Monday, 23 August 2010

Hello! My new blog, Tea Potty Time, is now up an running (mostly). I've just posted a new entry there today! This is the last entry I will post on this blog. Thanks!

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Coming soon...

I've never been terribly happy with the title Past Perfect Postcards. It just always seemed a little to formal so I am moving to a new home: Tea Potty Time. All of my past posts have been transferred already, so the new blog should be up and running in no time!

Monday, 21 June 2010

My summer schedule

Bus skirt detail, originally uploaded by Tea Potty.
As you can tell from my lack of blogging, I am now in full summer mode. For the last few months we seem to be either getting ready for visitors or getting ready to visit someone. Things have been hectic and it looks like nothing will change until mid-August. This is not to say I haven't been working on projects. I've managed to finish a few things in my free evenings. So, to keep things short and sweet I will summerize:
Geeked about:
  • Flying home for a three-week holiday: I don't get homesick very often -- except around the holidays and just before a flight!
  • My latest book order: The Complete Book of Sewing, Sewing in No Time, Sew!, and Preserves.
  • Decorative trim: I am in love with pom-pom trim, crochet lace borders and velvet ribbons!
Projects on the go:
  • An Alice in Wonderland pillow for my sister.
  • My 39 squares piece is essentially finished. I just need to decide what I'm going to do with it now.
Projects I've somehow managed to actually finish:
  •  A crinkle scarf from a terrific Ruffles and Stuff tutorial.
  • A baby shirt for my cousin's daughter. The wonderful Wild Olive pattern can be found here at DMC.
  • A recycled jeans skirt embroidered with a VW camper van. I took an old pair of jeans, turned them into a skirt and embroidered them with a camper van. You can find the image by Googling "VW camper van coloring pages".
Spilled all over the kitchen:
  • My annual strawberry jam
  • Homemade salad dressings -- homemade green goddess salad dressing beats a bottle of ranch any day.
  • Salads with beans and/or couscous
  • Elderflower and lemon cordials
  • Cooked fruit desserts -- crisps, cobblers and tarts galore!
Whew! I think that just about covers it for the moment!

Friday, 30 April 2010

A moment of rest

Craziness, sheer and utter craziness -- the last two weeks have been bonkers. At one point we had six people here sharing one and a half bath. Then in the middle of it we travelled nine hours (due to terrible traffic) to Monchengladbach for a wedding. Well, the house is quiet again for the moment and I'm just now catching up on my blogroll. There's one terrific blog that I just started following -- Tea Rose Home. At the moment she has a Mother's Day giveaway going on. Please stop by! Although I'm newish to sewing, she has a number of terrific sewing tutorials that I think I can even follow. In flickr news, Graphics Fairy now has a flickr group. I've added pics of some of my work.

Gotta run for now -- I'm hosting a tea party tomorrow and I haven't even started preparing! The all-home-made menu (as of this moment): scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, porter cake, banana bread, cucumber sandwiches, smoked salmon sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches (all with crusts cut off of course), tea, coffee, and lemonade. Pictures to come!

Monday, 19 April 2010

Unexpected Pleasures

Black Forest Torte, originally uploaded by Tea Potty.
We had a relative fly over to see us this past weekend and now we're not sure when he's going to leave! As soon as he landed, European airlines started to cancel flights because of the Icelandic volcano. Looks like he'll be here for at least another week (if the air clears by then)! I really should say that it is nice to have him visit and we're glad to have him stay so long. It is just a bit disruptive to our plans though.

I do like having out of town company. Once I get past the stress of cleaning and cooking, I enjoy playing tour guide. Visitors give us a good excuse to forget daily, mundane responsibilities and to do all the fun things I haven't done in a while -- window shopping, playing tourist, and eating really indulgent cakes at lovely cafes while watching the world pass by. Strangely, I'm really good at doing those things.

The weather has cooperated nicely for our visitor, so we spent part of the weekend on the windsurf/kite surf beach at Pelzerhaken. As my other half is a windsurfer, this is our home away from home. Luckily there is a good cafe and a playground here to keep the rest of the family entertained.

