Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Respite at Clifty Falls

I love this photo of me (taken by the DH). I love it because I know I'm happy and relaxed. We spent the early part of last week in Madison, IN. This photo is at Clifty Falls State Park. The few days away were a respite for me, a much needed break.

Here are a few more photos from Clifty Falls. It's a very nice state park. Be sure to eat at the Inn, with birds-eye views of Madison. If you plan to hike, go prepared for mud. There are many natural springs that bubble through the limestone, dribbling across your path.

Big Clifty Falls

Little Clifty Falls

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hope - Tenacity - Release

Hope - That this bulb will produce a beautiful amaryllis, and when it does, that my future will be more concrete.

Tenacity - These flowers continue to bloom, despite short days of sunlight and chilly temps. They continue to show their best face to the sun, even in unfriendly conditions. How I want to be.

Release - Knowing when enough is enough and letting go gracefully. I've hung onto the idea of blogging every day in November, but the truth is I need a few days of being completely unplugged. I'll be back soon.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Funky Legs Friday: Stripey

Funky Legs Friday!

These fun striped tights came from TJ Maxx. They're knit tights, like socks. Nice and warm.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Farewell Stella, and Thank You

Me, on Stella. Photo by the DH.

I pushed the electric start and Stella came to life. She purred quietly, a sleek feline next to the large and loud canine-like Harley in the next parking space. The Harley rider gave me a collegial nod as he stepped over his ride.

Stella and I pulled out of the motorcycle lot and scooted across the parking area. It was 5:15 pm and workers were pouring out of the office building. People stopped and smiled.


I sold Stella this week. I wrote a letter to her new owner, sharing her story and my story with her. I will miss her tangerine orangeness and her coolness. I will always be grateful for my bravery that came with her.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Words for Wednesday, Tea is Good Stuff

"Drinking a daily cup of tea will surely starve the apothecary." ~Ancient Chinese Proverb

"Better to be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one."~Ancient Chinese Proverb

"My experience convinced me that tea was better than brandy, and during the last’s months in Africa I took no brandy, even when sick taking tea instead."~Theodore Roosevelt, in a 1912 letter

"My dear, if you could give me a cup of tea to clear my muddle of a head I should better understand your affairs." ~Charles Dickens
*Photo from Microsoft Images

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Anne of Green Gables Christmas Treasury

Browsing through the craft books at the library, I recently found the book, The Anne of Green Christmas Treasury. What fun! I am a huge Anne fan! This book offers craft ideas and recipes mentioned in the Anne of Green Gables series, or ones that would have been placed in that period. It's a fun book for the Anne lovers in your life.

Here is another source of craft ideas inspired by the book.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Reduced and Reused Holiday Cards

I'm making all of my holiday cards this year - and the envelopes. Actually, the envelopes (above) will steal the show! These are made from the winter Vera Bradley catalogue. The pages are the perfect size and weight, and they show many festive holiday scenes. My mom and I folded these up recently, when she was over for a visit. Here are the instructions for making envelopes.

I'm making the card inserts from unwanted notebook dividers, those heavy card stock pages with the tabs on them.
I've been thinking about the recycling triangle lately. Recycling is great, of course, but the first two components actually prevent the need for recycling. That's a good thing! It's what I'm trying to do with these holiday cards.

By the way, if you have an extra Vera Bradley catalogue, the big holiday one with wide pages, that you don't want, I would love to turn it into envelopes! Please send an e-mail to

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Apple Oven Pancake

I have a new breakfast favorite. This apple oven pancake is fantastic! Three things contributed to trying out the new recipe this morning:
  1. My friend Esme recently raved about a similar recipe.
  2. I stumbled upon the recipe in the October, 2009 Sunset magazine. (Thank you, Library!)
  3. We have lots of apples from the CSA.

This recipe delivered!

Soften the apples in a cast iron skillet. Don't peel the apples; it's not necessary.

Add the milk/flour/egg mixture. Whole wheat flour works GREAT!
Bake for 15 minutes.


