Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Words and Wool

For the most part, I have been spending my "wool" time sewing spring flowers. But, today I pulled out the little tea cozy I'm knitting for one of my smaller pots. It's the Ribbed and Ruffled Tea Cozy pattern here. Nice and simple knitting!!

Here are the flowers I have been sewing. I just need to add leaves, and then pins, and then labels, and then tags. Need to have them done by the end of next week!

And as for books, here's what I finished recently:

Own Your Life: Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love by Sally Clarkson is another must-read from my favorite mothering author. She talks about coming to grips with your real life and accepting the situations you are in and aiming to live them to the fullest -- your emotional life, spiritual life, your mothering, your living situation, your marriage.

  A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter by William Deresiewicz was a really fun read. Deresiewicz analyzes Austen's six novels and pulls out of them life lessons that Austen communicates and brings them to life in his own circumstances and search for friendship and love. It would have been fun to read all six novels alongside this book, but I don't have time for that now!!!

The Jane Austen Rules: A Classic Guide to Modern Love by Sinead Murphy is a little book that pairs well with the one mentioned above. Murphy pulls out of Austen's novels timeless wisdom on courtship and marriage. It's a quick read and perfect for Austen enthusiasts.

The Hunger: An Irish Girl's Diary, 1845-1847 (My Story) by Carol Drinkwater was just the thing to read while studying the Irish troubles of the 19th century. I'm impressed with this series, "My Story." All the books we have read so far have captured our interest and really helped us to see and feel what it was like living in these times.

Upstairs & Downstairs: The Illustrated Guide to the Real World of Downton Abbey by Sarah Warwick is another book focused around life in a country house in the Edwardian era. It's written around one day in the life of both master and servants and is filled with lots of period photographs. If you read Downton Abbey genre, here's another for your list.

And that's all for this week! For more ideas on reading and knitting, visit Ginny's Yarn Along.

Please note: this post contains affiliate links.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Mondays are for Grace

"Grace is the undeserved and unforeseen act of kindness and patience 
that totally transforms moments. 
It is the noble soul exercise toward the humble, broken, weary, and needy, 
without thought of returned favor."

-- Sally Clarkson, Own Your Life

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Scotland: Falkland

Falkland is a beautiful little town nestled quietly in the countryside of Fife. It has a castle dating back to Medieval times which was acquired by the Stewarts in the 1400's and rebuilt into a royal palace. One can just picture James the IV, V, or Mary, Queen of Scots, riding up from Edinburgh to take a country retreat and go hunting. 

Many of you know I am fond of Scottish history, particularly reformation history. Many years ago I spent a good bit of time studying a man by the name of Andrew Melville and his famous audience with King James VI of Scotland (later James I of England) in this very place -- the Chapel Royal of Falkland Palace. I've always wanted to go and actually see the place where this confrontation happened in which Melville, out of great concern for the way King James was manhandling the church in Scotland, declared to James, "And now, Sire, I must tell you, that there are two kings and two kingdoms in Scotland: there is King James, the head of the Commonwealth, and there is Christ Jesus, the Head of the Church, whose subject King James VI. is, and of whose kingdom he is not a head, nor a lord, but a member....." 

We arrived in Falkland early one morning in late September. The town looked impeccable and we soon found out why. An official-looking man struck up a conversation with Michael and let us know that they were painting the village in preparation for the filming of Outlander (warning: do not watch), a period drama to be aired in the USA the next year. We found this amusing as the previous day we had run into caste members from the Outlander at a horse farm where they were practicing their riding and fighting. Supposedly the village would be repainted back to its regular colors the next week!

Once the palace opened its doors, we headed inside where photos were not allowed of the restored and furnished parts of the palace.

But the views in the garden to the countryside beyond were just gorgeous!

Here the boys are standing in the remains of the Great Hall.

A view up to the wall of the Great Hall.

More perspective on the buildings.

The gardens were just lovely!!! I certainly would take this as my country retreat!!! Castles are built for protection but palaces are built for grand relaxation and luxurious living.

I love the round turrets that Falkland Palace has.

The palace is also famous for the oldest tennis court which is set at the back of the lovely gardens.

Outside the tennis court, which is actually a different form of tennis than we are used to.

A larger view of the tennis court and the lovely flowers round about.

Coming back up to the palace you can see the remains of the Great Hall to the left and the Chapel Royal and gallery on the right.

More remains of the Great Hall. You have to use your imagination to imagine what it was like!

Inside the courtyard:

And another view of what was a spectacular day weather-wise.

