Wednesday, December 21, 2005
We'll mark the sun set tonight, as well. Actually, that would be about now.
Starting tomorrow, all of us in the Northern hemisphere begin the slow tilt toward the sun. Reminds me of the song, "Here comes the sun...."
Gotta go catch the fading light!
Monday, December 19, 2005
I spent a lovely evening with my neighbor eating cheese and crackers, drinking hot cocoa (with Irish cream), oolong tea, and an artisanal green with a red clover inside. We also made yummy almond biscotti. (Thanks for your help & companionship, neighbor!)
After a few slight mishaps that the DH (dear husband) corrected, the biscotti continued along just fine and turned out lovely. (Mishaps: I forgot to take the baking stone out of the oven and it was smoking up the entire house! Plus, I put one of the biscottis on the lowest rack of the oven and it almost burned (this added to the smoke).) This was my first attempt at biscotti. Let me just say that next time, I'll know the ropes. >-) Remember, I'm NOT the master cook in the family. That title happily belongs to the DH.
Here's the recipe...
*Basic Almond Biscotti*
3/4 cup Butter1 cup Sugar
Dash almond extract4 Eggs3 cups all-purpose flour3 teaspoons baking powder1/2 teaspoon Salt1 teaspoon Anise seed1 cup Almonds -- coarsely chop
Two greased cookie sheets
Preheat oven to 350 and TAKE OUT the cooking stone. >-) Cream butter and sugar until light; add almond extract. Add eggs, one at a time beating after each addition; continue beating until very light and fluffy.
Mix flour, baking powder, salt and anise seed together, then mix into creamed mixture. Stir in nuts, divide dough into half.
Form dough into 2 loaves, 1 1/2 inch wide and the length of each baking sheet. Place onto greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350~F for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cut loaf diagonally into 3/4 inch slices.
Return to oven, bake at 375~F 10 minutes longer, or until toasted and crispy.Variation: Omit anise seeds; add 1 teaspoon lemon zest and 1 teaspoon orange zest; when baked, slice each loaf diagonally and return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes to brown.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Here are two of my favorites. This was actually from an earlier Newsletter on my Serendipity Teas site.
"I am on a quest for the perfect chai. I have taken a dislike to those premixes. They’re too sweet or too milky or not spicy enough, or something! I’ve finally found two that, for me, are always a success! I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do.
Black Chai (without milk or sweetener)
For when I’m in a spicy – and not sweet – mood.
1+ teaspoon Serendipity Teas Chai Spice
6 - 8 oz water
2 - 3 slivers fresh ginger root, peeled
Pot for boiling
Add the peeled ginger root to the pot and bring to a boil. Add the Chai Spice tea and turn off the burner. Steep until desired strength. (I prefer about 3 minutes.) Pour the liquid (through the strainer) into the tea cup. Enjoy!
Chai Latte (with milk and sweetener)
For when I’m in the mood for an indulgence.
1+ teaspoon Serendipity Teas Chai Spice
6 - 8 oz water
1 teaspoon maple syrup (the real stuff - honey is OK, too)
Tea sock or filter
Milk (Rice and soy work, too)
Frother (Pampered chef sells a nice one)
Bring the water to a boil. Add the Chai Spice to your tea sock or filter. Pour the boiling water over the tea sock/filter in the large mug. Steep until desired strength. (I prefer mine about 3.5 minutes. I make it strong because I’m adding to it.) Stir in 1 teaspoon of real maple syrup. Once the steeping is complete, top off with milk – to taste. Froth the liquid until a nice foam forms on top. Trust me, you’ll need a big mug with plenty of space on top for the frothing. Indulge!"
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Monday, December 12, 2005
Thursday, December 08, 2005
"To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness... And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."
Quite serendipitous, I think. Ponder that with a cup of tea.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
The DH believes part of the problem is due to the constant sensory bombardment in our society. He thinks that folks are so often "plugged in" that they forget what it's like to have quiet conversation. Reference points become talking over an iPod, rather than over a table in a public setting. It's a plausible theory.
In terms of proper etiquette, your conversation in a restaurant should reach the ears of your table partners, but not beyond. Even though you're in a public setting, your conversation should be private. The same philosophy goes with cell phone use. Please, do not subject me to your latest boyfriend breakup or plans for the weekend. If you need to make a cell phone call, the best option is to find a private location and keep your voice down. In restaurants, cell phones should be off or on vibrate. If you have to make a call, step into the lobby or, even better, outside. And please, keep your voice down!
