Jolly Old England

I loved England! I love the history and that the palaces are still being used after 500 years or more later. That you walk up to Stonehenge the same way the people who created it did in the same field is was created in. That you can walk around a village where they filmed Harry Potter and it’s a real village that looks exactly like it did in the movie. Lovely people and we were lucky to have nice weather (take note of the incredibly blue skies in a lot of the photos) and I’m assuming things have changed because our food was outstanding. We only saw the area around London | London – Winchester – Bath – Cambridge but we will definitely be back. I’m looking forward to the south end with the cliffs and beaches, the north end with York, Scotland and Ireland.

We flew into Gatwick. It’s further out than Heathrow but you’re going to want to take the train in either way and the Gatwick Express to Victoria Station was 30 min. It’s smaller and it was cheaper and a direct flight from Orlando. Don’t rent a car in London you need a special permit and its too crazy. We used the Big Bus Tours to see the sights and Uber to get to restaurants etc. You can walk pretty easily too. Didn’t use the subway so I can’t help there. You don’t need a special driver’s license or a Visa for the UK either. (I think the Visa situation is changing so check with the USA.Gov website for Visa and other traveling questions)

We didn’t really need cash but as with any trip, wait until you get to the country and use your ATM card to withdraw what you’ll need for a couple of days. That way you don’t have to guess how much cash you’ll need and you won’t be carrying around a bunch of cash that can get stolen. Just get it when you need it just like at home. Watch your purse, don’t wear a backpack with important stuff in it use it for sweaters and umbrellas, keep important items in your front pocket and pull your purse around in front of you and cover it with your arm. There are lots of places like bridges where people are crowded together they would have your stuff in 2 seconds and you’d never even realize. We didn’t have any problems but we followed those rules as well. Also, anyone trying to distract you – holding up a map and asking where something is (who actually uses maps today) or they say they found a ring and ask you if it’s yours. We had both these attempts in France it really happens, just be aware and walk away they are distracting you so their friend can pick pocket you.

There are tons of good areas to stay in. We stayed at the Marriott County Hall. It was right on the Thames River at the foot of the Westminster Bridge across from Parliament. Mayfair was super fancy and probably really expensive to stay there. Nottinghill was quiet and really pretty. Now that I’ve been there I’m not sure there’s a central location to stay. There’s so much to do and it’s spread out all over. So I would say just find a hotel you like in your price range and make sure it’s near one of the bus tour routes. Also, there are a lot of rules about where cars can stop so when you’re using Uber it helps to pay attention to where you are having them pick you up or drop you off. Our hotel had a circular drive so they could pull in off the road. That helped a lot. Keep that in mind if you are going to use Uber from your hotel.

Ok so here’s the trip…


We stayed at the Marriott County Hall, it was pricey but beautiful and we did the club level which was nice. Breakfast in the morning then appetizers and drinks in the evening. They had bottled drinks and light snacks all day too. Service was great, rooms were beautiful, location was convenient and there was a Starbucks around the corner. Yes a Starbucks, judge all you want but I love Starbucks.

I recommend tours. There are some things you are going to want to do that our touristy. Booking a tour with a guide makes it so much easier. City Wonders for Europe is great. Of all the tours we’ve taken there was only one guide we really didn’t like. By booking a tour you have your tickets in advance so you avoid the long lines of people waiting to get tickets, most of the time the tour is early before the crowds get there, you have a guide to explain everything to you. It makes a huge difference. They know where they are going and have the transportation worked out. All the tours we take are 10-12 people. They can last all day or half a day. In London we did a combo tour – The Tower of London – boat ride down the Thames – St. James Palace and the changing of the guards – Buckingham Palace – then train ride to Windsor Castle and Eaton. We also took the Big Bus and used the London Pass. The bus is hop on hop off for 1 day so start early (unless you buy multiple day passes) and the London Pass gets you into almost every museum and sight you would want to see. I was a great way to get around the city too. One of the stops was directly in front of our hotel.

The British Museum

You walk in and boom, there’s the actual Rosetta Stone. Beautiful Museum and free. The line wasn’t too long to get in, they check everyone’s bag otherwise you would probably walk right in. There’s a cute cafe at the very top in the center but there’s so much to see you could definitely spend half a day here.

Lunch at the Holburn Dining Room

This was a really cute cafe. We walked to it from our hotel. Outside was an even cuter garden cafe but they were booked up. The food and service were great.

Dinner at Qui Vadis

Took Uber to Qui Vadis, this cute little restaurant was perfect for our first night there, it was all I could do to stay awake through the meal but I’m glad I did, it was delicious.

Albert and Victoria Museum

Lunch at Egg Break in Notting Hill

Really tiny little place not too far from Kensington Palace. You definitely need Google Maps to find it. Really great fresh food.

Dinner at Salon

This really tiny place was even harder to find than Egg Break. You go into an alley that they’ve kind of turned into a shoppping area with shops that front the alley. But we found it.

