Tea and Dickens...the Perfect Combination!
Welcome to my first weekly 'tea chat'! I'm so glad you dropped by today and hope you enjoy your visit through an entire week of adventures at our house. I'm having some English Breakfast tea in my very favorite coffee cup. It's the first piece of real 'china' that I ever owned and probably cemented my Anglophile tendencies!
I found this at Ross (an outlet store) when my kids were just babies and it's made in England! That's where I'd most love to travel someday ...It's a trip that I hope we will make after the kids are all on their own.
I love this cup because many of my favorite authors (English ones I might add) have the spines of their books on the cup. I made my tea or coffee in this delicate coffee mug, regularly, to have for my afternoon quiet time while enjoying another chapter or two of one of my favorite Dickens novels. He wrote so many! And they are all nice and long. :o) Have I ever told you that one of Dickens' favorite topics is the 'virtues of a wonderful homemaker'?
I ADORE Dicken's novels! Partly it was because he often honored and exalted the homemaker and the power of a good home and a loving woman of good character. You will find all types of homemakers in his novels. The best 'homemaking' novel besides perhaps David Copperfield, is less well known..but how I love it! It's called Bleak House. But it's not as bleak as it sounds...
Esther was my heroine because she loved her role as homemaker..always jingling her 'housekeeping' keys wherever she went to remind her 'cheerfully' of her duties. It was her goal to be a blessing to everyone in the household. That's what I want. Dicken's is the homemakers cheerleader if ever there was one. (At least as an author.) I also admired him because he wrote to expose the plight of the poor and destitute in England. It's amazing what one man can do when he sets his mind to it!
I must say, Miss Amy of a Tea Girl in a Coffee World was determined to out do herself..but I just about died when I saw her birthday tea party for her little girl. It was just darling!! And Rayanne from A Lovely Thought's blue photos..were amazing..plus she shared a yummy looking recipe for Sugar Cakes. I've got to print that out and try those! Everyone's tea posts were just amazing..as usual! Thanks so much for joining! Be sure to visit ladies..It's like a free 'beautiful homes tour'. :o)
Let's have Tea!
If you would like to join my tea party, just link up your post right here. I'd love to come visit and see your tea post too!
My best friend, Laurie, is the cookie queen, and just last week, she shared her ‘The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie’ recipe. Rebekah, my daughter, made them last night and they are NOT exaggerating! I’ve never tasted such a good cookie! I was really skeptical that there even was such a thing. But they proved me wrong. This photo is not of the recipe I’m going to share. They are just cookies Rebekah made recently.
The cookies she made from this recipe are not pictured but they were crunchy and chewy at the same time and were melt in your mouth heaven. If there is such a thing as the perfect texture of a cookie, than this was it.
Read the story of how Laurie found the perfect cookie recipe...and get the recipe..right here...
Laurie said that years ago, she set out to find the perfect recipe. She tried MANY recipes before she found this one. For her, the art of the perfect cookie, is her hobby and specialty. Need I say more? I think you simply must try this. It really is the most amazing cookie I’ve ever eaten. It really does pay to kitchen test recipes. You get what you pay for. Laurie paid in lots of hard work and research..and the rest of us just get to enjoy the benefits of her hard work.
Here it is.. Enjoy!Laurie’s Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- 1 1/2 c. butter softened
- 1 1/4 c. granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 c. packed brown sugar
- 1 T. vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 4 c. flour
- 2 t. baking soda
- 1 t. salt
- 3 c. (18 oz) chocolate chips
- *1 c. nuts optional
- Mix butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs in large bowl.
- Stir in flour, baking soda and salt.
- Stir in chocolate chips and nuts 9if including0>
- Drop dough by rounded measuring tablespoons about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.
- bake 12-15 minutes or until light brown.
- Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet.
- Cool on wire rack.
- Yields about 4 dozen cookies.
Update on the Kids and Grandkids in Seattle
Several of you have asked how my son, Andrew, and wife, Elisabeth, and grandkids, Lena and Augy are doing since they moved. Well, they are doing great! They found a lovely condo not far from the coast near Andrew’s job in Seattle. They have been visiting parks almost every night according to Elisabeth. She said, “The air just smells so fresh!” It’s still rainy and chilly up there, but it’s so beautiful too! That’s why dear hubby, who grew up there, has had such a hard time acclimating to Texas. It’s a real ‘step down’ for him. LoL! He wants us to retire there someday, and now I’m sure we will!
New Job and New House
Andrew’s job is going great!. He has settled right in and enjoys the work. He and Elisabeth found a gorgeous condo. I love the dark wood in their kitchen and bathroom. They bought quite a bit of furniture from IKEA and are getting everything installed and in place. They now have two matching high chairs for Lena and Augy. Aren’t the kids darling? We so miss them! But we are all getting very good at Skyping using web cams. Lena saw Tim and I during one of our ‘skype visits’ one night and she immediately said, “Bubbles!!” So they got the handheld bubble machine I bought her and she blew bubbles while we cheered her on. Oh..that hurts just a bit. How I wish I was there! (This was her favorite activity at our house.)
Visiting Family from Germany and Washington
Elisabeth's mom, Elfie, is at their house for a visit this month (she’s from Germany), and her brother, Johannes came over for dinner with a friend from Vancouver last week. That really blesses me to know the Elisabeth’s family who have been so far away are now more accessible. She really needs that I think. :o) After Elisabeth’s mom flies back to Germany, they will come down here for graduations and saying goodbye to Jacob who will be leaving for bootcamp in Mid-May. Andrew and Elisabeth visited Tim’s Uncle Jon and Aunt Elaine and his brother and wife, Mike and Kristi Rodgers and their twins. I’m so glad they are getting to know some of Tim’s family from the Washington area. :o)
Coming to Texas in May for a Visit!