Monday, December 05, 2005
Saturday, December 03, 2005
These lovely photos are the result of a weekend of ego-boosting bread baking. They are cranberry-walnut mini-bundts, and they go delightfully with tea! I made several of them for a bake sale fundraiser, and the DH provided the marvelous packaging. The first day, I contributed 5 packs. They sold for $5 a piece, within the first hour. Well, this stroked my ego for sure, so I made another batch on Friday night to sell on Saturday. I've listed the recipe below...read all the way to the bottom to see my variations for the mini-bundts. My favorite thing about this recipe, aside from the mini bundts being very pretty, is that it uses fresh cranberries. Enjoy!
Stephanie's Ego Bread (AKA Cranberry-Walnut)
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup chopped cranberries (they chop up really well in a hand nut chopper)
1/2 cup water (plus a couple of tablespoons, if needed)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Grease and lightly flour a loaf pan.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl. Beat in the eggs with an electric mixer. Stir in the water, vanilla, and cranberries.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in the wet mixture and chopped nuts. Add a couple of tablespoons of water if the batter seems too dry. Pour the batter into a loaf pan. Bake for ~50 - 55 min. Test with a toothpick.
Mini Bundt Instructions
I have a mini-bundt pan (6 molds) with a dark nonstick surface. Because of this, I reduce the oven temp by 25 degrees to 325.
Grease well the insides of the bundt pan, going slowly to get all the crevices. (The instructions with the pan suggest a light flouring, too. I forgot to do this, and it worked just fine.)
Follow the instructions above to make the batter. Spoon the batter into the mini-bundts.
Cook for about 35 minutes. Start checking with a toothpick about 32 min.
Remove the mini bundt pan from the oven and let it cool for at least 20 minutes before trying to remove the bread. Turn out the mini bundts onto a wire cooling rack. Let cool completely, then dust with powdered sugar (it looks like snow!).
Friday, December 02, 2005
For you data lovers, check out the advanced analysis.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
The DH (dear husband) and I went contra dancing last week. Contra dancing, for me, always promises to be an evening of great fun. Contra dancing is like what happened in the movie Shakespeare in Love. You dance in pairs (doesn't require male/female) and the group of dancers forms two long lines, facing each other. The dance is to an 8-step count and the music really hammers out this rhythm - it's hard to miss, even for those who don't have a musical ear. If you can walk 8 steps and turn around, you can contra dance! The dance steps are called out and you progress up or down the line of dance. You will dance with both your partner (who stays the same) and neighbor (who changes each 8 counts). It's kind of like square dancing, only without the crazy clothes and in long lines vs. squares. Hippie types (both original and new) tend to be drawn to this, as do those who appreciate good, live music. The music is almost always live! That rocks! There are a fair number of non-hippies, too, so don't be scared.
There are a standard set of dance steps - balance and swing, allamande, gypsy, do-si-do, left and right star, etc. Contra dancing tends to be done by a faithful crew - many of them having danced for years and years. But the cool thing is that newcomers are ALWAYS welcome! And, if you get lost during a dance, someone will just nudge you along the line.
Now, coming to the dizzy part....the swing step has you move, with your partner, in a small circle. Each partner leans back and pivots around a center, so that you're propelling each other around. When done well, you can really be fluid and build up some speed. It's very fun!
Not to brag, but I'm a pretty good follower. Experienced dancers pick up on this quickly. What this means is that I often get swung with a flourish! Swung really fast, then with a twirl out. Spin-spin-spin. Last week, I danced about 5 contras in a row. By dance 3, I was in a perpetual state of dizziness. And, my stomach hurt from laughing so much! I fought the dizzy state at first - trying all the tricks of focusing on my partner's eyes (or nose, or buttons), focusing on the same spot on the wall, etc. It wasn't working. Somewhere in dance 3, I decided to let go and just "be" dizzy.
Here's the cool part - when I decided to stay dizzy, everything was OK. I didn't fall down, I didn't trip, I didn't knock someone over. I was able to keep dancing. I just had to change my expectation and frame of reference. I let dizzy be my normal (albeit altered) state. It was actually really interesting to experience this - my body felt different, but I could still control it and be a smooth dancer. I just trusted myself and that a hand would be there to catch me when I was done spinning! This could be a metaphor for life, at least for me.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
1 - Do NOT use boiling water! This is the biggest problem most folks have with green teas. They treat a green just like a black. Green tea is much more delicate than black tea. As a rule of thumb, use water that is just shy of boiling. (I pick the kettle off the burner when it starts to rumble a bit...or when a few bubbles pop up.) Technically, water should be between 160-180 degrees F for green teas.
