Saturday, May 23, 2015

Teatime Tale #21 - Memories and Memorial Day

 Memories and Memorial Day

          After enjoying her first cup of English Breakfast tea, Allison pulled a simple cream-colored teapot from a shelf in one of the kitchen cabinets. She didn’t want anything colorful or festive, just a simple teapot to serve as a vase.
            She opened the drawer where she kept her pruning shears, grabbed a pair of garden gloves tucked nearby, and headed out back to her rose garden. Unusual for May, there was a chill in the air, and that suited her just fine.
            Her David Austin English roses were doing well, she noticed, especially the soft, vintage pink ones like ‘Tea Clipper’ and ‘Wedgwood.’ But no, those frilly specimens weren’t the ones she wanted. Only those velvety blood-red American roses would do for the arrangement she had in mind.
            Actually, Allison liked all roses. The sturdy red ones out back came with the house, probably some Jackson and Perkins roses bought by the truckload back when the subdivision was first built decades ago. Sturdy and stately, the lush red roses never failed to bloom and give off their sweet perfume.
            Allison usually preferred to see her roses on the bushes as God intended them, but that day, she had something else in mind and needed them inside.
            Earlier in the year, Allison and her husband, Mark, had vacationed in France for two weeks. While there, they decided to visit the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. Mark was a World War II buff, and while Allison was by no means the expert he was, she was only too happy to make the trip because she’d always heard how her great-uncle, Marvin, had died in Normandy on D-Day. She never knew the specifics of his death but simply considered him one of the awful casualties of war.
            As a media specialist—what they called a “librarian” back when she was in school—Allison knew the basic timeline of the war, the major battles, and the historic moments that were still taught to most students. Her trip to Normandy, however, convinced her how much she had yet to learn about the war.

            One of Mark’s old college friends, Gerard, lived near Colleville-sur-Mer, the town where the cemetery was located, and he had met Mark and Allison at the nearest train station and driven them to the site. The entrance was beautifully landscaped. Simply going through the visitor center was a moving experience. There, portraits showed some of those who died in the war, including a woman who had the same name as a teacher at Allison’s school. That was rather jarring to her, as it no doubt was for that woman’s friends all those years ago.
            But it was an offhand comment Gerard had made in the visitor center that stayed with Allison.
            She had been studying the grainy old photos of young men landing on Omaha Beach when she noted the heavy equipment they were carrying as they left their landing craft and headed to shore.
            “It’s a wonder they made it through the water with those heavy loads,” she said.
            “Many of them didn’t,” Gerard said. “Lots of them drowned before they ever even got to shore.”
            Allison had always assumed her great-uncle was killed by a land mine or gunfire on D-Day. It never occurred to her he might have drowned.
            After touring the cemetery and viewing all the memorials, she realized there was a lot about World War II that had never occurred to her.

            “Whatcha doing?” Mark asked, suddenly interrupting Allison’s reverie.
            “Oh, nothing. Just making a little flower arrangement for our Memorial Day cookout,” she said.
            “Listen, I’m running to the store for more gas for the grill. I don’t want to run out while your family’s here this evening.”
            “Sounds good,” she said and watched him leave. Grilling out on Memorial Day was one of her favorite family traditions.
            As Allison pulled a spotty leaf from one of her roses, she thought back to the flower arrangements she had seen lying at the base of some of the crosses and Stars of David marking those graves in Normandy. She had placed a small bouquet at her great-uncle’s grave. Like other visitors to the cemetery, she and Mark had gathered sand from the beach and rubbed it into the engraved lettering on the cross so that Marvin’s name would show up in a photo. Afterward, she’d wondered whether it was respectful to take a photo of a grave marker, yet she couldn’t have imagined not taking the photo. She was glad she had, because her parents had seemed to appreciate it.
            Enjoying the quiet and peaceful morning, Allison was content to be back home in America, traipsing through her rose garden and snipping roses.
            For far too many years, she thought, she had treated Memorial Day as simply a fun holiday and an excuse for a three-day weekend. But the trip to Normandy had changed that. It made her resolve to observe the day properly and remember those who gave their lives for their country—including her great-uncle.
            Satisfied with her rose selections, Allison went back inside the house to preheat the oven for a cake she was baking for the family cookout. Then she prepared another cup of tea and settled in to watch the news, hoping perhaps someone would be filming live at the cemetery in Normandy. The sight of those 9,387 grave markers was one she would never forget. And she hoped she’d never again take it lightly.
            Allison rinsed out the cream teapot, filled it halfway full with cool water, and arranged a few of those deep red roses. In back, she added a small American flag she’d picked up at the craft store.
            “There,” she said. “And thank you, Uncle Marvin.”

