Monday, April 29, 2013

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Tea Trolley

The only thing more fun than having a tea party yourself is making a tea party for tiny people to enjoy.

Laura and cousin John are both very familiar with the world of tea but John does take the cake when it comes to knowing what kinds of tea he'd like (Darjeeling, Irish Breakfast, Earl Grey....) and being adept at pouring for others.

Laura is more gifted at ingesting the contents of the tea table and cups.

Stirring is of course very important!

Check out John's pouring skills!

Michael so kindly took us on a family outing to the Art Museum gardens on Monday. We scrounged the shelves for something to eat and I made sure we had some tea long too!

I packed the tea in mason jars and wrapped them in towels. They weren't scalding hot, but they were certainly much better than doing without!

And here is the lovely table set for tea for our crafting night when we made the crochet hook handles. The table looked so nice and cheery and welcoming!

The weekend promises to have lots of tea with the celebration of Laura's 3rd birthday! There will be plenty of pictures next week!

If you want to link to any post you have created during the week that includes anything about tea or coffee or other hot drinks just link up with Mr. Linky below!

The Tea Trolley Link Up:
-- Any post that is tea, coffee, or hot drink related
-- Link to this blog
-- Paste your link in the Mr. Linky below

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Words and Wool

I did finish the Ginger Leaves Shawlette last week and finally got it blocked this week! I was so surprised at how fast it knitted up! I even added an extra round of the ending lace pattern to make mine a bit bigger. 

I've had a flower bunting in progress for many weeks and made it a goal to get it finished on Monday. I used Attic24's flower pattern and some Cotton Classic yarn I had left over from other projects.

Then I just crocheted a long chain and as I came to the right place would crochet into the back of the next flower. It's really beautiful up close. It's just a tad too small for my hutch but I'm okay with it for now. If I get some time maybe I will make a few more flowers to take the flowers all the way to either end. But it updates the hutch from Valentine's Day to Spring.

 James and I have decided to try our hands at needle felting. So far he is getting the technic down very well! And we are having a lot of fun together!

Last night a few of us got together to make handles for our crochet hooks. Aren't they so cute!!!!

They are really so easy!!! Here is a little guide on how to make them. Actually, you can find lots of helpful videos and tutorials if you just google "how to cover crochet hooks with polymer clay." We also covered ours with polymer shellac when we were finished.

As for books, here is what I'm reading:

The Family from One End Street (Puffin Modern Classics) by Eve Garnett. A thoughtful friend caused this book to arrive in my mailbox over the weekend and the kids and I started it right away! I love it! We are only one chapter into the book but the descriptions of the Ruggles family and their seven children promise that the rest of the book and their adventures will be priceless!

Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae was finished this week. If only I had this book ten years ago when my children were tiny! I highly recommend this book to all moms who are looking for Christian encouragement and wise advice on how to make it through the long haul of parenting.

Letters from Skye: A Novel by Jessica Brockmole is set during both the First and Second World Wars and tells its story through letters. The book is set in Scotland, as well as in America, so it goes along with my Scotland-themed reading for this year. I'm not finished with it yet and will let you know what I think when I'm done!

Striving Against Satan by Joel Beeke is a concise, helpful book on spiritual warfare and keeping the balance in an area that people can take to extremes (either avoiding the subject or making too much of it). I'm in the middle of discussing it with someone and am therefore getting more out of it than if I was just reading through it on my own.

And if you want more ideas on knitting or reading, you can hop over to Ginny's Yarn A Long.

Please note: this post contains affiliate links.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mondays are for Grace

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.” 
-- Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Tea Trolley

The trolley has had a very busy week indeed! What did I do before I had her??? 

Last Friday found us having an impromptu family tea with my mom and sister.

It's so hard to get schedules to align that this doesn't happen often! Drinking tea, catching up on life, and working with wool -- it doesn't get much better than this! I was certainly counting my blessings!

But the next morning found us at the soccer fields in terribly windy, cold weather. I had no idea! Fortunately, my mom was there to help me out and we did several runs home and at one point mom brought back reinforcements in the form of wool blankets and hot tea. Much needed!

Imagine my relief that soccer was cancelled this week since I would be on my own with five kids and the predicted weather was in the 40's. I didn't think I could stand it!

I was still suffering the affects of the cold morning late last Saturday afternoon and so made up a "restorative tea" before heading into the rest of my tasks.

 The biggest treat of last weekend was going out to lunch with my mom - -just the two of us! Has this ever happened in the last 7 years? I can't remember if it has! Life revolves around our busy family life and of course the kids love to see Grandma. Another moment for me to treasure in this uncertain life....

Sunday found the kettle busy with Prickly Cactus Black Tea (which a friend and reader of this blog so kindly sent me!) and Earl Grey. It accompanied a brunch that a friend and I put together -- we had an oatmeal bar which included Irish Oats soaked overnight and cooked to their silky perfection, maple sugar, pecans, chopped fruit, and honey. We also had a baked ham and mini egg quiches which are out of this world, accompanied by a strawberry goat cheese salad and fresh asparagus as well as beautiful chive and cheddars scones (not pictured).

Monday the neighbor ladies and children gathered to celebrate an important birthday. I made this chocolate cake for the birthday girl -- Hershey's chocolate cake filled with Nutella and topped with dark chocolate frosting -- too bad it wasn't gluten free!

