Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Recipe Attribution Policy

I've been thinking a lot about recipes and appropriate attribution (source citation). I plan to someday publish a tea cookbook of my own - and so I am sensitive to using others' recipes without proper attribution. I've also been doing some research. Here is the best summary I've found.

Here is my Recipe Attribution Policy, based on how I would like others to treat me:

  • I won't publish the recipes from newly released magazines or cookbooks without direct permission from the author. This is, after all, a part of people's livelihood and I don't want to interfere with sales.

  • For recipes that come from sources that are not new, I will attribute the source. For example, if I am using a recipe from my Betty Crocker cookbook, I will say so. If I've altered that recipe slightly, I will say so (or say "inspired by" or something similar).

  • For recipes that are my own, I will not provide a citation.

Does this policy make sense to you? I'd like to hear your thoughts. Thank you!

*Image from

Monday, December 29, 2008

An Aunt's Privilege

The happy toddler and her enamored aunt, Christmas morning at my Mom's

It get so tickled with my 1-year-old niece! She has the most infectious giggle and smile. A year ago, she was a pink and perfect infant, and now she's a busy, busy, busy toddler.

Notice the bows in our hair - thanks to the creative styling of the little one. "Bow" is one of her favorite words, and she loved the bows more than any present (except, maybe, for the electric fish bowl).

The DH and I had a good Christmas, and on the way home we got the chance to have an extra 2 days of vacation. The car decided it needed a new transmission as we were on our way home. But we made the best of it and saw movies and walked all over the town where we landed, until the rental car shop opened this morning. Thanks to the nice service people who helped us - the tow truck driver, the mechanics, the hotel owner, the car rental gal...all of them were cheerful and kind.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tea for Quiet Times

My cheeriest tablecloth on a very wintry day

This is my last tea party of the year, and I've entitled it Tea for Quiet Times. I've had two chances in the past few days to sit with a friend, in front of a fire (be it real or electric), and relax. Quiet conversations and tea. Heaven! This quiet time prepares me for the busy Christmas visiting ahead.

With Sweetcakes, I enjoyed the best-ever chai and the most amazing gingerbread cookies.
See the adorable gingerbread reindeer (and recipe) here.

Today, I enjoyed lunch and tea with a friend in my home. It was a dreary day, but those are perfect for tea. The weather was sleeting and windy, and I brought out my cheeriest tablecloth. Time slipped by quickly and I am grateful for the peaceful time with friends!

Happy Holidays to you! I be back to blogging in a few days. Wishing you joyful and peaceful times.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


A Dragonfly

Your delicate wings rapidly beat the air
The sleekness of your weightless body hovers
Curiously observing as though you care
Steadily searching for lifelong endeavors

Do you bring a message of a tranquil destiny?
Does your evolving maturity convey wisdom?
If I follow, will I find harmony or perplexity?
As you disappear… I am serenely lonesome
-- 12/1/07 Theresa Moore

This gorgeous tea bowl came to me from a friend in NM. Gorgeous, thank you!

Roasted Beets

After two of my friends sang the praises of roasted beets, I decided to give them a try. Wow, they are delicious! I just washed them, lightly peeled them (leaving some skin on), chopped them into big pieces (which was kinda hard to do), and tossed them in olive oil, salt and pepper. Baked for about an hour. Yumm!

Do you have a special roasted beet recipe?

Happy Winter Solstice!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Wishing You a Cup of Tea...

I'm wishing you a cup of tea during this season of holidays. May it bring you cheer, peace, warmth and renewal. Cheers!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lupicia Holiday Tea

My friend, CW, sent me this gorgeous holiday tin of Nilgiri tea, from Lupicia. The tin is so cheery and pretty, and I smiled brightly!

My smile broadened when I opened the tin and saw the packaging written in Japanese. There is an English instruction card, too. Lupicia is very clearly a Japanese-based company, with a US presence. It offers over 400 varieties of tea. CW has been to one of its retail store in CA and says it's amazing.

