Saturday Morning Tea

This past week has been sooooo cold here in New England and it’s not even officially winter yet. Yesterday morning brought single digits temps to our area. Brrr… 10 more days til Winter Solstice and the longest night of the year. I’ve often thought about how our early ancestors must have felt, experiencing the growing darkness and not knowing that it would eventually recede and the lighter days would come back again. No wonder there was much celebration at this time of year, honoring the Return of the Sun.

Ok, on to tea. My morning tea is an Oolong from China, appropriately called Eastern Beauty with its gorgeous full leaf and amazing honeyed aroma.

Back in August, I dedicated the whole month to Oolong, or Wulong, teas. You can start reading about this wonderful type of tea here.

I steeped the tea leaves for 4 minutes in 180 degree F water.

The intense honey aroma greeted me as I poured my first cup. Mmmm….

I love how the color of the liquor reflects the distinct aroma of this tea.

So warm and inviting.

The flavor is silky smooth with notes of honey and flowers and a hint of chestnut in the finish. At this gift buying time of year, a sample of this tea would make an exquisite gift for the Oolong lover on your list. I know that it’s going in a few of my stockings.

You’ve probably noticed the amazing art paper I’ve used as a background today. My dear friend, Amy, found it during her recent trip to Italy. Over dinner the other night, she told us how when they discovered the shop that her husband knew she would be in there for awhile. I’m honored with her beautiful gift. Thanks Amy!

I know that I’ve been sorely neglecting the “art” part of my blog these past months. During this busy time of year, it’s been so challenging to get any kind of time in my studio. What I have been up to though is gift making with my pointy sticks to bring warmth to heads, necks and hearts. My goal in the new year is to get back to my art and sharing it with all of you.

“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.
~Nathaniel Hawthorne
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Saturday Morning Tea

In choosing this morning’s tea, I realized that in my nearly 3 years of reviewing teas here on my blog that I’ve never chosen one from the Nilgiri district in India. This tea growing district is located in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. While its leaf is very dark, in fact, I’ve seen some first flush Darjeelings with more green leaf than this tea, it is a green tea from the Korakundah estate.

Nilgiri, meaning Blue Mountain, has many tea plantations, most of them owned by small growers. This particular plantation, or estate, is Fair Trade certified, meaning that a portion of the tea sales go directly to the workers, helping them invest in community development, improved healthcare and education, to name a few. You can read more about Fair Trade certification and practices here.

As with most green teas, I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180 degree F water.

The golden amber liquor has a pronounced fruity aroma. Quite full-bodied for a green tea, I found the pungent flavor very tasty with hints of asparagus and smoky notes that linger in my mouth.

Now that my teapot is empty, it’s time to don my overalls and head out into the garden for some Saturday gardening time. Last night I stopped at the garden center right up the street from work and got a gorgeous hydrangea bush adorned with big balls of periwinkle flowers. It reminds me so much of my beloved getaway spot, Nantucket Island, where hydrangeas bloom abundantly throughout the summer. Now in my garden, I’ll have my own little reminder of wonderful time spent there every year with my parents.

Enjoy your holiday weekend!

“So the rising sun is reason enough for thankfulness, in that another day has come.  Let us see the beauty in ourselves and one another.”

~Dhyani Ywahoo

Creating a Flickr Gallery for Inspiration

I recently read a post by Libby Mills on making a flickr gallery for inspiration. What a cool idea, thanks Libby!

I made some of my own galleries to inspire and delight.

Tea Bowls

Antelope Canyon

Fractal Art

That was so much fun! What inspires you?

“The glow of inspiration warms us; it is a holy rapture.” ~Ovid

Saturday Morning Tea on Sunday

I am craving more comfort this morning, this time in the form of chocolate. Chocolate Earl Grey tea, that is. I know, not my usual choice in a cuppa but I am always intrigued to try new types of tea. To close your mind and your palate in saying that you wouldn’t enjoy something before you try it is not the way that I’d like to approach life.

Not only does this black tea Earl Grey contain chocolate pieces and cacao beans, it also has lemongrass, lemon peel, corn flowers, jasmine flowers and sunflower blossoms in the blend.

A very colorful mix indeed as you can see in my photo above!

I steeped the tea for 4 minutes in boiling point (212 degree F) water.

A chocolate aroma wafted from my teapot along with tangy notes of bergamot and lemon. Comforting and refreshing…

This tea was a delight to photograph with all of the little colorful bits mingling in with the tea leaves.

It’s a crystal clear day here on Ramble Road. My jewelry show yesterday was a wonderful success in that it gave me the opportunity to share my work with many visitors to my booth. It’s always gratifying to receive positive feedback and appreciation for one’s artwork.

While I find many Earl Greys to be too “perfumy” for my taste, the addition of chocolate and lemon gave it such an interesting combination of flavors – the light tang of the lemon along with the deep, rich flavor of the chocolate.

What a perfect gift for the chocolate lovers on your list!

Today will be spent moving art supplies over to my new place and setting up my studio space. Have a lovely Sunday, my dear tea friends.

There is much beauty in a simple cup of tea…

Taos Journey – Last Day

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The last day. So final.

This is the day that you find yourself trying to fit in everything that you wanted to do but didn’t get a chance to on all of the other days. So, it turned into a “bits” day – a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

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A little bit of knitting.