Friday, May 22, 2015

The teacup winner is …

Heather from the Blue Jeans and Teacups blog! Heather, if you'll send me your snail-mail address via the e-mail button at right, I'll get this teacup headed your way. Congrats!

You are cordially invited to … tea on the porch in Senoia!

The lovely lady at right in this photo from last summer, my dear friend Nancy Roy, asked me to share with you tea friends that she would love to have you attend the Senoia Area Historical Society (SAHS) Tea on the Porch on June 20, 2015, to be held at Dub and Mary Pearman's charming historic home in Senoia. I am once again serving as a judge for the hat contest, so I will be there and would love to see any of you who might be able to attend. Dub, above at left, is president of the SAHS, and he and his wife are some of the most gracious hosts you will ever meet!

And here is Mrs. Dub, Mary Pearman, at left, along with SAHS Museum Director Maureen Schuyler. Last weekend when I spoke on tea at the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society (we love history here in Coweta County), I was surprised and delighted when both Mary and Maureen came to my talk. In fact, when I first saw them walk in, I couldn't quite believe it was the two of them and thought wow, those two ladies look just like Mary and Maureen from over in Senoia. Since they've heard me give a tea talk before, I was so touched that they came to Newnan for my talk. I will attend their tea parties any time!

Not to mention, I know there will again be beautiful teawares …

Lovely arrangements on the tables …

A Hat Contest with some charming entries …

And some of the yummiest teatime fare imaginable! This year's Tea on the Porch will also celebrate the life of Mary A. Brown, entrepreneur, who operated the first bed and breakfast inn in Coweta County, the Culpepper House on Broad Street in Senoia. Mary was also a dedicated member of the historical society and hosted its first tea at the Culpepper House. For reservations or more information on the tea, please call Nancy Roy at 770-599-6321 or e-mail her at roy292@bellsouth.net.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Daphne's Diary No. 2 of 2015

So there I was at Barnes and Noble the other day, riffling through the stack of Daphne's Diary magazines and looking for the best copy of the new issue. Suddenly, a woman walked up holding a copy of this very issue in her hands. I said something like oh, excuse me, thinking she wanted to put it back in the stack, but she was sort of embarrassed to admit she'd noticed her copy had a slight blemish along the spine and she was looking for the most perfect one. I laughed and told her I was doing the exact same thing, and she seemed so relieved. I have a feeling I would have liked that woman since we're both a little OCD about our magazines!

There is always much to love within these pages, and this time, I was delighted to come across a feature on Jo-Anne Coletti of Massachusetts, whose romantic artwork I've seen in many publications here in the U.S. I wish I could paint the soft, romantic roses that she does. And here's one painted alongside a gorgeous teacup. *Sigh*

I loved the magazine's feature on Tuscany, since I got to go there for the first time a year ago, and I even enjoyed the letters in this issue. Readers often send along photos of things the magazine inspired them to make or create, and this time, I liked seeing the tall glass cloche with teacups underneath. Charming!

