tea sandwiches

When I’m at my parents for the summer, one of my favorite social activities is throwing fancy tea parties with my sister for our friends. I am not the best baker, but out of the two of us, I usually end up in charge of the menu and cooking. This role has greatly endeared tea sandwiches to me—after a day spent cooking fancy desserts, throwing together two or three sandwich types is a very nice respite.

The first image is of a party I made where one of the guests was gluten-free, hence the large variety of meringue-based treats. That one was especially tricky to put together!

However, while I don’t often make desserts for myself—shortbread or berries with cream is usually the extent—I find tea sandwiches a nice way to make something quick and easy that still feels like a treat. This week I made them extra special by buying some pumpernickel bread (I usually bake all my own bread).

I think tea sandwiches feel special because you can put the focus on one or two nicer ingredients and really enjoy them. I frequently cut or substitute ingredients to save money or use up leftovers, so buying something “extra” is an easy way to treat myself. For these sandwiches, for instance, I actually bought green onions, a lemon, and some nice local radishes. For the radish sandwich, I diced green onions and added them with some lemon juice to butter. For the other, I made curried egg salad. You can’t see it in the picture, but I also used the lemon to make a vinaigrette for the radish greens—instant salad!

They may be simple, but they were delicious! 🙂 Anyone have any other simple meals they enjoy making as special treats?

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wall quilt & garland

One of the less fun things about being a grad student is the lack of money. This is especially a problem, if like me, you tend to prefer handmade furniture and oil paintings (I know, I know). My dad is a very good woodworker, and has so far indulged me in the desire for very nice furniture, but I’ve had to be a bit more economical with art and decorations. I decided to combine my desire for less-blank walls with my desire to improve my quilting skills, so I’ve been making wall quilts! They’re not exactly my favorite pastoral oils, but they are very cute. 🙂

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This is my first finished one—I made it to hang in my kitchen. I thought that the redwork embroidery looked a bit vintage, and the teacup of course makes it very suitable. I didn’t do a very complicated block, since this was for practice, but I did make sure the cat fabric formed a nice border. I think my hand-quilting has improved somewhat—the stitches are getting a bit more even!

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Once it was done, I thought the wall still looked too blank, so I added a little crochet garland. The stars are very simple, only two rounds, so it went quite fast. I used scraps leftover from the cotton I use for my dishcloths, which luckily I’ve made in a nice variety of blue shades.

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Overall, I’m very happy with this simple decorating! I still have a few more things I’d like to make for my kitchen, and then onto the next room. 😉

free pattern: tweed tea cosy

So I love tea a lot. As in, my dad actually built me a little tea cabinet to help store my ever-increasing collection. It is possibly the cutest piece of furniture I own. (Then he had to make my sister one too, because I’m nothing if not a bad influence).

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The cutest, right? Anyway, I drink tea a lot, but I’m a bit absentminded. Nothing is worse than getting distracted by a good book, or a friend calling, and then realizing my tea has gone cold. 😦

So I knit myself a tea cosy, and decided to share the pattern! It’s very simple, with a basic slip stitch colorwork design. I made it sized for a small 2-cup pot, but upping the yarn size to worsted or bulky would probably let you fit a larger one. This pattern is also certainly easy enough to be suitable for beginners, or for more experienced knitters looking for a quick gift idea.

You can find it available to download on ravelry here. Enjoy!