June 30, 2011

Flowering Tea

How on earth did it get to be Thursday??  Gosh, summer is flying by.  July is already here, depending on where you're reading my blog from.  {According to my stats, it seems I have a small audience in the middle east, and someone in Germany.}  Well, wherever you are reading from, I am very sorry that I've ignored you lovely readers this past week.  It's not intentional... it's just a survival thing.  I need to recoup, and locate important things in my house (like laundry, the dining room table, and a futon) that have been burried under mountains of centerpieces, teacups, tablecloths, and other event-planning stuff.

Well, last night, I did think about all of you.  <3 I actually made this tea just to show you, since I wasn't really in the mood for tea, and had other important things to do that I chose to put off. 

Have you ever heard of flowering teas?  They seem to be perceived as something from Sci Fi where I live... no one sells them, no one has heard of them.  Well, *I* know what they are (thanks to Marie Antoinette), so I searched high and low until I found a couple of boxes.  I had a mind to use them as centerpieces for my ladies' tea this past weekend, and what a centerpiece they turned out to be!  (Unfortunately, no one knew what they were, so no one realized how awesome they were.)

I found them at a flea market, of sorts, at a booth run by a woman who has eclectic taste, like me.  She sold lovely coffees, delightful mixes, and... yes... these flowering teas.  She saved me from ordering them online, which I was about to do in despair.  Here they are:

Now, there's not much to a flowering tea - hot water, and a glass cup.  The timer isn't even necessary, as the tea is considered ready when the flower's open.  I used one to show you how amazingly fast they open.  Have a look:


After our tea was over last weekend, my wonderful associate and I took turns trying them... yes, we sampled the teas right from the glass vases, singing the whole time: "Take one down, pass it around."  I'm rather disappointed to discover that I'm not a fan of Jasmine.  I wish I was!  It sounds so exotic and lovely, but it seems that it's just not my cup of tea {pun absolutely intended.}

Since it was nearly impossible for me to find these teas, I thought I'd give you some links to find them online.  TeavanaThe Tea Smith, Google.  Please let me know what teas you have tried, and which ones you like the most.  It seems that I like teas with more of a tang, but I'm always willing to try something new. 

~ Sarah

June 27, 2011

Candy Bar

Whew!  Several days without a boo or a bah from your Blogger... it's madness at LwYH, let me tell you.  I'll show you why today. 

As mentioned in my posts over the past few weeks, I did a candy display at an event this weekend, and prepped for it for months.  I knew I wanted to do pink and gold, so every time I spotted something in that color range, I snatched it up.  I also made a few things of my own.

Here is the finished product:

From left to right, starting in the back first:
  1. Mini-cupcakes (baked by my mother-in-law) with buttercream or strawberry frosting.  (I melted the frosting so that it poured smoothly, filled the cupcakes to the top of the paper, then placed dainty little flowers made by a friend of mine in the center).
  2. Marble bark.  (I crunched graham crackers into crumbs and filled the bottom of a brownie pan.  I melted white chocolate in two different sauce pans and added a drop of red food coloring to one.  Then, I placed dabs of the chocolate over the crackers, alternating colors.  I took a pickle fork and mixed the colors together.  Once it hardened, I used a paintbrush and spread edible gold glitter over the whole thing.  I heated it for a few minutes again before cutting.)
  3. Cherry-flavored candy sticks.
  4. Marble bark.  I made two separate batches, and they came out looking so differently that I just separated them on the table.
  5. Butterscotch candies.
  6. Gold-wrapped Hershey Kisses.
  7. Light pink gumballs.
  8. Mini chocolate bars (see previous post: Pretty Little Candy Bars)
  9. Candy bags with Jordan Almonds in pink and white, and Strawberry Puffs.  (See previous post: Candy Bags)
  10. Sugar candies in pink and white (two different bowls)

I was exceptionally happy with the result -- most of my candy was gone, as were all of my business cards.  I addition to the candy, I also had pink depression glass candle holders and clear/gold taper candles.  There was a little fishbowl with pink marbles and flowers in the bottom and floating gold flowers, as well as a miniature tea set.

