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

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K is for Kindness

I’ve received the most wonderful gift from my dear friend, Judy, an artist who creates amazing mixed media art including personalized wooden letters. You can read more about her “love letters” here.

My “K” now hangs above the door to my studio, watching over me as I work. I am so blessed to have my art friends who constantly enrich my life with their inspiration and support.

Speaking of artists and inspiration, I’ve recently joined the 2010 Creative Everyday Challenge, a group of artists committed to doing something creative everyday whether that is cooking, painting, knitting, composing a song. It’s a very low pressure commitment with no performance deadlines, however, there are suggested monthly themes to get the creative juices flowing. If you’d like to find out more information about this challenge, just click on the button in my sidebar.

This weekend is going to be a very creative one. I’m taking a workshop at the Lexington Arts and Crafts Center in Lexington, MA. The workshop is on polymer clay mokume gane, a technique I’ve long been enamored of, given by Julie Picarello. I’m so excited!

As I have to leave for the workshop early in the morning, my Saturday Morning Tea post will be postponed until next Saturday. I’m looking forward to sharing a cup of tea with you then and also sharing my adventures in polymer clay!

“We need to remember that we are created creative and can invent new scenarios as frequently as they are needed.”

~Maya Angelou


Saturday Morning Tea

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Outside the sky is weeping, reflecting what my heart feels inside. This past week was a very sad one in my home. We lost our beloved black Lab, Jack, and the world feels as if it has shifted upon its axis and will never be the same again. It came suddenly, however, we had time to say our farewells and honor our dear old friend. It is amazing to me how everyone who hears the news comes forward and generously opens their heart and shares their own story about the passing of a beloved pet. They are in our lives for what feels like the briefest amount of time, like a shooting star blazing across the heavens and then it is gone. But their wonderful memory lives on forever in our hearts. Jack taught me so much about loyalty and unconditional love. So much about love…

I need a big dose of comfort this morning and so I turn to green tea. I am sipping a green tea from China that one usually associates with Japan, an organic Gyokuro. Produced for the Japanese market, everything about this tea is Japanese except for where it is grown. I have written about Japanese Gyokuro tea and its unique growing and processing here and here.

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The tea bushes are shaded with a dark cloth approximately 3 weeks before plucking. This gives the leaf an amazing deep emerald color.

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It reminds me of cooked spinach, very healthy and very green.

I steeped the leaves in 180 degree F water for 3 minutes.

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The color of the tea liquor kind of reminds me of that Italian liqueur, Limoncello, made from lemon zest, alcohol, sugar and water. The taste is not lemony at all, however, but clean and quite vegetal.

As I slowly sip and gaze out at the wet day, a gentle calm slips over me.

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As the tea cools, a lively, tart pungency is revealed, a flavor note that I associate with Japanese green teas.

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Clean. Fresh. Simple. Calm.

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Rest in peace, my dear, beloved friend. You will always live in my heart…

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive.

~Gilda Radner

Tea Leaf Reading

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Yesterday I spent the day with a dear friend. Despite a profusion of fluffy clouds floating overhead, we were able to soak up some sun out in her garden where the wildflowers bloomed and the dragonflies danced all around us. Sitting there with a cup of mango flavored tea and a piece of apple pie to enjoy, it was sheer heaven.

Later on in the afternoon, my friend brewed a pot of Earl Grey Blue Flower (her favorite), steeping the leaves directly in the boiling water without any infuser. Once the tea was steeped nice and strong, she pulled out her “Cup of Destiny” for me. As I poured myself a full cup of tea, I thought of a question.

“What does the future hold for me?

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I also thought of my question as I sipped my tea. Once there was only a tiny amount of tea left in the cup, I was instructed to turn the cup clockwise 3 times and then turn it over onto the saucer. Once the leaves fell onto the saucer, they were studied for shapes and patterns. We also noticed what fell onto the astrological symbols around the perimeter of the cup.

Here is what my friend said.

The floating leaf bits on the top of my tea (as I drank it) indicated that I will have visitors within the next few days. As I sipped my tea, I kept joking that I was drinking my visitors because it was challenging to sip the tea around the floating bits. lol

The floating bubbles in my tea indicated money and positive energy coming to me in the week ahead. Fabulous!

Remaining in the cup itself were some flowers which fell on the circle on top of a cross symbol and the plus symbol.

The circle on top of the cross is the symbol of Venus indicating love, art and harmony. I will have creative interludes very soon. More fabulous!

The plus sign indicates a warning against overdoing it. I need to slow down and let go a little. Perfect advice for this week off fom work.

A combination of leaf and flower on the saucer had a butterfly shape which symbolizes transformation, pleasure, joys and is considered lucky.

There was also a rectangle shape symbolizing challenges or difficulties, something to overcome in the future. Possibly a letter coming my way.

Two stems formed the shape of a roof which could symbolize the condo I’m purchasing.

Wow. All that from my tea leaves. Oh, one other prediction. I think a “Cup of Destiny” purchase is in my future very soon!

What a fun and magical way to spend an afternoon.

Saturday Morning Tea

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It has definitely been a rainy spring here in New England. As I look at the 10-day weather forecast, there are more clouds than suns and some of those clouds have lightning bolts coming out of them. Being an admitted doppler radar geek, I do love a good thunderstorm. But I digress from my cup of tea…

This morning’s tea is a black Ceylon tea from the Adawatte estate. Located about 1/2 – 3/4 mile above sea level on the eastern slopes of the mountains in the Uva district of Sri Lanka, this estate is a tea, rubber and forestry estate.

