Friday, September 30, 2005

From the 1916 Encyclopedia of Etiquette

"The afternoon tea, or ceremonious at home, has for some years enjoyed a popularity that shows no signs of waning. -- Emily Holt, Encyclopedia of Etiquette, 1916

I love the word "ceremonious!"

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

What Tea Goes with Rockin' Blues?

I attended my community's Lotus Festival last week. This is an annual world music festival. It's awesome! I attended the opening event on Thursday night called "Women's Voices" and heard two phenomenal groups! The first group has the best name I've heard in a long time: The Wailin' Jennys. This Canadian all-girl band sings folk music, infused with a little irish and a little rock. They've recently won the Juno, our equivalent to a Grammy. I've been playing around with the idea of which tea best suits this group. For the Wailin' Jennys, I'm settled on Jasmine Green. I often have a visual image of prayers being carried to heaven, riding on the lovely jasmine aroma. The Wailin Jennys beautiful music seems to fit with this.

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

Spam Blocker

Just a quick note to let you know that I've turned on a spam-blocker feature for posting comments. This will prevent the unwanted advertising comments that seem to be increasing rapidly. When you wish to make a comment, you will be asked to type in a short series of characters. Humans can read these characters. Computer-generated spam systems should not be able to perform this task. Thanks for your understanding! And, thanks to Cindy W and Allibrew for sharing this tip!

This Week at the Market....

From the Farmer's Market this week...Fall raspberries, spice berries (see related post for spice berry tea), local pears, and chestnuts.

Autumnal Equinox: Spiceberry Tea

Hello, All - In celebration of the autumnal equinox, the DH (dear husband) and I are trying a new tisane (herbal tea) called Spiceberry Tea. We picked up the berries that make the tea at the Farmer's Market. We think, but are not certain, that the official botanical name of the plant is Lindera Benzoin. The lovely red berry is ground and steeped to make the tea. The tea tastes very interesting - perfect for this rainy, sleepy Sunday afternoon! The DH describes the taste as peppery with a light citrus aroma and aftertaste. That seems to describe it pretty well to me.

The ground berries, prior to steeping.

The steeped tea has the color of apple cider.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Occasional Comment Deletion

Hi, All - I want to explain why I occasionally delete a comment from a post. From time to time, I get a commercial post on the blog. Someone is trying to sell something. I don't want to read this, and you shouldn't have to, either. These are the comments I delete. Rest assured that I don't delete any of yours!


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Tea in the Movies...National Velvet

I watched an old favorite last night, National Velvet. I found even more reasons to love this movie! Never before had I noticed all the "tea moments" in the movie. Two of my favorite things in this world - tea and horses! Now that makes a great movie!

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


I tasted Pawpaws for the first time recently. Pawpaws are a delightful "wild" fruit grown in the woods of the Midwest. I say "wild" because I don't know of anyone that grows them intentionally. They're a large fruit that grows on the pawpaw tree. The fruit is ripe when it falls to the ground, usually around mid September. The soft flesh tastes like a mango-banana-custard. The best way to eat a pawpaw is to simply slice it open and enjoy! The only trouble with pawpaws is getting them. They are a special treat, enjoyed by squirrels and raccoons and many other forest critters. Humans have to hurry to gather one! My rather observant DH (dear husband) found these.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Wit and Wisdom

The DH and I had a wonderful visit with some friends yesterday! I'll call them E and C. They live literally right next to the Hoosier National Forest; their property abuts the forest. In addition, their property is the 2nd highest in Monroe Count (1,000 feet). They have a breathtaking view of the trees and valleys of South-Central Indiana. I wish I had taken my camera. The leaves are just starting to turn.

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

Perfect Apple Pie

Made by the DH (dear husband). No other description necessary!
Click on the photo to get a really close-up view.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Fun eCard Site!

A friend recently sent me an eCard from It was great! The print was of Mary Cassatt's "A Cup of Tea" (in the Friends section). There are a number of art prints on this site. It's really quite fun to browse.

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

Another Fitting Poem

Another tea lover posted this poem excerpt today in a tea discussion group.

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

Looking Back, Looking Here, Looking Forward

The past: Today is the 4th anniversary of September 11th. The present: We are in the heart of devastation from Hurricane Katrina. The future: I am deeply concerned about looming environmental threats. To avoid getting political, let me just borrow from Gary Snyder's words. When will we learn to "go light" upon this world?

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
William Shakespeare

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,
of statistics
lie before us.
the steep climb
of everything, going up,
up, as we all
go down.

In the next century
or the one beyond that,
they say,
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:

stay together
learn the flowers
go light

Friday, September 09, 2005

Adrift No More

My community is taking in 500 folks who are displaced by the flooding on the Gulf Coast. They will be staying in one of the University dorms, with the longer-term goal of being permanently integrated into the community. I'm so glad that I live in a Community that opens its arms to these folks. You see, it's beyond just providing resources. It's saying that we welcome people from all walks of life - including the poor. Most of the people who are now suffering in temporary shelters are those that were left behind by society - poor, uneducated, and non-white. I am sure this transition to the Midwest will be rough for some, as no one enjoys being forced to leave home. I hope our guests will find a hearty welcome here, along with a new start on life - maybe one that was brighter than what they left behind.

Etiquette Tip #1 - What is Etiquette Good For?

Hi, All - I regularly get e-mails with questions on etiquette, so I thought I'd start posting some of my favorite tips. If you've got an etiquette question, please send it along! If I don't have an immediate answer, I will research it!

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

Harry Potter "Life Lessons" from Others

Check out the comments section for my previous post. Thanks to those who contributed their own insights! Very interesting, indeed!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Life Lessons from Harry Potter

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

My Sister's Wedding Reception

Here are some photos from my sister's recent wedding reception. (Not much to do with tea, but several of you have asked to see the photos.) :-) Enjoy!

The Newlyweds (in the Poconos).

Steph and the DH (dear husband) goofing off while setting up for the reception.

Pretty decorations!

Mom, Sis, Steph

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Tea Kettle Who Thought He Was The Wind

This is a really cute story! Worth checking out. My favorite lines:

“Oh no …!” rattled the Teacup.
“I’m right behind you, dear!” said the Saucer.

Thanks to my tea-mail acquaintance who shared this story!