Friday, May 30, 2008

It Don't Mean a Thing...

If it ain't got that swing!

The DH and I love to swing dance! These photos are from a recent "fancy dance" where we were encouraged to dress in period clothes. My dress is new, but in 1940s style.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

World Tea Expo

The World Tea Expo is set to begin on Friday. It's being held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. I've been fortunate to attend this trade show and educational convention previously, in its earlier days.

A conference poster that I received recently caught my attention. The poster features some of the new products being shown at the vendor booths, including:
  • Finum Iced Tea Control - an iced tea brewing system (by Riensch & Held); here is a link to the hot tea pot, but I couldn't find the iced tea one - perhaps it's too new
  • Sparkling Teas - VidaTea and White Jasmine Sparkling Teas are mentioned specifically
  • Whisky Cakes - by Caledonian Kitchen, available in five varieties
  • Honey flavor spoons - by the Melville Candy Company and featuring the pomegranate clover spoons

I've included links to the products, so those of us at home can still learn about them - and even order them if we're especially enticed. I have had the honey spoons (plain honey flavor) and enjoyed them. As for the others, I cannot speak. I am not a fan of bottled tea, but the sparkling tea has captured my attention.

If you have experience with any of these products, or if you attend the World Tea Expo, I'd love to hear about it!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

History of Tea in an Orange Poppy (repeat)

My poppies are blooming, and they mesmerize me with their color! I love the intense orange and the royal purple combination. Below are some photos I snapped this morning.

I'd also like to point you to a post I wrote last May, about how tea was connected to the Opium Wars. One can tell much of the history of the world through tea! This is one small example.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Changing Gears

If you're in town, I hope to see you at Nick's on Thursday at 7 pm to see off Andy and Melissa! These two folks are behind the really cool plan to bike from Indiana to California, learning about sustainability along the way. Read more on their website:

Their blog is an interesting read, and features topics from insurance to wedding proposals.

Best wishes to Andy and Melissa!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Eating Locally

In addition to enjoying the farmer's market, the DH and I joined a CSA this year. CSA stands for community-supported agriculture. We bought a share of a farm and receive weekly produce. (Actually, for the two of us, we got a half share because we also have a garden.) It's so much fun! Our produce arrives on Saturday, and it's like Christmas each week! We joined to support the plan to get as much food as possible from local sources. Rather than having my spinach travel from California, why not get it from a farm less than 10 miles away? Think of all the transportation costs that are gone! Plus, the money stays local, I know the folks that grow the food, and the food has an increased nutritional value because it doesn't get picked too early and travel a great distance.

Our CSA bounty from last week (pictured above) included: salad greens, turnip greens, radishes, young garlic (like green onions), incredibly yummy pasta sauce, and watercress. As the produce changes with the seasons, so changes what we receive. It's a great way to stay in tune with what nature delivers to us in our own locales.

About the only way to eat more locally is to grow it ourselves, which the DH does so well! Here are a few garden pictures.

Sugar snap peas

Broccoli rabe, bok choy and spinach

Lettuce from our Feb. 14th scattering of seeds on snow

Strawberry patch; I spied one strawberry starting to turn red yesterday!

The thing that is cool about our garden is how much produce we get from a tiny little lot in town! I think it's very pretty, too, how the DH mixes the food plants among the flowers. It's just lovely.

If you'd like to find a farmer's market or CSA near you, check out

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Trusty Teapots

This week's blogathon topic is to write about teapots. I'll share with you the teapots I use on a daily basis. I call these my trusty teapots, as they keep on pouring and never fail me! The first one is a small teapot (about 3-4 cups) with a set of 5 matching handleless cups. The teapot has a mesh infuser basket, which I love. It's easy to clean and gives the tea plenty of room to open and expand. I originally purchased this set for the cups. I needed additional cups of this size for tea tastings. But it's the teapot that has become the crown jewel. It is the one I go to almost every day.

Below is another pot I use regularly. I like it because of its tall and lean shape, more like a coffee pot (tho it is smaller than most coffee pots of this style). It came to me in New Mexico, from a thrift store bonanza (the DH found it). I use this one when I want a bit more flair with my daily cup.

Do you have a teapot you go to on a daily basis? What about it do you like? The color? The way it pours? Its sentimental value?

Cutest Cupcakes

Martha Stewart recently hosted a cutest cupcakes contest. I was delighted that many of the finalists and grand prize winners had a tea theme! You can see them all on her website, but here are the tea ones I spied (photos from the Martha Stewart website).

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fun Tea Things

Here are a few tea treasures I've received recently. My sincere thanks to the gift givers!

A gift from Wm
You can find these at 1-800-Flowers

A gift from AZ Tea Lover
The inside says, "The quality of being open and truthful while drinking tea"
Indeed - that is what I hope to be!

AZ tea lover chose this one for herself
The inside says, "Having more creative ability while drinking tea"

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bike to Church Day

Friends biking to church

I rode my bike to church yesterday. I was participating in "Bike to Church" day. Many local churches came together to support alternative transportation options for getting to church - biking, walking, public transit, carpooling. At the height of the bike scene at my church yesterday, I counted about 20 riders, and that doesn't include the first service riders or any walkers or carpoolers.

The DH and I have a car. We drive it about once a week, and that's out of convenience and not need. I'm not bragging here, but rather trying to show that it can be done. We've structured our life so that the car is not necessary. I have such an intense sense of freedom by not being dependent on the car.

I am blessed to live in a community where churches can put aside differences and work together toward healing the earth. To me, protecting the environment is an absolutely crucial spiritual path. After all, tending the garden is job one.

