lunch at the moat

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One delicious meal we had while in England visiting our friends (yet another delicious meal we had) was at a restaurant called The Moat Shed.

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Siena and Mac rode their bikes, because it wasn’t too far from their house.

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When we arrived, we saw so much nature, so much beauty and again, so much history.

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It is one of only two double moated historic site, from somewhere between the 1250 and 1350.  Moated sites were built throughout England in the medical times, and vary in sizes and forms.  They are believe they were built to show status more than for defense.

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They don’t know the kind of building that was built on this site, but there is still research being done.  It is a moat within another large moated enclosure. The building set in the middle of the moat was made out of wood from the forest of this area, that is why it no longer exists.

DSC_0283 copy DSC_0285 copy DSC_0287 copy DSC_0288 copy DSC_0289 copyWe played Jenga with these huge pieces of wood.  That was fun!DSC_0312 copyBut look at this picture.  I am not sure why there is a wood piece flying in the air.  Lucas is no so sure about it… it looks funny though, as if it would have come out all on its own… doesn’t it?

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After playing outside, we headed indoors.  What a fun and beautiful place.  I loved it!  And all the details were great.  like this trunk with blankets to borrow if you were sitting outside.  There were shovels as curtain rods.  The bathroom had other fun decorating surprises and something I thought was a great idea.   Sharing the sink to wash your hands, from both men and women’s bathroom.  Really!  Do we need sinks in both bathrooms?

But why we came for.  Lunch.

DSC_0303 copy DSC_0291 copy DSC_0293 copy Delicious foods.

DSC_0297 copyOh the relishes! I need to make some before the harvest season is over.  I need to do that this week I think.  Give a recipe a try. Yes! I’ll search that.

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But yes.  The food so good and the special touches and details so beautiful and simple, naturally done.  I loved it!

turning 12

This year, it was Siena’s turn to celebrate her birthday somewhere else besides home.  Overseas to be more specific. DSC_0191 copy Lucas turned 6 when we were in India.  I also celebrated my birthday in India that year, and of course, if we are talking about celebrating a birthday in another country than where we were born… I’ve celebrated 20 of them here in the Pacific Northwest.  But that doesn’t really count.  Home for me is here now, and I can count India as my overseas celebration. No problem. Mark has been in Chile for quite a few of his birthdays too.  But not recently though, so maybe we need to put that one up in our to do list next. DSC_0810 copyWe woke up to a twelve year little (big) girl. DSC_0811 copy DSC_0812 copyI took her crown with us.  Of course I did.  DSC_0814 copyShe is the same little sweet girl of always. DSC_0815 copy   We celebrated with a special trip that day that I’ll share soon, because it was a fun day. When we returned home, we had (another) delicious meal and a cake to celebrate with. DSC_0186 copy DSC_0187 copyCelebrating of course, with two very special friends of ours. It couldn’t have been more special, the turning of another year.  DSC_0190 copyWith our own wobbly hand made dipped beeswax candle Siena and Lucas made few years ago. DSC_0193 copy DSC_0192 copyA beautiful surpass indeed. DSC_0197 copyCan it get any better than celebrating with dear, wonderful friends, in a new equally beautiful, new place? What a gift on itself. DSC_0199 copy DSC_0200 copy DSC_0202 copy DSC_0203 copyAnd who doesn’t like a cake to finish one’s birth day? DSC_0208 copy And of course, balloons, can make the evening even better of course.  Thank you Mac for such a sweet and special touch.  She was our birthday girl that day.  And we know she’ll remember this birthday forever. DSC_0212 copy DSC_0216 copy Ah! Two more treats we can’t forget about.  We gave Siena the movie Frozen, as I’m sure you’ve all hear and seen probably.  We have seen it few times.  But now, this birthday girl owns the movie.  One of the few movies we own.  (The other one is Brave, a different kind of princess.)   So we watched the movie in front of the computer (because it was a DVD from the US it wouldn’t work in their TV) because Ros and Mac hadn’t seen the movie.  And it was the perfect way to end our (little) big girl’s birthday celebration. DSC_0221 copyAnd the next day, Siena and Ros worked on the puzzle they gifted Siena.  They wrote the birth places of our friends, and their three sons, and where they all live today.  A fun way to remember a very special family that welcomed us with their arms and hearts open at their home, but also helped us celebrate Siena and her birthday, miles and miles away from our own home. I think we are all going to remember her turning 12.

oh the foods!


