Sunburst, NC

We enjoyed a wonderful picnic at Sunburst, NC yesterday. I went with my best friend, Barbara, and her sweet nieces from California. The view of Sunburst Falls is from below bridge.

Sunburst Falls

Martha Washington Inn

My d.h. and I went out for our Valentine’s dinner tonight at the Martha Washington Inn in Abingdon, Virginia.  It was so lovely this evening and the food was equally delightful.  I wanted to share a few pictures on the blog.

  The inn seemed so photogenic this February night.


Portrait of Martha Washington at the age of 25, just before marrying George.



Grilled Chicken with pumpkin seed tapenade alongside fresh vegetables with sherry cream sauce.


Black eyed Pea Hummus with Toast Points

Savory Dog Biscuits

When we had a lot of snow on the ground I didn’t want to get my boots and coat on every time I let our miniature dachshund, Hansel, outside.  When I let him out he went to our neighbor, Miss Mae’s, in the daytime and at night he rushed to make friends with the pack of deer that congregates in our pasture every evening.  I tried a simple 3 ingredient dog biscuit and now he will return to me for this savory treat.  He loves them so much, I thought I would share them with you.

Savory Dog Biscuits

1 1/4 C. Whole Wheat Flour                                                                                                                  3 T. Coconut butter, warmed to be easy incorporate (can use oil)                                              1/3 C. Chicken Stock plus a little for brushing.

Line baking sheet with parchment.  Heat oven to 350.   Mix ingredients well to a roll-able consistency.  Roll out on lightly floured surface.  Put on baking sheet and baste with more chicken stock.  Bake 15-20 minutes.  Cool and store in airtight container.

We give our Hansel a quarter of a biscuit each time.  You can determine by size of dog.  You will get about a dozen biscuits from the recipe.  You can double if you are going to go through them quicker.  Hansel says “Enjoy!”




Savory Sweet Potato

I wanted to share lunch with you because it was so great. I know I will be craving this in the future.  I always have eaten my sweet potatoes with a little brown sugar but I’m trying different things this year.  This is so simple but yet so delicious!

Scrub and bake an organic sweet potato and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes.  Open up the potato and top with these ingredients:

*one pat of butter  *2 tsp. green onions, chopped and using mostly the green part  * 1 tsp. of fresh rosemary, chopped  *about a tablespoon of roughly shaved Parmesan.

~I served it with a large simple garden salad.  Enjoy~

Fair Helen Irving of Kirkconnel Lea


Love Story of Helen Irving and Adam Fleming : 1610 a.d.

Helen was a beautiful young woman from high stature.  Her family had intentions of her marrying a man of the same station by the name of Richard Bell of Blacket House.  It saddened her family that Helen fell in love with a simple commoner, Adam Fleming.  Helen pledged her heart to Adam so they decided they would secretly meet until they could determine a way to be together forever while avoiding the storm it would cause within her family.

Unfortunately, the family choice Richard, was a jealous suitor.  He heard of Fair Helen’s plan to meet Adam at the Kirkconnel church yard one evening and decided to lurk in the shadows and await the best moment to remove the rival separating him from beautiful Helen.  The plan was thwarted when he hastily made the shot after Helen saw his intentions.  She lunged in front of her love and took his bullet in her heart.  When Adam saw his love was dead,  he attacked Richard with vengeance.  Now with both Helen and Richard dead, he knew he would be blamed for both murders and fled the area.  He was not seen again until a caretaker making rounds in the cemetery saw a man draped over Fair Helen’s tombstone.  Adam had returned to die beside his true love, Helen.  The Irving family agreed to let this man who loved their daughter so much for so long be buried beside her.  They knew that is what Helen would have wanted.

It is a popular custom to have a Fair Helen bust in romantic cottages, as it represents undying love.

fair helen bust

Bust of Fair Helen of Kirkconnel Lea

This is the version of the story, I read recently.  I am not sure of all accuracy of the facts.  There is a book that I would like to read by Andrew Greig.  It is supposedly a historically accurate tale called Fair Helen.  I enjoy having the romantic representation in the cabin.  It is thought provoking even if we may not ever know all the real facts.

