Friday, May 29, 2015

The Tea Trolley

It's about time for another tea post!  The next chapter in my "tea life" took place in Uganda just after she came out of civil war. I moved there with my family was I was nearly 12 and we moved back to the States about 2 1/2 years later. It was an incredibly life-changing and eye-opening experience and it tore my heart to leave that beautiful place.

Uganda is where tea drinking became an everyday ritual. Everyone drank tea. The market was filled with piles of shiny aluminum kettles and stacks of large, plastic mugs that kept the tea so hot you could never actually drink it. The tea was grown in Uganda and we always marveled at the beautiful tea plantations that we passed on the way from Jinja to the capital city, Kampala.

It was "Garden Tea" that we drank -- a rich, bold tea -- "Indian" in flavor and with a color that nearly matched the soil it was grown in. If you were Ugandan, you would take your tea with sugar in it -- a lot of sugar in it (I always estimated it was about 1/4 cup for the 12 oz mug).

Here we are in the kitchen where every day water was boiled for ten minutes and passed through a filter so we would have water to drink and water for tea. Every morning tea was made for our helpers at a specified time and accompanied with a piece of bread and butter.

Not a day went by that we didn't have someone with us for one or more meals. After dinner the peach colored mugs came out and the steaming pots came in and everyone sat around the table drinking tea. Life was much slower in Uganda and there was time for company, talking, tea.

At one point we even had a tea hut in the front yard! Here it is in the making. It provided lovely shade and a pretty place to sit and receive visitors and drink tea.

Being in a different culture didn't mean we gave up all our old ways. Here we are playing dress up for Christina's 9th birthday. I don't know how we even had gloves like that over there!

As of yet, I've never been back to Uganda, as much as I long to go. Maybe someday. But the tea drinking stuck with us!

And now back to the present......

Drinking coffee or tea in the park is always fun! Here we are joined by some extra company.

Rachel wanted to exercise her creative bone one evening and stayed up late to make these for her friends at school.

I love having one hour a week to count on for tea with my neighbor. It gives us a chance to catch up on the neighborhood, how our kids are playing together, and share our mutual love for British tea-drinking.

The birth of Princess Charlotte called for a pot of tea!!!! It was so exciting to see all the news updates and learn her beautiful name.

I tried my hand at a few sketches this past month -- tea being one of my favorite subjects.

I never tire of viewing this silver teaset at the Oldfields House here in town.

Lunch at Wildwood Market -- their sandwiches are the best! And they even have gluten-free bread!

Another tea sketch from early in the month.

Mother's Day! We had strawberry-rhubarb cobbler and tea.

I just love when I can get up early in the morning and have tea by myself while doing my devotions. I wish I could get up early every day. Often I am just too tired.

For the last day of school we enjoyed a World War II British meal -- turnip top salad and Woolton Pie (essentially vegetables in a sauce with a pastry top). It was good -- the pie a bit bland, but the crust helped.

We also visited the Candles Holocaust Museum in Terre Haute and I was struck by this table cloth and explanation -- this Jewish mother took her fancy tablecloths to the Ghetto and each night pulled them out to cover a crate for the family to eat on. In this way she fought against evil and death with beauty and routine. I loved that!!! She ended up losing her life to the Nazis but her young son survived.

I love this teapot. I still haven't told you about it and it's sister pot. It's on my list to finish my Scotland posts this summer!

Tea with a friend -- it was Tea Forte decaf English Breakfast. Yum!

I attempted macarons for the first time this week. I got one perfect one out of the entire batch. However, they all tasted amazing despite their looks -- SO much better than any store-bought one I've had.

My friend from NYC, Christy, was in town this last week and that gave us a chance to have a baby shower for her!

Jungle theme meant these favors were just perfect! They were different types of animal crackers mixed up together with a few chocolates.

 It was a lovely evening!

My mom invited my sisters and me to her place for tea one Sunday afternoon in April.

