Thursday, November 30, 2006

Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas

I'm going to post ideas for giving holiday gifts that are kind and gentle to our planet.

This is my first post, and I'm hoping my very smart and eco-minded friends will chime in and make additional recommendations. I'll post these at least once/week between now and the big X day.

Idea #1: Adopt an Acre or a Reef
Check out the
Nature Conservancy's site that explains how you can save an acre of rain forest from development or help protect fragile coral reefs. Both start at $50. While that might be a bit pricey on a single budget for someone like your boss, I think this would make a delightful group gift!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Welsh Rarebit

I am trying out a few recipes this week, in anticipation of a small tea party I will host next week. One I tried tonight is called Welsh Rarebit. It's basically a fancy/spicy grilled cheese. Both the DH and I found it to be quite tasty. I would recommend a nice green salad as a side. See photos below.

This recipe came from the Totally Teatime Cookbook (a gift from NM Tea Lover). According to the author, "..there are unsubstantiated reports of a Welshman who returned home empty-handed from a hunting expedition - hence the grilled cheese sandwich for dinner."

This recipe makes enough for 5-6 English muffins, split into halves. It's very cheesy. Ingredients:
3 eggs
1 teaspoon mustard (we used spicy mustard, and more of it)
1/8 teaspoon white pepper (we used black)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3/4 pound sharp cheddar, grated (~3 cups)
5-6 English muffins, split and toasted

Preheat your broiler.
Combine eggs with mustard, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce in food processor until blended. Add cheese and process to form thick paste. Spread mixture over cut surfaces of English muffins. Place on a baking sheet under broiler, until melted and beginning to brown (about 10-12 min). We also sprinkled them with dried Parsley after they were done.

Muffins with paste, before going into broiler.

The finished Welsh Rarebit

Friday, November 24, 2006

My Woodpecker Moment

I was walking yesterday toward the site for the big Thanksgiving feast the DH was helping to prepare. (We served almost 80 people!) I was using the walk to get myself centered to deal with preparing tables and food for so many people. (It was at our church and since we're a "green" congregation, we used real dishes and flatware instead of paper/plastic.)

It was about 60 degrees, sunny and no wind. An absolutely delightful day and my walk was marvelous. I had just noticed a number of blue jays pecking around under cover of a brush pile. Then I noticed a bright red cardinal (one of my favorite birds). About this time, another bird swooped in front of me. It was a pileated woodpecker. These birds are beautiful and big! It was such a special moment! I stood there in awe for a minute.

Here are the specs on these birds. They're found in the Eastern US and along the West Coast.

  • Length: 15 inches
  • Very large (crow-sized) black and white woodpecker
  • Prominent red crest at rear of head
  • White throat
  • Entirely black body plumage at rest except a white line that extends from bill down sides of neck to upper flanks

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I'm Thankful For...

  • This moment - sitting on my porch with a steaming cup of ginger tea (tisane) and typing this post!
  • A patient life partner (the "DH" - dear hubby)
  • A family that loves me intensely
  • Mom, who taught me to be an independent woman
  • Technology that makes my far-away friends seem not so far away
  • Smart, efficient, creative, fun and kind co-workers
  • Health
  • Dancing (especially the Lindy Hop!)
  • Every time someone chooses to walk, bicycle, carpool or take public transit instead of driving a car
  • People who pick up their dog's poop from sidewalks, parks, other public places and especially my yard
  • That the DH is a good cook
  • Flowers
  • Do-nothing days
  • The wonderful blessing of working from home
  • Times of clarity when I can put my ego (being right) aside and focus on being happy
  • Chocolate, cheese, bread and tea
  • Afternoon runs on sunny winter days

Been Workin' Too Hard

Today when I shut my computer down, I'm committing to NOT turn it back on for work purposes until Monday morning. I need to say it and be accountable, or I'll end up sneaking a peek over the weekend. That's a slippery slope (and a danger of working from home).

I'll let ya know how it goes.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Nov 24 - Buy Nothing Day

From the Buy Nothing site (Adbusters):

"Every November, for 24 hours, we remember that no one was born to shop. If you’ve never taken part in Buy Nothing Day, or if you’ve taken part in the past but haven’t really committed to doing it again, consider this: 2006 will go down as the year in which mainstream dialogue about global warming finally reached its critical mass. What better way to bring the Year of Global Warming to a close than to point in the direction of real alternatives to the unbridled consumption that has created this quagmire?"

Monday, November 20, 2006

List of Current Teas

Here is the list of my current teas. If you are interested in placing an order, send an e-mail to Teas in green are on sale.


Current List of Teas
All teas are $2.50/ounce (plus sales tax), unless otherwise noted.
All teas are from estates that have been audited for social responsibility by the
Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP).

Black Teas

  • Angel's Dream - Flavored with maple sweetness, blackberry pungency.
  • Out of stock - will be reordered in next batch. Apricot - Scented and flavored with natural apricot oil and rind.
  • Chai - Black tea flavored with cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and a secret spice. Normally $2.75/oz - on sale for $2.50/oz.
  • Chocolate Mint - An after dinner tea. Chocolate mint is a base of black Ceylon that has been infused with the chocolate mint herb. Best taken solo or with a smidgen of sugar. People either love it or hate it. One customer uses as potpourri.
  • English Breakfast - Traditional British favorite. A blend of several black teas.
  • Ice Wine - Tea that is scented/flavored with Canadian Ice Wine. Heavenly with chocolate!
  • Earl Grey - This uniquely-flavored tea gets its distinctness from the natural oil of bergamot (a Mediterranean fruit).
  • Lady Londonberry - A favorite among Serendipity Teas customers! Hints of strawberry and lemon.