Detachable recipe cards are included in each issue, too, and I must say I was intrigued by the idea of strawberry eclairs with basil cream. I've had a strawberry and basil tea but not a strawberry and basil treat! Would you try these? I think I just might!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sampling new teas from Twinings

Back in February, I know many of us took advantage of an offer from Twinings to send us three free samples of tea of our choice. Has everyone received their samples yet?

I was so happy when mine came, and I can't believe Twinings goes to this much trouble to personalize their sample offerings! (What a great marketing technique, though.)

The first tea I sampled was this Green Tea with Pomegranate, Raspberry and Strawberry. Some pomegranate-flavored teas I've tried are too tart, but this one was just perfect, perhaps balanced by the berry flavors. I very much enjoyed this tea and will look for it in stores.

I had assumed the green tea would be my favorite of these samples until I tried the Honeybush, Mandarin and Orange herbal tea. I loved it! It had the most pronounced orange flavor I've ever found in a tea, so I hope I can buy a whole box of this one in the near future.

The only disappointment was this Spiced Apple Chai tea. When I opened the foil packet, the tea smelled heavenly, and I was instantly transported to fall and apple festivals, warm sweaters and cinnamon brooms. But steeped? The tea smelled like dirt! It's the exact whiff I get when I open my bag of potting soil, and I was so disturbed by the dirt smell and funky, earthy taste that I couldn't finish the cup of tea. So, those were my experiences with the Twinings samples. How were yours?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Scarfing up the great buys at Goodwill

Last week, I finished reading a book in which the heroine mentions enjoying her various scarves now that she's learned how to wear them. I don't suppose I've ever really done much with a scarf besides tie one around my neck bandana-style, so I made a mental note that the next time I was in Goodwill, I would see if they had any cheap scarves I could experiment with.

And I kid you not, this teatime scarf was the first one I found! The $1.91 price tag was perfect, and I'm not opposed to using this as a tablecloth either!

This Goodwill in Rome, Ga. had several items that caught my eye last week. My most expensive purchase was this $2.92 item. I hate when they tape things up so that you have to buy them and go home to check them out, but it worked out fine in this case.

Don't we all need a tidbit server for Christmas?

And this set of three teacups wasn't vintage bone china as I might have preferred, but …

For $1.51 for all three, I figured I couldn't go wrong with a few 50-cent Christmas teacups!

Monday, May 18, 2015

It's time for a May giveaway!

I don't know why T.J. Maxx is getting in so many pretty new teacups lately, but they sure are. I was in three different T.J. Maxx stores over the weekend, and all three of them had some chintz on the shelves. Astonishing! And if there's anything I like better than a new chintz teacup, it's TWO new chintz teacups—that's one to keep and one to share!

I've already started using mine, and oh my goodness, is this not one of the prettiest things you've ever seen? I might just have to write a Teatime Tale about this teacup before the year is over!

Meanwhile, if you'd like to win the matching set for yourself, just leave an "Enter me" to this post by 7 a.m. EST on Friday, May 22, and you'll be entered to win. U.S. residents only, please. Good luck!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Teatime Tale #20 — The Chinese Tea Basket

