Monday, April 30, 2007

Calculate Your Carbon Impact

From the Nature Conservancy...

Anyone tried blueberry green tea?

A reader ask about blueberry green tea. I've not tried this blend of green and blueberry. Have you?

If so, what did you think? What brand did you consume? Just leave your responses in the comments, and thank you!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

One of My Favorite Meals

I look forward to the early Farmer's Market each spring, where I can get watercress and parmesan-pepper baguettes. YUMMMMMM!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Why I Love Tea

Why I Love Tea
I like the taste of it and the health benefits. I like the trappings that go along with tea, the pots and pretty cups and saucers, the sugar tongs and napkins, or the elegant gaiwan cup and yixing teapot. I like the way the tea leaves expand, "the agony of the leaf." I like the aroma and the color.

But I love tea because it gently, but firmly, reminds me to be present in the moment. Whether drinking from a gaiwan or a Wedgewood cup, whether green or black or in between, I cannot rush bringing water to the boil. I cannot hasten the steeping. I can stop, breathe and listen to the tea unfold and tell its story. There is much to hear in the silence of a steeping pot of tea.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Day Five: Windsor Castle

Wow, I am really stretching out this London tea trip review! It's just that I don't often have the free time put together a trip post, so I sprinkle them in as I find minutes here and there. So, here's another....Windsor Castle.

Steph at the entrance to Windsor Castle, my favorite photo of the trip.

Windsor Castle and moat garden

I was surprised that there is a whole community around Windsor Castle. I guess I imagined it would be remote, up on a hill, majestic. It is on a hill and majestic, but it's surrounded by a cute little town and Eton college. According to Wikipedia, Windsor Castle is the largest inhabited castle in the world, and it is big! I was pleased with how much of it we were allowed to tour.

We started with a tour of Queen Mary's Dollhouse. It's a HUGE dollhouse - but not really meant for play. The artwork inside is done by real artists. It's like a miniature museum.

Next I toured the interior. I kept thinking, "Could children actually live here? Could I?" Everything was beautiful and ornate and rare and expensive! Dripping in gold. Lots of original artwork from masters. Of course, we didn't see the private apartments of the Royal family. Maybe the kids have a playroom somewhere with a playhouse that's meant to be used? I enjoyed the tour, and if I sound a bit cynical it's just that everything seemed so surreal in the castle. I can't help but be concerned about the collection of wealth in the hands of a few. (We have our own problems with that in the US!) At least these rooms and artwork are open for public viewing.

Crimson Drawing Room,
photo courtesy of the Royal Residences website

Here's a fuzzy-topped guard at Windsor Castle. The guards look right through a person. They don't respond even if you wave a hand in front of them. (I witnessed some kids trying this.)

My favorite part of the Windsor Castle trip was taking a stroll along the Long Walk. It's 3 miles from the castle to its end point. I didn't go the entire way, but did walk for about 40 minutes and loved it!

The long walk, facing Windsor Castle

Apparently, the Queen (81 years young) still frequently rides horses along the greenery here.

I had lunch at the Drury House Inn and Tea Room. I felt adventurous and had the cottage pie. This consisted of some potatoes drowned in gravy with ground beef, served with a side of more potatoes and peas. It was tasty, but I could only eat a very little of it. Obviously, I gave up being a vegetarian for this trip. (I'm happily back to that now! I really do think I feel better with a diet light on meat and heavy on veggies/fruits.)
Up next: Fish and chips and mushy peas!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Happy Birthday to the Queen!

Check out what my cousin made in honor of the Queen's Birthday. She (my cousin) is an incredible artist! The Queen may be, too, but I don't know her that well. ;-)

Happy Belated Earth Day

In the creation story of the Bible, humans are charged with caring for the earth. That's our prime role, our work.

"Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." Genesis 2, v 15, New International Version

This is a powerful reminder of our connection with the earth, our responsibility to it and our indebtedness to it, as well. Regardless of whether you believe this story is literal or symbolic, or whether the Bible is a sacred text for you, I think the story is compelling.

I believe that protecting the earth is a spiritual calling, and that we are in a spiritual crisis.

Environmental issues need to be discussed in your church, temple, synagogue. In your Sunday tea (or coffee) with friends or in your tent in the forest. Be the initiator of change and discuss the care of the earth.

One of my favorite philosophical jokes is this: "If God looks at what we've done to the Earth, why would we be allowed into heaven?" It's a joke with serious contemplative opportunities!

Salvation may just mean we have to save the planet. Save the planet, save ourselves.