My senses continued to be pleased as I inhaled the aroma of the dry leaf. It's hard to describe - somewhat like a Darjeeling, but yet different. A sweet and very pleasant aroma. Also look at the lovely color variations in the leaf. From copper to deep brown.

My taste buds were rewarded for their wait - the tea brewed up nicely. The aroma stayed with it, tho more subtle in the brew. The taste was smooth - neither weak nor bitter. This is a very nice tea and a wonderful gift! I do recommend it. Based on this tea and one other from Lupicia, I give the company the thumbs-up.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Eating and Drinking with Jane

And, oh, by the way - Happy Birthday, Jane! (Dec 16, 1775).

"You must drink tea with us tonight." --Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen.

Many of us know about (and have enjoyed) the book, Tea with Jane Austen. I also discovered another book at the library, The Jane Austen Cookbook. It makes a nice companion to the first, for anyone who is a Jane Austen devotee.

Both books give a sense of what it would have been like to eat and drink in Jane Austen's day. The books also share recipes from that period (thankfully, updated for today's standards, too.) A note about tea in Jane's certainly was an important social beverage, as you will see in these books. However, Jane probably never attended a "tea party" exactly as we know it. She may
have experienced an earlier version, but the idea of afternoon tea didn't get officially named until the 1830s or 40s.

There are two other books I wish to explore, from my library. Cooking with Jane Austen and In the Garden with Jane Austen. If anyone has read these, please share your review!
And for the passionate Jane Austen lovers, check out the Austen blog.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Etsy Dreamin'

Necklace (and photo) by poetsummer, found on Etsy

I blogged recently about how I was reducing my holiday consumption this year, and I'm sticking to it. But I do like to go window shopping now and then. Here are my favorite tea-themed Etsy finds. Enjoy!

Librarian tea print (would go so well with the Dewey Decimal mug!)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Did you see the moon?

Did you see the moon last night? It was full and closer to the earth than it has been for 15 years. Read more. If you didn't see it last night, get yourself outdoors tonight. It is spectacular!

The DH and I bundled up for a nice walk through the University, enjoying an art exhibit. But nothing could compare to the moon.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tea Towels

Isn't this cute? I made it recently, from a flour sack towel (thanks, NM Tea Lover!). Flour sack towels are my fave. I love how they don't get full of lint and how they dry quickly.

I was inspired by some tea towels I saw recently at ANTHROPLOGIE. At $18 per towel, I thought, "I can do that myself!" Well, this is a happy ending. Not all of those thoughts end happily. Ha! Mine isn't quite as fancy as ANTHROPOLOGIE, but I do love it.

First, I used disappearing ink (sold at sewing stores) to sketch my teacup.

Then I used the sewing machine to embroidery. I was going for the whimsical, imprecise line drawing look. I went round it twice, to give it an extra bit of color. I finished by adorning the top and bottom hems with ric-rac.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Cup of Christmas Tea

This is a repeat post from a few years ago, but I have new blog friends and wanted to share it again. Enjoy!

A Cup of Christmas Tea, by Tom Hegg

Listen to the touching poem, read by the author, here. My Mom gave me the book a few years ago. It's one of my absolute favorites. (The reading will start after a few seconds.) Tissues recommended.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Old Fashioned Sauerkraut

The DH and I took a class on lactofermentation and we recently made our own sauerkraut, the old-fashioned way. Lactofermentation uses no heat. It relies on naturally-present bacteria to break down the food and provide probiotics. Lactofermented foods are good for you like yogurt and other "live" foods. The kraut tastes tangy, slightly salty, and is such a pretty color! I've seen red cabbage used, as well, for a lovely pink hue. Next up, I hope to make some kimchi and try kombucha.

Below I share our general process of making sauerkraut. These steps are meant to be informative, but not instructional. If you want to try this, find yourself a good book. I suggest Wild Fermentation by Katz.

Step 1: Grate the cabbage. We have a handy-dandy hand-crank tool that makes fast work of this. We used nearly an entire head of cabbage.

