Home from Tokyo

Three weeks filled with amazing food, great scenes and warm family. Wow! I was hoping to update my blog while there but computer access was minimal. Sorry for my long absence. I missed sharing with you all! I’ll post more over the coming weeks.

This jet lag is tough. There must be a better way to get over it. Today I woke at 4:30 am and needed supper. And then later today I lay down for a little nap and slept six hours. Oh dear! Any tips for getting past jet lag? The time difference was …. 13 hou…r…. zzzzzzz.
Oh, did my head hit the keyboard just now? Yep, I’m struggling with jet lag.

Here’s one photo, taken at Nijo Castle in Kyoto. It was a warm, rainy fall day and very peaceful.

It was a rainy day in Kyoto, Japan at Nijo Castle. We enjoyed watching the koi in the ponds.

It was a rainy day in Kyoto, Japan at Nijo Castle. We enjoyed watching the koi in the ponds.

Crafts and Tokyo on my mind

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I’m packing today and I’ll see my daughter and her husband soon! In Tokyo!

NC to Japan

NC to Japan


Despite all the trip preparation, I still fit in crafting time. My granddaughter had her heart set on a “Princess cone hat” so here is the hat I made for her to wear with her princess costume this year. We worked with the materials on hand… a poster board cone, pink acrylic paint, plastic gems and pearls, and an antique silk handkerchief. The ties are made of a multi-stretch fabric, I can’t remember the name right now. It’s the kind of fabric used for bathing suits and worked beautifully for a comfortable fit.
Princess hat made of poster board, fabric, gems and pearls.

Princess hat made of poster board, fabric, gems and pearls.


She loved the hat!
Granddaughter in her princess cone hat.

Granddaughter in her princess cone hat.

Dessert Tea

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The timing was right… It was Rosanna’s 8th Annual Tablescape Contest, my daughter-in-law’s birthday, and I was finally healed enough to tackle an ambitious baking event. What better way to celebrate all three than with a Dessert Tea!

1 Dessert Table

Dessert Tea table setting

Here is the table before I started adding all the desserts. I made the tablecloth from an old bedspread with fringed edge. (You can see scraps from that old tattered bedspread in the photos of Tea by the Sea. Crafters don’t waste any scrap. Ha!)

I adore Rosanna’s style and was hoping to enter her 2013 tablescape contest last summer. But we didn’t get the remodel done in time and I wasn’t very mobile back then. The china cabinet was emptied so we could move it around and all the china was stacked on two tables in the living room. That’s when I got the idea for a blue and white and yellow theme for a table.

This year, I thought about the Dessert Table theme for weeks. Each time I got an idea, I added it to my notes.
2 Dessert Tea notes

4 Dessert Tea Centerpiece

Four elegant mugs on a dessert pedestal hold the floral centerpiece.

After I decided on the serving dishes, I wrote a list of tasks, desserts and a tentative baking schedule.
3 Dessert Tea schedule
There were two main focal points for the table, Rosanna’s elegant Luxe Moderne mugs for the centerpiece, and her La Mode fashion plates.
I used four of Rosanna’s mugs on a vintage dessert pedestal to make the centerpiece. I was so excited about this design. It has a lot of potential and I plan on using four mugs as a centerpiece base for other tablescapes.

Sugar cookies were painted following Rosanna’s designs on her mugs. I wrote about the cookies here. It was challenging to paint the designs! I have new respect for Rosanna’s design skill.
5 Gilded dress cookies
The fashion plates are so pretty!
6 Rosanna Inc La Mode plates

7 Napkins hung like little dresses

These are not dresses, they are napkins! Small squares of fabric folded are diagonally and draped over a miniature hanger. A bit of ribbon and trim… and you have sweet petite dresses!

9 Tiered server with various trays

This server was made to accommodate round plates. But rectangle platters made for more interest.


This tiered server used to be bright red, yellow and blue but I painted it all white with acrylic paint. Instead of using round plates on the server, I used two rectangle trays on the bottom. It looked great!

12 Layered desserts

Dessert Tea – Layered Desserts with Vanilla Bean Cake, Raspberry Mousse and Orange Gelatin with Raspberry and Mandarin Orange Slice.

To continue the fashion theme, I cut 6″ to 8″ squares of fabric for petite tea napkins and fringed the edges. Each napkin was folded and draped over hangers to look like dresses. Most were folded diagonally. Each was tied at the “waist” with ribbon, a little flower tucked in the waist and a small piece of trim was draped over the top to look like a collar.

I made the miniature hangers from pieces of coat hanger cut with wire cutters. One coat hanger made three miniature hangers. The metal cake stand was perfect from which to hang the napkin dresses.
8 Little coat hangers

The tea service was on the back of the table, behind the desserts. I wrote how I made the Sugar Bonnets here.
10 Dessert Tea tea service
On the tiered server, top to bottom: Spritz, squares of Fudge and Shortbread, Butter Cookie Dresses.
11 Dessert on three tiers
I experimented with a new baking pan to make the Layered Desserts. They were delicious and so pretty! I will post the recipe some time.