And another day I had a few friends over for a tea lunch: buckwheat scones and gluten free scones with fruit and salad. Perfect!

Here are the lovely ladies!

And my ever-ready tea party partner!

 And that catches us up to the present! We've had three "last days" of school for various members of the family, today being Rachel's last day. Summer is on the way!!!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Words and Wool

The other wool project that I recently finished after many, many years is my Granny Flower Blanket. It's so wonderful to have this finished! I think it is my first large crochet blanket. It was originally based on this beautiful Japanese Flower Scarf -- I tried to recreate the flowers from the picture. Eventually I realized my yarn was to heavy to make a useable scarf so I put a square edging on the flowers and turned it into a blanket.

I also put an edging around the whole thing in strawberry smoothie pink. I love it!

The colors go with my bedroom really well! Just a shame that it is now too hot to enjoy it! :)

And now for the rest of the books that I've read lately:

Crafting a Colorful Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to Personalizing Your Space with Color by Kristin Nicholas is a beautiful and inspiring book on home decoration. I've read Kristin's blog for probably eight years so the pages of this book felt comforting and familiar. Kristin's color palette is brighter and bolder than mine but her style mingles with my own and it must not be coincidence that one of her favorite sources of inspiration is also mine -- British Country Living.

Because He Loves Me: How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life by Elyse Fitzpatrick was an excellent book on the heart of the Gospel -- the love of God for us and what it means to really allow this truth (the Gospel) to sink deeply into our hearts. I pray that I will daily ponder God's love for me.

Messenger of Truth: A Maisie Dobbs Novel (Maisie Dobbs Novels) by Jacqueline Winspear is the latest Maisie Dobbs mystery that I've read. Post World War 1, London, always a cup of tea -- definitely my cup of tea.

The Happy Christian: Ten Ways to Be a Joyful Believer in a Gloomy World by David Murray is a helpful book. A friend pointed out the illusion in the cover design to Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project, and indeed, Murray quotes from Rubin! But this book is coming at the subject from a spiritual angle. I bought the book in the depths of winter when I really needed something to help my thinking go in the right places. Murray has lots of practical advice -- owning the book means I can continue to remind myself of it when I need to!

Choosing Rest: Cultivating a Sunday Heart in a Monday World by Sally Breedlove will be one of my very favorite books from this year. I read it parallel with The Happy Christian and actually found this book to be even more helpful to me. Breedlove speaks about the need to choose rest (which means leaving something undone) and how God uses various trials in our life (depression, illness, grief, need) as gateways into God's rest for us. Excellent, excellent book.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry was a quick read the children and I enjoyed together in school as part of our World War 2 studies. It dealt with hiding Jews and the resistance movement in Denmark. It was engaging and gave us another insight into war on the continent.

Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World by Michael Horton was another excellent book I recently read. Contrary to so much of what we hear, Horton pointed out that being a Christian involves patient, humble involvement in "ordinary" things -- not running off with every new wind of interest to do something "big" and "extraordinary" for God. A very helpful message to hear and ponder.

Shadow on the Mountain by Margi Preus is one of our favorite read-alouds  from this spring. It is another World War 2 resistance story this time set in Norway and involving a teenage boy. It is well written and gripping and the best part is it is based on the experiences of a real person!

On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life that Lasts (Masters in Fine Living Series) by Ann Kroeker and Charity Craig is a great little book for those who want to write or write more. The twelve chapters offer good advice and practical ideas on how to move forward in a writing hobby or career.

The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson was listened to in the car and everyone enjoyed it quite a lot. It is set in London around a cholera outbreak and the great mission of the book is to discover how the cholera is spreading and stop its spread.

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom was another book we listened to in school for our World War 2 study. I read this as a child but am so glad I "read" it again as an adult. Corrie weaves the sovereignty of God into every chapter as she tells of her deep involvement in the Dutch resistance and then her stay in a concentration camp as a result. I loved it.

Well, that's all for now! For more ideas on knitting/crochet and reading, visit Ginny's Yarn-Along.

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