2 - Do NOT steep too long! Black teas can stand up to a long steep - 3 to 5 minutes. Generally, I steep green teas between 2 to 3 minutes. Steep duration is a very personal thing as people prefer differing stengths of tea. However, start on the low side and increase gradually until you find the time just right for you. Tip: keep a notebook with the name of the tea, the water temp (I use the shortcuts "rumble, shhh, or sing*"), and the steep length you prefer. These factors will vary even among green teas.
3 - If possible, use loose leaf tea rather than bagged. Bagged teas are OK in a pinch, but loose teas are almost always superior in quality.
As a related tip - if you don't like a particular tea on your first try, I suggest backing off the steep time and/or water temp and giving it another go.
Bottoms up to a better cup of green tea!
* My words describing sounds may not synch with what you hear. Here's a bit more on my descriptions.
Rumble = When the water is just starting to make noise in the kettle. Good for green teas.
Shhh = Just prior to making the kettle sing, the water "gets quiet." This is good for a solid oolong. Sometimes I back up a bit with oolongs, as well. It depends on the tea.
Sing = When the water is at full boil and the kettle chirps happily. Good for black teas.
Monday, November 28, 2005
The story for the children focused on being "open" to learning. The story was told (and enacted) about a very smart man who was looking for more knowledge. He had many, many college degrees and didn't think there was anything more in the world he could learn. Nonetheless, he heard of a very wise woman who lived on a mountain top. He decided to visit her, even though he was convinced he couldn't learn any more. When he sat down, he told the wise woman of his dilemma. She gave him a full cup of tea and then offered him more. He found this strange, but didn't want to be impolite, so he accepted. The sage poured the tea into the cup so that it overflowed (and kept overflowing). Finally, she asked the question, "How can you learn more when your cup is already full?" The message, to me, is to always have space for learning from an experience.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
The other source of motivation was that I knew I had King Arthur scones (cranberry & orange) waiting for me when I returned. I've tested a few varieties of scone mixes, and King Arthur is my favorite. Of course, anything with 5 tablespoons of butter would probably taste good! >-) The DH thinks his homemade scones are better, and he's right. But, when I'm cooking, King Arthur takes the "cake" for a speedy solution!
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
The traditional three-courses are served. The tea sandwiches were very good (egg salad, curry chicken salad, portabella mushroom, cucumber.) Two scones were served - buttermilk and cranberry. Both were served warm and with generous dollops of lemon curd, strawberry preserves, and devonshire cream. Dessert was a delightful selection from several small, dainty treats. I chose the champagne mouse cake and a chocolate-dipped strawberry. I had Darjeeling tea (no surprises there - one of my favorites.)
The china is Wedgewood Oberon. Wasn't that the Elf King in A Midsummer Night's Dream? It makes sense as the china has a woodsy (yet delicate) look. The hostess and serving staff were wonderful! Very polite and gracious.
The tea was expensive, as compared to a standard tea room: $34. This is on par with fancy hotel teas. If you get the chance, it's worth going! The views and setting alone are worth it!
Monday, November 21, 2005
- I have not discovered a tearoom in Bloomington that serves a full afternoon tea. >-( There's an opportunity here! I've thought about starting this business myself, and it could be great fun! At the same time, the reality is that a tearoom is a restaurant. I don't want to run a restaurant.
- The Greenbriar Room (basement of the red Bloomington Antique Mall on 7th) is a lovely setting. Here, you can order a pot of tea and it's served in a real pot! I think the tea may be of the bagged variety. (Also, I should note that the Greenbriar Room has changed ownership since I last visited.)
- The DH and I had lunch once at a "tearoom" on West Kirkwood. I can't remember the exact name, and I suspect the place may be closed. The restaurant was in an lovely restored home (along with a hair salon and spa). The menu was lunch fare (sandwiches, quiche, etc., no afternoon tea menu). Tea was served in a tea pot. It was bagged tea.
- There's a new cafe and gift shop in the IU Art Museum, called Angles. I haven't been, but they advertise "whole-leaf teas."
