Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Welcome to our Online "Welcome Spring" Tea Party!!

Tea party fun!

I'm so very excited to welcome Spring this year -- I love the new life bursting forth all around me.
And I'm happy to welcome my lovely daughter Mercy home from a nearly three-month trip to Africa and Europe. She shared a little of her reaction to her adventures with us during the webinar session Thursday evening. We look forward to more stories and photos on her blog once she updates it. http://www.mmorecraft.blogspot.com/

Mercy and a new friend in Nairobi, Kenya

I promised to post some of the recipes you shared with me -- here are a few:

Iced Sugar Cookies

The McKellar Girls' Sugar Cookies
6 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
1 tsp. salt
In a large bowl cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well. In another bowl, measure out and mix dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture a little at a time until the flour is completely incorporated and the dough comes together. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for two hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough out on a floured counter to a 1/2-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Bake for 8-14 minutes. When cool, decorate with glaze icing.

Cherish, Feliciti and Thea McKellar brought delicious cookies to our tea
Here are some recipes for the tea party from Emily Nicholas, one of my students who lives "down under." She says, "I have chosen some traditional Australian recipes." They sound delicious!

(Lamingtons are said to be named after Lord Lamington, Governor of Queensland from 1895 to 1901.)

The cake is easy to handle if it is a little stale; day old cake is ideal. Sponge or butter cake can be used. Lamingtons can be filled with jam and cream, if desired.

6 eggs
2/3 cup castor sugar (I think you call it superfine sugar.)
1/3 cup cornflour
1/3 cup self-raising flour
2 (180g or 6 oz. )cups desiccated coconut, approximately

Icing ingredients:
4 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
15g (about 1/2 oz.) butter, melted
2/3 cup milk

Grease 23cm (9 in.) square slab pan. Beat eggs in medium bowl with electric mixer about 10 minutes, or until thick and creamy. Gradually beat in sugar, dissolving between additions. Fold in triple-sifted flours. Spread mixture into prepared pan. Bake in a moderate oven about 30 minutes. Turn onto wire rack to cool.

Cut cake into 16 squares, dip squares into icing, drain off excess icing, toss squares in coconut. Place lamingtons on wire rack to set.

Sift icing sugar and cocoa into heatproof bowl, stir in butter and milk. Stir over pan of simmering water until icing is of coating consistency.

Makes 16

Here's another one that sounds so good. I love knowing the history behind the recipes. Thanks, Emily.

Anzac Biscuits
(Variations of Scottish oatmeal biscuits were made at home and sent to soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) in World War I. However, the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT, suggests that they were not named Anzac Biscuits until after World War I, when they were made and sold as fund-raisers for returned soldiers.)

child's thistle and violets tea set on faux-painted tea table
Ingredients: 1 cup rolled oats                                              
1 cup plain flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup coconut
125g (6 1/2 oz.) butter
40g (1 1/2 oz.) golden syrup (A cheap sugar syrup here in Australia but probably very expensive in the States. You could use molasses or corn syrup, but I think a mixture of both is closer to the consistency, taste, etc. of golden syrup.)
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon boiling water (sounds weird, but your tablespoon is only 15 ml, while ours is 20ml.)

Combine oats, sifted flour, sugar and coconut. Combine butter and golden syrup, stir over gentle heat until melted. Mix bicarbonate of soda with boiling water, add to melted butter mixture, stir into dry ingredients. Take teaspoonfuls of mixture and place on lightly greased oven trays; allow room for spreading. Cook in a slow oven 20 minutes. Loosen while warm, then cool on trays.

Makes about 35

(Remember to check the conversions in measurements from the Australian/British to American measurements.)
from Emily Nicholas
Bendigo, Victoria, Australia

a lovely tea party guest helps herself to another cup

This one sounds so simple and really yummy!                   
Mini Tea Tarts
from Mikaela Vaughn

-1 package filo shells
-Several fillings such as vanilla or chocolate pudding, and vanilla or berry yogurt.
-Toppings: Whip cream, chocolate chips, berries, or coconut.

