Friday, September 1, 2017

Tales of the Traveling Totes # 12 - In the Kitchen With Miss Merri Mac

Welcome to 

Tales of the Traveling Totes #12

 My heartfelt thanks to each of you who sent

emails, texts, FaceBook messages, and phone calls

to check on us here in Texas this past week.

Grateful to report that we are safe and

didn't have any threat from Hurricane Harvey.

Yes, there was plenty of rain, 

but we were prepared for the rains here at

Hyacinths for the Soul.

Radar maps from local sources 

Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast late at night, August 25th.

Then the storm slowly made it's way inland 

bringing rain to central Texas.

Lots and lots of rain!

As the system stalled inland, it continued to swirl around 

dumping unprecedented amounts

of rain over Houston and surrounding areas for days.

Countless homes were flooded and families forced to flea.

As the flood waters continued to spread over

Houston, some of our family were among the evacuees.

On Tuesday, we welcomed my cousin, her daughter and son-in-law,

 their two children, and their cute puppy to shelter in our home.

The privilege of sharing our home with this sweet family

reminds us that good things can come out of a bad situation.

It's difficult to comprehend the destruction of this past week.

Please keep all who have been effected by this

natural disaster in your thoughts and prayers.

With no real summer travels here at HFTS over the past

 months, I decided to share a mini getaway to a cooking school

for our September edition of  Tales of the Traveling Totes.

Onion Creek Kitchens at Juniper Hills Farm 

is located in the beautiful Texas hill country 

just a short drive southwest of Austin.

The hands-on cooking class was a perfect way

for a few of us to help a friend celebrate a milestone birthday.

Perched high on a hill, the 53 acre ranch is home 

to native Texan, Sibby Barrett, 

along with native flora and fauna of the area.  

Photo Curtesy of Juniper Hill Farms

Juniper Hill Farm is the quintessential hill country experience

where one is likely to spot white-tailed deer, 

jackrabbits, armadillos, raccoons,

or as we did that morning, a grey fox.

Photos Curtesy of Juniper Hill Farms

Say "hello" to Heath, Jacques (Pepin) and Darjeeling.

The resident herd of miniature donkeys 

will greet you on arrival,

and the resident bees provide fresh honey 

for sweeting the experience.

Cooking classes conducted in a state of the art

commercial kitchen and dining space offer 

hands-on involvement, which is key to 

creating a spectacular experience.

Fanciful art in the theme of

flatware and cooking utensils add a 

sense of whimsy to the space ~ the perfect

touch for a MacKenzie-Childs tote carrying gal.

We were here to celebrate this darling girlfriend.

Happy, Happy Birthday, Jenefred!

Stations were set up for each of us to work 

on preparing the various dishes on the menu.

We divided up the responsibilities and got to work.

Well, not really work. 

 It was all too much fun to be classified as work!

Turns out the favorite dish of the day

was one of the appetizers.

~ Strudel with Bacon, Figs, and Shallots ~

Each of us were sent home with a copy of all the recipes.

Thought I'd share this favorite here.

Appetizers were followed by a healthy and delicious

spinach, apple, almond salad with a blueberry vinaigrette.

Note all the different plates, napkins, and flatware.  

I admire Sibby's sense of whimsy in her collection of

vintage silverware and variety of different dish patterns.

Love seeing the mix of patterns and textures 

that are used in each place-setting.

Main course was chicken with leeks, 

artichokes, and mushrooms in a white wine sauce

with a side of Israeli couscous with lemon.

All of this served with a glass of wine

or more champagne.

Dessert was a fresh peach tart with salty nut crust.

Surprisingly light and tasty.  

I'll definitely make this one again!

Photo Curtesy of Juniper Hill Farms

Juniper Hils Farm

If you are in the area and want a unique experience,

make a reservation to attend one of

 Onion Creek Kitchen's Cooking Classes or Events.

Juniper Hill Farm has much to offer, including 

comfortable cabins available for overnight guests.

Our Traveling Tote Giveaway is hosted by

Linda @ More Fun Less Laundry.