- In Elletsville, a nearby community, there is a bona fide tearoom called the Nutmeg House. See my earlier review of this tearoom.
- The Winterberry Cafe (2100 S. Liberty) advertises a "traditional English High Tea." I haven't been here yet, but I look forward to testing it out. Remember, "high tea" means a full evening meal - not the "fancy" tea that most folks believe. I wonder if this is a misuse of the term by the Winterberry Cafe? I'll let you know.
A bit of shameless promotion here - under Serendipity Teas, I offer tea tastings and tea parties. If you're interested, let me know. (My site is down today - www.serendipityteas.com -
I am switching service providers.) I recommend a tea tasting! This is where you sample 5-6 different styles of tea (white, green, oolong, black, pu-erh) and note the distinctions between each. Very similar to a wine tasting. Gift certificates are available.
Happy tea outings! If you have tea locations or reviews to add, please post a comment and let me know! I will share! Thank you!
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
The handle on the right is where you hold the tea pot for pouring.
Monday, November 07, 2005
I found the poem on the back of a Victorian Papers greeting card. I am unsure who K. Pyle is, tho I suspect it may be Katharine Pyle, author and illustrator of children's books. If anyone can confirm the source of the poem, please let me know.
Untitled Poem by K. Pyle
We went to hunt for chestnuts
One fine October day,
And in the windy country
We wandered far away.
We built a fire of brush wood
Beneath the sheltering hill,
Among the rustling corn-shocks
The wind was never still.
We played that we were gypsies,
Who never slept in beds,
But lie beside their fires
With stars above their heads.
But when the air grew frosty,
Beneath the chestnut tree
We filled our bags and baskets
And hastened home to tea.
Friday, November 04, 2005
Thursday, November 03, 2005
The passing of the first year calls for a special tea! I have a white jasmine that I've been saving for a special occasion. I'll bring it out tonight.
To many more happy years in this town!
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
I was so inspired by the previous Lemon Curd conversation, that I made a Lemon Curd cake over the weekend.
1 - Bake a white or lemon cake as directed, in two round cake pans.
2 - Cool the cakes completely.
3 - Cut off the rounded top of one, if needed, so the cakes stack flatly.
4 - In between the two cakes, spread a think layer of lemon curd. I use Dickinson's.
5 - On the top of the cake, drizzle lemon curd and powdered-sugar icing. (You can flavor the icing with lemon juice, if desired. I also added poppy seeds.) The lemon curd and icing should form strips on top of the cake, and pretty little pools of alternating color at the bottom. You may need to encourage these pools.
6 - Top with pretty flowers. Mine were white mums with yellow centers, courtesy of the DH.
Monday, October 31, 2005
The hair was the best part of my costume. It was fashioned out of women's black tights and bubble wrap! See this link for instructions.
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Lemon Curd: This cooked mixture of lemon juice (and sometimes grated zest), sugar, butter and egg yolks makes a rich, tart spreading cream that can be used as a filling. Many variations exist using other citrus fruits. (from Google definitions)
Lemon Curd Recipe: From joyofbaking.com
1 - Go to the grocery store.
2 - Head to the jelly aisle.
3 - Purchase a jar of Lemon Curd. The jarred versions are pretty good, and are becoming a common item at larger grocery stores. If your grocer doesn't have it, try a store that carries international foods.
4 - Use it as a topping for hot scones. OR, on graham crackers. OR, as a filling in cake layers. OR, on ice cream, etc. etc.
Tip: Go easy on your first try. It's a very sweet thing - a little goes a long way!
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Monday, October 24, 2005
I was at the wedding of a good friend in Princeton, NJ recently. I had the good fortune to squeeze in a trip to Teaberry's, in Flemington, NJ. Teaberry's is set in the antique/historic part of town. It's a lovely, restored historic home. The inside has been decorated very tastefully. I sat in the front parlor, next to a window.
The menu offerings were quite diverse. The tea room serves lunch as well as afternoon tea. I chose the Duchess, which included sweet potato/pear soup; a large assortment of tea sandwiches; a currant scone with devonshire cream, preserves and lemon curd; and another large assortment of desserts. I chose the raspberry Darjeeling tea. The food was delicious. I'm not sure I would choose this particular tea again. I think I prefer my Darjeelings unflavored.
