filled with lots of period photographs. If you read Downton Abbey genre, here's another for your list.

And that's all for this week! For more ideas on reading and knitting, visit Ginny's Yarn Along.

Please note: this post contains affiliate links.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Mondays are for Grace

"Grace is the undeserved and unforeseen act of kindness and patience 
that totally transforms moments. 
It is the noble soul exercise toward the humble, broken, weary, and needy, 
without thought of returned favor."

-- Sally Clarkson, Own Your Life

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Scotland: Falkland

Falkland is a beautiful little town nestled quietly in the countryside of Fife. It has a castle dating back to Medieval times which was acquired by the Stewarts in the 1400's and rebuilt into a royal palace. One can just picture James the IV, V, or Mary, Queen of Scots, riding up from Edinburgh to take a country retreat and go hunting. 

Many of you know I am fond of Scottish history, particularly reformation history. Many years ago I spent a good bit of time studying a man by the name of Andrew Melville and his famous audience with King James VI of Scotland (later James I of England) in this very place -- the Chapel Royal of Falkland Palace. I've always wanted to go and actually see the place where this confrontation happened in which Melville, out of great concern for the way King James was manhandling the church in Scotland, declared to James, "And now, Sire, I must tell you, that there are two kings and two kingdoms in Scotland: there is King James, the head of the Commonwealth, and there is Christ Jesus, the Head of the Church, whose subject King James VI. is, and of whose kingdom he is not a head, nor a lord, but a member....." 

We arrived in Falkland early one morning in late September. The town looked impeccable and we soon found out why. An official-looking man struck up a conversation with Michael and let us know that they were painting the village in preparation for the filming of Outlander (warning: do not watch), a period drama to be aired in the USA the next year. We found this amusing as the previous day we had run into caste members from the Outlander at a horse farm where they were practicing their riding and fighting. Supposedly the village would be repainted back to its regular colors the next week!

Once the palace opened its doors, we headed inside where photos were not allowed of the restored and furnished parts of the palace.

But the views in the garden to the countryside beyond were just gorgeous!

Here the boys are standing in the remains of the Great Hall.

A view up to the wall of the Great Hall.

More perspective on the buildings.

The gardens were just lovely!!! I certainly would take this as my country retreat!!! Castles are built for protection but palaces are built for grand relaxation and luxurious living.

I love the round turrets that Falkland Palace has.

The palace is also famous for the oldest tennis court which is set at the back of the lovely gardens.

Outside the tennis court, which is actually a different form of tennis than we are used to.

A larger view of the tennis court and the lovely flowers round about.

Coming back up to the palace you can see the remains of the Great Hall to the left and the Chapel Royal and gallery on the right.

More remains of the Great Hall. You have to use your imagination to imagine what it was like!

Inside the courtyard:

And another view of what was a spectacular day weather-wise.

It would be lovely to see these gardens in every season.

Meanwhile the children were occupying themselves in the gift shop and with the giant chess set.

A view of the Chapel Royal from the front of the Palace.

All done with our visit.

One last look at the beautiful facade of the front entrance. This would be the oldest part of the palace, I believe and inside this part were the furnished rooms that we toured where the keeper and his family would have lived. The royal bedrooms were in a state similar to the Great Hall.

The buildings in the town centre are old but well-kept and it is fascinating to read the signs. Check out the 1607 date! (Again, newly painted thanks to the Outlander!)

And I caught this window on the way to the carpark. Lovely!

And that was our visit to Falkland! A long time in coming!