T is for Tasty

S'mores, anyone? I wanted to share this yummy dessert from one of our meals in Oregon - skillet s'mores! Graham crackers on the bottom, chocolate in the middle, and the best part - toasted marshmallows on top. I know it's Tea Tuesday today, but I confess I drank some Sleepy Monk coffee with this dessert instead of tea. The coffee was delicious, and the next day, we stopped at Sleepy Monk itself for some of the best hot chocolate I'd ever had. The chocolate whipped cream was perfection, thick and substantial. I brought some of their coffee beans home with me...I think it's time to go brew some up...
Smore's memories you want to share?


Traveling Tea

Often when I travel, I bring along a little assortment of tea. It seemed especially important to do so for last week's trip to Oregon, since I knew the weather would be cool and I'd likely be spending a lot of time reading and wanting a warm mug next to me. Tazo's Joy - their Christmas blend - has long been a favorite, and I stock up as soon as it appears around Thanksgiving.
Tea, of course, wasn't the only yummy thing about our visit to the coast. Here are some other highlights:
~Many hours on the beach, walking and reading.
~Finding peonies at the farmer's market! In July!
~Freshly baked cookies from Waves of Grain, a local bakery - moist and perfect.
~Enormous sugar snap peas at the farmer's market, perfect for snacking on at the beach, a long favorite.
~The constant sound of the ocean.
~Being able to sleep with the windows open - so incredibly quiet and cool.
~The glistening shore at low tide, mist and fog.
~Exuberant gardens around town.
~The silouettes of mountains and evergreens on the horizon (Houston is really flat.)
~Being able to wear sweatshirts, scarves, and even hats in July (Houston is really hot.)
So make a cup of tea, close your eyes for a moment, and imagine you're soaking up some of this peace as well.
More Tea Tuesday here.



We recently travelled to the Oregon coast, and let me tell you, I was a very happy girl. It had been nearly ten years since I had been back to Cannon Beach, and fourteen years since I spent a summer in college working there. It's beautiful whether it's foggy or sunny, but there is a wonderful cheerfulness when the sun is out and shining on the water and the wet sand. Most mornings we went out to catch low tide, which is also the time to find sand dollars resting on the shore. Most people are out looking for clams, but I'm just interested in the sand dollars. Fortunately, I was not disappointed!
I'm sure I'll have a lot more to share about this trip in upcoming posts. What are some of your favorite vacation memories?



One of my most recent tea discoveries is also one of my favorites: my tea forte ceramic infuser. I had been using unbleached tea bags to brew my loose leaf jasmine vanilla because modern infusers always seemed to contain plastic (which I did not want to mix with hot water - all those chemicals) and the old fashioned spring-loaded types always seemed to leak tea leaves. This is an elegant solution. The metal base screws off so it can be filled with tea leaves, and it rests in its own little matching tray. I see they have several other plastic-free infusers displayed on their webpage. Thank you, Teaforte!


The Flowers of Home

Is it silly to admit that one of my favorite reasons for going home to South Dakota in the springtime is to be able to visit favorite flower species that just don't grow in Texas? It's true, though. I plan walks along routes that I know will take me past favorite gardens or to places in the parks where poppies grow on their own. I carry the camera in my trunk and have been known to pull over to take photos of flowers when I come across them around town. A local gardening society does a wonderful job with the gardens at the Journey Museum; huge swaths of iris, columbine, and wildflowers meander through boulder-strewn beds. Orange poppies spring up every year along Rapid Creek in an undeveloped park; they are remainders of the gardens of homes that were lost in the 1972 flood. People are sometimes very generous with their garden flowers, handing out bouquets of peonies and irises without even being asked (including the bouquets pictured here, which were given to me right on time for my birthday, just by coincidence!) Of course, the lilacs are also a big star, and if you don't have any bushes of your own, you may have discovered places to cut a few branches to bring home with you. Flowers are certainly a way to celebrate spring! Do you seek out favorite gardens in your town?


T is for Taos

After we left Santa Fe on our May roadtrip, we drove north to the town of Taos to meet an old friend for lunch. We had many miles to cover that day, but decided to make one last stop to visit Taos Pueblo, a Native American settlement that has been continuously occupied for over 1,000 years. For some reason, I'd never heard of this pueblo and was astounded to learn that there are actually dwellings in North America that have been inhabited for that long. The tribal members who live here do not use modern conveniences. They haul water from the creek and use kerosene lamps. Every year, another layer of plaster (mud and straw) is applied to the buildings, perhaps best seen in the middle photo of the church window. The igloo-shaped dome in the fourth photo is a traditional oven for baking bread. Originally the dwellings were entered through the roof, but today doors have been added. At one time, a very tall wall surrounded the village, but it has been shortened to a few feet. I'm glad we stopped here before heading back to the plains.
As for tea these days, I'm still stuck on my jasmine vanilla, although I did break habit and use Tazo's delicious Joy blend with my homemade crepes yesterday!
These photos are by my husband.


A Surprise

I was delightfully surprised to find a complimentary copy of Somerset Life in my box yesterday - another one of my travel journals has been published. It's a lovely spread, pages 100 - 101. Thanks, Somerset Life!