Thursday, April 24, 2008

More reusable cloth pads

I've been experimenting again! I wanted to see why some people love their envelope style/multi-layer pads with the separate soaker inserts. The reason these seem popular is that depending upon your needs you can use the soakers one at a time or doubled/tripled if you need more absorbency. They're supposed to be easier to launder because when you break the pads down, the individual layers dry faster than an AIO, all-in-one, pad, though I've not had this problem with my AIOs. I had to draft a pattern to give me something more angular because, honestly, I'm kinda sick of sewing all those curves! On the up-side, I'm not afraid of curves any more.

Here are four of the pads and soakers that I started sewing last night. I've been reading the posts from the DIY PADS group on Live Journal regarding reusing materials for the soakers and my interest was sparked. I began my experiments with assorted discarded clothes that I have in a bin under my laundry folding table (aka pool table). Since my husband and boys wear all cotton socks and the sock fairy has created many orphans, I started there. Also in my bin were a few T-shirts that I could play around with. I also have some old towels, though still usable, are not very attractive. I have read that old towels are the best kinds of terry cloth, because it seems that the terry cloth you can buy in the fabric stores is on the thin side.

Here is the breakdown of the soakers:

2 layers flannel
1 sock
1 layer microfleece
This was very bulky, but for a heavy flow, this would feel oddly re-assuring, I think.

2 layers flannel
2 layers T-shirt
1 layer microfleece
This is nice and thin. Perfect for everyday or a light flow.

2 layers flannel
4 layers T-shirt
1 layer microfleece
Great as back-up to soaker #2 for a medium to heavy flow.

1 layer polarfleece
1 layer microfleece
1 layer PUL
Nice and thin for everyday or light days.

#5 & #6
2 layers flannel
1 layer polarfleece
1 layer microfleece
Also thin for everyday or light days.

In all, I've made five of this type of pad and 8 soakers. I think I've got the different levels of absorbency covered. I might still like to try putting a lightly absorbent layer in the main pad as shown in this tutorial.

If these work well for me, I might offer them in my Etsy shop. These cloth pads are just so fun to make but come on, I can only use so many! In fact, I brought five of my AIO pads, both long and short, to knit nite on Monday to share with the ladies. All I want is their feedback.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tea Drop...or, Okay, so I'm lazy!

The other day while perusing the coffee/tea aisle in my local supermarket, I spied a Sunbeam Tea Drop Hot Tea Maker on sale for $16.49. I know I needed another kitchen appliance like a hole in the head but I swear it just jumped into my cart. I've been a traditionalist up til now. I figured I'd buy it just to prove it was no good. This thing couldn't really make a good pot of tea, could it? Well, yes actually, it does! I've read numerous reviews of it and people either love it (mostly) or hate it (a few). The ones who hate it usually do so because they say the tea isn't strong enough. Well, I've got a hint for them. They can put the tea (leaves or bags) directly into the pot while brewing, then remove them after the tea has steeped the desired length of time. I've tested this with my medium sized Finum infuser, which sits right at the spout of the carafe where the hot water is dispensed. I set my timer for 7 minutes, which resulted in a nice strong pot of tea, just the way I like it. In the second picture, I added a chopstick for a little stability, whether it needed it or not. I'm sure you could get the same results with a coffee maker, dedicated to making tea, of course. The verdict? I love, love, love my Tea Drop!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Tea Party Anyone?

Last week Saturday it was my turn to host our new 'round-robin' tea party. There were 6 of us ladies for tea. My close friends know that I am not comfortable entertaining in my home, so having 5 people over is near anxiety-attack producing. As you can see, I survived. I think it was a fun party. I know I stressed way more than necessary and I can't wait to do it again. I even ran across a site that advocates having three friends over for tea and invite one extra person who is a practical stranger to you, so that you can get to know her better and introduce her to your friends. That's nice. I'd also like to have some people from my knitting group over for a relaxing evening of tea and knitting. That would be so lovely!

In case you're wondering, here was my tea party menu:

Tea Sandwiches:
1) Cucumber with Italian cream cheese on white bread
2) Roast beef with Gorgonzola cheese spread and spring greens on multi-grain bread
3) Chicken salad with cranberry mayonnaise on Hawaiian sweet bread

1) Cream scones
2) Blueberry
3) Orange Cranberry

Served with sweetened thick whipped cream, lemon curd, and ginger preserves

1) Lemon Loaf
2) Chocolate raspberry brownies
3) Fresh strawberries and seedless red grapes
I think there was one more, but I can't remember now.

1) Assam
2) Jasmine Green tea

I must have checked out about 12 books on tea and tea parties from my local library in preparation for this party. It was fun reading all those books but I didn't use a single recipe from any of them. I wound up getting the recipe for the Italian cream cheese online, but I modified it to my taste. It involved mixing a portion (to taste) of Good Seasons Italian dressing mix into a 12 oz. tub of whipped cream cheese, then adding one peeled, grated and thoroughly drained cucumber. I let this mixture sit in the refrigerator overnight. For my Gorgonzola cheese spread, I took 4 oz. of crumbled Gorgonzola and mixed in 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup sour cream, minced dried onion, dried parsley flakes and pepper, to taste. I also let this sit in the refrigerator overnight to let the flavors develop. This sandwich also tastes amazing with thin slices of fresh pear. For the chicken salad, I cooked the chicken breasts in my pressure cooker with some onion, carrot, and seasonings. When cool, I diced them and mixed in some mayo (not too much) and celery, then seasoned to taste with salt and pepper. I mixed canned whole berry cranberry sauce with mayonnaise for the spread.

I learned that day old scones can be refreshed in the toaster oven for 3 minutes and taste like they just came out of the oven! My kids prefer the maple scones I've been making (see picture below, recipe in previous post) and that's the only reason I had any left after the party. That's okay...more for me!

Did you know that you can make tea concentrate if you're planning to serve tea to a bunch of people? It's so easy and tastes great! Here's how:

Add 1/2 cup (dry measuring cup) of loose tea leaves or 12 tea bags to one qt. water (4 cups) at the correct temp. (boiling for blacks & herbals, gently steaming for green tea-170 degrees). Steep black tea and herbals for 4-6 minutes, green tea for 2–2.5 minutes. Strain or remove the leaves. Don't squeeze the bags or leaves as this will produce a bitter brew. Use 2 tablespoons of tea concentrate to make each cup of hot tea, using hot water, not boiling and 3 tablespoons per glass for iced tea. Makes approximately 25 cups. Keep in a covered container in the refrigerator. Don't worry if your brew appears cloudy. This will go away when you add hot water.

Come on and dust off those beautiful tea cups you've got languishing on a shelf and invite some friends over for tea! Even if you just make a cuppa for yourself, it will uplift your spirits and relax you. You're worth it.