Amy Artisan

Family | Travel | Craft | Life | Books

Category: Tea Time (page 1 of 2)

Currently…the January edition

And just like that, January has morphed into February. Looking back on the month, there are still items to be blogged…some will be their own posts in the near future…for other things, I think that participating in the “What I’m Into” link-up hosted by Leigh Kramer is a way to capture moments of the month.
  • Reading…I mentioned several reads earlier this month in my first twitterature review. Since then, I’ve finished two more reads (The Noticer by Andy Andrews & Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde)…I’ll share thoughts on them later.
  • Watching…like many, I’m enjoying the return of SHERLOCK. Another new show I’m enjoying is “Intelligence.” I’m most of the way through the first season of Friday Night Lights on Netflix. A bit of a “movie marathon” while a friend was in town including the most recent “Much Ado About Nothing,” “The Internship,” “Enough Said,” “Love Actually” (always a favorite), and “American Hustle” and a late lunch at Movie Tavern.
  • Cooking…the baked oatmeal recipe I discovered at Thanksgiving continues to be a favorite breakfast – in addition to a cranberry batch, I made a blueberry-blackberry-pecan version that has been delicious! Cold winter calls for comfort foods – for my New Year’s Pork & Sauerkraut, I found a Dutch oven recipe that I modified – the Cider Carmelized Sauerkraut is a keeper. I made a big pot of Mom’s Italian Squash Soup. My”go to” Brussels Sprout Hash is a quick (& frequent) fix that is great for packing for weekday lunches. I’m gearing up to do my second Whole30, so I’m planning out my menu & will share recipes while doing it.
Hanging Hankies

Hanging Hankies

  • Crafting…the knitting needles have been busy. In addition to finishing my afghan, I also finished a simple Shawlette for me & started replenishing the dishcloth stash. One Saturday afternoon, I made art for above my bed using some vintage hankies from my collection mounted on scrapbook paper & framed in 12×12 frames.
Tea @ Tilly Mints

Tea @ Tilly Mint’s

  • Enjoying…hosting a dear friend for a long girls weekend (afternoon tea at Tilly Mint’s Tea Room, a day in Lancaster Co., outlet shopping, movies, talking, hanging out and more) – such a wonderful weekend of R&R and friendship!
  • Trying…a new church and enjoying it. Maybe I’ve finally found one to call home here?
  • Planning…blog posts (& maybe a redesign?)…spare room organization…Spring break…summer vacations…maybe a winter Olympic knitting adventure?
And now, a new month and new things to be into…what about you? What are you into these days?

Entertaining Friends

As I was looking at apartments here in PA, one thing I was definitely wanting was “extra space” for hosting house guests. I knew that moving to a new locale would bring friends & family to visit. I’m thrilled with the place that is now my home – and happy to open the doors of the “Artisan B&B” to welcome family and friends.

As my relocation to PA was firmed up, dear friends from my time in Wisconsin started talking about when they would come to visit. My last trip to WI on October, we picked a January visit. Over the MLK holiday weekend, “the girls” came for a multi-generational girls weekend. Mom, Daughter & Grandma arrived on Friday afternoon for a long weekend of fun times. It was the perfect opportunity to be a bit of a local tourist/tour guide.


On Saturday, we headed west to Lancaster County to explore. We went to one of my favorite pottery shops & each of us picked up a fun piece to remember the day. A late lunch was enjoyed “family style” at Good ‘N Plenty Restaurant. There was a bit of shopping at the Kitchen Kettle Village (including yarn).


On Sunday, we headed into Philadelphia. This was actually my first time going into the city since moving here. “The” activity was afternoon tea at one of the downtown hotels. Since we got there a bit early, we walked a couple of blocks over to the iconic “LOVE” sculpture. Tea at the top of the Bellevue made for a delightful afternoon.

