Friday, May 28, 2010

Necessary Luxuries

Necessary luxuries:  Flowers, candles and sunsets

I packed the candle, bought the flower within an hour of getting the keys to the apartment, and welcomed the sunset with open arms off my bedroom balcony!  Necessary luxuries that help me to relax and settle in as I wait for the DH and our stuff.

I'm camping in the new apartment now, and it's like an adventure (except with running water!) The DH is finishing the packing up and the stuff arrives later. 

The transition back into cubicle land has some advantages that I am recalling, like battery recycling and free drinks.

Happy Memorial Day!

Friday, May 21, 2010

OK, Deep Breath

"When you leave here, don't forget why you came." 
Adlai E. Stevenson

I'll be off for a few days, making my journey North and West.

To Bloomington - Thank you

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Across the World, Right at Home

This picture is from a recent tea party where two little girls were brought together over tea. The two played with this tea set that was carried so thoughtfully from China as a gift for my niece.  I'm struck by how deeply tea is part of the world's heritage, party of the unique yet global experience of these two children. 

Tea is one of the oldest items of trade between West and East.  I find that by understanding tea's prominence in many of the world's cultures, I am more attentive and appreciative of the cup that I sip and the profound impact it has played on my path, and the path of all humanity.

These two little girls got their starts in very different places.  Yet they already have so much in common, including tea!  The little one from China comes from a culture with the oldest connection to tea in the world.  I hope to learn more of that with her.  The little one from the Midwestern plains will some day inherit a set of china passed down from her great grandmother.  Despite their young ages, both have attended several tea parties. 

Tea is such an amazing substance.  Simple water and leaf that forms a stream that flows round this world and pulls us together for contemplation, celebration, and connection.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Apricot-Oatmeal Scones

These apricot-oatmeal scones are soooo good!  I made them for a special baby shower over the weekend.  (And we joked that these scones are an anomaly for me - there's nothing healthy about them.  I used white sugar, white flour, and even quick-cook oatmeal!)  Nonetheless, they are very tasty.

I'd like to give credit to the recipe originator, but I've had this hand-written for years and I no longer know where it came from.  So here it is:

Apricot-Oatmeal Scones
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup cold butter, in small pieces
2 eggs
1/4 cup sour cream (OK, I did use plain non-fat yogurt instead)
1 Tbl milk or water
3/4 cup dried apricots, chopped

3 Tbl brown sugar
1 Tbl quick-cooking oats
1 Tbl butter

*Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
*Combine dry ingredients.  Cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs.
*Make the filling.
*In a small bowl, beat eggs.  Set aside 1 Tbl for glaze.
*In a separate bowl, combine sour cream, milk, remaining egg and apricots.
*Stir wet ingredients into dry until the dough clings together.
*Turn onto a lightly floured surface and ensure everything is incorporated.  (Knead a time or two, not very much.)  Break into two equal sections. 
*Take the first section and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Press into a 7" circle.  Sprinkle with filling.
*On your floured surface, press or roll out the remaining section into a 7" circle and place on top of the filling.
*Cut into wedges, but do not separate.  Brush with egg.
*Bake 15-20 minutes, until golden on top.

Note:  I thought I'd be clever and cut these into shapes.  BAD idea.  Stick with the wedges or do squares, as in the photo.  The brown sugar filling spills out over everything and makes a big mess if you try to cut and separate these into shapes. 

Enjoy!  We were lucky to have homemade apricot jam (from Sweetcakes) to accompany these!

Friday, May 14, 2010

T-shirt Redo #2

One of my favorite T-shirts just got a makeover! I dig the message of this shirt, but I seldom wore it. You can see why.

  Here's the new version - much better!

I found inspiration from this blog post.  I didn't want the ruffles, but I used the idea of shirring the bottom and making scalloped sleeves.  I used elastic thread in my bobbin for the shirring and scalloping.  I wanted a flat neckline, so I simply cut out the ribbed band.  I took in the sides about 5/8 on each side, and also used the elastic thread to give it a wee bit of gathering.  Voila - from boxy to fun!

And the best part:

I got the T-shirt a couple of years ago when I went to see (and was totally blown away by) the Vagina Monologues.