London Tower

St James Palace and Buckingham Palace 

Windsor Castle and Eaton

Windsor Castle is in Windsor which is an hour train ride from Waterloo Station in London. It’s a really cute little town, completely overrun with tourist. There were a few cute shops and places to eat but it was crazy. Inside the castle is actually less crazy. Most of the castles you can’t take pictures inside so that’s why there are so few photos. Across the river from Windsor was Eaton where Eaton College is. I highly recommend seeing Windsor then heading to Eaton to eat it was much nicer.

Dinner at Eaton Mess in Eaton

Portobello Market Area

Thanks to our well traveled friend Ryan we visited Farm Girl in Nottinghill. This fresh mostly vegetarian restaurant tucked away in an alley. The owners dogs were hanging out in the loft area. It was most definitely that neighborhood’s BakeChop. We felt immediately at home.

Portobello Market

Portobello Road in London’s Nottinghill area is a nice shopping area with both permanent shops and vendors in tents along the street. Some of the shops have local items but most of the vendors are just what you’d expect, trinkets and well, crap. A little further down on Portobello Road turn right onto Westbourne Grove. Its a quiet little street with local shopping and about 3 blocks down is Granger and Co. delicious fresh food also inspired by the same Australian farm fresh trend of Farm Girl.

22 North

A restaurant in the Battersea area of London. I searched all over for specific pottery to bring home. I kept seeing it in the restaurants. Simple rustic and something made in England. Finally I got a lead that the place that made the pieces was in the Battersea area. Found it and when we got there, they were closed for vacation. Damnit. So we didn’t waste the Uber trip we decided to have dinner at the place next door. Really lucky it was delicious.

There are so many landmarks in London it’s crazy. Building after building, neighborhood after neighborhood. Here are just a few. King’s Crossing Station (yes, I am a Harry Potter nerd) St Pancras Station and Waterloo.

London Portrait Gallery, a street with carriage doors still intact, Scotland Yard and the garden where Whitehall Palace (Henry VIII) once stood.

Afternoon Tea at Sketch

If the movie Alice in Wonderland was a restaurant this place would be it. They had overlays playing on the walls in the reception area and the bar which made it feel surreal. Everything was just different. I’ve been to lots and lots of afternoon teas in lots of different places. This was just a little different. It’s hard to explain. Maybe the photos of the restroom with the egg shaped stalls will give you an idea. Click the link for the website, you’ll see. The food was delicious, the service was perfect. We asked what was either the owner or the manager to take photos of us and not only was he happy to he took several in a bunch of different spots. Great way to end our trip. (We came back to London after visiting the other cities and we had tea the last day).


In London we used buses and Uber and trains. Outside of London we drove. It was tricky with the whole driving on the left side deal but with both of us looking before we turned it worked ok. Only one close call. No special license. We took the train to the Hertz at the Heathrow Airport and rented the car there and drove to Winchester. All of the drives I mapped on Google Maps and used the avoid highways filter. It kept us off the major highways and on nice scenic roads. They were all easy to drive and wide enough for 2 cars. Only in cities like Bath were there tight places that we had to move over for oncoming traffic to pass. Otherwise no problem and the scenery was beautiful. Rolling hills, forests, meadows, farms. Just beautiful.

Winchester was about 2 hours from Heathrow Airport. It’s this amazing little ancient town where King Alfred the Great ruled the Anglo-Saxon’s and Wessex in the late 800s. But the Romans were there before that and pre-historic Gauls before that. The cathedral there was built in the late 600s and later enlarged by Alfred. There’s a college and ruins of 2 castles and the great hall that holds the round table that King Henry VIII claimed was from Camelot. This tiny little town is very easy to walk. We parked at our Bed and Breakfast and didn’t use the car again until we left. The roads and walking trails are quiet and scenic. Especially the path past the ruins of Wolvesey Castle and the Bishops Palace along the river.

Hannah’s Bed and Breakfast

Beautifully completely restored stable. Not only was the entire place perfectly appointed she was a perfect host. Located in the middle of town. We happen to be in England the year they have a 2 month long drought and heat wave. She didn’t have A/C (the only place in our travels that didn’t) but it didn’t matter. We were only in the room in the evening and morning and with the windows open it was completely comfortable. In fact I had a light cover over me. I would absolutely recommend her place.

Forte Kitchen

Cute little cafe upstairs right downtown. It was about 4 blocks from Hannah’s. Great food and service. We split a fresh salad and a brownie and shared the Cream Tea for 2.

The Cathedral, Wolvesey Castle Ruins and the Bishop’s Palace, and Winchester Castle Great Room

The Cathedral is over 1300 years old. The cemetary in the front yard is so old that it’s used as a park. The ruins of Wolvesey Castle date from the Saxon period and the palace for the Bishop that was built in 1110 from the still standing chapel of Wolvesey Castle. It’s just incredible that these things are still there. And being used. No one decided to tear it down and build a Marriott (little local jab there). Winchester Castle was built in the late 1100s. You can see some of the castle’s ruins. The only remaining part of the castle is the Great Hall where Henry VIII hung the round table.

Winchester College and the Walking Path

As you walk past the Cathedral you pass homes and gardens and what’s left of the gates from the walled Roman City. After passing the Winchester College and the Wolvesey Castle ruins and Bishops Palace across the street from you come to the walking path between the outside of the old wall and the stream. I must have taken 100 photos. Here’s just a few. Because, really who wants to look at 100 photos of someone else’s trip.