Fill the tarts and place them on a pretty plate. Then decorate the tops however you like. They are so easy to make, and very delicious.
Thanks to all of you for the recipes -- if you'd like to share your recipes or photos from your own tea party, send them to me at mrs.morecraft@gmail.com and we'll try to include them in a future post.

Here are some more photos from the tea party we held at my house -- thanks to my great photographer, Marissa Schmidt! She's soooo good, isn't she?

my favorite demitasse cup and saucer

Italian wedding cookies -- from the Bowman girls

mmmm! chocolate cake -- always a favorite

a chintz-flowered china cup in a gloved hand -- lovely
Feliciti McKellar graced our day with her violin presentation
Check back tomorrow for more photos!!
Here's one more recipe:

Pumpkin Spice Drop Scones

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup firmly-packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon ( I put a little extra in! )
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into ¼ -inch pieces
1/3 to ½ cup raisins
½ cup canned pumpkin*
1/3 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons milk ( approximate )
1 cup powdered ( confectioner’s ) sugar
* When purchasing canned pumpkin, make sure there are no spices or sugar added.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly spray a large baking sheet with vegetable-oil cooking spray. ( You can also cover the baking sheet with parchment paper.)

In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg. With pastry blender or two knives, cut butter into flour mixture until particles are the size of small peas; stir in raisins. NOTE: When making scones, work the dough quickly and do not over mix.

In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, 1/3 cup milk, and egg. Fold wet ingredients. Stir just until mixed.

NOTE: Scones can be cut into any shape you desire. Use a dinking glass to make circles or cut into squares or wedges with a knife. Dip the edges of the cutter in flour to prevent sticking. Do not pat the edges of the scone down, instead leave the cuts as sharp as possible to allow the scones to rise in layers. OR… Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheet, 2 inches apart to allow for spreading, making 10 mounds. ( I ALWAYS get more out than that.)

Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, frost while still warm. Serve warm or at room temperature.

While scones are baking, combine 3 tablespoons of milk and powdered sugar until a thin frosting is obtained. You may need to add either more milk or powdered sugar for the correct consistency.

Yield: 10-15 scones

from Megan Knudten

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My favorite romantic poem ...

The Chancel and Crossing of Tintern Abbey, Looking Towards the East Window, by JMW Turner, 1794. Tintern Abbey was a monastery founded in 1131 and rebuilt in the 13th century. Abandoned in 1536, it was left to decay for two centuries. Artist Joseph Mallord William Turner paid two visits to the site, and it inspired him to paint this piece which juxtaposes the smallness of man alongside and wildness of nature, the unstoppable power of which has reclaimed this man-made edifice. The haunting abbey was a popular muse for many Romantics; it also inspired William Wordsworth’s famous poem “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey.”
(taken from "The Art of Manliness" blog, March 4, 2011)

The funny thing about this poem is that is was really written for Wordsworth's sister, not his wife! But, nevertheless, my dear husband and I read it as young lovers and so I think of it as romantic! I hope you enjoy it. For an analysis of the poem, go to this web address:

Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey

by William Wordsworth

Five years have passed; five summers with the length

Of five long winters! and again I hear

These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs

With a soft inland murmur.—Once again

Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,

That on a wild secluded scene impress

Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect

The landscape with the quiet of the sky.

The day is come when I again repose

Here, under this dark sycamore, and view

These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard tufts,

Which at this season, with their unripe fruits,

Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves

'Mid groves and copses. Once again I see

These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines

Of sportive wood run wild: these pastoral farms,

Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke

Sent up, in silence, from among the trees!

With some uncertain notice, as might seem

Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods,

Or of some Hermit's cave, where by his fire

The Hermit sits alone.

These beauteous forms,

Through a long absence, have not been to me

As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:

But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din

Of towns and cities, I have owed to them

In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,

Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;

And passing even into my purer mind,

With tranquil restoration:—feelings too

Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps,

As have no slight or trivial influence

On that best portion of a good man's life,

His little, nameless, unremembered, acts

Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust,

To them I may have owed another gift,

Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood,

In which the burthen of the mystery,

In which the heavy and the weary weight

Of all this unintelligible world,

Is lightened:—that serene and blessed mood,

In which the affectations gently lead us on,—

Until, the breath of this corporeal frame

And even the motion of our human blood

Almost suspended, we are laid asleep

In body, and become a living soul:

While with an eye made quiet by the power

Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,

We see into the life of things.

