Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tea. Nature. Friends. Autumn

Autumn arrived right on schedule. We went from unseasonably hot weather to days of wind, rain, and chill. So far there has been on gentle transition. Long sleeved shirts, jackets, and boots have been dug out of the back of the closet for daily wear. Even on the mountain there was not a transition period. It's been a shock to my system! But I am trying to take it with grace and adjust as quickly as I can.

Just two shorts weeks ago we were sitting in these chairs, enjoying the view in short sleeves and sandals! It's hard to believe! The change of season brings its own beauty, though. I love the vibrant yellows and oranges of fall. The woods have a carpet of golden pine needles and there is a general crispness in the air!

Mountain flowers are in the last throws of bloom! Yellow is the color of the season. It's so pretty!

New grow is evident too, as summer's growing season helped new plants and trees sprout and grow. This pretty little pine tree is new and is not far from the cabin. It's so perfect in its tender form. New needles radiate from each branch in perfect symmetry.

Rain has settled all the dust of summer. Rocks glisten with the moisture and prints can be seen in the mud. In early summer we observed a mother doe and her newborn twins not far from the cabin. The little ones were curious about us and the mother kept a close watch nearby. Over the summer we've seen them nearby from pictures on our trail camera. Yesterday they stepped out to greet us near our meadow as we arrived. Curious. We were so happy to see that they had survived the summer and grown so well. The fawns are now adolescents and have lost their spots, but they still hang behind their mother as protector. Our trail camera also showed us pictures of a lumbering black bear that passed by the cabin while on his search for grubs and berries.

Inside a blazing fire was welcome! Come in and sit for awhile. I'll put the tea kettle on!

There is an art to warming up in front of the wood stove. First the front, then the back, and around and around until toasty warm!

Friends and their four-legged pets are always welcome. Yesterday two of each stopped by for lunch. Afterwards the rain stopped long enough for a walk in the woods.

The meadow is turning dry and golden after the summer heat. After we passed along the trail we heard crackling, like fireworks. A tall, dead tree crackled and popped as it fell. The forest is never quiet. 

Beautiful colors. Purples in autumn compliment yellow, orange, and gold so well!

Afterwards, we warmed up again with mugs of hot tea. Tea. Nature. Friends. Autumn. A perfect day!

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Wonderful Day in the Neighborhood

It's not uncommon for someone who enjoys the experience of afternoon tea to have a buddy to share the experience with. I feel so blessed that my friend and neighbor, Karleen, enjoys sharing tea times with me. When she heard that the traveling teapot was at my house awhile back, she invited us to come by for a luncheon tea party. Her invitation said to just "bring yourself and the tea pot". 

Our style is to enjoy the entire process. When the teapot and I arrived, Karleen set me to work arranging a bouquet of flowers. We walked in her garden, selecting blossoms we thought would look pretty on the tea table.

 Karleen lives along the river and there's a beautiful view from her living room. So that's where she moved a table and chairs. A quilt, an heirloom from a grandmother, made a pretty tablecloth. Another grandmother's china was set on the table along with some muslin napkins that Karleen had stitched. The floral bouquet and some vintage postcards set the scene for our tea luncheon. 
Karleen had prepared a lovely menu of delicious, fresh foods.

A cheese and crackers platter was arranged with springs of tarragon, rosemary, lavender, and purple grapes.

A colorful "chopped salad" featured toasted pecans and a light vinaigrette. It was delicious!

Deviled eggs were beautifully presented on a tray with a sprig of lavender from the garden.

Fruit kabobs of strawberries, grapes, kiwi, and pineapple were vibrant! Additionally, Karleen served a bowl of cubed watermelon.

Can you see the teapot shaped cheese? Yummy!

Vintage postcards from Karleen's collection added a personal touch to the table.

Everything was so inviting, beautiful, and delicious!

The teapot was set last and took center stage on the beautiful table.

Our tea choice was Buckingham Palace English Afternoon Tea. It was a gift to me from Karleen after her recent trip to London. How fun it was to sip on tea in Karleen's living room that she had purchased at the Queen of England's palace!

Afterwards, dessert was served in the garden.

Thank you, Karleen, for inviting the traveling teapot and me over for a relaxing luncheon tea. Your warm hospitality and friendship is a treasure and a blessing! 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Keep Love

"Keep love in your heart.
A life without it is like a sunless garden 
where the flowers are dead.
The consciousness of loving and 
being loved brings a warmth and richness 
to life that nothing else can bring."

Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A L O N E with T E A

“Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven't the answer to a question you've been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you're alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.”

Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

Tea for one during a quiet time of the day can provide respite in the midst of busy days. A quality tea with milk and sweetener feels so good as it slides down one's throat. Adding a sweet or savory treat to nibble on adds to the moment. It's amazing how these quiet moments can provide refreshment and renewed energy to face the daily scenes of life. Alone time at the tea table can be a wonderful way to start the day. The little plum teapot seems to enjoy the ritual.

Madeleines a' la Lavende

Madeleines are small, shell-shaped tea cakes made from genoise cake batter. Scented with lavender and with sweet glaze and a flower to embellish, they are a perfect combination of deliciousness!

3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. dried or 2 Tbsp. fresh lavender flowers
2 Tbsp. plus 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla
1 cup unsifted all purpose flour
Confectioners' sugar

In a food processor with chopping blade, process granulated sugar and flowers until flowers are finely chopped.

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Brush 36 madeleine-pan molds with 2 Tbsp. of the melted butter.

In a large bowl, with electric mixer at high speed, beat eggs with lavender-sugar mixture and vanilla until light and fluffy, about five minutes. At medium speed, gradually beat in remaining 3/4 cup melted butter.

With wire whisk, fold in flour. Spoon a scant 1 tablespoon batter into each mold. Bake 8 - 10 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from pan. Cool on wire rack. Store in airtight container. Just before serving, dust curved bottom side with confectioners' sugar.

The teapot is filled with the tea for the day; Earl Grey Lavender from Adagio Teas. Its sweet, floral fragrance is notably soothing, invoking relaxation. It's perfect for a tranquil tea alone.

"There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want."

Bill Watterson
Calvin and Hobbes

"It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness."

Lam 3:23

" Cause me to hear thy loving kindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee."

Psalm 143:8

Since the lavender bud teapot was displaced by the little plum teapot it filled another role. Instead of standing by without purpose, it holds a generous bouquet of fresh lavender. With no water in the pot, the lavender will dry in the shape it holds and will look beautiful and smell fragrant for months ahead.

Now, go. Take on the day!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Teapot Quilt Hop

It was a beautiful, sunny day! After days of torrential rain, it was wonderful to see blue skies. Karleen invited me to drive to take a day trip with her to a lovely town in the midst of wheat and wine country. She was running a simple errand; taking a quilt to a shop for machine quilting. She asked if I would like to ride along, and of course that meant the teapot too.

Karleen's quilt is vibrant and colorful! Blue, yellow, pink, and green create a kaleidoscope effect in fabric.

There was a Sunbonnet Sue quilt on the quilting machine, but they spread Karleen's quilt on the edge where it perched all pretty-like. There it was measured and much figuring was done.

It took awhile to figure out which pantograph design to use for the quilting. The little traveling teapot was stuck in a bag, just waiting for permission to peek out and see all the action.

Finally the time was right and the teapot made her appearance. She posed so beautifully on that colorful quilt. And she waited patiently while the ladies went through a bin of thread colors as they tried to find just the right thread for the machine quilting that would stitch the fabric sandwiching the cotton batting.

A choice was made and it was time to move along.  We decided to go to lunch, but discovered another little quilt shop along the way. Of course we dropped in!

The traveling teapot was dutifully introduced and a student learning to sew quilts perked up her ears and said "I'm a tea lady" and gave a happy smile. Her name is Elizabeth and she has a collection of more than 100 teacups. She shared about a recent afternoon tea that she enjoyed in the Bahamas and talked about how much she enjoyed tea at The Empress Hotel in Victoria as well. She was so much fun to talk to!

The shop owner joined right in, telling about a wonderful tea event she attended in Indonesia. She loved the tea and the sugar cubes they served with the tea so much that she stocked up and brought packages of it home with her. It's amazing how "tea" influences so many and how the little plum teapot becomes the impetus for sharing and discovery of common bonds.

Eventually we arrived at our lunch destination. Amber, immediately after being presented with the traveling teapot, offered to take the teapot to the kitchen and fill it with tea for us.

She was quite interested that the house teapots were exactly the same as the traveling teapot except smaller in size. She brought one out to pose with our little plum teapot.

After lunch and tea...

 ...we decided to hit one last quilt shop before heading home.

This shop was a busy place with all the latest trends in fabrics and patterns. After introduction, the plum teapot was given permission to pose wherever she wanted. She was very serious about her task as ambassador of tea.

While the shop keepers worked...

...and serious quilters sewed

...the little plum teapot was finding places to perch and preen. 

Eventually the plum teapot found her comfort zone on a stack of Moda charm packs and next to a delightful quilt design book called "Tea Party". Quite appropriate, don't you think?

It was such a relaxing day. Textiles provide beautiful colors and amazing textures. They inspire and help one create so many pretty things. The little plum teapot enjoyed serving tea and listening to conversation all along the way. Teapot decided that going on a quilt hop made for an interesting day.