To continue with the food theme, from yesterday, I wanted to share the kitchen and some of the meals while we were visiting our friends in England.  The kitchen is where most of the food making happened.

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I think as in most cases, the kitchen is where lots happens.  I guess not only the cooking or the baking, or the washing of dishes, but the talking, the sharing of special moments, or maybe just a normal conversation.  Sometimes it’s a conversation that sparks an idea, or maybe it’s a sharing of feelings or thoughts… kitchen is the heart of lots of homes.  And it was also at our friends’ home, while we visited, we hung out together there a bit.  So much fun!

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And what a beautiful kitchen it is.

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DSC_0147 copyFoods from the garden, just picked.  Don’t forget the drinks also.

DSC_0154 copy DSC_0155 copyAnd oh my… all the desserts! A treat all the way around.

DSC_0073 copy DSC_0062 copySo much fun times together.  In the kitchen and out of the kitchen, sharing stories, food, time together, making new memories, sharing old ones.


this week in my kitchen :: blog hop

This week was Tomato Week.  I guess, it’s been Tomato Week for a while though.  And autumn arrived to our side of the world on time, with what the calendar says.  I love the feeling of it.  I am ready for it.

Following Heather’s blog hop (from Beauty That Moves) with what’s been happening at our home, I share here with you.

“A weekly collection of photos from the center of my home.”       — Heather

DSC_0176 copyTomatoes have been canned, and I think with 30 quarts we might make it through the winter until next tomato season.  This is the first time we’ve canned only our tomatoes.  All the other years, 18 other gardens, have never yield this many. W e are excited.

DSC_0008 copyThe compost is full.

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Yesterday was the first cold day in months.  Yesterday I felt like having the oven on was OK.  So I made some bread, the first one in many months.  it feels good to be baking bread again.

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And because we had homemade, warm, crusty bread, we had to have soup.  We had some beans that got away from our radar, and got too big to eat them in a salad.  So I shelled them, and made this soup.  I adopted the recipe from here. I used purple carrots and it made the soup this pretty purplish color we all liked.  Changed few things, with what I had on had, and it turned out good.  It was a good day for a soup.

DSC_0006 copyAnd with the rest of the tomatoes I made Heather’s Summer Salsa.  We haven’t tried it yet.  I canned it last night, they’ve cooled off all last night and I’m thinking we’ll have to wait to give it a try.  Nine pints of I’m sure delicious summer surprise, waiting for us. I love it!

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There are too many tomatoes in our fridge and on our counter and in the plants, to eat a canned one.  I think I’ll have to search for a fresh salsa recipe maybe, and give that a try with few of our tomatoes.  Or maybe it’s roasted tomatoes to freeze… mmm… any suggestions on how you are preserving your tomatoes this season?

Thanks for stopping by.  Do go to Heather’s blog and check everyone’s kitchen during the past week.  I am sure it will inspire you! Have a great Thursday my friends.

Battle of Shrewsbury : 1403

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On our way back from Shrewsbury, we stopped at the place where the Battle of Shrewsbury happened, in 1403.  It is just few miles north of Shrewsbury.

Map from here.



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Just like that, stopping for a tea break, near a castle, where history started over 1,000 years ago.  All of this is amazing on its own.  DSC_0717 copy DSC_0709 copy DSC_0714 copy DSC_0719 copyThe farm buildings have been turned into a cafe, a butchery and a shop.

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We first stop for a tea and some sweets at the Battlefield 1403 cafe.  We had to have them!  I think they went fast because I don’t a picture of them.