If this

Be but a vain belief, yet, oh! how oft—

In darkness and amid the many shapes

Of joyless daylight; when the fretful stir

Unprofitable, and the fever of the world,

Have hung upon the beatings of my heart—

How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee,

O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro' the woods,

How oft has my spirit turned to thee!

And now, with gleams of half-extinguished thought,

With many recognitions dim and faint,

And somewhat of a sad perplexity,

The picture of the mind revives again:

While here I stand, not only with the sense

Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts

That in this moment there is life and food

For future years. And so I dare to hope,

Though changed, no doubt, from what I was when first

I came among these hills; when like a roe

I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides

Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams,

Wherever nature led: more like a man

Flying from something that he dreads, than one

Who sought the thing he loved. For nature then

(The coarser pleasures of my boyish days,

And their glad animal movements all gone by)

To me was all in all.—I cannot paint

What then I was. The sounding cataract

Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock,

The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,

Their colours and their forms, were then to me

An appetite; a feeling and a love,

That had no need of a remoter charm,

By thought supplied, nor any interest

Unborrowed from the eye.—That time is past,

And all its aching joys are now no more,

And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this

Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur, other gifts

Have followed; for such loss, I would believe,

Abundant recompense. For I have learned

To look on nature, not as in the hour

Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes

The still, sad music of humanity,

Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power

To chasten and subdue. And I have felt

A presence that disturbs me with the joy

Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime

Of something far more deeply interfused,

Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,

And the round ocean and the living air,

And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;

A motion and a spirit, that impels

All thinking things, all objects of all thought,

And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still

A lover of the meadows and the woods,

And mountains; and of all that we behold

From this green earth; of all the mighty world

Of eye, and ear,—both what they half create,

And what perceive; well pleased to recognise

In nature and the language of the sense,

The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,

The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul

Of all my moral being.

Nor perchance,

If I were not thus taught, should I the more

Suffer my genial spirits to decay:

For thou art with me here upon the banks

Of this fair river; thou my dearest Friend,

My dear, dear Friend; and in thy voice I catch

The language of my former heart, and read

My former pleasures in the shooting lights

Of thy wild eyes. Oh! yet a little while

May I behold in thee what I was once,

My dear, dear Sister! and this prayer I make,

Knowing that Nature never did betray

The heart that loved her; 'tis her privilege,

Through all the years of this our life, to lead

From joy to joy: for she can so inform

The mind that is within us, so impress

With quietness and beauty, and so feed

With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,

Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men,

Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all

The dreary intercourse of daily life,

Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb

Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold

Is full of blessings. Therefore let the moon

Shine on thee in thy solitary walk;

And let the misty mountain-winds be free

To blow against thee: and, in after years,

When these wild ecstasies shall be matured

Into a sober pleasure; when thy mind

Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms,

Thy memory be as a dwelling-place

For all sweet sounds and harmonies; oh! then,

If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief,

Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts

Of tender joy wilt thou remember me,

And these my exhortations! Nor, perchance—

If I should be where I no more can hear

Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams

Of past existence—wilt thou then forget

That on the banks of this delightful stream

We stood together; and that I, so long

A worshipper of Nature, hither came

Unwearied in that service: rather say

With warmer love—oh! with far deeper zeal

Of holier love. Nor wilt thou then forget,

That after many wanderings, many years

Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs,

And this green pastoral landscape, were to me

More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"The Veterans of the Battle of Bunker Hill" by Daniel Webster

"The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill, June 17, 1775"
by John Trumbull, 1786

"This burst of eloquence is from Daniel Webster's celebrated oration, delivered on the occasion of the laying of the corner-stone of Bunker's Hill monument on June 17, 1825. It was the 50th anniversary of that battle in the presence of a vast multitude of people, among whom were Lafayette and the survivors of the battle." -- paraphrased from Swinton's Fifth Reader and Speaker, (published 1883), p. 321f

I hope my webinar students will read this speech through several times carefully. The first time, simply read it for the sense of the words. What is Mr. Webster saying? Why do you think he chose the particular words he chose? Are there any long, difficult words in this speech or are most of them short and familiar? Why?

