As an early birthday present, my mom took me out for a day trip. By accident we stumbled across a hole-in-the-wall shop called “Vintage Garden.” From the street I could see a teapot in the window, and that was enough to get me inside. We walked through the waist-high picket fence door into a pleasantly crowded world of potted flowers, soaps, bird cages and tea cups.
Distressed tables, vanities and iron plant stands housed more treasures, and out the back door, a collection of garden decorations added their whimsy to the mix: pastel-colored bicycles; more iron plant stands, rusted over; wooden signs wishing visitors “Happy Trails.”
And the best part? The statues of geese and ducks that poked their beaks out from under tables, into soap dishes, and from behind chairs all over the shop. Now we’re speaking of geese!
The ambience of the shop contrasted sharply with the streamlined hustle of our tech-entrenched society. It reminded me that in spite of all our advances, humans still hunger for a quieter surrounding, one that fills them with a sense of wonder and whimsy, one that can make them forget all their worries.
Mankind’s quest for peace will never end in a picture-perfect array of knick-knacks, because the atmosphere of serenity that things can create is short-lived at best. It is only when we submit ourselves to the Prince of Peace that we can find lasting rest for our souls. Only then will we be able to appreciate life’s little pleasures rightly: as loving gifts from our Lord.
There’s something about autumn that makes us want to curl up in a corner with a favorite book, a thick blanket and – a hot cup of tea. For many people tea is the comfort drink of choice, and depending on the blend, it can conjure up a host of moods and thoughts. In autumn a spicy chai or a tangy orange tisane might set the mind wandering to memories of roaring fires, rain clouds and holiday cheer. With its potential for pleasure tea makes a perfect fall or winter gift, and when packaged in an elegant glass tube with homey accents, it can delight before it’s even brewed.
1 glass test tube with cork stopper
1 scrap of decorative orange paper
1 scrap of decorative brown paper
1 scrap of muslin fabric
Orange embroidery floss
2 gold brads
1 medium glass bead
1 small pearl bead
2 gold decorative bead caps
1 2-1/8 inch gold head pin (flat head). Must be long enough to wire through the two beads, the end caps and the cork stopper with about a 1/4 inch to spare
3 small orange flower drop beads (the kind where the hole runs through the vertical center of the flower)
1 9/16 inch gold head pin (flat head). Must be long enough to extend about a 1/4 inch from one of the flower drop beads
Wash the glass part of the test tube thoroughly and dry it. Set aside.
Using the straight pin, pierce the top center of the cork stopper so that the hole goes all the way through to the underside.
Assemble the pearl bead, the glass bead and the bead caps on the 2-1/8 inch head pin in this order: pearl, bead cap, glass bead, bead cap. Then poke the head pin through the hole in the stopper until the stack of beads rests on top of the cork. There should be about 1 inch of the head pin sticking out the bottom of the stopper.
Use the round nose pliers to bend this excess wire into a simple loop that’s flush with the cork’s surface. This will secure your beads and prevent the pin from sliding out.
Add one of the flower drop beads to the 9/16 inch head pin. Form another simple loop with the pliers, but before you close it off all the way, link it to the loop under the cork.
For the test tube label, rubber-stamp the image of a teacup onto your scrap of muslin (make sure to iron the fabric first!). With the pinking shears, cut out the image in a rectangle shape (leave about a 5/8 inch margin around the image).
Using only three strands of embroidery floss, hand-sew a running stitch around the border of the fabric rectangle. Secure the thread at both ends to prevent slipping.
Cut a rectangle out of the brown paper that’s about a 1/2 inch bigger on all sides than the fabric rectangle. Tear along all four edges for a distressed look (the paper should now be only slightly larger than the fabric).
Align the fabric rectangle with the brown paper rectangle. Punch a hole to the left of the teacup that goes through both layers, is vertically centered and isn’t touching the stitched border. Repeat on the right side of the teacup.
Insert the brads into the holes and open the closure tabs so they don’t show from under the paper.
Cut a rectangle from the orange paper that’s slightly larger than the brown rectangle. Align the brown paper/fabric ensemble on top of the orange rectangle and glue them together. Your label is complete!
Write the name of your chosen tea and its brewing instructions on the back of the label with the black pen.
Cut a 12-inch length of embroidery floss (six strands). Wrap the label around the test tube and loop the floss around the two brads, leaving yourself two tails to tie a bow.
Thread one of the remaining flower drop beads onto each tail of the floss. Knot the floss so the bead doesn’t slide off (you may need to double or triple the knot).
If your bow tails are too long, you may knot them a little higher and trim off any excess thread. But be careful – don’t trim them so short that you can’t retie the bow again!
Fill the test tube with tea leaves (be sure to leave enough room for the flower drop bead to dangle above the tea) and cork it! You’re ready to give someone a taste of autumn.