The Chinese Tea Basket

            It was Katherine’s seventy-fifth birthday, and Mary Linda could hardly wait to present her with a gift.
            The two had lived near each another in Atlanta since the time their parents brought them home from the hospital within four days of each other. Katherine was the older girl, and Mary Linda never let her forget it.
            They were fast friends from early on and more like sisters by the time they graduated high school. For that reason, their parents were quite comfortable surprising the girls with a three-week trip to China as a graduation gift. Flying out of New York, they were met in Beijing by old family friends, a missionary couple who agreed to serve as hosts and chaperones.
            During their stay, they toured some of the country’s many magnificent sites, including the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China. No matter how busy they were, their hostess served green tea every afternoon using a beautiful Chinese teapot and matching handleless cups stored in a wicker basket. Katherine and Mary Linda found it the height of sophistication, and both developed a lifelong appreciation for green tea.
            Katherine had shopped for a similar set for decades. Once, she thought she’d found it at a small antique shop in Chicago, but the lid had been smashed to smithereens and inexpertly repaired. Perhaps that tea set was supposed to remain a memory.
            Their love for teatime wasn’t the only thing influenced by that trip. For Katherine, the taste of travel whetted her appetite for more. Once home, she got a receptionist job in a small Atlanta travel agency where she fell in love and married a man who loved to travel as much as she did. Because they both worked in the travel industry, when their children came along, the young family got to enjoy many trips across the United States and abroad.
            Mary Linda, meanwhile, had caught the eye of the captain on their flight to Beijing. Phone numbers were swapped, a courtship ensued, and she married him with the understanding she didn’t want to leave Atlanta. Since the airport there was getting busier every day, that was not a problem for the young pilot.

            The girls’ trip to China was just the beginning of their travel adventures. They had enjoyed tea in the shadow of Windsor Castle, had toured the Colloseum in Rome, and had purchased matching Herm├Ęs scarves in Paris after visiting the Eiffel Tower. In their seventies, they continued to enjoy trips together, such as the Alaskan cruise they’d just taken with their husbands.
            Mary Linda couldn’t believe Katherine was about to celebrate such a milestone birthday, and she was just days behind herself. Seventy-five. How did those years fly by so quickly?
            She could tell by the mirror—and by the medicine cabinet—that her body was changing, but inside, she was still that excited eighteen-year-old who flew to China after graduation. She was a little wiser, she hoped, but eternally young where it counted.
            One winter day, she and her husband were headed to a family reunion out of state when she spotted a huge, junky-looking antique mall. Something told her to stop.
            The place was freezing cold, and Mary Linda shivered as she walked the aisles with a watchful eye. She was ready to head back to the car to warm up when she saw it—a wicker basket fastened with a metal latch and clasp.
            Don’t get your hopes up, she told herself. How many times had she come across what she thought was a wicker tea basket only to realize it was simply another old purse?
            Could it be?
            Mary Linda had unhooked the latch, lifted the clasp, raised the lid, and held her breath. Finally! Inside was a set that was a dead ringer for the one she and Katherine had used in China fifty-seven years ago.

            The night of Katherine’s party, Mary Linda and her husband pulled up at the country club and parked the Cadillac. As she reached into the backseat for the carefully wrapped package, Mary Linda smiled at the bright red rice paper she’d found to wrap the gift. Perfect. Up the steps and into the club she went, eager to find her friend.
            The party invitation had expressly said no gifts, but Mary Linda couldn’t have cared less about that particular breach of etiquette. The second she saw Katherine, she motioned her over to a small side room at the club, one that was temporarily quiet and empty.
            “Come here. Open your gift,” she said.
            “Gift?” Katherine said. “I thought we agreed we weren’t swapping gifts this year.
            “I lied,” Mary Linda said. “Now go on and open it.”
            “You’ve got my curiosity up now,” Katherine said, tugging at the paper and tape. She wriggled off the bright red bow and paused to admire the giftwrap.
            Mary Linda had used a lot of tissue in the box, so she knew it would take Katherine a few minutes to unearth the gift. A gasp. A look. And … was that a tear?
            “It can’t be,” Katherine said. “Not after all this time.”
            “Yes, it is,” Mary Linda said, a deep joy filling her as she watched her best friend admire the same tea accoutrements they had enjoyed as young women on their first travels around the world.
            “And just for fun”—Mary Linda reached into her fuchsia floral tote bag—“I brought a Thermos. It’s green tea, and I want us to share the first cups using your new tea set.”
            Tears streamed down Katherine’s face, and Mary Linda’s wasn’t exactly dry.
            “I washed the teapot and the cups, by the way,” Mary Linda said as Katherine laughed.
            Mary Linda poured some still-steaming tea into Katherine’s cup and then her own. She held it aloft, urging Katherine to do the same.
            “To friendship,” she said, gently clinking cups.
            “To friendship,” Katherine said.
            And just as they had all those years before, they sipped and enjoyed their tea.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Finding tea at the coffee shop