DSC_0718 copyYou can see the castle a little further and the battlefield.  DSC_0720 copy

This is the site for the bloodiest battle fought in British soil.  Fight between Henry IV and the Percy Family.  This is only one of 43 battlefields site in England and Wales.  The buildings (now shops and cafe) are just north of the battlefield itself.

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A beautiful little museum, filled with pretty artifacts and some that you can touch.

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Look at this armor.  It was so impressive to be able to touch one, hold it, and actually feel what they must have felt carrying all these pounds of metal chains in their bodies.  We couldn’t believe it how heavy they were.

DSC_0731 copyNow we can imagine how strong these men must have been.  But also, I am sure, glad to carry it to protect them.

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When Henry Bolingbroke took the power from his cousin Richard II in 1399, he became King Henry IV, thanks to the help from the powerful Percy family, from Northumberland, north east England.  But the relationship between them worsened in the next 4 years.  The Percy family demanded the payment of the outrageous amount £20,000, the cost of their help in this battle.

Sir Henry ‘Hotspur’ Percy was given a high office position in Wales, where in 1401 he completed many campaigns against the rebellious Owain Glyndwr.  Because he was also waiting his payment from King Henry IV, he decided to have a coalition with the Glyndwr family.

Now, Hotspur decided to go towards Shrewsbury to join forces with the other rebels.  But the town was guarded by the troops of the King’s eldest son, Harry.  Harry later becomes the most powerful and famous military commander (Henry V… yes another Henry… not sure I can keep track of all of them, so I took pictures of all these details so I’d remember them for posting them on the blog…. phew!)  Because Harry had a small troop, he went northwest of the town to meet Hotspur before he’d combine his troops with the other rebels.  And this race was won by the King’s troops.

Percy was now isolated north of town with no extra help from Wales.  Percy left Shrewsbury, heading 3 miles north to spend the night.  The next morning, with no sign of reinforcement troops and the King’s troops heading his way and a battle in sight.

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Throughout the museum, Siena would go back to few more weight lifting.

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This Battle of Shrewsbury was important because it was the first time the troops were armed with longbow.   This tactic was used later on in the effective battles with France.

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DSC_0757 copy DSC_0743 copy DSC_0762 copyA small museum but filled with information and beautiful displays.  I recommend to visit it if you are in that part of the world.  So much history… it never stops to amaze me.  DSC_0772 copyAnd of course, you can go in the days they do archery… We were not there for that, but maybe next time!

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their home

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If I picture in my head an English home, this would be the one.

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And we were so lucky to stay here.

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DSC_0350 copyWith their doors open, our friends Mac and Ros invited us and welcomed us with open arms.  All four of us!  We gave them many warnings, and said they could kick us out any time they wanted.  And oh man, they didn’t, on the contrary, they invited us, they pampered us, they fed us, they showed us around (do go back and see my previous post of England… the places we visited were amazing… and there is more to come!)

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DSC_0346 copyTheir place…. so much space.  So much green, so much color, so much nature.  All in one beautiful place.

DSC_0179 copy DSC_0181 copyTheir flowers, their gardens, their land… so beautiful.  But each, will have their own post.  Each place carries and brings so many memories for each one of us.

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The dining places wonderful.  The meals we ate, delicious.  The company, the most wonderfully special.

DSC_0172 copyOh! And Mac’s garden.  That is for another post all on its own. Oh yeah.

DSC_0171 copyFresh air for our well traveled clothes.

DSC_0119 copyThey have this horn, and I had to use it and photograph it, because my parents have the same horn at their house by the lake where we spent so many days, weeks… months, growing up.  It took me back to my young age, when my mom would call us for lunch or “once” (tea time) or dinner, us probably down at the lake or at my cousins’ place.

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DSC_0177 copyThank you our dear friends.  What an incredible, unforgettable, amazing vacation we had at your home.  Thank you.  it’s our house next time!

