Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Stash Of A Different Kind

My friend Linda with whom we stayed the past week, is a tea lover, never drinks coffee. I on the other hand love both having grown up in Australia we almost always drank tea, even young children were allowed to drink diluted tea with half milk and perhaps a dash of honey or sugar!
I learned to love good coffee in nursing school in Sydney, even way back then the Italian influence had created an espresso culture so that even country towns seemed to have espresso available. When I first came to the USA I was surprised that espresso was almost unheard of in 1970, so it was a real treat to find it on occasion, of course now we find it everywhere on practically every corner.
On our visit to Celestial Seasonings in CO. Springs we were like kids in a candy store so much tea of every variety, many herbal and fruit infusions without caffeine at all and I had to drag myself out of the gift store!
 This was my restrained purchase, most of them on sale because whenever a box is slightly imperfect it is removed from regular retail sale and sold at a discount in the gift store.  Apparently when the company was founded the herbals were all called "infusions" but the public was not familiar with this term so they switched to calling them tea even though many contain no tea at all and are by nature caffeine free.
I was happy to find Earl Grey, my personal favorite I really like the bergamot infusion in this tea. African Rooibus is another lovely "tea" also naturally caffeine free. Chai oh how I love Chai and I have several versions of it, so wonderfully satisfying especially made with milk or Almond Silk rather than water and with a dash of honey it tastes very decadent almost like dessert without all the bad stuff! I tried a new [to me] milk substitute Almond/Coconut Silk and liked it very well, so I will be looking for it in my local stores.
With this new addition to my tea stash I needed to re-organize my current teas and infusions which were tumbled higgledy piggledly on the pantry shelf. The Billy tea is a basic Aussie tea, bulk as is my preference, it is black and only mildly fragrant. Quite an assortment  but that's not all.
In this messy basket above are loose teas many of which I purchase from my local tea shop Souvia where they have walls of tins of bulk teas and herbals which they mix to form different flavors, Earl Grey with lavender is one I really like, it's a very elegant tea. At a local Vietnamese restaurant The Tea Light Cafe, the owner's wife mixes the teas they sell and the pomegranate is my favorite- it is not a caffeine free version.

 More of my current collection two different chais there! The Good Earth is a naturally sweet beverage, quite sweet in fact.
These are plain old black tea bags which DH prefers.
Celestial Seasonings also manufactures a wide range of body care products many of them under the Jason brand and Alba and Avalon organics.
 Having read a lot about all the chemical additives in nearly every product we buy I am concerned not only about what goes into our bodies but what we put on them. The skin is the body's largest organ and as such transfers all the chemicals it encounters. Not much has been talked about in the media on transdermal absorption but my MD and NMD have both warned about several chemicals like sulfates, sodium lauryl sulfate is in almost every liquid soap and shampoo though many companies are getting the word that many consumers prefer products without this particular sudsing agent. There are other efficient sudsing agents but this is the cheapest and so most widely used. I prefer bar soap and avoid the liquids as much as possible, those I buy do not have sulfates, or other chemicals only pure herbals usually organic but that's a subject for another post.
 Aluminum in various forms is in most deodorants and I have been on a search for one that is efficient but cleaner. This one I purchased at Celestial Seasonings is very reasonable and seems to be working well so far and it is summer!
The dermatologist says I should have a body lotion with sunscreen and without parabens another toxic chemical, and this body lotion with SPF at $16.00 is about $6-8 dollars less from the CS gift store than even from Amazon. I have also used their excellent shampoos and lotions, lip salves etc etc plus this body lotion with 15 SPF -prices in the gift shop are way discounted.
Final purchase was these two heat sensitive mugs, the colors change as the mug heats up with the beverage. I flew in without a carryon but I needed one on the return!
All in all I can recommend a visit to the Celestial Seasonings plant any time you are in the Denver/Boulder area of Colorado. Leave room in your bag to add your swag!

Garden Of The Gods

Any visit to Colorado Springs should include a visit to this beautiful place. We drove out there under a lowering sky and clouds that threatened a typical afternoon mountain storm.
We decided to eat lunch and hope it might clear up a little. The cafe has a nice menu and the prices are reasonable, two of us had the Bison burger I chose spicy Elk Bratwurst and it was a little spicy!
The center has a diorama and lots of other interesting information about the area.

You may know that the area inspired a Professor from Massachusetts, Katherine Lee Bates  to write "America The Beautiful".
After lunch we ventured out for a photo....... 
 just in time too, because suddenly in came the storm, thunder, lightning and hail!
Our intrepid driver ran to the car and by the time she pulled up to the curb the hail was coming down and we were soaked within the distance of about ten feet! 
We were otherwise unscathed so laughing we set off for the next stop, Na La's quilt store for a little more retail therapy-but that is for another day's posting!
Sorry, no pics of us all soaked to our skins. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Celestial Seasonings

This was great fun, not only can one taste every tea made at the plant but you may also take a free tour of the facility and watch the entire process of tea making from drying and mixing to bagging and shipping. The aromas were wonderful of all the herbals, but the peppermint room was so potent that there are T shirts in the gift shop that say"I survived the peppermint room"!
Plenty of options for lunch here including a vegan menu.
Another pics of the iconic images on the boxes of Celestial teas.
The Sleepy Time Bear!
An adorable teapot.
Every item made of tea bags!
Tea tasting time!
A beautiful arbor on the grounds. We all made a stop at the gift shop to stock up on tea and tea, related gift items and some of the body care products made here including sunscreen, lotions and even all natural deodorant!