I was a little disappointed in the quality of service at Teaberry's. I wasn't made to feel completely comfortable. Nonetheless, the setting and the food were lovely. I will assume my service experience was just an "off" day and continue to recommend a visit to this tea room if you get the chance!
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
....and other Brown Co, IN sites. Yes, Indiana has a town called Bean Blossom. I've become fond of the quirky name.
My family came over this weekend for a "tour of the leaves." It was great having them here! The leaves are still a little green, but we took in their beauty nonetheless! We also visited two of Indiana's famous covered bridges.
What does this have to do with tea? Well, my mom, sis and I drank it a lot during the visit! Black Currant Decaf and Murchie's blend No 22.
Enjoy the photo tour...
Sweeping view in Brown County State Park
I call this one "flame tree."
Thursday, October 13, 2005
It's a blue toile print. (Click on the picture to enlarge it.)
This skirt (my second from the pattern; actually, my second ever) was a little easier to make b/c I knew how to work the waistband this time. Plus, I didn't sew a wrong side to a right side.
I'm in love with toile. Here is some good background info if you're not familiar with the pattern.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Friday, October 07, 2005
TEAPOTS TEAPOTS TEAPOTS
My favorite teapot shown is the Wedgwood blue "Dancing Hours."
The post called "I'm a Bigger Teapot" is also very cute.
Oh, and I never knew there was a constellation called Sagittarius Teapot!
What are your favorites?
Thanks to Morning Coffee & Afternoon Tea for originallly pointing us toward these.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Let me ask a few questions...
- Do you say please and thank you consciously, really meaning it, or is it a rote matter of protocol that barely reaches awareness?
- Do you always say please and thank you to your loved ones, those you treasure the most?
My next example is from a recent interchange with a convenience store clerk. He counted back my change. I was impressed, as this skill seems to have vanished. I said to him, "Thank you for counting back my change. That was very helpful." He smiled and said, "Oh, you are very welcome." That tiny moment of engagement lifted my spirits, and I hope his. I could have mindlessly said, "thanks" when I got my change, but would I have meant it? My goal now is to be very conscious with my please and thank yous. This work is not easy - it takes a lot of focus and concentration! I think the work is worth the return.
Ultimately, please and thank you lead us to be ambassadors of good will. For example, the US is experiencing quite a tug -- political, philosophical, environmental, etc. Please and thank you, when given with consciousness and meaning, are simple but important gifts we can share. These two phrases really mean this: I respect you, I value you, I appreciate you.
Please share your thoughts with me. Thank you for reading!
Friday, September 30, 2005
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
The second performer was Ruthie Foster. Ruthie sings blues and gospel, with a rocking edge. Her voice is very rich and ripe. She's also quite funny! Here song about her experiences going to church in the deep south had me rolling! The tea match, for me, would be a good chai. Something sweet and spicy and smooth, all at the same time.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
The ground berries, prior to steeping.
The steeped tea has the color of apple cider.
Friday, September 23, 2005
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Tea figures quite prominently in the movie. How did I miss this before? Probably because the last time I watched the movie was at least 15 years ago!
Here are a couple of my favorite tea scenes....
* Velvet (a very young Elizabeth Taylor) is upset because she didn't win "The Pie" (the horse) in a town raffle. Her mother brings her a cup of tea for comfort.
* Mi (also young Mickey Rooney) goes in to talk with Mr. and Mrs. Brown in the parlor. He has a cup of tea and pours it into his saucer to drink.
* Mrs. Brown brings tea to Mr. Brown. (He is deflated that Velvet won't allow Pie to be "in the pictures" and make money). Mrs. Brown prepares tea for Mr -- milk-in-first. Both she and Mr. Brown take sugar. It appears as though they take 2 lumps!
Here's a little trivia fact - Did you know that the studio gave Pie (the horse) to Liz Taylor after filming?
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Monday, September 19, 2005
E and I share a common bond with tea. She loves to give tea parties. E is an inspiring woman! She wears lovely jewelry, has short spiky hair and drives a Miata convertible. Did I mention she's 81?
I leave you with these words of wit and wisdom from E..."The weird people are the beautiful ones."
Something to ponder...
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
The cards are free. The only downside is the flashing advertisements. Be sure to turn ON your popup blocker, as well!
I think I will be using a number of cards from this site. Enjoy!
Monday, September 12, 2005
Excerpt from The Sixth of January
by David Budbillas collected in Good Poems, ed by Garrison Keillor
I am sitting in the blue chair listening to this stillness.
