Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lemon Yogurt Cake

Lemon Yogurt Cake
from Barefoot Contessa - Ina Garten

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 ½ x 4 ¼ x 2 ½-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into one bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.


Could you imagine eating a slice of this delicious cake while seated at this tablescape?
A glorious looking day, just before the sun sets outside a well appointed rustic barn.
Perhaps while reading Ina's new book...coming out this fall.
Make It Ahead

In this book, I tackle the number one question I'm asked by my readers: "Can I make it ahead?" If you’ve ever found yourself stuck in front of the stove at your own party, scrambling to get everything to the table at just the right moment, I'm here to let you in on the strategies and tips I've learned thanks to twenty years of running a specialty food store and fifteen years writing cookbooks. Whether you’re hosting a party or simply making dinner on a hectic weeknight, Make It Ahead will provide you with delicious recipes that taste just as good—or even better!—when they’re made in advance. And, each recipe includes clear instructions for what you can do ahead of time, and how far in advance, so you can cook with confidence and eliminate last-minute surprises.

You can order a copy of her autographed book here.
Here's a glimpse into her notebook of favorite recipes that was shown amongst her kitchen ideas in House Beautiful.

Can't wait to try that lemon yogurt cake recipe!


Memories and Movies

Heritage scrapbook journaling ideas
I have been busy working on my family history keepsake book. I printed out more pages of my story to watercolor while I watch my movie list. Along with this book I need to one-day update my project life binder with more photos from our childhood.
Right now I'm watching a Shelley Long movie called 'A Message From Holly' from 1992. I have started a secret folder on my Pinterest page of my favorite movies, so good to watch while I'm painting away.
I also wanted to share this vintage recipe card I found for peanut butter cookies. I'd really like to try these sometime. I'm always looking for delicious recipes to write down or pin to my delicious board.
Peanut Butter Cookies
Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Living In The Present

I recently read this article about the importance of living in the moment. Parts of it resonated with me;
"Life unfolds in the present. But so often, we let the present slip away, allowing time to rush past unobserved and unseized, and squandering the precious seconds of our lives as we worry about the future and ruminate about what's past."
"Often, we're so trapped in thoughts of the future or the past that we forget to experience, let alone enjoy, what's happening right now. We sip coffee and think, "This is not as good as what I had last week." We eat a cookie and think, "I hope I don't run out of cookies."
Oh, I felt like the whole article was talking to me, but then I realized a lot of us don't embrace the moment. I like looking at the past...doing genealogy makes me feel proud of the people who made my present what it is today and am so nostalgic of my childhood decades, the 80's and the 90's.
Also, I always look too far forward that I'm always writing lists and planning things to do in the future. Of course that plan has everything 'perfect' for five years away.
I need to read this at least once a week.
I'm learning to be more present. One-day I came into focus and I asked myself  how did all this happen? I wrote about how I used to be a people pleaser, always striving to be 'perfect' so that I would avoid any criticism or confrontation. That's the past I ruminate over, and the nostalgia of a 80's or 90's movie is what brings me back to my present joy. 
Luckily, there's few people to please anymore, but like a break-up it takes years to subside. When confronted nowadays, I act overly joyful because there's nothing that's more bothersome to someone whose a bully than you being happy. They think to themselves, why are you so happy? so secure? and then become insecure in themselves and usually don't continue to question.
As for the future, besides my lists I feel assured. We are settled in a nice home, on a nice street. We have good opportunities that help us to afford to make our house a home, and to plan excursion day trips or a future family. I realize in that regard, I'm blessed with my life.
To block the over-thinking brain I've decided to be more ignorant on some things. I don't express my opinions on politics or religion as I couldn't care to argue. I have stopped reading the news as I would ruminate about what horrific people there are in the world.
mother teresa "world peace go home and love your family" - Google Search
Be the change in your own home. My present is creating a good family life. I delight myself in watercolors slowly writing my story, hopefully to one-day pass to my children and learning to be present, creating memories by the moment.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Victorian Poverty and Oliver

Not all Victorian's had a middle or upper class life, there were many who were in poverty and homeless...

- The workhouse was adopted in 1834.
- The family unit was so important because there was no backup.
- Many paupers were dissected as a learning measure for medical students.
- There were over 7,000 illegitimate births a year in the workhouses
A good depiction of the differences in class levels during Victorian England is Oliver, written by Charles Dickens.

The movie description:
"The story is about an orphan, Oliver Twist, who endures a miserable existence in a workhouse and then is placed with an undertaker. He escapes and travels to London where he meets the Artful Dodger, leader of a gang of juvenile pickpockets. Naively unaware of their unlawful activities, Oliver is led to the lair of their elderly criminal trainer Fagin.

