What’s in My Cup: 3 Cinnamon

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I love the scents of winter! For me, it’s all about the feeling you get when you smell pumpkin spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, gingerbread and spruce. – Taylor Swift

It’s the 2nd day of December and winter is most definitely  upon us! We endured yet another winter storm yesterday, complete with wind, ice and snow. Travelling to church and home again was an adventure! We were happy to tuck up on the couch with popcorn, a movie and some hot drinks.

My cuppa was Pukka’s Three Cinnamon, an infusion of Vietnamese cinnamon bark, Indonesian cinnamon bark, and Indian cinnamon bark, and licorice root. The 3 types of cinnamon bark used in this Pukka tea have higher levels of coumarin, which can cause liver damage or complete failure. While both licorice root and cinnamon have a lot of health benefits, however, but both should only be consumed in small quantities. Pregnant women should avoid licorice root completely. Licorice root and anise are not the same thing, although they taste similarly.

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Cinnamon is separated into two main categories, based on how they are harvested, how they taste and smell, and the chemical compounds found within them. Cassia cinnamon is what we commonly use in our home baking. There are 3 types of cassia cinnamon,  Indonesian, Chinese, and Saigon, but Indonesian cassia is the sweetest and mildest. Ceylon cinnamon is more expensive because the bark is rolled thinner than cassia cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is very delicate with subtle, almost floral notes to it. 3 Cinnamon_ed (1)

I love cinnamon, but I have to admit I found this tea rather overpowering, almost to the point of bitterness. I appreciated that Pukka’s tea is ethically sourced and 100% organic, and on a wild, winter day, it still kinda’ hit the spot.

Canadian winters are long. Life is hard and so is ice. – Douglas Coupland

Happy Monday!

Wilderness Wednesday: Easy, Breezy…

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The day after the snow fell, the leaves gave up their will to live and dropped in one collective clump all over the neighbourhood. And even though we received  WAY more snow than usual, it melted, leaving the landscape a brown and barren place. The only sign of life outside my window has become my muse…

Being natural is simply a pose, and the most irritating pose I know. – Oscar Wilde

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Sometimes I pose, but sometimes I pose as posing. – Stella Benson

 

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My mind says Victoria Secret model, but my body says nutella and pizza!

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Easy, Breezy, Beautiful…Cover Squirrel!

Happy Wednesday!

 

What’s in My Cup: Sunny C


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It’s most of the fam-damily

This past weekend was supposed to be Little Guy’s family birthday party. I purchased tickets for The Arrogant Works First Farewell Tour concert in July. It was an awesome concert, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

But what would have made it even better is if Little Guy could have joined us. Instead, he was struck with the plague and while he made the trip to my parents’ and back, the only thing he saw was the couch, the bed, and phone photos when we got home.

Whatever he had…we don’t want it!

I have never been a big believer in herbal remedies, teas or other concoctions to ward off evil viruses. Maybe they work for some people, or maybe they work because of the placebo effect. Either way, some people swear by them, and that’s great…for them! Having said that, I’m not adverse to trying because, let’s be honest, no one wants to be stricken with the plague. So while I imbibed a twisted iced tea at the concert, this weekend, I also sipped some Sunny C tea from David’s.

Sunny C is a fruit infusion and part of the David’s “Wellness Tea” line. It can be purchased individually or as part of the “Feel-Good” set. It contains lots of vitamin C producing fruits and veggies: apple, carrot, pineapple, orange, and lemon peel, as well as hibiscus & safflower blossoms, and pink peppercorns for a little zip. It’s orange in colour, and orange is the predominant flavour. It was a sunny orange colour and smelled delicious but I found it was more bitter than tangy or tart. Not unpleasant but not something I would brew regularly or in a large quantity. Still, one can hope it boosts my immune system as promised.  Where are my wool socks & fuzzy blanket?

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Tea does our fancy aid, Repress those vapours which the head invade, And keeps that palace of the soul serene. – Edmund Waller

Happy Monday!

 

Reno Diaries: Part III


November 11 – Dear Diary, the weatherman promised us another messy, snowy day, but his timing was off, which gave me an advantage. Once I dropped Little Guy at school, I went to Home Depot to purchase cupboard door handles. I got lots of steps walking between kitchen cabinetry at back of the store and aisle 21 (hardware), trying to choose the best option to go with white cupboards. I finally decided on simple polished nickle pulls…which came in a pack. Good for the budget!

Handyman started installing the cupboard doors in the afternoon but…they aren’t white! They are a natural blonde wood. And my heart sank. I didn’t say anything and felt ok about it, until Hubby came home. And then again in the middle of the night. Until I had a little epiphany.

