Thursday, April 17, 2008

Henny Penny Tea Cozy

A few months ago, my friend, Lisa found a really fun book called, Killer Tea Cosies: and how to make them, at our public library. Knowing how much I like all things tea, she was nice enough to share her find with me. I really enjoyed looking through this book and at its many unique tea cozies. One cozy, Henny Penny, really caught my eye and I knew right away I would make this for A.

A couple of years ago, my friend, A.'s husband (who we all love dearly) found a large oil painting of chicken that he really admired and wanted. So he came up with a great plan to buy the painting and give it to A. as a Christmas gift. Well needless to say, A. didn't necessarily want a LARGE chicken painting for Christmas; she had many other things on her list but none of them had anything to do with chickens. The chicken painting soon became the talk of the town and a big joke among friends, but it proudly hangs above their fireplace, and is quite the conversation piece.

Which brings me back to the Henny Penny tea cozy. I know A. didn't want or need more decorative chickens in her house but who could resist this one -- after all she is very cute, and functional, I might add. I just knew I had to make it for A.'s birthday and I hope she won't hold it against me. By the way, this year for Christmas, A. picked out her own Christmas gift, a bright, beautiful piece of artwork devoid of chickens.

Making Henny Penny proved to be a little more difficult that I had originally thought. The pattern had to be photocopied and enlarged, and it was hard to figure out how much fabric I would need. The instructions were vague and I wouldn't recommend attempting this if you're a novice sewer. I had problems understanding some of the directions and they kept using the term, wadding. I had no idea what the wadding was. I thought they were referring a part of the chicken and I even asked Keith what it was; he had no idea. I finally "googled" the term and found out that wadding meant, batting. Geesh! Anyway, I muddled my way through the instructions and was very happy with end results. I think it's definitely one of the cutest tea cozies I've ever seen!

Tea Party Monkey

Meet Tea Party Monkey. When I started making her for my niece's birthday gift, I didn't intend to dress her for tea. I had some leftover tulle and I knew I wanted to include that in her outfit some how. (My seven-year-old niece takes dance lessons and I thought she'd appreciate some tulle in her sock monkey's dress) I added the tulle to the skirt of the monkey's dress and as I continued to play around with it, a tulle hat also emerged. My original plan was to make a flower wreath for her head but after seeing the hat, I thought it was more fitting.

It wasn't until I brought her to my literacy meeting (to show my co-facilitators) that she was named, "tea party" monkey. One of my friends also suggested that I give her some pearl earrings. Not only did I make her earrings, I also made her a pearl necklace and bracelet too.

The final touch was this little teacup and saucer that I found at Ladybugs Gifts and Decor. Now she's all set to have a tea party with Miss Olivia.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Where in the world is Senator Obama?

Bloomington Of Course!

Obama has been campaigning in Indiana for the past week and we heard on Wednesday that he would be stopping in Bloomington. Then on Thursday we were somewhat disappointed when the local newspaper reported that a Bloomington stop wasn't a for sure thing. However, Obama had a scheduled appearance in Columbus Friday morning and one in Terre Haute Friday night so we had a good feeling that he'd stop in Bloomington since the easiest way to get from Columbus to Terre Haute is via Bloomington.

Today we followed our local newspaper's blog and read that after his speech in Columbus, Obama would make an undisclosed stop on the way to Terre Haute, and there were hints that it would be at the Little 500.
After the kids got home from school, Keith and I packed them up and we all rode our bikes down to Armstrong Stadium in search for the senator. On the way there, his motorcade passed us by, and the race was on for us to arrive there before he did. We made it to the stadium and luckily we were on bikes because we wouldn't have been able to access the entrance by car since the roads were barricaded. We had a very good view of the stadium and of Barack when he arrived. It was all very exciting until we realized that in our haste to leave we (that is I) left the camera at home.
Obama is spotted here in the white button shirt, just above the cyclist in the orange shirt.

After Obama arrived at the Little 5, he spent a good 20-30 minutes going around the track and shaking hands with people in the bleachers and then another fair amount of time actually watching the race,, during which Keith decided he would head back home to get the camera. Keep in mind that it's about a 20 minute bike ride back home. But Keith, being the speedy cyclist that he is, made it there and back in no time.

When we saw that Obama was getting ready to leave the stadium we hopped on our bikes and rode to the north stadium entrance, the one he was leaving out of. We arrived just in time and to our great delight, all four of us (Keith the boys and I) were able to see him up close and shake his hand, AND Keith got some awesome pictures! (Be sure to scroll down and check out the slide show below)

Barack is working his way towards us. I'm in the blue bike helmet.