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A little bit of walking around the grounds, poking in and out of all of the wonderful nooks and crannies of Mabel’s house.

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Here’s the door to that fabulous doorway.

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A little bit more shopping. There’s Dad relaxing while we buy more yarn at Weaving Southwest.

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A nice scenic drive for a little bit of picture taking.

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Relaxing in the living room.

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And the sitting room.

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I sure will miss this wild, beautiful land.

You might have noticed that I haven’t posted any photos of my shrug yet. Weeeelllll…it is almost done with just the sleeve seams to be sewn and the little yarn ends to be woven.

Stay tuned for the “ta-da” moment of my Taos Shrug!

It is not a country of light on things.

It is a country of things in light.

~Georgia O’Keeffe (on New Mexico)


Taos Journey – Day 3

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On the 3rd day of our Taos journey, we took a trip south to visit the capital of New Mexico, Santa Fe, for the afternoon.

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For me, the highlight of our visit there was a trip to the Georgia O’Keefe Museum. From the moment when I first gazed upon the closeup world of her lush, painted flowers, I have felt an answering resonance from within my heart and soul. It started my love affair with closeup photography over 20 years ago. To actually have the opportunity to stand before her paintings, in the one place in the world that housed the greatest number of them, was like heaven on earth for me. But, then again, it was New Mexico, and I felt a little bit closer to heaven there.

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There was a Fiesta going on in the main plaza that day. We threaded our way through the great throng of celebration to come upon a small French pastry shop, a welcome respite from the crowded plaza. A tart raspberry crepe with real whipped cream and a steaming cup of dark hot cocoa refreshed and revived me.

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After that wonderful treat, we made our way over to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, a 122 year old church built around an older adobe church originally constructed in 1610. You can read more of its history here. Sadly, the spires were never completed due to lack of funding. This beautiful statue of a native woman adorned with turquoise jewelry stands in front of the church.

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While the church itself is lovely and impressive, I was drawn more to the exquisitely carved front doors.

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And the labyrinth located in the forecourt.

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As my Dad and I walked the labyrinth, I could feel its calming energy radiate up from its path of well worn stone.

You can read more about labyrinths and, specifically, New Mexico labyrinths here.

We got caught in a rainstorm as we wove our way through the mountains back to Taos. Good thing we already knew the way. I find that if I get lost while traveling to a place for the first time then I will know the way back as if I have lived there always. Does the same thing happen to you?

We ended our day at a warm and cozy (after the teeming rain) local landmark called Michael’s Kitchen. It reminded me of an old fashioned diner, a place where the locals go to hang out and eat a delicious homestyle meal. While I usually find that a place like this doesn’t offer many vegetarian options, I was absolutely delighted with their homemade garden burger.

Stay tuned for the last day of my Taos journey…

“To create one’s own world, in any of the arts, takes courage.”

~Georgia O’Keeffe

Taos Journey – Day 2

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Every morning we carefully stepped our way across the cobblestones to the workroom where we  settled down in our own individual cozy spot, picked up our pointy sticks and let the yarn flow from them in colors that spoke to us of the gorgeous Taos landscape.

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Jane showed us various stitches that would aid us in manifesting our impressions and made suggestions on what would work well with the different yarns that each of us had chosen for our project.

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Many of the participants chose to create a Feather and Fan wrap which starts at the bottom and blossoms open across circular needles to the top. I chose to create a shrug which is worked side to side, from one wrist to the other, increasing to the center and then decreasing down the other side.

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Perhaps you might have noticed the smiling man in the upper left hand corner of the workroom? A few of the ladies smuggled him in one evening. He is a cardboard man. They named him “Ford”, perhaps because it rhymes with “board”? Anyway, he looked pretty good modeling Jane’s shrug.

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After lunch on our second day, we were invited to go see a recently constructed straw bale home. I know, I know. I was scratching my head at first, too. Wha?? The concept is really neat though. The Taos climate is arid enough to allow for straw bales to be used inside the walls of the constructed home. It’s a superior insulation material. The walls are plastered over the bales in an adobe style and a window is placed along an inner wall showing the straw inside. You can read more about this kind of home construction here. Fascinating.

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One of the houses was located on a windswept plain, literally in the middle of nowhere and completely “off the grid”. This is their front yard. How amazing is that?!! I was simply mesmerized in learning about this way of living, so much the opposite of  my own suburban environment back home.

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A secret garden.

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On the way out to the house, we passed the Earthship community of sustainable and unique biotecture housing and drove across the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, spanning the 650 feet deep gorge. Sweaty palms on that bridge, I’ll tell you.

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We finished the day with a sumptuous feast at a fabulous restaurant called Lamberts. If you only had one eating place to choose in Taos, it has to be this one. The food was beyond delicious and the service was impeccable. I had the potato leek soup with crème fraiche and chives, served hot, and the marinated roasted beet salad on greens with goat cheese and pumpkin seeds. The meat eaters of our group enjoyed the grilled Filet Mignon with horseradish crème, steak fries and grilled asparagus. I had to try their dessert, too, oh twist my arm – a warm apple & almond crisp with white chocolate ice cream. I wish that I had taken pictures of the feast but I was just so enthralled by my food that I completely forgot.

If you’re ever in Taos, it’s simple – treat yourself and go to Lamberts.

Stay tuned for more Taos adventures…