Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Wishing you happy holidays and health and prosperity in the New Year!

The time around the solstice is always a pensive time: not long after the calendar is proclaiming the first day of winter, we find the sun setting later and our days lengthening. Such is the constant paradox, the constant flux, of the energies of life and the universe.

Getting all mystical here, I know :)

We had a brief few days of snow here a little while ago:

And now we have settled back into a typical Northwest winter----RAIN.

Thank goodness for the rain. It is what brings us the green in the Spring :)

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Christmas decorations finally came out at my house and the tree went up. Some years this doesn't happen, but this year I felt a great longing to fill the house with lights. For me, Christmas is about 4 things: Lights, because we are approaching the solstice, the longest night of the year, gnomes and elves, because I love Scandinavian decorations, food, of course, and woodland decorations, like the walnut ornament you see above. This fall I stopped by a Sons of Norway garage sale (Sons of Norway is a fraternal organization (although a woman was instrumental in its creation) created by Norwegian immigrants in the late 1800s dedicated to preserving the traditions of Norway while focusing on good citizenship http://www.sofn.com/about_us/showPage.jsp?document=History.html). I didn't know anything about the organization at that time, but the women who were running the sale were kind and some of them had on some fabulous Scandinavian jewelry. While there, I picked up this handmade set of 12 gilded walnut ornaments. 10 cents for all!! That is a serious old-school garage sale price :) Perfect for my tree, since I favor a simple, monochromatic look.

I took some serious flak from about half my friends and acquaintances because I have an artificial tree.
Especially because I live in the Pacific Northwest, where most of the nation's live Christmas trees come from.
What can I say----I did many years with live trees, but I also am a person who enjoys kitsch, so a few years ago, when a flood of weirdly colored trees came out (pink! purple! black, even!) I got this modest all white tree. If I could afford one of those vintage aluminum trees from the 50s, I would probably have one of those too :) Something about the garish, fantasy-ness of things like this pleases my soul. And then to adorn an artificial tree with natural ornaments--well that sums up my aesthetic perfectly.
Whatever your aesthetic is, Happy Winter to you, and I hope you are finding some peace in these weeks of holiday madness :)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The final tomato!

I just had to share this tomato from my garden--- the last tomato that finally ripened. Because we have had such mild weather this fall I was able to harvest tomatoes through the end of October and then let them ripen on my kitchen counter.. This beauty is called a "Cherokee Purple".  It looks more brown than purple, but it is still a lovely tomato. I like to plant unusual color varieties of vegetables in my garden---brown and white tomatoes, purple broccoli, white pumpkins. I am already thinking about what I will plant next year :)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Celestial Cookies

woven celestial throw

One of my many collecting areas is mid-90s Celestial.

celestial coffee tins
 I recently found, at the Salvation Army thrift store, a 1995 Celestial Brown Bag Cookie Stamp:

 I have never tried cookie stamps before so I decided to give it a whirl and make stamped cookies for dessert. Boy did they turn out good!!!

I used the recipe right off the Brown Bag Cookie Stamp tag for their chocolate sugar cookies. Here is the link to that recipe. I put my own twist on this process by making two separate batches of the recipe, one with cocoa powder and one without. I then twisted the two balls of dough together to get the half and half look you see above. Gives the cookies a unique, dramatic look! I think more stamped cookies are in my future and a new collecting category has now opened up for me, sigh :) You can find vintage Brown Bag stamps on Etsy and Ebay----and you can find their current designs here.

Isn't the platter I put them on adorable? I found it at Goodwill, but clearly this piece was made and decorated by cutting out clay pieces with Christmas cookies cutters. Great idea!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Less than a month til The Hobbit, dear viewers!! I love fan art and have gathered some from around Etsy to share with you:









angela rizza 
I ask myself this all the time :)  KnotworkShop

Friday, November 9, 2012

Thrift Store Therapy----SQUIRRELS!

