Monday, March 30, 2009

Reflections on She's CrafTEA! party

In the last few years, I've become deeply aware of how much creativity is necessary for me to be happy. Without it I would survive, but I wouldn't be my best, happiest self. The She's Craftea! TM party nurtured me. I was surrounded by a brew of creative spirit, passion, compassion, friendship and celebration!

Thank you to every woman who came to this party - either in person or in spirit! And thanks to the DH (dear hubby) who helped me prepare for the party, and found things to do away from home all day. :-)

So many memories and special moments...just one right after another right after another. Here are a few wordsnaps of the day:
  • The sweet taste of air-popped popcorn
  • Her strength and radiance, coming in from a bike commute in the rain
  • Pieces of a secret project
  • New friends, old friends, found again friends
  • Yellow daffodils, flickering yellow beeswax candles
  • Blue and white and cream china
  • Red zinger and cranberry tea punch
  • Ice Wine and Coconut Pouchong teas
  • Yummy foods - including vegan options
  • A collage art card
  • Tulips
  • Berries and homemade soaps
  • Lambic
  • Laughter and tears
  • Sewing purses, cutting quilt pieces, refashioning clothing, turning handles, knitting slippers, beading, sharing conversation, listening, singing, reading poetry
  • Amazing cupcakes
  • This poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, an amazing poem of sisterhood
  • Summertime from Porgy and Bess and the Rivers of Babylon, sung by beautiful voices!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Heart So Full

Cupcakes by Sweetcakes

I'm still basking in the warmth and joy from my She's CrafTEA! party yesterday. I'll put more words to it soon, but for now enjoy a few photos.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fabric Bookmarks

Here is a simple sewing project that is quick, easy and FUN! It's a great project for a beginner.

You can find the instructions from Sew, Mama, Sew! projects. I actually smooshed together a couple of different tutorials. I liked the button from one and the pinking from another. I used interfacing to give the bookmarks some heft. Line each side of the bookmark with medium interfacing, or use 3 layers of light-weight interfacing.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Crafting from Afar

AZ tea lover will be at my She's CrafTEA! party on Saturday, in spirit! Here are some of the things she'll be working on (or has just finished).
A baby quilt

Fabric and pieces for a wedding quilt

A capelet in the works - ooh, this will be nice!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Teacup Carrier

I'm so excited to announce that Marmalady (Marilyn) will soon be releasing patterns for a teacup carrier! I was lucky to be a prototype tester (see below). Look for these to be available in May, and if you happen to be lucky enough to attend the World Tea Expo, look for them there! Marilyn is providing additional patterns, too. Congratulations, Marilyn! I look forward to the patterns!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Friendship Patchwork Tablecloth

I made this patchwork tablecloth over the weekend. It was a BIG project, but I'm so happy with the outcome! I call this my Friendship Patchwork Tablecloth because so many friends had a role to play (though they might not know it).

First, Sweetcakes made the fabulous, amazing, soulful orange patchwork tablecloth for me. It's been my favorite ever since, and I've longed to try it. I've never done patchwork before, so I was a bit anxious about giving it a try.

Well, then RoxyRed gave me this teacup fabric. I've been waiting for months, trying to determine the perfect project for it. (The fabric I'm referencing is the one with the yellow flowers on it. If you look closely, you'll see there are two teacup fabrics in the mix.)
In the background, AZ tea lover has been gently nudging me to take a closer look at quilting. Quilting really intimidates me, so I decided to start with a patchwork project.

The ingredients: I had a patchwork tablecloth that I loved, I had this gorgeous fabric that needed a project, and I had this desire to try patchwork. So I dove in.

The pattern is from the great book, Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson and photos by Anna Williams. Martha Stewart featured the book and you can find the pattern, for free, here.

I did a few things differently than the pattern.

  • First, my table isn't that big, so I reduced the measurements. Thankfully, I could use the one Sweetcakes made as an example.
  • Second, I skipped the rickrack. Don't misunderstand - I LOVE rickrack. It's just that after all the piecing and sewing, I was DONE. Makes me appreciate the orange one even more, if that's possible.
  • Third, I didn't use a half and half pattern. The fabric I chose as my dominant one has a lot of white in the background. The DH came to look at my creation, before I sewed the pieced columns together, and said..."Hmmm, that's a lot of white!" He has a great eye and I agreed, so I cut that half in I had four alternating columns, and I liked it better. The white blended.
  • Fourth, I haven't made the napkins (yet). But I will!

I'm looking forward to showing off the tablecloth at my She's CrafTEA! event this coming Saturday. In fact, I've been inspired by the tablecloth to go with a blue-and-white china theme. Here, you can see me testing out a few pieces.

To lead up to the She's CrafTEA! party, I'll be featuring crafty things all week. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Flowers Make Me Happy!