Be certain to leave a comment on her blog to be entered.

Ready to "mix it up" for more Traveling Tote fun.

Hope you will leave a comment before your click the links below.

~ Don't Miss the Fun ~
More Tales of the Traveling Totes
at the links below.

Debbie with Miss Aurora @ Mountain Breaths
Emily with Miss Courtney Childs@ The French Hutch
Jenna with Miss Coquille @The Painted Apron
Katie with Miss Daisy @ Preppy Empty Nester
Linda G with Miss Rosie @ More Fun Less Laundry
Linda P with Miss Lola @ Life and Linda
Patti with Miss Kenzie and Miss Taylor @ "Pandora's Box"
Rita with Miss Luna C @ Panoply

Also Joining
Pink Saturday @ How Sweet the Sound
StyleInspiration Gallery @ Zevy Joy
Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop @ Peonies and Orange Blossoms Share Your Cup Thursday @ Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olsen Home and Garden Thursday @ Delightsome Life Share Your Style @ Vintage NestVintage Charm @ Blue Willow House Foodie Friday and Everything Else @ Rattlebridge Farm Feathered Nest Friday @ French Country Cottage Home Sweet Home @ The Charm of Home


The summer we married, my husband was in graduate school, and I was employed as a teacher. We took a portion of our savings that summer and purchased a sailboat. We christened our Catalina 22, “Hyacinths For The Soul” after Saadi’s poem. Our "Hyacinths" provided years of pleasure.


  1. Sounds like a wonderful venue and getaway for a fun birthday celebration! The bacon, fig and goat cheese streudel sounds like a winner to me and I love the colorful place settings and mixers in the class. Your house guests are adorable, so glad you were safe and dry and they could take shelter with you. The sheer amount of water from Harvey is mind boggling and clean up would be overwhelming.

  2. What a fabulous way to celebrate a birthday! Onion Creek looks beautiful and the day looked like so much fun.
    I love the first pic of your cousins and pooch. I have a feeling that they were spoiled rotten by you, your hubby and Sadie!! Hope you have a wonderful Labor Day weekend, dear Sarah.

  3. What a fabulous way to celebrate a birthday! It's just beautiful -- the food, the environment, everything.

    I'm so grateful you are safe (I thought you would be but you never know) and especially that you are close enough that you can welcome refuge to your family members. It's such a massive storm and massive chaos. Sending hugs and prayers to all (and a donation to the Red Cross.)

  4. Perfect opening shot with all the rain gear, you've certainly needed it. So good to know you were not in Harvey's direct path. What a wonderful way to help by bringing your family out of harms way. I love the day you celebrated a friends birthday, such a lovely place. To me it looks like an Italian villa in Tuscany. It looks like you were enjoying every detail of the cooking class too. It was a great menu and I loved the different place settings.
    Happy TTT Day........

  5. How much fun was that? Wow!!
    And those Hunter boots get me every time I see them:)

    How kind of you to shelter family..what cuties!
    Happy you are safe and sound.
    Have a lovely weekend:)

  6. What a great experience - I would love to attend a class like that! The dishes are so unique and the food looks delish. So happy your family was able to come stay with you and I hope their home is safe from the storm - it is so sad to see the photos on TV. Love your first photo - looks like you are ready to tackle the rain!! Great post.

  7. Great experience. You inspire me to use some of my vintage items and not just put them in drawers. So glad you are safe from the storm. Thank you for sharing.

  8. What a fabulous and unique experience. Lovely food and atmosphere. Happy milestone birthday to your friend. I agree the mix of dishes, napkins and silverware was delightful! That is s marvelous venue.
    Glad you were safe from the storm. Your MC rain wear are so cute. Having your relatives seek refuge with you was a blessing for them and for you. Adorable children and their dog.

    Texas has been front and center in my prayers and will continue to be. Devastation is heart breaking.

  9. I am so happy that you weren't directly hit by Harvey, and that you were able to provide shelter for your family members. What a disaster! The good coming from it is seeing the spirit of Texans and the giving hearts of Americans willing to help Texas rebuild.

