Friday, August 31, 2007

The Bentley

I saw a Bentley car in town the other day. I'm guessing the car was supposed to inspire awe, admiration, envy. It did quite the opposite for me. I was royally pissed off. I'm not used to seeing Bentleys in this progressive community. I'm much more likely to see two Prius sitting next to each other. The Bentley became a symbol to me of everything wrong with American culture. It shows to me how much distance there is between the rich and the impoverished, the I-don't-have-to-work-for-my-money and the working poor.

It should be illegal to own such an expensive, unnecessary car. I have an MBA and I know all about capitalism. I think capitalism is an awful idea. What I see capitalism producing, more than anything else, is a consumeristic society. Spend-buy-spend-buy. I grow sooooo weary of this. When will we learn that it's NOT OK to have school systems scraping by on peanuts and people driving Bentleys past the playground?

I realize the hypocriticalness of this writing. I am blessed and live a comfortable life with plenty of material toys. And I am not OK with the Bentley. My unsolicited and probably unwanted advice to the Bentley owner is this: If you need a showy car, drive a Prius. You'll have a "green" reputation and you'll save a little petro for the planet.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Stationery Swap Follow-Up

I had 13 participants in the stationery swap. Thank you!!! It was great fun to get the packages and see the lovely papers and cards that everyone contributed. I spent part of the weekend swapping everyone's stuff and shipped them out today. I think you will be pleased with what you find in your packages! Again, thanks to all those who participated!

Amidst the swap - I had to use a very big table to keep everything organized!

Stationery came to me from Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Nova Scotia, and Vancouver. One participant contributed stationery she brought back from India! Another set of farm scenes came from Scandinavia. There were some hand-decorated note cards, as well as hand-made envelopes. We had florals and teacups and modern and Asian-themes. All were lovely. I am sure the recipients of your letters will feel blessed!

Monday, August 27, 2007

This, That and the Other....

This blog....Jes, over at her Sweetpea's blog, has mentioned my blog as one that she enjoys. :-) Thank you, Jes! And your jewelry is exquisite! (Also, please check out the info on the Just Be Connected creative blogger retreat on Cape Cod in October.)

That color...I found this blog post by Stephane so interesting! He shows how tea will look differently based on the color, shape and size of tea cup.

The other....Check out this interesting tidbit of tea history posted by Teaparty Girl regarding tea's connection to silk.

Teaz Me

I was in CA for work last week and had the opportunity to visit Teaz Me (in Roseville, CA).

Teaz Me is a "tea bar & fusion cafe." The company's tag line is "Tempting Teas. Provocative food."

I had a great time visiting this place with my friend C. She ordered a pomarita freeze (blended tea sorbet) and I got a tangerine ginger (sparkling infusion). These tea concoctions were both refreshing and tasty. The sparking drink had more of an actual tea flavor than the pomarita. For the tea purists, you can also purchase an endless pot of white, green, oolong or black tea, herbal tisanes and rooibos beverages for $3.85.

C is a glass artist. I was enamored with these pieces of hers, the first ones she fired from her new kiln. I can't wait to see more! You can see more of her pieces here.

For dinner, we both had fusion bowls with grilled tofu, organic brown rice and organic baby greens. I had the miso dressing. It was very tasty!

I also came home with Teaz Me shorts. Maybe the DH (dear hubby) will have fun chasing me in these. I'm thinking of when we go for a run, of course!

If you live near a Teaz Me (there are three in CA), I recommend visiting! The tea beverages are inventive and tasty. The food is good and they use many organic ingredients. Free wireless is available. Teaz Me sells a small number of retail items, reasonably priced. The decor is bright and whimsical. I think this concept of a tea cafe will appeal to new markets for tea and help open the tea market beyond traditional Victorainish venues. (Don't get me wrong - I like those too. I just think a cafe like this appeals to the hip, young crowd.) I wish I had a Teaz Me closer to home! (And special thanks to Allibrew for the recommendation.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Look What I Made!

These two bags are made from pillow cases. I think they are adorable! My friend, the cake goddess, made one for me and pointed me to the pattern.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dinner and Dessert

We had dinner with friends recently, and the sweetest part was when my friend pulled out her teacups for tea with dessert. These are beautiful! Check out the one in front - it's a commemorative item from the coronation of Queen Victoria. It's a very special piece! (You can click the item to enlarge it.) The others were lovely, too!

Saturday, August 18, 2007


I've been learning and experiencing a new (to me) tea beverage called kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented black tea beverage praised by those who drink it for its health properties. (Note: Minimal research is available to support this, tho anecdotes abound. The health claims stretch back to the Qin Dynasty in China (~250 BC).) If any of you have tasted or made this drink, please chime in with your experiences!