Wednesday we had the final Writing Class of the year and it was the traditional "Author's Tea" complete with hot tea, juice, fruit and snacks. Each student read one or two pieces of their writing. Rachel and Andrew have done so well in this class and you have to imagine my happiness at being able to send them to "someone else" to have writing taught.

It was a treat to be served tea by a friend one evening this week. Four of the children were with me and they were delighted to find these treats. I'm afraid they devoured two complete trays like this!

 Meanwhile, my friend and I sipped Rooibos Chocolate Chai.

The next day I served my favorite Roasted Sweet Potato Salad for lunch when a friend arrived and we drank Earl Grey with it.

I couldn't decide what to make for friends arriving for afternoon tea on Friday so finally settled on Portuguese Cheese Puffs. They are so simple (3 ingredients) and they have no sugar. It turned out to be a good decision. You must try them! (Plus, I loved the fact that we had spent the morning learning all about Portuguese explorations and navigation.)

And by now you all are thinking that my life this week has been one big, happy pot of tea! That's because blogs by nature do not give one a rounded view of a person's life! Stop by for tea in person and that's where we can get down to the nitty grittys of real life. But you know, I do think we are meant to steep as much joy out of life as is possible.  This fortifies us for the difficulties and necessary evils of the other moments.

May you all enjoy something lovely this weekend!

If you want to link to any post you have created during the week that includes anything about tea or coffee or other hot drinks just link up with Mr. Linky below!

The Tea Trolley Link Up:
-- Any post that is tea, coffee, or hot drink related
-- Link to this blog
-- Paste your link in the Mr. Linky below

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Wedding Flowers 101

Some time ago a friend asked me for ideas and advice on doing one's own wedding flowers. Rather than completely reinvent the wheel, I thought I would gather a few links and ideas and post them here for anyone else who might be interested.

My biggest piece of advice would be to Pin, Pin, Pin -- start a few boards on Pinterest and collect far more ideas than you think you will need. Pin ideas for corsages, bouquets, flower arrangements, etc. Pin color combination ideas. Pin texture ideas. Pin bouquet shapes that you like or boutonniere components. Get LOTS of ideas.

(Note: the photos in this post are mine and do not correspond to the links posted throughout this post.)

The big question is -- where to get your flowers? If you happen to have a retail merchant license (so you can collect sales tax) then you can order directly from the wholesalers nearby to you. If not, you might want to consider ordering flowers online and having them delivered via FedEx. We have had good results the two times we have used this method. You would want to check out  places such as this.

If neither of these options worked for me, or I wanted to stick to a very small budget, I would consider buying flowers at places like Sam's Club, Costco, Trader Joe's or Target. In fact, roses at Sam's Club and Costco might just be the cheapest rose option anywhere! Have you ever looked at the bouquets sitting at Trader Joe's or Costco waiting for people to take home and throw them in a vase? Many of them already look like they would make beautiful bridesmaids bouquets -- all you need to do is pull them together, add more greenery if you wish, and wrap them up with ribbon. If you aren't too picky, this would be a great option!

Here are two sites with helpful articles on doing your own wedding flowers:

Below is a picture of flowers that arrived by FedEx. Wherever you get your flowers, they do need to be prepped before you start work. We always get our flowers and prep them on a Thursday, do the arranging on a Friday, and deliver them to the wedding on Saturday (assuming it is a Saturday wedding).

Read this article for information on how to prep your flowers:

Check out this tutorial for boutonnieres.

Check out this tutorial for corsages.

And check out this tutorial for wrist corsages.

Here is a video of a florist making a bridesmaid's bouquet, giving full instructions.

And here is another tutorial for making bouquets.

And finally, here is an excellent video tutorial on making your basic wedding floral arrangements for church or reception.

We try to keep our bouquets, corsages, and boutonnieres in the fridge or a cold room over night. We leave the stems long on the bouquets and then cut them off shorter the morning of the wedding before covering the stems in ribbon.

For those of you that are game to try, I hope that you have fun and enjoy making things of beauty!

And special wishes to my sister, Christina, who will be celebrating her birthday tomorrow and at the same time doing the wedding flowers of a friend. I can't wait to see the photos!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Words and Wool

This week I've been hard at work on the Ginger Leaves Shawl, another design by my sister, Christina. It's been moving along a lot faster than I anticipated! Maybe that is because I have three evenings a week of children's activities during which to knit, not to mention school and if I watch a movie! I hope to finish it before the week is out!

As for books, I finished:

Hills Is Lonely by Lillian Beckwith. This book tells the story of a middle-aged English woman who goes north to the Hebridean islands to get some rest and discovers a completely different way of life to the one she is used to. It is quaint and humorous and some of the stories make you wonder if island life was really this way. However, firsthand accounts from others I know make me believe what Beckwith has written!

Shadow of a Bull by Maia Wojciechowska is the current read aloud I am doing with the children. It tells the story of a young boy, the son of a now-dead bull fighter, who grows up with the unwelcome expectation that he must fight bulls. The kids love the story and we are all on the edge of our seats wondering just how young Manolo will either decide to fight or be given an escape.

The Life and Times of Call the Midwife: The Official Companion to Season One and Two by Heidi Thomas is the companion book to one of my favorite television series. I was so happy to have it arrive at the library and find it very difficult to put down once I get a chance to read a chapter or two. The layout and photos are lovely and the descriptions of how the series came together and behind the scenes information just adds to my enjoyment of the stories themselves.

For more ideas on knitting and reading, hop over to Ginny's Yarn Along.

Please note: this post contains affiliate links.