Photo taken by the Apollo 17 crew, Oct 26, 1997

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Day Five: Runnymede and Magna Carta Tearoom

On day five of my London Tea Tour, we took a trip to Windsor Castle. On the way, we stopped at Runnymede and the Magna Carta Tearoom. "Runnymede is a meadow alongside the River Thames in the county of Surrey, England, associated with the signing of the Magna Carta and today the site of a collection of memorials." -- Wikipedia

Meadow at Runnymede

Daffodils and the River Thames at Runnymede

On the Runnymede grounds is the Magna Carta Tearoom. This is a lovely spot! It's a humble tearoom that seems to be visited by local folks as well as tourists.

I enjoyed a "flapjack," which is nothing like a pancake! The flapjack was like a homemade, chewy and soft granola bar. It was delicious! I had it with a cup of black currant (herbal) tea. Our tour guide sent me her recipe, and I plan to give it a try. Here's the wikipedia definition of a flapjack: "In the UK, a flapjack is a tray bake (or bar cookie) made from rolled oats, fat, brown sugar, and usually Golden syrup or honey."

Next I'll write about our visit to Windsor Castle.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Let's all pause and send peaceful thoughts into the universe. Peace at home, peace on foreign soils. Violence is never the answer.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Baby Bunnies, Take 2

For the second spring in a row, the DH has found a baby bunny in our yard.

Little bunny - you are cute and welcome to stay if you don't eat my garden! Eat all the grass you want.

Nature Videos

These video clips (from Discovery) are hosted on the Nature Conservancy's website.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Queen Doesn't Make Tea

Interesting little story. The Queen is missing a great pleasure for not making her own tea. The wasted "fluff" and expense for the Royals is disheartening.

(Thanks to my Tea Educator friends for sharing!)


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Day Four: Tea at the Ritz

The Ritz Palm Court (Photo courtesy Ritz website)

Tea at the London Ritz is an elegant, sumptuous affair! The setting is dripping in gold. The staff is attentive and sharp. The food is wonderful! And even the bathrooms are lovely.

Taking tea at the London Ritz is a life-long dream of afternoon tea lovers. It is, by many, considered the pinnacle of the experience. I was not disappointed.

Stephanie and Denise, tour leader

Our evening began with champagne then continued with afternoon tea sandwiches (all we could eat!):

* Smoked salmon
* Egg mayonnaise with cress
* Ham
* Chicken with mayonnaise

Then we enjoyed raisin and apple scones with Devonshire clotted cream and organic strawberry preserves.

For dessert, we had an assortment of afternoon tea pastries and cakes.

The last course was fruits of the forest (berries) with English cream. I enjoyed all of these with several cups of Ritz Traditional English tea.

Even the bathroom was fancy. ;-)

Friday, April 06, 2007

It's Friday, Good!

Happy weekend! I picked this postcard up at a small store in Windsor.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Day Four: National Portrait Gallery

Back to the London tea tour....

On the afternoon of Day Four, we visited the National Portrait Gallery in Trafalgar Square. It's nearly impossible to have favorites among a week of perfect tea touring! Nonetheless, this visit to the NPG stands out in my mind as a favorite among favorites. We had a custom tour, designed by the tour creator. She led us through the portrait galleries, highlighting famous tea folks. This was really cool because I had never seen any pictures of many of these people! We saw Catherine de Braganza, Anna Maria Stanhope, the Duchess of Beford, and many other people associated with tea history and lore. It was fascinating to me to see the faces of these people.

This is the portrait we saw of Catherine de Braganza. She was a Portuguese princess, sent to marry England's King Charles II. The marriage was a political merger. She introduced tea-drinking to England. I was struck by how young she looked in this portrait.

There was also a modern exhibit of photographic portraits that I really enjoyed.

After visiting the NPG, I wandered around Trafalgar Square. It was a beautiful, sunny day. I was really drawn to the statue of a pregnant Allison Lapper. Lapper is an artist who paints using her mouth and feet. The statue is by Marc Quinn. What I love about it the statue is its challenge to us to broaden our definition of beauty.

I ended this portion of the afternoon at the National Gallery. I enjoyed the work of Peter Paul Rubens. His paintings are huge! They're very easily identified, with dark backgrounds but highlighted characters. Rubens is famous for his naked, rotund and beautiful women. Here's an example...The Judgement of Paris.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

My Easter Bonnet

Happy Easter (a little early)! Here's a photo of me in my Easter bonnet (the bike helmet). I gave up vanity some time ago in favor of earth-friendly commuting. And I happily discovered I can still look good and help reduce greenhouse gases at the same time. :-)

This is my favorite bike, ever. I love the streamers and the bell. For those of you into bikes, it's a mixte design from the early 80s with a lugged steel frame. The lugs are highlighted with hand painting.