The Layered Desserts looked perfect on the long rectangular tray.
13 Layered desserts
I also made a Lemon Orange Cheesecake topped with Pineapple and a Marmalade Glaze. So delicious!
14 Pineapple Orange Cheesecake

16 Cherry Tarts

Dessert Tea – I didn’t have time to make round pastry shells. It was quick and easy to cut squares with a pizza cutter and place the pie pastry in the tart pan.

19 Dessert table

Dessert Tea – a table set with a delicious assortment of desserts: Layered Desserts, White Chocolate Praline Cake, Pineapple Marmalade Cheesecake, Cherry Tarts, Spritz Cookies, Fudge, Scottish Shortbread, Butter Dress Cookies, Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Macadamia Frosting, Honeydew Melon Balls with Blueberries and a bowl of Cherries.

20 Fabric napkin folded to look like a dress on a hanger

Dessert Tea – napkins folded diagonally and hung on a miniature hanger, tied with ribbon and draped with lace.

Two bowls held Honeydew Melon balls and Blueberries and Cherries, garnished with fresh mint.
15 Fresh cherries honeydew melon and blueberries
Cherry Tarts were on a glass dish.

I only had four covered glass dishes but that was enough to place four Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel and Macadamia Frosting.
17 Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Macadamia Frosting
The birthday cake was a White Chocolate Praline Cake with homemade Strawberry Raspberry Jam topping.
18 White Chocolate Praline Cake
All together, the table looked lovely and the event was a huge success!

I submitted my photos and won an honorable mention in the tablescape contest… happy face! =)
My daughter-in-law was thrilled with her birthday, the girls loved the dress napkins and all our guests enjoyed the delicious desserts.
And it was the perfect event to celebrate the return of my health and stamina after such a long recovery. A sweet day indeed!

Today it rained

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1 After rain 10 14 14
2 After rain 10 14 14 Dragonwing begonia
3 After rain 10 14 14
4 After rain 10 14 14

Little figs are growing on the new growth.

Little figs are growing on the new growth.

But there are bare stems where the little figs dropped too soon.

But there are bare stems where the little figs dropped too soon.

Fungus is growing on the fireside stumps

Fungus on the fireside stumps.

8 After rain 10 14 14 Double Impatiens9 After rain 10 14 14 Impatiens petals on the deck

Pink

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Pink.

Pink rose petals

Pink rose petals


Pink Lego perfume bottle

Pink Lego perfume bottle


Pink Dragonwing Begonia

Pink Dragonwing Begonia


Pink icing

Pink icing


Pink bubble wands

Pink bubble wands


Pink happiness

Pink happiness


Pink roses

Pink roses


Pink bubbles

Pink bubbles


Pink building blocks

Pink building blocks


Pink lace

Pink lace


Pink flowers

Pink flowers


Pink beach sweetness

Pink beach sweetness

2 years ago today I got Scoliosis surgery

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It’s been two years since surgery. That’s very hard for me to understand. It seems like just yesterday I got the surgery and yet forever ago. The first year and a half was lost in a time warp. I know young people heal quickly from Scoliosis surgery but for older folks like me, it took a long time, especially since my back was broken and damaged even before the surgery. The past couple months have been very very good and I’m glad I got the surgery! Life is good and getting better all the time. =)

I don’t have any photos to share today but I will share here…
A Prayer of Thanksgiving.

Thank you, God, for this time in my life. It hasn’t been easy recovering the past couple years but you have been with me through it all. I remember the night a couple months after surgery and the pain was so great that I couldn’t sleep. I asked you if I could fall asleep in your palm and I fell asleep instantly. Many nights after that I would pray “Can I please fall asleep in your palm tonight?” and not ten seconds passed when I was asleep, even despite the piercing pain. You are amazing, God. Thank you for the comfort.

Thanks, God for helping me not panic. The times I lay there looking at the ceiling and couldn’t move without assistance, the times when I couldn’t move my arms, the times when I thought I would break all over again. But I didn’t and you calmed me down and let me know that it was ok to just rest. It was ok to not move. It was ok for weeks to go by and seasons to pass. Thank you for the calm that covered my spirit.

Thank you, God for letting my husband and sons be so amazing. You knew I didn’t have parents or sisters nearby. You knew it was just me and the boys. Thank you for all that encouragement and loving patience from my sons. They were amazing! Thank you for the two years of cooking they did. Thank you for their diligence in picking things up from the floor and getting things out of cupboards for me and moving stuff when I needed it. God, they gave up so much to take care of me. Thank you for their huge hearts, their abundant energy and their unstoppable encouragement. Thank you for their laughter. Bless them over and above what they gave away.