Oliver Twist is notable for Dickens' unromantic portrayal of criminals and their sordid lives. The book exposed the cruel treatment of many a waif-child in London, which increased international concern in what is sometimes known as "The Great London Waif Crisis": the large number of orphans in London in the Dickens era. The book's subtitle, The Parish Boy's Progress, alludes to Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress and also to a pair of popular 18th-century caricature series by William Hogarth, A Rake's Progress and A Harlot's Progress.

An early example of the social novel, the book calls the public's attention to various contemporary evils, including child labour, the recruitment of children as criminals, and the presence of street children. Dickens mocks the hypocrisies of his time by surrounding the novel's serious themes with sarcasm and dark humour. The novel may have been inspired by the story of Robert Blincoe, an orphan whose account of hardships as a child labourer in a cotton mill was widely read in the 1830s. It is likely that Dickens's own early youth as a child labourer contributed to the story's development."

Society During The Victorian Era In England

Along with my family history research of my 3rd great grandparents, and an upcoming story of my 4th great grandparents I've been learning more about the time in which the lived. I might go back and find the stories of their predecessors one-day, but for now I've been studying the Victoria era onwards to the present day.
Grab a cup of tea, and take a peek. I'll share the highlights at the end of this post incase you don't get a chance to watch the whole documentary.

So, these are my ancestors that lived in the Victorian era.
William and Emma Coombes, nee Evans Story can be read here.
They were married for over 22 years before William died a premature death as a barge master. They had 10 children, 2 pre-deceased them.
and the
James and Emma Baker, nee Brookes Story can be read here.
They had 13 children, 4 pre-deceased them. They both died in 1914 after 44 years marriage.
It takes me about a day to gather everything from birth, marriage, census and death records for each couple. There was a big roadblock to Priscilla's parents (the Coombes) because the father put on her marriage certificate was her stepdad. I'll do a story on Priscilla and her beloved John sometime, and his fascinating grandparents (my 4th great grandparents) John and Esther sometime.
So, back to the video. It was a BBC production and I found it eye opening. Here's some things that it shared:
- "Victorian artists liked cozy domestic scenes, a sort of comfort food for the soul."
- Paintings dispensed moral medicine on poverty, drinking, illicit sex.
- Women were encouraged to be 'angels in the homes' and would seek advice from Mrs. Beeton's Household Manual
- Keeping up appearances was what it was all about.
- Photographers used neck clamps to hold the subject's head while they went through the process of photographing them.
- In London during 1857 there was one prostitute for every twenty-five men.
- Sexually transmitted diseases were rife.
- An epidemic of illnesses killed thousands of children every year.
- In the poorest homes, one child in five died before their fifth birthday.
- It talks about Amelia Dyer, one of the most prolific baby farm murderers in London.

The Story Of James and Ann Baker nee Brookes

Yesterday, I wrote about William and Emma Coombes nee Evans. They had a daughter named Priscilla and she married John. Today I'm telling the story of John parents, James and Ann Baker nee Brookes.
James Frederick Baker is my 3rd great grandfather (maternal) born in Halford, Warwickshire around 1849. He was baptized on May 30th.
Ancestry.com - Warwickshire, England, Baptisms, 1813-1910 - James F Baker
He remained in Halford during his childhood with his parents John and Esther.
1851 census.
1861 census shows thirteen year old James as a plough boy.
On November 2nd, 1870 at the tender age of twenty-one he married his sweetheart Ann Maria Brookes.
Ancestry.com - Warwickshire, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1910 - James Baker and Ann Brookes
They were married at the Alderton Parish in Gloucestershire. Presumably because Ann Maria was born in Alderton around 1851.
Married for over forty-four years, James and Ann Maria had thirteen children. Four of which predeceased them.
1871 census shows them living in Aston, Warwickshire where James was a gun finisher and Ann Maria was a lacquerer.
1881 census shows James and Ann Maria living in Fazeley, Staffordshire. He supported his family as an agriculture laborer and together, they lived at 64 Lichfield Street.
1891 census shows them still living at Fazeley, at 159 Mill Lane. At this time James was a coal miner.
1901 census shows them living at 48 Mill lane and retired.
1911 census shows James and Ann Marie still at 48 Mill Lane.
Both James and Ann Marie died within months of each other in 1914. They both lived to be sixty-five and sixty-three respectively. From reading records of Victorian life, the Bakers lived an unusually long life, and had a long marriage. Unfortunately for their sons, they were born in time to serve in WWI, and their son John, my direct ancestor died serving his country a year after his parents passed away.

