Aristocrats and bouldering and cookies, oh my!

A few months ago I wrote a post entitled Three Beautiful Things about three things I had experienced at the Wallingford Branch. Since then, we have made it a habit around our house to name three things we are grateful for every night before the kids go to bed.

It is always fun to hear what the kids say, even if the fact that “screentime” is always mentioned makes me cringe. My younger son always says, “Right now,” which makes this meditating mama’s heart sing.

In that spirit, I would like to share three beautiful things I have experienced recently with you:

  1. Downton Abbey – The best period piece since Colin Firth made all the ladies swoon as Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. Set in the early years of the twentieth century, Downton Abbey is the story of the Crawleys, an aristocratic family with three nearly-grown daughters and no male heir. When their cousin Patrick (their closest male relative and therefore the heir apparent) dies in the sinking of the Titanic they are faced with the prospect of handing their fortune over to an unknown third cousin. The story is told through both the Crawley family and their servants and is set against the backdrop of an England in transition. The first season is available to watch instantly on Netflix.
  2. Stone Gardens – The most fun I’ve had with my kids since we discovered Great Wolf Lodge, we went here to celebrate my dad’s birthday and went back again the very next day. With two areas for open climbing (called “bouldering”), a large area for climbing with ropes (“belayed” climbing), and a kids’ area with a massive pirate ship, Stone Gardens is the perfect place to get started with climbing and to expend a lot of kid energy. For just $50 for up to four people (we had five in our group and they let us all climb anyway) you can hire a professional belay for one hour to show you the ropes (wink, wink), then take off on your own for some solo bouldering. They have classes for women, kids, beginners, as well as camps and other special events. I had such a great time, I am considering having MY next birthday party there!
  3. Coconut Cookies – Every few months a group of moms I know get together for a Moms’ Night In at someone’s house. Everyone brings a bottle of wine and a special treat to share and we spend the evening laughing, talking and catching up. Last time our hostess made some cookies that were all the talk on email the next day. They were THAT good! I ate three myself (plus one for breakfast the next morning) and sweets aren’t even really my thing. But don’t take my word for it, try them for yourself.

Coconut Cookies

3 sticks unsalted butter at room temp

1 C sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3 1/2 C flour

1/2 tsp table salt

2 large eggs lightly beaten (you may only need one)

12 oz sweetened flake coconut

44 Kraft caramels

6T heavy cream

large flaky sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter and sugar together on medium speed of mixer until light and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. On low speed add the flour and table salt. Beat to combine. Press dough together in plastic wrap and then roll into 1 1/4 in balls. Roll balls in beaten egg, then in the coconut. Put balls on parchment-lined baking sheets and press indentation with thumb in center of each ball. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and repress indentations. Bake until golden 5-10 more minutes. Cool on wire racks. Put caramels and cream in saucepan and heat over low, stirring constantly until melted and smooth. Spoon into center of each cookie (where you made the indentation) and sprinkle with sea salt.
May your world be filled with beautiful things! (And please share yours with all of us in the comments section.)

[The original Three Beautiful Things site can be found here if you want to check it out.]

Lara Simmons

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2 Responses

  1. Sasha says:

    Lara – I’m a HUGE Downton Abbey fan, too! Isn’t it a great show? I don’t have a TV, so I’m waiting oh so patiently for the show to be available on streaming sources! And I can’t wait to try that recipe, it makes my mouth water. THANK YOU for sharing! 🙂

  2. Lara Simmons says:

    So glad to know you are a fellow DA fan Sasha! It IS a great show! Let me know how you like the cookies.

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