Step 2: Crush the salt, if it's not in small particles. It's important to use natural salts that don't have additives. (Hand modeling by the DH.) We used 2 tablespoons of salt. The recipe called for between 1 and two tablespoons. Next time, I'll use a bit less.

Step 3: Toss in the salt, and "tamp" the cabbage. Yes, tamp is a technical term. It means beat the heck out of the stuff. You can see here we are using a pasta measuring device for its flat bottom. Tamping starts the cabbage along its journey, and in combination with the salt, releases the juices. Tamp until the cabbage looks shiny, or lightly cooked.

Step 4: Place into jars (or, traditionally, a crock) and tamp some more. You need to ensure all the cabbage is below a layer of juice.

Step 5: Cover and let it sit. Test regularly, until it gets to your level of tartness and then refrigerate. Ours sat about about a month.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Christmas Twig

The Dear Hubby and I don't do much for Christmas decoration. We're non-traditionalists there, I suppose. Some fresh greenery is my favorite. We've had a Christmas tree - and I use that term loosely - twice in thirteen Christmases. One was a rubber tree, one was a cactus. This Christmas Twig is tree #3. It came from our lot (where we'll build a house) and is simply decorated with spiral ribbon. I love its barrenness. I don't plan to put presents under it. We've also named it the "Solstice Sprig" to celebrate the coming longer daylight hours!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Serendipity, Panettone, and Holiday Tea

Serendipity was the word that Katie entered into my giveaway contest, and so I had to choose her as my winner! I doubt that Katie knew, but Serendipity Teas is the name of my tea biz. (And that's a story for another day.) So when I saw her word, it made my heart glow. Congratulations Katie! I will ship the holiday cards out soon!

I was at TJ Maxx last night and I picked up this panettone box. I'd just read about these Italian holiday cakes, but have never had one. It's good! I had it for breakfast today. The texture reminds me of a sweet roll, tho the cake itself was very lightly sweet. I'm glad because that allowed the dried fruit to really shine. The cake was a little dry - I should have sprinkled with water and warmed. I had the panettone with a very nice cup of Harney & Son's Holiday Tea (black tea), blended with citrus, almond, clove and cinnamon.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Wow! and Skirt

Wow - I got more comments yesterday for the giveaway than I've ever had before! Thanks to Sew, Mama, Sew! for the grand idea and to all those who played! I am having such a ball reading all the one-word holiday wishes! I will announce the winner tomorrow.

In the mean time, here is the skirt I mentioned a few days ago. The fabric is corduroy. It's Butterick pattern 3134 and I'm LOVING this pattern! I made view B, the blue one on the left. The skirt went together easily for me. I think I'm getting a little better at understanding patterns. Still, it seems like they leave things out, like finishing the inside edges! Oh, well. Thank goodness I have good sewing coaches who teach me well! And I promise to blog about something tea-related soon.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Holiday Cards Giveaway

I'm participating in the Sew, Mama, Sew! giveaway today! My gift is a group of handmade holiday cards. They may not look exactly like these, but they will be cool!

To enter, leave me a comment with a one-word holiday wish. (Like my favorite, "Peace.")

Cheers and good luck!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Endings and Beginnings

Endings: I took yesterday off from blogging, as a reward for successfully completing NaBloPoMo, where I blogged every day for a month. It's fun and it's tough! My hat is off to those of you who do so regularly. I'm a frequent blogger, but I like to be able to take some days off, too. And to those of you who did NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), may you be published!

Beginnings: I have a new job at work. The job itself excites me. I also struggle with the fear that it's too big of a job - can I keep it within the bounds of time that I give to work, and no more? That is my task - to keep it right-sized and reasonable.

*image from

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Studio 502

Studio 502, the name of our art studio (aka home), coined by the DH. He had this on our kitchen chalkboard when I came home from a work trip, on which I had a creative epiphany. I took the photo without a flash in low light, and thus the blurriness, but I like the effect.

I blogged recently about discovering the artist in me. I've had this idea to turn part of my living room into an art studio. And it hit me recently that it is! It's just not my working space - it's the DH's as he draws our house plans. (We are in the slow, organic process of envisioning our future SMALL house.) He's got the big table set up, and his creativity is evident.