Thank you, God, for always thinking kind thoughts toward us. We mess things up so much. Thank you for giving us order when there is chaos and direction when we’re lost. Thank you for helping us when we make stupid mistakes. God, I made a really stupid mistake when I didn’t seek medical attention when my back broke. We humans truly are bleating sheep sometimes. Thank you for guiding us and steering us in the right direction.

God, I love living on this earth. Even with disability, I LOVE being here. There are beautiful people here. The heartbeat in this world is beautiful and worth sustaining. Please forgive us when we have a “broken back” and don’t seek the right solution, when we try to fix things on our own. Please help us go through the hard times to get to the better times, the times that you planned for us. Thank you for being incredibly patient with us all.

And God, thank you so much for letting me be able to walk.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tea by the Sea

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She’s six now. Last year she carried a ship to the beach. This year she carried a picnic basket.
1 Tea by the Sea
2 Tea by the Sea
3 Tea by the Sea
4 Tea by the Sea
The delicious treats filled the tray.
5 Tea by the Sea
6 Tea by the Sea
The blooming tea was still warm.
7 Tea by the Sea
8 Tea by the Sea
Coconut Cream glaze dripped down the blueberry pomegranate jam-filled cakes. Some were topped with toasted coconut and macadamias, others were topped with sugared rose and lilac petals. Vanilla pearls were sprinkled on top of shell-shaped spice Madeleines. Tiny oranges looked like blooming lotus blossoms and green and Concorde grapes filled the bowl. Crumbly Lavender Lemon Shortbread squares and tea cups were piled on the picnic basket top.

On the top tray: Vanilla Bean cakes filled with Blueberry Pomegranate Jam and topped with Coconut Cream Glaze, toasted coconut & macadamias, sugared lavender and rose petals. On the bottom tray, Spice Madeleines sprinkled with vanilla pearls. On the dessert plates under the tea cups: Lavender Lemon Shortbread.

On the top tray: Vanilla Bean cakes filled with Blueberry Pomegranate Jam and topped with Coconut Cream Glaze, toasted coconut & macadamias, sugared lavender and rose petals. On the bottom tray, Spice Madeleines sprinkled with vanilla pearls. On the dessert plates under the tea cups: Lavender Lemon Shortbread.


10 Tea by the Sea
She poured a cup of tea and waited by the sea.
11 Tea by the Sea
The sunset was soft and dreamy.
12 Tea by the Sea
The breeze was warm and welcome.
13 Tea by the Sea
The colors were slipping away and still she waited.
14 Tea by the Sea
She didn’t stop hoping
15 Tea by the Sea
And finally her mom sat down. Even when the sunset is gone, Tea by the Sea is best with mom.
16 Tea by the Sea

[We had a wonderful time making the treats for this, setting up the table and photographing it all. Thank you, Gabriel Monroe, for being second shooter and lighting expert. Thank you, Uncle Butch and Aunt Dilly, for the use of your beautiful chair! We had a splendid time and it was perfect.
The lovely lace-embossed Filigree appetizer plates, bowl and infinity tray are by Rosanna, Inc.]

Psalm 89 8-9

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photo card Ps 89 8-9 p

Please feel free to print this 4″x6″ inspirational card. Click on the photo to access a larger image.

This photo was taken yesterday at Sunset Beach, NC. I still remember the sound of the waves and the warm moist breeze on my skin. Shh… breathe…

God is good.

I’m glad it’s still summer

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It’s September 4th but I’m rejoicing in the summer cicadas, the sun’s heat on my skin, the tomatoes that are still trying.
1 late summer 14

Dragon Wing Begonia

Dragon Wing Begonia


Trailing Vinca

Trailing Vinca


4  late summer 14
Out of four vigourously growing Heirloom tomatoes, only one bore fruit, much to our dismay. But the flavor was so spectacular that we will try again next year.

Out of four vigourously growing Heirloom tomatoes, only one bore fruit, much to our dismay. But the flavor was so spectacular that we will try again next year.


New growth is appearing at the base of one of the Heirloom tomatoes.

New growth is appearing at the base of one of the Heirloom tomatoes.

Table centerpiece using four mugs and a vintage cake pedestal

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That was a long subject. Ha! I had a dessert tea a couple months ago and this was the centerpiece. I used four beautiful mugs from Rosanna, Inc and placed them on a vintage dessert pedestal that was my mom’s. It was so easy to arrange the flowers in the mugs! I’ll be doing this again. After the event, I put away the pedestal but kept the flowers on the table a while. They were so pretty with the elegant gold china designs.

Rosanna's Luxe Moderne Mugs make the perfect "vase" for the flower arrangement.

Rosanna’s Luxe Moderne Mugs make the perfect “vase” for the flower arrangement.