Tea Times Creations on Wonderbliss

Walpole is home to one of the most enchanting places in Massachusetts, Fancy That! Shoppe. This the home of a fantastic collection of vintage crockery, silverware, pink goblets and more available for rental. It is also a boutique with one-of-a-kind gift items ranging from high end tea, vintage china, jewelry and furnishings. They also carry my stands, and I have done some custom drilling for the owner Sarah.

 

The other day Cara Brostrom, from Wonderbliss Wedding Photography, stopped by for a magical session that wonderfully captured the elegant beauty of what Fancy That! has to offer. Amongst the gorgeous set up of pink goblets, silverware and vintage plates and teacups, one of Tea Times Creations stands stood as the perfect complement for the romantic tablescape designed by Sarah. Cara was generous enough to allow me to post her beautiful picture on my blog, and like a proud mamma my heart beats faster when I look at this picture!

 

I just love polka dot china!

 

 

For the complete spread of vintage goodness go to the Wonderbliss page to check it out! If you live in the area you have to stop by the Shoppe for a unique shopping experience that feels like going back in time…

Ode to Bonnie, and Labrador Love

 

On January 3rd 2011 I had to put my dog Bonnie to sleep. She had been my companion for almost 14 years, from the time she was 5 months old. Considering a friend of mine gave her to me only a couple of months after I arrived in this country in 1998, she was a constant presence for most of what I know to be my “adult” life. It happen very suddenly, she went from normal to slowing down in about a week. The irony is that I had a doctor’s appointment for her that same fateful day. I thought she was developing arthritis, and wanted to see if the vet could prescribe something to ease her pain. When I got home from work with my then 3 year old son, and she could barely breathe, I know something was terribly, terribly wrong.

I had vowed to myself not to get another animal ever. Besides the pain and the life changes after her death I have to consider the reality of both my husband and I working full time, having a young child, and a pretty crazy routine. For a very long time I could “hear” the sound of nails in the hardwood floor, and I would jump out of my bed in a very specific way so not to step on her. After almost 14 years I realized I was as conditioned to her as she had been to me. I’m not the kind of person that compares dog companionship with human companionship. Dogs (thanks be to God for that one) are NOT humans. That’s to me is the beauty of a relationship with a canine friend. Bonnie was not my “child”, but she stuck with me through the worst times and the best ones in the 14 years I had been in this country. There is no way to deny the connection of affection, and the bond between a human and a dog, and she knew when I was in distress and never left my side. If that’s not friendship, I don’t know what is.

After one year I now find myself dog sitting for a friend.

 

So gorgeous!

Out of the blue. I overheard him in need of finding her a place to stay because he was leaving in a couple of days, and because my son talks about Bonnie a lot I thought it would be good for him to have a dog around. I realized how much my son misses, and remembers, Bonnie. Small details, like the color of her favorite bone, which for the life of me I cannot understand how could he remember. The impact Bree (the name of the gentle Yellow Lab girl we’re hosting) has had in Kaiden, and in me, has left me wondering if I’ll be able to keep my vow… My son has shown a wonderful ability to handle a relatively large dog, and is completely in love with her. As you can see from the pictures, it’s not very hard to fall in love with her. Add to her great looks one of the best personalities I’ve ever seen in a dog and voila, I find myself looking at Lab Rescue websites… Must pray about this one!

Really good friends!

Dickens anyone?

I’m so thrilled to participate in my first craft fair ever! And it could not be a more perfect event… the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation will be hosting the The Watch City Dickens Christmas Festival & Market. It will be a truly magical experience. Kids can type letters to Santa in one of the four 19th century typewriters available. How cool is that? I’ll be taking my little shop with all its vintage goodness to the “real” world. We’ll also have a VERY limited supply of local honey from Weymouth, courtesy of Gray Bench Apiary.

Both my MIL and I will be in costume! Today it arrived in the mail our petticoats. We giggled like little kids playing in the rain… We need to practice how to walk and sit wearing these things. We’re afraid we won’t fit in our booth!

For event updates check out the Facebook page for the event.

Can’t wait for Christmas…

I'm feeling so inspired!

 

 

Crabapple Jelly Experiments

Last year my FIL took a tiny crabapple from my neighbor’s tree and ate it. I had no idea what that was, so I went online to make sure he would not be poisoned by it. I “discovered” that not only crabapples are not poisonous, but they also make delicious jelly! I was able to make about 4 half pint jars, which were eaten so quickly it did not even get to the end of the summer. My little one loved it so much he wanted to eat out of the jar with a spoon… so this year I eagerly waited for the little pretties to be ready.