Despite having company with us we're off to a wedding this weekend. I've never been to a German wedding, so it will be a bit confusing to follow the ceremony. This one should be doubly interesting as the wedding is in German and Turkish! I'm also looking forward to seeing some of our friends there that we haven't seen for a while. Have a good week!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Gromitz Kite Festival

Kite Festival, originally uploaded by Tea Potty.
Last weekend we visited the Gromitz Kite Festival. As we wore shorts and cycled there last year, it felt like the beginning of summer. This year we drove and wore winter coats, what a difference. Unfortunately, there wasn't very much wind, so only a few kites actually made it up on Saturday. We still had fun though. There were children's activities and my daughter had her face painted, so she was happy.

During the summer, we frequently visit the town just for a pleasant half day out. Gromitz is a nice little town with a terrific beach. The immaculate promenade is new (ish) and is lined by little cafes, restaurants and shops. Playgrounds and toilettes are conveniently spaced out down the beach, so it is very family friendly. Our favourite Eis Cafe is pictured below. My husband loves the mint chocolate, I love the coconut ice cream, and my daughter loves anything pink. They have a huge selection of ice cream, which I think is made on site. They also have a good beverages and kuchen (cakes and tortes).

The town is also home to two other attractions that we love. The indoor pool, located right on the beach front, is fantastic. My daughter loves the kiddie pool and the wave pool. The second attraction is Obsthof Schneekloth, a pick-your-own fruit farm and cafe. This year we are definitely not going to miss the cherry season here!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Easter treats

Easter treats, originally uploaded by Tea Potty.
Hope you had a happy Easter! It was a bit chilly and changeable here, but we managed to get out and about a bit. It is hard to believe that last Easter I was wearing shorts and we ate our Easter dinner (lamb shanks in red wine -- yummy) outside!

This weekend all crafts got put aside and I donned my apron for some major cooking and baking. I started on Thursday with hot cross buns. I’ve never made them before and although I did do a bit of swearing, I will make them again next year. Maybe I’ll try a different recipe, as the buns were heavy and not as fluffy as I like them.

On Friday, we made our fun eggs. Usually we make chocolate eggs (dark chocolate drizzled with milk and white chocolate) in a silicon Easter egg mould, but this year we broke with tradition. We made chocolate rice krispie Easter eggs. While the crispies were still warm in the pan, I used the egg mould to roughly press the treats into shape. Then using lightly oiled hands we finished smoothing them into eggs. Using a bit of leftover melted chocolate, we “glued” on smarties and chocolate buttons. My daughter was covered in chocolate by the time she was done, but we had great fun.

As all of the hot cross buns were gone by Saturday, I made a batch of simnel muffins to last us the weekend. These are one of my favourites – they have a little nugget of marzipan in the middle.

Most of Sunday afternoon was spent hovering around the kitchen. As our relatives are too far away for a quick weekend visit, I just had to cook for the three of us. It gives me a good excuse to try out new recipes that I wouldn’t cook on a daily basis. This year I made Gary Rhodes’ slow-roasted, honey-glazed duck. Although the glaze turned out much darker than it should have and the skin didn’t go crispy, it was gorgeous. It was the best duck I have ever had – slightly sweet from the honey and meltingly tender. One store-bought, 2.4 kg duck fed the three of us perfectly. This was a bit disappointing as I was hoping for leftovers. I should’ve known though. It was time consuming for just one meal – basting every 5-10 minutes at the end! I will consider doing this one again either for a romantic Valentine’s dinner or maybe doubling it and doing two ducks at once.

As I knew I would be spending so much time on Easter dinner, I resorted to buying Louise Lamb (see above). Around us here in Germany, this lamb-shaped cake is popular in bakeries. If I can still find one, I’m going to buy it – it was so cute! It was a pound-cake or Madeira-cake type of cake covered with powdered sugar. We ate it with hot custard, but I’m sure berries would be perfect as well.

Now we’re getting back into our workweek routine, with just our Easter sweets left to console us until the next holiday! I’ve hung up my apron for a little while (friends and relatives are descending on us in a week) and have resumed my embroidery.

