Monday, December 31, 2007

Sunshine On My Table Makes Me Happy

This lovely handmade, patchwork table cloth was a gift from the Cake Goddess. Orange is my favorite color and this bright splash of sunshine makes me very happy!

And in case you need a dash of John Denver today, hear him sing Sunshine on My Shoulders.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Tea Cup from Green River Pottery

I was the recent happy recipient of the gorgeous hand-thrown tea cup. The artist is Theo Helmstadter. He displays his work at the Green River Pottery studio in Chimayo, New Mexico.

Not only is this tea cup gorgeous, it's also functional. And beyond that, it takes me back to my sunshine-filled days in New Mexico. It's a grey winter day here in the Midwest, and I'm dreaming of those New Mexico cloudless, brilliant blue skies!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Center of My Attention

I've been away, visiting family over the holidays, and this little cherub has been the center of my attention.

The photo below is one of my favorites! I love the juxtaposition of the smiling adults with the crying baby. What I learned from her is to be real and in the moment. She was very hungry and tired, and taking photos wasn't in her plans. As soon as this was snapped, baby was changed out of the frilly dress and fed! Then she returns to the cherub look. ;-)

Left to right, Grandma (my mom), Me, Baby and Mom (my sister)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Family Storybook

It's been feeling like final exams around here, and I haven't been in school for 6 years! I started this project of collecting family stories over a year and a half ago, then got serious about it this summer when I collected (and scanned) a bunch of old family photos.

My mom has six brothers and sisters, each an interesting person with compelling stories. When you combine these stories with the old photos, it creates a really rich family storybook. And this baby is about to be launched. Wahoo!

I'm finally letting go of the need to have it perfect. I just don't have time. If a period is in the wrong place or a photo isn't perfectly centerd, life will go on. I don't think it will lessen the experience of this gift.

Here is one of my favorite family photos from the project...

The Jolly Workers and their Easter Bonnets

The Jolly Workers were a church service group. Included in this photo are my great-grandmother, grandmother, several aunts and one uncle!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Beethoven and Boston Tea Party

Bostonians were having a tea party as Beethoven celebrated his third birthday.

December 16th is recognized as Beethoven's birthday, tho historians don't truly know if the date is accurate. Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Germany in 1770 and died in 1827. In his twenties, he moved to Vienna. He was living during the days when tea was becoming the fashion in Europe. Surely he would have had a cup or two on occasion. I wonder how he would express, musically, the experience of tea. Vancouver, BC, certainly gets the connection. The city's symphony orchestra is featuring the music of Beethoven in its March 2008 "Tea and Trumpets" concert.

December 16th, 1773 is the infamous Boston Tea Party. I won't say much about it here because you can read a great summary at the Wikipedia entry. Instead, as I read the entry, I am taking a moment to contemplate our contemporary government. To what extent have wealthy lobbyist, like those for the East India Company, taken over the conversation? What will and won't I tolerate from my own government? An interesting thought progression, all conneted to tea and its history, and convened over a pot of tea.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Tea Poems and History

This Sunday, December 16th, is the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. That's a relatively new event in the grand scale of tea's history. Tea stretches far back into our minds (and, I believe, our souls). Here are a few poems about tea and history for you to enjoy.

Steam rises from a cup of tea
and we are wrapped in history,
inhaling ancient times and lands,
comfort of ages in our hands.
~Faith Greenbowl and found at the Seeds of Knowledge website

The Tea Ships

Their canvas flared across teh China Sea,
Back in the misty 'forties ere the steam
nd plate steel from the Tyne swept every lea,
Crowding the sail to yards where they might
Of vanished greatness when the seas would
Across their suging prows on washing lanes;
And o'er the waste to catch Nantucket's gleam -
Canton to Boston with their golden gains.

~Thomas J. Murray, c. 1905 and from Tea Poetry, compiled by Pearl Dexter

Interesting Trends...

If you click the "show results" link under the poll on the right, you'll notice (at least at this minute), that the cup/saucer and mug votes are both at 10 each. I just think that's very interesting!


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Taking Care

The past few days have been a time for me to slow down and take care. I'm not ill, but I'm also not 100%. I'm happy that I'm listening to my body and responding to the need to be quiet, sit still, stay home. It's when I don't pay attention to my body's needs that I end up feeling even worse.

