Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My Herbal Tea Jar

I found this quaint old gallon jar when we cleaned out my mother's house. I fell in love with it's unique shape, the geometric designs that encircle it's sides, the wire handle with red wooden handle, and it's worn red lid. At first I thought I'd store dried beans in it, but sometimes purposes evolve to other uses. This is my herbal tea jar. Some of my friends have been teasing me about my 'earth mother' approach to life, and are worried that I will blend them tea from my tea jar, but I just laugh and tell them to never fear, I'll serve them boring tea from a tea bag instead! My herbal tea jar is being filled with an assortment of dried herbs and edible flowers from my garden. Mints of many types, lemon balm, lemon grass, calendula flowers, dried lavender bud, thyme, basil, Italian parsley, sage, stevia, wild strawberry leaf, nettle, and St. John's Wort have all found their way to this jar. During the cold months of winter, I will sip and enjoy a little flavor and fragrance from my summer garden, and will look forward to the new growth of spring ahead.

Would you like to join me for a cuppa?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tibetan Butter Tea

Recently Rylan made a delicious after-dinner tea for our family to enjoy. It was unusual, but strangely delicious in a rich and flavorful sort of way. Here's Rylan's recipe for Tibetan Butter Tea.

Tibetan Butter Tea
[Po Cha]

5 - 6 cups water
2 heaping tablespoons black tea

Bring water to a boil. Once boiling, add 2 heaping tablespoons black tea leaves. Boil for 2 - 3 minutes. Strain to remove tea leaves. Place hot tea in blender and add:

1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter*
1/2 cup milk

Place lid on blender container and whiz carefully until mixture is frothy and foamy. Be careful about mixing the hot liquid in the blender, as it will expand.

Pour into teapot or serve directly in teacups. Enjoy!

*The original recipe called for YAK butter, but of course Rylan couldn't find any at the store!

Here is an adapted, vegan version of ingredients for the Tibetan Butter Tea:

Vegan Version

5 - 6 cups water
2 heaping tablespoons black tea (decaf will work fine)
1/8 teaspoon salt (reduced because of salt in the Earth Balance)
2 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan buttery spread (margarine)
1/2 cup soy milk

Follow the instructions given above.

This is the most typical beverage in Tibet. Many Tibetans drink it all day long because it helps to keep them warm. In Tibet a churn or lidded container is used rather than a blender. The container is shaken for 3 - 4 minutes until beverage is well blended.

Take Delight

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart's desires.

Psalm 37:4

Monday, September 28, 2009

Circle of Happy Friends

"It was George Eliot who earnestly inquired, 'Reader, have you ever drunk a cup of tea?' There is something undeniably heartwarming and conversation-making in a cup of steaming hot tea. . . It is an ideal prescription for banishing loneliness. Perhaps it is not so much the tea itself, as the circle of happy friends eager for a pleasant chat."

Book of Etiquette 1921

Saturday, September 26, 2009

To Give is to Love

"Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance and none can say why some fields will blossom while others lay brown beneath the August sun. Care for those around you. Look past your differences. Their dreams are no less than yours, their choices no more easily made. And give, give in any way you can, of whatever you posses. To give is to love. To withhold is to wither. Care less for your harvest than for how it is shared and your life will have meaning and your heart will have peace."

~Kent Nerburn~

Friday, September 25, 2009

Most Significant Work

"I think that the most significant work we ever do, in our whole world, in our whole life, is done within the four walls of our own home."

~ Stephen R. Covey ~

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Aprons Tell a Story

Aprons tell a story and take us back in time. Although they were out of favor for a time, they are making a comeback as an artsy and creative way for women to express themselves. One of my mentors, Shirley, has taken the time to gather together aprons from the past. Each is created using a different technique or method. How interesting it is to see examples of the variety of styles and techniques she has exhibited in her collection. She shares how aprons take us back to important people, dates, and times. And how they implement imaginative use of patterns, fabrics, and embellishment techniques. Together, they show the artistic and inventive talents of women.

Some of Shirley's aprons displayed use these creative techniques: patchwork, tatting, Norwegian fisherman knitting, Seminole patchwork, smocking, crocheting, huck weaving, lacework, Lummi Indian weaving, pin-tucking, painted fabric, crocheted inserts, polka dot prints, dotted swiss and rick-rack, and hanky aprons.

