Friday, October 31, 2014

More Tea Stuff, a Grievous Error, & a Wonderful Surprise!!!

I am hanging my head in shame because when I did my tea post the other day, I totally forgot the two most famous tea drinkers of all!

Yes, Wallace & Gromit!  How in the world could I forget these two???  I love them so!  Here's Gromit pouring himself a cuppa.
And here's Wallace enjoying a cuppa ... along with some cheese & crackers it looks like!  Another favorite of mine, cheese & crackers.  Wallace & Gromit & I would get along very well if we were neighbors   : ) 
I remember when Wallace thought he had met the love of his life, Wendolene ... a knitting shop owner who I also thought would make a great neighbor   : )
Of course Wallace ended the relationship because Wendolene did not care for cheese   : (

And speaking of knitting ... that's another thing I have in common with Gromit!
And Shawn!
And then there's Babs.  She & I could pass for twins.  Same hairdo, same body build.  They do say that we all have a twin somewhere.  
This is sad, isn't it.  After 5-1/2 years living in The Devil's Playground with unfriendly townfolk & no family nearby, my friends & family have become Nick Park characters.  

Hmmmm ... I seem to have gotten off of the original topic here   : )   When I did my tea post, I forgot to post about some lovely Christmas tea books! If you are interested in learning more about them, you can Google them or look for them on Amazon.  

I've saved the wonderful surprise for last.  IT MIGHT SNOW TONIGHT!!!!!  Yes, you read that right!  Snow!  Yep, here's my twin brother again, born in my imagination after seeing his picture online, showing how we BOTH feel about the possibility of snow   : )
I need to think of a name for him   : )

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Long Post About Tea

You may remember that last Christmas, some of the packages John placed under the tree for me contained tea.  All kinds of tea!  I have been having a ball throughout the year trying them all. Needless to say, they are almost gone now, but I purposely saved a box of various Christmas teas to try when this Christmas season was upon us.  I realize that its not even November yet, but I've been fighting off the urge to put out my decorations for a couple months now ... so yesterday I decided to begin sampling them.

These Christmas teas are made by DavidsTea, & each one has a delightful name such as Santa's Secret, White Chocolate Frost, Sleigh Ride, Gingerbread, & Spiced Fig, to name a few.  I didn't think I'd care for those last two, but they are quite good!  As if the delicious teas with catchy names weren't enough, someone at DavidsTea went the extra mile by adding such things as teeny tiny little red & white striped candy cane looking things to the Santa's Secret tea ...
... & gold balls, representing ornaments I'm guessing, to the tea called Glitter & Gold.
I am, of course, looking forward to trying the other offerings in the assortment  : )

After my usual morning routine, I decided to Google some tea stuff ... & what fun I've had!  This looks like it would be a good tea, doesn't it?  I mean, it's a pretty tin, so the tea has to be good, right?   : )  
I thought the following tea looked good as well, produced by adagio teas.  I've never heard of this company so will need to do a bit more research. The photo of the tea looks good, but it is not able to be copied.  The website, however, did have this little extra photo that was able to be, showing the ingredients blended with the black tea ... orange peel, star anise, cloves, & cinnamon.  I'd say that's a great combination ... & that cookie is really yummy looking too!
This was another interesting tea I found.  Not a Christmas tea, & I must admit I'm not an English Breakfast Tea fan (my apologies to my British friends), but I do love the tin   : )
I know that some of you are not tea lovers, & I can't help but wonder how you can't be?  Having a cup of tea can make special times even specialer!  Having a cup of tea can help you feel better when you're sick, or sad, or stressed, or upset.  Even Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory fame knows that "when someone is upset or sad, it is customary to offer them a hot beverage, such as tea."  There is even a Sheldon Cooper tea that I discovered, made by the above-mentioned adagio teas!  It sounds pretty tasty too!  It contains black tea, natural coconut flavor, mango pieces, dried coconut, natural mango flavor, & marigold flowers.
Some people like to drink their tea from a beautiful fine china tea cup, like this one.
Those cups are lovely for tea parties & such, but for me, I prefer a big mug.  I wish I knew where the woman in the following photo got her mug!  I would love to be able to get my hands around a big mug like that.  It's just the right size for me   : )
Of course Christmas tea is very special.  This is a lovely looking one, isn't it?  Alas, the company, TWG, is in Singapore, & I have not been able to find any indication of them shipping or selling it here.
Many women's groups have Christmas Teas each year at churches, restaurants, tea rooms, or in their homes.  How fun it would be to attend one!
I think a couple weeks before Christmas each year, a few ladies here in The Devil's Playground put on clean t-shirts & meet down by the river to share a six pack.    