They will stay for us for a weekend, then Andrew has to fly back to work, but Ebeth will be here for a month. She will be staying with us for a week at the end of May. Ah..six or seven days of grandbaby and DIL bliss! I’m so looking forward to their visit! Well…for those of you who asked how they were, I do hope you enjoyed this photo update. :o) Here’s counting the days until May 17th!!
Ok, so it’s not the only country that God made..but you have to admit..It’s GORGEOUS! Rebekah and I couldn't resist taking photos as our trees began to leaf out. What a scene!
Our place has greened up and the view from every direction is stunning! I think I’ll just let you take a look around..and enjoy!
I’m sipping my tea from my favorite lawn chair. Come sit a spell..the weather’s fine!
Rebekah’s Civil War Ball Gown and a Peek at Dicken’s on the Strand
It’s been a busy week here while we prepare for an upcoming graduation party. While cleaning the closets, what do you think we found, but the photo shoot of my daughter Rebekah, at age 14, in the Civil War Ball Gown that I sewed for her. It took me six months, had 17 yards of white satin, many yards of black lace, eight corsages (that we made ourselves) and tons of hand stitching! This was such a huge sewing task. I think I counted 79 pieces in the dress.
The pattern I used was Simplicity 5724 and it’s a Civil War / Victorian era Ball Gown/Dress Pattern for her to wear to Dicken’s on the Strand in Galveston. We pulled out the dress..washed it..pressed it, and Rebekah tried it on. Can you believe she actually fit in it?
It has a lot of sewing features that I had never tried before like cartridge pleats, seven rows of ruffle gathered with quilting thread, French puff sleeves, oversleeves, overskirt, beveled pleats, boning in the separate bodice, bertha collar, hand sewn homemade bias tape, 40 hand sewn eyelet holes for the lace up back of the bodice and that’s just the main part of what comes to mind.
It was a sewing education, I must say. So as not to get overwhelmed, I split up the parts of the dress into ziplock gallon bags and labled them~ collar, sleeves, bodice, underskirt overskirt, ruffles, bias tape, oversleeve etc. I remember sitting for hours sewing the tiny little eyelet holes. I love hand-sewing!
When we went to Dicken’s on the strand, we could not walk three feet without people stopping us and wanting to have their photo taken with Rebekah. She was called up for round two in the ‘best dressed Victorian woman’ at the contest they hold at Dicken’s on the Strand.
I arranged for a photographer for Rebekah and she took these photos at The Woodlands Waterway, and the Fountains at Portofino Mall. Rebekah was in heaven the year I made this dress for her! We have such special memories of me ‘sewing away’ while she watched. She was terrified to help me. But she paid for most of the dress with saved Christmas money. She bought the black lace gloves, black lace, flowers, and black lace fan.
While we were watching the parade at Dicken’s on the Strand, I was tapped on the shoulder by a woman from France who was there with her husband. She offered me a thousand dollars to make her the exact same dress. But I told her no thanks. My hands had begun going numb from the handwork. It took six months to sew (due to the rest of life interrupting of course) and I couldn’t see doing that again. :o) Really, it was a labor of love!
We plan to hit Dicken’s on the Strand again this year, since she can still wear the dress. Frankly, I was impressed. She’s a size 4. BTW, I put the darts in the bodice just as the pattern called for, but then I basted them flat because at the time, Rebekah didn’t need darts. It’s hard to believe that I made this when she was really just a young girl. A year later..we let out the darts. LoL! The nice thing is that the collar was made separately from the bodice. Then you hand tack it to the bodice after you make it. It hid the basting I had put in at the top. I didn’t want to spend half a year making a dress only to have it be worthless a year later when she started developing. :o)
I have asked her to seriously consider a black and red wedding! Why make a wedding dress..when it won’t be anything compared to this!
For The All You 'tecky' Bloggers out there...a Bonus!
How to Make Multiple Summaries or Jump Breaks in the Same Post..
If you are at all impressed by the amazing format..just know that it was all due to the genius of Leoparddrengen who answered my 'blog' question though I didn't ask it, "How do you do multiple page breaks in the same post?" I knew I wanted to do that, but had no idea how to begin. Well, this guy wrote up a quick html template to answer someone's question (identical) to mine. My programmer hubby analyzed it and taught me a 'quick' lesson in html programming and how it works. And we designed our own post template based off of his. You can access it here if you can make use of it.
But don't ask me to walk you through it. Honestly, it would take a very very long post to explain how carefully you have to cut and paste your html to fit in the text spots without messing up the format. But a 'tecky' gal could do it if she was really determined--like me Ha!--, so I'm making it available for the fearless bloggers out there. :o)
I tried and tried..and failed several times today (equaling about an hour and a half each) before I finally got this right. That's why I'm finally publishing at 1:00am! (Do you know how many cups of tea that equals?!) Yipes! This baby was written hours ago..parts of it LAST WEEK. But I kept copying and pasting the wrong code into my format! But I've finally come up with a system that works. Now my newsletter style post looks nice and streamlined..and you don't have a super long post to read. Just expand the parts that you want. :o)
The photo albums came from Windows Live Writer which Maria of Color Me Happy suggested. I'm so glad she did! There's so much you can do with that program..and it's free!
PS. I know that some of my albums don't work. I'm still learning how to work that feature. Sadly, my big computer crashed and the darling photos of the grandkids are all on there. So Tim will have to get the photos off the hard way. It may be a couple of days before I get my photos back. Thank goodness my computer is backed up though. Most of my stuff is safely burned on CDs.
What a week! Hope you are not having so many kinks with your computer as I am.
Ah well..such is life. :o)
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