Some photos from my yard and around the neighborhood...

Daffodils in the front yard

A neighbor's daffodils, and I like them in contrast with the
limestone steps



Don't know the name of this one (do you?). It's not hyacinth, but it sure is lovely!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Bittersweet Poetry of Time

We have so much to learn from our elders, if we can just get past our egos (our fears of our own futures) and do nothing other than be present with them.

I visited some friends at a local nursing home recently. The wife is in the nursing facility, and the husband visits her every day at 4 pm, to have afternoon tea. They were proud to show me their newest tea passion - a black spice tea that was very good indeed! (They'd discovered "large leaf" tea sachets.) They keep a hot pot in the room to boil the water for tea. They enjoy a cookie with tea and talk about the day's visitors and events. It's a sweet, sweet, sweet story.

As I was preparing to leave, they asked if they could recite a few poems for me. I was honored to listen. This one captured my heart. Let me set the scene...they looked at each other, eyes misty, a loving energy surrounding them, and recited:

The soul's dark cottage, batter'd and decay'd,
Lets in new light through chinks that Time has made.
Stronger by weakness, wiser [we] become
As [we] draw near to the eternal home.

On the Diving Poems (1686), Edmund Waller (1605 - 1687)

To learn more about ourselves and how we relate to our elders, I recommend the book Another Country by one of my favorite authors, Mary Pipher. (She wrote Reviving Ophelia.)

I prepare to visit my grandparents this weekend, both in the nursing home. They are blessed to have lots of family nearby, and regular visitors. They share a room. There's a funny irony in their circumstances. My grandfather's body is in pretty good shape, but he'd rather sleep than do anything. My grandmother gets frustrated by what my grandfather could - but doesn't do. Her body has worn out...yet she'd love to be in my grandfather's position to go DO something. They suffer, and yet they laugh and tell jokes and enjoy a piece of chocolate.

While I visit my grandparents, I plan to share that Waller poem with them. I know that, as is natural and whole and holy, their bodies will soon let go completely. I also know that love never dies. My memories of them will remain, and I will carry their love in my heart.

I celebrate my 36th birthday this weekend; my grandfather celebrates his 91st. Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Laini's Ladies

I'm a big fan of Laini's Ladies. These gals remind me to find whimsy and joy in my everyday tasks. The beauty above was a gift (thank you!) and the one below (smaller version) is something I picked up for myself a couple of years ago. Artist Laini Taylor (see her blog) is pretty amazing, too!

I'm sharing these as inspiration for your own creative dreams! What might you do if you had wings?

Monday, March 16, 2009


Fresh green daffodils poking through the ground, green buds on the trees, St. Patrick's Day... GREEN is on my brain! I had a friend over for lunch recently and we had a loosely-themed St. Patrick's Day tea.

I used my Old Country Roses china because it has such gorgeous emerald green in the rose leaves and stems.

We started with edamame for its gorgeous green. It's one of my absolute favorite foods, and so healthy, too. If I had to choose between scones or edamame, it'd be a really hard choice. At that's sayin' a lot!

We also enjoyed a vegetarian version of Cock-a-Leekie soup, minus the cock, of course - so it was potato and leek soup.

For the scones course, we had Irish Soda Bread Scones. The recipe is in the recently-released book Celtic Tea with Friends, by Elizabeth Knight. (I adore this book, by the way.) I changed the recipe a wee bit to use whole wheat and honey, instead of white flour and sugar.

We had a very simple dessert, Dolfin chocolate with Konacha green tea. Wow - very good! I've had other Dolfin chocolates with tea, and this is my favorite so far.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Tea Quilt

This tea quilt is one of my favorite things!

The quilt was a gift from my dear friend, AZ Tea Lover, when I moved away from NM. It has kept me warm through several Midwestern winters! I bundle up with it in my "tea cozy corner" and enjoy a few moments to myself. And a Happy Birthday to AZ Tea Lover!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

She's CrafTEA!

I'm excited to introduce a new concept today: She's CrafTEA!TM
The picture above is from an invitation I'm making for a birthday party/craft day at the end of the month. I'll be doing more with this concept (and making some artwork related to tea), but I've been in love with birds lately and wanted to include that in my theme.

My party will be like an open house. I'll be doing crafty stuff from 11 - 5 and have invited friends to join me whenever they can. I'll be serving afternoon tea, buffet style, at 3.

Won't you join me?
If you're interested in holding your own She's CrafTEA!TM party in the future, I give you permission to use the name. In return, please write about it on your blog and link to mine. I'll provide a link in return. And your party doesn't have to be like mine - it can be whatever you envision. In addition, if you're working on crafty projects this month, I'd love to provide a link to them, as well.