    I would love to take cooking classes with my girlfriends at Juniper Hills Farm. How much fun! The pie looks delish. You do the most fun things with your peeps, Sarah! I enjoyed seeing the photos from your fun trip there.


  10. I am so glad you weren't in harms way Sarah, I was so worried about you and all my Texas friends! We experienced the remnants of Harvey earlier this week and it was terrifying, I can't imagine what those poor people went wonderful of you to be able to share your home with extended family. Watching the recovery efforts and now the clean up is simply incredible! The cooking class sounds like so much fun!! And that menu, wow! Thanks for sharing the fig & bacon strudel recipe, I can't wait to try that! Juniper Hills Farm sounds like a great place for a girls trip, and I can see why you loved the eclectic collection of dishes and silverware~

  11. Sarah, I was thinking of you all during the hurricane and afterwards. I'm so glad you weren't directly affected. I hope those beautiful children can return to a home that is intact. Your Juniper Hills Farm experience sounds perfect!! The grounds must be so pleasant to explore with those donkeys (I love donkeys) and the menu sounds scrumptious! The toasted lemon couscous on the menu board caught my eye, and I think I see it on one of those pretty and interesting plates. What a great idea for a special birthday. You do have the most fun trips, Sarah! Thanks for taking us along. Linda

  12. OH SARAH <3 SO HAPPY to see you are all right <3 I've been praying for everyone in the path of HARVEY and beyond <3 OH MY that cooking school looks like a DREAM!!! <3 Love all your details <3 Big SQUISHY HUGS to you Sweetie <3

  13. So happy and relieved you are ok. That massive storm has done so much damage and affected so many innocent people. Prayers for all.
    a lovely gesture to ope your home to family members. Your cooking class looks like fun. Love the menu too. The strudel sounds and looks amazing. A special way to celebrate a birthday. How fun to use the mixers for a greeting.

  14. Ooh, Sarah, you may not have been to too many places with Miss Rosie, but you sure do choose quality when going out, I must say! That experience, that facility looked to be absolutely a fantastic way and place to celebrate a milestone birthday, and those dishes ALL looked fabulous. I pinned the recipe you photographed - thank you! Speaking of photos - that fox in the fountain is outstanding. Love the Jacques (Pepin) donkey. ;) Apropos.
    It was a relief to keep hearing of family and friends marking themselves safe throughout Harvey. It was a wretched week, and will be a harrowing months and weeks to come for many, I'm certain. I hope the assistance will be sustained in the months to come. Many West Virginians are still trying to recover from its flood in 2016.

  15. Sarah, I don't know why I didn't get those Hunter boots when they had them at the barn sale. I wear my black and white polka dot ones to pick up my veggies at the farm, but I could be going in style with your boots :-) Very kind of you to shelter family, and they are so lucky. My little area has sent 75 volunteers from the Red Cross to Houston. Happy you are dry and eating well. xo

  16. Sounds like a fun wonderful day. Love all the good food that you had.

    I am so sorry about the storm there in Texas and how wonderful to open up your home for your relatives. The kids and dog are sure cute.

    Take care of yourself and stay safe.

    We are having extreme heat here in So CA, it is terrible and I don't even go out of the house.


  17. So glad to hear you made it through the storm without incident. I tried to open the doors to our friends but they stuck it out in Lumberton. They got completely cut off in town. This was indeed crazy. That cooking class looks fun and amazing. Thanks for sharing you Traveling Tote adventures. Have a wonderful weekend!

  18. Your cooking class sounds like so much fun.

    Harvey has destroyed so much, but it is heartwarming to hear all the stories of people reaching out to help.

  19. Our Houston family were one of the lucky ones. No flooding in their neighborhood. They were out helping others and my daughter in law got a bacterial infection from being in the water!
    That cooking school looks like a lot of fun.

  20. Dear Sarah,
    I'm so glad you and your family are all safe. Catching up here after being away in Maine, where there is a drought. This extreme weather! It's very sad watching the news. So many people and animals affected by Harvey - devastating!
    Take care, my friend.