The Rest of this Beautiful City

Dinner at Wykeham Arms 

Perfect little pub near the college with delicious food and friendly service.


Stonehenge and Wilton Manors

Between Winchester and Stonehenge was Wilton Manors and Salisbury. We stopped at Wilton Manors to see what crazy rich people live like. It was well, crazy. The house, the garage full of cars and the unbelievable garden. They allow people to roam their house during certain days and times. We saw a young man leaving the garage in one of the many fancy cars he was just a friendly and polite as everyone else we met in England.

We continued onto Salisbury. It was close to Stonehenge that’s the only reason I picked it to stay the night. Next time I would just stay in one of the hotels off the highway near Stonehenge. We didn’t visit anything in Salisbury it looked very touristy and was hard for me to find a nice place to stay. We ended up at The Chapter House which was really really old and nice enough and across from the Salisbury Cathedral which we didn’t visit. We were gone all day to Stonehenge and then just returned to our hotel to eat and go to bed. I would skip it. But Stonehenge is a must.

They just finished the new visitors center it has bathrooms, a cafeteria, a gift shop (of course) and a museum that explains the history of the site. You reserve a time to visit so they keep the crowds evened out and you can reserve a headset that narrates what you are looking at. The incredible part of this site is it’s almost the same as when it was built over 5,000 years ago. It’s about a mile from the road. So you either take a bus or you can walk through a field just as the ancient people who built it did. There’s a path around it with a little rope keeping you away from it. While standing there with it all you can see around you is fields. You can vaguely make out the old path to the river that pilgrims took.


Bath and the Cotswolds

This is of course an ancient Roman city but the Roman Bath was actually covered up and the temple was lost for hundreds of years. Later in the 1700s when they were excavating to build a new building they discovered the old Roman Bath and uncovered. Soaking in spa waters had become very fashionable and the city because the place to visit on vacation. The Georgian architecture is elegant and there are lots of places here to shop. I would definitely visit the Roman Baths as well. The museum really helped to understand the timeline and they have done a great job uncovering the ancient ruins. They are still working on it the area was so big. Most of it is well below ground level now.

We stayed in the Bath area for several days and took day trips to the small towns near by int he Cotswalds. Places where lots of movies are filmed because they are just that cute.

The Bath Priory Hotel

Lovely boutique hotel with perfect gardens and service. We walked into town but it was a little ways. It was kind of crazy driving in Bath because the streets are windy and old and small and cars park on them. So we chose to walk through the park instead.

Victoria Park (we walked through from our hotel to downtown Bath)

The Roman Baths

The water wasn’t originally green. The minerals in the water turn green now because they are exposed to sunlight. Originally the entire bath was enclosed.

Breakfast Tea and Dinner

We had breakfast at Bertinent Bakery right in the middle of Bath. As usual I got way more than we could eat.

Tea at Jolly’s Tea Room 

Also right in the middle of everything. It’s in a department store. If you enter from the front street into the department store you have to go through the store to the lower level to get to Jolly’s. If you enter from the street behind the entrance to Jolly’s is right on the street. Very cute little place. Great tea. They also had a lunch menu. It reminded me of the tea room in Bergdorf Goodmans off Park Ave in New York City. Not quite as swanky but a similar feel.

Dinner at The Salamander Pub

Really delicious pub food. Fun and friendly and great drinks. We made a reservation on Open Table but I got the feeling is was unnecessary and people don’t usually make reservations there. Bangers and Mash and Curried Chicken with an egg.

The Cotswolds

The next few towns are tiny. You park and walk the whole village in an hour. We did two or three in a day and didn’t have to rush. They are simply picturesque. Streams and bridges, tithing barns, cobbled streets, kids hanging out of windows while his buddy yells up to him to come fishing (yes that happened). These tiny little towns usually had some sort of castle or manor and a cathedral or abbey. From what I understand, the manor would have been built by the owner of a land and the village would have been built around it to sustain the manor. Then the abbey or large church for the villagers and the owner of the land. It’s really strange to see because there are these really tiny really old villages that haven’t changed in hundreds of years with a giant manor. Most of these towns have had movies filmed in them. They throw hay on the streets and just like that it’s WW II or a town in Harry Potter’s world or a Victorian era village with a wolfman issue.

Bradford on Avon

We had breakfast at Timbrell’s Yard full English Breakfast, just be sure to tell them you aren’t a guest in the hotel to avoid confusion. Walk around the town, along the path that runs along the river to the Tithing Barn.

 Iford Manor

From Bradford on Avon we drove to Iford Manor which is not in any city. The house is not open and the family still lives there. But the gardens are spectacular. From the Manor I had read about a walking path through fields to another small town. Apparently you are allowed to walk through peoples pastures, even ones with animals. A small sign notes, this way and to please close the gate so the animals don’t get out. On our trek we didn’t see any animals but the view was pretty.


They filmed parts of Harry Potter here in the village and the abbey. We had lunch at King John’s Hunting Lodge Tea Rooms and Restaurant. Wandering around we just came across it. Once again a beautiful garden and great food.