It would be lovely to see these gardens in every season.

Meanwhile the children were occupying themselves in the gift shop and with the giant chess set.

A view of the Chapel Royal from the front of the Palace.

All done with our visit.

One last look at the beautiful facade of the front entrance. This would be the oldest part of the palace, I believe and inside this part were the furnished rooms that we toured where the keeper and his family would have lived. The royal bedrooms were in a state similar to the Great Hall.

The buildings in the town centre are old but well-kept and it is fascinating to read the signs. Check out the 1607 date! (Again, newly painted thanks to the Outlander!)

And I caught this window on the way to the carpark. Lovely!

And that was our visit to Falkland! A long time in coming!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Tea Trolley

People often ask me, and I often wonder, when did my love affair with tea time begin? The earliest I really remember was as an eight-year-old in our big old Pennsylvania house, using Grandma's teacups (the Grandma we never met) and the pewter pot my sister once stuck in the microwave!

But was that really the beginning? I find it fascinating how many things in life have their root in the very beginning years of our lives. And they stick with us. Early passions, first interests, influences that impact the rest of our years. 

So I looked back. I pulled out the old yellow picture album and combed through the aging 70's photos. And there it was. My first birthday. The china cups. The pewter pot. A tea party! How could I have even doubted? 

These traditions are important even for tiny ones! I don't remember this event at all but it surely laid a foundation for the future. Just as those early memories of that Vermont house I only lived in for four years do: the beauty of the house itself, the direct contact with nature all year long, the people who were in our home frequently for meals or overnight stays. These first introductions to life have stayed with me all these years.

Of course there have been other "tea influences" over time....I shall have to share these in the future....but everything must have a beginning.

So what has the tea trolley been up to lately?

Tea for the annual Christmas in January get-together that I have with my sister and a friend.

We had plenty of goodies for that! Including my favorite gluten free apple tearing.

Look at these adorable pies you can buy at Wildwood Market!!! They are the most delicious flavors -- like peach with lavender and maple bourbon pecan.

One Sunday I decided to bring the kids breakfast in bed. They haven't had much opportunity to experience that so I thought it would be fun. They loved it!

And I am enjoying my tea calendar!!!

A week or so ago I was having a bit of a rough day when an unexpected letter arrived in the mail. How perfect for saving to go with a pot of tea. It was just the thing to make my day brighter.

I've got some of my favorite pink rose teacups up on the mantel just now.

Laura loves to have tea together. Any opportunity she can! And now she has the idea that "food" goes with tea and on Sunday asked if we could have some food with our tea!!!

I pulled out the massive gallon-sized teapot for school the other week. With four drinkers I wanted to make sure I got at least two cups out of the pot. Our lessons were interrupted with many trips to the bathroom.

Someday I'd love to make more cards using Harris Tweed and a teacup theme!

We had a huge roundup of Valentine parties last week! First there was Knitting Club on Monday with several birthdays to celebrate. A gluten free chocolate cake with whipped cream was called for!

Wednesday I was in charge of organizing the staff birthday celebration at Rachel's school. All things chocolate was the theme. (Don't you love that red velvet couch in the background!!??)

Whenever time allows I like to take my afternoon snack on a tray with tea! And maybe a candle!!

Yay for my new tea cozy! I thought I should make myself one in a valentine theme. The heart is removable though so it can be used all year long.

Friday there was a little valentine exchange with cousins.

And there was an AMAZING gluten free, dairy free, small amount of honey only, valentine cake. You can find the recipe here. It is so good!!! And it keeps very well.

 Valentine's Day itself all my decor was down and sailing decorations were up! A friend is expecting her first baby and we were gathered to celebrate!

Afterward it was time for sitting on the couch! I've changed the living room around and now have a long chest in front of the couch which is the perfect place to put a tea tray!!!!

And after lunch on Sunday I spent the afternoon sitting contentedly on the couch drinking tea, listening to a book with the children, and doing my own reading. Such a treat!

 Here is the new guide for the children's breakfast! I work so hard to get them to eat balanced meals and snacks. It doesn't work for our family to all eat the same thing for breakfast, nor for the children to really be told this is what you are eating this morning. Rather, it works better for them to have the option to choose what they will eat. I'm still working on getting them to eat a carb, protein, and fruit/veg at every meal, but this visual is designed to help them figure it out for themselves. We will see....

One last note to leave on: You can read here about the official way to add milk to tea. And, fortunately, the article agrees with me: Milk In First!!!