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The Dedicated House

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Story Of William and Emma Coombes nee Evans

There's a wonderful sense of belonging, and security that comes by knowing your ancestors. Not just names on a genealogy chart but getting to know all about their life.
Emma Evans is my 3rd great grandmother (maternal), born in Nuneaton, Warwickshire in 1852.
In 1870, at the tender age of eighteen Emma married her first husband, John Thrasher and they lived in Shelton, Staffordshire.
Here is the 1871 census.
But before the age of twenty-two Emma was widowed.
On May 24th, 1874 she married my 3rd great grandfather, William Coombes at the Parish of Saint Michaels. He was born in 1853.
"The building that we now know fondly as The Old Cathedral was formerly the parish church of St. Michael. The present structure largely originates from the 1300's to 1400's, with additional chapels added on in the 1500's, but originally a smaller chapel of Norman design stood on the site. St. Michael's was first mentioned in 1138 during the reign of King Stephen, and was referred to in one record as "the church of St. Michael's in the Bailey", which gives us some idea of its origin within the grounds of Coventry Castle. This photograph is from around 1880, its stonework looking rather worse for wear before the huge restoration program which was carried out in that decade."
Parish Of Saint Michael's 1800's
Together, William and Emma were married for over twenty years, together they had ten children. Two predeceased them. Their daughter Priscilla was my 2nd great grandmother on my maternal line.
This was their family on the 1891 census. I'm still looking for the 1881 census.
Their family was on two boats. My 3rd great grandfather, William was a barge master and his eldest son was a boatman.
Duncan 132
Daughter Eliza (9)
Daughter Priscilla (4) - my direct ancestor
Son Charles (1)
and on Victory 144.
Son John (16)
Son William (14)
Son Thomas (6)
After 1891 William and Emma had two more children, Samuel and Lucy.
The 1901 census.
The 1901 census shows Sam (9) and Lucy (4) but sadly shows Emma as a widow. Her husband William died between 1894 when Lucy was born to 1901 when the census was taken. He had a horrific accident as a barge master. You can read about our day trip, where we experienced a day in the life of our ancestors, here.
Widowed for a second time by the age of forty-nine, Emma never remarried. She moved her family to 21 New Street in Glascote.
The 1911 Census.
1911, the last census we can view because there's a hundred year privacy on records. This shows Emma living with Tom, Charles, Sam and Lucy who had all but grown up. They were now living in 292 Main Rd in Glascote.
Emma lived until she was seventy-four, passing away in June 1927. She was a strong woman to loose two husbands, had ten children and go through the heartbreak of loosing two of them.
You can read more about the Baker's (Emma's daughter, Priscilla's married name) here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hodgepodge of Cheesy 90's Disneyland Pictures


1. The month of July was named for Roman Emperor Julius Caesar. He's quoted as saying, 'Experience is the teacher of all things." So what has experience taught you lately?
I've grown a lot over the past few years. At twenty-four I was so uncertain of what lay ahead. I was fresh out of college, had moved in with my dad and my life mirrored that of the movie Post Grad. Then, slowly but surely life happened. Now I'm married, have a home, and finally at twenty-eight I feel settled and ready to start a family. In the past, I kept planning for this moment, I always looked far ahead, until one day I realized...I'm here, and my future will be how I spend my moment, right at this moment.
In my experience, once your settled, it's okay to quit worrying and to make the most of the moment.

 2. Where did you last 'roam'?
Well darlings, last month I roamed to England to go spend some time with my family and my old high-school friends who I've known since I was eleven. This time however, was different than all my other trips back home. It was my hubby's first time there and also it was the first time to visit a place I've always wanted to visit, Althorp the childhood home of Diana, Princess of Wales.
Don't we look peachy?

 3. Speaking of 'Rome'...pizza, pasta, gelato...you can only pick one, which would you choose?
Oh, all of them!
If I had to choose, I'd choose pasta. Susan Branch has a fabulous pasta salad recipe, I can't wait to try!

 4. 'Rome wasn't built in a day', 'All roads lead to Rome', 'When in Rome...' which 'Roman' idiom have you most recently encountered? Explain.
Most likely, 'Rome wasn't built in a day'. Happens when you have a house to re-model. Our house was built in the eighties, like me! It has been loved on over the years, but it needs updating. S l o w l y...but surely we're getting there.

 5. What's a movie you've seen or a book you've read, that makes you want to book a trip to Italy?
Under the Tuscan Sun. Have you seen it? It stars Diana Lane a recently divorced American who finds herself a lonely in Tuscany, longing for companionship, a family, and running water, among other things.

