Monday, June 29, 2009
On the tail end of the vacation, we were able to swing by my parents' home. It happened to be that my mom and stepdad were taking ponies to a vacation bible school. (The ponies belong to a neighbor...it's a long, connected, community story.) Anyway, being the resident pony expert, I got to play a role. :-) Here's me with the niece and the pony we named "Bean" for the day, as in Pinto Bean.
And here she is on her first pony ride! She's a natural, I think!
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Farmer's Wife and Bike Mechanic Ride Office into a Solstice Sunrise
Friday, June 19, 2009
A Portable Flower Box = True Love
Thursday, June 18, 2009
So, Sew Happy
This was one of the patterns featured in the book Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross. This was my first experienc sewing with knit and it worked out well. It was also my first time sewing with elastic thread, and I loved that! The elastic thread (in the bobbin) causes the smocking at the breast bone and the waist. This is a very comfortable and versatile dress.
I didn't have quite enough fabric for the bottom tier, so I pieced it together, and it worked out fine. (Note - if you're going to make this dress, consider getting a little extra fabric, or doing a better job in laying out the pattern.) I also made the dress into a halter-tie instead of an over-the-shoulder tie. I am really happy with this dress!
Thanks to AZ Tea Lover for this circle skirt panel! (I threw this photo in so you could see our Asiatic lillies!) I added light blue ricrac to the bottom hem.
(Photos by the DH)
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Tea with a Twist
Monday, June 15, 2009
Lucky Duck, That's Me!
Where can you shape your luck today?
Friday, June 12, 2009
The Unloved Fruit
Yesterday morning, I made mulberry muffins. I started plucking off the little stems, then gave up. I recalled advice from another mulberry fan who said to leave them on. They disappear when baked. So I did. And I didn't (notice them, that is).
Thursday, June 11, 2009
My Little Red Book
With a sense of urgency, I realized that there was a whole generation whose stories would never be told unless someone did something. And so, for the sake of posterity, I decided to commit social suicide and starting asking about first periods. Although my questions made some women cringe, the replies made it all worthwhile. With each new story, I felt that I had stumbled upon buried treasure that deserved to be shared. Thus began My Little Red Book. --Rachel Kauder Nalebuff
This is a book about first periods. It's also a book about the universality and connectedness of women, and also about the diversity and uniqueness among us. One thing is for sure- we each have a first period story.
I'm inspired by the author, an 18-year-old who collected these stories. I'm even more inspired that funds from the book's sale will go to helping girls in Africa stay in school by providing them the necessary sanitary supplies, water, education and private toilets.
Esme turned me on to this book, and I'm very grateful. When the time is right, I'm going to recommend it to my niece. And maybe I'll share my first period story.
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Harney & Sons Tea Tasting: Yin Zhen and Bai Mei
I'll be (sporadically) tasting and reviewing the teas listed in the Guide, in the order presented. I'll do at least two at a time, as I enjoy having a comparison.
Before I get started on these first two teas, let's talk about the essential equipment. For these tastings, I want to brew the tea as precisely as possible, according to Mike Harney's instructions. To do this, I need two tools: a thermometer and a timer.
The first two teas (dry leaf shown at the top, left to right) are:
- Yin Zhen (Silver Needles)
- Bai Mei (White Eyebrow)
I brewed both at 175 degrees Fahrenheit, for 2 minutes for the first steeping. I did a second steeping at 3 minutes. I enjoyed both and would drink them again.
The Yin Zhen is on the left and Bai Mei on the right. Both are very light brews, but with distinctly unique flavors.
The Yin Zhen leaf looks soft and cuddly. The dry tea smelled exactly to me like freshly cut hay. (I've been riding my bike next to fields of cut hay recently, so it was "fresh" on my mind!) Harney uses the hay reference, too. The taste/feel experience for me was very smooth. No bitterness. Lightly sweet flavor, and it left my mouth feeling very clean.
The Bai Mei is hand tied, and I think it's so pretty! The flavor has more of a presence. It's slightly vegetal, to me. I experienced a lightly bitter aftertaste, but it was pleasant.
And now a word about the book itself. I was expecting a somewhat hard-to-read book, if a person didn't have a bit of background in tea. I am glad to report my assumption was wrong! I think this book is very accessible to even a casual tea drinker. Michael Harney sums it up in his introduction when he says, "I only have one hard and fast rule, for myself as well as for you: Have fun."