During my years as a journalist, I had three women call up and say they wanted to meet me. All three became friends, genuine keep-in-touch, send-each-other-Christmas-cards kind of friends. I find that interesting. Yesterday, I got to catch up with one of them, Amy, at our longtime meeting place, Leaf and Bean (aka "the coffee shop") in downtown Newnan. I arrived hungry, and Amy was first to notice they had a muffin made with tea. I knew immediately that's what I would be ordering!

Oh, and what a pretty thing this muffin was, especially all warmed up and gooey! Actually, this was my second muffin since I killed the first one. I was standing in line balancing purse, my cup of Kyoto Cherry Rose Green Tea, and the muffin when I dropped it, splat, right on the floor. I'm sure the tall, statuesque blonde in the tennis outfit who was behind me in line thought it was God's way of telling me I should have ordered a cup of fat-free yogurt and a banana instead, but I'm no quitter. The clerk told me not to worry about it and she'd warm up another one and bring it to me. Told her I'd gladly pay for it, but she insisted not. (And of course I have enough of my southern mama in me that I've done the mental calculations and realized I need to go by there and purchase about four more muffins to sort of even things out.) At any rate, the muffins were delicious. Amy had one, too, and we both loved the ginger, which we assume was caramelized ginger thanks to those ooey-gooey chunks of warm caramel. Yum.

I should also point out that though I didn't try them this visit, they have macarons in the display case now, so I must go back very, very soon for some of these as well.


So if you're in the area, and especially if you're local, drop by and tell them you'd like to try a delicious Ginger and Green Tea muffin to make up for the losses they suffered because of your klutzy friend!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Harrods English Afternoon Tea

One day last week, my husband I rode over to Pine Mountain, and while I was browsing in one gift store, he went in another and came out with a box of this English Afternoon Tea from Harrods, the legendary department store in London. How curious to find their tea for sale in Pine Mountain!

I was happy to find the box contains individually-wrapped bags since a) I think they keep the tea fresher and b) I save old teabag wrappers for crafting purposes!

And don't you love the artwork on the box? The tea itself, by the way, is precisely what I'd hoped for, a brisk blend that's stronger than we usually get here in the U.S., but steeped for just 3 minutes, it's precisely the strength I like. A year ago this month I was actually visiting Harrods, so it was lovely to find "a taste of Harrods" (literally!) in my own backyard.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

"A Teacup Collection" by Molly Hatch

Thanks to an Amazon gift card from my husband, I have added a few new books to my library in the past week, including the very lovely "A Teacup Collection" by Molly Hatch. This is rather like a picture book for grownups who are tea lovers, and I enjoyed reading of how it came about. Hatch, a studio potter who loves history, visited the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts in 2011 and was smitten with Francine and Sterling Clark's collection of some 270 fine teacups, some of them dating to the 1700s. She got permission to actually handle and study the teacups, and she chose about 100 to illustrate for the book.

In her introduction to the book, Curator of Decorative Arts Kathleen Morris of the Clark Art Institute notes, "Porcelain cups and saucers were made in profusion in the eighteenth century due to the new fashion of drinking the exotic beverages of tea, coffee, and chocolate. All of these were introduced into Europe through trade in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and had taken hold as fashionable drinks by the early eighteenth century. The raw ingredients of these drinks—tea leaves, coffee beans, cacao beans, and sugar—were all very expensive, so that at first these drinks, like the porcelain they were served in, were the purview only of the wealthy." Sterling Clark, by the way, was one of the heirs of the Singer sewing machine fortune.