Look at these delicious Christmas tea cookies I found available!
And these yummy pastries!
Celebrities referenced or pictured above, like Sheldon Cooper, & Mrs. Tiggy-winkle & Lucie, are not alone in their love of tea.  Here are a few more.

Pooh Bear drinks tea sweetened with honey.

Julia Child always unwound with a cup of tea.

The Beatles enjoyed tea.

Paul still does!

And here's the world's most famous tea drinker, starting her day off right   : )
Are you a tea drinker?  If so, please comment & share you favorite teas, tea experiences, etc   : )

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Be Thankful

Throughout the difficulties I've encountered recently, various scriptures floated through my mind ... most of all Psalm 107:1.  No matter what happens, the Lord is with me.  I sadly know & have known people who do not have the Lord in their lives.  When they are faced with various difficulties ... 

medical problems, either their own or those of friends or family members

identity theft

a septic system malfunction that floods their floors

you name it

... when they are faced with anything upsetting, their immediate reaction is to complain, scream, curse, blame, cry, worry, get angry, throw things, etc.  I embarrassingly admit that I used to be that way once upon a time.  It was not a good way to be.  

Despite the problems I've experienced recently & the problems that may be looming ahead, I felt & am feeling thankful.  Thankful that I can trust God with my health & well being.  Thankful that God led me to check my bank account the exact morning the first fraudulent charges were shown as pending on my statement.  Thankful that the flooding problems occurred when John & I were home.  

The Bible says to be thankful in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:13).  I remember bad periods of my life when someone would quote this scripture to me & I would wonder if this was some kind of joke.  Be thankful when the doctor tells you that you have cancer?  Be thankful when your house burns down or is destroyed by a tornado?  Be thankful when your child gets involved with drugs? Yes, be thankful ... because if you have God in your life, you can be thankful every second of every day, despite what is happening in your life, because He is with you.  You can lean on Him.  He will help you get through it.  He will never leave you nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good:  His love endures forever!   

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Birthday Gifts, Other Stuff, and Christmas is Two Months from Today!!!


Oi!  Or is it Oy?  Whatever it is, I am uttering it. The past couple weeks have been a mishmash of annoyance & confusion &, well, Oi!  Or Oy!  Or both!!!

Heart-related issues.  I'm not sure where this is going, but there's talk of a third surgery   : (   As Doris sang, "whatever will be, will be" ... but Oi/Oy! I have another followup with the doctor a couple days before Thanksgiving.  I'm assuming that he will discontinue my medication again and we'll see what happens after that.

Tiredness is a major problem.  I just don't get it. I'm pretty certain the majority of people in the world can get through their days without needing an afternoon nap for an hour or two.

Last week I had my credit card number stolen  : ( I wouldn't have even known it happened if I hadn't looked at my online bank statement to check something one day.  I was shocked to see a bunch of pending charges I did not make!  I immediately called the bank.  They asked me if I knew how someone got hold of my card number.  How would I know?  I purchase things quite a bit online but have never had any problems like this.  The bank issued me a new card, refunded the questionable charges back into my account, & launched an investigation.  I then changed my passwords to every password-requiring site I visit.  I hope they tell me how this person came to acquire my number.  I was told they could not have made charges with the number only.  They would've had to have known the expiration date as well as the 3-digit code on the back!  Very scary & annoying!

