Monday, December 31, 2007

Sunshine On My Table Makes Me Happy

This lovely handmade, patchwork table cloth was a gift from the Cake Goddess. Orange is my favorite color and this bright splash of sunshine makes me very happy!

And in case you need a dash of John Denver today, hear him sing Sunshine on My Shoulders.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Tea Cup from Green River Pottery

I was the recent happy recipient of the gorgeous hand-thrown tea cup. The artist is Theo Helmstadter. He displays his work at the Green River Pottery studio in Chimayo, New Mexico.

Not only is this tea cup gorgeous, it's also functional. And beyond that, it takes me back to my sunshine-filled days in New Mexico. It's a grey winter day here in the Midwest, and I'm dreaming of those New Mexico cloudless, brilliant blue skies!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Center of My Attention

I've been away, visiting family over the holidays, and this little cherub has been the center of my attention.

The photo below is one of my favorites! I love the juxtaposition of the smiling adults with the crying baby. What I learned from her is to be real and in the moment. She was very hungry and tired, and taking photos wasn't in her plans. As soon as this was snapped, baby was changed out of the frilly dress and fed! Then she returns to the cherub look. ;-)

Left to right, Grandma (my mom), Me, Baby and Mom (my sister)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Family Storybook

It's been feeling like final exams around here, and I haven't been in school for 6 years! I started this project of collecting family stories over a year and a half ago, then got serious about it this summer when I collected (and scanned) a bunch of old family photos.

My mom has six brothers and sisters, each an interesting person with compelling stories. When you combine these stories with the old photos, it creates a really rich family storybook. And this baby is about to be launched. Wahoo!

I'm finally letting go of the need to have it perfect. I just don't have time. If a period is in the wrong place or a photo isn't perfectly centerd, life will go on. I don't think it will lessen the experience of this gift.

Here is one of my favorite family photos from the project...

The Jolly Workers and their Easter Bonnets

The Jolly Workers were a church service group. Included in this photo are my great-grandmother, grandmother, several aunts and one uncle!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Beethoven and Boston Tea Party

Bostonians were having a tea party as Beethoven celebrated his third birthday.

December 16th is recognized as Beethoven's birthday, tho historians don't truly know if the date is accurate. Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Germany in 1770 and died in 1827. In his twenties, he moved to Vienna. He was living during the days when tea was becoming the fashion in Europe. Surely he would have had a cup or two on occasion. I wonder how he would express, musically, the experience of tea. Vancouver, BC, certainly gets the connection. The city's symphony orchestra is featuring the music of Beethoven in its March 2008 "Tea and Trumpets" concert.

December 16th, 1773 is the infamous Boston Tea Party. I won't say much about it here because you can read a great summary at the Wikipedia entry. Instead, as I read the entry, I am taking a moment to contemplate our contemporary government. To what extent have wealthy lobbyist, like those for the East India Company, taken over the conversation? What will and won't I tolerate from my own government? An interesting thought progression, all conneted to tea and its history, and convened over a pot of tea.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Tea Poems and History

This Sunday, December 16th, is the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. That's a relatively new event in the grand scale of tea's history. Tea stretches far back into our minds (and, I believe, our souls). Here are a few poems about tea and history for you to enjoy.

Steam rises from a cup of tea
and we are wrapped in history,
inhaling ancient times and lands,
comfort of ages in our hands.
~Faith Greenbowl and found at the Seeds of Knowledge website

The Tea Ships

Their canvas flared across teh China Sea,
Back in the misty 'forties ere the steam
nd plate steel from the Tyne swept every lea,
Crowding the sail to yards where they might
Of vanished greatness when the seas would
Across their suging prows on washing lanes;
And o'er the waste to catch Nantucket's gleam -
Canton to Boston with their golden gains.

~Thomas J. Murray, c. 1905 and from Tea Poetry, compiled by Pearl Dexter

Interesting Trends...

If you click the "show results" link under the poll on the right, you'll notice (at least at this minute), that the cup/saucer and mug votes are both at 10 each. I just think that's very interesting!