Finally, if you embark on a tea tasting, either with Harney or with your own teas, I have two pieces of advice:
- Try to be descriptive, rather than judgemental. What I mean is that you'll have more fun if you challenge yourself to be creative and use descriptive words. If you don't like a tea, find the right description to say why. When I do tea tastings for others, I encourage them in this approach. One participant described a Pu-Erh as smelling "like my grandfather's basement." Now that's using descriptive words!
- Don't ever think you're wrong! If I say a tea tastes like a grape popsicle and you think it tastes like mud, then we're both right! Tea tasting is totally personal. The water, the steep time, the water temp all make a difference. Even if we're drinking from the same pot, your body chemistry plays into the mix. It's fun to compare differences.
Saturday, June 06, 2009
Ladies in Pink
- For one serving, you need 9 lady fingers (split in half), in groups of three
- Sliced strawberries, sweetened (I used honey)
- Mascarpone cream, blended with lemon peel and sweetened slightly with honey or powdered sugar
- Chopped nuts (I used toasted almonds)
- Mint leaf, for garnish
- Spread a layer of mascarpone cream on one layer of lady fingers. Place the lady fingers on a plate, cream facing up.
- Top with strawberries and then sprinkle with nuts.
- Spread another layer of mascarpone cream on the second layer of lady fingers.
- Stack on top of the strawberries and nuts, cream facing up. Press down lightly to stabilize.
- Top with strawberries and nuts.
- Spread a layer of mascarpone cream on the final layer of lady fingers.
- Stack on top of the strawberries and nuts, cream facing up.
- Top with strawberries and nuts and garnish with a mint leaf.
Note: I don't like my desserts very soggy, but if you're a fan of soaked sweet breads, you can liberally pour the strawberry juice over the lady fingers, too. I did this judiciously.
Friday, June 05, 2009
Sewing Machine MeMe
How much does that machine cost (approximately)? In the $200 range
What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)? Tote bags, clothing, will try quilting
How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get? 2-3 weekends/month (sometimes more or less)
Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name? I like it! It has done everything I need, and for the price, I think it's a great bargain!
What features does your machine have that work well for you? Just the basics
Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine? The instruction manual is very basic (and not too helpful)
Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it! Got it from my Mom for Xmas. Thanks, Mom! It has definitely opened up a new world for me!
Would you recommend the machine to others? Why? I think it's a GREAT starter machine for those who want to see if they like sewing without investing too much.
What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine? I'm too new to this to know.
Do you have a dream machine? I'm reading of several in this blog posting from Sew, Mama, Sew!
Thursday, June 04, 2009
The Hat, Please...
The giveaway winners (drawn from a hat):
Belinda, let me know how to contact you. (Email me at stephw7-at-sbcglobal.net). I'm excited because I actually know Hootie. I'll start up another round of color postings (and giveaways) in July, after vacation.
The new hat picture (my profile): Thanks for the compliments. It's a vintage hat that belonged to the grandmother of someone for whom I did a tea party a few years ago. I think it's fabulous. By the way, the thing near my ear, on the side of my face opposite my braid, is my phone headset. I actually wore this hat for a work event....in video conferencing. We were having a very looooong video conference meeting, and to make it fun, we had "hat day." So there you go, the story of the hat.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
- Hootie has a fun photo display, with music.
- The cutest pink hat, among other things, if featured at Comfrey Cottages.
- ParTea Lady shows us this gorgeous pink Hall teapot. And look what the summer Tea Time magazine has - a pink story!
- Southern Touch Catering has lots of beautiful pink things, but I'm drawn to those pink flip-flops! Two styles!
- IN addition to a beautiful teapot, Angela at Tea with Friends has these amazing pink gloves.
If I've missed anyone, let me know.
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
I Spy: Petal Pink (and Giveaway)
Welcome to week four of the "I Spy" color series. It has been fun! This week wraps up round one, and I will soon announce the winners from this series. One reader and one blogger. It's not too late to enter! Leave a comment here or blog about Petal Pink yourself.
I was surprised, actually, about how much pink was in the garden, and how little pink is in my home. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, because I've never thought of myself as a "pink" person. The pastel color palette is not what attracts me. However, I do like pink, and I have a small corner in the bedroom, my "tea cozy corner," where pink thrives.
Sweet Pea, in a blanket of honeysuckle
A Limoges cup and saucer
Monday, June 01, 2009
Strawberry-Rhubarb Tea Cake
This recipe is my own, consistent with my no white stuff efforts. I am thinking the recipe will be in the little tea book I'm working on. So, you'll have to wait for it! :-) Basically, it's a a whole wheat batter with honey and/or agave nectar as sweeteners. It was very yummy.