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last week…

Last week was a great one.

… it rained.  Yes! It rained for two days.  It felt so good.

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… and the weekend was also really hot.  95 on Saturday.  95F for a late weekend in September? Seems a little too much.  But hey! I’ll take it because we were able to go to the river to swim just one more time.  I feel like I am ready now for the fall now though.

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… we picked so many tomatoes and tried to keep them from splitting with said rain. I think we are good for the winter months with all of our canning.  Tomatoes and tomato sauce are in the pantry shelves.  It looks so pretty.  I love it.

… we actually have been harvesting every day something.

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These beans have grown up to our roof.  The kids are safely picking up there.  They always do it when either Mark or I are around, don’t worry.   The helmet here is being worn because it was a break from bike riding.  Not because they actually need the helmet…

… we had grandma visiting with a friend of hers we’ve met before. That’s always fun.

… I found this article on the NY Times: “Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent“.

… we bought some really cool pumpkins at the market this weekend.  Never seen them before.  So warty and funny.  We are keeping those seeds! Oh yes.  And with these, we are welcoming autumn.  Almost perfect to the date.  Autumn Equinox.  OK, we have the pumpkins in the house, I am ready for fall to come.

… we cleaned some more, got the winter clothes out, and passed Siena’s clothes to Lucas, and found what fits Siena from hand me downs we still have some. I think this is the last for her though.  But they are both wearing almost the same size.  I think it helps that Siena likes them a little tight, and Lucas likes them a little loose.  Some drawers and closets were cleaned out and switched a little.  But some hot days are still coming.  We’ll still leave those shorts and skirts in there.  We might need to wait to wear the sweaters.

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… while cleaning I found few clothes that are more sentimental than something I wear often.  This mañanita is a cardigan of sorts (no bottoms) that my Lita knitted me (my dad’s mom) a very long time ago.  I think I must have been Siena’s age probably.  She wore it for a little bit probably for me to enjoy seeing her with it.

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… I’m thinking more about knitting and future projects.  I think fall is coming.  It feels that way.  It cools off at night and in the mornings feels chilly.  Wonderfully refreshing.

… I thought of this article and this post I did last year. The letter from John Steinbeck to his son on Falling in Love, from 1958. Love it.

… I found a copy of Bella Grace magazine.  So beautiful, the photography and the articles I am really enjoying.  A lazy morning, few minutes longer tucked under the covers… thank you Mark.

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… we are thinking about the winter fair we like to go to, and I think it is our 5th year, and we are thinking and making new things.  It’s always exciting, especially now that Siena especially can do a lot more of the getting ready and buying of supplies.  A great business and math unit as a side effect.  Perfect!

… I got some flowers to spread around the house.  Yes. I love flowers on the tables.

… and we are still using our summer blanket.  Some days we need a second one but we are still holding on to warm nights.

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… cleaned the yard a little, since the rain was coming.  Makes me think of putting things away and asleep for the next few months.  We need to see what we’ll do with our outside table.  It is not doing well.  Needs lots of help.

… oh the skies… I can almost hear it.  Sighing, waiting for the season to turn.   But I do hear the geese flying by though… yes, they are getting ready too.

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… found this letter and this picture on this site.


… Lucas played another baseball game.

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Grandma, cousin, aunt, family, friends, we all got to see him play (and our friends play).  It was a beautiful summer-like day.  And we were in the shade.  Lucas pitched nicely.  He had fun playing.  We had fun watching.  DSC_0151 copy DSC_0160 copy

Here we are all of his fans for this day. DSC_0167 copy

Lucas pitched first inning.  Here I am with my way-too-big-for-me-baseball-lingo… He struck them all out, no walks.  I learned today this was good.  Here you can see my little guy pitching to a friend of his at the beginning of the game.

And later on in the game.  Same two friends.

Things at the end always even out, right?   So much fun to see them having fun.  Love it!

