Saturday, December 31, 2005

Perfect Companion, Coco

Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet.

~ Anonymous ~

Countenance, Excellent as Cedars

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. . .his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.

Song of Songs 5:15

Prickly Pears

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Pick prickly pears with leather gloves on your hands. Take off spines. Rinse the fruit and place in kettle, adding enough water to cover. Boil until quite tender, squeeze through jelly bag or jelly press. To every 2 1/2 cups of juice add 1 (1 3/4 oz.) package powdered pectin and boil for a couple minutes. Then add 3 tablespoons lemon juice and 3 1/2 cups sugar. Stir often and boil hard for 5 minutes. Pour in jelly glass and seal with paraffin.

Linens and Lace

The days of yesteryear. A wardrobe was a valuable commodity for any woman. Each piece was held in high regard and was carefully stitched by hand or treadle machine. Quality workmanship was essential, as there were not discount stores to buy a quick replacement if stitching wore out. Each outfit was carefully planned and accessorized. And extras were the exception, not the rule. The result, some very well dressed women! The stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the emphasis given to sewing her wedding trousseau has always held much fascination for me!

Tea Rooms and Daisys

Tea rooms come in all shapes and sizes! I wonder, would this one fits the criteria established for a proper 'afternoon tea'? Watch out for stray cowboys!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Winter Tea with Auntie

Auntie and I have started a special tradition. Whenever I visit her in her home, we have an afternoon of 'tea' together. We are both passionate about 'afternoon tea', but with perspectives that differ somewhat. That doesn't matter, though, as both methods of 'tea' are memory makers. My interest in 'afternoon tea' focuses on the ettiquette and service of tea in the Americanized Victorian style. Three tiered trays containing sandwices, scones, and sweets; a pot of tea; and toppings of clotted cream, lemon curd, and jams. Auntie's teas are a result of the thirty years she lived in Europe and the many trips she took to England each summer. She creates an afternoon tea that is a lovely 'high tea'. Salads, a relish tray, cheesy scones, and boiled eggs create the main course of aunt's teas. She adds clotted cream, jams, apple butter, applesauce, tea breads, cookies, cream and sugar, and a pot of hot, English tea. Her favorite china, Beatrix Potter style, always graces the tabletop. And the best part of all --- hours of intimate conversation and catching up that occurs when we have the opportunity to visit every year or two. Thank you, Aunt, for a lovely afternoon tea! I enjoyed our afternoon tea together in the December sunshine on your front porch!

High Tea Table

Auntie's homemade goodies and hospitality create a 'high tea' that fills the tummy with refreshment and the heart with warm fuzzies!

Compote and Cream

Sparkling crystal and china add a festive feeling to a front porch tea.

Teapot in Sunshine

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The little brown teapot glistens in the winter sunshine!

Beatrix Potter's Charm

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The Royal Doulton China is painted with charming scenes by Beatrix Potter. Peter Rabbit will always be a favorite!

Scones and Tea

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Scones and salads with a hot pot of tea start the afternoon interlude.

Christmas Tea in the Sunshine

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Basking in the southwest sunshine on a December afternoon! It's tea time!!!!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

City Park 'n' Hitchin' Post

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Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, tht you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

Christmas Swag on Main

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I will dwell in them and walk among them, I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

2 Cor 6:16

Black Coffee

Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.

~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh ~

A good friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive,and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.

~ Anais Nin ~ Posted by Picasa

An Eye in Common with Our Own

It is hard to believe that anything is worthwhile, unless there is some eye in common with our own, some brief word uttered now and then to imply that what is infinitely precious to us is precious alike to another mind.

~ George Eliot ~Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Ghost Town Wreath

A lonely ghost town with scarcly a human in view, but a cheerful Christmas wreath finds time to grace a porch post with good tidings.

Table Through Chairs

A Christmas table from a child's point of view.

Days Gone By

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.

~Laura Ingalls Wilder ~

Christmas at Faraway Ranch

Biscuits and braided bread on holiday table.

Quilted Star of Christmas

I have always thought of Christmas time as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely.