Since the house planning is of prime importance, I don't want to interrupt his creative mess here. So instead I've made several creative stations. Here's one - my holiday card-making station, on the floor in my office.

And, on the ironing board, I'm about to begin work on a corduroy skirt.

And this doesn't include pictures of our plant nursery (one window, floor to ceiling shelves, with baby plants) or the bicycle museum (which is fluid and moving OUT into circulation in the world! I know it is, even if I can't see it at the moment).

I took a look around me and realized that I don't need to wait for the perfect space to begin projects. I'm already doing them. So I'm now choosing to see the house as a dynamic space that morphs itself into the space we need. There are times to be neat and tidy - and then there are times to be knee-deep in creative messes. We are in the latter at the moment, and instead of getting frustrated or overwhelmed, I am choosing to see it as vibrant and alive. :-) If I can have one area of our home that is under control, my refuge, I am OK. This would be our bedroom and my tea corner. The rest of the house can ebb and flow, and lead to wonderful creations.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

One Kind Word...

"One kind word can warm three winter months."
-- Chinese Proverb

I read this quote last night in a magazine. The thought really stuck with me. I can recall moments in my life when someone made one kind comment that changed my view of myself for the positive.

Now that we're officially in the "holiday season," I am striving to remember this quote each day. It seems this time of year is equally filled with heartbreak and joy, with coldness and warmth. What one kind word can I offer to make a difference?

Friday, November 28, 2008

My Shadow

This is my "shadow," so to speak - a dress form, molded from my body, and made from duct tape. Some of you may remember the beginning of this adventure. Well, here's an update - the DH made a stand for me, so that it hangs at about my height. Today, we finished it out by getting it onto the stand and fully stuffed. What an alter-ego! I call her "seven"...of nine, for the Star Trek fans.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

To you, my blog readers. Thank you for reading and commenting. I'm grateful for this blog, a very nice means of creative expression.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Natural Cleaning

Today's living simply theme is natural house cleaning. The DH and I made the switch to natural cleaners over the past several years. As one thing ran out, we just didn't replace it. Now, we clean with baking soda, water, and vinegar. I have a bottle of store-bought natural wood and all-purpose cleaner that is about out, and I plan to make my own with a bit of olive oil and lemon going forward. It's a comfort to me to know that I can ingest the things I clean with.

I also stopped using synthetic air fresheners. Now, I can hardly stand their unnatural smell. Instead, I use essential oils in a diffuser. I became so aware of the badness of these synthetic fragrances from a colleague whose daughter is highly sensitive to chemicals. Think of an airport bathroom - it can certainly give me a headache with that syrupy-sweet masking scent. Unfortunately, for those with chemical sensitivities, it's much more serious. The chemicals can cause this girl's fragile body to have a seizure.

It's easy to give up the expensive and harsh chemicals and clean naturally. Here are some great resources and recipes. Do you have a favorite home-cleaning recipe? Please share!

*Image from free online image sources.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

November Tea: A Virtual Tea Party

My tea cozy corner, where I sat for the virtual tea party

Take three good friends in three timezones, a leisurely afternoon, 3 good cups of tea, a treat or two or three, and season with the magic of technology. You've got the makings for a great virtual tea party! By virtual, I mean over the phone.

I enjoyed such an event last Friday evening. I had a conference call with two of my dear Western Skies friends. We each held a cup of tea and we spent the hour sipping and chatting. It was very fun and connecting. I highly recommend it! Next time, we plan to give Skype a try with some video conferencing, too! Wouldn't it be fun to SEE the mug or cup and saucer your friend is using, along with her lovely face?

Monday, November 24, 2008


Isn't that a great name for a "tea"? In fact, honeybush isn't truly a tea, but it is a wonderfully-scented and flavored tisane (herbal infusion). Like rooibos, honeybush grows in South Africa. It has yellow flowers that smell like honey. Tea is made from the flowers, leaves and stems of the plant.

Honeybush is naturally caffeine-free and also has antioxidants, as well as minerals.

