By the time you read this, Lord willing, we'll be back on good old USA soil after a two week visit to London. We're actually winging our way through clear blue skies, miles above the Atlantic Ocean, as I write.
It was a wonderful visit with family and we definitely learned all about quintessential London winters. Cold .... wet.... miserable. Our daughter Cait, who's lived in the UK for almost four years now, has often shared with us how damp, cloudy and bone-chillingly cold the winters can be. Don't tell her, but a teeny part of us didn't believe it, not because she isn't extremely trustworthy, but because the weather's been so lovely every time we've visited England (several times a year since she moved).
We've fallen in love with London over the past few years, a bustling and vibrant melting pot of a city with eight million people, fascinating cultures and a rich history. We've enjoyed riding the famous double decker buses, admiring the charming 17th and 18th century architecture, strolling along the meandering River Thames and taking the children on outings to the lovely green parks that are scattered generously throughout the city. We're always amazed at the abundance of beautiful flowers, verdant plants and vines that seem to spill from every nook and cranny, making me wonder, "Does everyone in England have a green thumb?"
Then there's the royalty. In additional to the Queen and all of her entourage, many other things in London are quite "royal"; there's the Royal Post, numerous royal hospitals, the various royal boroughs, royal colleges, royal ballet companies, museums, opera houses, icing and ............... are you ready? Even a royal circus! So fun and quite a contrast from life on our side of the Atlantic.
All this said, we did experience a very different side of London during this visit. Our travels to England in the past have, for the most part, been in the spring and fall which skewed our perspective just a bit. Well, maybe quite a bit. The lovely, clear blue skies and mild temperatures that we've experienced in the past, are NOT the norm in London's winter months. This time there was day after day of blustery wind, heavy rain and chilly temperatures. Hats, mittens, down jackets and umbrellas were all a must.
But time with family made the overall experience warm and fun. When there were a few days with periods of sunshine, we spent as much time as possible outdoors, gulping in the intoxicatingly clear, dry air. Scott was even able to pull out the camera and capture a bit of the glory. In between, we either donned our rain gear and braced the elements, or snuggled inside, listening to the rain pelting on the roof and enjoying family and a warm, dry home.
When (and if) the weather is pretty, we love strolling along the Thames
The architecture of the buildings along the Thames is breathtaking!
See what I mean? When it's pretty, it's REALLY pretty (and when it's not, it's miserable!)
Did you know that cookies are a wonderful anecdote to gloomy weather? It's true,; 🙂 you can mix up a batch in no time flat, kids love to help and when the wonderful aroma begins to waft through the house, it's easy to forget even a wet cold London day.
I'm always a huge sucker for a great new chocolate chip cookie recipe. When I saw these 5-Star Chocolate Chip Cookies on the Land O' Lakes website and read all of the rave reviews, I couldn't resist "giving them a go"- as my grand-girls say.
And they didn't disappoint, they were a big hit with everyone who tried them.
Oh, and we have a new taste-tester. Scott and I got to keep little Luke for a few days while mommy, daddy and the older children got away on a little adventure. Luke has graduated from baby to toddler and it was fun to have lots of one-on-one time with him. He kept us laughing and also kept us quite busy as he's into everything these days (and can climb four sets of steps faster than you can say "jack be nimble"). After he ate his yogurt, he loved trying a sample of the cookies. Although he's not talking yet, I think Luke's expressions will tell you everything you need to know ............
- 1 ½ cups butter softened
- 1 ¼ cups sugar
- 1 ¼ cups firmly packed brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 4 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 12 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips
- 8 ounce package toffee bits I used Heath Bits'o Brickle
Heat oven to 375°F. Line cookies sheets with parchment paper, if desired, for easy clean-up. If you're not using parchment paper, sheet pans do not need to be greased.
Combine butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla in bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy.
Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; beat at low speed until well mixed. Stir in chocolate chips and toffee bits.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls, 2 inches apart, onto prepared sheet pans. Bake 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet; remove to cooling rack.
~ This makes a huge batch of cookie. You can cut the recipe in half but they do freeze well They also make wonderful treats to give to friends, neighbors, teachers, etc.