I also brought this flower display from home.  This is one of my favorite flower arrangements, inside my favorite vase, and I keep it in my parlor to enjoy year-round.  I thought it was absolutely ideal and grabbed it on the way out the door.

And finally, you can see my Party Banner in the background, and my Pretty Little Lace Runner under everything. 

Craving candy now??  : )

~ Sarah

June 24, 2011

All of Our Games Turn into Dominos


Why play "Mexican Train" when you can make an elaborate Domino trail?  After this was done, Superman and I agreed that we need to get more of those Mexican Train sets.  They sound really cool when they all fall down together. 

We have also done this with Scrabble letters, Rummikub chips, and Clue pieces.  We haven't mastered the art of doing this with cards yet, but we're working on it.  : )

That's all I have today.  Been a busy week.

~ Sarah

June 23, 2011

Pretty Little Lace Runner (or) Ode to Lace

Hey there! 

I was recently given some unusual remnants... unusual, but extremely awesome... from the local Lace Factory, which closed many years ago!  They were given to me by one of my personal heroes, a wonderful lady who has decided to purge her craft supplies (she was my hero before she did this, mind you!)  She had boxes and boxes of lace in fabulous condition... fabric, ribbons, notions, trims.  Green lace, brown lace, pink lace, white.... daisies, flowers, checks, rare patterns.

It is the holy grail of lace. 

And it is now in my possession.  Mwahahaha!

Superman always takes it in a stride when I bring a new load of boxes into the house.  He knows that 2/3 of them will leave again before long.  I had to break the news to him (gently, of course) that the lace was moving in for good.  To make my point much more obvious, I opened the boxes and showed him my loot.  I'm not sure what I was expecting... perhaps I expected him to start drooling, or to at least have gold reflecting in his eyes... but furrowed eyebrows??  "So... these boxes are basically just a bunch of scraps?"  The next fifteen minutes were dedicated to my explaining, in detail, how wrong he was to call these rare treasures mere 'scraps'.  I told him that this was offensive, and that, in the future, he should show more respect when referring to my lace.  (Don't worry -- he's used to my strangeness, and to be fair, I've also been asked, in the past, to show more respect for his sawdust floor in the basement, and to refrain from bringing a vacuum near it ever again.)

So, today, I will be sharing with you my first project with my lace!  (And I do apologize for the quality of the pictures.)  From my treasure trove, I selected a light brown lace piece that had already been cut a little.  I trimmed off the edges so that it was square, then ironed the edge under (on low heat) about 1/2" all the way around.

Then, taking a long, pink ribbon, I wove it through the lace.  Now, there are easy ways of doing this, and there are hard ways.  I chose a hard way (but, in my defense, it sounded easy at the time).  I chose to thread the ribbon through already-existing holes in the lace.  Obviously, I was crazy.  It worked, but it was extremely time-consuming (approximately 2 hours).

On the very last corner, I tied a dainty little bow.

And that was it!  This is the only runner I will be making like this... I just don't have the time to make more.  But I will certainly be enjoying this one!

~ Sarah

June 22, 2011

The 2nd Duh Post

Well, I cleaned out my refridgerator last night.  It's amazing what a chore that can be, even when you keep up on it regularly!  I find myself purging it every month or so.  It's usually sparked by my finding something I don't recognize, opening it, and meeting cute little fuzzies with a remarkable smell.  *shudders*

So, when you're cleaning out the fridge, there is one important thing that you absolutely MUST have on hand... the garbage can (unless you feed the fuzzies to your dog).

And you know what must happen once the fridge is cleaned out - the garbage bag must be tied immediately and taken outside. 

Now, you've experienced this, right?  You tie the bag, put it in the outside garbage, return to the kitchen, and... what do you see?  Someone has already thrown something right into the bagless garbage can during those 27 seconds you were gone.  Enough to make you go postal, right??

Well, I decided to counteract that.  How?  By simply putting more than one liner in the garbage at a time.  Don't be shy, either - put five or six!  Think of how awesome it would be to take out the top layer, and have the next one all ready and smiling?