Castle Combe

Very tiny village. They filmed The Wolfman here, War Horse and probably lots of other movies. There was a little house in the center of town that had baked goods out front on a little table. You slip money into the mail slot and take what you like. As with all the other villages, a river ran through it and this one as nestled in the woods.


My original plans were to stop at both Oxford and Cambridge. I used Google Maps and picked a spot in the downtown area and virtually walked along the street. The shops and streets of Cambridge looked a lot nicer so when I had to reduce our number of stops I cut out Oxford, we did drive through it on our way from Bath to Cambridge. We also passed by White Horse Hill. More on that below. Cambridge was a beautiful college town. Easy to walk everywhere. We stayed at the Cambridge University Arms. Beautiful rooms, great restaurant, great location. You most definitely have to go punting even though it’s super touristy. It was a great way to see all the various colleges and hear the history behind them. The drunk people punting on their own was added entertainment.

Cambridge University Arms

Punting and the Colleges at Cambridge

Punting is a really old tradition at Cambridge, you ride in a very shallow canoe with a person standing at the back pushing you along with a pole. You can rent them yourself or take a tour. There were lots of college students and bachelorette parties along side the tours. The tour was really informative. You learn about the history of Cambridge, the kings and queens who built the different colleges, the architects of the beautiful buildings and some of the shenanigans that go on.

Dinner and Snacks

We had breakfast at Fitzbillies, it’s a 100 year old bakery that was a staple for the students. A few years ago is almost went under until the new owners took over. Now it’s thriving again. Great food and loved the atmosphere. Bought at t-shirt.

For dinner we ate at Jamie Oliver’s Italian. Set in an old bank or something. Not sure what it used to be but it was fancy. Pretty touristy but not so much I wouldn’t go again. The food was just like his shows. Simply good ingredients assembled really well. 

Whitehorse Hill

On our way from Bath to Cambridge we passed the Whitehorse Hill, a prehistoric carving of a horse on a hillside. The exposed white chalk makes the horse white. As with most of the English countryside we passed. This hill is out in the middle of nowhere. No hotels, no strip malls or tacky trinket shops. Just the rolling hills and farmland. The same way it would have been when it was created. there’s a small farm nearby that allows hikers to camp on their property and there were a handful of hikers walking up the hill to see the carving up close. We just pulled over to the side of the little road and snapped photos. This sit alone inspires me to come back and hike and camp the countryside. The first photo is from Wikipedia so you can see what it looks like. The other two are mine. See the road in the bottom of the first photo. We were on that road.

After Cambridge we returned to London for a few days. As always we were ready to get back. I can’t wait to return to the UK though. I would love to hike and camp here. I’ve read about Champing. You camp in old churches for a small donation. You can hike through beautiful farmland and fields. I’d love to do a tour of farms and see the beach towns and coast. Half my family is from Scotland and Ireland will need to visit there are well. Taking a house boat along the canals. All for another time. Thanks for visiting my site, hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoy sharing.

Hazel’s Tropical Shower

I love using stuff I already have to set up a party. I really hate to have to buy plastic or paper decorations. I think of it as if I were just decorating my house with that theme instead of party decorations. You wouldn’t put a plastic table cloth on your table normally so why do it for a party? If you stick with mostly white serving pieces and table clothes you can mix in smaller things to give it the look you want.

I wanted tropical but not luau. So first, Pinterest. Then I looked around my house to find stuff that felt like those images. We used plants and flowers in Hazel’s great grandparent’s yard and we filled in with stuff from Amazon. I tried to buy biodegradable plates (made from palm leaves), cutlery (made from wood), cups (from corn) and paper straws. All on Amazon.

Outside we used my neighbor Rhonda’s idea and we spray painted the pineapple leaves, we gathered coconuts, halved small watermelons, and hibiscus from the yard on top of split leaf philodendron also from the yard to make center pieces for the outside tables.   


Inside we strung garland from Meri Meri (Amazon or the Meri Meri website) and a pennant banner that we added the letters – Hazel to. We hung tissue fans over the table, (be sure to get the tissue ones, the heavier cardboard fans fell down) and floated balloons in the pool (you need to weigh them down maybe add a little water in the balloon before you blow it up they blew out of the pool, that’s why we don’t have a photo) and tucked extra flowers and leaves around the house. I have pillow covers from the Bali trip that we used to cover existing throw pillows in the house. Little stuff that just added to the theme. But use big statements. One big hibiscus is better than a lot of little things. Your house already has a lot in it so you want to make a statement and notice it. Try to clear some of the usual away and just add pieces that make sense for the party.


For the table I like to have lots of layers. If the table isn’t a folding table leave some of it showing, it’s a layer. Then add a runner and some cloth napkins that go with the theme. Then add something overhead or really tall items in the center and work around that. Have 3 tall pieces varying in size and add things under the platters like other platters or trays or plates to give them different heights as well. You can use almost anything as long as the platter is stable on it. I have some old canisters from So.Ny Market Trading Co. that work perfectly. They look good and add height.