Happy March!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Orange Skirt

March is National Craft Month in addition to Women's History Month. I'll be sharing some crafty things over the next few weeks. Here's one - another skirt! Same pattern as this one. The fabric is vintage (thanks, AZ Tea Lover!) I love this skirt!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Teashop Girls and Whole Wheat Scones

Sometimes I find gems in surprising places! I'm always on the lookout for a good whole wheat scone recipe. These recipes aren't that easy to find. I recently found one that I love, in a novel for young adults! The novel is called The Teashop Girls and is written by Laura Schaefer. See the official website here.

The story is about Annie, an 8th-grader. Annie convinces her parents to allow her to work part time in the teashop that she adores, run by her grandmother. (Grandma Louisa is my favorite character - she's a hip gal!) Annie and her gal pals (the Teashop Girls) struggle through growing pains, crushes, and manage to rescue the teashop from demise. It's a sweet and touching story. Given my recent discussions about positive-message books for girls, I give this one a thumbs-up. It gives a fairly accurate depiction (as I remember it) of the struggles of middle-school, while allowing the girls to work things out and be the heroines.

Now back to those scones....

They are fabulous! One of the best whole wheat scone recipes I've found. And I love the name: Louisa's Very Best Spiced Blueberry Scones.

Since this is a relatively new book, I'm not going to post the recipe (staying true to my recipe attribution policy). However, you can find the recipe for yourself if you check this book out from the library or pick it up at your local bookstore. (It would make the perfect gift for a middle-schooler in your life.) I replaced the sugar with honey and used skim milk instead of half-and-half. And they were so yummy!

If you've read this book, please leave your thoughts on it here!

3/17 update - check out the Tea Pages' review with this author! Go here.

Monday, March 09, 2009


I had the opportunity to attend a fabulous quilt show in my hometown this weekend. And then, with a bit of serendipity, I found a showing of antique quilts in my community, too. Wow - both shows were awesome! The quilts below are from the quilt show. (Photos a little dark, sorry - it was the cell phone cam.) Unfortunately, I don't have photos of the antique quilts.

My favorite one (above)!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Twilight Review - Grab a BIG Mug of Tea!

OK, Twilight fans, this one's for you, and I want your opinion! Grab a BIG mug of tea and settle in for some deep contemplation, and leave me your thoughts!

I've finished books one and two of the Twilight saga. Book three should be here from the library any day now! I read them voraciously. I enjoyed them. I think author Stephenie Meyer and I must both have been in love with Johnny Depp, in Edward Scissorhands because when I picture the Twilight Edward, I see the Scissorhands Edward in my head!

The books have been a super-huge hit with the tween set (and their moms)! The books have also been subject to a lot of criticism, both from a literary perspective (holes in the plot) and from a feminist perspective. I clearly see the plot potholes, yet they don't impede my enjoyment. The feminist issue is of more concern to me. Over the weekend, I was talking about the books with a group of girlfriends, and one friend asked me about the feminist concerns. I've spent the last few days thinking about it, and here's my reflection.
  • It's a paradox. I really like the books. Yet I do have concerns, too.

  • Bella is far too wimpy for my preference. She's presented as clumsy and insecure. True, lots of girls her age identify with that. And yet, I would have liked to see her represented as a stronger lead. (BTW, I found the movie Bella to be more to my liking than the book Bella.)

  • The love story transcends logic. That's part of what draws me to the book. I like fantasy, and tie that up with vampires, and I'm a gonner. I just love vampire books! So for me, this story caught and kept my attention. However, others have criticized the love story for being too out there. Obsession, not love. I don't have an issue with this part of it. It is, after all, a fantasy.

  • Bella gets pushed around by the boys. This was distasteful to me, even while caught up in the reading frenzy. Edward can be very bossy, and so can Jacob. She immediately takes on the role of the house-daughter for her Dad. Here's a criticism from Sue Corbett, a children's author."Bella is constantly in need of getting rescued. She moves in with her father and immediately starts cooking for him and doing his laundry. She's on track to go to an Ivy League college, but doesn't because of Edward. It's the exact inverse of what I'm trying to teach my daughter." I wonder if that's why they have Bella and Dad eat out in the movie. Stephenie Meyer counters by encouraging readers to get through the whole series. "The thing about Bella is her story isn't finished yet."

I'm going to finish out the series, and I'm certain I'll enjoy the last 2 books. If I had a daughter, I don't think I'd keep her from reading the books. But I would have some girl-power conversations about Bella's choices. That's my 2-cents. Will you share yours?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Books with Positive Messages for Girls

I think these books would be a great start to giving positive messages to our young girls (and boys!). I'm showing the Amazon link (unless otherwise noted), but I bet many of these are at my local library, too. Note: I haven't read any of these - just the reviews. If YOU have recommendations for other books (etc.) with positive-girl messages, please leave the name in a comment!