The DH (dear hubby), checking out the bike scene

Riding a bike gives me time to stop and check out the flowers.

I would have blown right by this guy (or gal?) in a car.
Bicycling really lets me see the world.

On the way home, we stopped by a sign that read "free plants."

Friday, May 16, 2008

May Tea: For Two, from Me to You

I love my DH (dear hubby). There are moments in life when I just look at him with adoration, and today was one of those days. Here's why: I had planned a "Tea for Two" as my May tea party. My friend, Sweetcakes, has had a whirlwind month and I wanted to give her a few moments of rest and relaxation. Also, she had gifted me with some lovely Old Country Roses pieces and I was saving them to use with her. So, we planned a lunch appointment for tea. Then, things at work exploded this week and I became very busy. The DH announced to me recently, "I'm going to do your tea party food. It's my Mother's Day present to you (and my life will be better because you won't be stressed out.)"

Well, he did a fantastic job. He planned and prepared three courses and paired the teas. He's just a sweetheart and I'm grateful. I'm also grateful to Sweetcakes for sharing a part of her day with me!

Here are some photos...

Old Country Roses china - one of my favorite china patterns!
I love the bold colors and gold rimming. Also, columbine from the garden.

Iris from the garden

Our first tea was one I brought back from London last year

The DH explaining the menu and our first tea

First course: fresh cherry scones
(Remember, the DH put the menu together and did all the cooking! Tho that's not so unusual at my house.)
These scones were very good - we ate them bare b/c the DH told us, "anything else would ruin the scone." I think he was right!

Second course: Garlic scallops in puff pastry and tomatoes with vinaigrette and oregano
Served with a white elderflower tea

Final course, with a flair for the French - salad, fruit and cheese
Served with a fresh peppermint tisane from our garden

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Fair Madeleine

The shell-shaped, cake-like cookie called Madeleines has become one of my favorites! I just love the texture and taste. These cookies have a tea connection, made famous by Proust. The cookies are a perfect accompaniment to tea. They are lightly sweet and airy - blending with the flavors of tea, rather than overpowering. They match nicely with fruit, too.

I recently bought a Madeleine pan and made my first batch this week. Here is the recipe I used, tho I used 1/2 the sugar and half whole wheat flour. They turned out great! The only problem was that I had to keep myself out of the batter! And I ate four of them immediately out of the oven. ;-)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Favorite Tea Rooms

This week's blogathon topic (thanks, Gracious Hospitality!) is to write about a favorite tea room. Well, I have two today that I'd like to discuss.

First, let me extend my heartfelt congratulations to my friend MJ who is having her grand opening this weekend for a new tea room in Massillon, Ohio. It's called the Amherst Rose and I wish I could be there with her for the celebration! I met her on the Tea in London trip in March, 2007 and have enjoyed hearing of the progress of her tea room since then. I wish MJ and her husband much wonderful success and know their tea room will certainly be a favorite when I get the chance to visit!

Second, picking a favorite tea room is no easy challenge. Each one that I've been to has a uniqueness to it and has something that I find endearing. However, if I were forced to pick, I would say that the
St. James Tea Room in Albuquerque, NM is my all-time favorite.

Part of the reason for this favorite is the association I have with friends and good times at the St. James, but an equally important part is the tea room itself. Mary Alice, the proprietress, and her staff go above and beyond to make the tea experience a delight. The decor is luxurious, but not partial to the feminine. Men and women feel equally welcome here, I believe. The layout of tables allows for many small nooks and private cubbies throughout.

The food is exquisite! Here is the May menu. Not only does the St. James serve wonderful tea sandwiches, but the chef also prepares other gourmet savories. The cream scones are the best I've ever had, and the desserts are creative and delicious. The staff have been trained well and are friendly and knowledgeable about both the teas and the food.

And I shouldn't leave out the treasures! When entering the St. James tea room, you are welcomed and may be tempted by many interesting treasures in the gift shop. I was often tempted to purchase an item or two.

(St. James Logo, from the website)

If you find yourself in Albuquerque, the St. James tea room is a must-see! For me, it is a reason unto itself to return, but of course I have the added benefit of friends there, too!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Calling All Arts & Crafters!

Angela, over at Tea with Friends, recently brought to my attention that the magazine Cloth Paper Scissors is hosting a tea party challenge. The gist is to "make a mixed-media piece of art that celebrates home and hospitality based on a tea party theme." Details. The deadline to e-mail photos of your entry is July 14, 2008.

Fun! I hope some of us will play!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Happy Mother's Day to All Women

Happy Mother's Day to my mother, my sister, my grandmother, my friends who are mothers, and to all women, whether mothers of human children or mothers of passions.

My mind turns toward Julia Ward Howe today. She is most known for writing the words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic, but she was the first to proclaim Mother's Day in 1870. Read her proclamation here. I find it just as stirring and revolutionary today as I image it was then.

My hats off to all women who step forward to make positive change for our world. May we raise our daughters to be so bold.

I am spending this weekend with my family, in celebration of my grandparents' 70th wedding anniversary. My grandmother is an inspiring woman. She loved babies and gardening and simple things in life, like sitting in the porch swing with a glass of iced tea. Her health has declined, but she still finds ways to make jokes and smile. She is a very special woman.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Set the Table, Tea is On!

This week's blogathon topic (from Gracious Hospitality) is to share afternoon tea settings. I'm displaying photos from the past two years. Each of these is a tea party I've hosted - some for several people, some for a friend or two, and some for just me. I've loved and enjoyed each one.