On Monday, shopping. I think the day can be summed up as “We Shopped…We Dropped…” There is a great outlet mall near me so the combination of good sales and no sales tax on clothes made for a very successful day for all of us. As we piled the bags into the back of my car when we were done, we joked that we were glad I had an SUV now. As for getting all of their “spoils” back home, I’m slated to return to WI for a business trip within the week – with my airline “status” I can check 2 bags for free, so one of my wheeled duffel bags is packed for delivery to them.

When we weren’t out & about, we had fun just hanging out at home. Watching movies…chatting …pizza from my local pizza place…falling asleep in the recliner or on the couch…sleeping in each morning…a simple breakfast each morning…using Face Time each evening to talk to “the boys” back in WI…just unwinding & enjoying being together…

After so much time on the road in the last couple of years, it was great fun to play host! This family has welcomed me into their home so many times while I’ve been Marinette – it was a treat to be able to entertain them in my place. We are already planning when the whole family will come for a visit.

A Weekend for Joy(ce)

I have several things I want to blog about, including getting up to date with my ABCs (err, H & I) but for now I’m jumping straight to J.


J is for JOYCE (aka Artisan Mom)

I remember when I was learning to read I made the connection that within my Mom’s name was Joy. Even at a young age I knew how appropriate that was – Mom has always brought joy to everything that she does.

This weekend she had a ‘big’ birthday. It was made even better because the whole Artisan Family was together here in Chicago to celebrate Mom. It has been several years since the four of us were all together here in Chicago – most of our family celebrations have been home in the ‘Ville. This weekend we were greatful for some wonderful respite care for Grandma that allowed for a Chicago birthday celebration for Mom.

Given the state of air travel these days, unfortunately it wasn’t that much of a surprise that their flight was about 3 hours late arriving on Thursday evening – it was almost midnight when we got to my house, so our planned Thai takeout dinner would end up being Friday lunch. The Chicago weather was perfect spring – sunny, blue skies, and lots of green grass & trees accented with lilacs and other spring blooms. We didn’t have many plans for the weekend – we just gave Mom some “dress code guidelines” for Friday & Saturday reservations. We did a little bit of shopping, a little bit of driving, a little bit of relaxing with books & a favorite musical on DVD, and a lot of just enjoying being together. On Friday evening we had reservations for dinner at A Mano – it was fun to order several things off the menu & share amongst us all; of course we saved room to enjoy their delicious gelato for dessert.

Our “big” surprise was Saturday afternoon – all Mom knew was that we had 4:30 PM reservations & we were dressing up a bit more. As we headed downtown, Mom was just glad that we were all together & didn’t seem to have a clue where we were going. It wasn’t until we turned the corner and pulled up in front of The Peninsula Chicago that Mom realized we were going to enjoy afternoon tea at my favorite tea spot. As we enjoyed all of the delicious treats on the menu we recalled the lovely afternoon tea we enjoyed in Bermuda 9 years ago this month. This “quick pic” at the end of the afternoon definitely captures the fun of the weekend.

And to celebrate a milestone birthday for a Mom who has done so much for so many I had a secret knit on the needles in the last month: “A Hug for Mom” – a simple shawl using yarn that I picked up last summer.

The Details – Pattern: Simple Yet Effective Shawl; Yarn: Brooks Farm Yarn Limited Edition III a wool and silk blend in a medium/steel blue, 2 skeins; Needles; Size 10; Modifications: Since Mom’s birthday is the 17th I had the garter stitch section at 17 ridges; the edge of the shawl had 2 stitches & then the yarn over to increase.   When I bought this yarn last summer I had a specific pattern in mind; however, as I started with the yarn and pattern it was obvious that they weren’t a match – same with the 2nd pattern. Truly, the third time was a charm by going with a simple pattern that I had knit before – the simple stitches allowed the yarn to really come to life.

The weekend trip may have been quick; however, it was wonderful to celebrate the JOY that is Mom!

A Cup of Christmas Tea

Christmas Tea

With all of my business travel this year I have been fairly disconnected from my girlfriends here in Chicago. On Sunday afternoon I was able to catch up with a lot of them – over a cup of Christmas tea.