Mix and match colors and patterns and textures just keep within your theme. The big basket lantern is from Target. It’s a lantern but we used it as a vase.


For the bar we picked signature drinks and bottled drinks that looked good with the theme as well. Watermelon juice (Tropicana), cucumber vodka, and club soda and Cucumber water. The bottled drinks were from World Market and Publix. We set out prepared cups with straws and limes on a tray so people could easily serve themselves. I only had one pedestal for the drink dispensers that looked right with this theme so I borrowed the homeowners casserole dish and turned it upside down. Perfect.

For the food…

Curried Chicken Salad
Shredded rotisserie chicken with diced apricots, celery and green onion, chopped cashews and a dressing of sour cream, curry paste, lime juice and honey. Salt and pepper always.

Ham Salad
Store bought diced ham, drained crushed pineapple, diced red and green bell peppers with a dressing of sour cream, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, lime juice and honey. Salt and pepper.

Shrimp Salad
Thawed frozen, deveined, shelled, cooked medium shrimp cut into 3 pieces and the tails removed, with diced cucumber patted dry, green onion and a dressing of sour cream, mashed avocado, onion and garlic powder, and lime juice.

All three served with Hawaiian rolls

Rice Salad
Cook white rice according to the package but replace the water with equal parts coconut milk and pineapple juice. Stir in curry paste, onion and garlic powder into the liquid before you add the rice. Cook according to the package then fluff and stir in shredded coconut, drained crushed or pineapple tidbits, chopped green onions, and chopped cashews. Serve at room temperature so if you make it the day before and refrigerate it, take it out long enough before you serve it to come to room temperature.

Brie with Dried Apricots and Golden Raisins
Slice the top off the brie then warm it in the oven for a few minutes to make it oozie. Put the dried fruit in a microwave safe bowl and cover with apple juice, heat for 30 seconds to a minute to rehydrate the fruit. Drain and top the brie with the fruit.

Fruit Bruschetta
For the tropical feel we diced strawberry, kiwi, mango, and pineapple but you can use any fruit that you like. Toss it with a dressing of lime juice and honey and serve with toasted bread. Pinterest showed it already assembled but we had too big a crowd. There wouldn’t have been room on the platter for 50 of them and they would have gotten soggy.

Spicy Pineapple wrapped in Bacon
Toss pineapple chunks in habanero hot sauce and brown sugar then wrap with 1/2 a slice of bacon and broil until crispy. Turn over and broil the other side. Serve warm or room temperature. We learned the hard way, don’t wrap the bacon the night before, the pineapple is too acidic and works like a tenderizer. The bacon was all mush by morning and they had to be rewrapped.

Sugar Donuts with Pineapple Toppers
We’re not crazy, we bought the donuts. Toppers are from Amazon.

The wooden cutlery and palm plates are in the background of this photo. BTW. And the cutlery is in a well washed planter, like I said I look around my house for stuff.

Coconut Pound Cake with Mango Jam, Strawberries and Macadamia Nuts

I used Dottie Grantham’s pound cake recipe which I love and switched the milk for coconut milk then added shredded coconut. Topped each slice with mango jam from Scullery Kitchen Provisions, homemade whipped cream, diced strawberries and nuts.

This makes 1 bundt cake or 2 loafs. About 20 slices. For the party I halved each slice.

1 lb butter (4 sticks) at room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs (please get cage free eggs)
1 tablespoon vanilla
2/3 cup milk (which I exchanged for coconut milk)
4 cups flour
pinch of salt
1 cup shredded coconut (for the coconut version only)

Cream the butter and sugar until it looks like icing. Add the vanilla, pinch of salt and one egg at a time. Alternate adding flour and milk. Scrape the side and toss in about a cup or so of shredded coconut if you are doing the coconut version.

Pour into a greased and floured (I just use Pam for baking) pan and bake at 325 for 1 1/2 hours. According to Google a loaf pan should only take 1 hour and 10 minutes but mine took the 1 1/2 hours. Just keep checking it after 1 hour in 15 min. You want the middle to be firm and not liquidy feeling or giggly but you don’t want to over cook it either. The center should just slightly bounce back.

Lovely lovely party that was a team effort. Can’t wait for Will’s little sister to arrive.


Golf Balls and Green Grass

The Masters in Augusta

I have never seen such amazing green grass. Ever. Not at Disney not anywhere.
There was not one single yellow or brown blade even where we were walking. It looked like a fake carpet of grass. Even in the areas with pine needles, there were only pine needles no other debris. The massive amount of manpower it must take to keep this place in this condition is mind blowing.

But let me start at the beginning. To get tickets, or to get in the lottery to get tickets, unless you are fancy and not like the rest of us and are members or get tickets every year from a fancy friend or relative. So for us regular people to get tickets you have to go to the website and follow the instructions to request tickets for the next year. Once you request them during a specific time frame they will notify you in July of 2018 if you will get tickets for 2019. It took me 5 years to get practice round tickets. As soon as you find out you have tickets, book a room. The regular hotels will be already booked and crazy expensive. Even the basic nothing special Airbnb houses were expensive. I was able to find a tiny house about 15 minutes from the tournament. But don’t mess around, find a place. So once you have your place to stay and your tickets you are set.