-Charles Dickens

Welcome Lights

A circle. . .a place for family to share and create memories. . .in readiness.

And the Clock Strikes --- CHRISTMAS!

Christmas-that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance– a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.

~Augusta E. Rundel~

Nativity in Wood

Spinning characters from nativity scene. . .

A German Christmas

Porcelain Nativity

Aunt has this porcelain nativity displayed on a beautiful carved desk.

Nativity of Isreal

This beautiful nativity is handcrafted from special woods and was purchased by Aunt on one of her trips to Isreal.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Grandmother's Christmas Birthday

We enjoyed celebrating Grandma's 102 birthday with her this year. Aunt prepared a lovely, farm-style dinner. Table decor featured red apples and hunter green. Both went well with the beautiful Christmas decorations in her home. Great-uncle was able to attend (he's young at 90, compared to his older sister-in-law!). It was so special to be able to spend time with Grandma and the extended family.

Merry Christmas

A desert Christmas, this beautiful red ribbon adds a beautiful doorside greeting at Stovepipe Wells.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Point of View

by Shel Silverstein

Thanksgiving dinner's sad and thankless
Christmas dinner's dark and blue
When you stop and try to see it
From the turkey's point of view.

Sunday dinner isn't sunny
Easter feasts are just bad luck
When you see it from the viewpoint
of a chicken or a duck.

Oh how I once loved tuna salad
Pork, lobsters, lamb chops too
'Til I stopped and looked at dinner
From the dinner's point of view.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Autumn Tea in Yellow's Cheer

Shiny Silver

Baking soda can be used to clean silver pieces quite easily. Although this method may not be as gentle as a commercial paste silver cleaner, it works quite well in a pinch! Make a paste using baking soda and water. Rub the paste on silver pieces and then put them onto a sheet of aluminum foil in a pan. Add two or three inches of water to the pan and allow your silver pieces to sit overnight, then rinse. The tarnish will be mostly gone, but any remaining darkness can be rubbed off easily with a terry cloth towel. Some recipes call for the addition of 1/4 cup of Tide powdered laundry detergent to this technique.

Another method of silver removal using baking soda is to place a sheet of aluminum foil in the bottom of a large kettle. Add several inches of water along with 1 tsp. of baking soda and 1 tsp. of salt. Add silver pieces and bring the water to a boil. Be sure the water covers the silver pieces completely. After boiling for 2 -3 minutes, remove the silver, rinse, and dry. This method works well for cleaning hard to reach crevices.

Great-great-grandmother's silver that is a priceless family heirloom may not endure this method of cleaning. Be sure to test a spot first, as the salt and baking soda solution may damage fragile silver-plate. I've used this method, though, on pieces of silver that were not responding well to a cleaning with commercial tarnish remover and the silver shined up so well with this technique.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Teacup Handles, Yes or No

In times past, teacups did not have handles! It wasn't until the midde of the 18th century that they were added to teacups. In the olden days, gentlemen and ladies would sip their tea from cups of hot tea that they held between thumb and forefinger. And - gulp - it was common and considered good ettiquette - to pour their hot tea into a saucer, let it cool, and sip from there! Can you imagine? Try that at your next tea party and see what happens!

Friendships Rose

Jam Tea

This morning I enjoyed a gentle cup of jam tea! It was so delicious and the amber liquid slid down my throat with such ease! It's the kind of tea that children enjoy at tea parties with their dolls, teddy bears, and miniature cups and saucers. Yet, it appeals to adults too. The recipe is simple and I will share it with you here:

Jam Tea

1 cup of hot plain tea (Lipton's decaf is good)
1 teaspoon of your favorite jam (I used a fruit sweetened apricot this morning)

Stir together the hot tea and jam. The jam will melt into the amber liquid and you'll have a sweet treat to enjoy!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Redwork Embroidery

Redwork is the art of embroidery using only one color: red. I used to think the idea was quite boring, as I tend to like selecting color families that work together in a project. But, recently I tried my hand at redwork and have enjoyed both the process and the cheerful finished sampler. The redwork tea towel in the picture above is one I recently embroidered for a friend in the tea towel exchange group I belong to.