Lots of Excitement!
Up Close and Personal

Even more up close!

Last week we all went to see former President Clinton speak at Assembly Hall and Mac and his grandma got to shake President Clinton's hand which was also pretty exciting. However, today after Barack shook Mac's hand, Mac said, "Obama has erased Clinton's handshake." Both of the kids were pretty excited by today's experience and I'm sure it will be one they won't ever forget.

After Obama left Armstrong stadium he was headed downtown to another undisclosed stop. We followed, and when we arrived downtown on Kirkwood Ave, the crowd was waiting. Sure enough a few minutes after our arrival, along came Obama and the men in the black suits. Second stop, Nicks Hut, a popular, local sports bar. On the way inside he walked along the street and shook hands with what seemed like, hundreds of people.

The Kids and I are watching the crowd as we wait for Obama to come out of Nick's. The crowd mobs the streets, Obama in the middle of it all, walking towards his bus.

Obama on the bus and headed out of town. Bye-bye Bloomington......until next time!

Shaking THE Senator's Hand!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Anniversary Celebration Final Element - Gift of Music

During our anniversary blessing, Mac and Ethan preformed a "gift of music," Pachelbel Cannon in D. They worked really hard on this piece, had many practices with Mac's violin teacher, and many rehearsals at home. At times it was difficult for Ethan to keep the same tempo mostly because his part was very repetitious, but Mac was a pro at getting them back on track. It was very important to us to include the boys in our anniversary blessing, and we were delighted that they willingly took time to learn and practice this piece together. It was beautiful even with it's little imperfections. As for their grandparents, the "gift of music" was definitely the highlight of the evening.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

20th Wedding Anniversary Celebration - Part Two

After our ceremony the celebration continued with a very fun party. We had about sixty guests in attendance, and plenty of good food and drink.

The party wouldn't have been a success without the help of our friends. Amy, Heather and Steph provided most of the savories. Between the three of them they made smoked salmon sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches, chicken satay, antipasto kabobs, a fruit and cheese platter, humus and pita, guacamole and chips, meatballs, and stuffed mushrooms. And all was absolutely delicious!

Cucumber and Smoked Salmon Sandwiches

Stuffed Mushrooms

The desserts were made by yours truly. They are my specialty and what I enjoy making the most. Over the course of a few weeks I made cupcakes, chocolate almond bars, lemon bars, chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate eclairs, cream puffs, cutout cookies, turtles and vanilla creams. I made things in steps and somethings could be made ahead and frozen and others were prepared at the last minute. My mom was in town for three days before hand and she was a great assistant. She let me do all the prep work, baking, and decorating as she went behind me cleaning up every mess that I made. Everything went very smoothly with the exception of one little or should I say big mess that occurred when Mom was taking the glass pitcher off the blender and the bottom came off and spilled the punch mixture of strawberries, lemonade and cranberry concentrate all over the counters, cupboards, floors and her.

Punch Mess

Cupcakes on stand

Cupcake Variety

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Cookies and Bars

Dessert Table

Our Friends Helene and Jerry also provided champagne for a toast.

The traditional 20th wedding anniversary gift is china. As a way to tie that in to our celebration we decided to use china plates instead of paper. Amy, Steph and I pooled all our china together in order to have enough for everyone. It was also a way to keep our party more "green" by not creating as much waste.

We also participated as best we could in Earth Hour. It just so happened that "earth hour" was taking place during the height of our party. So without compromising anyone's safety, we turned off as many lights possible and spent the hour in candlelight. We also placed 24 luminaries outside on the walkway and steps. It made for a very nice ambiance and I don't think anyone minded.

Homemade Chocolates and Party Favors

For party favors the kids and I made seed balls. My friend Steph told me about these and I fell in love with the idea and knew I had to make them. They were relatively easy to make and the kids had fun too but they had more fun making clay figurines than they did actually making the balls. If you'll notice in the picture below the kids are nowhere to found and that's because, for them, the seed ball making got old really fast.

I found several recipes on the web and decided to use a combination of two recipes. The recipe I used was:

9 cups of dry red clay
6 cups of compost
2 cups of native wildflower seeds

I mixed all the ingredients a bucket and then added enough water to make the mixture wet. This recipe yielded about 300 seed balls. The only problem I had was finding the dry clay. I couldn't find it locally and ended up ordering it from a ceramic supply store. The recipes said it would take about 48 hours for the balls to dry. However, I was drying them in cool and damp temperatures and it took mine about 3 - 4 days before they were completely dry.