Sunday, August 29, 2010

Life-giving brew

English Breakfast tea
[Some boxes of English Breakfast tea that my father-in-law recently brought back from India.]

If you know me well at all, you'll know I'm addicted to black teas. This habit started when I lived in Scotland six years ago and my best friend there was constantly inviting me to her room for "a nice cup of tea." Twinings' English Breakfast is what she always favored, the water prepared in an electric hot pot and then poured into little tea mugs, given a brief steeping and served, piping hot, with a dash of milk. English Breakfast is still my favorite, but I'll occasionally branch out into other flavored black teas for a little something different. A few recent discoveries have been:

  • Lipton Vanilla Caramel Truffle tea -- a friend of my husband's said this is the most coffee-like tea he's ever tasted. To me, it's almost sweet. I like it as a treat and it's quite unlike any tea I've tasted before.

  • Simpson & Vail Decaffeinated Almond Black tea -- my husband picked this out when I placed an order recently, and I secretly thought it sounded ho-hum. But out of everything we ordered, it was the first to be finished off! It has a delicious almond flavor that is not "fake" as almond flavorings can often be. It reminds me of a homemade almond kiss cookie.

  • Simpson & Vail Victorian Earl Grey tea -- I believe this is my favorite Earl Gray. The bergamot and other flavorings are not too overpowering; only just right. Delicious!

    What teas are your favorites?
  • Thursday, August 19, 2010

    Vintage sewing tool: skirt marker

    Vintage skirt marker

    When we're at home in Indiana, I have no one to mark hems for me, save Douglas (who's not the most experienced). So I was quite chuffed when my mom brought this home for me from a garage sale.

    Based on the woman's dress, I would guess it to be from the late 1930s or early 1940s. The marker works by puffing chalk dust onto you skirt at a uniform height from the floor. This one is missing its base but I think it will work fine without it (or I can scavenge up a makeshift one). I can't wait to try it out!

    Friday, August 13, 2010


    [Mom on the left, Dad on the right]

    I made these silhouettes of my parents several years ago, just for an old-fashioned touch for my bedroom. Here's how I made them, step by step:

    1. Take a digital photograph of your subject, in profile, against a blank white background. Open the photo in a graphics editing program and set the contrast to be as high as possible. Print the image.
    2. Trace the silhouette and add any artistic or historical details you may fancy (I got some inspiration for the Regency-style touches from a book on silhouettes from our local library). Fill in the silhouette with black ink.
    3. Xerox the silhouettes onto white paper. This is also a good time to adjust the size, if you need to.
    4. Soak the paper in a brew of black tea to get an "aged" look. Quick dry the paper by placing it on a cookie sheet and sticking it in the oven on its lowest temperature. Repeat as often as needed.
    5. Fit the silhouettes into matching vintage junk-store frames and hang them on the wall!

    Thursday, August 5, 2010

    Folkwear #233

    Folkwear #233

    I just finished up this retro 1940s dress for my mother-in-law! She chose the fabric (a pink rayon print with hats and flowers) and pattern (Folkwear #233) and I did the sewing. I love sewing 1940s patterns because of all the fun construction details like gathering and topstitching. A neat topstitching job brings a great deal of satisfaction. :)

    Close-up of Folkwear #233

    This dress included some "firsts" for me -- most notably, I've never inserted a side zipper before or made a hidden zipper placket. The directions are excellent, though, and I had no problems. I recommend the pattern for intermediate to advanced sewers.

    Folkwear #233

    I'll pop it in the mail to you tomorrow, Mom S.!

    Tuesday, August 3, 2010

    Pink flora

    Before we left Colorado, we spent a delightful morning wandering through the Denver Botanic Gardens. I realized that I must have a penchant for pink flowers because when I got home and looked through our photos, I realized that's pretty much all I photographed.

    flower collage

    We've been on the road again the past few weeks, but we're back to one spot now (for the present, at least!). I hope to use the next few weeks to do some sewing and pattern drafting. I have just a little handsewing to finish up on a 1940s rayon dress for my mother-in-law, which I will share photos of soon. And... it's pink. :)