One last note – I’m so excited about my latest flea market find! I don’t have a proper tea set, so I’ve just collected pretty and unusual tea cup and plate sets from local flea markets. I never spend more than 5 euros. I was so surprised to see this one with a spool of thread and needle on it! I snapped it up naturally. Now I think it is time for a muffin and cup of tea!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Egg Banner

Egg Banner, originally uploaded by Tea Potty.
Happy Easter! Enough people liked the Valentine banner, I thought I'd do one for Easter as well. Please don't use commercially.

I've got so many other Easter projects to do still, but this one was the easiest to get out of the way first. I'm going to print off a few vintage Easter images, cut them into ovals (using the EGG banner ovals as template) and string them on ribbon to make a horizontal banner this time.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Emergency Tea & Cake Fund

Emergency Tea & Cake Fund, originally uploaded by Tea Potty.
I got tired of searching through my purse for spare change yesterday, so I came up with this solution. I took a tiny tin that I've had for ages and created two stickers. Presto! Introducting my new Cake, Tea & Parking Meter Emergency Fund. I hereby swear to always, always keep enough change in here to afford the aforementioned.

Yes, I know that is what a coin purse is for, but if you saw all the copper in mine you would understand. I can never find the correct coins exactly when I want them. The euro system uses way too many coins. Why do they make a two cent coin anyway?

Thanks to Graphics Fairy for the fantastic images!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Back at square one..

Back at square one.., originally uploaded by Tea Potty.
I was going to wait until I had a few more squares done, but I'm too geeked about this to wait. I recently discovered 39 Squares. This project is so me! It is exactly what I was looking for when I started embroidering last summer -- something that I could learn on and practice on, but is still creative, meaningful and quick.

As I'm not terribly confident at freehand embroidery, I put some planning into my squares before starting. I've decided that I'm going to use this on a pillow and that the squares will be a bit bigger than an inch by an inch. I also decided that the squares should be about my family, so I made a list of symbols using the 39 Squares flickr group as inspiration.

Then I used the table function in Word to create a table of 5x5 squares at, or close to, full size. I sketched out my ideas on this table using coloured pencils (keeping in mind my chosen colours). I rearranged the squares a few times to balance out the colours, patterns and shapes as I wanted to avoid repitition. I know I won't stick exactly to the layout, especially as I'm sure to run into problems with my more difficult images. I do have a few back-up images in case.

So now I've sat down with my floss, buttons, beads, and trim and am busily stitching away!

I've also finally finished Mariana by Monica Dickens. It really shouldn't have taken me so long, but at the moment most of my evenings are dedicated to embroidery. The book was OK. It would've been a much better book with some harsh editing. The second half is much better than the first. My next book is Nightingale Wood by Stella Gibbons, who wrote Cold Comfort Farm.

Friday, 12 March 2010

March hares, scones and chocolate eggs

March Hares, originally uploaded by Tea Potty.
At last the snow has given way to mud and my spring flowers are coming up. Spring is here for sure now. The robins have returned and the fields are alive with rabbits, deer and pheasants.

My other half returned yesterday bringing back a small hoard of British goodies, most notably Cadbury eggs and clotted cream. Both are luxuries that we don't indulge in very often, but we haven't had either in a long time. I'm sure we'll make messy pigs of ourselves. My daughter hasn't had a Cadbury egg before, so I'll be forced to share one with her. I honestly prefer some of the other Easter candy a bit more, but beggers can't be choosers.

While I type, I have a batch of scones in the oven -- an incentive to keep me from staying on the computer too long. For traditional British scones, try here. Standard scones don't have fancy flavours. Plain is best, though the odd raisin or currant is acceptable. Eat them hot if you can, but you must eat them fresh. Go on, force yourself, there aren't many in a batch anyway. They're a good excuse to break out the teapot and have a tea party.

As for toppings, expect to find clotted cream and strawberry preserves at a good tea room. Real whipped cream and strawberry jam do nicely too. All this being said, I have seen my husband scoff down dry, stale scones smeared with butter and apricot jam.

I do have a recipe for clotted cream, but I have never made it. It is so bad for you that we don't eat it very often and I didn' think it was worth the trouble. If I find it, I will post it.