Let's see ... what else.  Our mower guy kinda cheated us.  One of our toilets has stopped working.  A mouse (Ed) made his home in our garage, & his brother & sister-in-law (Ralph & Alice) decided to make their home up the road in our cable box where they chewed through a wire that controls our phone line.  This resulted in an extremely loud hum on the line & we couldn't really hear anyone who called us for days.  The phone technician shooed Ralph & Alice away & made his repairs.  Hopefully the little fur balls won't try to set up housekeeping there again.    

On a happier note, Christmas is just two months from today!!!

I absolutely cannot wait!  I don't know why but I think I've been ready to start Christmas decorating since July!  Sometimes I have to literally force myself to not bring the tree downstairs & start stringing lights!  I guess the fact that John has been playing Christmas CDs for the past few months might have something to do with this ... or maybe it's just me   : )

The temps have been a bit cooler ... sometimes in the 50s during the day & in the 30s at night ... but we're getting a revisiting of bad weather (known to some of you as warm/hot weather) in the coming days.  It's actually predicted to be near 80 degrees one day!  Ugh!  Where's the barf bag?  All things considered, we've had a pretty nice autumn.  The photo below shows what is probably our favorite tree in the yard.  Its autumn color is always so beautiful!  Isn't it nice how God could have just given us plain ol' green trees all year round, but instead He makes the leaves have these gorgeous colors for us each fall?  
What a beautiful prelude to the most wonderful, magical season of all!!!  Yes, I'm talking about winter   : )   I am, as you can no doubt guess, eagerly anticipating the arrival of snow!  I will be so happy when the white stuff starts to fall!!! Think of me looking like this, but without such a thick beard & maybe with a little less hair on my head.
We were blessed with some cool weather earlier this week so I dusted off the hot chocolate maker & make myself a cup of yummy white hot chocolate using a Ghiradelli white chocolate bar! It's the nearest thing to heaven in a cup   : )

And instead of a cake for my birthday, I got to eat this very huge, very yummy cupcake purchased at Fresh Market in Lexington!  I could have eaten a dozen of them   : )
I promised to share with you the gifts I received from fellow stitchers, which has always been the thing one does here in blogland, so here goes.  All the gifts were very prettily wrapped but of course I only took photos after opening them.

From my buddie Michelle ... who also loves birds ... I received this pretty cut of fabric, bird-related charms, a cute little wooden hanging bird, & ribbon which says "Everything Stops for Tea" ... the "tea" being a little teacup.  And it does!  Also a lovely card.  
This next gift is from my sweet friend Robin in VA. A pretty card & beautifully stitched pin pillow.
My dear friend Vicki sent me a beautiful card & three charts from my Wish List.
And last, but not least, my good friend Sally sent me the cute card, cross stitching magnet, & gorgeous little lamb ornament.
Thank you all again for remembering me on my special day   : )

Hard as this may be to believe, I haven't done any stitching for the past two weeks.  I sent a lot of things to my finisher to be finished & knew she probably wasn't going to have time to finish anything else for me before Christmas, so after stitching three designs at the beginning of the month, I decided to do a bit of knitting.  I've always wanted/needed a shawl.  I purchased some bulky yarn & tried the Basic Prayer Shawl pattern, but my yarn was variegated & the pattern of the shawl was totally lost in the color changes.  I then un-knitted that bit & started again using a simple garter stitch pattern.  I'm not real happy with the results ... I made a few errors & you know how OCD I am with myself regarding that ... so I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it.  I haven't blocked it yet, but here's a photo. 
I am now project-less.  I could start another knitting project, or a stitching project (I do miss stitching), but I'd best get after a few finishing projects I need to get done before Christmas.  I farm out my "pretty" designs to an outside finisher who is way more creative & skilled than I am, but plain primitive stuff I can do reasonably well ... I think. 