Originally, red dyed cotton threads were not colorfast and the colors tended to bleed when they became wet. Embroiderers tended to select other colors or stitch red's in silk threads that would not bleed. Then a red dye was developed in Turkey that did not bleed or fade when washed. Soon, Turkey red thread became a reliable and popular choice for stitching decorative patterns on household items.

In 1876 The Royal School of Art Needlework from Kensington, England produced a booth at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. American women were charmed by the intricate embroidery and were ready to try their hand at it. It soon gained popularity, as more and more stitchers created embroidered samplers and quilts using this process.

Redwork designs range from very simple to elaborate and intricate. Over time, pictures of nursery rhymes, people, buildings, animals, and flowers have been depicted in this art. In times past, squares of preprinted patterns were made available for redwork. These squares cost a penny apiece, thus the name penny squares became a common term when describing these blocks. Completed blocks were used for many household projects, but became especially useful and popular for bedcoverings. Blocks were sewn together and a feather stitch or cross-stitch was used to cover the seam line.

Stitches especially common when stitching redwork are backstitch, outline stitch, and the stem stitch. The stem stitch is also called the South Kensington stitch or the English Kensington stitch, a name that probably took hold because of the popularizing of this embroidery style by The Royal School of Art Needlework in 1876.

Opening the Heart

Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend.

"Hear my prayer, O Lord, And let my cry come to You. Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble; Incline Your ear to me; In the day that I call, answer me speedily." Psalm 102:2

Harvest of a Quiet Eye

Happiness is the harvest of a quiet eye.

My heart is steadfast, O God;
I will sing and make music with all my soul.

Psalm 108:1 NIV

Friday, November 18, 2005

Fading Roses of Autumn

I picked the last of my Simplicity Pink Hedge Roses this week. The morning dew is still on the petal in this picture. Although these roses have been through several frosty and freezing nights, the are resilient and tenacious! Each bud appears to struggle to emit beauty for as long as possible. Thirty of these beautiful plants have graced my yard for several years now. They are a hedge that blooms abundantly from May through November. Each year we cut them back from their 10' - 12' height to make way for next year's growth. Yesterday was that day. They are now 5' bushes of green and stalk, freed of pink and fading roses, awaiting the warmth of spring's sunshine and showers.

November's Rose

More on Traditions and Tofu Croquettes

Family traditions and food seem to go together. Yesterday I received my most recent issue of "Tea Time" magazine. I love browsing the pages. The photos and ideas I glean there are like going to a tea party without dressing up! I was surprised that on page 45 there was a picture that looks nearly like the one I'm sharing with you today. "Tea Time" was featuring little Crab Cakes, but mine are vegetarian and have always been a family favorite! This recipe came from my mother who found it nearly 45 years ago when she was working as a cook's helper for a college food service. The recipe was passed down not only to her daughter's, but to her sister-in-law Mable, and from her to my favorite cousin, Wayne. Wayne loved this recipe and it was one he requested be made for him during a visit from his mother just weeks before his impending death. Now, I never make these little cakes without thinking of him. That's the way family tradtions work. They all hinge upon not only taste, but memories and emotions and the word pictures that they create in our mind when we share them with others. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as our family has!

Tofu Croquettes


1 lb tofu
1 oz cashews - coarse chopped
1 oz pimento
1 oz onion
1 oz celery
1 oz green pepper
1/2 tsp garlic salt
3/4 tsp seasoning salt
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp soy sauce
chicken-style seasoning to taste

You may be more generous with the vegetable ingredients. Mix together well. Form into patties or balls. Fry in hot skillet or bake on cookie sheet at 350F until golden brown.

Tartar Sauce

1 Tbsp onion
1 Tbsp green or red pepper
1 Tbsp pimento
2 Tbsp pickle
1 cup vegan mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
salt to taste

Mix ingredients together well. Use as a sauce for the croquettes. You may add 2 Tbsp (6 tsp) of tomato juice for added color and flavor.