How many of these needlework methods have you tried your hand at?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Roses, Lavender, Coneflowers, and Mint

The fragrance of roses, lavender, cornflowers, and flowering mint filled my car today as I ran my errands around town.  It had fun delivering them to Paula and Terri so they could use them in their booth at the antique show this week-end.  And I enjoyed seeing their booth!  It featured the best of their shop and was filled with so many beautiful vintage things.  The soft pastel colors, old linens, and vintage and antique treasures all worked together in soothing harmony.  I wish them much success as they enjoy visiting with community members enjoying the antique show this week-end.  Happy times, you two!    

[Click on the picture to see it better]

Morning Glories and Chatter

This morning I'm headed out to pick a bucket of Simplicity pink roses for Paula. She's doing an antique show with her sister this week-end, and they are decorating their booth with fresh flowers. How fun to be able to share with them in this way! Earlier I walked my yard, looking at what was in bloom and might be of benefit to them. The roses are nice, but what it so magnificent right now are the morning glories climbing the dog kennel fence! They are a jumble of heart-shaped leaves and purple and hot pink flowers! Each morning they are at their best, but take an early nap mid-afternoon, disappearing into themselves, only to open wide again the next morning. I wish they could be cut and shared for the antique booth, but they are too tender. So, with morning glory thoughts in mind, I thought I'd share with you a tea towel I embroidered on linen --- one that was inspired by my garden morning glories. Thanks for stopping by and may your day be glorious!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I Love Indian Summer

It's a beautiful time of year. Although it is technically a few weeks too soon to declare this officially "Indian Summer", these late days of summer are slowly fading into the magical expression of early autumn. Indian summer is a term used informally to describe the sunny and warm weather of autumn in the northern hemisphere. It requires warm days (usually about 70 degrees F) and pleasant skies. It's the time when the roses start to thrive again after summer's heat and when tomatoes are just coming into themselves on the vine. It's when the leaves start to turn brilliant and glorious colors on the trees. Metaphorically, this term refers to a late blooming of something after it has formerly lost its relevance. It's a revival of the early days of summer when gardens thrived and pleasant skies and gentle weather made it fun to be outside. Although Indian summer generally is noted as a period in October and November (before the first snowfall), it arrives earlier on the mountain, as cold nights bring autumn sooner there. Indian summer; a pleasant time to spend in nature, sharing with those you love. I think it's time to plan a campfire picnic around the fire pit, don't you? What are your plans for Indian summer?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


"Now here will I welcome my family and friends.
Be at home in this house, whosoever comes in
To share with me laughter and music and tears,
And don't mind the others who're living in here.
It's weathered and drafty, but solid and true.
Today it's my home, but I'm just passing through.
Please bless this old house, oh my dear Lord, I pray,
So the next generation can love it someday."

Sandra E. McBride

Monday, September 14, 2009

The World is a Book

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page."

Saint Augustine

Sunshine and Shadows

"Keep your face to the sunshine, and you will never see the shadows."

~ Helen Keller ~

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Miniatures and Dolls

Have you noticed that sometimes it's the little things that are the cutest? Do you remember being attracted to objects in miniature as a child? A child's size tea set, a baby hairbrush, a toy iron that really worked, or little rolling pins and pie pans to help in the kitchen --- all were objects that inspired me as a child and drew me into the "child's work --- of play". As I grew older, like many girls of my era, Barbie dolls became a vital part of my life. The tiny objects became even tinier! Tiny high heels, buttons on sweaters that were hardly bigger than a pin-drop, and real nylons with the thinness of a pencil were all little things that had to be tended with care so they would not get lost. Little boxes or a toy dresser or closet kept all Barbie's necessities in a contained place. Hours would be spent, organizing and reorganizing Barbie and her belongings. My mother seemed to enjoy the Barbie stage as much as her daughters did. She would knit and crochet tiny sweaters, coats, and sweater dresses for our dolls. Hand-sewn garments, jackets, and hats were lovingly stitched with her own hand. Our Barbies had very few store-bought clothes. They were too expensive, and besides, the one's mom made were even better! I remember trying my hand at a few Barbie garments as I learned to sew, but oh --- they were so much more difficult than normal sized clothes. Even the larger sized baby-doll clothes were small enough that they caused me stress as I learned to piece and seam. Somehow, mother always got it right and whipped doll clothes galore out in short order. All these memories, and simply because Paula recently obtained an old-fashioned McCall doll pattern for her shop. A tiny package, small scaled pattern pieces, and delicate details, like smocking, make this a doll fashion fit for the best of dolls! Memories of days gone by.


Happiness is excitement that has found a settling down place. But there is always a little corner that keeps flapping around.

