the color of teaA delicious, melt-in-your-mouth novel featuring the sweet pleasures of French pastries and the exotic scents and sights of China, The Color of Tea is a scrumptious story of love, friendship and renewal. (Amazon.com)

I recently finished reading this book by Hannah Tunnicliffe and loved it. It's about a woman who relocates to China with her husband, finds out she isn't able to have children, learns to bake macarons, and opens a tea shop. Of course, there's more to the story than just food, but the descriptions of the macaron flavors and fillings that the author uses to open each chapter (like gunpowder green tea with sweet mandarin buttercream or provençal lavender with sweet fig buttercream) left me craving macarons.

The history of macarons is a bit hazy—some say they're French, some that they were originally developed by Florentine pastry chefs and brought to France by Catherine de Medici. Who knows for sure.

Basically, they're two crunchy shells baked from an egg white, almond, and powdered sugar meringue sandwiched together with a creamy flavored filling. The shells are usually brightly-colored and often have flavors added. I've never tried them before.

And maybe they're best when freshly-baked? I picked up a small sampler box of them at a local gourmet food shop—pistache, citron, and fraise—and I wasn't all that impressed. Not bad, but not worth swooning over either.

macaronsI saw a small notice in Vogue that Ladurée, the Parisian patisserie famous for their macarons (they've been making them for 150 years), recently opened a branch in New York City (864 Madison Avenue). If I'm in the neighborhood, maybe I'll stop in and try a few. I probably should have just started with the best.

Have any of you made these yourselves? What do you think? Am I missing something?


a new project

I hope to add a few new things to my product line and website this year. Still sourcing materials and figuring out how to make them work financially. More on that later.

This post is sewing-related but it's more of a personal project than a business one. I'm always cold at night (one of my hypothyroid winter symptoms) and I've been piling on the blankets but I hate the weight of them. I found an IKEA comforter in the closet—a leftover from one of my husbands apartments I think—but the cover is bright red. That just doesn't work with my aqua/lavender/lime color scheme. After a fruitless search for a cover that wasn't really expensive, backordered until spring, or just plain ugly, I came across this Design Sponge tutorial. I can sew, right? I even know how to do French seams. I'll make my own cover!

fabric swatch

And I even found the perfect fabric at Fat Quarter Shop. La Dee Da by Erin McMorris for Free Spirit Fabrics has all my colors (the lime is more yellow than I'd like but the aqua is a dead-on match for my wall color) with a splash of white and charcoal gray to tone it down a bit. It was one of last years designs so I was able to get it for half price. And that's great because I needed 10 yards! I bought the Oopsy Daisy (top swatch) and Fiddlesticks (bottom swatch) prints in Aqua — and will make the duvet cover reversible. In case I overload on the flowers and want something a bit more modern.

fabric swatch

I haven't decided yet what I'm going to use to fasten the cover closed—zippers, snaps, or buttons—all have their advantages. That's the last step so I'll see how the rest of it goes first.


a fresh start

A new year, a fresh start. I seriously neglected blogging last year and I paid the price for it with less comments to the posts I did publish and less traffic to my website. I'm going to try to do better this year.

The problem for me, and likely for most bloggers, too, is coming up with ideas for posts. In my case, I always feel that I need to say something important, or at least something worth saying. And when I can't find my voice, I don't say anything at all. But, maybe I'm over thinking the whole thing (I'll admit that I do that...a lot). Maybe it's enough to say a few words or post a photo with no words at all. Maybe each post doesn't have to be such a big deal. I'm working on that.

Some other resolutions are to start working my way through the pile of half-finished and not-yet-started embroidery projects in my studio. I'm really good at starting things—choosing colors, planning the stitching, etc.—but not so good at the home stretch part. With all this snow we've been having (more so far this year than the entire winter last year), curling up indoors with needle and floss doesn't sound half bad.

I'd also like to offer some new products on my website this year. I'm still sourcing materials and making prototypes so I won't say too much about them just yet. But I will be adding new embroidery patterns very soon.

Happy New Year to you all!