Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Crumpet Shop

Back to my Seattle trip... You know, on a side note, blogging about the trip is a great way to re-live the experience!

One of the places I sought out at the Pike Place Market was The Crumpet Shop.

I have become a crumpet-lover! I'd never had fresh crumpets before, and they are marvelous! They're kinda like an English Muffin, but not really. The bottom is crispy, and the top is soft and melts in your mouth. It's full of bubbly holes from the yeast used in the batter. Marvelous!

The first day at the Crumpet Shop, I had lunch. I enjoyed a crumpet topped with cream cheese, salmon, and an egg.

Appropriately, the Crumpet Shop also serves tea - and I mean very nice, loose-leaf teas! On my last day in Seattle, I got up at 7 am so I could make my way down to the store and have one more crumpet before I left. I had a crumpet with butter and honey, and a lovely Tie Kuan Yin tea. (This is a high-quality oolong tea, this version is very lightly oxidized.) The store offers unlimited refills on the tea (hot water for your loose leaves).

The Crumpet Shop has been in business since 1976, tho not always under the same name. It started out as "United Metropolitan Improved Crumpet Baking & Punctual Deliver Company". According to the shop's paper bag, customers simply called it "The Crumpet Shop." So, they changed the name to "English "T" Crumpets". Once again, customers called it "The Crumpet Shop" and that is where the name lays today.

I came home with 3 bags of crumpets, one to share and two for the DH and me! YUM!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Day of the Dead Thinking

I am intrigued by the Mexican celebration of Day of the Dead. I began to learn about this tradition while living in New Mexico, and have continued to learn of it in bits and pieces since then. For example, there is a store in town that carries miscellaneous Day of the Dead items.

Some people assume Day of the Dead is like Halloween, but it's not. Halloween focuses on being "afraid" of the dead. Ghosts and skeletons are supposed to be scary. Day of the Dead celebrates our ancestors and welcomes their spirits with a party.

Coming from the rural Midwest, with very little ethnic diversity, it takes deep curiosity and a resistance to fear to explore the Day of the Dead. At least it did for me. The fear part is that the concepts, initially, seem so strange. Decorating gravestones and having fiestas to honor the dead? In reality, it's not so different from our Memorial Day. However, I would suggest that Day of the Dead ceremonies are a lot more fun - probably more sincere. The families spend time together remembering those who have transitioned. The families remember details: favorite songs, favorite foods, words of wisdom.

I think Day of the Dead celebrations will become more common in the US, as the distribution of ethnicities is changing dramatically. I think this is a good thing, and I look forward to learning more!

Day of the Dead starts on Nov. 1, a day to remember the children that have died. Then on Nov 2, all of those gone before us are remembered. Here is a little of what I will remember about my family:

  • My Father - His words and love for words, his bravery for starting his own business, our long horse rides together, his dreams
  • My Grandma Tressie - Her devotion to family, her independence, her hands, her many skills, her rolls, "oh, shaw!"
  • My Great Grandmother Shelton - Her energy, her nickname for me (snooky), her marigolds and her noodles
  • My great grandmother Edith - Her sense of humor, that she chose to live life on her own terms, her ticklish kisses

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Pike Place Market

On Day Two of the trip (Saturday), I walked down to Pike Place Market. This is one of the most famous sites in Seattle, of course second to the Space Needle. I had such beautiful weather, and the market was really busy! It had wonderful art and craft vendors, vegetable growers, fishmongers, and floral arrangements. The flowers featured below are dahlias and ornamental kale. One of the fish vendors actually throws fish around, but I never got to witness that exciting event.

Just to show that I really was in Seattle, here is the Space Needle. I took this photo on the walk down to the market from my B/B. And I mean DOWN! I stayed at the top of Capital Hill, and it's downhill the entire way to the market. Notice the poster on the left called Bodies? This is an art/science exhibit. I didn't go, but now wish I had. A guy in Europe figured out how to plasticize the human body and it's touring around. The DH would have loved it. It made me think of my friend, John, who is in nursing school. Probably would be an interesting field trip! More info on Bodies the Exhibition. It's being shown in Miami, Seattle, Las Vegas and New York.

Sorrento Tea

So, here's me at the Sorrento - in the Fireside Room having tea.

Sometimes blogspot is frustrating! I tried about 5 times to get this photo into my last post, but no luck.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Seattle Tea Vaca - Day 1

I recently took a "tea trip" to Seattle. I had a free SW ticket to use by Nov 1, and have always wanted to go to Seattle. It was a solo trip, which gave me the freedom to center the entire thing around tea. :-)

I landed midday on Friday and made my way to the Bacon Mansion B/B. My room was so cool - literally, in a dormer in the attic! I love slanted walls as they remind me of my childhood room. The room was perfect for me! Check out the cute door to the closet. The main door looked this way, too.