With a blog named "Tea With The Squirrels",  you might figure that I have a few squirrel items in my collection. And you would be right! Here are some junking gems I have acquired:

I took this guy home from the "Sons of Norway" garage sale. Its not a vintage piece, but it is charming nonetheless. Although I have always found nutcrackers just the tiniest bit menacing.........

This piece is vintage---and what a charmer. For 2 bucks I could hardly pass it up :)

I purchased this vintage pre-printed pillow pattern a couple of years ago on Etsy. Yes, a couple of years ago. Its my goal to get this guy sewn by the end of November!! 'Cause you gotta have goals and dreams, haha!

A vintage ceramic squirrel planter, yes!

I filled it with various dried mosses and lichens for a centerpiece.

And finally (for today, at least) here is a charming wooden squirrel. When I bought it I figured it was just a cute folk art carving. Well, turns out it has a utilitarian purpose. Sometimes, when you go thrift shopping, you are embarking on a puzzle, a mystery. Because sometimes you don't know what something is, you just like it and buy it. Or sometimes, you have no idea that it had an original purpose. The unknown history of this guy was solved when I found this:

Turns out they are both used to push and pull the hot racks in the oven! And I should have used it last week when I burned my arm on the oven rack while making pizza. Nothing like hearing your own flesh go "Ssssss".

Well, remember when you hear the phrase "retail therapy" you can bypass the mall and go to your local thrifts for some cheaper and far more interesting "therapy". And I would encourage you to patronize the various animal shelter thrift stores you may have in your area. Those are my favorites!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Here on the West Coast a super rainy Halloween night brought us a mere handful of trick or treaters. The grim reports from the East Coast temper my Halloween festivities with an acute sense of the painful realities that the people in the East must be facing. As we turn into the dark of the year, we keep in mind that life is fragile and "normal" is a relative term.

I ended up carving  my remaining pumpkins a few hours before darkness. Here is the "caged pumpkin" I made. I took a decorative wire birdcage, carved a small pumpkin that would fit inside, cut bat wings out of a sturdy cardstock and inserted them in slits in the sides of my pumpkin. Waaaalaaaa! The caged pumpkin! I used a battery-operated tea light for this guy because these smaller pumpkins tend to get all burned and funky when real flame candles are used:

The full moon the night before was spectacular with atmospheric clouds floating across it and a spooky halo.

The full moon of October is known as the Harvest Moon, the Hunter's Moon and the Blood Moon.

Remember, you are never too old to dress up and have some fun!

We have to take advantage of the fun and enjoyable moments of life---remembrance of the good times can often get us through the dark times.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Mushroom Show!

Dear viewers, I attended a long-running autumn tradition in the Willamette Valley---the annual Mount Pisgah Arboretum Mushroom Show. This beloved fund-raising event is put on by knowledgeable volunteers who gather wild mushrooms shortly before the event and display them on long tables with accompanying informative placards. It is a wonderland of fungi, conks and lichens! I am sharing some photos of them below---and I just have to say that I am not supplying these photos for identification purposes. If you plan to harvest mushrooms, the safest way is to take an experienced person with you and bring a good mushroom book or app with you. There are a lot of poisonous mushrooms out there and sometimes they can mimic the non-poisonous ones.

Okay, with that out of the way, here are some of the glories of the mycological world:

The classic Fly Agaric or Amanita Muscaria mushroom. 

Earth Star Mushroom

This is one of those mushrooms that has poisonous look-alikes

okay, this is one of the weirder mushrooms----if I saw this in the woods I would think it was poop!

This is a mere sampling of the many, many species that were on display at the show,
I took some time out to get a bite to eat at the LCC Culinary Arts booth---a delicious mushroom dish served in a flaky pastry shell. I forgot to see what kinds of mushrooms were in it---whatever they were, they were extremely tasty!

Then it was on to look at the scarecrow competition. There were quite a few this year and many were very imaginative:

Did you know that you can use mushrooms as a natural dye? This display showed the various colors that can be achieved with mushroom dye:

Finally, I ran into these delightful ladies who allowed me to take pictures of their awesome mushroom costumes:

Yay for fall and yay for fungi!!