Try not to eat the whole thing. It's very hard.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Spiced Cider

One of the things I love about fall is fresh apple cider. We're doing the fall program with our CSA. We regularly receive cider, unpasteurized and pressed just a few days prior. Amazing!

I like to make hot spiced cider. I just throw in whatever spices I have on hand. Usually, that includes a cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, always cloves, perhaps a pinch of nutmeg. Yum! What do you use to make spiced cider?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Patterns in Ivory

Funky Legs Friday is here! (Finally!)

These tights are as much elegant as they are funky, in my opinion. The ivory cloth is textured and patterned. In this case, I'm dressing them up. They also work in casual mode. They came from Target.

This photo, by the way, is a favorite. The DH (feet in the background) snapped it, but I claim the concept! :-)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Apple Tart Thing

I don't know what to call this. Got any ideas? It's an apple tart thing or torte. Whatever it's called, it's delicious! Apples tossed in cider, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, a bit of whole wheat flour, and a wee bit of sweetener of choice. The crust is something the DH made up. It includes whole wheat flour, flax meal, cornmeal, sunflower seeds, shortening, and apple cider.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Words for Wednesday, Success

This quote is by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of leave the world a better know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."

I remind myself today of what really matters to me as success. I think this quote offers a great perspective. I'm also reminded of another quote that I love, which I heard on the radio. I don't know who said it, but the quote was, "What other people think of me is none of my business."

The photo is of Bryce Canyon. It takes me to a memory of when I accomplished an amazing thing, despite my fears and doubts. I rode my bike up the mountain-side of switchbacks into Zion National Park, and then into Bryce Canyon, and then up 10,000 feet in elevation to Cedar Breaks and down again. I can do so much (and so can you) when I tell myself positive stories and measure myself by the right criteria.

*Photo from Microsoft Images

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tea Bits

Have you seen the winners of the Calm-a-Sutra tea video competition? There are some really amazing ones! Check them out on your tea break.

In other tea news...Adagio has a new tea blend - Bacon Tea. They may be playing off the popular chocolate-bacon candy bar. The tea is blended with a lapsang souchong base and apple and caramel flavorings. I would try it, yes, but I'm not sure I'd like it.

Two tea-entrepreneurs in North Carolina and Tennessee are forming a society to reach out to organizations that support young women, such as Girls, Inc. Read more here.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

A Thankful Heart

"Saying thank you is more than good manners. It is good spirituality."
~Alfred Painter

I have so much to be grateful for, and today is especially good. It's sunny. My Mom's in town and we have a fun day ahead of us. The souffle I made last night puffed up well. We're healthy and blessed and warm. Thank you.

I want to bring a practice of gratitude into my life. I like to think of three things I'm grateful for at the end of each day. It's transformative.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Green Tea Cakes from Taiwan

The DH and I were browsing in an Asian market recently, and these Green Tea Cakes (like a cookie to us) caught my eye. What intrigued me was the simplicity of the ingredients: Green tea paste, wheat flour, shortening, sugar, milk fat, milk powder, sodium sulfite. Look at the box of your regular grocery-store cookie, and the list of ingredients is usually much longer. I'm trying to buy few packaged goods these days, and when I do, I want them to be with as few ingredients as possible. These fit the criteria and came home for a try.

The taste of these cookies is pleasant, and yet somewhat unusual. The green tea paste is chewy. It definitely pairs nicely with a cup of green tea. While it's not a cookie I feel compelled to put away because I'll eat them all in one setting, it does make a nice tea-time treat.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Smurf Legs

It's Funky Legs Friday! I call these my smurf legs. They are that smurf blue, don't ya think? These are thigh-high socks that actually stay up. They came from sock dreams, a store that definitely takes socks (and leg warms and arm warmers) to a new level of funkiness.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Choc Hazelnut Scones

Mmmmmm! I made these chocolate hazelnut scones recently, and really enjoyed them. I used whole wheat flour and less sweetener, of course.

