Saturday Morning Tea

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My daughter gave me a lovely bouquet of tulips for Mother’s Day. This morning I was cutting the stems down and rearranging them in a vase when a petal fell onto the kitchen counter. It cradles this morning’s tea, a Tie-Guan-Yin Oolong called Special Tribute.

There is a legend regarding how this particular Oolong came into being. Many years ago in Fujian Province in China, a poor tea farmer named Mr. Wei would walk by a temple everyday on his way to the tea fields. As each day passed, he noticed that no one cared for the temple so it was becoming quite run down. Inside he found a statue of Guan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion. He did not have the means to fix up the temple but he felt that something needed to be done. One day he brought his broom and some incense. He lit the incense as an offering to the Goddess and swept the temple clean. That night Guan Yin came to him in a dream and told him of a cave where he would find a beautiful treasure for himself and to share with others. The treasure turned out to be a tea shoot which Mr. Wei planted and nurtured into a large tea bush, producing the finest tea in the region. He shared cuttings with all his neighbors and started calling the tea produced from this bush Tie-Guan-Yin. Mr. Wei and all his neighbors prospered and were able to restore the temple to its beauty and many came to gather there. Now Mr. Wei felt joy everyday as he passed the temple on the way to his tea fields.

Isn’t that just a lovely story?

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I steeped the rolled leaf for 3 minutes in 180 degree F water. It relaxed a little after steeping but, for the most part, still kept its curly appearance.

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The pale yellow liquor is smooth and slightly sweet with nutty, woodsy notes and a hint of floral in the finish.

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I enjoyed my cuppa with the last of the blackberry crumble I made the other evening. Crumble is so easy to make and you can substitute your favorite fruit. Mix 1/2 cup each of rolled oats, brown sugar, and flour with a teaspoon of cinnamon. Then cut in 1/4 cup of butter until it’s crumbly. Place your choice of fruit (about 2-4 cups, soaked in sugar beforehand, if you wish) in a baking dish and sprinkle the crumble over it. Bake at 350 until browned. In my oven, it took about 25 minutes. Mmmmm….

“Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music – the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people.  Forget yourself.”

~Henry Miller

Studio Wednesday

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Last Sunday I spent some time working in my studio on my latest freeform bracelet. I feel so much joy working in this way. Listening to the beads and letting my creativity flow and synch up with their special rhythm.

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Many different sizes of beads placed  and fit together to create something new and unique.

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Bridges are formed from one side to the other. Texture is added to give the piece dimension.

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Today is a very special day. 25 years ago I received a wonderful gift when my daughter, Aimee, was born.  Happy Birthday, Aim! We both took the day off from our respective workplaces and spent the day shopping and having a great lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. It was so much fun just being together. I feel renewed.

A daughter is a day brightener and a heart warmer.

~Author Unknown

Studio Wednesday

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It’s a wild weather day outside, pouring rain, whipping winds and temperatures……..in the 60s.  I spent most of the day in my studio but instead of crouched over one of my worktables, I cozied up on the couch with my knitting and crocheting projects.

I love to use a lot of different colors of yarn but then end up with a gazillion little threads to weave in. There’s something very meditative about the movement of yarn and needles. Click, clack, click. With every stitch made, I send love and warmth into my creation.

The photo above shows an afghan stitch (or Tunisian stitch) with a gorgeous purple, red and orange variegated yarn. You use a special long crochet hook and start off by making a chain of stitches. Then you draw a loop through every chain stitch, leaving the loops on the long crochet hook. Once you’ve drawn a loop through every chain stitch, you place the yarn over the hook, draw through one stitch, place the yarn over the hook, draw through 2 stitches and repeat drawing through 2 stitches across the row. Then you start all over with drawing a loop up through every stitch. So, you’re basically repeating these 2 rows throughout the whole piece.

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This is a seed stitch which is a knit one, purl one stitch across your row. Then, on your next row, you do the opposite of the row before. Where there is a knit stitch, you purl. Where there is a purl stitch, you knit. It creates this wonderful bumpy texture. This yarn is a sage green with little flecks of silky blue, tan and green threads.

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This is also a knit one, purl one stitch but where it differs from the seed stitch is that you line up all of the knit and purl stitches. So, on your second row, you knit where there is a knit stitch and purl where there is a purl stitch (from the first row). This is called ribbing and is commonly found at the wrists and waist of a sweater. It creates a very elastic texture and the purl stitches recede so that it looks like all knit stitches on both sides of what you’re creating. My yarn is a rich deep wine red with flecks of silky red threads.

