Tip Toe Through the Tulips

IMG_0516-Rita and KarenWhile at home the past few days (on a break from my Taste of Home Cooking Schools), I have been enjoying time with family and friends.

Our niece, Sarah, had her high school graduation party, my home church held a special service commemorating their 150 anniversary, and my older brother celebrated his birthday. It kept me hopping, but it was also lots of fun.

Last week, just prior to the activities I mentioned above, I made a quick trip with my friend, Rita, to the central Iowa Dutch community of Pella. They are hosting their 80th annual Tulip Time Festival on May 7-9, 2015.

IMG_0538-tulip bed

We had heard the tulips were in full bloom, so we decided to go early. It was one of those rare nearly perfect weather days with temperatures in the 70s, low humidity, and a gentle breeze. The Dutch wind mills looked so pretty against the bright blue sky.

IMG_0494-town square windmill

Our reservation at their local tearoom was at 1:00 pm, so while we waited for that, we stopped in one of the bakeries on the square. No visit to Pella is complete without a Dutch letter and some other goodies. Rita and I both purchased delicious apple bread, cookies, and Dutch letters. So good!

Pella bakery

Then we strolled through the gardens in the middle of the town square and enjoyed the colorful views.

Pella square

In addition to the beautiful display of colorful tulips, the trees were also blooming.

IMG_0497-close up flowering tree

Eventually we headed to the Tulip Tea Room for lunch. It is in a large old home one block north from the square (918 Main Street). The main floor serves as the dining area. Upstairs is a little gift shop where I found a cute apron for our niece, some colorful spring paper napkins, and a lime green tea pot for my kitchen.

Pella Tea Room

I ordered their signature chicken salad with a side lettuce salad topped with hot bacon dressing. Rita ordered quiche and a side lettuce salad with poppyseed dressing.

We both had flavored iced teas (blueberry pomegranate). Our meals came with a small almond bar, a scone with Devonshire cream, and a toothpick threaded with small bits of pickle, Pella bologna, and cheese.

It was all so nicely done. I love a meal like this that offers samples of the local cuisine. For dessert Rita and I divided a slice of rhubarb crumb pie with vanilla ice cream. When the waitress asked if we enjoyed it, Rita chuckled that she could have licked the plate. I agreed!

After the tearoom, there were plenty of quaint shops to explore around the town of Pella, along with historical tours of various sites and gardens in town. But this day, we decided to simply soak in the beautiful weather and scenery.Pella gardens

We drove to another garden with a little pond and windmill a few blocks from the tearoom. That’s where we stumbled onto a mother with her adorable kids dressed in Dutch clothes. So cute! Rita and I strolled by blooming lilac bushes, sat on a bench under a flowering tree, and just lingered — not really wanting it to end.

I think Rita said it best. She said, “This is our ‘do whatever we want to day’”.  And she was right. We didn’t have to rush, we didn’t have to hurry up and meet our husbands somewhere (sorry, honey). We just had a delightful time.

It is one of those memories I will tuck away in the back of my mind for years to come. I am glad I have some photos to help me hold on to our experiences.  Thank you for going with me, Rita!

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