I first became acquainted with kombucha after the DH (dear hubby) came home from a recent class on lacto-fermentation of foods. In this class, he sampled kombucha and was very excited for me because of its black tea connection.

My next encounter happened just a few days ago, when the DH mentioned that a bottled form of Kombucha (flavored with juice) was available at the food coop where he works. I headed out the next day to grab a bottle and give it a try!

The brand was Synergy, and the kombucha was billed as an "organic & raw" beverage. The ingredients: 95% organic kombucha and raspberry juice. (Synergy offers other flavors, too.)

I didn't know what to expect. It smelled and tasted a little like vinegar, with an ever-so-slightly sweet edge (emphasis on the slight). The drink had a subtle natural fizziness from the fermentation. I drank it on the front porch during a hot, hot, humid, humid evening and found the beverage very refreshing. A little went a long way.

I liked it and would drink it again. It's not something to swill down, but rather to sip slowly. I imagine some of you will find its taste unpleasant. I encourage you to try it with an open mind and an experimental palate.

There are several other Synergy flavors available, and I want to try them all. I hope to take the lacto-fermentation class this fall, with the intent on learning more about making this interesting beverage for myself! I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Measure of Success

Success is relative, and I was reminded of that this morning! For the DH, success equates to potting soil.

The DH (dear hubby) is a passionate gardener. In fact, he's become a plant provider for a local greenhouse. The owner comes by a few times each year and buys up a number of baby plants that the DH has going in our own backyard nursery. She's coming to visit again today.

DH: "I'm hoping to sell a bunch of baby jade plants today."
Me: "Oh, great! How many do you plan to sell?"
DH: "I'll be happy to sell about $30-worth. That's enough to buy 2 1/2 bags of potting soil!!!"

Here are a few flower photos I snapped just after this conversation.

Heavenly Blues, morning glories (the not-so-invasive kind)

Yard art, from salvaged materials

The bottom is a bike fork, the head is resting on part of a tikki torch the DH drug out of a dumpster, the head is a bike rim and I have no idea what the "ears" are

Love-Lies-Bleeding, related to amaranth

Sunflower; I just stumbled upon this interesting spiritual discussion of Love-Lies-Bleeding and Sunflowers

And from a speck of dirt to a speck of light.....I encourage you to read this by Carl Sagan.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Simple Things

Teach us delight
in simple things...

I am on a quest to live life simply. I mean quest literally, as in a spiritual journey. Living simply, but deeply, in each moment is my intention.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


The mystery destination of my anniversary getaway was Greencastle, IN.

The DH (dear hubby) had seen Greencastle listed as one of the top 100 places to visit in the Midwest, in the recent edition of Midwest Living magazine. Greencastle met his criteria as an interesting place within a one-hour drive of home.

Greencastle is part of Putnam County, which has a number of covered bridges. (We didn't visit any on this trip.) It is also home to DePauw University.

What did we do in Greencastle? What we do best on trips: walk. We walked around and around - through town, through the University, we walked all over! The DH and I both enjoy looking at buildings, gardens, neighborhoods, etc. I think there's no better way to get the feel of a community. Here are a few photos of downtown.
Courthouse; Greencastle is the Putnam County seat

Empty lot in the downtown square, which the city has turned into public seating. I like the multi textures on the wall.

On Saturday, we had lunch at the Almost Home "tearoom." While the tearoom is no longer active, this is now a very nice restaurant. The DH and I split a bowl of broccoli-cheese soup, a veggie wrap that was grilled (Yummy!) and a piece of walnut pie. This pie was delicious! I wish I had a photo. The filling was like a blend of coconut cream filling and cheesecake with walnuts and homemade crust. Perfect and yummy!

After lunch, we checked into the Walden Inn on the campus of DePauw. The Inn is in the midst of a remodel. Our room was very nice. We even had a flat-screen TV!
We spent the afternoon doing more exploring. Greencastle has a labyrinth in one of its public parks.

Me, walking the labyrinth

DePauw University has a beautiful campus!
Cool old building on campus

Cool new buildings on campus

On Sunday, we were delighted to discover the DePauw University Nature Park. This is a must-see if you're in the area! We ran from the hotel, through the quarry and around part of the rim trail, then back to the hotel. This was about an hour's run. We headed back later in the day to explore the Welcome center and to take photos. There are several miles (9, perhaps?) of trail opportunities. From the website:

"Between 1917 and 1977 the Nature Park was the site of a limestone quarry, where rock was blasted from the quarry walls, crushed into limestone aggregate and then transported off-site by rail. Limestone rock in the quarry began formation approximately 350 million years ago from the remains of animals living on the bottom of an inland sea that covered this area."