Tiny house in the woods


It was cute and worked for what we needed. We weren’t ever there. This was our first tiny house, it was very much like staying in a camper. Chemical toilet and a tiny hot water heater, hot water lasted maybe 30 seconds. So yeah, lather up, turn on the water and rinse quick. But it had an ample kitchen and A/C so we were fine.

The day before our tickets for the practice round we drove around a little to get a better idea of how to get to the event. They give you a map that shows you were parking will be and how to get there, but obviously everyone will be going that way. Here’s how we got there from our tiny house. We also got there at 7am, an hour before the gates opened. They let you into the area where they sell food and merchandise so you can do that while you are waiting for the gates to the course to open. All the notes I read online said to buy your stuff as soon as you can because when it’s gone it’s gone.

Our tiny house was up by the French Market Grille in the upper left corner of the map. So we took 28/Washington Road south (stopped at the Starbucks – the green circle just before crossing under I-20 then immediate right on Boy Scout. There will be a little backed up traffic exiting I-20 but they are all going down further to Berkman’s Road which is where the Master’s people route them. We turned early onto Boy Scout Road, left onto Ingleside Drive then left onto Berkman’s Road so we were coming from the opposite direction as everyone else. Also, the parking for the south gate (the red x at the bottom) was much closer than the north gate compared to the parking. So it was a really short walk from our lot to the south gate. Of course, we were there an hour early too. The dark green area is the parking. And it’s free.

The tickets might be pricey – $75 each but once you get there everything is cheap. Sandwiches are $1.50, beer $2.50 and like I said, parking is free. Even the merchandise was priced well. 2 magnetized coozies – $10.

When you leave take Berkman’s to Riverwatch Parkway – we didn’t have any trouble. Just try to stay away from the route’s they have marked on the map they send you.

The food was basic but good and fresh. Pimento cheese, egg salad, smoked turkey and cheese, fried chicken with a pickle. The club however – was turkey and ham and that’s it. No cheese, no bacon, no condiments, just turkey and ham. So if there was anything disappointing it was that. There are not sponsor advertising anywhere. The packaging on all the food is green (so if some crazy person actually littered it wouldn’t show up very well on the grass) and it all just says the Masters. You can’t even wear clothes with big logos or carry umbrellas with large logos.


There are lots of rules and lots and lots of people to make sure you are following them. Surprising people followed the rules. I guess when it’s that hard to get tickets you sure don’t want to be thrown out because you wore something stupid. No chairs with arms, no cameras on tournament days, no phones – ever. Had to borrow a friends digital camera to get these shots and forgot about the dumb date stamp.

So here’s the pictures.

First thing, before people have trampled everything got this shot of footprints in the dew.

That amazing grass

Lots and lots of dogwoods, cherry trees and azaleas. Lots and lots.



And more pretty stuff


Got some great shots of players. Tiger, Bubba and Jordan. Because it’s a practice day the crowds were much smaller and the players were more relaxed.

Some other tips…

Get a camp style foldable stoop with a back. They sell them there at the Master’s that’s pretty much what everyone else had. We brought out own. I put a piece of green duck tape on the back and wrote our last name. The ones you buy there have a place to write your name. Find a spot at one of the holes and put your chair down. Then walk away. No one touches it. We set ours up at 6. You could see some of 16. The shot from the tee at 6 and they were right in front of us at the green on 6. Then behind us was the tee on 7. The famous holes like 12 and 16 will be crazy crowded. Even on the practice days. My only suggestion for where you put your seat is that if it’s hot and/or sunny find a spot in the shade. Otherwise it’s really more fun to walk around. I’m not sure how many times we walked the whole course looking at different players and the amazing landscaping. Most people will follow certain players but that’s kind of obnoxious because then you are stuck with a big crowd the whole time. We kind of did our own thing and it was much nicer.

The only time I saw long lines at the bathroom (for the guys there’s 20x more men then women at the event) or for food is if you walk up right after a large group has just passed through who were following certain players. And even then the huge staff is super efficient and moving everyone through with a smile and a “welcome to the masters”.

I don’t even watch golf. I know some of the players because my husband watches it. I don’t play it and don’t care at all about it and I had an awesome time. Friendly helpful staff, beautiful grounds, and for once crowds that weren’t so obnoxious you wanted to stab someone.

As far as the city of Augusta, meh. There are some nice old homes around the tournament. I think the neighborhood was called Summerville, they were around August University. But the downtown is mostly vacant which is unfortunate because the old buildings are amazing. Most of the city now is strip malls or regular malls and chains along the highways. We were able to find little pockets of cool local places but aside from going to the Masters there wasn’t much more. We ate at a delicious restaurant called Able Brown’s – it’s on the map above. Service was great and the food was mouthwatering.





Becky’s Homemade Ice Cream

Had this at my friend Becky’s house at a superbowl party. It was the creamiest ice cream I’ve ever had and bonus, its super easy. So thanks Becky for the awesome recipe!


1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla
Optional mix-ins
1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso
2 tablespoons jam
chocolate pudding
Chocolate chips
Even crazy stuff like pretzels, marshmallows, crumbles cookies or candy or bacon

Using the whisk attachment on your hand or stand mixer whip the cream until firm peaks.