While my husband has been away I've been crazy about rabbits, or is that, "mad as a March hare"? I've finished a rabbit hand towel made of recycled linen, a softie and an egg cosie. There are great rabbit shapes on LollyChops and a good rabbit egg cosie template at The Yvestown Blog. The softie began life as an egg cosie, but I quickly realised he was the wrong shape and his had was too big.

As for current projects, I'm in the middle of embroidering another t-shirt for Rose and a nautical terry cloth towel (an experiment to see how it works). I've stared a cameo project for Rose's grandmothers -- check out a great tutorial on Petit Debutant. I have yet to start Rose's felt Easter basket and a set of tea towels for a friend's wedding present.

That's my timer. I think I'll have to pry my husband and daughter from the oven door. First, I'll wipe the drool off my keyboard --- mmmmm, hot scones dripping with cool melting clotted cream and jam...

Saturday, 27 February 2010

An interruption in service...

Just a warning that I will be computerless (GASP!) for the next two weeks. My husband is off on a work-trip tomorrow and he's just told me now that he is taking the computer with him, the fiend. At the moment I'm trying frantically to print off a few patterns that I need over the coming weeks just to keep me busy. When normal service resumes I should have a few pictures of my felt rabbit egg cosies. I am obsessed with them at the moment. Check out Martha Stewart for a chicken version and Lucy Kate Crafts for an owl one. I'm also going to re-attempt homemade white bread (for a laugh).  

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Free Rose and Vase pattern

Rose and Vase pattern, originally uploaded by Tea Potty.

I hoped to have this available before Valentine's Day, but I was side-tracked with other projects and a bad cold that won't go away. Despite the cough and stuffed nose, I had an industrious (if not romantic) Valentine's Day. See my Flickr stuff on the right.

Now that V day is behind me, I've moved swiftly into a springy frame of mind. I'm ignoring the foot of snow outside and am thinking lovely, sunny thoughts -- or at least that is my mantra for the week. So I've dug up some wonderful embroidery patterns with rabbits and cupcakes and a few vintage egg graphics and am itching to get crafting! I do have three serious tasks to tackle first -- practice my satin stitch for a wedding present; create alphabet flash cards for my daughter (which I will post if they are any good); and spring clean.

It is carneval time here. Although my husband and I haven't attended any celebrations, my daughter has, as a pink princess of course. Try as she might, she couldn't convince me that pink princesses don't wear turtlenecks, cardigans and leggings with their ballgowns. I told her they do when the weather is below freezing!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Spring is out there, somewhere...

Valentine envelope, originally uploaded by Tea Potty.
This is how I have been surviving the January blahs -- with lots of sewing projects! With the hope of Valentine's Day and Easter on their way I feel more springy (as long as I don't look outside). I am just putting the finishing touches on my Valentines for my husband (see above) and my daughter. My other half now eyes me nervously as I sit in my sewing chair every evening, rocking back and forth, stitching frantically. Maybe he believes if he sits still long enough, I might start embroidering him! Or maybe he'll finally pick up that I've got cabin fever and need to be sent somewhere sunny and warm.

I should mention that the envelope was made using Lucykate Craft's terrific tutorial.

Perhaps I don't really have cabin fever. It could be just chocolate withdrawl. I finished off the last of my Christmas truffles on Sunday. My husband better have a box of chocs ready on Valentine's Day, that is all I have to say. I'll survive 'til then by staring at the bouquet of tulips that I purchased in a fit of self-pity!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Oh no, it doesn't snow much here...

Our sledding hill, originally uploaded by Tea Potty.
We returned from England last week to find our home covered in snow. Our neighbours had given us the impression that snow is an infrequent thing here, but it looks like Germany is going to get hit hard this year. Our daughter loves it though; we've been sledding almost everyday! Yesterday we played in the snow drifts (some as high as my shoulder) and today we're heading back this time with shovels for snow forts. I am starting to tire of it a bit as I don't have proper snow pants and boots. The local shops sold out of stock very quickly. Maybe I'll head to Lubeck this weekend to do some shopping. This weather has kept me in the festive mood though and thus our Christmas decorations are still up. My mother-in-law claims that having them up after the 12 days of Christmas is bad luck. Try explaining that to a three-year-old who begs to turn on the tree lights every evening. She would keep them year 'round if she could.