Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Morning Watch

The morning watch happens each day, no matter what the season. Coco thinks the sofa back is exactly the proper height to rest her chin on as she keeps watch for birds and squirrels. Sometimes she simply observes and soaks up the sun. Other times she stretches her legs and makes a mad dash to the doggy door so she can chase a squirrel high into a tree. Such a life! At our house we say "it's a pretty good life to be a dog". 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Tea & Talk

"Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things."

Chaim Potok

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Flowers & Tea Ladies

The tea gardens of Sri Lanka consist of beautiful groves of tea plants which are well manicured and carefully tended. My sister carefully documented her visit to tea plantations there, making sure to photograph the real tea ladies of the world and the beautiful groves where they pluck tea. But she also discovered many beautiful flowers in bloom along the way. Today I'm sharing some of those flowers with you. I think flowers speak a universal language of love, hope, and joy. They bring cheer into the humblest home or the most magnificent mansion. I believe God created them for our utmost happiness. The vibrant colors and beautiful fragrance of flowers cannot help but make one smile upon reflection. Also, note the difference in head coverings that these tea pluckers wear as compared to the tea ladies of Indonesia. Custom, culture, and climate dictate how women the world over dress for work, beauty, and everyday living. The tea pluckers of Sri Lanka wear colorful head-scarves while they work. They provide both protection from the elements and act as a beautiful accessory. My sister and nephew are in the picture in the bottom, left of the montage. Although Judy has adopted the customary dress of Sri Lanka while traveling there, it appears she forgot the colorful scarf!

Click on the photo to enlarge it. Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Flowers of Spring

It took awhile for spring to arrive this year. Drizzly, chilly weather slowed the progress of growth in the garden and delayed the blooms of flowers in my garden. But it finally arrived, and it seems vital to duly acknowledge the arrival of spring before the seasons passes on to summer. Hot weather has arrived and the tender blossoms of spring are fading quickly. Lilac, snowball, iris, money plant, peony, dogwood, red bud, rhododendron, tulips, daffodils, cherry, lily of the valley, crab apple, onion blossom, chive blossom, forget-me-not, and more have graced my garden with beautiful blooms this spring. Ninety degree temperatures are sure to fade springs bloom, but summer flowers are soon to follow. Yesterday my roses enjoyed the sunshine and a handful of rose buds opened to full bloom. I'll post pictures of those another day. For now...let's enjoy the beauty of spring.

What's blooming in your part of the world? Pour yourself a cup of TEA and sit down to tell us about those blossoms!

Click on the photos to enlarge. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

A Mother's Love

There are times when only a mother's love 
Can understand our tears, 
Can soothe our disappoints 
And calm all of our fears.

There are times when only a mother's love
Can share the joy we feel
When something we've dreamed about
Quite suddenly is real.
There are times when only a mother's faith
Can help us on life's way
And inspire in us the confidence
We need from day to day.
For a mother's heart and a mother's faith
And a mother's steadfast love
Were fashioned by the angels
And sent from God above.
--Author Unknown

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tea for Two


Oh honey
Picture me upon your knee,
With tea for two and two for tea,
Just me for you and you for me, alone!
Nobody near us, to see us or hear us,
No friends or relations
on weekend vacations
We won't have it known, dear,
That we own a telephone, dear.

Day will break and I'm gonna wake
and start to bake a sugar cake
for you to take for all the boys to see.
We will raise a family,
a boy for you , and a girl for me,
Can't you see how happy we will be.

(Picture you upon my knee)
(tea for two and two for tea)
(me for you and you for me, alone!)
(Nobody near us, to see us or hear us,)
(No friends or relations on weekend vacations)
(We won't have it known, dear,)
(That we own a telephone,)

Day will break and I'm gonna wake
and start to bake a sugar cake
for you to take for all the boys to see.
We will raise a family,
a boy for you, and a girl for me,
Oh can't you see how happy we will be.
(How happy we will be)

~ Doris Day ~

Photo: tea towel from my kitchen with just the right amount of shabby chic wear

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

A Piece of Magic is a Hat

What comes to mind when you think of the word "hat"? Now, add the words "TEA party" to your though. Does that change your idea of what a hat is?