On slow, whisk in the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and if you are using the pudding or instant coffee whisk those in.

If you are using the jam, nuts or chips fold these in. Just swirl the jam in so its not completely blended in.

Spread into a dish and freeze at least 4 hours or overnight.

Fall Apple Cranberry Peanut Butter Fluff


So into the fluff stuff on Pinterest. I love things that can be  easily customized. One basic recipe that you can switch in and out ingredients. This fluff “salad” does that perfectly. Not really clear why it’s called a salad. It’s whipped cream, pudding and/or jello and marshmallows with some fruit added in. Sounds like dessert to me.

The basic recipe is

1 regular size tub of cool whip (I like the real cream one but I’m sure they will all work)

1 package of pudding or jello (I like the new Jell-o brand all natural ones)
1 package of jello

1-2 cups mini marshmallows

1 can or jar of something with liquid like crushed pineapple, peaches, pears, apple butter etc

Diced fruit, dried fruit, chopped nuts etc

Fold the pudding and/or jello into the cool whip. Be sure to fold not stir or you’ll deflate the whipped cream. Then fold in the liquid part.

You need the liquid because the pudding and jello will absorb the moisture from the whipped cream and this liquid will make it less stiff and help desolve the mix.

Then fold in the fruit, dried fruit, nuts, marshmallows or whatever you’re using.

My first try

Orange Mango Pineapple Fluff

1 tub cool whip
1 package Jello-o brand natural orange mango jello
1 cup diced fresh mango
1 cup diced fresh pineapple
1 cup mandarin oranges each segment cut in half
1 cup mini marshmallows

Folded the jello into cool whip then the other ingredients. Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours.

I bought the little cups of already diced fruit so there was no prep or liquid. I noticed the jello didn’t completely desolve after it was refrigerated for a couple of hours. It did after it was refrigerated over night. It still tasted awesome after 2 hours but probably use the canned pineapple next time for the liquid. And maybe mix the pineapple with the jello first to desolve it then fold into the cool whip.

Fall Apple Cranberry Peanut Butter Fluff

1 tub cool whip

1 package Jell-o brand natural vanilla pudding

1 – 9oz jar applebutter

1 heaping teaspoon natural peanut butter

1/2 each Granny Smith and Fugi apple; diced and soaked in lemon water then drained

1 cup pecans chopped

1 cup dried cranberries

1-2 cups mini marshmallows

Fold the pudding mix into the cool whip, fold in everything else one at a time. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Tastes like fall!



Garden Party Baby Shower

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Citrus Salad with pomegranate and minted crème fraiche

Orange and Pink grapefruit segments sprinkled with pomegranate seeds
Crème fraiche sprinkled with bourbon black walnut sugar and mint leaves

Strawberries with Mascarpone cheese

Cut the bottom off the strawberries so the sit upright
Cut a an X in the top of the strawberries
Mix a tub of mascarpone and 2 tablespoons brown sugar
Put the mixture in a piping bag with a star tip
Pipe into the X of each strawberry
Top with a little sugar and a mint sprig

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Orange Mustard Sauce

Slice fingerling potatoes in half lengthwise
Place on a sheet pan, sprinkle with olive oil, salt, pepper and onion powder
Roast at 425 for about 25 minutes or until golden and soft
Place on platter to cool
Mix equal parts brown mustard and orange marmalade

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Egg salad with Bacon, Cucumber, and Pepper Jelly

Make your favorite egg salad, keep it stiff
Spread pepper jelly on a halved mini croissant
Top with egg salad, cucumber slice and bacon cooked and crumbled
Sprinkle with celery seed and dill

Blue Cheese Dip with Pear Slices

Pimento Cheese with Apple Slices

Chicken salad with Peaches, Blueberry, Cashews and Chutney

Shred the breast meat of 2 rotisserie chickens
Toss chicken with 1 peach, skinned and chopped small
Add 1/2 cup dried blueberries and 1/2 cup chopped cashews
Add a finely chopped celery stalk and grated 1/2 a small white onion
Mix 8 oz of sour cream with 3 tablespoons chutney and the juice of 1 lime
Pour the mixture over the chicken mixture and toss to coat
Top toasted pumpernickel bread slices with chicken salad
Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds


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Sliced peaches and fresh blackberries in Peach juice

Sliced strawberries, cucumber, and limes in limeade

Sliced cucumbers in water

Babes in the Woods

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Woodland Themed Baby Shower

I used a lot of things I already had. I don’t like to buy stuff that’s super specific for a party. I like to use stuff that you might use in real life and just double duty it for parties.

For this I used a lot of natural elements, wood trays and plates, I had faux fern and evergreen wreaths that I use for lots of things. Magnolia Market has cute ones. I had old thermoses, wooden lanterns, and old Coleman ice chest. I have wooden berry baskets that I use usually at the holidays to put cookies in. I put an enamel bowl in one for snacks. If it had been fall or winter I would have used some plaid blankets.

