Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wishing you a...............


I have a little surprise........ I hosted a giveaway and you didn't even know it. And here is the prize I prepared for one lucky person who has commented here on "Tea and Stitches". I gave you a clue at tea last week when I showed the little book "Tea and Friendship" and said I would draw a winner from those who had commented from January through March and that there might be just "a little bit of green fabric that will come along with it, too. " And here it is............

This little bear is bringing someone a cup filled with three lucky green fat quarters! I selected the tea cup from my box of favorite thrift shop finds and then cut the three fat quarters from my St. Pat's fabric stash. I tied a piece of vintage green ribbon about the little bear's neck and place him upon his very own little doily mat. He will be on his way to a lucky someone and who would that be................

Well, I printed out all the comments posted up to March 16 and I cut and tossed them into this little pincushion box (more on that in a minute). Then I drew out the name .......... and it was "Quilting Nana" (go here for her blog)!! Now she already knows she won because as soon as I drew her name, I e-mailed her that she was a winner. I decided to do a giveaway in this fashion because I wanted to show appreciation to those who leave comments and regularly stop by. I so appreciate your comments because they let me know if I should continue sharing my thoughts and projects. So right here and now, I want to say a big THANK YOU to all of you who visit here (and my other blogs, too). I will be doing this again, but I won't announce when I'll be doing a giveaway. It'll just happen. And that's a special treat for all of you who stop by to read and comment. :-)

Now to that pincushion box. I was needing to do something totally creative to release some stress. I wanted a box to put the comments in because only the winner's name was removed and the rest of the names are there for the next time I do a giveaway. So I had this paper mache box that I had rubbed with walnut stain and thought........hmmmm.........and then I had this little teacup Christmas ornament that I used to hold my tape measure............and an idea was born. I took some woolfelt that I also colored with walnut stain (I have a whole pile of multicolored woolfelt that I have dyed with all sorts of stuff) and cut a circle, sewed a running stitch around the edge and then stuffed with polyfil. I secured the stitches with a knot and then left some thread that I could use for the string for the tea bag. I went to the Twinings website and printed out a page (actually two for a front and back) with Earl Grey tea on it. Then I cut little squares of it for the tea bag and glued a piece of fluff between the layers, then glued the "bag" to the little bit of thread for a tea bag. Then I added a dollop of glue to the bottom of the felt ball that simulates tea (and looks more like hot chocolate). I found a scrap doily and glued it to the box lid, the glued the tea cup to that and there it is.........a pincushion on top and a place for your comments inside the box!!

Congratulations to Kathleen of Quilting Nana and good luck to the rest of you whose names are in the box. And here's a little perk.........if you've commented more than once here on "Tea and Stitches", your name is in the box with each of your comments so your luck is doubled, tripled, etc. So may the "luck 'o the Irish be with ye" when I decide to host another surprise giveaway. :-)
Hope you all have a great St. Patrick's Day!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Little Irish Tea!

Remember last month when I made what looked like tasty sugar cookies? And then I had to let you know that my cookies turned out to be more like biscotti? Well, this month, I have made something that is very tasty and came out just as good as I hoped it would. Here is what I enjoyed......my own little recipe for what I am calling Irish Tea Cake.

And here is why and how I did it........
When I was a kid we were often assigned those reports where you had to tell your heritage and so, we would ask our grandpa "what's our heritage" and his answer was usually "Heinz 57". Then a few years ago at our Linn family reunion, a relative who had moved out west sent along the death certificate for my grandpa's grandpa (my great-great grandpa). There, on that sheet was the answer to "what's our heritage"? Noted on the certificate was the name of my great-great grandpa's father - Issaac Linn and place of birth was Ireland. How about that? There's a wee bit 'o Irish in me! But wait, Issaac was married to Mary McVey of Scotland! Wow, we have a wee bit 'o Scottish heritage, too. No more "Heinz 57"!! So with that in mind and St. Patrick's Day just around the corner, I felt I had to share something really tasty and a tribute to that heritage.

I needed inspiration so went to the cupboard and got out some cookbooks we picked up on a trip to England and Scotland many years ago (we never made it to Ireland). I found one that sounded tasty called "Jam Sandwich Biscuits" but I wasn't in the mood to roll out cookie dough. I was looking for something different. I decided to draw on some ingredients from the Jam Biscuit recipe and a cake recipe in one of my favorite vintage cookbooks (several without covers from the earlier 1900's). The names and measurements in the English books were very different from the terms in our U.S. cookbooks and when I saw "Castor Sugar", I wondered what kind of sugar is that? Then I remembered my gift from Shelly in Chookyblue's Secret Santa exchange and found my answer. It's granulated sugar. Simple. Shelly also made a mitt and apron for me. I put on the apron and with spoon in hand, I was ready to go.

I didn't take pics as I mixed this time as this recipe is quite easy and anyone can make this one.
You will need a 9 x 13 pan. Mist with cooking spray and set aside. Set oven temp to 350 degrees. Find a shot glass. You'll see why later.
Ingredients needed are flour, sugar (dark brown and granulated), eggs, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla.
You will also need your favorite jars of jam for filling and some white frosting for icing (I turned to Pillsbury for their vanilla frosting).
Cream together:
1 stick (4 oz.) butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
To this mixture add two large eggs and blend well.
Add 1 teaspoon real vanilla. Set aside.
Mix in bowl or in a paper lunch sack ( I do this all the time for my dry ingredients. I get a better blend of ingredients.) the following items:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Add this dry mixture to the sugar/egg/butter mixture. Mix well.
Add 1 1/2 cups Oatmeal (quick-cook variety) and mix until well blended. Dough will be stiff.
The final ingredient is 2/3 cup evaporated milk. Mix carefully until you get a creamy dough/batter that looks like this............and I am here to tell you, it smelled good enough to eat at this point!!
Bake for 25 - 30 minutes in 350 degree oven until cake is golden......... or toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (you can't beat those time-tested tricks!).