My self-care has included a quiet weekend at home (instead of running around like planned), drinking lots of fluids including green tea and ginger tisane, stretching and lots of sleep.

I have enjoyed this time of resting and nesting. When I choose to look at it as what I am doing for myself, instead of what I'm missing, it becomes a comfort rather than a loss.

How do you care for yourself in the winter/holiday season?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Politics of Tea - My Plan

What I am realizing is that this "Politics of Tea" series is not something I can write on a break at work. It takes more than 10 minutes and needs special attention. I want to give the topics plenty of consideration. So, I'll promise to do at least one per month - hopefully, two. This is a bit unfortunate for B, who suggested the topic in the first place, as she will be on sabbatical and out of contact in the new year. My plan is to label the posts well so that B can read them when she returns. :-)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Incredible Cupcakes!

My friend K, the cake goddess, has been hard at work creating holiday cupcakes. Check out what she's been up to!

Gingerbread Men cupcakes

North Pole cupcakes

I'm a very lucky girl because I often get to sample these ingenious creations!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Politics of Tea - Intro

This is going to be a multi-part post, and I will work on it over the next few weeks. (Each post will take some research). I'd like to respond to a reader's question and talk about the politics of tea. I'm going to define "politics" to include social, ethical, environmental and economic considerations.

I'd like YOUR opinion! Below I'm outlining what I think are the major issues, but I am sure there are ones I've missed. If you can think of another topic related to the politics of tea, please leave a comment and I'll do my best to write about it (or admit I know nothing).

Thank you, in advance!

Welfare, housing and education of tea plantation workers
Marketing of tea

Use of pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers (or not) and the corresponding impact
Planting practices
Manufacture and distribuion of tea

How tea is bought and sold in the world market
Who owns the tea plantations?
Does that teabag reflect the true price of the tea you drink?

What other topics would you add to this list?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Tea Pot Pendant

I recently purchased this lovely tea pot pendant from Frivolitea. (See her description of it here.) I really like it! What's neat is that the background (which has script on it) is made from shrink plastic!

My fellow tea blogger, over at Tea with Friends, is also a fan! ;-)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Sew Much Fun, It Seams!

Over the past 2 years, I've been learning how to sew and I'm having "sew much fun, it seams!" It really is a marvelous creative outlet for me. I'm progressively getting braver. Special thanks go to my very own sewing coach, AZ Tea Lover! Here are a few things I've made recently...

I did a big happy dance when this skirt was done b/c I love the fabric! I also had a huge learning curve! First, the fabric was a remnant and the pattern layout didn't fit, so I had to figure out my own layout, which seemed to work fine. I also sewed darts for the first time.

Second, I didn't really follow the instructions b/c they didn't make sense. It worked out fine in the end, but I learned to sew the zipper side FIRST and then the other side. (I didn't do it this way and ended up sewing the zipper to the other side of the skirt -- twice! Thank goodness I've learned to delicately rip seams.)

Third, the fabric is slippery. It's the first time I've used non-cotton fabric. I now get the concept about pulling the fabric along as it moves (or in some cases - doesn't b/c I wasn't pulling!) Whew! I wore this skirt on Friday to see the Nutcracker Ballet and was so happy!

This apron was easy to make, but took much longer than I anticipated! I used an apron someone else had made for me as the pattern. What took so long is that I had to make these tiny hems all the way around and then also make the neck look and the ties. That would be easy as pie for experienced sewers, but it took me a while. And then I had to figure out how to sew the rickrack. (Thanks, K, for the advice!) I think I've really fallen for rickrack! Doesn't it look cute? Oh, and check out the lovely teacup fabric! :-)

These pillows match my perfectly bright, sunshiny, ORANGE bed spread. An unusual color, yes, but it's my favorite and makes me very happy! Thanks to AZ Tea Lover for the many pillow tips!

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Finish Line

To the best of my knowledge, I've blogged every day in November! Wahoo! And I only had to cheat with fluff content a couple of times. Participating in National Blog Posting Month was much more challenging than I anticipated. I'm a frequent blogger by my nature, so I thought it would be no big deal. What I realized is that the days I don't blog are as important as the days I do! They give me ideas and passion to write more. So now I will return to my frequent - but not every day - blogging. I hope you come back!