See T-shirt Redo #1.  And see my other adventure into sewing with elastic thread.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Matcha Salt

Matcha is a powdered green tea traditionally used in the Japanese tea ceremony.  It's also a key component in many recent developments in using tea for cooking.  It adds a lovely bitter flavor and bright green color. 

Matcha salt is easy to make.  Combine the powdered tea with coarse see salt.  I first saw reference to it here and here (recipe).  I added cracked pepper into my blend. 

Mmm...Try this on poached eggs, popcorn, tomatoes, rice, or soup.  Warning - a little goes a long way!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Favorite Bike Ride

DH pedals along a country road

Happy Bike Month!  I've been on a mission to enjoy my favorite things about my hometown/area before I depart.  Last weekend, we did one of my most favorite - we took a long bike ride through the countryside.  Indulge me - here are the photos.

DH climbs "Buddhist hill."  The hill is quite steep, tho it doesn't look it here.

Wild water iris and mustard in the background

What you're not seeing is the loose sow (mama pig) who decided to follow us.
The DH kindly stopped a car, so she wouldn't get hit.

That's me, in case you can't tell. 

DH at the wildlife refuge
Lunch stop - the trays are empty!  (Mom's Day AND Graduation Weekend)

My favorite ice cream place!

An after-ride treat
Happy me!

Photos by DH and me

Monday, May 10, 2010


If you're ever at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, be sure to check out the fashion section.  You'll find this great piece!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

China Tea, Hand-Delivered

This lovely jasmine tea came from China (well, of course, Stephanie!) - but it came to me hand-delivered by Esme, from her recent trip to bring home her daughter.  How thoughtful it was for her to bring me something special, in the midst of her very busy and significant trip!

The green tea is heavily scented with Jasmine.  It's a bright and flavorful brew.  I will drink it and think of China and my new little friend.

The packaging says "Ten Fu Tea."  Esme also brought me a package of flowering teas, which I look forward to trying!  Thank you for the generous gifts.

Thursday, May 06, 2010


A car used to sit in this spot, but it's gone.  We have upgraded to a car-free lifestyle! I call it an upgrade because that's how I experience it.  We've been living car-light for the past 5 years, and my quality of life has increased dramatically.  We walk and bike lots of places (including the grocery store).  We wave at neighbors and notice the yellow wood tree is about to bloom.  We see the trash on the side of the street and pick it up.  We hold hands and talk.  

We're in the midst of preparing for a move to the Pacific NorthWest.  We'll be living where there is great public transportation.  We're giving a car-free lifestyle a try and I'm very excited about this!  Of course, we save money:  no more petro costs, oil changes, new tires and transmissions, insurance, etc.  And we save time:  No more waiting for the oil change or scraping windows.  

Yes, it may take a bit longer to get places, but I'll get there by my own (renewable) energy or on public transit and I'll enjoy the views along the way.  There may be some things I simply can't do because I don't have a car.  That can be a blessing.  ;-)  

I'll let you know how it goes!   

Monday, May 03, 2010

Sewing for Someone Aged 2.7

My niece and her Mom and Grandma visited recently.  It was a fun-filled, busy weekend!  I'm not used to that 2.7-year-old energy; it's consuming and I'm in deep respect of my sister!  That energy is so pure and bubbly and honest.  I love it.  

I was excited to have her wear two things I made for her recently.  I love the colors and style of this cute little sundress.  It's an easy-to-sew piece and is perfect for a growing girl, as it continues to work as she grows.  Both the dress and contrasting bow are recycled tablecloths I'd made previously. Thanks to Habitual for the pattern!

And here's my little kitchen helper in her new apron.  Tutorial here (with thanks!).

Fabric from Hobby Lobby. 

We had tea parties and ate pizza. We went for walks.  We picked flowers and squashed bugs.  We collected pine cones.  We touched everything.  We shared sweet hugs and a few 'this is not going my way!' moments.  We talked about what she would do when she's big (age: 3).  It's inspiring to be with someone so in-the-moment.  The challenge, I think, is for grown-ups to return there ourselves.