Well, just when you think things are looking up. Remember the non-working toilet I mentioned above?  I planned to call the plumber about it on Monday.  I mean really ... who wants to call a plumber on the weekend?  We have 2 other toilets. No big deal.  I did a load of laundry this morning, then decided to do another load.  The washer started to fill for the rinse cycle, & when I went to pour in some fabric softener, the water was very soapy.  Odd.  I decided to put the washer on double rinse to make sure all the soap would rinse out.  I then went into the kitchen & before too long something just didn't sound right.  It sounded like the water in the washer was maybe overflowing onto the floor, but I had just been in there & it was barely full.  I went into the laundry room ... no water running down the sides of the washer but I still heard the strange water sound. I then realized it was coming from the half bath across the hall.  I opened the door & the water was flowing like Niagara from that toilet.  I turned off the water for the tank & couldn't understand why it kept flowing.  I yelled for John to bring towels.  They barely sopped up the water which I now realized was soapy.  Was the water somehow draining from the washer to the toilet? I turned off the washer & the bathroom Niagara eventually stopped.  John & I got the floors all dried (we've now got a mountain of soaking wet towels in the utility sink) & then decided to look in the bathroom with the non-working toilet.  It didn't look pretty.  The toilet didn't overflow but it's very nasty looking in the bowl, & "stuff" backed up into the shower   : (   I called & luckily reached our plumber who told me something about the septic tank & a snake & a D Box. Apparently if the snake didn't work, the D Box would have to be dug up? That didn't sound good ... but everything worked out well.  He arrived, the snake did its job, & we were given the phone number of a septic company that we are to call to come "blow out" the tank.  This is the first time in our lives that we've had a septic tank.  Can't say I'm too fond of them after this experience, but it could have been worse.  I often put clothes in the washer, then we go out shopping or whatever.  Then when we get home, I simply need to take the clothes out of the washer & put them in the dryer.  Won't be doing that anymore!

It is now mid afternoon & I am thinking about how I had planned to accomplish things today other than washing a mountain of towels, sanitizing bathrooms & floors, etc.  Maybe tomorrow. Hmmmm ... reminds me of an old Iveys song from my youth.  (The group Badfinger was called The Iveys before they changed their name to Badfinger.)  The lyrics have no connection with the day I had today, but here's an old video for you to enjoy.  Maybe Tomorrow ... lip synced by The Iveys.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me

Happy Birthday Sweet 61

Just doesn't have the same ring to it as             Happy Birthday Sweet 16, does it?  Of course I'm not 16 in the above photo.  The card on the sideboard indicates that this is my second birthday.  Oh, to be young again ... but to know everything I know now   : )

I received some nice gifts which I will try to post tomorrow.  If the truth be told, I haven't even opened them yet, but I'm sure they're nice   : )   John & I left early this morning to spend the day in Lexington.  We shopped here & there & then had a yummy birthday lunch at Red Lobster.  We arrived home a little while ago. It's 3:45 now & I'm exhausted.  Like I said above ... oh, to be young again!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Holy Ground

I must ask for your patience while I lead up to the topic I'm writing about today.  Please bear with me.  

John & I have been enjoying Christmas music for a few weeks now.  Not constantly, of course.  He has been slipping in a Christmas CD now & then along with other CDs he's been playing.  Some of these Christmas CDs feature one artist only. Others feature various artists.  One particular song has been showing up on more than one of these various artists CDs.  The title ... Driving Home for Christmas.  The melody isn't really unpleasant, but the lyrics drive me up the wall.  

I have my share of Christmas songs that I find annoying.  I'm sure there are a few such songs that come to your mind as well.  One person absolutely loves Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer, but another person wants to cover their ears when they hear it.  All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth fills one person's mind with happy memories, yet another person can't shut off the radio fast enough when this song starts to play.  

I realize that song lyrics reflect the lyricist's manner of speech along with their own memories or idealization of a subject.  We are most likely all familiar with artistic license ...  "the distortion of fact, alteration of the conventions of grammar or language, or rewording of pre-existing text made by an artist in the name of art."  Artistic license is used quite a bit, & typically it doesn't bother me. But sometimes ... sometimes ... it does.  