The only sound the occasional gurgle of tea
coming out of the pot and into the cup.
How can this be?
Such calm, such peace, such solitude
in this world of woe.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Today has been a day of looking back, looking here, and looking forward. As I sip my cup of tea, I allow these two poems to help me sort through my many emotions.
Sonnet No. LXIV
When I have seen by Time's fell hand defac'd
The rich-proud cost of outworn buried age;
When sometime lofty towers I see down-ras'd,
And brass eternal, slave to mortal rage:
When I have seen the hungry ocean gain
Advantage on the kingdom of the shore,
And the firm soil win of the wat'ry main,
Increasing store with loss, and loss with store;
When I have seen such interchange of state,
Or state itself confounded to decay;
Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate
That Time will come and take my love away.
This thought is as a death, which cannot choose
But weep to have that which it fears to lose.
For the Children
Gary Snyder, Turtle Island
The rising hills, the slopes,
lie before us.
the steep climb
of everything, going up,
up, as we all
In the next century
or the one beyond that,
are valleys, pastures,
we can meet there in peace
if we make it.
To climb these coming crests
one word to you, to
you and your children:
learn the flowers
Friday, September 09, 2005
A bit of history on how I got into this....I'm actually not all that prissy. (Tho my sister might disagree. :-). I got into etiquette by means of the tea certification that I have from the Protocol School of Washington. A natural expansion from tea etiquette was dining etiquette, and then children's etiquette, and then etiquette in general. It's simply an interesting hobby that I enjoy occasionally exploring. In particular, I love to read Miss Manners! She's a riot!
Today's topic is, "What is Etiquette Good For?" (I know it's bad grammar, but I just couldn't bring myself to post, "For What Is Etiquette Good?".) And that's an excellent example. Etiquette is not about making ourselves appear pretentious, snobby, or better than others. Etiquette is also not about being prudish, stuffy and elitist. No, no, dear readers. Etiquette is about extending common courtesy to others. It is useful in that it provides a way to think of the needs, sensibilities, and comforts of others. For example, the old American etiquette rule of keeping elbows off the table comes from the risk of bumping your neighbor, knocking off a dish, or soiling your sleeve.
A final note on etiquette - it is very culturally sensitive. In America, audibly slurping your tea would be considered bad manners. However, in Japanese tea ceremonies, slurping your tea is one way to compliment your hostess.
So, let us boldly saunter into the realm of etiquette! From time to time, I will post topics of interest. If you have questions, please send them along! (You can simply post a comment to this message.)
Kind Regards, Stephanie
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
I read the latest Harry Potter over the weekend. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and the many cups of tea along the way! Enjoyed it so much, in fact, that I now have the Harry Potter blues because I must wait until the next (and final) book is released. Ah, well, at least I can practice being patient and savor this one.
I've been reflecting on two important life lessons I found embedded within the latest book. The first is that of being polite - to everyone. I found that Dumbledore is a role model for this! For example, at one point Dumbledore shares a past memory of when Tom Riddle (bad guy) returns to Hogwarts. Despite knowing that Tom has done evil deeds, Dumbledore greets him politely. "Good evening Tom...Won't you sit down?...May I offer you a drink?" Then later, when Dumbledore is facing two Death Eaters, this dialogue follows: Dumbledore says, "Good evening Amycus. And you've brought Alecto Too. " The Death Eater says, "Think your little jokes'll help you on your deathbed then?" Dumbledore responds, "Jokes? No, no, these are manners."
The second life lesson I encountered was that fate can bring us to the "forming edge of our lives" (to borrow a phrase from a friend), but we must decide whether to jump. This theme of the interplay between free will and fate plays well in the book. I believe it is best presented when Harry realizes that he can choose whether to fulfill the prophecy (that either he or Voldemort will kill the other). Fate may have brought him to his present state, but Harry can choose his next move.
A lot to think about in this hefty volume! I'd like to hear from you!! What spoke to you as you read this book? Other life lessons? Your favorite part? What you didn't like? Share with me your thoughts!
Friday, September 02, 2005
The Newlyweds (in the Poconos).
Steph and the DH (dear husband) goofing off while setting up for the reception.
Mom, Sis, Steph
Thursday, September 01, 2005
“Oh no …!” rattled the Teacup.
“I’m right behind you, dear!” said the Saucer.
Thanks to my tea-mail acquaintance who shared this story!