The quarry shut down when the railroad stopped serving the area.

The view from atop the Welcome Center

Early signs of fall

View from the bottom of the quarry (there is a path through it). The stone bottom of the quarry is one of the few places in the world (along with a volcano crater) where we can observe the process of Primary Succession, rock turning into vegetative matter.

On Sunday afternoon, we took the windy-hilly way home through small towns and rural countryside. It was a fantastic weekend.

Friday, August 10, 2007


Happy Anniversary to us! (Number eleven)

Dance, sweetheart! Dance and sing!
I will love the flowers you will always bring.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Office Poll: Coffee vs. Tea

My company recently had a fun little poll on its home page: What is your preferred hot beverage? I was glad (and surprised) to see that tea came out on top!

Over 1700 people responded, and the results shaped up like this:
30% - tea
29% - fancy coffee (like Starbucks)
21% - plain coffee (out of the urns in the cafe)
20% - home brew

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Suffolk Cycle Tea Tour

Even if you don't like cycle tours or tea (two of my favorite things), you can get a laugh out of the way this Brit writes about his recent weekend getaway. Suffolk Cycle Tea Tour

My favorite phrases:
"Time for the second tea and cake incident of the day."
"Look he's having a brew up."

The author is the guy who runs the Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down site, another great spot for a laugh and for serious biscuit comparisons.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Staying Centered

Things are a bit crazy in my work life at the moment. Work is going through a major transition, and people have a lot of fears and concerns (me included). It's hard to stay centered in the middle of all of this change and e-motion (energy in motion).

I am trying to see the big picture and not get caught in the daily dramas. I am trying to take a "deep minute" where I clear my mind and simply breathe several times throughout the day. I have a mantra I repeat to myself over and over, "Thank you for the abundance I have and will continue to have." I make a cup of tea and challenge myself to stay focused on every moment of that process, not the whirlwind around me.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sunday Brunch

The DH (dear hubby) and I shared Sunday brunch with a friend today. I found it to be such a relaxing, centering and enjoyable time. We weren't in a hurry. We sat on the porch and watched the birds, felt the breeze. We ate slowly and enjoyed it. We drank a big pot of tea. We laughed, we shared stories, we encouraged one another in our struggles. It was heavenly!

Flowers from the garden. I love how the poke berries drape. Grown by the DH, arranged by me.

Our friend at brunch is a tea fan, which of course is fun for me! We shared a pot of Fortnum & Mason's Royal Blend tea, a souvenir from my London trip earlier this year.

Every time I pull out a cup and saucer I haven't used in a while, I think, "Oh! This is one of my favorites!" Truth is, whatever cup I'm using at the moment tends to be my favorite. I love them all and share my favoritism in a very egalitarian manner. Notice how the flower inside the cup is reflected in the tea.

We started with a fruit salad of cantaloupe, cherries, peaches, coconut, chocolate chips, walnuts, and cardamom sprinkled on top (made by the DH).

Then we enjoyed fresh zucchini bread (made by yours truly with zucchinis from my folks).

We wrapped up with delicious egg salad (see left), accompanied by fresh basil (from our garden) and tomatoes from my folks' house. (Third course by the DH.) The egg salad had a dash of hot sauce. Quite yummy, and we had a good laugh because it caught me off guard!

The DH, being silly, and friend. Thank you for a wonderful Sunday!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Hope Chest Treasures

My hope chest has come to live with me, after living for 20 years at my mother's. My grandfather made this lovely cedar chest as a a gift for my 8th grade graduation!

Note: Nobody gets to call my "Steffy," unless you've known me since I was in grade school!

Inside this chest are treasures from my paternal grandmother. She collected sets of china and other glass and dishware for my sister and me. Here are some of the things the cedar chest has protected for years.

Notice the masking tape on the small creamer in front. It's my grandmother's handwriting, and I hesitate to remove the tape. This grandmother is no longer living.

This is the china set that grandma found for me at a yard sale. It's Haviland, from Germany.

Grandma also found a few pieces of this Eggshell Nautilus set for me.

I find myself feeling torn between packing up these treasures and storing them safely back in the hope chest, and hosting a tea party to celebrate them and the life of my grandmother. They are so precious, I don't want to break them. And yet, I am sure she wanted them to be used.