 6.  Walt's original Disneyland opened almost sixty years ago, on July 17, 1955  Have you ever been to the California park? How about any of the other Disney parks around the world? What's your favorite amusement park ride or attraction?
I've never been to Disneyland in California, but I have been to the one in Paris!
It was the summer of 1999, I was thirteen and my little sister was eight. We (along with my Mum and Nana) drove from England to get there. We spent a night on a ferry from Dover, to Calais to get across the English Channel, and were we beyond excited to be enchanted princesses for a day.
Now let me dig up some cheesy 90's photos. The first here is the back of my Nana walking into the magic kingdom.
And, of course more cheesy 90's pictures, this one of me wearing a floral leggings and sweater set. Don't laugh! It was gifted to me from my aunt.
 I think this was an Alice in Wonderland attraction. Me and my floral self again...
We stayed in a Western style hotel. I remember my sister and I loved it! We ate our meals in a barn type building, family style of course and all the buildings around our room were as if we'd stepped back into the wild, wild west.
Quite the rebels you see!

 7. It's that time of year...when were you last bitten or stung?
A few days ago. I was bitten alive at the beginning of the summer and so I've been much more diligent about taking my vitamin B1 daily, and staying inside the pool, seems that they don't care to swim too much.

 8.  Insert your own random thought here.
This week our pool was finished (yay), and now I'm starting to dream up landscaping ideas. The possibilities are endless for an enchanted forest, or a cottage garden, or a southern patio and a herb garden.
Pool and Garden Landscaping
Hope your enjoying your summer as much as we are!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Pool and Garden Landscaping

We finished our pool this weekend, and oh is it a delight?

When we moved in to our home four months ago, it was a short sale. We got it because it was in a lovely suburb, on an established street and we were able to buy it outright from inheritance I received when my dad passed away last year.
There are some lovely things that were done to our home at onetime, that show it was loved, however, it wasn't maintained by the previous owners so we're slowly saving up money...dollar by dollar to fix this house up!
It's such a delight to look outside now and see a deep blue pool as opposed to this eyesore...
Keeping it real folks!
Now, guess who has been amazing at making this happen? My hubby. He is quite the hard worker.
He did all the prep work, like clean out the debris, rainwater (I helped with that too), pouring a vermiculite and concrete base, etc.

But we hired out the finishing touches to a local contractor. Here's how it looked when he arrived.

It's a 28' by 18' pool and all in all it took about four to five hours for him to install the liner, and then twenty-four hours for the pool to fill up. We shut of the water while we were sleeping, because we didn't want it to overflow.
Then we did a famous pose Cory's Papa once did...
Cory's Papa.

Much better now.
Slowly but surely we'll get our back garden landscaped. I've sketched out some ideas for a cottage garden, on the right side of this pool picture (we have a wooded forest on the left side), and pinned ideas onto Pinterest for a pergola lounge area by the pool, and a dining area on the patio by the sliding glass doors.  
Also, I've been taking cell phone pictures of fence ideas in our neighborhood. Isn't this pretty?

Maybe it would look nice with a picket fence in the front like another neighbors, with our mailbox in the brick column?

I'd love your ideas or suggestions. Anyways, we now get to spend our days (and sunsets) playing in the pool.
Oh, Sophie and Oscar approve! Although they wont be in this fenced area too much.
And if you sit awhile, a dragonfly might visit.
Just like the song from Annie, I think I'm gonna like it here.
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Coastal Charm #221
Between Naps On The Porch #285

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Trip To England Part Eight: Warwick Castle

This is the last post from my trip to England in May, and it's from my birthday. Here goes...
My hubby arrived a day or so before my birthday and unbeknownst to me, he knew that my sister had planned a surprise birthday dinner for me, on the eve of my birthday with all my old high school friends. My Mum was also there (taking the picture).
On my birthday morning I got a slice of white chocolate cake, and a merry happy birthday to you sung to me.
Later that day we went to the medieval Warwick Castle.
The Castle dates back to 1068.
The medieval castle is protected by a moat.
Here's Cory seated below King Henry VIII and Richard III.
The state dining room.
The ladies in the parlor. The dresses are so intricate, I think I'd like to be a lady who takes tea in the parlor.
We climbed to the top of the mound...
...and saw this panoramic view.
Cory with a panoramic view of Warwick behind him.
We watched a play fight with the Earl of Warwick.
This is the site where Merlin is filmed.
Beautiful Warwick Castle.
Afterwards, we went for a scrumptious dinner at The Saxon Mill and showed Cory the haunted Guy's Cliff.
Guy's Cliff.
Me, My Sister, Mum.
Me and Cory.
It was a lovely way to celebrate my birthday.
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