While cake is still hot take your shot glass and press 12 evenly spaced indentations in the cake top as shown in the photo above. Let cake cool. You thought I was going to tell you to fix a little drink with that shot glass, didn't you? LOL!!
When cake is cooled, fill those indentations with a spoonful of your favorite jam, any flavors you like. Take one cup of white frosting and microwave for 15 seconds. Then drizzle over the cake top and you will get the delicious looking treat in the picture below and at the top of this post!!

It was so tasty, if I do say so myself. My tea choice for the day was Celestial Seasonings English Breakfast Black Tea. It was also really good with a little milk and a dash of sweetner. Now I know some folks say tea isn't tea if it comes in a bag, but this was quite a fine break for what was a very cold day here in Minnesota!! So cold, that later on tonight, I am going to have that Irish Creme hot chocolate mix you see in the photo. And also in that photo is one item for one of you. It's that little book "Tea and Friendship". I am going to take all the names of those who have commented from the January and February teas, add them to the names of Tea and Stitches Followers and those who comment on this tea and I will throw them in a basket and draw a winner of the little book. There might just be a little bit of green fabric that will come along with it, too. Hope you enjoyed today's tea. I'll be posting this month's project next (you'll find it below). It works better to do two posts sometimes and this is one of those times. :-)
Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Blogger making me sad.......

Blogger is currently not letting me load the pictures for my tea I prepared for today. I have all the text ready and had part of the photos loaded and poof! no more ability to load photos. I tried a new post and same problem. I will try again in an hour. Please come back then.

A little Irish Tea! The Project..........

Before we get to March's project, I wanted to give a little update on the project from February. I shared a little sketch called "Time for Tea". Here it is partially finished so that you can see what I have done here. I colored parts of the design with colored pencils (more on that in a minute), then added embroidery stitches. I do the coloring then iron the design which supposedly heat-sets the color. Will this withstand being laundered? I don't know as I have never used it on a piece that I planned to wash on a regular basis. It does work well for small pieces for wall quilts or items to be framed. I like the colored pencils better than crayons as you can get a softer look and so many more colors.

If you double-click on the photo above, you can see that I colored all the little flowers surrounding the heart and the tea cup and saucer. You will also see how awful my stitching looks on the words. I used three strands of floss and do not like it at all. I decided not to rip it out. This piece will become a "teaching tool" on when "choosing how many strands of floss to use when embroidering". LOL!! :-) Three strands of floss worked well on the heart, though.

In this photo, the piece is finished. In addition, to coloring each little flower, I also traced around each petal with an 005 purple Micron pen. Black French knots give me just the look of black-eyed Susan's that I wanted. I used just one strand of floss for all the tea cup embroidery and I am liking the tea cup design so much that I want to find some really nice fabric and embroider the design on dinner napkins. The fabric used here is 100% cotton but I think I might need to look for a poly-cotton blend that might not require so much ironing. I am going to color a tea cup on fabric, then wash it and see if the color remains. I'll let you know the results.

In this photo above, you can see the tools I use when sketching a design and then coloring the piece. My clipboard is clear and so I can place it over my lightbox and trace designs very easily. If I am doing a design in Redwork, I trace the entire design in 005 Red Micron pen. I have multiple Micron pens in various points and colors that I use to trace my designs and for finalizing sketches. The colored pencils I use are Prismacolor Watercolor pencils. Sometimes I color softly with them and other times, I wet the tip on a damp paper towel to get more vibrant color when using the pencils. I also have several other brands of colored pencils but find that the more expensive the colored pencil, the better the results. I love my dollar store purchases but this is one time they do not work.

And here is the design for March........just a little touch of shamrocks. As I sketched the little bouquet, I thought that surely "An Irish Blessing" must have been said many a time by those long ago ancestors of mine. I am glad to know my heritage and share a wee bit of it with you.
This design can be embroidered or you could cut the shamrock shapes from cotton fabric backed with fusible web and then do the rest of the design in embroidery. I am going to work on mine this Sunday afternoon after church. I'll finish it and post it here on St. Patrick's Day. Till then, have a great day!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tea and Stitches ...........

will be posted next Wednesday, March 11th so that I may bring you a little Irish Teatime just a few days before St. Patrick's Day. Then on St. Patrick's Day, March 17 I will post again with a bit of wee surprise for those of you that follow my Tea and Stitches blog.

Til then, I share my favorite Irish blessing.....

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields
and, until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

A little stitching poem.........

This little poem was written for one of my beginning quilting students - only 8 years old but her stitches were those of a natural seamstress!

For Bailey Anne . . . .
When this you see, think of me.
Sit down and have a cup of tea.
Then place your quilt upon your lap,
begin to stitch . . . no time to nap!
Stitch patiently and you will see . . .

how fine a quilter you can be!

©1999-2008 Sandra E. Andersen