The real highlight of this book, though, is all the charming paintings, included in a catalog format and even featuring tiny details from the saucers, which are not pictured. In a book such as this, I love to stop and linger every few pages and decide which cup I find the prettiest, which one I'd choose if, say, the Clark Art Institute lost its mind and had a yard sale.

I was frankly surprised (but very pleased) that a book publisher today would devote an entire book to, well, pretty teacups, but I'm so glad they did! And when I looked online, I was tickled to find a Chronicle Books blog post about the design process for the cover, which I think is simply splendid. If you'd like to see the other covers that were in the running click here, and you can also see some of the interior pages from the book. I highly recommend "A Teacup Collection" and think you'll enjoy perusing its charming pages with a cup of your favorite tea nearby!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A different kind of birthday cake!

My birthday gift from my friend Susan this year was both beautiful AND delicious: a cake she specially made to fit this giant Lacy Owl design cup and saucer, and with icing roses embellished with edible glitter. Oh. My. Goodness! This cup alone is actually more than 5 inches across, so the cake is actually large enough that I got to enjoy quite a few servings and even share with my husband. (A little. A very little.)

Susan is one of the best bakers around, so anyone lucky enough to get one of her treats knows they are lucky indeed. When she arrived at my house the other day bearing a cake box, I knew I was going to love whatever was inside. I still want her to teach me to make these gorgeous icing roses—which she claims are super easy—but meanwhile, I have been delighted to eat the ones on this giant birthday teacup cake! Both cake and icing are simply out of this world. Mmmmmmm …

This time, it's hard to say whether I'm more enamored of the food or the serving piece! This pretty aqua plate from 222 Fifth is the exact shade of turquoise as another 222 Fifth teacup I bought not long ago.

And as Susan quickly pointed out (since we both love lace), the owls are lacy ones! I think this is such a clever idea, but alas, I don't have my friend's skill set to ever make such a specialty cake, though I'm certainly happy I got to eat and enjoy one!

Monday, May 11, 2015

How we spent our birthday money

Saturday was the monthly meeting of my mystery writers group in Smyrna, and afterward, since I was in the neighborhood, I decided to hit that great big T.J. Maxx and More I love so much at Cumberland. After buying some new artwork I'd wanted for my bedroom, I had a little birthday money from my dad left over, and I am very funny about gift money and gift cards. I have a rule that such gifts *cannot* be used for any necessities or ordinary purchases and *must* be used for something frivolous. Like more teacups!

T.J. Maxx had a ton of pretty Gracie China teacups on Saturday, and I thought this $6.99 model was one of the loveliest ones I've seen in a while. I liked that it even has that vintage-looking gold trim around the edges. I don't recall ever seeing this vintage style of trim on a new teacup before.

I assumed that would be the only teacup I'd buy, but then I went next door to Marshalls and found a chintz teacup that was just as pretty! I cannot remember the last time I found new chintz at any price, and at $6.99 (and with a little b'day money to spare), I thought this was a no-brainer!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Teatime Tale #19 - The Mother's Day Tea Mug

The Mother's Day Tea Mug

            “Is my nose really this big?”
            I whispered the question to Dan this morning after the boys came in with a tray bearing my Mother’s Day gifts, which included a pottery mug supposedly bearing my likeness that David, my six-year-old, made in school, and the breakfast that Jared, my eight-year-old, made in the kitchen. I’m already self-conscious about my oversized schnoz, and when I saw the one on my mug from David, I was ready to book that appointment with a plastic surgeon.
            Dan assured me he thinks my nose is “cute,” but I’m not buying that.
            A better mother wouldn’t have pondered such things and would have graciously accepted the tray of cereal and burned toast with a smile on her face—which I did—but without thinking, “I wonder how much they wrecked the kitchen?” So I ate the soggy Cheerios, insisted on sharing my toast with Dan, and proved to David that I really did love my new mug by heading into the kitchen and steeping a cup of English Breakfast Tea.
            I don’t know where his teacher got the clay or whatever probably-toxic substance this thing is made of, but it weighs ten pounds empty, and with tea, a solid fifteen. As soon as I finished sipping, I told David I loved the mug way too much to use it every day, and I plucked a hydrangea blossom from a vase by the kitchen window and voila, a new tea mug vase.

