A Nest for All Seasons A Nest for All Seasons

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05 November 2015

When Tea Becomes Ritual

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“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” ― C.S. Lewis

How to Brew Herbal Teas with Amy Renea

I've been really into tea lately. Hot, Cold, Iced, Herbal -- I have been trying them all.  With winter approaching fast, I wanted to share a few of my favorites teas and techniques with you to help keep cozy and warm!

Let's start simply with my favorite basic herbal mint tea.  Mint is so tough, that is typically can grow for you indoors if you are able to give it some light. Peppermint is a classic, but there are plenty of other mints to choose from as well.  I cut off a small handful of mint leaves and combine with 2 cups of boiling water and 1 tsp of lemon juice in a french press. (I was introduced to french presses via my sister and mother-in-law and love their simplicity, particularily when an electric brewer will not work during the zombie apocolypse.  While typically used for coffee, I also use them for tea :)

Press a few times to crush the leaves fully and extract the oils.
This is my "go-to" after dinner tea that brews in the press while I load up the dishwasher and get the kitchen settled. It should brew 10-15 minutes to fully extract the flavor of the mint.

If you can't grow your herbs in winter, you can certainly dry them or buy them dried.  To use dry loose-leaf teas, you will need some sort of containment device for brewing.  Pictured below is just a simple (cheap!) infuser (2 bucks), but they make these mesh tea dippers in all sorts of shapes like robots, pants and even manatees!

How to Brew Herbal Teas with Amy Renea

“I may be out of bed, but I’m in no way equipped to conduct hypothetical conversations before I’ve had a cup of tea.” 

How to Brew Herbal Teas with Amy Renea

Simply fill the infuser with loose leaf tea and brew directly in the mug for a delicious cup.  My favorite loose leaf teas are HibiscusGypsy Rose, and YES, classic Lipton. The ceremony of loose leaf really elevates this classic and quite delicious tea!  It is one that I always add sugar to and my mom's classic standby for sweet tea.
I have also been experimenting with green teas, particularly matcha, in my quest for no calorie "treats".  
While some teas work just as well cold, I tend to prefer matcha steaming hot.

Brewing Matcha Green Tea at A Nest for All Seasons
If you are going to spring for matcha, go organic!  Enzo is a good choice!
One of my favorite aspects of green tea brewing are the accessories (the scoop, whisk and spoon come in a kit for around $12 HERE).  Fairly inexpensive, these bamboo implements make the tea brewing a serious process which helps to focus your thoughts and calm your spirit. (The french press for mint tea and a special mug for the Gypsy teas below accomplish the same routine-based calm.) The process of tea-making does not have to be expensive, but it should be ritualistic or you with the same supplies each time to give it a special place in your daily routine.

“When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment?” 

Next on the list is the entire line of Gypsy teas (and this is TOTALLY non sponsored you guys, even though it sounds like it :).  I have not found a tea in the line that I did not like and I have tried 10 now. Without fail, you will like Gypsy Rose tea (Red Lavender is a highly recommended #2 and samplers like THIS and THIS might also be a good place to start).  I also really like the chais brewed strong and COLD, not hot.  Try brewing up a cup in the morning and leaving it to chill or an afternoon (zero calorie) treat.  The flavor of the chai in particular really intensifies when cold. Brew without sugar or milk for the purest taste and experience. These tea tins (especially the samplers) make FANTASTIC craft supply holders or upcycled gift containers.

So as winter comes rolling in with her ice buckets and crackling fires, 
consider brewing up a hot bit of tea to keep you company...I know I will be.

How to Brew Herbal Teas with Amy Renea

“Writing is a job, a talent, but it's also the place to go in your head. It is the imaginary friend you drink your tea with in the afternoon.” 

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01 November 2015

Handmade Thanksgiving Placecards or Christmas Cards

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Christmas is still a ways off, but getting cards out will come upon us quicker than we think! It always sneaks up on me at least...every year without fail. If you cannot think about Christmas QUITE yet, these card ideas also make for pretty Thanksgiving place cards or even "Thanks" cards to send a little earlier in the year and with a little more thought than a rushed Christmas card. Today, I want to show you two super simple options: a metal accent card and a fun plant-able card! Let's start with the high impact, low cost metal accents, shall we?

Handmade Plantable Christmas Cards

Supplies - Metal Accent Cards:

Metal Trees - 2 inch
Metal Stars - assorted sizes
Metal Snowflakes - 1 1/2 inch
Hot Glue
Handmade Plantable Christmas Cards

These cards are incredibly simple, but have such a nice weight and texture thanks to the little rusted tin pieces.  The metal accents are inexpensive and look beautiful against the 'Kraft' natural brown cards.  Start by simply hot gluing your shapes onto the cards in whatever design you choose.  Then you get to add some more detail!  For the tree card, I threaded a large craft needle with baker's twine:

Handmade Plantable Christmas Cards

Then, simply wrap a lit of twine around each tree base.  That tiny bit of texture is perfect for these rustic cards!

Handmade Plantable Christmas Cards
For the stars, I simply added in text with a thin-tipped marker.
Handmade Plantable Christmas Cards
For the snowflake card, I used gold marker to repeat "let it snow"! under the metal accents.
Handmade Plantable Christmas Cards

Supplies - Plant-able Stars:

Scrap Paper
Egg White, Honey and small paint brush
Christmas Card with plantable Marigold seeds by Amy Renea for Crafts Unleashed Ripped Paper
    Let me be honest with you.  This card takes some time and patience and is NOT one you would want to mass produce for lots and lots of family and friends.  (For that, try the metal accent cards above!)  These recycled paper plantable stars are PERFECT for a fun kid's craft or very special card for the gardener in your family.  The supplies are minimal and very cheap!  Start by ripping up some scrap paper and place in a bowl of water.  Blend the "mush" in a blender.  I use a "garden blender" for craft projects, "moss shakes", etc so that I don't dull the blade on my nice blender. You might consider a cheap thrift store blender for projects like this!  If you are using small seeds, add them in now with a SPOON, not your blender.  Once you have pulp, simply pour it onto your star "screen".

Christmas Card with plantable Marigold seeds by Amy Renea for Crafts Unleashed 3

Push the water through the screen and either push straight to the edges, or form star points with your fingers (below).

Christmas Card with plantable Marigold seeds by Amy Renea for Crafts Unleashed 4

Add a layer of egg white and honey to the top of the card if you want to add large seeds to your paper star.  
The egg whites and honey serve as an adhesive.  *****Cards MUST dry at least 24-48 hours!******
Christmas Card with plantable Marigold seeds by Amy Renea for Crafts Unleashed 2
All ingredients are technically edible, but DON'T EAT IT!
Christmas Card with plantable Marigold seeds by Amy Renea for Crafts Unleashed
I like packaging the little stars in a burlap pouch (just sew up three edges), but a regular envelope works too!
Plantable Star Cards and Metal Accents

If you are going to buy Christmas presents via Amazon, PLEASE consider clicking through my Amazon links below (or throughout the site) to support A Nest for All Seasons financially. I make a small commission on any product you buy at Amazon and the price to you is the same. THANK YOU!

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