Saturday Morning Tea

ctccuppa.jpg

This morning’s cuppa is a single estate Assam tea from the Rembeng estate. The Assam tea growing district is located in northeastern India. Now that we are past our little September heat wave and the leaves are starting to turn color, this full-bodied black tea is perfect for a bright, cool early fall morning. The tea liquor is a dark reddish brown and the flavor is hearty with a bright astringency. I like to smooth out that astringency with a dash of milk. The leaf is of the CTC variety. CTC means crush, tear, curl and refers to a mechanized processing of the leaf that results in a consistent, granular structure. It brews up fairly quick, 2-3 minutes in boiling water, so it’s also a good choice for those mornings when you don’t have a lot of time. It’s also strong enough for the addition of sweetener, if that’s your taste.

ctcleaf.jpg

The leaf reminds me of dark grapenuts. Mmmmm, time for another cup!

Advertisements

Filling the Well

fillingthewell.jpg

Just like food and water hydrate and nourish our bodies, there are certain things we can do to nourish our souls. Most are special only to us but some things are common to everyone. I call them “Well Fillers”. Just like we fill our car’s tank with gas and then use the fuel and empty the tank by driving the car, we go through a similar process in our daily lives. Filling and emptying our life energy. I’ve come up with a list of what fills my well.

1. Laughing

2. Listening to an audio book while I drive

3. Sleeping in

4. Making and drinking tea

5. Going for a walk in the woods or on the beach

6. Reading or watching a good story

7. Beading

8. Taking photos

9. Sunday pancake brunch

10. Visiting an art or bead store

My list is a lot longer but you understand. What fills your well?

Being vs. Doing

mauiwaves.jpg

Lately, as summer stands aside for autumn to fully enter our lives, I have been contemplating the cycles and rhythms of life. The ebb and flow of the tides. The growth, harvest and dormancy of the seasons. The waxing and waning of the moon. The life cycle of a butterfly as its cocooning transforms it from a fuzzy caterpillar to a glorious winged soulbird. Life is constantly changing within its cycles of birth, death and rebirth.

This led me to think about the cycles of my own life, especially my creativity. Sometimes I feel bursting full of energy and ideas and my hands can barely keep up with my imagination. This is the “Doing” part of my cycle. At other times I feel empty and don’t want to do anything at all. It is during those times that I feel the need to fill up my emptiness. But first it is important that I sit with the emptiness for awhile before I start filling. This is the “Being” part of my cycle.

As a true Capricorn, I feel the most comfortable when I have a concrete goal and am working (Doing) hard towards that goal, whatever it may be. It is the times when my psyche starts sending me signals that it is time to enter the “Being” part of the cycle that I struggle with the most. Perhaps it is the part of me that thinks that I am not worthy unless I am being productive that finds it challenging to just “Be”. But isn’t the butterfly growing and transforming within her cocoon, her “Being” time? Isn’t the moon still there even though we can’t see it? The tide recedes but look what treasures it brings in.

mauidriftwood.jpg

So, I am sitting with these thoughts and am starting to understand that “Being” is just as important as “Doing. It is part of the cycle of our lives, yours and mine.

What do you think?

A Start to my September Journal Page

The start of September. Meet the Goddess of the Harvest. She has a sweetly content look on her face because the seeds planted in the springtime are yielding a rich, abundant harvest.

I marbled some gold and black polymer clay in my pasta machine for her body. Her bone face cabochon was purchased years ago at the Whole Bead show in Providence and lovingly added to my stash to await the day it would be part of a creation. The variegated bead hank, purchased on my recent trip to Michigan, was originally intended for a bead crochet project but when I placed it next to the page, I thought it would make simply awesome flowing hair. Muted but rich shades of turquoise, green, brown and cream beads – the photo doesn’t do it justice. I have a whole evening free for beading!

My August Journal Page

A little behind schedule but my August journal page is finally done! This one was a lot more challenging than the first two. They seemed to flow easily whereas I struggled with this page a lot. Maybe because I experienced some challenging health issues for most of the month. That said, I just forged on whenever I hit a difficult patch and didn’t rip anything out.

It is a hodgepodge of beading with a lot going on where my first 2 pages seem more cohesive. Maybe it was because I used tiles created by other artists and each tile had an influence on the beading around it. Anyway, I’m calling this piece “Window to your Imagination”. By using the polymer clay tiles I received at Klay Karma, I arranged them into a window pattern and then embellished that window with my beadwork. A lot of leaves and flowers adorn the window, symbolizing the lushness and fertility of imagination. As August is a month of harvest, this piece also represents the manifestation (harvest) of the ideas (seeds) planted in your imagination. I’ve just started my September page and will post a photo very soon!

Saturday Morning Tea

This morning’s tea comes from an ancient tea forest located in the misty Jing Mai mountain area in southwestern Yunnan province of China. The hill tribe people of this area, originally called the “Pu”, have been cultivating tea in this forest for over a thousand years. The history of their sacred tradition is documented in ancient stone relics and scrolls. This tea, harvested from a varietal of the tea plant called Camellia Sinensis Assamica, a broad leafed tree, is called Ancient Organic Green Pu-Ehr Tuo Cha tea. As you can see, the leaves have been compressed into a little bowl called a tuo cha (tea cake).

Pu-ehr teas technically start out as green tea but have a tea category all of their own because of unique processing methods. There are 2 types of Pu-ehr, raw and cooked. My morning tea is a raw Pu-ehr. The new growth, buds, are harvested from the tree and sun dried. After the buds are dry, they are heated to halt oxidation and then compressed into a bowl shape. A tradition dating back to the old caravan routes, compressing the tea into cakes makes for an easier form to transport from one place to another.

The tea liquor is the color of a white tea, having some of its delicate flavor characteristics as well. Notes of honey and fruit caress your tongue as you sip from your cup. This tea is great for multiple steepings so I can keep adding water to my teapot all day long. My first steeping was 4 minutes with 180 degree F water. I will decrease my steep time as I go along but keep the water temperature the same. Since 80% of the caffeine is extracted in the first 30 seconds, each subsequent brew will be decaffeinated.

What is your experience with Pu-ehr tea?


Rainforest Choker

rainforestchoker.jpg

Here’s my latest creation. This choker style necklace was inspired by a wonderfully inspiring and colorful book called Rainforest. It’s filled with gorgeous closeups of plants, birds, animals and insects found in the rainforests around the world. I highly recommend it to add to your inspiration library.

rainforestbead.jpgrainforestchokerclosure.jpg

I made the polymer clay bead by covering it with canework and molding it into the oval shape. The cane itself is a Skinner blend bullseye plug separated into 5 pieces which is then layered and surrounded with a striped cane. I capped the ends of the bead with the same stripes. The cord is a woven herringbone tube strung on soft flex wire. The fit of the tube on the beading wire is tight so I was able to twist the tube. As I was stringing it, the tube kept twisting anyway so I figured that’s the way it wanted to be. Despite careful design planning, my jewelry sometimes develops a life of its own as I am creating it! I finished the choker with a button made from the cane and a simple beaded loop. Now, it’s time to make a bracelet and earrings to match!