Book Recommendation: Reformation Women

Reading more is on the agenda in my effort to balance all the various aspects of my life this year. As such, in January I read this book.

So little is written about the women of the Reformation, that I was thrilled to see a work devoted to them. It traces the lives of a dozen women...wives, daughters, sisters, friends...whom God used to reach the lives of many during the Protestant Reformation. While not as much is written (or survives) on the lives of women during this time period, the author has pieced together the information that is known, devoting a chapter to each. In the very last chapter, which was my personal favorite, she synthesizes all the information and traces the commonalities of all the distinctive women. It was encouraging and faith-building to note how God uses us all, exactly where He's placed us. Many of these women were obscure, and God raised them to prominence for His purposes. And others were prominent, and God brought them to states of poverty and abandonment for His purposes. Yet they never stopped serving Him or lagged in their faithfulness to duties or in their devotion, and their ministering presence was appreciated in every stage of their lives. An encouraging read! 

A Winter Cocktail

While searching around for a good wintertime cocktail, I happened across this one, The Black Almond (click here for link). Orange and almond liqueurs, black spiced rum, and ginger ale blend wonderfully without any one flavor overpowering the other. We had them last night before Sunday dinner. Fabulous! Next time, I might cut the alcohol quantities in half and increase the ginger ale, as it was a tad strong for me. But great winter flavors!

Lavender Sachets

Sometimes it feels good to make something that doesn't take two weeks of my time. That was the case with these lavender sachets. Simple, beautiful, aromatic! Sold by the pair, and in the shop now! Click here.

Washington's Birthday!

Happy Birthday to George Washington! On this grand occasion, we will be passing around plates of cherry pie! Huzzah!

Winter Fun

A couple of weeks ago, everyone had the day off work, and so we headed out for some winter fun in the western part of the state.

Colette has been doing a lot of ice skating this winter. And as much as I wanted to join in the fun, I was nursing a strained muscle in my back, so Hubby and I watched from the sidelines. What a thrill to have the ice all to yourself! all the friendly dogs!

And just when we thought we couldn't get any colder, some sweet soul lit a fire, deposited skewers and marshmallows, and invited us to help ourselves. Life is good! People are sweet!

Then we strolled through the campus of Dartmouth College, which was having their Winter Carnival.

The ice carving competition was in full swing...with a Star Wars theme.

And we polished off the day with hot chocolate affogato, hot sipping chocolate with a scoop of gelato, at Morano Gelato. Yum! I chose a scoop of Creme Brule gelato for mine. Buttery...chocolaty...slightly burnt crispness...amazing!

Favorite Teas

Cold winter days (and boy, have we had a lot of REALLY cold days this year!) have found me craving a cup of tea in the chilly mornings and sometimes another to take the chill off in the late afternoon.

I thought I'd share my favorite teas with you. And if you have one you really love, I'd love it if you'd leave me a comment and share the name of it! I'm only recommending herbal infusions, because that is all I drink.

Tea Forte - Winter Chai -- The spicy notes of cinnamon and other warming spices make this infusion my favorite to get the blood pumping and warm up on cold winter mornings. I love it with a bowl of oatmeal.

David's Tea - Spiced Apple -- This is a great infusion when you want something comforting to drink. It's got all those homey notes of apple and cinnamon. We first sampled this at their booth at the Head of the Charles Regatta...on a cold and damp it always seems like the perfect cozy warmer to me.

Fortnum & Mason - Sour Cherry and Orange -- This infusion is sweet and tangy and a gorgeous red color. I brought this back from the Fortnum & Mason store in London after enjoying it with scones in their parlor. I don't think it's available in the U.S., but you can find other of their teas available from Williams-Sonoma.

David's Tea - Caramel Shortbread -- This was a Christmas flavor from David's Tea. I'm hoping they bring it back next Christmas, because I'll be completely out of it by then and in need of stocking up. So gentle and calming. I enjoy it with an almond biscotti.

Paromi Tea -- Hibiscus Berry -- We LOVE Paromi Tea in our home! This one is wildly popular with everyone to whom I've ever served it. It's sweet and satisfies that sweet tooth when you want to avoid a dessert, but still need your sugar fix.

Paromi Tea - Sleep with Me -- This tea takes chamomile to a whole new level. It's combination of chamomile, linden leaves, and lemon balm deliver a knock-out punch when you need to sleep. Soooo relaxing. 

What is your favorite tea? Do please leave me a comment and tell! I'd love to hear from you!

