Friday, July 26, 2013

Breathing Tea

Picking tea in Muzha, Taiwan

Happy Friday!  Just breathe in deeply and smell the fresh tea leaves.
Breathe out and let your breath become part of the tea itself.
One big circle.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Brown Bobby

As a tea lover, you probably know of the Brown Betty teapot.  Have you ever heard of the Brown BobbyIt's a triangle-shaped donut that was popular in the mid 1920's.  The donut-making machine was advertised in Popular Mechanics as a means to start a cottage industry.  My neighbor has inherited one of the Brown Bobby machines from her mother and she enjoys sharing the donuts.  Lucky us!  We enjoy these tasty morsels from time to time. 

A note about the toleware tray above.  It's another treasure from a neighbor.  I recently picked it up at our community's annual yard sale.  The gorgeous teacup and saucer was sent by a friend who picked it up at an auction.  It has become one of my favorites.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Crack in Everything

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack,
A crack in everything
And that's where the light gets in.

From Anthem, Leonard Cohen

I've committed this poem to memory.  It moves me deeply.  It speaks of the beauty of imperfection.
Just like these tea wares.  They have scars, they've been patched up. 
But now aren't they even more precious?  They are to me.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tea's Me

The day before 4th of July, a friend and I had the opportunity to visit a new tea room called Tea's MeWe visited with owner Julie (below) and her excitement and enthusiasm were contagious.  We discussed both the challenges and joys of being a small business owner, and her hopes for the future of this business (which include an occasional day off!). 
The first thing we noticed about the facility was how well it captured the natural light, an important quality for Oregon.  Inside was cheerfully and yet elegantly decorated.  I appreciated the modern colors and upholstery.  

One of the best features of this tea room was the diverse menu, allowing us to choose from a lengthy list of tea and meal options.  Julie has an afternoon tea appropriate for everyone - from the hungry gal to the nibbler!  In her menu creation, she even considered seniors on a fixed income.  My friend and I each chose the Duchess and it was plentiful.
We began with mango-peach sorbet and cups of hearty black tea.
Our finger sandwiches included chicken salad, ricotta and feta cheese stars and turkey with Havarti cheese on croissant.
The cream and blueberry scones were served with real clotted cream, lemon curd and tayberry jam.  Desserts included fruit skewers, strawberry layer cake and cherry tarts.  Definitely making the best of Oregon fruits.

I wish Julie much luck in her endeavors and I'm sure I'll be visiting often!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Meatless Monday: Zucchini Season!

It's zucchini season and we're eating it at nearly every dinner.  Here are a few of our ways to enjoy this bountiful vegetable (in the culinary sense; technically, it's a fruit).  Above, chopped and raw on a salad.  With this, we also had homemade pizza with zukes, walnuts, kale and cheese (no sauce).  

We had this for dinner last night...quinoa with garbanzo and black beans, corn, onion and chopped (raw) zucchini topped with salsa and canned or fresh tomatoes, a tiny bit of salt, and pepper.  Delicious!

We've also been throwing zucchini on top of nearly every dish...sauteed in olive oil (or just water) for topping pasta of all sorts, dipped into dressing or hummus, and of course shredded and frozen for use in zucchini bread in the winter.  I love grilled zucchini, too.

How do you use zucchini?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Tea Celebrations, Alexandra Stoddard

"Let the world boil down to just this cup, this moment, and let the warmth slowly spread
from your fingers throughout your whole body to your soul."
~ Alexandra Stoddard, Tea Celebrations

I've recently re-read Alexandra Stoddard's Tea Celebrations book.  It's a favorite.  She writes with a passion and self-knowing that I admire.  The book shares beautiful stories about how tea has helped Alexandra find a place of centerdness in her life, and it gently encourages us in this direction.  Comforting, soothing, inspiring and beautiful.  I've made notes in this book for my niece.  Someday, it will be hers.

I discovered Alexandra nearly 13 years ago when I picked up her book, Living a Beautiful Life, at a B&B.  Her philosophy is to make every moment beautiful, even the mundane tasks of life can be made enjoyable with a cup of tea, a flower, a nice pen or beautiful music.  It's a lesson I took to heart.

Do you know Alexandra's work?  Has her work inspired you?  What other authors inspire you to live a life full of beauty and/or centerdness? 

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Take What You Need

Love - Joy - Peace - Patience - Kindness - Goodness - A Cup of Tea - A Hug -
A Listening Ear - A Do Over

Today, I need a do-over.  :-)  What do you need today?  (You can add your own word.)

I created this poster and hung it in my neighborhood (along with mailing out a few) as a result of an online class I'm taking with Andrea Scher called Start a Foolish Project.  LOVE the class and LOVE the idea of a foolish project, one that I do just for the joy of it!  That makes me feel alive!

In the next few days I will decide what my class project will be.  I got my feet wet over the weekend with this one.  Inspired by Kelly Rae Robert's project, I dove in.  I knew I wanted mine to be done quickly, to achieve a sense of momentum, so I kept it to an hour.  The result was long lasting joy!

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Old Mill House Inn, Vernonia

Old Mill House Inn

The DH and I recently took a mini vacation to Vernonia, OR. It was great!  We are riding our bikes both Saturday and Sunday these days, training for an event, which leaves little time for much else. The DH (dear hubby) came up with a very clever way to fit in a little pampering.  We worked in our bike training on the way to a B&B. Taking the long way there, our ride was 4 hours including 21 miles on the Banks-Vernonia rails-to-trails path.

We stayed at the Old Mill House Inn, which I recommend. A lovely home and very friendly hosts who lovingly restored this abode to its present beauty, rescuing it from neglect.

Breakfast was delicious and filling!  And we enjoyed learning about the home's history.

That's me, still standing after a long ride here!  The back yard of the Inn is beautiful with a peaceful deck to sit and let your legs rest. ")

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

It Was Passed from One Bird to Another (or New Tea Jar)

This tea jar is one of the treasures I brought home from Taiwan.  I fell in love with the pretty little bird and the fact that it had two vignettes, front and back.  It's from the "spring scenery" line of products made by the Eilong company.  And the little blue bird on the right is a special gift from a very sweet friend.  It's Iranian glass.
Here's a favorite poem about travel (and birds) to celebrate my new treasure.  I added the bold emphasis.   It's how I want to re-member my travels, the gift of a day, suspended between sun and geography.

by Pablo Neruda
It was passed from one bird to another,
the whole gift of the day.
The day went from flute to flute,
went dressed in vegetation,
in flights which opened a tunnel
through the wind would pass
to where birds were breaking open
the dense blue air -
and there, night came in.

When I returned from so many journeys,
I stayed suspended and green
between sun and geography -

I saw how wings worked,
how perfumes are transmitted
by feathery telegraph,
and from above I saw the path,
the springs and the roof tiles,
the fishermen at their trades,
the trousers of the foam;
I saw it all from my green sky.
I had no more alphabet
than the swallows in their courses,
the tiny, shining water
of the small bird on fire
which dances out of the pollen.