Here's a tip about hazelnuts, one that I learned from a Martha Stewart Living article. Toast the hazelnuts and then rub them together in a towel (not a fancy one). Some of the paper-like covering on the outside of the shell will come off.

I think Trader Joe's has the best deal I've found on hazelnuts. How do you use them?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Words for Wednesday, Tea Time

This is my first post in a series called Words for Wednesday. I'll share some of my favorite words...sometimes about tea, sometimes not, sometimes my own, often not.


Tea Time
~Sharon Elizabeth Wood, 1997

At four o’clock, the day becomes liquid
casting a Darjeeling shadow on itself.
This is the time between,
an hour without destiny.

I must be careful
not to disturb the scent of oranges
that rests on the mist,
nor to veer off the steamy path
as I raise the china lip
to meet my own.

We are both survivors of fate,
this old cup and I,
adrift in the fortune of tea leaves.

Now we are held by tales’ embrace,
floating on vapors and shadows,
silhouetted by the ebbing day
as it sets over the oranges.

There is just enough light
for remembrance and forgetting,
the taste of cress, the touch of lace,
powdery scones lifted to powdery faces,
moments past now beginning.
This is a time of peace, a time of grace.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A Little Crafting Inspiration

It's interesting how just thinking about being creative lifts my spirits! I can be stuck in a tough day and if I take a mini-break to give my creative side room to breathe, the result is uplifting. My heart and soul feel lighter! Humans are made to be creative.

As the holidays approach, I'm thinking of homemade gifts. If you are, too, you might enjoy one of the free templates here, a nice treat from Melanie Falick books. Or follow the month-long celebration of Handmade Holidays on Sew, Mama, Sew!

Do you have any creative plans for the holidays that you're willing to share? Homemade gifts? Creative celebrations? Mine are still wispy in my mind, but I'm narrowing in. I'm also curious - how does your creative side fuel/support/sustain/help/etc. you?

Monday, November 02, 2009

Harney & Sons Tea Tasting: Pan Long Yin Hao and Jin Shan

I've begun the Chinese green section of Harney & Sons Guide to Tea. I recently tasted Pan Long Ying Hao and Jin Shan.
Pan Long Ying Hao

Jin Shan

The shape of the leaves for both teas is sculpted by hand. Look at them closely! They are beautiful.

If you are new to green teas, I recommend Chinese greens as an entry point. The Chinese greens are less forward and often sweeter than the vegetal Japanese greens. Harney indicates two reasons for this. First, the best Chinese greens are picked in the spring from leaflets, which include a bud and the two leaves near it. In spring, the leaves have more sugars. Second, special techniques to "fix" the teas, heated to preserve the chlorophyll, are employed. There are many ways to fix a green tea. Common Chinese ways include pan-fired in a wok or heated in an oven.

I brewed both teas at 175 degrees for two minutes. Pan Long Ying Hao is on the left. Its liquor and flavor were both very light. In fact, I think I could have tasted it with the white teas and believed it belonged in that category. I feel quite special to be tasting this tea, because Harney points out that it is a local tea made for local drinkers. It's an obscure tea that has made it to the West. Lucky us! He doesn't even know exactly how the tea is fixed, though he expects in a hot wok.

The tea on the right, Jin Shan, was a wee bit darker in liquor. The flavor was lemony (we agreed with Harney on that) and very mildly astringent. This tea is grown in the cool mountains, in an ancient tea-growing area (between Zhejiang and Anhui). This tea is exposed to as little heat as possible, which allows it to stay sweet and light.

Harney also mentions a fascinating anecdote about the Jin Shan region. Monks from this area may have been the ones to introduce the Japanese to tea in the ninth century.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

We'll See How It Goes...

I'm enthusiastically, but realistically, joining National Blog Posting Month with plans to post every day in November. Though I have good intentions, my work life is super-busy right now and I simply might not make it happen. Having accepted this, I'm OK if I don't get an A+. This is really metaphorical for me - and timely. I've been learning this lesson my entire life, it seems! I think it's seeping in.

Here's to all of us who accept challenges, even when we know we might not make the goal.