Sabbath Rest

"For God so loved the world
that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him
should not perish,
but have everlasting life." 

-John 3:16

Getaway to the Mount Washington Hotel

Hubby and I got away for a couple of nights earlier this week to the stately and historic Mount Washington Hotel in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We have an ongoing passion for these grand dames of the hotel heydays of the late-19th century to early-20th century, and we have stayed at quite a few over the years. But the Mount Washington is definitely one of our favorites!

We arrived under stormy skies and rain, which is a bit unusual for February in New Hampshire.

We checked in and immediately caught the history tour that was already in progress.

We learned that the hotel was built in 1902. Entire families would come here for the summer. Among one of its noted moments was to host the meeting, near the end of WWII, that set up the International Monetary Fund. We learned the small chandeliers are original to the building and were personally designed by Thomas Edison. The large chandeliers were installed in the 1920's...good call! The Windsor chairs are original to the building, and the carpets were custom made for it.

Hubby is a night owl, and I am a morning person. Hotel stays can be problematic, because I'm wide awake by six, and he'd like to sleep until nine. Does anyone else have this problem? How do you negotiate around it? This time, I busied myself with a long, hot shower and photographing the exquisite period details in the bathroom...marble floor tiles and aged brass doorknobs on the original mahogany doors. Details like this make me so happy!

And then room service was delivered. Yes! Chamomile tea and orange juice to accompany my journaling and reading is such a gentle way to start the day. Bliss.

Headed down to start the day! 

It was a beautiful day, and we visited the nordic center and set off on our snowshoes for about four miles worth of trekking on the resort's cross country/snowshoe trails. The snow was more like packed ice due to the rain the day before. But we enjoyed the meandering trails and the almost near solitude of our trek.

After a tasty lunch, he settled into a comfortable chair to read. And I spent a few hours at the spa. The spa at the Mount Washington is sooo relaxing! Can't say enough good things about it...positively rejuvenating!

And late that evening, we decided to bravely try the outdoor pool. The air temperature was 18 degrees. And the pool is heated to 92 degrees. May I just say that 92 degrees does not feel like 92 degrees when the air temperature is that cold! Brrrr. And then there's that little bit about having to get out. Cold. Just SO cold. We recovered ourselves by jumping in the indoor pool as soon as we were back inside. The indoor pool at the Mount Washington was the first ever pool in a hotel in the United States.

The next morning, we had breakfast in the main dining room.

Breakfast out is such a rare, rare treat for me. And in all honesty, I'd rather have breakfast out than dinner. This breakfast buffet included: made to order omelettes, made to order Belgian waffles, cranberry-almond pancakes, French toast, oatmeal, cereals, eggs, fingerling potatoes with onions and herbs, bagels, toast, bacon, three different types of sausage (including blueberry sausage, which was delicious!), a choice of three different types of salsa, three different types of butter (goat butter, cultured butter, and "Presidential butter", which Hubby says, "Tastes like...butter."), three choices of honey, and so much more! 

After thoroughly enjoying this feast and several cups of chamomile tea, it was time to check out. It was delightful to get away for a couple of days and really relax! Until next time, Mount Washington, it was great!

Valentine's Breakfast

Schedules were packed yesterday, so the only time we could all be together was for breakfast. How to make breakfast super special? The morning fire beckons me every morning, but I don't always have time to cozy up in front of it. Valentine's Day seemed like the perfect occasion! I pulled the gate leg table over close to the fire, and set everything up with roses and candlelight. Little stacks of Valentines and chocolate treats were placed at each person's seat. The menu was: scrambled eggs, bacon, fresh berries, homemade cinnamon rolls, and orange juice. But most importantly, we got to spend time with each other!

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is tomorrow! Have you mailed valentines to all the sweeties in your life? Mine have all gone out. It was a perfect excuse to practice my novice hand lettering skills and my very amateurish brush calligraphy skills. And aren't those Oscar de la Renta stamps perfect for the romance and fun of the occasion? Happy Valentine's Day to all!

Food for the Olympics

The Winter Olympics are happening in South Korea, and for another week we'll all be glued to our televisions every night cheering on the home team. If you're looking for a little menu inspiration appropriate for the occasion, may I highly recommend Half Baked Harvest!

Tieghan Gerard is a young (just 24) and talented chef and cookbook author. I received her cookbook for Christmas, but have been following her on Instagram and her blog (click on link above) for some time, and her recipes are THE BEST! Each one is a flavor explosion...a little party in your mouth!

She also happens to be the older sister of Red Gerard, who just took the gold in slope style snowboarding last night! Woohoo! 