My grandmother always wore a hat when she dressed up and went out. Because I knew of no one else who wore hats, I felt that it was quite a quaint tradition for old ladies. Little did I know how wrong I was! Although the "hat" is no longer a required accessory for a dress-up affair, it is still cherished by many as an object of good taste and proper dress. Groups of the American population are not allowing the "hat" to fade away completely and many are diligently working to bring it back into popularity. Jill, who blogs at Thoughts on Life and Millinery, is one who enjoys hats and works to promote the use of a hat as a beautiful addition to any wardrobe. And then there are the "Red Hatters", a group of women over 50 who wear purple attire, red hats, and socialize abundantly over TEA. They display some of the most magnificent around!

Milliner, Leigh Magar, states that "wearing hats is a southern tradition, though one that seems to be waning. I'm trying to revive it by hosting TEA parties where we all don hats." Another author reminds us that "fashion is a kind of communication.  It's a language without words. A great hat speaks for itself" (unknown).

My sister, Judy, donned another kind of hat while on a trip to a tea plantation in Indonesia. I call the beautiful tea pickers she is posing with the real TEA ladies of the world! These hats both shelter from rain and sunshine. A practical and beautiful asset to each lady's wardrobe.

"A hat is a flag, a shield, a bit of armor, and the badge of femininity. A hat is the difference between wearing clothing and wearing a costume; it's the difference between being dressed and being dressed up; it's the difference between looking adequate and looking your best. A hat is to be stylish in, to glow under, to flirt beneath, to make all others seem jealous over, and to make all men feel masculine about. A piece of magic is a hat." (Martha Sliter)

That quote really says it all, doesn't it!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Chocolate, Crochet, and Tea

Awhile back my blogging friend, Tammy, wrote a blog post called Chocolate, Crochet, and Tea. Now that is a title that's sure to draw me in!  I always enjoy her blog posts, especially because Tammy knows how to enjoy the little things in life. Moments rather than things are treasures to her. I appreciate her perspective and her joy in living each day. She really does fill her quiet moments of the day with chocolate, crochet, and tea! She crafts some beautiful things! 

Years ago my mother attempted to teach me to crochet. As a teenager I made a baby sweater and booties for my "hope chest". Of course they were made in "pink" and I never had a baby girl so they weren't used. They are still stored away for a time when they might be needed for a grand-baby or two. When mom taught me, she was my instruction guide. I didn't learn to read a pattern and since mom could make anything without a pattern, I never really learned how to decipher the art of pattern reading.

This past winter I decided that I needed to push myself and learn something new. Pretty yarns in beautiful colors drew me in, and I decided to learn to read a crochet pattern. Of course there were many aspects of crochet I had to relearn as well. I admit to many frustrating moments, but Tammy's example spurred me on. She posted this dishcloth pattern on her blog and started posting what she'd made. I decided to do the same and "wallah", dish cloths were the result! Thanks to my friend, Karleen for helping me decipher pattern instructions...and to Mitty and Verna at the Quilt Guild for taking time out of quilt piecing to help me fine-tune my stitching technique. And of course, thanks to Tammy for inspiring me from far away! Throughout the stitching process, my teacup of chocolate oolong tea has been by my side. Chocolate, crochet, and tea.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Herb Swap Packages Arrive!

A few days ago I posted pictures and a list of items I shared with participants in my TEH Swap Group. All my packages to them were mailed last week and should have arrived by now. My packages went to Pennsylvania and New York. I've eagerly been checking my mailbox for packages sent. All three have arrived and I have really enjoyed viewing the contents and seeing what my swap partners decided to send to me. Each partner sent something different and unique to them and their interest in herbs. I especially appreciate that the things they sent were homemade by them. Here's what I received:

From M ~

Amazing Herbs Cookbook
Lotion Bar

Natural Laundry Soap
Italian Dressing and Marinade

Dill Dip Mix
Garlic and Herb Combination

Lemon Grass Dust Cloth

From B ~

Feverfew Extract
St. John's Wort Salve

Tension Headache Formula
Right on the Kisser Lip Balm

Catnip Muslin Bag
Lovage Seeds

Chive Seeds
Dill Seeds

From T ~

Happy Heart Elixir
Bar of Confetti Soap

Edible Flower Garden Seeds and Garden Stakes 
Herb Notepad

Thank you, swap partners! I enjoyed swapping with you and love the things you sent!