A special thanks to those of you who visited, and especially those who left comments!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Consciously Gifting

I'm trying to be very conscious about how I give gifts for the holidays this year. I'm trying to minimize the obligatory gift-giving and, when I do give gifts, I'm trying to put a lot of thought and time into the selection. I'm also trying to make my holiday as "green" as possible. What tips and ideas can you offer? Here are my plans.

#1 - Limit the number of gifts I give. There are a handful of gifts I give out of habit - not because I really want to. I'm letting go of these in favor of offering my heartfelt well-wishes. I'm also letting GO of the associated guilt.

#2 - Give donations. I started this for b-day gifts last year and felt really good about it! I like to give to
Heifer International. Instead of giving my new niece a bunch of plastic toys, I'm giving a donation to her college fund.

#3 - Give experiences. I really like this one because it can fit any budget, inspires creativity and is what people want most from us - our time. Last year I gave the DH (dear hubby) gift certificates for a walk in the woods, a homemade treat, etc. He loved them!

#4 - Give homemade gifts that people will really like. For example, I made homemade blueberry jam this year and a few folks will be seeing it for Xmas.

#5 - When I do want to purchase something special (and I'm cutting back on this with the items above), I try to give from people I know or artists I can connect with. Examples:
-Chocolates from two local chocolate stores. I've met the owners and the money stays local.
-Handmade items direct from artists. Here are some of my favorite options:

#6 - Give TEA!

#7 - Buying absolutely no wrapping materials - zip, nada, nothing, zero, zilch! Recycling existing materials in creative ways to wrap fabulous presents. (I even have some wrapping I saved from pretty gifts last year!)

If you have any suggestions to offer, I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Long Spout Tea Pouring

Check out this interesting article about pouring tea from a long-spout kettle. (Thanks to Tea Guy Speaks for the reference.)

Photo from article

While you're at it, here are a few other interesting tidbits I've found recently...

* A new variation on tea and toast. Note: I think "pud" refers to "pudding, " a generic way of referring to dessert in Britain. (From Tea Guy Speaks)

* Crack-me-up teapots. (From Morning Coffee & Afternoon Tea)

* Knitting Tea Cozies - with a reference to a tea quilting pattern (from Tea with Friends)

* Voice your etiquette pet peeves. (From Tea Party Girl)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tiny Asian Tea Set

This beautiful, tiny Asian tea set came in the mail to me recently. It was an unexpected gift and I was delighted! Look at how lovely the hand painted scene is. I've seen lots of small European-style tea sets, but never one like this. Thank you!

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Grandmother's Gift

The day was perfect for tea! Chilly, rainy and gray. Three friends joined A at her lovely home, nestled in the woods on the outskirts of town. We watched the rain and the leaves fall while we sat snugly in her beautiful home.

This was a special tea party because we used china that had been passed from A's grandmother to her mother and now to her. It's beautiful china, but the true specialness is in the love and memories that come along with it.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I spent Thanksgiving in a quiet way this year, which is the antidote to my recently very busy schedule. And I also missed being with family and friends (both near and far). I stumbled across this poem today (author unknown) and thought it echoed my sentiments well.

I wish we could sit down together
And have a cup of tea
But since we can’t
When you have this one
I hope you’ll think of me.

I had the honor today of sharing a cup of tea and treats with friends. I'll blog more about that tomorrow, but I just wanted to say "thank you" to A for opening her home and time to me!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Tuba Santas

I'm sipping a cup of Royal Star tea (a souvenir from my Tea in London trip) and thinking how perfectly timed these extra few days away from work have been! I needed a break!

Today I enjoyed one of my (new) favorite holiday traditions - the Tuba Santas! This is a group of tuba players from Indiana University. The group plays Christmas carols and raises money for charity. The sounds of the tubas are fantastic! It's such a jovial instrument. Harvey Phillips (on the left in the photo) is the founder of the Tuba Santas, and it's a delight to hear him sing "Santa Wants a Tuba for Christmas." Here is more about the Tuba Christmas organization.

There is so much for me to fret over in the "holiday" season. I can easily get overwhelmed by the busyness, the expectations, the consumerism. And then there are such sweet things, like the Tuba Santas. They give me a very old-fashioned experience as Harvey talks about good will and giving to those less fortunate and praying for world peace. I long for the world to have this kind of Christmas experience - one where the emphasis is on family (by birth and by choice) and sharing with those in need, not the newest toy to hit the stores or the 4:00 am store openings.