As I’ve mentioned before, I find the act of afternoon tea to be a lovely “timeout” from the rest of life and this was no exception. Until this weekend, most of December had been filled with work – including trips to the client site in WI. But once this past week wrapped up I had passed a large milestone on the current project and could turn my attention to things Christmas-y.

First up, a holiday tea. Among the many things that my Mom taught me was the art of simple hospitality and entertaining. As I was pulling everything together I thought of the many times I was in the kitchen helping Mom get ready for gatherings at home. Given my recent schedule, I knew the menu would contain more store bought goodies than I would normally include. However, I did find time this weekend to make several treats – all were simple recipes.

On the menu: Sugared Cranberries; Peppermint Truffles; Mom’s Sausage & Cheese Biscuits; Cran-Pumpkin Mini-Muffins; Ham & Turkey Roll-ups; Cucumber Sandwiches; Amish Friendship Bread (Thanks for bringing it Michele!); Mini-Quiches, Pastries & Cookies from Costco; An assortment of yummy teas.

As everyone arrived and introductions were made for those who didn’t know each other we were gathered around “the spread” in the dining room. Once everyone had loaded up their plates and customized their tea to their liking we moved to the living room where we enjoyed several hours of chatting with each other surrounded by the light of the Christmas tree, the nativity mantel and other Christmas decorations. It was so much fun to see friends who didn’t know each other before yesterday find commonalities and have fun conversation.

As we wrapped up the afternoon we all agreed that this was a great timeout from the hustle and bustle that can consume the holiday season. For me, it was a wonderful chance to reconnect with dear friends who make Chicago “home” for me.

Next up, getting the Christmas cards in the mail, a few packages to ship to their destinations and pulling together everything to head home to the ‘Ville for Christmas later this week.

As you are in the midst of your own holiday preparations I hope you are able to find the time to take a “timeout” and connect with the people near and dear to you.

Routine Things

I find it interesting how quickly we can slip into routines. Initially some “new thing” may seem odd and then before you know it, it is “your” routine and any change to it causes you to pause.

While work travel might seem like a big distruption to routine, in reality a new set of routines emerged for me while on the road…a Sunday evening flight to Chattanooga…Tatum, the shuttle driver, waiting at the airport to take us to the hotel…the barista at Starbuck’s starting to make my drink every morning as soon as I walked into the store…the 2 block walk from the hotel to the office…These routines helped to bring some normalcy to the “un routine” when work was extremely busy.

Now that I’m back home routines are shifting and some old routines are once again new…making coffee each morning with the french press & listening to NPR on the kitchen radio while getting ready…the daily commute on the bus & el (including darting across 4 lanes of traffic on Western Ave. from the bus stop on the way home each evening)…etc…

A routine that is never routine is having a birthday. With the travel of the last couple of months, mine seemed to sneak up on me last week. The first Saturday of this month was a delightful afternoon tea at The Peninsula Chicago with my friend Elaine – her birthday is in late October so every year we try to celebrate our birthdays together with something fun. On my birthday, I met Jen & Kristy at Bin 36 after work and we each enjoyed a wine flight and splitting an appetizer. Jen’s husband, Greg, picked us up and then we all enjoyed a yummy dinner at Francesca’s Bryn Mawr. The day was also filled with emails, e-cards, instant messages, cards, and calls wishing me well. All in all, a lovely celebration!

A long standing routine has been my bookclub, The G.I.R.L.S. When I moved to Chicago in the fall of 1999 this was one of the first things that I joined – my friend Maya invited me to “her group” and the first book I read with them was “A Widow for a Year” by John Irving. Last week I was able to participate in a gathering for the first time since May – it also marked 7 years since my first meeting. We were a smaller group than some months; however, that didn’t diminish the good conversation. Our book was “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell – as is always the case, we talked about the book for a bit and that conversation spurred many other conversation topics.