I had some very exciting news today. My son, who is in the Air Force, is finally coming home after completing his tech school training in Texas. He’ll be home tomorrow afternoon and will meet his one month old daughter, Ella, for the very first time. My heart swells just thinking about this very special moment.

Warm Scarves and Tissue Bags

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This is my faithful companion, traveling everywhere with me these days, and keeping my neck nice and warm. My Mom loves color, too, and she picked out this gorgeous watercolor yarn and knit it in a knit one, purl one stitch so it appears all knitted from both sides. I love wearing these soft muted colors. As I see them everyday, I am beginning to be inspired to pull out my polymer clay and mix up these colors. Hmmmm, what shall I create?

Do you have a favorite piece of clothing whose colors, pattern and/or texture inspires you?

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Every year at my show, I would bring tissue paper and stickers so I could individually wrap each item I sold from earrings to necklaces to bracelets. Well, this was a time consuming task, especially when the only surface I had to wrap on was a plastic molded chair. Also, my customers would have to wait in line while I wrapped each parcel. Not good for selling. I was trying to keep costs down by not purchasing gift boxes or bags so I could in turn have my jewelry more reasonably priced as well.

This year I sat and thought about this for awhile and I came up with the idea of taping the tissue beforehand.  And thus, my tissue pouches were born. These pouches are easy to make and so much fun!

First, you take one layer of tissue paper and spread it out. You will see that it has natural folds. Cut along each fold so that you have a long strip about 3 inches wide or so. The folds already there make it super easy to know where to cut. Now fold your strip in half lengthwise so you have a shorter strip double layered. Now fold up the raw end side (lengthwise) to about an inch or so below the folded end side. Tape the sides with scotch tape. Be careful here because once the tape is on the tissue, you can’t remove it. Ask me how I learned this! I placed half the tape lengthwise on one side and then folded it over to the other side, thus sealing that side. Once you’ve taped up a bunch of tissue pouches, you can have fun with your paint. I used Lumiere gold and copper acrylic paint. Now paint over the tape on the sides to hide it and paint along the bottom of the pouch. You can randomly paint on the pouch (as I did) or leave it plain. Now hang your pouch upside down to dry. I purchased some festive stickers for closing the flap. It’s a perfect size for a small gift. For larger gifts just cut your tissue paper according to the size you need and make your pouch the same way.

Now I’m thinking that I could do this with fabric. Oh, the possibilities…

The personal life deeply lived always expands

into truths beyond itself.

-Anais Nin

Saturday Morning Tea

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I’m up early on this cool late November morning, contemplating all of the abundance and treasure that fills my life. The hamster wheel of thoughts in my mind can often bring me back to what is lacking or missing in my life, all that I have lost. We all do that from time to time, right? If only I…I should have…why didn’t I? I try so hard not to get caught up in this negative spiral of thoughts. I have found that the best solution in the face of that downturn is to stop myself, take a deep breath and focus on what is actually here, what I do have. So, in the spirit of all that is present in my life, I am sipping a China white tea called Fuding White Treasure. This tea is grown in the Fuding hills of Fujian province.

fudingwtwet112908White teas are harvested from a Camellia sinensis var. sinensis (tea plant) varietal that will grow bigger leaves with more downy white hairs on the new growth. It is these fine hairs that give the leaves its whitish look and its name. The silvery white down is accentuated on the dry leaf which then turns a beautiful light green during a 3 minute steeping in 180 degree F water.

fudingwtsteep112908The green look of the wet leaf foreshadows its vegetal aroma and taste, much like that of a very fine green tea. To me, the difference lies in the soft delicacy of this tea, a gentle treasure. I find this tea much lighter in taste than a green tea.  It also has a whisper of sweetness that lingers in the smooth finish.

fudingwtpour112908White tea is hand picked in the springtime, most ideally in cool, dry weather. After picking, the leaves are withered (dried out) in the sun. During adverse weather conditions, the leaves are brought inside to be withered under carefully controlled conditions. The temperature and humidity will contribute greatly to the final taste of the tea so the tea master monitors all of these conditions very closely. After withering, the leaves are roasted or baked to further remove moisture from the leaves and halt oxidation (turning dark). White tea is the least processed of all of the tea categories so the leaf is the closest to its original state which gives it its delicate flavor.

fudingwtteabowl112908I wrap my hands around my warm teabowl and give thanks for this treasure that is now warming my hands. I love doing that in cold weather, a lovely little ritual that helps me stop what I’m doing and be present in the moment. I focus on the delicious warmth of my teabowl and how wonderful it feels on my cold hands.

What do you do that helps you become present in the moment?