The lyricist who penned Driving Home for Christmas relates the story of a man who is, as the title suggests, driving home for Christmas.  As he sets out for his destination, he decides to sing this little song to pass the time.  He is excited about seeing his family, sharing old memories, etc. At one point he looks over & sees a man in the car next to him, & he sings "I look at the driver next to me.  He's just the same."  I'm usually not so nitpicky, but really?  How can you look at the person in the car next to you & assume he's the same as you ... driving home for Christmas, looking forward to spending time with family, reliving holiday traditions, etc?  Maybe that guy doesn't even celebrate Christmas.  Maybe he's a Jehovah's Witness, or Jewish.  Maybe he hates Christmas.

The most annoying line of this song, however ... for me ... is where this person is stuck in traffic but he knows the freeway is up ahead.  The line goes like this ... 

"Soon there'll be a freeway,
I'll get my feet on holy ground."

Later in the song he eludes to the fact that when he arrives home he will be on "holy ground." 

I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I'm pretty sure that neither a freeway nor the home where we grew up is "holy ground."  But what is?  Is it the floor of a church?  Is it the Via Dolorosa where Jesus walked, carrying His cross on the way to His crucifixion?  Is it the hill where He was criucified?  Is it the tomb in which His body was placed?  It is the stable in which He was born?  Well, God is so good!  He knew that my little pea brain was looking for an answer, & He gave me one via a Joyce Meyer devotional. Yes, I'm sorry ... Joyce Meyer again.  The devotional is titled Holy Ground.  After citing the above scripture, Joyce writes ...

"You are God's tabernacle.  Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  He lives in you!  Wherever you go, He goes.  If you go to the grocery store; if you play golf; if you go to work ... He goes.  Ordinary things & places are not holy in themselves, but when we go & do them, God has promised to be with us.  And any place God is becomes holy."

After reading this devotional, God led me to do a little more research on the subject.  I think David Wilkerson, American Christian evangelist & author of the book, "The Cross & the Switchblade," defines it best.

"Holy ground is not a physical place, but a spiritual one.  When God commanded Moses to take off his shoes because he was on holy ground, He was not referring to a two-by-four piece of real estate.  He was talking about a spiritual state.  ...Moses had arrived at a place in his growth where God could get through to him.  He was now in a place of reception, ready to listen.  He was mature & ready to be dealt with by a holy God."

I pray that I will reach this spiritual state in my relationship with God.  I pray that you will reach it too.

I wish you a blessed Sunday & week ahead!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

He is Always With Us

Nearly every morning, when I look outside the bedroom window, this is what I see.
The moon is on the left, & a bright star is on the right.  It makes me think of Revelation 22:16(b) ...

"I am the root & offspring of David,
the bright Morning Star."

Jesus calls Himself the bright Morning Star.  When I see that bright morning star out my window each morning, I smile.   It sort of makes me feel like there He is, saying good morning to me.  Of course I know that Jesus isn't a star.  That star is not Him.  It is, however, a reminder of how He is always with me.  Always looking out for me.

Some mornings are cloudy, & when I climb out of bed & look up at the sky I can't see anything. Does that mean the moon & star are not there?  No, they are still there.  They are always there ... just like Jesus is always with us.  It doesn't matter if I can see Him or not ... He is always there.  Always with me.  Always in my life.  

I don't know about you but that makes me feel very happy   : )

I wish you a very blessed Sunday & week ahead.      

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Good Cause

There are no women in my family who have or have had breast cancer, but I have quite a few blogging friends who have had breast cancer enter their lives.  Gaynor at Stitchers Anon is one of them. 

Gaynor works hard to raise money for breast cancer research.  She is now working toward a goal of raising 500 euros by the end of this month. For every euro you donate (one euro equals roughly $1.26), you will be given a "raffle ticket" for a chance to win a marvelous prize!  The current list of prizes can be viewed by clicking here.  

I am donating two prizes.  First, this Christmas ornament ... BBD's Noel ... stitched by me & finished by the talented Myra.
My second donation is this Yiota's X Stitch kit ... Country Cottage with a Snowman.  The kit is sealed & includes chart, all threads, & evenweave fabric. 
If you'd like to donate a euro or two via PayPal to help Gaynor reach her goal by October 31st, click on the link below.         

Many thanks   : )