I've enjoyed and been encouraged by Tea Party Girl's suggestions for reclaiming the holiday experience for ourselves. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, another holiday or simply the return of the light to the northern hemisphere....may it be meaningful for you!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Canopy of Lights

Image from

It's finally cold here in the Midwest! (I think I've said that twice before, then it kept warming up!) I think this might really be winter. Tonight, I am looking forward to the canopy of lights, a celebration in which the courthouse square is lit with holiday lights. Carolers abound, the mayor speaks (and everyone wishes he'd hurry), girl scout troops sell hot chocolate. It's great fun! Tonight will be wonderfully chilly.

Here's a nice winter and tea quote for this festive Friday:

"Surely everyone is aware of the divine pleasures which attend a wintry fireside: candles at four o'clock, warm hearth rugs, tea, a fair tea-maker, shutters closed, curtains flowing in ample draperies to the floor, whilst the wind and rain are raging audibly without."

-- Thomas De Quincey

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Local Thanksgiving Dinner

Happy Thanksgiving!

I have some friends that are celebrating today with a Thanksgiving dinner that is as local as possible. The turkey is from a local farm. The vegetables are from a local CSA (community-supported agriculture) farm and the farmer's market. It's a marvelous thing. They are truly eating with the season and with bounty of the immediate area.

Food that is grown within your region (and thus picked at ripeness) and not subjected to long-distant transport is more nutritious, better for the environment, and in support of your neighbors.

People like my friends who strive to live simply and consciously inspire me!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


A "teasmade" is an interesting tea device popular in the 1960s and 70s, tho its history can be traced to Victorian times. A teasmade is a combo alarm clock and automatic tea maker. Enjoy your piping hot tea first thing, without having to leave the comfort of bed!

Photo from

Photo from

Teasmades are quite collectible. Check out or to see the extent of their popularity. I don't own one, tho I am keeping my eye open for any that may appear in the local antique mall.

If you have a teasmade, please tell us about it!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Buy Nothing Day

I plan to post soon on the topic of the politics of tea (per a reader question). In the mean time, I encourage you to join me in celebrating Buy Nothing Day. It's Friday, Nov 23, the day after Thanksgiving - traditionally, the busiest shopping day of the year.

Join me in this "consumer fast!"

Monday, November 19, 2007

Tea Tastings and Tea Parties

Hello, All! I've had some very enlightening comments on my previous post about a tea tasting that I did recently! The enlightening part is that the phrase "tea tasting" is being interpreted to mean"tea party" while the two are quite different. Here's my attempt to explain the differences.

Tea Party - Traditional British-style afternoon tea, often with three courses (savories, breads, sweets). Brought into fame by Anna, the Duchess of Bedford. This can be a very fancy affair, but it can also be a very humble and simple event. Both varieties - and all those in between - are lovely. I've written before about hoping more men in the US will learn to enjoy this experience, as they do in Europe.

Tea Tasting - Very much like a wine tasting. The emphasis is on the tea itself - the variety, where and how it is grown and processed, the look, flavor, aroma, body, finish. I don't serve food during the tea tasting so that it does not interfere with the tea. These are unfrilly events - I tend to use glass teapots (to showcase the steeping leaf) and handleless cups. This is the type of event I blogged about yesterday. I find tea tastings to be a great way to introduce men to the joys of tea because tea tastings are unfrilly and unpretentious.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tea Tasting

I recently had the fun privilege of hosting a birthday tea tasting for two lovely women and their friends. 14 eager learners joined us to try 5 different teas. We tasted a white, green, oolong, black, and pu-erh (left to right below, showing the steeped leaves).

What I particularly enjoyed was this group's great explanations of the tea flavors and aromas. I asked them to put aside judgement in favor of using descriptive terms. They came up with some great ones! In addition, I was very impressed that there were as many men in attendance as women. I am inspired!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Smirnoff's Raw "Tea"

The DH (dear hubby) and I were strolling through the grocery store today when he said, "Oh - there's something I want to show you!" He took me down the beverage aisle and proudly pointed out a new tea product - Smirnoff's Raw Tea. (The DH is always on the lookout for tea products.)