  21. PS - That strudel looks scrumptious! Looks like a fun day cooking. xoxo

  22. I am so glad your family was safely in Austin with you. That hurricane has really caused a lot of damage. Our family who live in Houston was pretty much unscathed, luckily.

    Your cooking class looked like a great way to celebrate a birthday! I saved the recipe you shared, as that combination of flavors is one of our favorite things. In fact, we had a flatbread much like that today. Any chance of sharing the recipe for the peach tart?

  23. Sarah, what a great way for friends to celebrate a birthday! The venue looks so lovely and the menu sounds so delicious. The selection of dishes adds to the magic of a cooking class! The peach tart with salted nut crust looks heavenly! I am so glad you were safe and were able to take in family that needed a safe and loving shelter!

  24. Dearest Sarah,
    What a unique and perfect way for celebrating your friend Jenefred's birthday together!
    Looks and sounds as a very yummy dinner indeed.
    Lovely collection of china and silverware for enjoying such dinner.
    Happy to hear you are safe and able to welcome your cousin and her family inside your home!
    We need lots of prayers for so many people and it looks like Texas is a perfect role model for unification!
    Let's heed this upcoming day of prayer on Sunday, September 3.
    Sending you hugs,

  25. So happy to hear you are safe..and where able to provide shelter for your family.
    Think it would be enjoyable going to cooking school..maybe I'll give it a try.

  26. You girlfriends are so adorable! I would love to do something like this. The place is beautiful and the menu sounds fabulous.

    Happy Birthday to your friend. ;)

  27. How wonderful of you and "your chef" to open your home to your cousin and her sweet family, Sarah. I know they appreciated your hospitality.
    You and your girlfriends have such fun! I would love to go to that cooking school. Thank you for sharing the favorite recipe. I'd love to try them all!!

  28. We have friends and family in Houston; some have been affected and others unscathed. Praying for everyone and glad you were able to help your family. I love cooking classes, especially with a group of close friends. Looks like a good time was had by all.

  29. Juniper Hills looks idyllic, what a wonderful way to celebrate a birthday with special fiends and have all that wonderful food to savour, I'll definitely be trying the strudel recipe here at home.
    So glad to know that you stayed safe during the Hurricane, I imagine your relatives were extremely relieved to have you there to help keep them safe.
    Love the wellies, btw!

  30. So glad you were safe from the hurricane. What a great idea for a girlfriend getaway! I may have to suggest a cooking class for my gal pals.

  31. Hello Sarah,
    I'm glad that you were not affected too much by the hurricane, and that you were able to offer shelter to your family members.
    A cooking getaway sounds like a wonderful way to have fun, be with friends, and learn something new. The food looks fabulous!
    Have a good day,

  32. Sarah, first, I'm so happy you were not flooded, and that you were able to offer shelter to people you love. I've been praying each day.

    And then, what a wonderful way to celebrate a darling friend. Juniper Hills looks absolutely amazing!!
    xo Lidy@FrenchGardenHouse

  33. Sarah, you've all been in our prayers, so glad you fared well through the storm! Your cooking adventure looks like it was a real blast! I think this is my favorite of the traveling totes the look of your blog, too! Thanks so much for sharing at Vintage Charm! xo Kathleen|Our Hopeful Home

  34. This sounds like so much fun with a group of girlfriends! A local restaurant offers cooking classes and I hope to do one soon. The menu sounds delicious and the food looks great.

  35. Sarah, what a fabulous birthday for your friend. I would love doing something like this!! I'm so glad you were okay during the hurricane. You are so sweet and I'm sure your family was so thankful to have somewhere to go. Now poor FL. is going through this. So much happening in the world right now. Prayers for all!!

  36. Sarah,
    What a wonderful way to celebrate a birthday! I'm making note of Juniper Hills Farm... one of my friends is a fabulous cook, and this would be a fantastic birthday outing for her.


  37. How fun that looks! I love figs. Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home!


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