So, the next time you find something thrown in your garbage can without the liner, fight the urge to feed it to the perpetrator, and double-, triple-, quadruple-line your can.

Obvious, right?  Well, duh!  : )

~ Sarah

June 21, 2011

Homemade Sugar Cubes

So, did anyone make a bench cushion last night?  No? 

Well, today I shall share something that I tried for the first time yesterday, and had ENORMOUS success with.  If you've read my recent blogs, then you will know that I have a large tea party coming up shortly, and I've been a busy little lady bringing all the many pieces of it together. 

For last year's tea, a friend of mine decorated sugar cubes which were a beautiful little addition.  This year, she is quite busy with a new job, so it became obvious that pieces she had done for me before would have to be taken into my own hands, sugar cubes included.  Obviously, it wouldn't be quite right to serve decorated sugar cubes one year, and plain ol' sugar the next. 

Google to the rescue!

I found a perfect sugar cube recipe: Rosewater Sugar Cubes, and decided that I could quite easily put this into action.

  1. Sugar
  2. Flavored water (such as Rosewater {which I found at a local organic store}, orange blossom extract, mint, etc)
  3. food coloring (optional)
  4. small cookie cutters (optional)
  5. cookie sheets
Begin by mixing your sugar with your flavored water.  I started with about a half-cup of sugar, to which I added the flavored water in small portions until it looked right.  You want the mixture to be something like wet sand (if it's too dry, it won't stick together, too wet, it will pack down into a soggy mess).  I also added food coloring to the mixture to help identify the flavor (pink for rosewater, green for mint, peach for orange blossom, and then some plain-flavored, lavender-colored.)

Your mixture should look like wet sand.

Next, pack your sugar into your cookie cutters (which is very much a hands-on project... it does not work half as well if you try to use a spoon.)  I found that filling my cookie cutters about half-way made the perfect size.  Gently press them out the bottom of the cookie cutter, and place them on a cookie sheet.

Now, I have found that most sugar cube directions say to merely let them dry, but I'm impatient, so I turned my oven onto a very low heat (150, I think) and let them sit in there until the outside of each cube was solid (something like 20 minutes).  The inside was still quite syrup-like, so I let them cool afterwards and they hardened quite nicely. 

You can see that they're still a little syrup-like, but
cooling at room temperature for 10 minutes hardens them.
My assistant and I agreed that the rosewater was lovely, the orange, charming, but the mint -- OH! the mint!  It tasted like wintergreen candy, and there is no font or emoticon that can interpret how wonderful it smelled... it was still lingering in the air when I woke up this morning!  {And I have no doubt that it would make a perfect small gift for another time!}

Rosewater cubes

So, here's a small sampler of the sugar cubes, once finished.  I'll admit, it's a lot of sugar per cube, even for someone like me, but that's alright -- they look so perfect on a plate together that we'll pretend they're the perfect size. 

And fyi - we already tested them.  They are delightful in a nice cup of tea!  :)

~ Sarah

June 20, 2011

Pretty Little Bench Cushion

What a glorious day we have here in NEPA!  I have been uber-busy-woman these last several days, and likely will continue in this vein for the next week.  So, when it came time to click on my "New Post" button, I thought, for a brief, sad moment, that I had nothing whatsoever to share!  But never fear, I found something afterall.  :)

I made this bench cushion for my charming foyer piece some time ago, but it was long before I was your blogger, and therefore, I didn't think to take photographs or notes as I made it.  *hangs head in shame*  So, since it would be unfair for me to give you a tutorial based solely on my memory of making it, I will simply tell you what I used, and more-or-less how I used it.  (This way there will be no bad directions!)

  1. Large piece of foam (the green stuff - what's it called?)
  2. Fabric
  3. Rope
  4. Buttons
  5. Embroidery thread
How I made it:

-->  I started by measuring my foam to fit the bench top, and trimming off the excess.  A word to the wise - measure before you go to the craft store and let them do the cutting.  (I didn't in this case because the idea came to me when I was staring at the foam at the store, and had no idea what size my little bench was.)

