Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tea Party with Garden Bounty

 I recently shared an evening with a colleague, and we had tea.  It was my first British-style tea in the new place.  Fun!  I was eager to use some of the garden's bounty.  

My friend brought these gorgeous hydrangeas from her own garden.  Thank you!  I will let them dry and enjoy them through the winter.

 To start, we ate these little golden tomatoes (from the garden) as appetizers.  They are very sweet.  The larger, round yellow items are lemon cucumbers (garden), to be featured in a moment.
 I used rosemary from the garden, along with dried tomatoes that I had soaked in olive oil, to make a goat cheese spread.  I topped the lemon cucumbers with this blend and then garnished it with a leaf of garden basil.  Yumm.  I will definitely use this recipe again.

I served the savory course with a tart citrus herbal tisane.  It was evening and we wanted to avoid the caffeine.

I also made an egg salad, and meant to add a spicy cress (from the garden), but forgot that part, and so we had the cress as a post-party palate cleanser.  ;-) 

Then we had scones, jam and cream, and finished with chocolate, pears (local) and cheese.  With these courses, I served a rooibos blended with herbs.

It was a great evening, and I'm reminded how much I enjoy these small tea parties for two or three. They are easy to plan, prepare and enjoy.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Wow Moment

I had one of those "wow" moments today.  I ran in my company's annual 5K race and did very well (4th woman overall).  I was surprised and pleased.  But that wasn't my wow moment.

As I was walking back to the office, I realized - or a better phrase is that I fully internalized -- that my body is amazing.  Of late, I haven't been loving it as completely as I should.  In fact, I've been frustrated with it.  I've noticed that it works a little differently than it has in the past, that things have changed.  I have more wrinkles, etc. etc. etc.  (For context: I'm 37.) And yet, I ran this race and my body performed soooo well when I pushed it.  My wow moment was when I realized that I need to love my body more fully.  I need to stop obsessing over a line here and a sag there and dark circles.  Focus instead on all the really cool things this body does for me, like taking me on great adventures.  That's what I want to teach my niece, too. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dye Job

Inspired by this Martha Stewart article, I spent part of a recent Saturday dip-dying anything I could get my hands on including plain white stationery and this linen fabric.  After dyeing, I tore the linen into the width I wanted and sewed a boundary line about 1/4 inch from the edge.  Then I frayed the edges, as shown below.  I love it!  (And I had enough extra linen from the yard I had purchased to make a wrap in the same style.)
While I was at it, I also dip-dyed  this plain white cotton knit shirt.

The dip-dying is easy.  The hard part is not making a mess.  I used a dish pan in my bathtub, and set up the clothes drying rack right next to it (with lots of newspaper underneath).  When it was time to rinse the fabric, I transferred into a stainless steel bowl, then to my stainless kitchen sink.  System worked pretty well.  Follow Martha's tips, and those on the package.  I used 1/2 a package of Rit powder dye (Royal blue) for all of these things and had lots left.

To get the gradations of color, I simply did a double-dip.  This project would be great for a crafty tween.  Oh, and since I did have to sew the boundary line, I'll count this as a sewing project for the September sewing month.  ;-)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Helen Gustafson

I've been reading Helen Gustafson's Green Tea User's Manual and am reminded how much I enjoyed her other book, The Agony of the Leaves: The Ecstasy of My Life with Tea.

What makes these tea books appealing, in my opinion, is not so much the tea information (tho it's useful) - similar tea info is found in many other books.  Rather, it's that Helen's personality shines through. She tells stories about her evolution as the tea buyer for Chez Panisse, that famed Alice Waters restaurant.  She has anecdotes about her efforts to bring tea, well-made tea, into being amidst the challenges of fast-paced restaurant demands.  My favorite story is about how she negotiated to get fresh water added to the kettles so the tea wouldn't be flat. 

Helen died in 2003.  Read a NYT tribute here.  Her spirit and passion for tea live on through her books, and I'm sure at Chez Panisse.  I hope to make it there some day and have a cup in her honor. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How the OR Garden Grows...

We are part of a community garden in Oregon.  It's a 10-minute slow stroll from the house.  We often walk over after dinner.  We started with this in June.  Oregon gardeners in general got a late start this year, due to rain that continued longer into the season than normal.

What you are seeing above  is the "before" picture, but it's actually after the DH spent all day pulling weeks (the pile in the middle).  It's a 20x20 plot. 

Here's the garden plot today - lush and fruitful!  We have onions, lettuce, lemon cucumbers, zukes, squash, patty-pan squash, radish, kale, green beans and small yellow tomatoes.  And flowers.  And spinach, basil, cress.  And other stuff I'm forgetting.

And b/c if one garden is good, then two is better...we secured another 20x20 plot for the fall garden.  Lettuce, spinach, turnips, beets, chives, oh my!

Note: The "we" above works like this - the DH grows it and I love it (and eat it).

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pleading the Case for Libraries

Two library cards are now in my wallet.  I'm so lucky! 

My local (county) library is an easy bike ride from our place.  Part of the ride travels along a multipurpose trail, next to a pine grove and past a pond. 

There are walking/biking paths around this lovely pond (in the middle of a high-tech/light industrial area).  That building in the background is the library.  The process of getting here is special, and the library itself is great. 

Good news for me, I can *also* get a library card for the big one downtown (tho it's in a different county).  Of course I wanted both!  Yesterday I picked up the second card for Central Library.  It's of the old, grande dame style.

Beverly Cleary (author of the Beatrice and Ramona books) grew up in Oregon and spent many of her school years in Portland.
One rainy Sunday when I was in the third grade, I picked up a book to look at the pictures and discovered that even though I did not want to, I was reading. I have been a reader ever since.

-- Beverly Cleary

Now let me plead my case, please...
I try to keep this blog my "happy blog" - and therefore I avoid politics (usually). However, I will make an exception for libraries.
The only true equalisers in the world are books; the only treasure-house open to all comers is a library; the only wealth which will not decay is knowledge; the only jewel which you can carry beyond the grave is wisdom.
- J. A. Langford
Libraries open doors for all people, offer far more than than they receive, and take us on thousands of journey.  Some of us will have ballot motions this fall, asking us to pay a little more to support our local libraries. Please vote in support of your library.   

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Reusable Snack Bags

Sweetcakes made these reusable snack/sandwich bags to match my new lunch bag.  They are lined with ripstop nylon and they close with Velcro.  Pretty cool, huh?  See her post on the topic for more info.

PS - Sept is National Sewing Month.  This is a great project in case you needed one.  ;-)

Monday, September 06, 2010

A Jeweled Frog

A fun weekend project!
On Saturday, The DH and I visited the local old-timey "Pharmacy" that still has an intact soda fountain.  It has milkshakes, burgers, cards, gifts and a lot of cool history.  I came home with three of these flower frogs.
I added some color and sparkle. 
Zinnias from our garden, Queen Anne's Lace from the vacant field.  I'm very fond of this!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

The Ladies Grey and Wallis and Edward

I guess I've been on a British kick lately.
Last night, I talked the DH into watching the Wallis and Edward DVD with me.  I enjoyed it (speaking only for myself here).  That's not a part of history (British and American) I'm much acquainted with, so it was interesting and educational.  (I find the British monarchy a historical curiosity and at the same time ridiculous.)

I also just finished the book, The Sisters Who Would Be Queen.  The book was well researched and showed that love, religious strife and ambition played as much a role in the 1500s as they do today.  Set among the time prior to and during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, it tells the story of the Grey sisters who also had claims to the throne. I read it like a novel!

What are your favorite British works, either novels or historical pieces?