Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Tea and Memories

No matter how hard I try, our kitchen table is a jumble – everyday. I clean it all off one day, sorting out the daily deluge of mail, recycling every catalog we will never ever order from, putting the bills in the different “pay me please” baskets, and stacking up the various magazines to read when I get a chance to sit down. The various stacks begin to tower and then a cat knocks them all over and we start again. I scream or sigh, depending on my mood and tidy it all up only to happen again. If you’ve looked at the photos on my website from the article in Country Home, by now you have guessed – it’s all an illusion. And I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’ve got better things to do than clean and straighten and neaten every day.

Here’s what our kitchen table looks like today. I picked up the mugs at Streeter’s yesterday on their second to last day in business after over 80 years. I got enough for a few sentimental holiday gifts. I’ve been thinking about the upcoming holidays and beginning to panic slightly. My mom, sisters and all their families and my friend Alice are coming for Thanksgiving next week "in the country." I can already feel the days evaporating between Turkey and Christmas – it’s an unpleasant feeling – always feeling inadequate, unorganized, rushed and inferior. I mustn’t let those perfectly styled magazines get to me – they’re all make believe. You neither – right?

The tea we drink here is something called “Yorkshire Gold.” The Farmer and I first found it on our very first visit to Great Britain back in 1984. Of course we were attracted to it by the picture of the sheep, sheepdog and shepherd on the box (see the top photo). When we got our first box home, we discovered we loved the taste too. I used to buy fifteen boxes at a time when I was in England and carry them home on the plane. One time, I even had a supplier buy me a bunch and ship it in a container with yarn when I worked at Classic Elite. Luckily with the development of the internet, I now buy “Yorkshire Gold” from Mrs. Bridge’s Pantry in CT. They also sell a lot of other British teas, biscuits, and holiday favorites including Christmas "crackers". If you are an Anglophile, check it out. They sell yarn and the illusive Lyle’s Golden Syrup which is an ingredient in many of Jane’s recipes. I’ve never been to Mrs. Bridge’s but would like to go one day. The women who answer the phone are a delight. (Note: Unfortunately, the loose tea now comes in a plastic shrink-wrap bag - there's still the sheep on the label though. Thank goodness I saved all those cardboard tea "tins" just in case they decided to do away with the quaint packaging.)

Which leads me to the annual rush to make handmade Christmas presents. For years, I made gifts for my sisters, Mark, Mom and Dad. For the past few years, I just haven’t been able to muster up the time and energy to do it. I remember all the fun, late nights, and pressure it was making them. One year there was wool sweaters for everyone (made on a bulky knitting machine). For a few years it was my handmade pottery. Perhaps Julia and I can make something sparkly and small for everyone this year. We love a glittery mess. And as Mom always says "It's the thought that counts." My sister Laurie is a big tea drinker and if I had the time, I’d make her one of these totally useful, knitted, felted tea cozies. You can find the pattern here on the Knitty website. Knit it, felt it and pack it up with a box of Yorkshire Gold or your favorite brew for a “cozy” holiday gift - if you can find the time.


Patty Bolgiano said...

I always want to do crafty type things for xmas, but it never works out that way. Last year I did manage to do some shawls, and this year my mother-in-law will be getting the hell that is Fiesta yarn shawl. I am trying to knit my hubby a really nice cabled sweater but the gauge is really off---unbearably so, to the frog pond it goes. I also want to knit him some heavy duty thick boot types ocks. I am hoping that we get a blizzard so I can just sit and knit in front of the fireplace.


Michele said...

Kristin - I am with you on the clutter on the kitchen table - only in my house it is the dining room table and it get "redistributed" occasionally by an 80 lb dog. Your house is lovely though, whether in its natural state or its Country Home state. I do always like to hear that mine isn't the only home that at any given time is less than magazine-worthy.

With respect to making handmade gifts, all I can do is sigh. Last year I made 20 tote bags and this year I am knitting several scarves and making throw pillows. You have saved my bacon on the throw pillow front though - some squares of hand dyed (but not by me) wool felt patchworked together, some buttons and some embroidery from your book, and I am good to go. Three down and as many more as I can make between now and Christmas. Now if only I can get the (complicated) fingerless gloves I am in the process of making behave (they are currently in "time out").


Kathy said...

I love that tea cozy -- it's great looking! I remember reading that article about your house a couple of years ago -- good to hear that you have all of the piles of stuff too!

Bob Y said...

You need to hire a maid to help you
keep up with the daily chores!

Anonymous said...

How about some birthday cookies for your friend who never got the cookies in July - and is taking a hiatus from her diet so that she may still be the heaviest woman at Pitti Filatti !

Hayley said...

Hi there-

Yorkshire Gold Tea is my favourite too; I love the packaging so much I use it as my computer desktop wallpaper [as taken from the background on their website here: )


Diane H K in Greenfield said...

Mmm, Yorkshire Gold. I got turned on to it by a British colleague who mailed me a box for my birthday years ago. I also love Typhoo decaf tea, and get it here:

I remember the first time I saw a jar of Lyle's Golden Syrup at the Stop 'n' Shop of all places. The illustration of the dead lion with the bees swarming about it always intrigued me.

Soren said...

Hi Kristin! It's Soren, who took the Illustration class with you at the Guild - and I saw you the other day at the Fiber Twist thing in Deerfield.
I just wanted to say YES about the Yorkshire Gold - we get it in teabag form, but we get it at Stop & Shop. My mom's friend ships car parts or something big and metal over from England for his business, and stuffs them with boxes of Yorkshire Gold because it's so cheap over there! HA!

Anonymous said...

I love your news and the photoes are great I feel wery inspired . Love Elsa

Anonymous said...


I just wanted to tell you that I really enjoyed your discussion about tea (I love tea and am certainly an Anglophile). Imagine my surprise when I read that you get yours from Mrs. Bridge's Pantry! That is one of my family's favorite places to go. We try to go about once a month to have "tea" for lunch complete with little tea sandwiches and scones. Often we get "Yorkshire Gold".

If you ever get the chance, you really should go. The ladies who work there are all wonderful and it is like taking a trip to England, if only for an afternoon.

Thanks for the wonderful blog and all the enjoyment it brings to my day.