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You can read about how tea cultivation came to the island of Sri lanka in one of my previous posts here. Originally, coffee was grown there.

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The tea grown in the higher elevations of Sri Lanka tends to have a brighter, brisk quality to it. This tea is very characteristic of a high grown Uva.

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I steeped the dark, chunky leaves for 4 minutes in 212 degree F water. The dark amber liquor has a minty, citrus aroma that carries on into its flavor notes. This tea would make a very refreshing iced tea with slices of juicy lemon and crisp sprigs of mint for garnish. Mmmm…now if the weather would just cooperate with some hot, sunny, iced tea drinking days…

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Today I am attending a Garden Tea Party at the home of a dear friend. She has asked each guest to bring a plant to swap and also something chocolate to share. I was going to stop at my favorite local candy shop to pick up some dark chocolate creams. I especially love the ones filled with orange and raspberry cream. But then I came across this recipe in my blog wanderings. Made with melted milk chocolate, cocoa powder and milk chocolate chunks, it is sheer decadence in cookie form. In a recent issue of Vegetarian Times, I was so happy to see that cocoa was listed number one on the anti-oxidant list.

Tea and chocolate – what more can anyone ask for?

Giving chocolate to others is an intimate form of communication, a sharing of deep, dark secrets. ~Milton Zelman, “Chocolate News”

From the Studio

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I’ve decided to rename my weekly studio post because Wednesdays are now a pretty busy day for me between work and a physical therapy session right afterwards. So, instead of limiting my post to being published just on Wednesdays, I’m expanding my vision to include other weekdays as well. In other words, I can post when I have free time during the week instead of trying to cram it into a half hour before bedtime on a full day!

For the most part, I’ve always been much more comfortable with having specified days or times for when I do certain things. The Capricorn part of me is soothed by structure and schedule and knowing what to do next. That said, there is a part of me that craves just flowing along with the ever changing tides of my life. I’m trying to develop that side of me a lot more these days. It requires more of an openness and an intuitive sense of what I need for balance.

I finally completed my free-form bracelet. I’m sorry to say that I was in such a hurry to mail it that I completely forgot to take a picture of it! Oh dear. Well, all went well with its finishing. I created a variation of a bead and loop clasp where I built up around the loops with peyote stitch so that the “holes” actually became part of the bracelet’s structure. I attached 2 coppery pearls as part of the clasp.

As I observe the unfolding beauty of Spring around me, I am being inspired to create a new free-form bracelet in a color palette that will reflect all of the budding and blooming going on. I love this part of the process, the choosing of harmonious colors and the laying out of the selected beads on my tray to see how they look next to each other. I’m thinking of delicate spring greens and tree bark browns and grays with a sprinkling of forsythia yellow, hyacinth purple and white along with azalea purply-pink.

What do you think of my color palette so far?

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I finished my second Ripple scarf, the one knit in the pink/peach colorway. As I have grown accustomed to having something on my needles now (and loving it!), I just started a pair of sweet, cotton candy pink baby socks for my granddaughter, Ella. Made with a simple eyelet pattern (yes, yarn overs!), they are knitting up pretty fast.

I purchased the 2 Jane Thornley patterns that I wrote about last week, the “Come Spring” vest and the “Knit a Beach” vest. I’ve decided to start with the spring vest. Jane suggests using a gorgeous silk/wool blend yarn from La Lana. I like the colorway she has chosen, especially wonderful for this time of year – apple green, pine, teal and brown. The back panel of the vest is worked up in a hand dyed ribbon yarn blending all of those colors. Time to go yarn shopping!

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Last Saturday I spent a lovely Art Day with 2 dear friends. I worked on the next 2 pages in my art journal, cutting out magazine images into “inchies”, that is, one inch squares. I glued them onto my purple/brown painted pages in a grid pattern and then brushed and wiped a light, muted blue green over the images so they would blend into the page better.

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The next day I collected a bunch of tape rolls – electrical, paint and some sort of grid tape – from all over the house. I cut and placed tape pieces on my next 2 pages in a random design and then sanded, gessoed and sanded some more. Green blue paint was gently wiped over and then sanded.

This was a very interesting and fun way to create a background!

I’m learning that art journal pages can be created with a wide variety of materials that you can find around the house.

The ordinary arts we practice everyday at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.

~Thomas Moore

Saturday Morning Tea

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This morning I am indulging in a cup of another brand new first flush Darjeeling. This one is from the Arya estate. I wrote a little bit about the origins of this tea garden here.

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I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 212 degree F (boiling) water. The leaves revealed their spring nature and the liquor bloomed into a delicate amber color.

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The aroma is so fresh that it reminds me of mint.

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The taste is clear and bright with that almost ripe fruity quality. Sometimes I catch hints of banana.

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I am enjoying my cuppa with some Irish Soda Bread cookies. I made them for our International Food Day at work yesterday. I found the recipe here. I substituted raisins for currants and made my buttermilk by mixing 1/2 T. of fresh lemon juice into 1/2 cup of milk. The caraway seeds give them such an interesting flavor.

Today is Art Day with 2 dear friends, a whole day devoted to creating art and chatting, chatting, chatting. Oh yes, a wonderful pasta and salad lunch is planned and I’m bringing strawberries and cream for dessert.

Time to pack up my art supplies!

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched.  Thet must be felt with the heart.

~Helen Keller