  • Black Currant - Intense black currant flavor. A best seller even among those who don't mind the caffeine. - $2.75/oz.

Green Teas

  • Jasmine with Flowers - A green Jasmine tea with Jasmine blossoms. One of my favorites.
  • Gen Mai Cha - Also known as popcorn tea or brown rice tea. This tea is a specialty Japanese green sencha blended with fire-toasted rice. The rice gives a nutty aroma and subtle taste to the blend.


Pu-erh tea (pronounced Pu-Air) is for serious tea drinkers! This black tea is famed for its medicinal properties. The leaves come from the Yunnan Dayeh variety of tea tree - which is purported to be closely related to the original tea tree of pre-glacial times. The tea leaves are picked, rolled, withered in the hot sun, after which they are steamed and pressed into cakes. The steaming process generates some moisture and when compressed (without drying) into the cakes, in the course of time the tea takes on a musty and earthy character. Pu-erh that gets somewhat moldy before it naturally dries is considered the best. Pu-erh is then stored for years. Interestingly, the taste of pu-erh becomes more mellow with age and perhaps more acceptable to the western palate.

  • Pu-Erh Beeng Cha - A pu-erh cake tea made from 7 layers of pu-erh and compressed. This Beeng Cha is 2 years old. - $3.00/oz.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Healthier Pie Crust

The DH has created a healthier "press-in" pie crust that I wanted to share with you. I'm anticipating a few of you will be cooking pumpkin pies over the next few days. Cooking with the DH is an experience in artistic expression. He's a very good cook; a very intuitive cook. I'm a not-so-great cook (at least that's a convenient excuse) and I'm very literal when it comes to recipes. Learning to make something that the DH has created is a bit of a challenge for me. :-) The DH patiently attempted to quantify his amounts, but these are still a bit shaky.

Here's the health scoop on this pie crust. It's made with whole wheat as its base and includes oats and flaxseed meal (heart-healthy), plus whole flax seeds (for visual appeal), sunflowers (for taste and texture) and cornmeal (for texture - can replace with whole wheat). The DH also uses olive oil instead of lard, Crisco or butter.

Don't expect your Grandma's flaky crust. Think of this as a crunchy granola base. The sunflowers add a really nice nuttiness. I actually prefer this variety over its white-flour cousin, but this variety may not be for everyone.

Below is a photo that shows the crust. We used a spring form pan for the pie so that we could remove the outer edge and feature the pretty textures in the crust. The pie looks slanted, but it's my shooting alignment that's the problem.

The DH's Healthy Pie Crust

1 + 1/8 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 + cup sunflower seeds (the plus denotes an area where the DH added a little more because he just "felt like it needed it")

1/16 cup flax seeds (whole)

1/4+ cup oats

1/4 cup flax seed meal

1/4 cup corn meal

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup olive oil

1/3 cup milk (or soy milk or water) - may need a little extra

Mix dry ingredients well, then add oil and milk. Mix together with a fork until it's the consistency of cookie dough. May need to add a little extra milk. Form into 2 balls. Press into pie pan. If using spring form, make a wall around the edge (see photo). Add your pie filling and bake per pie instructions.


1 - The crust could easily be made Vegan by replacing the milk with soy milk or water. (The DH uses water sometimes and I can't tell the difference.)

2 - If you are using a springform pan, fit a piece of parchment paper (lightly greased) to the bottom before pressing in the pie. This will help you remove the pie from the bottom of the pan.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sunday Paper Tidbits

If you still have Sunday's paper, look closely through the national advertising flyers. There's likely a coupon for 50-cents off a box of Lipton's new pyramid teas lurking somewhere in all those flyers. The teas have landed in grocery stores here in the Midwest. Not sure about futher west. I'd really love to hear your thoughts on these teas! I've only had a chance to sample one. Will write more on my experience in the near future.

Also, in yesterday's Parade there was a discussion on the health/heart benefits of chocolate. To reap the reward to your heart, you need to consume dark chocolate that is at least 60% cocoa. I'd also recommend organic. More info on chocolate and heart health. Before you get too excited, remember that chocolate packs a very high caloric value for its weight. So think in terms of small bites - one small piece of dark chocolate a day!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Choose Your Chocolate Well

"After cotton, cocoa is the most heavily sprayed crop on the planet. It's responsible for an awful lot of the Lindane and DDT that ends up in the atmosphere and rains down on us." -- Body + Soul magazine, Oct. 2006, pg. 24.

Choose organic chocolate. It's better for you; it's better for the world. My sister tells me she can find Dove organic chocolate even in the middle of the rural Midwest.

My favorite brands are Green & Black's and Endangered Species chocolate. Endangered Species recently moved its headquarters to Indianapolis. The company used green building practices in the construction of its facility.

Perennial Tea Room

I'm still blogging about my Seattle trip!

One of the absolute highlights of the trip was discovering the Perennial Tea Room.
Thanks to Cup of Tea and a Blog for the recommendation! Your Tea in Seattle guide was fabulous!

The Perennial Tea Room is in the Post Alley area of the Pike Place Market (1910 Post Alley). It's a beautiful store! I had a great cup of Makaibari Estate Second Flush Darjeeling tea while I browsed through the book I purchased on reading tea leaves.

I had a great time chatting with one of the owners as she told me the history of her affair with tea and the evolution of the business. I also enjoyed meeting the creator of the Tea Geek website and came home with a "tea shirt."

If you find yourself in Seattle, this is a great place to visit! I hope to make it back there some day!

Cherry Blossoms Image

The image I've got posted in my profile is the cherry blossom stamp that is on my newly refinished desk.