If you're looking for a way to satisfy your sweet tooth, give honeybush a try! It's naturally sweet tasting and it may hit the mark in a non-sugared way!

Medicinally, honeybush has long been used to treat coughs.
"The traditional use of the tea for treating cough may be explained, in part, by its content of pinitol, a modified sugar that is similar to inositol. Pinitol, named for its major source, pine trees, is also found in the leaves of several legume plants; it is an expectorant." Read more here.
The next time you see honeybush, give it a try and let me know what you think!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Drum roll...

And the winners of my tea sample giveaways are:

Lady Katherine

I had such a great response, I decided to pick two winners. I'll be in contact, ladies, and congratulations! Thanks to everyone who joined in! And here's a sneak peek at December 3rd - I'll be joining in the Sew, Mama, Sew! giveaway, check back!

It's been a quiet weekend for me. It kicked off Friday evening with a virtual tea party, which I will blog about later this week. Then I spent yesterday mostly doing nothing. I didn't make it to the dance class, sigh. I just wasn't up for it. I've been fighting a cold. I also spent much of today napping in the sun, like a solar cat. As much as I wanted to take the class, I needed a quiet weekend more. Fortunately, I'm feeling better this afternoon.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Blog Roundup

Hello - Off to dance class today, but before I go, I wanted to share a few interesting blog posts I've enjoyed recently. Also, a reminder that today is the last day to enter the giveaway for three tea samples! I will announce the winner on Sunday, 11/23 (that's tomorrow!).

Denise, over at Uniquely Tea, finds the most amazing tea-related stuff! I just adored watching this video made in approximately 1941.

For a study in beautiful photography, as well as tea, visit Tea Master's blog.

Check out the trailer at The Meaning of Tea's website. I SO want this video! (Thanks, Linda at Friendship Tea, for the link!)

If you're feeling generous, mark December 3rd as "giveaway day" and participate in Sew, Mama, Sew's festivities.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Blues Dancing

I am forfeiting my self portrait today. I just didn't get around to it, as I have to be away from home most of the day. But I will make it up soon. In the mean time, the DH and I will be at a Blues Dancing workshop tomorrow. This form of dance may unfamiliar to many of you, so I wanted to take a moment to explain it.
"Like Swing dance, Blues dance originated and evolved from African rhythms and movements. However, Blues dancing was never widely practiced as a "social" or performance dance in the United States outside of the Black communities; so it developed and thrived in smoky juke joints and at Blues house parties and rent parties, giving it a more intimate feel." Read more here.

Blues dancing has a forbidden edge to it - it's sensual and evocative. It came from an era of repression - racial, social, and all kinds of other things. Even under the awful conditions of repression, thankfully the human spirit finds very inventive ways to express itself.

Here's a video clip from our instructor (the guy). Keep in mind, these folks are Pros! I can't even identify the "basic" step in this. The DH and I will NOT be looking like that after one day. So here's to some great music and loose hips! Warning: Chances are, this will get your blood pumping.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Yeba Mate

Yerba mate is a South American evergreen shrub that is used as an herb. The leaves and twigs are used to make an infusion that is consumed in several countries, including in Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. Most mate infusions are made from green mate, but you will sometimes find a roasted variety. Sometimes people add milk and sweeteners. It's a common practice to drink mate from a hollowed gourd (sometimes covered with metal) through a metal bombilla (straw). It's a social drink often shared with friends.

Yerba mate is made with hot, not boiling water. It can be steeped for a long time without getting bitter. Even thought it is an herbal, it is unique in that it does contain caffeine and other stimulants. Many people believe that, like tea, the effects are not as jarring as coffee.

I find the flavor to be strong, different than tea, and kind of earthy. I've heard the flavor described as a cross between tea and coffee and I think that's a good assessment. I enjoy yerba mate, but it's not my go-to drink. That's as much socialization as anything, I suppose. Were I from South America, I'm sure it would be part of my beverage routine.

Have you ever tried yerba mate? What was your experience?
*Images from wikipedia and google images