Rustic Holiday Cake

I wanted to make a rustic style cake this year for our Christmas Day celebration.  I decided on a chocolate cake recipe from a vintage Good Housekeeping magazine.  The icing between layers and the crumb coat on the cake is chocolate buttercream.  The finishing touch is a simple ganache recipe I wanted to try.  It is very simple and I wanted to compare it to a more complicated one that we used at the Milliken Guest House in LaGrange, Georgia.   I loved it so I’m sharing it with you today.   A couple of nights before making the cake, I formed melted chocolate into oval shapes and used melted chocolate like glue to add flat sliced almonds to form “pine cones”.  These kept well in the refrigerator until the big day.  In between pine cones I used sprigs of rosemary to add to the rustic woody presentation.

Simple Ganache

1 Cup Heavy Cream,  3/4 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips,  2 Tbsp. butter

Put chocolate chips in bowl, set aside.   In sauce pot warm 1 Cup heavy cream and 2 T. butter until you see little bubble on the edges, but not a full boil.  Pour warm cream over the chocolate chips and let sit 5 minutes.  Stir until all chocolate is melted and pour over cold cake.  It will be soft at first then set up to a typical ganache texture.  Pour the ganache over while cake is sitting on cooling rack that is sitting on a large bowl.  You capture the runoff ganache so you can dip orange segments or strawberry in it.  It’s hard to resist eating it myself when no one is watching.

*Great for cupcakes, too.  *Recipe didn’t call for it, but I added 1-2 tsp. of Chambord liqueur to add a little more depth to the flavor for this special occasion.  I won’t add if just topping cupcakes.



pinecone cake 2

Very festive cake for chocolate lovers.

Twas the Night Before Christmas in Laurel Bloomery, Tennessee

‘Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.  The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

Laurel Beth Stockings

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave the luster of midday to objects below.

Laurel Beth while snowing


We made 3,6,9 cookies for Santa and left him an Ale 8 for a little extra caffeine.  I hope he finds us here in Laurel Beth.

We read the Christmas scriptures and thanked God for all of our blessings.

Laurel Beth Christmas Story

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

3,6,9 Cookies

I have been working with for a couple of years doing senior and child care. During that time I have met people from all over the world.   My most recent child care position introduced me to a mom from Switzerland.  This week she had me try one of her holiday cookies.  She got the recipe from her Austrian grandmother.  They always called them 3,6,9 cookies to help them remember the recipe.  They are so easy and so good.

Simple Sugar Cookie  originally from Inge Retl

  • 300 grams sugar,
  • 600 grams butter, cold,
  • 900 grams flour (all-purpose)

You just combine all with a mixer and then roll out and cut into desired shapes.  Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.  Watch and don’t overcook.  They should just be slightly browned around the edges.  You can cook longer if you want a crunchier cookie.  Cool and decorate or just sprinkle on powdered sugar.

Christmas Cookies

Memory Quilt

Tony and I wanted to give ourselves a Christmas gift that was useful and special to us this year.  We decided on a Memory Quilt.  When my daddy died, I got some of his favorite shirts and I had kept a lot of clothes from my kids childhood that had special meaning.  One favorite is Caroline’s sweatshirt from our friend, Barbara.  She bought in in Nottinghill while visiting England.  The handmade ones with initials embroidered on were also keepers.  Looking at these beautiful little clothes brought back forgotten memories of play dates, Latin classes, Awana meetings on Sunday nights in LaGrange, Georgia, and so many others.

Keeping these memories in a blue tote with plastic shrink bags and still worrying about the safety of those memories became a chore and a burden.  I loved these clothes, but I thought it would make more sense to have them sewn into a memory quilt that we could see and enjoy the memories sparked by it on a daily basis.

Our new memory quilt arrived last week and we put it near our bed, draped over the loft in Laurel Beth.  It is truly special!


memory quilt

  • SOME FAVORITES~  The top left picture is my dad’s red shirt.  He would tell my mom to put that on him when he visited the doctor because all the nurses said he looked so handsome in it.  The purple sweatshirt with SW on it is the one from Nottinghill.  It’s from a private school in England.  The sleeveless blue with embroidered flowers is from a photo shoot I had done with Caroline and Andrew on a plantation in Georgia.  The little overalls was worn in a photo shoot and many occasions by Andrew. The red with daisies was worn by Staci on Easter and for a photo shoot.