~ E.L. Konigsburg

My echinacea plant in bloom --- from Karleen. I love the soft pink color.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Breast Cancer 3-day Walk

There was a time that Heidi was an enthusiastic and cheerful student of mine. Sometimes she was so hard to contain! I remember finding her in the girls restroom when she was supposed to be in class. She was busy applying make-up and working on her hair. I suspect I was a bit exasperated when I said to her, "Heidi, this is not beauty school! Please go back to class". We smile about it now and she won't let me forget my words! It just so happened that she eventually did go to beauty school and is now using her enthusiasm and cheerful nature in service to others at her salon-station. How nice it is to see her again on a regular basis as I receive haircuts and manicures at the shop where she works. How pleased I was when I discovered that she worked at my stylist's shop! Heidi has always had a good heart. Her dedication to a cause can be seen by the fantastic results she gets. Her enthusiast nature simply pulls people in and teamwork is the natural result. Months ago Heidi became interested in the cause to eliminate breast cancer. She joined with many men and women by becoming a participant in the Breast Cancer 3-day Walk. These events are happening all over the United States. This week-end, Heidi is walking at the Seattle, Washington event. Dedicated conditioning and work-outs along with successful fund raising efforts have made her eligible for this role. Today she is walking the first of sixty miles. Tonight she will be camping out with others in a village of pink tents on their route.

Team Pink!

Heidi's skillfully and gently pulled the salon team together in a dynamic role of support for the cause! Their teamwork helped send Heidi to Seattle as they became involved in a variety of events and efforts to raise money and spread the word about breast cancer research. Together they promoted the cause in conversations with their own clients, and teamed up by participating in a car wash for breast cancer research, a pink buffet, and by joining together in wearing pink T-shirts that said "Save the Ta Ta's". Enthusiastically they sent Heidi off to Seattle --- to walk and promote the cause.

Click on the photo so you can see it better.

Pink Fund Raising!

The women at the salon are busy not only in their career role, but with family responsibilities and community roles as well. But, they each made time to help with the cause. Several of them braved a hot summer day as they helped wash cars in a parking lot downtown. Heidi made sure each had a pink bikini to wear --- such a thoughtful friend! More than $750.00 worth of donations were raised that day. It was a small step towards a larger goal. Each participant in the 3-day Walk was required to earn about $2,300.00 in donations to be able to walk. Heidi single-handedly earned $5,000.00 for the cause.

Think Pink Buffet

Yesterday Heidi's participation in the 3-day Walk was celebrated with a send-off party at the salon. A potluck buffet of all pink foods was beautifully presented on a table well-appointed in pink! Their menu was eclectic: pink deviled eggs, pink potato salad, pink shrimp, pink cherry fluff, pink pork, pink popcorn, pink pasta, pink fruits, pink cupcakes, and pink lemonade. Even thought it was all one color, there was nothing boring about this 'think pink' spread! Clients, employees from neighboring business, and stylists together enjoyed a lovely lunch.

Pretty in Pink!

This week-end, as Heidi walks --- AJ and her crew will be sending cheerful and encouraging thoughts her way! May there be sunshine in Seattle! And energizing crowds along the way. Please join Heidi and her clients, friends, and co-workers in supporting the cause for breast cancer research! I am sure that your prayers for sixty miles of pain-free hiking would be appreciated! We all know that Heidi will return home with as much enthusiasm and cheerfulness as ever! Go Heidi!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

A Wedding Tea

I'm not sure what it is that makes life-long friends develop interests in the same kinds of things. Maybe it's because we subtly influence one another, or maybe it has something to do with the same era in which we were born. It really doesn't matter. What matters is that we have this bond! RuthAnn and I have been friends since we were fourteen or fifteen. In the early days of our friendship our interests ranged from sewing and fashion to passing notes between classes and boys (and not necessarily always in that order). As we matured, we passed through the wedding stage (we were bridesmaids in each others weddings; RuthAnn came home from her honeymoon early to be in mine). The baby stage was long and lengthy, as sometimes things don't happen as planned or desired. But thankfully, God saw fit to provide us both with children we cherish and enjoy. Long phone calls discussing child rearing and homeschooling followed. As we neared the magical numbers of "40" and "50" it became obvious that we both had a passion for "afternoon tea". It seems we really didn't influence one another in this passion, as we don't live nearby the other. But by letter and phone, we shared afternoon tea experiences, discovering that still our compatible friendship thrived. RuthAnn has used this passion to minister to all her friends. As they each turned "50", she's hosted a lovely Red Hat Tea for each one. You might remember seeing some of her tea party pictures posted here on Gracious Hospitality. Recently, her influence was seen in a new way. . .

