Saturday, July 12, 2014

One if by Land; Two if by Tea

A favorite writer of mine is Ce'leste perrino Walker who writes from Rutland, Vermont. I think I enjoy her writing because it her topics deal with real life things. In the Sept/Oct 2001 issue of Vibrant Life magazine she wrote an article that I've saved called One if by Land; Two if by Tea. In it she shares how a friend introduced her (and her French blood) to the gentle art of the English afternoon tea. She learned that tea is much more than a beverage in a cup, but rather something emotionally fulfilling, and a refreshing pause to the day. 

  • To quote her: "Teatime fills a need for peace in our stressed-out society. Not only that, but the manner in which you 'take tea' lifts the spirits and fills the senses with beauty. Everything about tea time contributes in some small way to this: beautiful tea linens, gorgeous china, luscious tea, delicious tea biscuits or cookies (or other even more scrumptious treats). Teatime 'for the soul' can be compared to dropping everything to spend a few stolen moments in a beautiful garden." 
  • She goes on to say: "I've decided to give 'teatime' a try. I'm not sure how it works. Maybe it's the special feeling you get from using the pretty teapot and china on yourself for a change. Maybe it's the ritual of preparig the tea, boiling the water, smelling the aroma of the tea as you measure it out, the rhythm of the procedure that won't be hurried. But teatime really is all they say it is."

Her advice to her readers is to take a little time for yourself this week and discover teatime, the pause that refreshes. Then thank the English. They were right all along. C'est la vie.

*The photo shown with the article reminds me of the children's teas that my mother used to conduct. She taught kindergarten for thirty years. Sometimes her school would have a benefit auction, and mother would donate a children's tea party. They were always popular and mothers and daughters would enjoy a lovely afternoon tea with all the trimmings at mom's house if they were the winners of the auction bid. Her beautiful children's china tea set was put to good use!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Marionberry Crisp

Berries make wonderful desserts!  They are filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.  Their juicy sweetness delights the taste buds and satisfy any craving for a delicate dessert.  Strawberries, raspberries, boysenberries, huckleberries, elderberries, lingonberries, blueberries and more come in a colorful palette of reds, blues, and purples.  A simple half cup of Marionberries contain 4.4 grams of fiber and only 27 calories.  Nutrient dense, they are not only tasty, but amazingly good for you as well!

A friend grows Marionberries in abundance and shares her crop with friends and family.  Individually frozen berries placed in zip-lock bags keep their fresh flavor and appearance for use during the off-season.  Yesterday I drew a bag of this treasured fruit out of my freezer to create a dessert for a family celebration.  The result?  A healthy and wholesome crisp!

Marionberry Crisp

4 - 6 cups Marionberries
3 - 4 Tbsp. tapioca

Allow berries to thaw.  Add tapioca and let mixture sit for about 30 minutes, so tapioca softens.  Then add:

stevia to taste (the amount used will vary by brand of stevia; I used about 6 packets of NuNaturals powdered stevia)
1/4 cup agave syrup (or to taste)

Mix together well and place in a low baking dish.  Add crumb topping:

1/2 cup coconut oil (or less)
1/4 cup gluten free flour blend (of choice)
3/4 cup gluten free oats
stevia (2 - 3 packets if using NuNatural)
agave syrup (to add moisture and sweeten)
pinch of salt (optional)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Blend ingredients together until moistened.  Crumble with hands and sprinkle over berry mixture.  If you would like more 'crisp', double the topping recipe.  Drizzle with agave syrup and place in oven.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 - 40 minutes.  Enjoy!

{Can substitute any sweetener of your choice!}

Friday, July 04, 2014

Happy Birthday, America!

God Bless America!

Happy birthday to our country --- land of spacious skies, golden fields of grain, and purple mountain majesty. Be blessed on this 4th of July!

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Patriotic Tea Towel

I stitched this patriotic tea towel for an exchange partner in Florida. It is definitely primitive and quirky! The pattern is by "Pieceable Dry Goods" and has a tea and a patriotic theme. Since this exchange was for the 4th of July, I thought the design appropriate. The pattern was originally designed to be made into a sampler, stitched on tea dyed muslin and embroidered in brown. Because I was stitching on a pure white tea towel, I decided color would be nicer. I started with a red, white, and blue theme, but quickly came to the conclusion that I needed to make the stars yellow. Everything fell together from there. Although this tea towel is not technically 'color appropriate' for the holiday, I decided it would do because there are many colors, including yellow, exhibited in the magnificent fireworks of July 4!

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Magazine Heaven

Every now and then it is fun to sit down with a cup of tea and read a magazine from cover to cover. The opportunity is a rare treat. It's one I enjoy doing when at the cabin. It's quiet and there's no electronic media to distract me. Browsing through a magazine is a great way to inspire creativity in kitchen and home.