November 12 – Dear Diary, I talked to Handyman and it really was just a miscommunication. But rather than re-doing the doors, I slid over the Home Depot in the slush to reassess handles. The brushed nickle bars don’t provide enough contrast with the light wood. I got in more steps between kitchen cabinetry and aisle 21, as well as plenty of weird looks from the staff. I finally chose an antique brushed nickle knob.  I took one home to show Hubby. I wonder if I could convince Hubby to let me paint the kitchen ceiling charcoal gray?

November 13 – Dear Diary, I have decided to use knobs on the cupboard doors and cup pulls for the drawers (Plan B). After doing the math with Handyman, I knew exactly how many I needed. Today I took my friend with me to pick up knobs. My opinionated friend. Who doesn’t always listen. Add in a hot flash or two, and the fact that they don’t make a cup pull to match that knob, and you’ve got a recipe for a headache. The first staff person I spoke to was really no help. The second person was helpful once I explained my question for the fifth time. He helped us look online to see if there was a match or something close that we could order, but with no luck. In between searches, I made a few trips between kitchens and aisle 21. Now I know I was getting strange looks from other staff members. This was my 4th trip to aisle 21 in a week. Over an hour later, hungry and exhausted, I went with Plan C…I found a simple bar that matched the knob.

November 14 – Dear Diary, I emptied my drawers today. What a lot of occasionally used kitchen crap I own! I found kitchen linens that were wedding gifts buried in the back. Maybe it’s time for something new? Showed Hubby some photos of Corelle dishes I took at Wal-Mart. He had the decency not to laugh…out loud.

I painted the wall behind the fridge so we can move it back. The paint was leftover from 2013 and reminded me of creamy marshmallow fluff. But I made it work because I wasn’t going to Home Depot again.

I decided to bake lemon squares, which was a challenge when all the kitchen tools are in the dining room, and the drawers and cupboards have no knobs or pulls. I must have opened the cutlery drawer a dozen times. The lemon squares did not suffer. Also, they did not last long.

November 15 – Dear Diary, I finally finished painting the stairs with little guy’s punishment, I mean, help. 

BUT it was not a good sign when Handyman asked when my Dad was coming up to finish the electrical work. The electrical work that he finished weeks ago…?

Wilderness Wednesday: Compassion

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Compassion is the greatest form of love humans have to offer. – Rachel Joy Scott

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Proud Mama Moment: Big Guy is an arborist, and therefore often crosses paths with woodland creatures. Most the of the time, those creatures are complaining about the noise. Last week, he came across a very cold baby squirrel lying at the base of a tree. This little one snuggled right in. Big Guy found a shelter that would take this baby. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t have a happy ending, and this little one was too sick or injured, and he didn’t survive the day.

While it made us both sad, I’m so proud of my “lumberjack” with a big heart. XOXO

Compassion brings us to a stop, and for a moment we rise above ourselves.
– Mason Cooley

 

 

What’s In My Cup: Ginger Crystal

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It’s another gray Monday morning and it can’t decide if it’s going to rain, snow, or sleet. Everything is covered in ice. Even the squirrels have given up and gone inside!

We need a little sunshine.

“What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.”
― Joseph Addison

I’m being efficient today – making 1 post fit 2 categories. Cee Neuner’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is Yellow…and as soon as I saw that, my mind went to photos I took late in October, right before the snow flew: Ginger Crystal tea in a forgotten sunflower cup, with the last of my sunny brown-eyed susans.

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In the past year, I’ve found myself enjoying more chai and ginger based teas, so it was no surprise that this little gem caught my eye. This particular blend contains 3 forms of ginger: ginger root, crystallized ginger, and ginger-infused honey. (Note: Interested in making your own ginger-infused honey? Me too! Check out Melissa K. Norris!)

Crystallized ginger is a fancy name for candied ginger. It’s a sweet, chewy, and spicy treat made from fresh ginger. You can purchase it in most stores, or make your own by skinning and slicing fresh ginger, and boiling it in water, then a sugar or honey solution. Once cooled, toss it in sugar and let it dry for 24 hours.  It can be stored in an airtight container for 2-4 weeks.

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Lemon, ginger, honey, or a combination of 2 or 3, are great natural remedies for cold and flu symptoms, including scratchy throats and nausea, and can help reduce inflammation and help balance sugar levels. Ginger may boost your metabolism so you burn more calories, and it’s also great for your skin and hair.

The tea was a delicate yellow, and I thought the lemongrass tempered the bite of ginger with the tartness of  lemon. I found it “zingy-er” than Tetley’s Lemon Ginger tea, but definitely milder than David’s “The Buzz” tea.

 

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This tea was perfect for warding off the late afternoon chill, as the shadows lengthened.

And it may be perfect for adding some sunshine today, since the weather still can’t decide! 🙂  Happy Monday!

Life is like a cup of tea – it’s all in how you make it.

 

Reno Diaries: Part 2

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November 2 – Dear Diary: Hubby and I went shopping to buy a microwave. I thought it would be a simple job: drive to Home Depot, pick one in our price range, and bring it home. How hard could it be?