Saturday, May 05, 2012

The Journey is Home

Every day is a journey, 
and the journey itself is home.

Matsuo Basho

Friday, May 04, 2012

A Personal Handmade Cookbook

In my previous post I shared about some little books that I created with my kids when they were young. Each of them was self-bound using cardboard, floss, small ribbon, and ric-rac. But other kinds of bindings make great homemade books as well. This small cookbook is one I made about thirty-five years ago. It is tattered and stained, and although I could easily change the cover and put something new on the front, I choose to preserve each blemish on this treasured book. I made it as a class project for a Food Science class. Inside are recipes I valued at that time in my life, including recipes from friends, aunties, grandmothers, and my mother. It was made in the day before computers and word processing systems. Each letter was typed on a clunky electric typewriter on stiff tag-board pages. White out was my friend.

Although there are many other cookbooks and recipes in my files now, this is still my "go to" cookbook for pie crusts, cookies, cakes, and other family specialties. 

It's interesting to me that such a simple little cookbook can hold so many cherished memories and be bound not only with the metal three-ring clasps, but by a multitude of emotions and love as well. Little things become cherished treasures. 

What simple things do you cherish because they represent cherished memories for you? Is one of your cherished items a cookbook? I would love to hear about it.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

HerbLIST Swap

Last week I enjoyed a quiet day creating recipes and product for an "herb swap" with some of the members of TEH online chat group. Although I did a lot of measuring and packaging, it was a soothing and relaxing process. The fragrance of fresh herbs is such a delight! My packages have been sent off and several of those sent to me in exchange have arrived (I will share a picture when they are all here). I made enough of everything so that I could have some for home use as well. It's been much fun to use the bath tea, to make seed crackers, and to use my seasoning packets when I make dinner. It's amazing how flavorful fresh, dried herbs are as compared to ones that have been sitting in a jar for awhile. Like black tea, fresh herbs that haven't been pulverized seem to retain their full flavor better than powered herbs that sprinkle out of a bottle. Here's a sample of some of the recipes and products I made last week:

* Lavender Relaxation Foot Soak
* Lavender Oatmeal Tranquility Foot Bath

* Rosemary Chamomile Bath Tea
* Golden Meadow Tisane

* Herbal Splendor Bath Tea
* Lavender Sugar

* Rosy Meadow Tisane
* Mary's Lavender Black Tea

* Rosemary Sea Salt
* Lavender Sea Salt

* Herb d' Provence
* Italian Seasoning

* Seed Cracker Recipes and packets of seeds
* Walla Walla Sweet Onion Jelly

I hope the recipients of my packages enjoy the contents they contain. They were packed with love and well wishes!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

A Delight of the Heart

The tea group I belong to is having its twelfth anniversary reunion tea in Ohio this coming Saturday. I am unable to attend, but my "tea and blogging buddy", Marilyn, will be there. She and her husband are on a road trip and the reunion tea is in on their schedule. This is also the month that Marilyn hosts the traveling teapot. I was happy that they were able to make a stop on their journey to join me for lunch. Of course they brought the traveling teapot with them! My friend and neighbor, Karleen, came to lunch as well and graciously helped me with the finishing touches of our meal together. We had a menu that incorporated seasonal fruits and vegetables...broccoli quiche, roasted sweet potato wedges with Herbs d' Provence (my own blend which included lavender from my garden), farm-fresh asparagus, spinach salad with toasted pecans and strawberries, whole wheat bread (right out of the oven), and black current jam. Marilyn prepared the tea for us, decanting a teapot of Golden Yunnan (in the plum-colored traveling teapot) and another of Shanti Tulsi Tisane. Marilyn poured the tea for each of us, filling each teacup only three-quarters full. She said that was her tradition, as the rest of the teacup is left empty so it can be filled with love.  For dessert we had "Obst Kuchen", a German fresh fruit flan with a sponge-cake base that's topped with a layer of custard, then fresh fruit, and a fruit glaze on top. It is served with a whipped cream topping. Traditionally this dessert is served throughout Germany during the afternoon coffee hour, but it lends itself nicely to "afternoon tea". It's a recipe that has been in our family for many years.  We had a pleasant time chatting about our shared interests in afternoon tea, blogging, and gardening. The highlight of our conversation was their delight in their first grand baby who will be joining their family in September! Their visit was truly a "delight of the heart"!