… Siena has been swimming and doing dry land practices too (no pictures yet.)  More water is coming our way.  Not in the form of showers (though I am sure they will come too) but in practices and swim meets.  We are getting ready for them all.  It’s going to be a fun swim season.

… found this on Pinterest.

Found on Pinterest.

making elderflower fizz


The first meal we had at our friends Mac and Ros’s home, they served the kids Elderflower Fizz.  Oh my.  What a treat!  We had never had it before, and we were hooked.DSC_0193 copy DSC_0186 copy

We picked elder flowers from their trees… we didn’t know we didn’t need this much.  Oops.

DSC_0191 copy DSC_0199 copyThe kids helped make it again, because in our days spent there, they drank all of it.

DSC_0202 copy DSC_0205 copyWhat a delicious drink.  Once we got home, I made some.  But the flowers were almost all passed.  For some reason the kids say it’s not the same. Probably for many reasons.  We’ll give it a try again next spring.  It was that good!


Shrewsbury, Shropshire : part 2

Shrewsbury, Home of Charles Darwin, and such a beautiful town.  I am glad we got to visit it.  We actually went twice.  more pictures of that second day later.  Because we went to a their Food Festival and that my friends, deserves a whole post on its own.

DSC_0522 copyDSC_0424 copyWe walked all over.  With a beautiful day.

DSC_0425 copyThese houses and buildings do remind me of Mary Poppins.  I did write about that from our days in London, when we arrived, and saw these peaking outside the train’s window, and when walking downtown, or going around in the double decker buses.

DSC_0426 copyTudor style buildings.

DSC_0438 copy DSC_0441 copyOh wow… I’m not an electrician, but wonder if this would be hard to fix if it needs help some day.  Maybe not, since it’s all exposed.  Maybe it is easier. I don’t know.

DSC_0447 copyAnd yes! Look at the passages… streets.  Love them!

DSC_0445 copyMind the step.  And Mind the Gap!

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DSC_0491 copy DSC_0512 copyLove the writing and decorations.

DSC_0514 copyI know.  Those chimneys… I tools loads of pictures of the skylines and the skies and roofs and buildings.

DSC_0515 copyThe White House… in Shrewsbury.

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DSC_0587 copyDSC_0579 copyDSC_0588 copyThis photo is for my mom.  She loves Andre Rieu. I thought of her when I saw this poster.

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DSC_0694 copy DSC_0696 copySeriously… established in 1842!  Here in the west coast of the US anything over 100 years old is old.  1800’s?  Not sure we would know what to do with it.

DSC_0643 copyAfter visiting the Library, Charles Darwin’s school we crossed the street and climbed to see the castle.

DSC_0647 copy DSC_0645 copyYes, another castle, and so beautiful. 

DSC_0648 copyAnd the view…

DSC_0649 copy DSC_0652 copyAnd down again to go back.

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DSC_0653 copyWith flowers decorating everywhere.

DSC_0655 copy DSC_0656 copyTudor style buildings, bricks, passages or covered streets, cobble stones… wonderful!

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St. Alkmund’s Church.  Founded in 912 AD. OK, forget 1800’s. This is in the first century!  We talked with our friends about all of their history, England’s history and so much they have to learn, and so much that has happened in (at least) 2,000 years.  A country so rich in history.  And I think we barely got the order of the six wives Henry VIII had. Divorced. Executed. Died. Divorced. Executed. Survived. Phew! (Note to self: Keep studying Great Britain’s history.  There is so much more to learn.)

DSC_0673 copy DSC_0687 copy DSC_0676 copyYes, we visited another church in our trip, and I can never tire of seeing these windows.

DSC_0677 copyAnd the walls, and paintings, and sculptures.

DSC_0678 copy DSC_0681 copyAnd the ceilings. 

DSC_0682 copyThe pillars.  The entryways.  The arches.

DSC_0684 copyThe floors.

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A beautiful place to finish our visit to Shrewsbury.



DSC_0619 copyWhat a city.  Another place to the must go back list.