My sister used to be a flight attendant and lived in Staines, London – just one Tube stop from the Heathrow airport. She still talks about the delectable desserts and tea. Think: cream puffs, “biscuits,” scones and all the clotted cream your arteries could handle. Yes, please!
England is part of the United Kingdom and shares borders with Wales and Scotland. The weather in England is similar to the Seattle area, which is ironically where Caron lives now. Rain boots and umbrellas are part of normal fashion. She also learned to wear bright-colored lipstick like the international women who tried to create contrast to the gray skies and drab weather.
My sister describes high tea at Harrod’s, an up-up-upscale English department store. Harrod’s has been serving customers for more than 150 years. They have an entire floor of the finest confectionary from masterful chocolatiers.
For our “trip” to England, we staged our own fancy tea party. The girls and I made cucumber tea sandwiches, chocolate chip scones with lemon curd, mini vanilla cupcakes, and chicken salad wontons.
We invited Grandma Chris to join us along with all of Zayla’s American Girl dolls. One of our Christmas traditions is having a tea party at the American Girl Doll store in Los Angeles with the ladies from Shawn’s family. Because of the pandemic, we had to skip it this year but this tea party rivaled all the tasty goodness.
I got out my Grandma Cora’s rose china and made two pots of tea – a Samurai Chai Mate my friend gifted me and a Mixed Berry & Ginger tea. (Extend your pinkies, girls!) Of course, my daughters, who have been raised on chai, drained that entire pot. And I had to promptly make another.
Outside of the food, my favorite part was sitting around the table telling stories with my mother-in-law and three daughters laughing and telling stories for hours. We so rarely have that kind of unscripted and unhurried time. It was a true gift. These are the days to savor around the table. Sometimes we belly laugh. Sometimes the tears flow. Sometimes the girls ask me to tell stories about their daddy in heaven. Sometimes we talk about the state of our world and what it looks like to be Christ’s ambassadors in it.
I’m realizing that every day I have the opportunity to influence others with the love, grace, and mercy that Christ modeled. And it begins with these three young ladies He gifted to me. Shawn and I want to raise world changers. And it begins right here at the table.
For dinner we made Shepherd’s Pie, which is one of my mom’s specialty comfort meals. My girls beg for this meal. There are a lot of steps, but it’s worth the extra time. It’s made with mashed potatoes, vegetables, and beef that warms your insides when you eat it. My sister says this is something more commonly served in pubs.
We rounded out our “trip” to England watching Mary Poppins Returns, The Great British Baking Show, and Enola Holmes. A perfect holiday!
(Scroll down for my ideas to incorporate into your “travels.”)
8 oz. fresh green beans, cut and trimmed
2 T. olive oil
½ medium onion chopped fine
1 diced red bell pepper
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
8 oz. mixed frozen vegetables
1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. crushed garlic
1 can cream of mushroom soup (no msg)
2 tsp. beef bullion dissolved in ¾ c. water
3-4 cups hot mashed potatoes, made with 5 or 6 large potatoes, 4 T.butter and ½ c. milk
1 tsp. paprika
¾ c. shredded 4 Mexican cheeses or cheddar
1 can of corn (non-GMO) 15 oz.
1. Steam green beans until just tender.
2. Meanwhile, sauté onions in 1 T. oil until beginning to look transparent.
3. Add bell peppers and mushrooms, sautéing for 2 minutes longer, adding oil as needed.
4. Next add frozen vegetables, cooking for 1 to 2 minutes, and finally green beans when steamed.
5. Save all vegetables in covered baking dish.
6. Combine cooked ground beef with eggs, salt and garlic and heat in melted butter in large skillet.
7. Stir bullion and water with cream of mushroom soup over low heat in a separate small sauce pan just to a simmer, adding liquid mixture to the meat.
8. Now stir in the vegetables, heating for 1 to 2 minutes.
9. Pour into a large baking dish.
10. Top with a thick border of mashed potatoes, cheese, and a sprinkling of paprika.
11. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until lightly browned on top and cheese is melted.
Ideas from our “trip” to England:
- Stage an English tea party or pub meal.
Tea party faire:
2. Watch the one of the many British inspired movies and shows. A few of our favorites include:
3. Read a book together. A few of our favorites include:
–The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
–The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
–The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne
*We would love to hear from you. Which ideas did you try? What other ideas did you incorporate in your exploration of England? Leave us a comment.