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Colorado and Pike's Peak

Yesterday evening right when the final member of the five came in we had three unexpected visitors, this is one of them on Linda's front steps! Much sweeter than on my last visit when I encountered a marauding Black bear rampaging down the street knocking over trash cans!
This was one of a set of twins along with mumma deer grazing in the yard.
It was a charming introduction to our visit.
We immediately left for the "Golden Bee" for dinner,came home and chatted for quite a while then rose early to be out the door by 8:30 this morning to ride the Cog Railroad to the top of 14,115ft. Pike's Peak.
The trip up takes about an hour 20 minutes with lovely scenery and some wildlife along the way. Often some intrepid adventurers will bike or hike down but biking was not possible today due to non arrival of the bikes. The annual auto race up the mountain is this weekend, the record to beat is eight minutes and a few seconds! All those hairpin bends  mean that speeds not around them are around 90 MPH, no guardrail either! Though I doubt that would help..........
That is a lake in the background.
A wonderful lunch experience at the Cliff House rounded out the day! The food was outstanding and most reasonably priced. The special was  "For Two" salad, entree and dessert for $50!
The salad a light offering just right for lunch.
Entree offered  a choice of Chateaubriand or a filet, but two of us requested substitution of salmon and the Chef obliged. The beef was pronounced perfectly tender and flavorsome and the salmon was exactly cooked and seasoned. Nancy chose fish and chips which also earned high praise.
But wait- there is more, the piece de resistance -
A trio of creme brûlée, right to left, vanilla, hazelnut, and white chocolate oh my, shut the front door we were in heaven!
All of this for $25 per. person, so if you live around or visit Colorado Springs do not fail to stop at the Cliff House for lunch! Or dinner which must be just as excellent though a little more pricey no doubt.
We rolled down the steps and stopped for a Kodak moment in front of the fountain, such a beautiful and gracious old hotel and lovely surrounds.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Magic Pincushion

Thirty years ago when we were leaving central Texas after DH had retired from the military, a dear friend the pastor's wife gave me this pincushion she had cross stitched.
It has journeyed around the world and the country with me ever since, I used it mainly for needles especially those tiny quilting needles. Next week we are having a mini reunion of five women who were friends then, although two of them I have not seen since we left central Texas, and one probably for twenty years. We have somehow managed to keep in touch mostly due to one of the five who lives in Colorado Springs. Thinking to bring along the pincushion I began to remove the needles and found that even when I had removed all visible needles I could still feel some there.
They continued to pop up as I gently squeezed the pincushion and by the time they were all out I counted 37 needles!
I would never have guessed that it could contain so many, it is a very small thing only three inches square and one inch tall.  I did take a photo of them all but of course now that I have the latest Photo software I cannot find it! I have hand laundered the pincushion and now free of it's spiny contents I will take it along to show my friend.

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Very Modern Baby Quilt

This was a Texas power sewing project all finished......and I am so pleased with it. The design is called Urban Chained from Sew Kind Of Wonderful. I am really enjoying the process of these modern quilts, the simple piecing and limited color combinations and opportunities for innovative quilting.
 The backing is wide Kona muslin and thread is white 50 wt. 
 Batting is Quilter's Dream Angel, one of my absolute favorite battings. It is genetically engineered to be non flammable, absolutely no toxic chemicals, is soft, light and drapey, and comes in two weights with lovely definition. What's not to like?!
 I had two extra blocks so one became the label. I like to incorporate the label with the backing so that it is quilted right in and impossible to remove.
The colors do not show so well here, but the quilting shows up nicely.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

BJ's Baby Quilt For Kayla

A sweet little girl quilt with a Hawaiian look.
 Quilted with So Fine off white top and bobbin, with E-E freehand floral design. Batting is Hobbs I think, BJ brought it so I am not sure
 Heather at Needlework Tuesday has asked us to show a Granny square quilt we have made and I have one to display, I made it for my oldest son over 40 years ago! It was my first and last major crochet project it is wool so I have to keep it in the cedar chest away from gnawing insects!
 This I called the Joseph Coat [of Many Colors!], made by my Mum for my youngest son when he was 3 or 4, I must search out a photo of him wearing it. I had planned to give it to his little boy but somehow it slipped my mind and now that boy is a very tall six year old and I am very sure it will not fit. Perhaps he will have a little brother or sister who can wear it, my Mum would have loved that.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Friday Finish for Orange Crush

I knew Angela would be anxious to see her OJ Crush quilted so here it is!
 The center is Edge to Edge echoed peacock feathers and the three borders have separate treatments. That does take longer but it sets the borders apart nicely and Bonnie Hunter designs have a lot of work in them so they deserve a little special treatment!
 Hard to see with the rust colored thread but the inner border  has a triangular design, the middle a figure of eight and the outer a continuous echoed peacock feather that ties in with the body of the quilt.
 I think that pieced backings are more interesting than just one fabric.
The label embroidered onto the backing before quilting.