Saturday Morning Tea

This morning’s tea was actually started last night. In honor of my visit to the Rhode Island Polymer Clay guild meeting today, I steeped up some iced decaf chai tea to share with the group. I talked about this flavored spice tea and made the hot tea version here.

First, I started with two 10-cup Chatsford teapots. I love these teapots. They come in 4 different sizes, each with a plastic and very fine mesh infuser basket. This largest size is perfect for steeping tea for a crowd.

Taking into consideration the later addition of ice and possibly milk and also because I wanted the tea to be extra spicy, I used a heaping teaspoon of leaves and spices for every 6 ounces of water. After inserting the basket into the teapot, I spooned the tea into each teapot’s infuser basket and then added cold water. You want to add water up until this line. Any higher and the tea leaves could possibly spill into the teapot through that notch opening and defeat the convenience of the basket. Place the teapots in the fridge and wait til the next morning.

This morning I removed the baskets. Now how simple is that?

I saved an empty gallon water jug and just poured the tea from both teapots into the jug.

I placed the jug into a cooler with a small plastic bucket of ice, a bit of milk in my Kleen Kanteen and agave for sweetener and I’m ready to go!

At the meeting, my dear friend, Judy, will be showing us how to make ATCs using polymer clay, paint, rubber stamps, colored pencils and glitter. You can see her tutorial here. A fun Art Day!

“When indeed shall we learn that we are all related one to the other, that we are all members of one body?” ~Helen Keller

New polymer clay earrings

With both sets of my polymer clay earring components created in Julie Picarello’s workshop – the round discs and the long “lizard tails” – I drilled a small center hole approximately 1/8″ from the top of each piece. That is where the similarity in the embellishment process ends.

Using gold-filled wire threaded through the drilled hole, I made a wrapped “hanger” for each of the round discs and then attached a handmade gold-filled ear wire. I then created some crystal bead dangles using the same gold-filled wire and attached them to each ear wire with a small jumpring.

Using Silamide thread (my favorite for beading) and size 15 seed beads, I used the drilled hole to secure a ring of beads around the top of each “tail”. From that base ring, I worked peyote stitch first up around the top of the piece and then on the bottom of the ring, decreasing when needed to form fit the beads around the “tail”. I added a small pearl for embellishment and then a loop at the top so that the pieces could hang comfortably from ear wires.

Next up…..the pendants…

Saturday Morning Tea

My morning tea is waking me up with its bold taste and refreshing pungency! From the area of Qianjiang located in Hubei Province, China, it has been processed as a gunpowder green tea.

Gunpowder tea leaves are withered, and then steamed before being rolled into small pellet shapes said to resemble black gunpowder grains. Black gunpowder was invented in China during the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) for weapons based technology to defend the northern border of China against the invading Mongols. Most gunpowder teas nowadays are rolled by machine but some high grade leaf is still rolled by hand.

The beautifully intact leaf unfurls into circular shapes during its 3 minute steeping in 180 degree F water.

As I pour my first cup, a nutty aroma fills my senses. It carries on into the flavor of the pale gold liquor, also revealing a sweet fruit note and whisper of smoke. This is the perfect tea for those looking for more body and less vegetal flavor in their green tea.

I had a wonderful visit with my parents, as always, way too short and then they are gone. We made our annual trek to Nantucket Island for a lovely 3-day getaway. You can read about last year’s trip here. The weather was sunny and cool, perfect for strolling along the cobblestone streets and embarking on another deep sea fishing journey. This time I stayed on land and cheered the returning fishermen on their bluefish catch. I drank in the sights and sounds of the island and the profusion of gorgeous flowers everywhere.

I leave you with one of my favorite island sights.

“Being with real people who warm us, who endorse and exhault our creativity, is essential to the flow of the creative life.”

~Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Knitting a Spring Cardigan (or two)

My great-nephew recently celebrated his first birthday and I wanted to knit him something bright and colorful. I chose this boxy, cropped cardigan pattern called Haiku that I found on knitty.com, a great resource for knitters and chock full of free patterns.

When I knitted the pumpkin hat for my granddaughter last year, I fell in love with Blue Sky Alpacas organic cotton. With a rainbow of wonderful colors to choose from, it’s so soft and yummy.

I chose Pickle for Liam.

And Lemongrass for my granddaughter, Ella, because I just had to make one for her, too!

I found some brightly colored buttons in the shape of building blocks, rocking horses, and teddy bears at Joann Fabric’s – perfect for Liam’s sweater. But I didn’t really like any of the flower buttons I found there so I made some purply-pink blooms with yellow centers out of polymer clay. It was soooo easy with a flexible Sculpey push mold I found in my toolbox.

Now that the little ones’ cardigans are finished and in the mail, it’s time for a new project for my pointy sticks. Perhaps a summer sweater for myself. This pattern looks promising!

Saturday Morning Tea on Sunday

Yesterday was a very special day for me. My parents arrived from Michigan for a visit and to see my new place. They were due to get here sometime in the afternoon but arrived in the morning just as I was sitting down to do my tea post! As we are having so much fun chatting and visiting, I will quickly leave you with my photos from yesterday’s cuppa, a Chinese Oolong called Tie-Guan-Yin Second Grade. With its woodsy, nutty flavor and notes of honey, it’s the perfect tea if you’re looking for a “Chinese restaurant” type of tea. Enjoy!

“Surround yourself with people who are going to lift you higher.”

~Oprah Winfrey

What I created in Julie Picarello’s workshop

To inspire my color palette that day, I purposefully wore my Come Spring vest to the first day of Julie’s workshop. You can read my post about knitting that vest here.

When presented with a choice of metal foil to add to my mokume stack, I chose gold because these cool colors have an underlying warm tone to them.

I created 2 pendants and 2 pairs of earring components from my stack. Instead of adding metal embellishments to the components to create jewelry as Julie does, I want to put my own artistic mark on my creations with some seed beadwork.

The “river’ running through the middle of my pendant will have flowing seed beads. You can see from my photo that I’ve started to drill small holes in the “river” so I can couch the strands of flowing beads. As I was working out this idea, I got another one about a beach scene done with half polyclay and half seed bead embroidery!

Coming up soon…how I turned these components into jewelry…

Saturday Morning Tea

My morning tea today is not a tea at all but an herbal which has a long history of many uses worldwide: culinary, medicinal and as a delicacy. The dried root of the ginger plant also makes a wonderfully spicy beverage when infused!

Technically known as the rhizome of the ginger plant, Zingiber officinale, this was grown in the Jinxuan Province of China. Ginger cultivation began in China and Southeast Asia and then spread to other parts of the world such as the Caribbean and Africa.

Its characteristic odor and taste comes from the volatile oils found in the root.

I steeped the ginger pieces for 8 minutes in boiling water. As it brewed, the water became cloudy, giving my glass teapot a mysterious, underwater appearance.

The aroma of the infused “tea” is fresh and spicy. Sometimes, herbals can be confused with real tea which comes from the camellia sinensis plant. Just like tea, each herbal comes from its own specific plant. Almost all herbals, not tea, are caffeine free.

The frosty, lemon-colored liquor tastes quite zesty with tart notes of lemon. Ginger “tea” is often used to soothe nausea and motion sickness. I am enjoying it for its delicious flavor.

Ginger has a distinctive warming quality to it, making it perfect for sipping on a cold winter’s day. That said, its warmth also has a refreshing quality that is cooling me down on this hot, muggy morning.

Try adding a splash of infused ginger to your next glass of iced tea and spice it up!

“In the sacred traditions, the first thing you do in the morning is ask for blessings from the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Because all of the work you are going to do that day will change the universe.”

~Laura Esquivel, Writer