From the product website (which you must be 21 to enter), there are apparently 2 varieties - East coast and West coast. All we saw today was the West coast variety, which is ironic, given that I live east of the Mississippi! Both varieties are malt beverages. If you want a good laugh, check out the videos on the website! That's all I say.

After a very short deliberation in which we considered trying some, we agreed we could live without the experience. Neither of us imagined we'd care for it, then we'd be stuck with the six-pack. If you give this a try, I'd love to hear your reaction!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Teas on Sale

In honor of Thanksgiving, and my being incredibly grateful for tea and the way of tea, I am running a sale on a few of my tea favorites. These are teas that are seasonally inclined and ones that I think will blend nicely with a Thanksgiving dinner.

If you are interested in purchasing a tea, send an e-mail to Thanks!

Photo from

Serve before dinner
Pumpkin Spice - Breathe in the wonderful aroma of pumpkin pie spices and watch your guests relax as they dream of treats to come. Normally $2/oz - on sale for $1.75/oz.

Serve with dinner
Ice Wine - One of my favorites! This black tea is scented and flavored with Canadian Ice Wine. Works well with some of the heavy foods of Thanksgiving. Normally $2/oz - on sale for $1.75/oz.

Serve with dessert
Chai - Black tea flavored with cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and a secret spice. Normally $2.75/oz - on sale for $2.25/oz.

OR, for the traditionalist or those who prefer a decaf...
Earl Grey Decaf - A traditional tea (flavored with bergamot) in the decaf variety.
Normally $2.75/oz. - on sale for $2.25/oz.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Wailin' Jennys

I blogged about the Wailin' Jennys way back in March, but that was a long time ago and I have several new readers, so I thought I'd take the chance to sing their praises (hee hee) once more. Here is the group's wikipedia entry.

The Wailin Jennys are a Canadian girl band. They sing folkish stuff. I heard them at Lotus Fest a few years ago. They are incredible! They write most of their own stuff, play many different instruments each, and have the most hauntingly beautiful harmonies I've heard since Wilson Phillips (yes, that dates me!).

Hear their song One Voice here. This song moves me to tears. It's so beautiful, so metaphorical.
Today is one of those days where I listen to this song over and over and over.

The 40 Days CD won a Juno award (the Canadian version of a Grammy).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Speaking Out Loud

Tonight I am reading a piece that I've been working on for my Women Writing for (a) Change class. It's a public "readaround." I'm excited and a little nervous.

It's funny, really, because I do a lot of public speaking for my job. Sometimes I speak to very large audiences. I don't generally get nervous there. But this is different - these are my words, my stories. Personal and important to me.

The good news is that the writing class is structured to provide a safe and supportive environment. I'm looking forward to this -- and to the treats and goodies that will be at the reception when we're done! :-)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Curbing the Clothes Collection

I like clothes and have the tendency to collect them. (Shoes, too.) Some would say it's an addiction. I've been working over the past several years to learn new behaviors and to stop this clothes-hoarding tendency.

My clothes collecting came to a head when I had my first job out of grad school. Three things merged to make clothes shopping and hoarding a very fun - but very bad - habit:

  • I had money in my pocket
  • I needed clothes of the professional type (I had to wear a suit)
  • I lived across the street from a Marshall's (like a TJ Maxx, to those of you East of the Mississippi)
In addition, I was still lugging around clothes and shoes from my college (even high school!) days. My closet was a mess! Clothes were crammed together, sometimes 2-3 on a hanger, shoes spilled out of the closet, etc. I'm generally a neat person, and this was a source of stress for me. Plus, I couldn't possibly wear everything I had, and that was another source of stress.

What my closet used to look like
Photo from

Over the past 10 years (yes, it's taken 10!), I've learned some strategies to curb my inner clothes hog. I'll share them below. But here's the real magic of this work: I feel so much BETTER with fewer clothes, fewer shoes. Seriously! When I open my closet, there is breathing space - I can easily see my clothes, and I see things I like. I continue to struggle with the wanting, but I am happy with my progress and continue to work toward a closet like the one here. (OK, this may be a wee bit extreme, but you get the idea.)