A newer routine (since 2003) is scrapbooking – I host a quarterly “crop club” for friends to get together and spend a morning working on albums and catching up on life. This past Saturday was the last one for this year and it was great fun to have everyone back at my house for the morning (In Sept. a friend graciously hosted us at her place because of my travel) Since it was a chilly autumn morning it was the perfect weather to make some yummy fall goodies – a pot of spiced cider simmering on the stove, warm applesauce and a pumpkin cranberry coffeecake (using one of my favorite shortcuts, the Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread mix).

As I’ve mentioned, knitting is once again (finally) part of my routine. This weekend I finished up several felted bowls from Oneskein. These are a quick knit and it was fun figuring out which bowls to shape them against. I anticipate making a few as gifts and as I get my office/craft room/guest room organized I plan to make a couple for in there. (pictures to come) I continued to work on some of the projects that have been on my needles for a while (including socks!) and tried to start some new ones.

Knitting to comfort others is a routine that I enjoy. In the coming week I’ll be knitting a square for a new comfort blanket. Cathy is pulling together a blanket to comfort her friend Jenn who is in need of some comfort these days.

As I also get back into the routine of blogging, I have a couple of Knitbloglandia items that I’ve been meaning to post – so now seems like a good time to do it!


I joined Lolly’s sock celebration for October and then didn’t knit a stitch on a sock – although a sock project traveled with me the entire month. Insert your favorite quotation about good intentions…

So belatedly, here is my sock history. It is a short history.

In February 2003 I took my first sock class at Arcadia Knitting. Over the course of the class I finished the first sock. Pretty soon thereafter I began the second sock. And well, recently I discovered the bag with the sock and yarn – as you can see not much progress has been made on the second sock. In May of this year I took a “Socks on 2 Circular Needles” class at Arcadia. As I blogged about earlier, the first skein of yarn was a bit defective so I didn’t get the sock finished. When I learned that I would be traveling for work this summer I thought that socks would be a great travel project. Yeah, well that didn’t happen. The work travel is done and no socks were knit; however, I have picked up quite the sock yarn stash over this year. At Stitches Midwest in August I picked up Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles and have started on another pair of socks using this method. With all the sock yarn that I now have I am definitely ready to knit socks. I have several projects to finish before the holidays; however, I hope that the coming months will be an extension of Socktoberfest for me.


In August I signed up for several swaps – not “putting it together” that the mailing deadlines were in the middle of the work insanity. I’m thankful that my spoilees have been patient as I’ve been slower getting their packages together.

  • KnitFlix: This concept was a lot of fun – movies & knitting! Earlier this year I even had a post about movie knitting. My swap pal was Amy in MN. She put together a great box of goodies. The movie is Babette’s Feast – I’ve never seen it but had it in my Netflix queue. Lots of popcorn for snacking. And the yarns! A beautiful purple silk from Alchemy yarns. A Dusty Olive Malabrigo with a great button & the pattern for the Gelato felted bag. Thanks Amy!
  • Knitter’s Tea Swap 2: Round 1 in May/June was so much fun so I’m back for more. I was spoiled by Barb in Canada. With the cooler days, these yummy teas will be enjoyed soon – Also some yummy honey sticks to sweeten the teapot. One of my favorites for tea snacking – shortbread! A berry candle the smells of fall. And a pale blue Paton’s Divine yarn. Thanks Barb!
  • Dishcloth Shuffle: As I’ve mentioned in numerous posts, dishcloths are a relaxing “go-to” knit for me – so this exchange seemed like a great one to join. I was spoiled by Alisa in Australia. Alisa knit 5 different dishcloths in beautiful colors and patterns. She also included some bright cottons for my own dishcloth knitting, some fun Australia themed stickers, an iron-on to embroider, a dainty hankerchief (how did she know I have a collection?) and a cute notepad from her recent vacation to Thailand. Thanks Alisa!

My packages have been dispatched to Minnesota, Nebraska, Western Canada & Eastern Canada. whew!

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