Quick and Yummy Potato Soup

October 13, 2014

Y’all, Fall finally fell around here! I’m not sure how long it will last, but I’m soaking up every last cool breeze. I’m also taking this opportunity to whip up one of my family favorites, potato soup. It’s quick, it’s cheap, and most importantly, it’s yummy. Think I’m kiddin’? Check it out:

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • One BIG russet potato for every two people (I don’t recommend waxy potatoes for this recipe)
  • chicken stock (we’ll talk more about this later)
  • water or milk
  • celery salt
  • salt n’ pepa
  • sour cream


First, peel your taters and cut them into large chunks. As you can see, I’m not a stickler for getting every last speck of peel off. I think it lends a rustic quality to the soup and reminds people of what exactly they are slurping up. Plus, I’m lazy. Slide those suckers in your stock pot.


Next, add just enough chicken stock to cover them. If you need a bit of water to get you there, have at it. Continue Reading…

Cedar Cottage, home

At Last! A New Roof at Cedar Cottage

October 7, 2014

Remember the hail storm that wiped out the north side of our little town this summer? Well, we are finally getting a new roof!


As I pulled up to the house (after an extra early school drop-off) even the heavens seemed to be beaming down on the new cedar shake shingles! We still have lots of repair work ahead, but I am so thankful to get the real dirty (and noisy) work done. They should finish the house today and will move on to the other structures on the property. I look forward to showing you the progress in the coming weeks, dear readers. Until then, I’ll be the one with the earplugs and a big smile!


New Adventures (and Favs) in Londontown

October 5, 2014
photo 2 (1)

Forgetting things isn’t what one usually counts as a blessing, but when you’ve forgotten just how many visits to London you’ve enjoyed, I’d say it is. Most certainly. Over the years I’ve developed a path through the city that includes my favorite places. This time, however, I decided it was high time I changed things up a bit. So, early (but not too early) Dr. Laura and I set out to explore London, including a few new spots that I want to share with you.

The first “first” was taking the train into London from Oxford. Usually I take a coach, but we decided to use the rail system instead. I mean, who could resist a visit to this sweet little bear at Paddington Station?


Aside from the regrettable angle of my chins, I love this shot of Paddington whispering sweet nothings into my ear, excited for the adventure we will have that day. Continue Reading…

Cedar Cottage, design ideas, home

Fall Mantel Inspiration

September 25, 2014

Yesterday I decided, despite temperatures in the upper 80s, it was high time I infused a little Fall into our home. I started with a bowl of pretty apples in the breakfast room (baby steps, people, baby steps).

breakfast apples

Next I needed to up my game and attack the mantel. Here’s how it turned out.


And a closer peek…


I opted for a fairly neutral palette instead of the typical autumnal hues I usually go for. A little burlap, some wheat, and my trusty ceramic pumpkins in a creamy white came together to dress my mantle in subtle Fall style. Have you spruced up your home in honor of the change of seasons? Do tell, dear readers!

memories, stuff I like, travel

I Had a Stake in Salisbury

September 22, 2014

More than a decade ago Dr. Kyle and I decided to take a little day trip from Oxford to Bath. Since we were going to be in the area (relatively speaking) I decided that I’d really like to visit Salisbury so that I could climb the tallest spire in England (a whopping 404 feet tall) at the cathedral there. We were a bit pressed for time since we had plans in Bath, so we didn’t dally as we marched our way from the train station to the cathedral. The day was overcast, but we had jackets with hoods, so we marched on, undeterred by the potential of rain. When we finally made it to the beautiful close that surrounded the cathedral, fog. Lots and lots of fog. In fact, we could only see half of the cathedral itself, the rest enveloped in a fine mist. Climbing the spire would have afforded me a view of  just that. Fog. No lovely rolling vistas, no pastoral loveliness, no glimpses of Old Sarum, just fog. There may have been a tear or two, but we did go on to have a lovely day in Bath.

Our family has been fortunate enough to visit Salisbury several times since, but with two littles and “the zamboni” (our double jogging stroller) in tow, we were not able to climb the spire. Nonetheless, we’ve always enjoyed our time there and it remains one of my favorite spots.

When I learned that I was going to be back in England for a bit, I decided this was it. I would climb the spire. And with the onset of Cranky Joint Syndrome, I had something to prove. I would climb that spire. Every. Last. Step. I would jump up and down with arms overhead singing, “Gonna Fly Now” like Rocky. Minus the raw egg drinking and the baggy, unflattering sweatpants. That spire was mine.

When Laura and I set off that morning, the skies were slightly overcast with little puffs of clouds here and there, but no fog. None. All was well. We hopped on the train and headed toward Reading, our first exchange. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little worried about travel as the Prime Minister had just elevated the UK terrorist threat level to “severe” the day before. But we weren’t going to London, so off we went. As we waited for our connecting train I noticed that several trains showed as “delayed” then “cancelled.” One by one, all of the trains scheduled to leave that day met the same fate. We were stuck. In Reading. On a Sunday. And that spire was calling out to me. Moments later we were all packed into taxis for a 20 minute ride to Basingstoke to catch our next connection to Salisbury. Thank you, First Great Western Railways, for saving the day!

After a bite to eat at Wagamama, we made our way to the cathedral. I could hardly stand it. I was a short walk (and a bit of a climb) away from showing CJS who was boss. We entered, found the tour schedule, and quickly scanned for Sunday tour times. Before I could read the whole thing, Laura wheeled around and said, “Ohhh. I. Am. So. Sorry.” We had missed the last tour by minutes. Minutes. Before I knew it, big fat tears were running down my face. And perhaps there was a hiccup or two as I tried to suck it up. “Really. I’m ok. Really. I will be ok.” I could barely choke the words out.

Then I heard a little voice in my head. Truthfully, I wanted to tell it to shut it, but I was too busy trying to pull it together to bat the voice away. Funny, but the voice was awfully familiar. It said, “You didn’t see (or do) it all? No worries! You’ll be back!” Turns out it was my voice. Echoing the words I’d said so many times before. To my own students. Assuring them that they would back to enjoy so much more than they’d imagined. And now it was my turn to take my own advice.

As I dried my tears, I looked down and saw my big girl knickers in a twist on the cold stone floor. I picked them up, wiggled them back on, and had a perfectly lovely day with my dear friend. And the spire? My great white whale? I’ll be back. Yes, the stakes were high that day, but I will be back. And that spire will be mine. Along with another perfectly lovely day exploring a city that I love.


Post tears. And the smile is genuine!


I’ll be back, my lovely. And I will climb you!