-->  I measured my fabric to fit the foam (plus a few extra inches for mistakes, which there always are.

-->  The piping was made using a long strip of fabric that I sewed around the rope (right-side-out) {this left a 'tail' on the edge of the piping that fit perfectly into the seam}

-->  I sewed the piping into the seams of the fabric (leaving one side open, like a pillowcase)

-->  I stuffed the foam into its new 'pillowcase' (no easy feat!)

-->  As with many projects, I sewed the last side by hand.

-->  Using a large, sturdy needle, I stitched embroidery thread on each side of the cushion, then added a button on each side of the thread.  I tied the most sturdy, magnificent knot I could make up.

And that's it!  I believe that this was a one-evening project, but if you were making smaller cushions (say, seat covers for wicker furniture) it would take even less time. 

Close-up of the piping.  I was
exceptionally pleased with the outcome.

Close-up of the button.  Note that the foam
puckers around it -- the knots are extremely tight..

So, there you have it!  This is something of a cheat day, I admit, but I'd rather cheat a little than leave you with nothing. ; )

~ Sarah

June 17, 2011

Confessions of a Newlywed

Courtesy of Lasting
Images by Lennae Warren
I realize that LwYH is primarily a blog about you, the reader, but today I'm going to make an exception to brag about something: I have now been married for five years!

Thank you, thank you... yes, we're congratulating ourselves, too.  lol

I'm not sure why, but people say that the first five years of marriage are the hardest.  That can't really be the case... my first five years absolutely flew by.  I am still amazed when I realize how long it's been.  I was recently asked by a (very) newlywed what our "secret" is, and it dawned on me that we don't really have a secret.  Honestly, though, I wouldn't feel qualified to answer that question if we did.  Is anyone?  No two couples have the same marriage, do they?

So rather than share some profound "secret", here are some thoughts on marriage from someone who got married last week -- err, five years ago.  :-)
  1. If it's important to them, it's important to you.  If your spouse has something that they are passionate about, make it your passion, too!  If your wife spends a lot of time in her craft room, guys, come up and hang out with her from time to time.  And wives, make sure there's always room for him to sit.  (The same goes for the garage, girls... I know, I know... it's a scary place, but hang out with him while he works on his motorcycle from time to time!)
  2. Learn how to fight properly.  My sister-in-law and I were talking about this recently: in a marriage, you never learn how not to fight.  You just get better at it (just be careful to 'get better' in the right way!)  Remember that you're still going to be married when the fight's over and you're getting along again, so don't say or do anything that will truly injure each other.  Fight through things that you can, and give in when you must, and never, ever "reheat each other's sins for breakfast"!
  3. Never stop having fun.  We joke constantly, and giggle all the time.  Quite simply, the couple that is laughing together doesn't notice the years zipping past. 
  4. Protect your marriage.  Don't focus on the other 'things' in your life and neglect to take care of what is most important.  Even if you have a spouse that may "understand this" or "get over that," never think that they are last on the ol' priorities list.  Remember, 'things' only last a season, but marriage, a lifetime.
I could keep going, but I'm not recording a book here.  Instead, I'll share what others have said:
  • "In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for marriage." ~Robert Anderson, Solitaire & Double Solitaire
  • "A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person." ~ Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966
  • "In the opinion of the world, marriage ends all, as it does in a comedy. The truth is precisely the opposite: it begins all." ~Anne Sophie Swetchine
  • "Our wedding was many years ago. The celebration continues to this day." ~ Gene Perret
And finally, a picture of us "newlyweds" (courtesy of Lasting Images by Lennae Warren).

May you be as lucky in love as I have been!!

~ Sarah <3

June 16, 2011

Lazy Tuna Noodle Casserole

I call it 'lazy', but it's really more 'on the go / easy'.  Ok, maybe a little lazy.  ;)

Even those of us who love to cook occasionally need a cheat day... that's where my Tuna Noodle came from.  My mother called it casserole, but if you don't take the time to bake something, can you really call it a casserole?  I think Lazy Tuna is probably a better term. 

