Saturday Morning Tea on Sunday

On this hazy summer morning in my pleasantly cooled kitchen, I’m lazily sipping a Chinese green tea called Chun Mee. Traditionally, the Chinese have always been quite fond of rolling the tea leaf into various shapes and then naming the tea accordingly. Chun Mee translates to “Precious Eyebrows”. Can you see it?

After the leaf is withered and steamed, it is rolled into a thin needle-like shape with a curve like a porcelain doll’s eyebrow.

It is a very popular everyday tea in China, especially to accompany strong flavored foods because of its astringent aftertaste which clears the palate.

Upon steeping for 3 minutes in 180 degree F water, the tightly rolled leaves open slightly to reveal their curled edges.

The golden liquor has a hint of chestnuts in the aroma and a rich, full-bodied flavor. Its astringency clears my mouth and makes it feel fresh and clean. A whisper of sweet plum rounds out the taste.

Shopping at the local mall a couple of nights ago, I stopped into a tea store there and found these interesting pottery teamugs on the clearance shelf. The coppery/sage green mottled exterior is rough and textured with a smooth, pale blue interior. I love the juxtaposition of textures and the way the mug feels slightly rough against my palm. I also love finding treasures, especially those at 75% off!

I had a lovely art day yesterday with my guild. We all do our own creative thing companionably, inspiring and encouraging each other, chatting, laughing and eating goodies. A perfect day. I made a couple pairs of earrings using stone, pearls and copper wire. After I antique one pair with liver of sulphur, I’ll share photos very soon.

Enjoy your Sunday!

The purpose of craft is not so much to make beautiful things as it is to become beautiful inside while you are making those things.

Return to the Guild and ATCs

A couple of Saturdays ago I was delighted to attend a meeting of the Rhode Island Polymer Clay Guild, or RIPCG, for short. I had become a member back in the fall of 2002 and happily went to the monthly meetings until around 2008-2009 when I had to turn all of my focus onto my unsettled personal life. Now that I’m all settled in my new place (6 months now!) and am feeling more grounded and balanced in my life again, I can bring art group fun back into my life. Yay!

My dear friend, Judy, mixed media queen extraordinaire, showed us how to create and embellish ATCs (Artist Trading Cards), using polymer clay, rubber stamps, paints, markers and a fabulous little invention called Stickles, better known as glitter glue. Oh, be still my heart! You can see Judy’s tutorial here. She’s an amazing teacher, so patient and inspiring. If you’re in the E. Bridgewater, MA area, she gives classes at the Scrapbook Cupboard. Her next class is in Sept. on how to make polymer clay buttons. Check it out!

Lookie, lookie, what we made.

Aren’t they fabulous?!!

The ladies put together a delicious pot luck lunch and we ate and chatted and then ate some more.

Words can’t describe my joy at being back with this gifted, creative group of artists who all inspire me so much. Their talents are many, including Chinese brush painting, Zentangles, acrylic painting, beading, pottery, quilting and knitting. And, of course, polymer clay!

As I painted my little pieces, I felt my heart sing. There’s something about painting that really gets my creative juices flowing.

I started envisioning how I could bring this fun into some jewelry pieces. Starting with my clown pendant pictured at the beginning of this post, I am expanding that vision into components for bracelets, necklaces and earrings. What do you think?

Stay tuned for how this idea shapes and evolves…

“As we give fully, unafraid to let others know the truth about ourselves, we receive unexpected rewards from unexpected sources.”

~Helene Lerner-Robbins, writer

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

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