After I was settled, I went for a walk. Not even 2 blocks away was Volunteer Park. I visited the park Conservatory. I love the integration of human-made physical things, like this bell, into the conservatory plant space. For me, this added an experience of contrasts and similarities. The hard, shiny surface of the bell and the soft, delicate petals of the flowers. But they blend beautifully.

Later that afternoon, I walked through the Capital Hill/Broadway area (on my way to Afternoon Tea). The Capital Hill/Broadway shopping area is very trendy and a great place to observe human differences. All types of people were through here - working folks in costumes of all kinds (from designer suits to mechanic jumpers), young girls with pink hair, old women with blue hair. It's all here! One of the best things, for me, was that this shopping district was only about 3 blocks from where I stayed, through a well-lit and safe neighborhood. This meant I felt safe walking there alone at night.

I had Afternoon Tea on this Friday at the Sorrento Hotel. I sat in the Fireside room. The Sorrento served Mighty Leaf Teas in a silk triangle (but flat) bag. I had the "Leaves of Provence," a black tea blended with the Herbs de Provence mixture. It was a decent tea, but it didn't seem to take the second steeping too well.

The menu:

Savories (finger sandwiches)
  • Smoked salmon roulade
  • Mint chicken apple sandwich
  • Celery root salad in a cucumber cup
  • Apple wood smoked ham sandwich


  • The biggest scone I've ever seen! It covered almost the entire dessert plate! The scone had dried cherries and apricots (entire ones) in it. While the size was impressive, I think smaller ones might have actually been a better choice, as the middle wasn't completely cooked through.
  • Served with a yummy and tart Devonshire cream (a tangy whipped cream)

Dessert (which I took most of with me to eat later)

  • Blackberry fruit tartlet
  • Cream puff filled with a Bavarian-cream like center and topped with whipped cream
  • Petit four
  • Cookie assortment (tiny little cookies): shortbread, walnut, madeleines, etc.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Deep Minutes

One of the first signs that I'm not centered and need to get that way is when I am scattered and forget things. This happened today. I forgot a phone call chat that I have regularly with a dear friend. Whenever I'm under a lot of emotional strain, I tend to forget things like this. (We said farewell to my boss today and that was sad, plus a few other work things worthy of a Dilbert cartoon in the funniest/saddest way had distracted me.)

The message for me is to slow down and get myself centered, even in the midst of chaos. The DH recently described something he heard on a radio program. It's called a "Deep Minute." The guy, whose name I don't recall, said that asking people to jump into longer periods of meditation without baby step practice likely leads to frustration and abandonment of the meditation practice. The concept of a Deep Minute is to take one minute once a day and get centered - close your eyes and breathe deeply. Then, slowly work more of these into the day.

I want to incorporate this into my life. The sitting still type of meditation is very hard for me. (I'm more of a moving meditator.) But I think I can do one minute -- and who knows, with practice, maybe even more! Part of the tape playing in my head needs to change. I tell myself I don't have time. But who doesn't have time for one minute? I can think of very, very few things in my life that cannot wait one minute.

Had I taken a minute to center myself today, perhaps I wouldn't have neglected my appointment with my friend!

I'm flying out tomorrow for a long weekend in Seattle. I'm going solo (and I enjoy solo travel). I think this will be a refreshing experience for me. New sights, sounds and experiences always help to remind me that there's a bigger world than Stephanie's personal dramas. :-) Plus, it will be a time to get myself centered. Watch for Seattle photos and tea stories in the near future.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Tea at Columbus Inn

A group of friends recently had tea at the Columbus Inn. Tea room info can be found here. The tea room is called Empire Tea Services and is available for afternoon tea parties (6 or more, resv. required).

It was a great time in celebration of the birthday of the gal at the head of the table. Here are some photos from the day. Enjoy!

Finger sandwiches included:
Roast beef, smoked turkey, salmon, cucumber, and asparagus

Desserts included:

Lemon cake, poppyseed bread, cream puffs, chocolate cherry cake, chocolate torte.

We also sampled three different teas. One was a nice Black Currant (serendipitous because that's a favorite for the b-day girl!) and another was called Snow Berry.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


To my friends at work who've been impacted through all of the craziness going on (and that's all of us)....know this:

If you want to celebrate, then I'll pour you a drink
If you want to cry, my shoulder is open
If you want to cuss and hurl things, I'll make a dart board with a big blue swoosh on it
If you want do all three, then it sounds like a great party! :-)


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

My Cool Desk

The DH (dear hubby) and I have been working on refinishing my work desk and it's finally done!! Wahoo!