She has several Korean recipes on her website, but I have made two since the Olympics started. The first was Korean Bulgogi BBQ Steak Bowls (click here for recipe, and you really should, because her photos are so much better than mine!), and we were WILD about it. That's probably an understatement. No words. Just make it! (I omitted the egg and the kimchi, but pretty much did everything else by the book. Marinated the meat 24 hours.) Delicious!

And last night, we enjoyed Instant Pot Sticky Korean Chicken (click here for recipe). Also delicious! Easier to prepare, because it all goes in the crockpot (or Instant Pot), but the one above was definitely our favorite of the two.

Bon Appetit! And go team USA!

George Washington Costume

Presidents' Day is just around the corner! If your child is in need of a George Washington costume for a school or community program, I've just completed and listed two in the shop! Click here to see!

Hot Toddy for the Common Cold

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a head cold recently. Typically, when I get a cold, it lingers for a couple of weeks, turns into a sinus infection, and I wind up at the doctor's office for a dose of antibiotics. Ugh.

This time, I decided to try treating it with a hot toddy. Surprisingly, I felt better after only drinking about a third of it. And I probably felt 60% better by the time I was finished drinking it! It made me neither drowsy nor tipsy. And I awoke the next morning feeling even better! It turns out that there is actually some science to it. (You can read an article here.)

To make one for yourself: to a large mug, add one black tea bag, 1 T. honey, 1 t. lemon juice, and 2 oz. whiskey. Pour in 1 c. boiling water and let tea steep for a few minutes. Remove tea bag. Add a slice of lemon, if desired. Drink while warm. Feel better!

Snuggled in for a Movie

Long winter nights are our favorites for snuggling in with cups of Colette's really decadent hot chocolate and enjoying a good movie. Only after compiling the list, did I realize that it is completely British. We do love our British cinema! Here are some of our favorites that we've been enjoying in the last few months. 

The Durrels in Corfu

Photo credit here.
We adore this quirky comedy of a struggling widow who moves her family of challenging children from England to the Greek island of Corfu. Their attempts to adapt to their new surroundings, deal with the inevitable growing pains of childhood/adolescence/young adulthood, and try to keep food on the table on a shoestring budget result in hilarious mishaps. Just when you are as frustrated with the children as she is, they show their touching side and you fall in love with the family all over again. We loved Season 1, but Season 2 is even better! (Made for TV series.)

The Crown 

Photo credit here.
Incomparable! The Crown (both seasons) just can't be beat! A fascinating look at the private and public lives of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Phillip, and the whole royal family. Sets, costumes, locales...all just stellar! It has helped us survive the end of Downton Abbey. (If you haven't seen Season 2 yet, a word of warning that there is one particularly steamy episode that you'll want to skip for family viewing.) (Made for TV series.)


Photo credit here.
The second season is currently airing, and we can be found enjoying it every Sunday night. The series tells the tale of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. You get a glimpse at the challenges of being a young AND female monarch. The love story between the two of them is so sweet! Costuming is gorgeous! (Made for TV series.)

The Promise

Photo credit here.

This movie came out in theaters last year, and is available from Netflix now. It's set in Turkey in the beginning days of WWI. An aspiring doctor is caught between his loyalty to the woman he is betrothed to and an unexpected romance. All this is against the backdrop of impending war and the religious tensions leading to the genocide of the Armenian Turks, which is being bravely recorded by an American reporter. A heavy subject, but well-acted, and a captivating story. 

Darkest Hour

Photo credit here.

Currently playing in theaters and nominated for multiple Academy Awards, is this riveting portrayal of Winston Churchill. You will be mesmerized! We really did feel as though we were watching Churchill up there on the screen. It gives you an excellent glimpse inside the challenges of leading a country and the heavy weight of leadership in troubling times. I hope it wins lots of awards, because it deserves it!

Phantom Thread

Photo credit here.

Daniel Day-Lewis is one of my favorite actors, so I was not about to pass up the opportunity to see him in his last film, even if it did mean I had to drive to Boston to find a theater in which it was playing. And I'm SO glad I did! A powerful and spellbinding study on a creative genius who struggles with his own phantoms. I would describe it as a drama/psychological thriller, which I wasn't quite expecting. And it earns BIG bonus points in my book for lots of fabric, sewing, and gorgeous costumes! (That wrap in the above picture was my favorite piece in the whole show.)

And a round of applause to the British for producing such fine cinema!

What movies have you been enjoying lately?
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