Recipes and gardening tips bring new things to the kitchen table.

And simple craft instructions bring ideas for future projects. This article entitled "Arm Candy" give an idea for Christmas gifts for our quilt guild members. Fabric scraps from favorite quilts could make interesting bangles for each lady.

Do you have a favorite magazine or two? What are they? Do you read them from cover to cover? Is there a special time or place you like to read them at? And if so, is a cup of tea a part of the experience?

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Ye Merrie Sudo Faire

Walks have always been a part of our family life. And walking in any of the area parks always gives us interesting things to see. It keeps us motivated to get our exercise! You never know what you'll see! Recently we discovered a merry group of people at the park. It was late in the day and the sign said "ticket office closed --- please enter and enjoy". So we thought "why not" and headed through the cardboard castle that doubled as a gated entry. We were barely inside when we met a gentleman going out who saw Sudo and started asking a dozen questions. We discovered that we were in the company of a star!

Road signs led us through the encampment. Ye Merrie Faire was full of all sorts of unusual and interesting things. There were booths for vendors, open air theaters, and musical groups. One gentleman called me "my lady" and it made me smile. So quaint.

I enjoyed observing the children. They were having such a fun time and most were dressed in colorful outfits or fairy wings.

We, along with Sudo, discovered that there were other dogs in attendance and they were held in high esteem. The lady in blue smiled for a picture. Her dog was dressed in matching fairy wings! And ye lady of the Scentsy booth was happy to see the gentleman and two little dogs who came to visit her.

Colorful ribbons were beautiful. They were displayed outside a booth. They wafted gently in the breeze and the beads on the headpieces sparkled in the sunshine.

Sudo, ever gentle, allowed people to pet her. Some wanted to hold her, but we respected her right to feel secure and politely said no, and said she doesn't want to be passed around. They seemed to understand. She was a great conversation starter. We talked to all sorts of people whom generally would just walk right on by.

Of course some of the things at Ye Merrie Faire were scary to Sudo. A boy holding axes and shouting at the top of his lungs was not something Sudo enjoyed. She shivered and moved closer.

Clank. Clang. Jousting. Noise! Action! Cheers. Armor protected. Someone down. Then kind assistance to the one down and it was another pairs turn to get into action. Sudo was not sure about all the noise!

Horses, so well trained, patiently waited for the command of their riders. When called upon they'd run down the field and their rider would strike a metal shield with a lance. Again, more cheering.

It was enough to make a little greyhound shiver in her boots!

The costumes and outfits were a sight to behold. Everyone seemed to be having an excellent time as they pretended to be from a bygone era. I overheard one lady telling some gentlemen seated nearby that most of her friends would state their occupation as working as a barista or clerk, but when she's asked, she always says she is a fairy princess. She was an interesting princess though. Her gown was long and flowing, but it was a warm day, so it was hiked up above her knees. Sneakers were on her feet.  A burning cigarette dangled from her fingers. But her fairy wings were in place.

A beautiful girl in a lovely gown posed on the riverbank while her mother took pictures. She looked so sweet.

And these two young ladies fell in love with Sudo, calling her one of the cutest dogs they'd ever seen. We chatted awhile and when it was time to move along on our walk, they told us that they were stationed at that point on the pathway because the archery competition was ahead and we should not pass by any further for our own safety. Their task was to turn people back to go the other way. So we turned around, passing the fairy princess one more time.

Their were actors in their fabulous costumes. They took their roles very seriously.

And a medieval choir sang so professionaly. They were singing Celtic folk songs in beautiful harmony.

Belly dancers put on a show for those who came to watch. They enjoyed a conversation together afterwards.

And young people with their gothic attire seemed to be relaxed and happy to find a place where they could dress up and have their appearance so well received.

Someone said that we needed to stick around for a few more minutes because the Queen would be coming by with her entourage in a few minutes. The Queen's Parade would end the festivities for the day. Soon two girls led the way {can you see the antler crown?}.

And there she was -- the Queen of Ye Merrie Faire -- Queen Elizabeth the First. Flutes and recorders were played liltingly to draw attention to the parade. Singers sang in harmony as they escorted the queen through the faire. Can you see the queen waving in her golden gown? I was told that she made the gown herself and that all the beautiful embroidery on the front of the gown was stitched by her. You can see a portion of it on black velvet in the picture. It was exquisite and in the style of crewel.

An hour spent walking in the park turned into an interesting experience. Sudo was a charming ice breaker for us. It was fun visiting with people along the way. As we headed back to the car the crowd thinned and as Sudo noted that there weren't quite so many people and loud, noisy things going on, she was happy to walk. A simple walk turned into quite an adventure. I wonder --- if I should make Sudo some fairy wings?