My dream closet
Photo from

My Strategies for Curbing the Clothes Collection

  • Keep only clothes that I really like. This was a tough one for me because I had a tendency to save my favorite clothes and never wear them. They might wear out, of course! So they sat in my closet for special occasions only. Some pieces went out of style. I'm sure you can see the issue with this behavior. These days, I try to ensure I wear things I like and get rid of things I don't. Not an easy task, but one I continually strive toward.
  • Continually cull the closet. I've given up hope that I'll be ready to let go of everything at one time. My process is more one of continual culling, continual letting go. Just last week, the DH (dear hubby) took a big box to the thrift store. The very next day, I had more items ready to go. I keep a thrift store box always near the closet, ready to fill and make other people happy for a good price.

  • Avoid retail therapy. A lot of people shop to fulfill some other need or to relive stress. I could see this tendency in myself. I try to live a conscious life, and now I ask myself these questions before giving in to the pressure to go shopping: "What is the trigger for this shopping need? What else is going on here?" When I can deal with the real issue, the need to shop for clothes subsides.

  • More goes out than comes in. When I do find something new (or recycled) I want to bring home, I find an item (or two) to release back into the clothes-recycling stream. No exceptions.

  • Know my triggers. Target and sales racks. I love to sift through a sale rack and Target is like one big store of eye candy! To avoid this shopping sport, I avoid the sales rack and Target unless I am really looking for something specific or extremely committed to a major closet clean-out. This should also be a no exceptions rule, but it's probably the one I struggle with the most.
  • Find alternatives to new stuff. I have had so much luck (and fun) recently shopping at thrift stores! For example, I recently found a brand new Express dress - in my exact size - for $5 at Goodwill. Original tags still on it. Sweet! This doesn't cut down on the amount of stuff I get, but it does cut down on the dollar amount I spend. And it cuts down on the contribution to consumerism, which I really dislike. If I find something at a thrift store, I hold myself to the rule of letting something else go.
    Another great way to get new clothes and recycle gently used ones is a
    clothing swap. I've attended several of these and have had an absolute blast! I spent zero dollars on clothes, gave away many more items than I came home with, and supported excellent causes (recycling; not spending/being a consumer; supporting a local thrift store; girl time).

  • Refocus that energy! I realize that shopping is fun and a source of stress relief for me. I've found a great replacement for it! The public library! I can roam the stacks and find shiny and new books. I can check them out - and as many others as I want - take them home, and then take them back! I get that same "new thing" rush at no cost and no closet-cluttering, permanent ownership. Yahoo!

What are your secrets for managing your clothes addiction, if you have one?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Cookies and Milk

What is your favorite cookie for dunking into milk? Mine is definitely Chips Ahoy (original). I would never dunk homemade cookies - they're much too precious!

Over the weekend, the DH (dear hubby) brought home some whole milk from the food coop where he works. (It was the day of expiration, and they pull the milk from the shelves.) Another meeting I attended required cookies. Hmmmm....whole milk and leftover cookies? It had to be Chips Ahoy originals!

I can't remember ever having consumed whole milk before (tho I'm sure I had it as a kid). Like many of my generation, I grew up on 2% and switched to skim as an adult. This whole milk experience was fun! The plug in the top of the glass jar was delicious - sweet cream. I could have eaten all of it, but instead I mixed it in with the rest of the milk. There were little bits of cream floating around in the milk as I dunked my cookies. I ate way more than I should have!

Mmmmm......such an indulgence! What cookie would you choose to dunk?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Julius Meinl

OK, here is my last Chicago tea trip posting....

Outside Julius Meinl, face on right is of the friendly manager as he greeted us

My travel pals and I had dinner at Julius Meinl (3601 N. Southport) and it was fabulous! Julius Meinl is an Austrian coffee house (with over 100 teas, as well). A friend of ours from Austria recommended the restaurant and explained that this would be a very typical Austrian coffee-tea house experience. Julius Meinl offers an Afternoon Tea menu, but we opted for dinner. We were serenaded at dinner by the sounds of live classical guitar/flamenco music.

Our meals were very tasty! I had kasespatzle, Austrian pan-friend dumplings with onions, garlic and Austrian Emmentaler cheese. K had a cheese plate and A had traditional goulash. Each was delicious.

For dessert, we had esterhazy, six layers of hazelnut and cream. Oh, my! yum!