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
As I sip my Royal Puerh (a smooth "cooked" puerh), I contemplate how Mother Nature has a pretty good cause for being upset with us! We continue to abuse our planet. I believe that while we think we're in control, nature can take back her authority at any moment. Let us never forget that we (humans) are merely one small part of this interdependent web of life.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
I must say, I was wondering if the Luna would be as nice as the Mikado in terms of the no-drip feature. Yes, it is! Absolutely no drips! The tea steeping is Spring 2005 High Mountain, a green from Taiwan.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
1 - Tea Quotes: I've added several new tea quotes to my Serendipity Teas site - see the quote page. Enjoy! My current favorite is this: "There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea." - Bernard-Paul Heroux
2 - Cooking with Tea: Check out these incredible recipes from Is My Blog Burning?
(Thanks to Morning Coffee and Afternoon Tea and Teaswap for alerting us to these recipes!)
3 - For a Laugh: Read a Brit's review of the tea kettle situation in the US. http://www.nicecupofteaandasitdown.com/ - Go to the right column and scroll down to the article under Your Feedback by Robert Landon. It's fun. Quite! I especially love the perspective on too-good water pressure and the "water splatter problem."
4 - Fashionable Tea: The fall edition of Town & Country Travel reports that London is experiencing an afternoon tea revival. Powerhouse restaurants are now packed all day long. One restaurant makes pastries inspired by the latest fashion collections.
Monday, August 22, 2005
A special thanks to my sewing mentor in NM! She talked me through a way of making the drawstring hole so that I didn't need to make 2 button holes! Yeah! I just bought some more fabric this weekend - a dark blue toile. I plan to make another skirt in the near future. Practice, practice!
I love the form of a teapot! And, when it is graced with lovely decoration, I think a teapot is a marvelous (and functional) piece of art. Thank you for sharing!
Thursday, August 18, 2005
The write up by Roy Fong (proprietor of the Imperial Tea Court, ordained Daoist priest, and one of America's leading tea experts) describes the tea as follows: "A perfect harmony of the sweet fragrance of vanilla beans and the soothing elegance of our Vanilla Silver Needles white tea. This tea is mild and forgiving but never lacking in flavor." I believe this is an appropriate description. Besides, who am I to argue with Roy? :)
Dry Leaf: The dry tea leaves are quite large and downy. I felt a sense of cognitive dissonance with the aroma. My mind detected something sweet, but the prevalent aroma was spinachy, and I couldn't seem to congeal these two together.
First Steeping: My first steeping was for 2.5 minutes. (The directions recommended between 2 - 3 minutes with water just shy of boiling.) The directions also suggested this tea would hold up well to multiple infusions. The liquor at 2.5 minutes reminds me of gingerale. There are even a few bubbles. The aroma of the steeping tea highlights the vanilla scent. The taste is very smooth and light. I notice a sweetness at the mid and back of my mouth.
Second Steeping: The leaves sat overnight (in the fridge). They held up well for the second steeping. Water at the same temp, but steeped for an additional minute. The sweet aroma is still prevalent. I notice a little more of the spinach flavor this go.
I've enjoyed this tea a great deal and look forward to exploring it more!
Here's a photo of the DH and I, celebrating our 9th anniversary. The DH smiles often - just not easily in photos. :-) Someone has to crack a really good joke. We had a wonderful dinner at Tutto Benne, a local Italian wine bar.
While preparing to head to dinner, I found myself wondering, "What do we talk about after 9 years? Will there be anything special to discuss?" Throughout the entire wedding anniversary day we joked a lot and talked about our memories of the wedding. When we went to dinner, the conversation was comfortable and typical -- how we liked the restaurant, the music (live jazz), the food, the interesting glassware, inside jokes. I suppose there is something sacred in everyday conversation. What strikes me as important is that families, partners, friends continue to have these simple conversations and listen to each other. Not listening to hear themselves, but for the other's message. That makes 9 years of conversation interesting. Not always easy, either! :-)
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Tender and Fragrant Tea is Adored by Monks and Poets.
Prepared in White Jade Dishes Couched in Softest Red Silk, the Topaz-hued Leaves Growing in the Fields are Yours in a Trice;
Ready to Accompany You to Enjoy the Bright Moon of Night and to Greet the Rosy Clouds of Early Dawn.