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Taking Care

The past few days have been a time for me to slow down and take care. I'm not ill, but I'm also not 100%. I'm happy that I'm listening to my body and responding to the need to be quiet, sit still, stay home. It's when I don't pay attention to my body's needs that I end up feeling even worse.

My self-care has included a quiet weekend at home (instead of running around like planned), drinking lots of fluids including green tea and ginger tisane, stretching and lots of sleep.

I have enjoyed this time of resting and nesting. When I choose to look at it as what I am doing for myself, instead of what I'm missing, it becomes a comfort rather than a loss.

How do you care for yourself in the winter/holiday season?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Politics of Tea - My Plan

What I am realizing is that this "Politics of Tea" series is not something I can write on a break at work. It takes more than 10 minutes and needs special attention. I want to give the topics plenty of consideration. So, I'll promise to do at least one per month - hopefully, two. This is a bit unfortunate for B, who suggested the topic in the first place, as she will be on sabbatical and out of contact in the new year. My plan is to label the posts well so that B can read them when she returns. :-)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Incredible Cupcakes!

My friend K, the cake goddess, has been hard at work creating holiday cupcakes. Check out what she's been up to!

Gingerbread Men cupcakes

North Pole cupcakes

I'm a very lucky girl because I often get to sample these ingenious creations!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Politics of Tea - Intro

This is going to be a multi-part post, and I will work on it over the next few weeks. (Each post will take some research). I'd like to respond to a reader's question and talk about the politics of tea. I'm going to define "politics" to include social, ethical, environmental and economic considerations.

I'd like YOUR opinion! Below I'm outlining what I think are the major issues, but I am sure there are ones I've missed. If you can think of another topic related to the politics of tea, please leave a comment and I'll do my best to write about it (or admit I know nothing).

Thank you, in advance!

Welfare, housing and education of tea plantation workers
Marketing of tea

Use of pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers (or not) and the corresponding impact
Planting practices
Manufacture and distribuion of tea

How tea is bought and sold in the world market
Who owns the tea plantations?
Does that teabag reflect the true price of the tea you drink?

What other topics would you add to this list?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Tea Pot Pendant

I recently purchased this lovely tea pot pendant from Frivolitea. (See her description of it here.) I really like it! What's neat is that the background (which has script on it) is made from shrink plastic!

My fellow tea blogger, over at Tea with Friends, is also a fan! ;-)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Sew Much Fun, It Seams!

Over the past 2 years, I've been learning how to sew and I'm having "sew much fun, it seams!" It really is a marvelous creative outlet for me. I'm progressively getting braver. Special thanks go to my very own sewing coach, AZ Tea Lover! Here are a few things I've made recently...

I did a big happy dance when this skirt was done b/c I love the fabric! I also had a huge learning curve! First, the fabric was a remnant and the pattern layout didn't fit, so I had to figure out my own layout, which seemed to work fine. I also sewed darts for the first time.

Second, I didn't really follow the instructions b/c they didn't make sense. It worked out fine in the end, but I learned to sew the zipper side FIRST and then the other side. (I didn't do it this way and ended up sewing the zipper to the other side of the skirt -- twice! Thank goodness I've learned to delicately rip seams.)

Third, the fabric is slippery. It's the first time I've used non-cotton fabric. I now get the concept about pulling the fabric along as it moves (or in some cases - doesn't b/c I wasn't pulling!) Whew! I wore this skirt on Friday to see the Nutcracker Ballet and was so happy!

This apron was easy to make, but took much longer than I anticipated! I used an apron someone else had made for me as the pattern. What took so long is that I had to make these tiny hems all the way around and then also make the neck look and the ties. That would be easy as pie for experienced sewers, but it took me a while. And then I had to figure out how to sew the rickrack. (Thanks, K, for the advice!) I think I've really fallen for rickrack! Doesn't it look cute? Oh, and check out the lovely teacup fabric! :-)

These pillows match my perfectly bright, sunshiny, ORANGE bed spread. An unusual color, yes, but it's my favorite and makes me very happy! Thanks to AZ Tea Lover for the many pillow tips!