Esterhazy, with the Julius Meinl logo on the teacup

Visiting Julius Meinl was another highlight of the trip for me - do go if you get the chance!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

La Petit Cafe

Tomorrow I will get back to the final post of the Chicago tea trip (Julius Meinl), but tonight I will write about tea, chocolate and dinner. My Mom is in town and we've had a very nice day.

We started the day with tea (English Breakfast) and toast (cherry-walnut) to fuel us for the day of Christmas shopping.

We hit the Outlet mall and had a great time. We stopped in the Harry and David store and shared an awesome Moose Tracks candy bar - I highly recommend this!

We finished out the day with dinner (the DH joined us) at La Petit Cafe, a "French Provencal" restaurant. Yummy! I had gnocci with a yummy and intense cream sauce. This was homemade semolina gnocci, not the potato, tortellini-shaped, vacuum-sealed type I've had before.

A good day and I'm always grateful when my Mom can visit!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday Evening...

My Mom's in town and we're having a cup of cocoa in front of the fire. :-) Life is good!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Argo Tea Cafe' and Chocolate with Bacon

Trendy tea sipping inside

On the way home from Northwestern, we stopped along Armitage for some window shopping and a cup of tea at Argo Tea Cafe'. One of the owners of Swirlz (cupcakery) had described Argo as the next big thing in tea circles. Argo was interesting - very much similar to a Starbucks in style, but focused on tea. What I enjoyed most was the wide variety of tea beverages offered - tea was the base of many variations. I had a "MojiTea" - mint tea and fresh lime juice with sparkling water. No actual tea here, but it was VERY refreshing. There are several Argo spots around town.

While strolling along Armitage, we also entered two chocolate specialty stores. The first was Ethel's Chocolate Lounge. This is a really cute place, decorated in chocolate and pink. We didn't indulge, but it would be a very fun place to catch up with a friend!

Pink and chocolate overflow inside

The second was Vosges Haut Chocolat. Now this was a very interesting spot! Creative chocolate blends were the feature, but the store also sold some clothing, boutique style. One of my most vivid flavor memories of the trip is trying a sample of chocolate flavored with bacon - yes, that's right! And it was kind of tasty! Tho at $7/bar, I didn't come home with any.

Wall of chocolate goodies -
Photo from Vosges website

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Baha'i House of Worship

Not far from the campus of Northwestern sits the Baha'i House of Worship (in Wilmette, IL). Unless you knew it was there, you might not find this exquisite building because it sits in the middle of a residential area. There is a visitor's center and anyone is welcome to sit quietly in the main sanctuary. Enjoy the photos. Some interesting points from the brochure I brought home:
  • The House of Worship was dedicated in 1953, after more than 30 years of construction.
  • It is listed in the United States Register of Historic Places and has been designated as one of the Seven Wonders of Illinois.
  • The general design is of a nine-sided structure covered by a single, majestic dome (symbolizing the unity of all people and religions under God).
  • While it looks to be carved limestone, the building's ornate decoration actually comes from cast concrete panels composed of quartz crystal and white cement.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Northwestern and Tea at the Celtic Knot Public House

We spent part of Saturday exploring the campus of Northwestern University, A's alma mater. I'd never been to Northwestern, so imagine my delight when I discovered that it sits right along the shoreline of Lake Michigan! Look at this lovely view of the Chicago skyline from the "lakefill," a beautiful walking path.

Read a little about Northwestern's history from Wikipedia. Pretty interesting. The campus was dressed in beautiful colors for our visit.

Here's A, looking like she's ready to head to class!

Gorgeous stained glass in the Alice S. Millar chapel on campus.

After strolling through campus, we headed to the Celtic Knot Public House (626 Church St) for some refreshment - afternoon tea, of course! The setting was cozy and comfortable - much like being in a pub. Although the tea came in bagged form, it was served with lovely china and the water was very hot, so I won't complain. The food was excellent in flavor and presentation. And, the price was right! This afternoon tea was only $14.95 - that's practically a steal as pricing goes for afternoon teas.

Yes, those are edible chocolate teacups, filled with a caramel sauce and covered in chocolate ganache. Oh, wow - yummy! And the scones were also very buttery and wonderful.

Next up - a visit to the the Baha'i temple.