a spot of downton tea with rock cakes


Good Morning!

You’re just in time to join us for some freshly baked rock cakes and a bracing cup of Downton Abbey® Grantham Breakfast Blend. Would you like yours with a splash of honey and almond milk?

Better to stay indoors and chat about Downton than brave the winter of our discontent, which just keeps “gifting us” with more snow, ice, bitter winds, traffic snarls, school closings and slushy messes. We are definitely NOT amused.

Tea and Downton, Downton and tea, what would we do without you?

So, what do you think of Season 4 now that we’re about half way through?

I know some Downton fans have jumped ship — angry and disappointed with Julian Fellowes for the shocking storyline about Anna. Words like “exploitative,” “gratuitous,” “implausible,” and “manipulative” have been bandied about.

For those who have viewed Downton as a means of gentle escapism, this was simply the last straw, some saying the attack on Anna was an assault on the series itself, definitely marking a turning point for better or worse. A devastating turn of events to be sure, with Joanne Froggatt turning in a brilliant performance. It’s interesting how this plotline is unfolding — Bates must temper his smoldering rage with genuine care and concern for Anna. What repercussions? Will justice be served?

via Carnival/ITV

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a little taste of susan branch’s a fine romance + lemon butter cookies

“England, with its history and air of magic, the soil and woods thick with meanings that survive in fragments, is an empire of imagination.” ~ T.S. Eliot

Help yourself to a cup of organic darjeeling and a lemon butter cookie.

Fancy a drive along a winding country road, rolling green hills and grey stone walls as far as the eye can see? Perhaps a leisurely stroll along an ancient footpath across a meadow resplendent with wildflowers?

Maybe you’d rather visit Beatrix Potter’s house, explore the formal gardens of a stately home, find a welcoming inn for a spot of tea, or join the convivial conversation at a neighborhood pub.

I cannot think of a better way to celebrate all that is glorious, interesting, inspiring, beautiful, memorable, unique and charming about England than to pore over the pages of Susan Branch’s latest book, A Fine Romance: Falling in Love with the English Countryside (Vineyard Stories, 2013).

This gorgeous, handwritten, illustrated diary chronicles the two months in 2012 when Susan and her true love Joe wandered around England from Tenterden, Kent, up to the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales, and down through the Cotswolds.


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jacksgap: tea for two, or maybe three million

Who’s your fave — Finn or Jack?

You know, it’s that dang British accent that gets ’em every time.

Add boyish charm, a dash of cheek, a thirst for adventure, comedy sketches, travel documentaries, entrepreneurial genes, video production chops, a boatload of high octane go-for-the-gusto, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for the YouTube vlogging sensation Jacksgap.


It also doesn’t hurt that the 20-year-old Harries twins are very easy on the eyes. The camera loves them, as do millions of teenage girls all over the world who just can’t get enough of their rickshaw-running, ball-bouncing, mail-opening, Maoam-chewing, bungee-jumping, unicycling shenanigans.

Jacksgap! Five minutes of your life that you won’t get back!

jacksgaplogoDial back to July 2011, when younger-by-two-minutes Jack decided to document his gap year by starting his own YouTube channel. He attracted a fair number of followers in the first 6 months, but it wasn’t until Finn joined the fun that things went viral.


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lemon teacake from emma block’s tea and cake


I’ve long been a big fan of illustrated cookbooks, often adding them to my collection without ever intending to make any of the recipes. I’m content to ooh and ahh over the beautiful art, happily satisfying my visual cravings.

But since we’re all about tea and England this winter, I thought it would be nice to try something from Tea and Cake: Recipes for the Perfect Afternoon Tea (Hardie Grant, 2011), which features the lovely watercolor and paper collage work of London-based illustrator Emma Block.

Emma was actually commissioned by the publisher to do the illustrations while in her last year at university; the recipes themselves were created by a team of recipe writers whose names, oddly enough, do not appear on the cover of the book. But Emma’s name is there, front and center, and she definitely deserves the spotlight, because it is her work that really makes this book shine.

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a winter tea for you and me

“When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment?” ~ Muriel Barbery (The Elegance of the Hedgehog)



Hello, Cutie Pies. Happy New Year!

Baby, it’s cold outside. This winter’s shaping up to be a real cracker. It’s so cold around here we have to open the refrigerator to heat the house. So cold, a cake I just baked and set out to cool frosted itself. 🙂

Mr. Cornelius has taken to sleeping in oven mitts,


and is mad for fuzzy scarves (nice fashion statement, eh?).


But where are my manners? Please make yourself comfortable and have a nice spot of tea. There now, better?


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