Background: I purchased the desk at a thrift store for ~$7. I was on a quest to find a desk that actually fits me. I think this is a child's desk, but it fits! The other benefit is that, by being small, it prevents me from stacking up a bunch of crap on it!

The original desk was a natural wood color, but had lots of dents and dings. It had been well used. The front had serious veneer peeling, which the DH fixed with wood puddy (several coats) and lots of sanding. I filled and sanded the scars on the main body.

The light spots indicate blemishes that we've filled with wood puddy, which then has to be sanded (and sanded and sanded) to make it smooth. I used a power sander, but lots of edges and curves had to be hand sanded.

Here's the finished product! The inside drawers are red, along with the drawer pulls and the inside panel of the desk. The red/black color theme matches the Asian decor in my office.

The red drawers make me smile when I open them. It's like a surprise flash of color.

I used a stamp to add three red cherry blossom imprints to the desk. One on the desk surface, one on the front panel and one on the side panel. You can't see those because I couldn't get the photo to load after multiple attempts.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Drinking Tea May Lower Stress

I've always known this quote is true:
"There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea."
- Bernard-Paul Heroux

A recent article published in Psychopharmacology journal indicates that drinking tea (black tea) contributes to lower stress levels. Green tea was not tested. Read the abstract to learn more.

From the conclusion statement: "Compared with placebo, 6 weeks of tea consumption leads to lower post-stress cortisol and greater subjective relaxation, together with reduced platelet activation. Black tea may have health benefits in part by aiding stress recovery."

Having an interest in good research, I must point out that the study was funded by some pretty neutral-sounding organizations (like the British Heart Foundation). At the same time, partial funding came from Unilever - which owns Lipton Teas.

Friday, October 06, 2006


I had a very spiritual experience this morning. The DH and I were walking downtown for an early breakfast. It was about 6:45 am, still dark. As we passed over the bridge near our house, we looked over our right shoulders (to the West) and saw an incredibly large and full moon - directly at the end of our street. It was one of those, "be quiet and observe" moments. We had the good fortune of repeating the same experiece a few streets later. It was awesome, in the most literal sense.

It's been a day of contemplation for me. I was browsing through a local gift store and found this great pendant of a woman holding the moon above her head. It was very symbolic of the morning's experience. It reminded me of the value of the female perspective that is so masked and devalued in many societies. My hope is that women (and men) will raise our voices and put a stop to violence, aggression, domination and fear.

I've recently stumbled onto this great quote:

"One day we may all owe our survival to subversive women." I pray that it is so and that I may be subversive enough to speak my truth. You, too (men included!).

I think a cup of pu-erh tea is in my near future. It's an aged tea and it is purported to bring one deep into her roots. And, by the way, I think I'm a feminist - if that wasn't obvious. :-) Not an "I hate men" person - but a woman who demands that women and men be valued equally for thier gifts.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Pleasures and Pain

I am sitting on my front porch. It's an Indian Summer - warm now at 80-degrees, with a light breeze. Last week was much cooler. I'm working - tho this is a small (5 minute) diversion. It's so lovely out here. I hear the wind chime and the birds. I see our fall flowers. I am grateful for all the abundance I've been given.

It's a tough time at work now. The layoffs are hitting close to home and today I found out about two people that I admire greatly who are being let go. Good people, bright and dedicated. It's tough on me. I feel tired and sad. Yet, this also reminds me to focus on the gifts of each day. Like the pleasures of sitting on this porch.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

World Vegetarian Day

Oct 1 is World Vegetarian Day. The DH and I call ourselves "meat-eating vegetarians." We're not vegetarian 100% of the time, tho we are most of the time....and it increases as I become more conscious of my food choices. I choose to eat a predominant vegetarian diet because of the health benefits, but beyond that, the sustainability benefits to our plant. It takes many-fold the amount of resources to eat beef than to eat vegetables. And when I do eat meat, I do so consciously and with gratitude. When I eat beef or pork, I prefer to do so at my parents' home, because I know that the animal was locally grown and given sunlight, grass and space.

I am attending a vegetarian potluck tonight. Here is what I will take.
Wilted Kale
(recipe from the DH)
Two big handfuls of Kale (grown outside my back door)
2 tablespoons (or more) sunflowers (unsalted), toasted
1/2 red onion
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Toast the sunflower seeds. Sautee the onions (sliced) in some olive oil (about 2 tablespoons). Wilt the kale by steaming. Toss with the onions and olive oil. Splash in a little balsamic vinegar, to taste. Add in the sunflower seeds and serve warm.

This recipe reminds me of my grandmother's wilted lettuce, which I love. However, this recipe is missing the bacon grease. :-)