Call Me Madame President - By Sue Pyatt. "This is the story of Amanda, a delightful, imaginative eight-year-old who hasn't any trouble envisioning herself as President of the United States and longs to show her older brother a thing or two. The story is told against the backdrop of Washington, D.C. with all the splendor and charm of the famous places. It is obviously a timely and uplifting book for girls from three to eight years and their families. Perhaps it is particularly uplifting to little girls with troublesome older brothers."

The Girls' Book Of... - (Link to author's site.) Series by Catherine Dee. Topics include Girls' Book of: Wisdom, Friends, Love, Success, Life.

100 Women Who Shaped History - By Gail Meyer Rolka "This selection of 100 profiles reveals how much women have done to shape history. Beginning with Queen Makare Hatshepsut (c. 1503-1468 B.C.) and concluding with Rigoberta Menchu, still actively involved in human rights issues, the concisely written profiles span history and place each woman's accomplishments within the context of the society in which she lived. As a bonus for readers who enjoy trivia and challenges, Rolka includes a trivia quiz and a list of related projects. A time line, locator maps, cross-references, and an index are planned. With those promised additions, the book, while not inclusive, will be a must for women's history collections." Patricia Braun, Booklist

33 Things Every Girl Should Know about Women's History: From Suffragettes to Skirt Lengths to the E.R.A - Edited by Tonya Bolden. "Begins with Abigail Adams's 1776 letter to her husband, 'Remember the Ladies,' proceeds through Charlotte Perkins Gilman's groundbreaking 'The Yellow Wallpaper' (excerpted) and includes thoughtful reflections on other leading women, such as Patricia McKissack's fictional essay narrated by Charlotte Woodward (the only woman in attendance at the Seneca Falls convention still alive to exercise her right to vote). Period photographs, quotes, timelines, bios and varied typography give the volume an attractive, accessible feel." Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Girls Rock! Fifty Years of Women Making Music - "When Leah Hinchcliff played her guitar in a fourth grade talent show, a male classmate said, "You can’t play guitar because you’re a girl." I'm not sure what age this books is for - so read the online descriptions.

What good "girl-positive" books do you know of?

Monday, March 02, 2009

A Tea-Partying Feminist

*Rant warning*

I have a card (like a calling card) I like to give out that describes me with various phrases, including: feminist, swing dancer, computer geek, and tea consultant. I'm a tea-partying feminist. I enjoy sewing and baking and love to wear skirts. And I'm very concerned about women's rights and equalities. I think these various parts of me blend well. Feminist isn't the "F-word" and it certainly doesn't mean I hate men. I hate discrimination. And tea parties fit well into the feminism world. Tea parties are, after all, an historical tool women have used to organize for causes. (I'll be writing more about that later this week.)

I'm declaring this to be Feminist Week on my blog. The topics will cover various aspects of feminism - through my filters. And I'll make at least a couple of connections to tea, as well.

If you don't like the label "feminist," it's OK - but keep reading. I know that you're concerned about the equality of our sisters. For example, just yesterday the NY Times published this comparison of earnings between men and women. The data comes from the population survey for 2007 and includes at least 50,000 responses for each sex. Move your mouse over the dots to see the differences. I'm practically screaming from my chair. I know all about the "opt-out" to have babies issue and why it impacts the numbers. And I think that's bunk. If men had the babies, do you think they'd earn less? In addition, a whole bunch of women don't have the luxury to stay home with their kids, or have healthier balance to their lives by working, or just enjoy the work stimulation! Second, an increasing number of us are choosing not to have kids (me included). I'm sure this opt-out business does impact the numbers, but I'm even more sure that there is institutional bias in the mix.

I am fortunate to have been raised in a time when the way for women has been pretty easy. I grew up under Title IX sports. Even though I didn't play sports in high school, I had girlfriends who did. I grew up always thinking I would go to college. I've always thought I was just as smart (often smarter) than the boys. In some respects, I've had it pretty easy thanks to the hard, hard work by women (and some men) who've gone before me. The question is this - Is that enough? What about the women who come next? What about my niece? There is much more to do. Because even though I've had it pretty easy, I have experienced discrimination and other messages that say "you can't" because I'm female.

For example, when I was a young girl, about 10, I thought I wanted to be a vet. Not a small-animal vet (dogs/cats), but a large-animal farm vet (horses/cows). I mentioned this to our family vet one day and he told me I should consider dogs and cats because I was too petite to work on large animals. I didn't want to work on dogs and cats, so I gave up the idea. My little 10-year-old self accepted that lie. The truth is, there are lots of women vets who work on large animals, regardless of the size of the woman. It's more about technique and tools than heft. The family vet was well-intentioned, I'm sure. But it's no excuse. I don't want anyone to tell my niece that she can't be whatever she wants because she's... too small, too big, too smart, not smart enough, too pretty, not pretty enough, a girl. This is just one story. There are others.

I think that's enough for today.