Just think about the theme. Don’t think about what kind of party it is or look at regular party stores they will mess you up. Instead think about the theme. It’s a woodland theme. What is in the woods, what do you do in the woods, that kind of stuff. So there are trees, pine needles, pine cones, acorns, ferns, wildflowers, nests, and wildlife in the woods. So then I look around my house and in my storage of stuff for those kinds of things. Next what do you do in the woods. Camp. So campfires, s’mores, etc.

You want tall things, medium things, then tiny things to scatter and fill in empty spaces. The lanterns and thermos were tall, I used cake stands to raise some of the food platters. Then the platters and plates are the medium items. The small things are pinecones, fake acorns I have for fall a fake nest with moss in it. I found some mason jars, filled them with battery twinkle lights and moss to look like fireflies. Your serving dishes should go with the theme too. That’s why I mostly have white, silver, and wood. You can pretty much use that combo for anything.

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2017-07-22 Wills baby shower 1

I also don’t like paper products. It cost more money, you are throwing more into the dump and it’s not as nice. I only use paper plates if it’s a lot of people. I have white plates from World Market or TJ Maxx or even Target they all have standard nice white plates that will go with anything. Target and World Market carry the same style for a long time so you could gradually buy what you need. I think at least 20 is good. You’ll use the small plates more so buy those first. Same thing with napkins, silverware and cups. You can get inexpensive white or off white napkins almost anywhere. Just don’t get the polyester ones. They feel terrible, look cheap, and don’t work anyways. Get cotton, linen or something natural. The cups you can mix and match so just buy cool smaller glasses when you find them. They should be old fashioned sizes. That works best for parties. The silverware will be the most expensive. You can get them at the same places or go to an antique shop that sells silver and buy mixed matched ones which I prefer. But eventually you’ll have a nice collection and never have to buy paper products again. And it just looks so much nicer.

For the food…

If I want to go with the theme because you don’t have to always do that. But if I go with the theme I think about food that would be eaten in that country or in that location or if you were really doing the thing the theme is based on. So in this case woodland, I went with camp type stuff.

Local baker made S’mores cupcakes (I got the idea from good ole Pinterest), I tried to make the cute little red toadstools from Pinterest but I couldn’t figure out how they made the little white dots. So it wasn’t a complete success but they were still cute. Made deviled potatoes that I just made up. Bought some fancy nut mix (Sahale) for a trail mix, made pigs in a blanket but put them on little twigs to look like we roasted them over a fire (you can order the twigs from Save-On-Crafts) Then the rest wasn’t all that camp like but it went with the rest of the food. Just roll with it.

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2017-07-22 Wills baby shower 2


S’mores Cupcakes
Graham cracker mini cupcakes with chocolate Hersey icing,
toasted marshmallow and a teddy graham
(if it needs to be baked the day of – order it instead
it will be too much to do the day of)

Camp Sliders
Hawaiian rolls, with turkey, smoked gouda,
and sautéed onions mixed with fig jam

Campfire Pigs in a Blanket
Good quality hot dogs rolled in crescent roll dough
baked according to the package.
Then skewer with a twig and serve with
mild mustard mixed with apricot jam

Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Sandwiches
Pepperidge Farm white bread cut in half and toasted
2 pouches of smoked salmon (like tuna)
mixed with crème fraiche, chopped drained capers
chopped dill, mustard, lemon zest and juice
top the toast with the salmon, a thin slice of
cucumber that’s been patted dry, celery salt and
a few sprigs of watercress.

Toadstool Caprese Skewers
Skewer half a grape tomato, a little piece of
mozzarella string cheese, and a leaf of parsley.
(maybe you can figure out the little white dots)

Deviled Roasted Potatoes
Baby gold potatoes, cut in half tossed with olive oil
salt and pepper and roasted until soft and browned.
Hard boil eggs and remove the yolks, whip the yolks with
sour cream, mustard, and drained relish. You want it stiff.
Top the cooled potatoes with a dollop of egg mixture
and a piece of cooked bacon.

Spring Vegetables with Dip
Bousin cheese with sour cream, chopped fresh chives.
Microwave a bag of French green beans until still crisp.
Microwave very thin asparagus with the woody ends snapped
off until still crisp, slice radishes in half.

Fancy Trail Mix
Sahale nut mix they have many different flavors

Coffee and Nut M&Ms
These were buy one get one at Publix so I grabbed them
can’t really taste the coffee but they are all different shades
of brown so they looked like pebbles! Perfect!

For the drinks

I bought Simply Lemonade brand juices. They are all natural not from
concentrate so they taste great. Not fake.

Simply Peach | add sliced fresh peaches and blueberries

Simply Limeade | add sliced cucumber, limes, and strawberries

Pitcher of water | add sliced cucumber

Then I also had a bottle of champagne if anyone wanted to spike their juices.

Usually I set up everything the week before to make sure I have what I need and have time to go buy what I’m missing

Then I prep the food the day before and just assemble the morning of. It was a busy week so I didn’t get to prep ahead of time. Fortunately, I had chosen simple things and my son, his boyfriend, and my husband all pitched in. We had the food ready to go in 3 hours. Sweet!

Photo credit | Carly Robertson Photography