            Mother’s Day ought to be renamed National Motherhood Guilt Day. Seriously. Older moms may enjoy this day and bask in the adoration of their successful adult children, but those of us with young kids? We know we’ll never be Mother of the Year. I’m simply trying to get my boys through elementary school without too many more calls to the principal’s office.
            And two nights ago, I had just finished doing laundry when Jared ran in yelling that David had something stuck in his cast and couldn’t get it out. Yeah. As if a cast isn’t bad enough…
            Turns out, David had an itch on his broken leg and wondered if a plastic army man holding a bayonet might relieve his symptoms. He poked the stupid thing so far up his cast that it got stuck and was causing him, apparently, excruciating levels of pain.
            I did not enjoy explaining this to the good people on duty at Emergency Care. One of them remembered us from the night David first broke his leg six weeks ago, but then it’s not every day a kid comes in with a leg flopping out from under his Iron Man costume and refusing to let go of his plastic pumpkin full of Halloween candy. In March.
            My boys are forever challenging me to research new topics that none of the parenting manuals ever address. Forget about the books on teaching kids self-esteem and anti-bullying stuff. I want to see a book for kids with chapters titled “Places You Do Not Poke Marbles” and “Why We Don’t Replace Mommy’s Ocean Scent Body Mist with Windex.”
            This morning before church, I spent twenty minutes trying to figure out what Jared did with the khakis I laid out for him yesterday. They were pressed and draped across his beanbag chair when I kissed him good night, but this morning, there was nothing there. Nada. He hadn’t seen the pants. David said he hadn’t seen them either, and just to be sure, I looked up his cast, though Dan said that was overkill. So maybe there’s a pants thief wandering around the neighborhood and I just haven’t read that e-mail from the homeowners association yet, but I doubt it.

            After Sunday School, the boys came out with Mother’s Day cards they’d made for me. Jared’s was addressed to “World’s Best Mom, Amy Simpson.” David’s was a fill-in-the-blank model from his Sunday School book, and it read, “I love my mom because …” and he’d written, “she makes good tacos sometimes.” Sometimes?
            The pastor called on all the moms to stand up and be recognized, and I thought—not for the first time—that a gift certificate for babysitting would be a much nicer gift than the carnation and bookmark they give us Every. Single. Year.
            After church, we headed to Dan’s mom’s for lunch. I called my mom on the way to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. She and my dad are in Hawaii on vacation, and they were about to go snorkeling. Sigh.
            Dan’s mom loves to cook, hallelujah, and the boys gave her the new Pioneer Woman cookbook, which she appeared to love.
            After lunch, we went home, and I got my real gift this year. Dan took the boys to the park for two whole hours. I was going to organize my crafts studio, read my new novel, and wash the boys’ ball uniforms for this week’s games. Instead, I took a nap.
            When I woke up, Dan and the boys were just getting back. He’d gotten a pizza for supper, bless him. A few hours of computer games later, and it was time to tuck the boys in for the night.
            Jared is my easy child and goes off to sleep without a fuss. David, this time, was actually kind of quiet—for him—when I went in to say good night.
            “Did you really like your mug, Mom?” David asked.
            “Sweetie, I love it,” I said. “Didn’t you see me drinking tea out of it this morning and then using it as a new vase?”
            “Yeah,” he said, “but my teacher made all the noses too big. I told her your nose is much smaller than that, and my mug isn’t nearly as pretty as you are.”
            I gave him a kiss, told him I loved him, tucked the Iron Man sheets around him, and headed to the kitchen, where I admired my beautiful new tea mug-slash-vase.
            Happy Mother’s Day? Yeah, it was.