RuthAnn's nearby friend, Karen, became the mother-of-the-groom recently, and her passion for afternoon tea (which I am certain was fostered by RuthAnn) was beautifully expressed in a wedding reception tea. From costumes to decor, the elegance and ease of afternoon tea was shared with guests. Karen's famous and perfect scones were baked, and tasty tea time treats in sweet and savory were prepared. Karen's lovely new daughter-by-marriage carefully collected teacups and saucers; enough for each guest. Each guest was gifted with the teacup and saucer at their place on the table. Soft music, hats, and leisure time for visiting with others made for a perfect afternoon. The joy of shared friendship works like ripples on a lake, spreading enthusiasm, joy, and fun to everyone around!

Thank you, RuthAnn, for sharing your photos with me and for allowing me to share your passion with Gracious Hospitality readers.

Karen teaches at the university that my son's attend. Unfortunately they aren't taking any nursing classes. She is a fantastic professor!

Cute Idea!

Paula has been busy creating new things out of old! I love this table that she has for sale in her shop. With her son's assistance, she made this pretty coffee table out of an old cabinet door and four spindles from a banister. A picture doesn't do it justice. It is a very sweet 'shabby chic' in pink and turquoise. The old pink paint, scratches, or dents just make it all the more endearing. Isn't it lovely?

Friendship's Balm

Are there ever times in your life that you just need a break, the kind where a visit with a friend is a balm? It's during those times that friends are especially meaningful and precious. Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit my friend, Paula, and we had a wonderful chat. It was so much fun seeing the new things she had added to her shop. We walked around, looking at some of her new displays. She shared ideas and stories of the new things on her shelves. A conversation about our families and simply getting caught up with one another was so much fun. How special it is to have a friend with young adults in her family, like I do. Sharing the little things, experiences in daily life is sweet and such a stress reliever in the midst of a busy week. Thank you, Paula, for a really fun afternoon!

"A happy woman is one who has no cares at all; a cheerful woman is one who has cares but doesn't let them get her down."

~ Beverly Sills ~

Monday, September 07, 2009

Indian Summer

Autumn has arrived on the mountain. It's amazing how much can change in one week's time. Golds and reds are visible, and temperatures of 42 degrees F. at night sends one in search of an extra quilt or two. The transition from summer to autumn comes with subtle color changes and amazing variances in the sky, as clouds and sunshine argue back and forth for prominence. Sometimes the sunshine wins, and at other times the rain and hail. Firewood gathered for winter days back home; an effort in teamwork between father and son. And the early morning hours were graced with more than an hour of bugle chorus as bull elk called back and forth from ridge to ridge. Relaxation and work. Refreshment.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Glorious Morning Glory

Glorious Morning Glory

Morning glory. I remember hearing those words from my mother when I was a child. Morning glory was an invasive weed and was pesky in mother's beautiful flower beds. I used to wonder why it was called a weed, though, as I thought the pristine white flowers so very pretty. A few years ago I discovered a new kind of morning glory. This ones winds and grows its way up a trellis or fence, and looks elegant and beautiful with its large blossoms in a variety of colors. Deep blue, purple, and pink flowers look like faces that poke out from a tangle of heart-shaped leaves. The faces disappear in the late afternoon, but return full force in the morning. Non-invasive, yet abundant, morning glories are truly glorious!

*Our dogs get relief from the summer heat during the summer months when the morning glory vines cover their kennel walls, as they create welcome shade.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Interesting People

Some people go to the fair for the cotton candy, carnival, demo derby, or rodeo. Or for the concerts, free things given away, or to see the exhibits. All those things are interesting and fun, but what I like best is the people. People are so much fun to observe and talk to. I like to discover their perspective on the world and hear how they think about things. A little friendliness goes a long ways in this world; especially at the fair. Sometimes interesting discoveries can be made. I didn't find this woman to talk to, but I did find her self-portraits! In the photography section she had a great montage of portraits where she was wearing hats. Later, I found her again, in the art section. Isn't she cute? How fun it is to discover the joy that others share, and to pass the joy along.

I'm not really sure this is a self-portrait. It may be the photography and art of a grandchild or neighbor. But, from my perspective, it's my view.

*Click on photo for larger view.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Little Bits of Nature

Little bits of nature never fail to please me during the late days of summer. Tiny treats that could be easily missed bring joy and delight! Turkey feathers, a friendly tree frog, berries, everlasting flowers, mature flowers of late season, and more are a pleasure to find and enjoy. Spring and autumn are my favorite seasons on the mountain, as they bring so much change as the seasons flow from one to the next. Pleasant days, cool nights, and nature's treasures to enjoy are gifts from God that bless!

Click on photo for a larger view.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Quiet Places

"My people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places."

Isaiah 32:18