What you will need:
  1. 1 can of tuna
  2. 1 can of cream of mushroom soup
  3. noodles of your choicce
Start by boiling water and cooking your noodles the old-fashioned way.  When they're done to taste, drain them.  Put them back in the pot.

Add your soup and tuna, and stir.


Naturally, there must be some sort of tribute to the
vegetable family... I sliced up some fresh carrots.

I told you!  It's very, very quick, and so easy that it makes you think, "Wait, that's it?"  This is my in-a-hurry recipe.  Healthy?  Probably not.  But totally delish, and some days, that's all you need.  :)

~ Sarah

PS - Wow, I guess this was another mini-post!

June 15, 2011

Party Banner

Hey there! 

Today, I'll be sharing an idea that someone else shared first, and I have borrowed time and again.  : ) 

Context:  I am making a table for my party planning business at an event within the next couple of weeks, and intend to display a pink and gold candy bar.  Jessica at Such Pretty Things gave me an idea last year that I've used before (you can see her original idea here.)  I thought it would be ideal for my table display.

What you will need:
  1. Cardstock in various colors that match your theme
  2. Scissors (or rotary cutter)
  3. Ruler (or measuring mat)
  4. Ribbon
  5. Tape or glue
  6. Sewing machine
  7. Large hole punch (I used a 'cameo' shaped punch, but there are many different kinds out there.  I spotted a rectangle, an oval, and in the past, I've also used a round one).
  8. Letter stencils
I found a variety of delightful papers in my theme colors.  I particularly loved this pink paper with the daisy pattern.  So cute!  (I'm fairly certain these were all picked up at Michael's.)

I cut the triangles 5" long by 4" wide...

... and had a lot of fun taking pictures. ;)

For the lettering, I went with basic colors that would not clash.  (That was only my preference for this particular banner; I have used checks and polka dots for more colorful events.)

Using the double-sided tape or glue, affix your punch-outs to the triangles.

In my case, I needed 14 separate triangles (three, five and six). 

Next, pick your ribbon for the top.  I always have a large selection on hand, since I never know what will speak to me. 

Make sure you test different ribbon options.  In my case, several looked very lovely, but I finally settled on the wide, gold ribbon that was a tad gaudy (I selected it only because there was much more pink than gold in the banner already.)

Using your sewing machine, carefully stitch the ribbon onto the triangles.

Once you have it together, you can stencil on the letters!  (Actually, this step should be done much earlier in the process... arguably before you affix the punch-outs to allow for errors).  I prefer to do it last, but that's probably just me.

And there you have it!  An adorable little banner that you can use for many events.  I'll show you the matching candy bags for my table another day.  ; )

~ Sarah

June 14, 2011

Pretty Little Candy Bars

Mmm... chocolate...

A good start to every day, wouldn't you think?  ; )

Well, I won't be posting a recipe today, but I do have something else that involves food... kinda.  I'm doing a candy bar in a couple of weeks with a pink/gold color scheme, so I've been going to town finding colorful candy and delightful ways to decorate it.  I believe I made my favorite yet!

What you will need:
  1. Mini candy bars that are already wrapped in your color scheme,
  2. Thin cardstock, or regular paper (thick cardstock will not work),
  3. Rotary cutter, paper slicer, or scissors,
  4. double-sided tape
Here are the candy bars before I did anything with them.  Truly, they looked so cute just piled on this mini cake pedestal, but I had it in my head that they needed to go inside this long, white dish (and I have other plans for the pedestal that day.)

First, cut your paper into strips (approximately 1 1/4" by 3 1/4 " - and yes, this time, I measured - it will be obvious if you don't.)

Then, wrap your paper around the candy bar, placing a piece of double-sided tape to hold it in place.  Repeat.

And that's it!!  I made approximately 25, and I was finished in less than 15 minutes.  So do the math for the quantity you need, and plan your work time accordingly. 

Tell me these aren't adorable... my husband and I agreed that they look like chocolate dominoes.  Perhaps we'll make some just for ourselves.  : )

~ Sarah