My mom, my son and I got our first batch about 4 weeks ago. I found several recipes online, and they typically call for a 3 to 4 ratio of sugar to “juice” (4 cups of prepared juice to 3 cups of sugar.) Although I still think it’s delicious, my husband had I good point saying it is too sweet, and that the fresh tart flavor of the crabapple disappears. The other thing that got me thinking was the correct proportion of cut up fruit to water. You see it’s a ton of work to cup up each and every one of the little apples, so I was trying to get the most out of a batch. Up to then I was using a little over 1 to 1 ratio, or just enough water to cover the cut up fruit. One important thing I feel strongly about is that you really need to cut up the fruit to expose the seeds. Crabapple jelly does not require pectin because the fruit has enough of it to gel, and the source of pectin is the seeds. You need to expose them so that when the fruit boils it releases enough of it. I’ve read about some people that let the thing boil so much that the fruit literally disintegrates (so they don’t have to cut up the fruit), but I prefer to cut it because 90% of the time when they look bad on the outside there’s nothing wrong inside and I can use it. But the only way to know is cutting it in half. Personally, despite being a pain, I find it worth the effort.

So for my first batch I did use the “traditional” recipe, but for my second try I made a small batch with 4 cups of  prepared juice, and only one and a half cup of sugar. I added double of the amount of fruit of water to prepare the juice, and boiled the fruit for about 45 minutes. The juice was strained in cheese cloth overnight. The following day the juice went back on the pot until boiling, I added the sugar and let it simmer until the mix reached the 220 degrees called for in the original recipe and the jelly came out perfect!

So from now on I will use the 4 to 1 ratio. The last thing I found out is that the biggest batch I will make from now on is 12 cups of juice. More than that it take forever for the temperature to reach 220 degrees, and by the time it does the jelly becomes really dark. My final recipe is 12 cups of juice, 4 cups of granulated sugar, the juice and peel of one lemon. Let it boil until the thermometer reads 220 degrees. Fill the prepared jars, give them a good bath, let it cool completely, and voila! Enjoy the best jelly you’ll ever taste!

Win a TeaTimesCreations Stand!

I’m very excited that this stand is the incentive for listeners of Craftlit that donate during the months of September and October. CraftLit: A Podcast for Crafters Who Love Books is an amazing podcast produced my Heather Ordover. If you took a listen to episode one of my podcast you probably know about Craftlit already. In Heather’s own words think “books on tape with benefits”. Heather is a knitter, writer, producer, author, super creative person that many years ago came up with the great idea of combining great literature with crafty talk. The show features audio books like “Little Women”, “Pride and Prejudice”, “Frankenstein”, “The Scarlet Letter”, and many other great classics of all times. The caveat is that she cleverly (and quite accessibly) dissects the story, giving us a master class in literature each show. There is plenty of feedback and discussion from the audience too. Like I always say it is a very intelligent show that attracts very intelligent listeners.

 She’ll be featuring next one of my most favorite books of all times “Dracula”, by Bram Stoker, so if you’re new to Craftlit this is a awesome way to start “test driving the concept. In her site you’ll also find an extensive library of past shows, conveniently indexed for your listening pleasure. Donate any amount to help offset the costs of producing the show between the months of September and October, and you’ll have a chance to win this (if I may say so myself) beautiful TTC stand.

 While you’re at it, and if you’re a knitter, take some time to learn about her latest venture, the book What Would Madame Defarge Knit?. Grab the book, some yarn and knitting needles, and set up a true English tea party with stands from the Etsy store!

Earthquakes? Hurricanes? Do I really live in New England?

It was indeed a surreal experience. For a Californian this was probably something not even worth mentioning, but when you live in the east coast, specifically in New England which does not get its share of natural disasters other parts of the country get (blessed be the Lord for that), what we all experienced in the begining of the week is (hopefully) a one in a lifetime experience. I first noticed my chair shaking, which led me to believe a co-worker was messing with me, until I looked over my computer screen and could see the columuns swaying back back and fro…

Then today we faced Irene… My husband and I spent many hours on Friday cutting down the branches from the neighbor’s crabapple tree that have been resting on our power lines since we moved to this house. The city does not take responsibility, and the electric company never showed up. Very carefully we trimmed away a good chunck of tree, and was able to gather 3 buckets full of crabapple to make jelly! This will be my next post, a fun study on crabapple jely making.

I hope that all of you in the path of Irene are safe and sound. My heart was aching for the little boy killed when a tree struck his house. I had just read the news when I hear a crashing sound in my backyard. One of the neighbor’s giant pine tree came crashing into my yard. It took the center of my beautiful tree, my 2 columnar apples I blogged about a while ago, my 2 crabapple trees, and our bird bath… I’m not sure how much of the cherry trees where affected yet. Still I was very grateful that only the trees were hit and not our home. I’ll miss the beauty of my big tree, now in the shape of a “V”, but all of my family is fine, thanks be to God.

It was a scary sound...

Four of my fruit trees are under the branches

My tree used to be so gorgeous...