Never in Ancient or Modern Times Has One Ever Been Tired of Taking it -- Never Can it Be Praised Too Much in the Presence of Those Who Love to Be Drinking!
English translation by Ms. An Yu-bin, Shandong Province, PR China
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
I particularly enjoyed the posts by Deepak Chopra and Fran Dresher.
A coworker pointed out this site. It came at an impactful time because just yesterday I lost a former coworker to a two-year battle with cancer.
My community is quite hilly and it had been raining all night. That combination of meteorological and topographical features made for a lot of puddles. Being only half awake shortly after 6 am, I promptly stepped in a big puddle and drenched my feet. Thank goodness the temps were a comfortable 72! We made our way to the post office. The DH even began his singing about half way there. (He's one of those people that almost always has a song in his head, and he often shares it with the world. Unfortunately, I can't remember today's selection.) The packages made it - safe and dry!
As a reward for our rain trek, I suggested bagels. The DH suggested biscuits and gravy. That sounded pretty good to me, as well, so we rounded the corner and turned into Ladyman's Cafe. We sat at the counter - I always love that because I feel tall! The DH had traditional biscuits & gravy and coffee. I had the two egg special: 2 eggs over easy, bacon, hashbrowns, toast, and hot chocolate. Oh, the toast! I just love cafe toast! It's the kind that is perfectly golden with the butter melted over the entire surface. Yumm!!! We chatted with the sweet waitress and read the paper. A nice leisurely breakfast. This is a definite benefit of working 9 am - 6 pm. I have time for enjoying the morning before the daily grind begins. On that note, now I must be off...time to make some tea and then hit the work clock!
Monday, August 15, 2005
Friday, August 12, 2005
My wholesale supplier is out of the teapot - and not able to get more. However, I was put into direct contact with the comany, and it does have a few teapots left in the warehouse. If you're interested in one, act quickly. Here is the URL to purchase a Mikado: http://www.jenaer.com/teapots/mikado_teapot.html See the other lines of teapots by clicking on the small tabs near the top of the screen (Petit, Luna, etc.) Against my rational judgement, I have just made a very emotional purchase on the Luna. I can't imagine this teapot line going away! This is definitely sad news for the tea world!
Ironically, last Saturday evening, the DH and I hosted a dinner party. I used the Jenaer teapot with much success. One of our guests was German, so I asked him to interpret many of the long German words on the box. It was great fun! He shared with me that the Jenaer region in Germany is famous for its world-class glassmaking.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
9 years ago today, I was married. And my life has been quite the adventure ever since! The photo above is my favorite. It was snapped by my ~9 year old cousin as she rode past us in a convertible. The driver, contrary to popular belief, is not Amish. He's just an old farmer. The horse not shown is named May. The DH (dear husband) and I have a reservation to take another carriage ride on our 50th anniversary.
Our wedding was very special! We were married in the front yard at my parents' home. It was a surprisingly comfortable August day in the Midwest. It was a casual affair. My parents surprised me with the horse and carriage. My sister was my Maid of Honor. I say that it was a "small" wedding, but we had nearly 100 people there. To me, small is appropriate because most of the group was family!
My grandfather married us. There wasn't a dry eye in the yard when he asked us to kneel, then touching us, prayed for our marriage. I remember how his voice and hands shook.
We had a reception at the local Lions Club building. After the festivities, we came back to my parents'. Several of my cousins followed along, and we ended the deal by being thrown into the pond - an old fashioned family tradition for newly weds that just happened to get revived at my wedding!
Now, coming full circle, I am making preparations for my sister's wedding, which we will celebrate at the end of the month. Happy Anniversary to us all!
Monday, August 08, 2005
The preview highlights the adventures of the book's main character, Buzz. I think the marketing is quite clever. I had the privilege to do an advanced-read of the book, as the DH (dear husband) and I know the author. It's a very endearing story. Here are my original comments to the author:
"To Bee or Not to Bee is a book that, when read to children, they will understand immediately. And when read by adults, they will understand slowly as it pricks their minds and souls.
The adventures of Buzz delicately bring to life the struggles and possibilities of our era. We each have our own land of milk and honey. We can find it when we take Buzz’s example and bee present with ourselves."
The book's website is: www.tobeebook.com/ From here, you can download a free e-book! It's perfect to read with a cup of tea and honey.
"The power of the mind lies in perceiving differences; The power of the heart lies in perceiving similarities." -- To Bee or Not to Bee