The second time through, notice the imagery -- take note of metaphors, similes and personification, in particular. Are his word pictures strong? Why?

The third time you read it, notice the sentence structure. Are the sentences mostly long or short or a combination of both? How is the speech structured? Does he make his main points first or build up to them? See if you can make an outline of the speech.

The final time through, read the speech aloud, slowly and with emphasis on the words which you think he may have emphasized as he looked out at Lafayette and the other survivors of this momentous battle. Read it in front of a mirror and rate your delivery. How is your posture? Are you looking your 'audience' in the eye? Are there effective pauses in the right places? When you think you've perfected your delivery enough, practice reading it in front of your family and ask them for suggestions. You may be called on to deliver an important speech some day. Here's a chance to develop confidence.

If you have time, try to commit a portion of this important speech to memory.

"Venerable men! You have come down to us from a former generation. Heaven has bounteously lengthened out your lives, that you may behold this joyous day. You are now where you stood fifty years ago, this very hour, with your brothers and your neighbors, shoulder to shoulder, in the strife for your country. Behold, how altered! The same heavens are indeed over your heads; the same ocean rolls at your feet: but all else how changed! You hear now no roar of hostile cannon, you see no mixed volumes of smoke and flame rising from burning Charlestown. The ground strewed with the dead and the dying; the impetuous charge; the steady and successful repulse; the loud call to repeated resistance; a thousand bosoms freely and fearlessly bared in an instant to whatever of terror there may be in war and death--all these you have witnessed, but you witness them no more. All is peace.

"The heights of yonder metropolis [Boston], its towers, and roofs, which you then saw filled with wives and children and countrymen in distress and terror, and looking with unutterable emotions for the issue of the combat, have presented you today with the sight of its whole happy population, come out to welcome and greet you with a universal jubilee. Yonder proud ships, by a felicity of position appropriately lying at the foot of this mount, and seeming fondly to cling around it, are not means of annoyance to you, but your country's own means of distinction and defense.

"All is peace; and God has granted you this sight of your country's happiness, ere you slumber in the grave. He has allowed you to behold and to partake the reward of your patriotic toils; and he has allowed us, your sons and countrymen, to meet you here, and in the name of the present generation, in the name of your country, in the name of liberty, to thank you.

"But, alas! You are not all here! Time and the sword have thinned your ranks. Prescott, Putnam, Stark, Brooks, Read, Pomeroy, Bridge [these were all distinguished officers in the battle of Bunker's Hill], our eyes seek for you in vain amid this broken band. You are gathered to your fathers, and live only to your country in her grateful remembrance and your own bright example. But let us not too much grieve that you have met the common fate of men. You lived at least long enough to know that your work had been nobly and successfully accomplished. You lived to see your country's independence established, and to sheathe your swords from war. On the light of liberty you saw arise the light of peace, like 'another morn, risen on mid-noon;' and the sky on which you closed your eyes was cloudless.

"But ah! Him! [Warren] The first great martyr in this great cause! Him! The premature [untimely] victim of his own self-devoting heart! Him! The head of our civil councils, and the destined leader of our military bands, whom nothing brought hither but the unquenchable fire of his own spirit! Him! Cut off by Providence in the hour of overwhelming anxiety and thick gloom; falling ere he saw the star of his country rise; pouring out his generous blood like water, before he knew whether it would fertilize a land of freedom or of bondage! How shall I struggle with the emotions that stifle the utterance of thy name! Our poor work may perish, but thine shall endure. This monument may molder away; the solid ground it rest upon may sink down to a level with the sea: but thy memory shall not fail. Wheresoever among men a heart shall be found that beats to the transports of patriotism and liberty, its aspirations shall be to claim kindred with thy spirit."

Daniel Webster