First, a long discussion ensued whether to choose black or stainless steel. Since nothing else in the kitchen is stainless steel, and expecting it to be less popular and therefore cheaper, we chose black. Every microwave in Home Depot was stainless steel.

A Home Depot employee looked on the website for us, and could order one in black. It was more expensive than stainless, and came with a $69 delivery fee. Ouch! It couldn’t be delivered to the store and picked up…so another discussion ensued, and we decided to buy a stainless steel one. Did you know, dear diary, that the only microwaves in the store are the models? It would take at least a week for it to come in. We didn’t know if Handyman needed it on Monday. We politely declined, much to the annoyance of the employee, and headed to the hardware aisle, where we proceeded to discuss and fondle all the knobs and pulls, from simple to ostentatious. We got ridiculously giddy. The prices, however, were a shock. I cannot justify spending $300 on hardware alone, no matter how ridiculously good-looking they are. So I settled on a simple white ceramic knob to go with the simple white doors.  I purchased one for the whopping price of $1.99.

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Julius Rock is proud of me!

We went to Canadian Tire. They only had stainless steel, and none of them were over-the-stove models. BUT while we were there, I took Hubby to look at dishes. Our everyday Corelle set was given to us in 1995. While every mug and saucer is intact, we only have 5 dinner plates. Which means if we everyone is home, we have to do dishes. Which means if we have guests, we have to flip a coin to see who doesn’t get to eat. Unless we eat in shifts.

There was a great assortment of colours and patterns. I was particularly attracted to a pale blue stoneware set. The only ones Hubby liked were white. Just white. Our plate-flipping-coin will have to stay in the kitchen a little longer. Discouraged, we set out for store #3…

I hate shopping at The Brick. As soon as we set foot in the store, a salesperson started stalking us. It was creepy. He stalked us to the microwave department, pointed to a couple of models but didn’t explain anything, then wandered off in search of better prey. We could get him if we needed help.

We wandered around, scrutinizing the varied features of these stainless steel models (no black). The deciding factor (apart from price) was very high-tech: how comfortable the handle feels when we open it. Then we started wandering to see find Mr. Salesperson. Mrs. Salesperson saw us searching and offered to help. She showed us a few models and checked on a sales one that we liked.

We had made our selection when Mr. Salesperson showed up, and started mouthing off to Mrs. Salesperson about “stealing his sale”. It was incredibly uncomfortable. We didn’t know if we should interject or just walk away. Before we decided, she walked away and Mr. Salesperson rang it up. We could pick it up 3 days. I paid. Mr. Salesperson couldn’t get the receipt to print, so he disappeared…for nearly 5 minutes. I was beginning to wonder if he’d split town with my payment and I was to end up with no microwave. Just a gaping hole over the stove. Eventually we left with a receipt, a small migraine, and a parting scowl from Mrs. Salesperson.

November 4 – Handyman said he was coming to apply the second coat of plaster, but he didn’t show up. Guess he forgot and he’s away the rest of the week. I got bored waiting, so went shopping for clothes for Little Guy. He’s now taller than me but I’m still 4 lbs heavier. I’m not sure I could take him in a fight, but I’m going to pretend I didn’t say that!

November 11 – Everyone has been sharing their kitchen renovation horror stories. I was thinking I was getting off pretty easy. Famous. Last. Words….

Cee’s B&W Challenge: Stones

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There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

 

Everything changes, even stone. Claude Monet

True joy of nature is when every drop of water shines like a pearl. Anamika Mishra

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A stumbling-block for the pessimist; a stepping stone to the optimist.
Eleanor Roosevelt

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This is my post for Cee Neuner’s Black & White Challenge: Stones

Happy Wednesday!

Letter from a German Medic: We Remember

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We remember.
Not just because it was world history or national history…but because it’s personal history.
In my small hometown, everyone knew someone who had fought in the Great Wars. For my family, it was my great uncle. I have shared this story before, but every time I think about it, I am astonished again and again, that love and compassion never died.

My Great Uncle was killed in action in 1944 – but it is the letters from “the enemy” that make this a remarkable story.

  My Great Uncle was born in 1924 and enlisted in the Canadian Army Dental Corps in December, 1942. He needed his parents’ permission to join because he was only 17. He re-mustered to the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1942 and headed overseas to the United Kingdom in August 1943. He was attached to the Royal Air Force and went missing in action in 1944, at the age of 20.

  It was several months of agonizing waiting before his family found out what had happened. My Great-Uncle had been the rear gunner in an Avro Lancaster went missing during a night operation in France. The rear gunner was in a “bubble” on the underside of the airplane. I was with my Grandfather when he toured the inside of an Avro Lancaster a few years ago, and he kept remarking over and over how tight the space was for the rear gunner. My Great-Uncle had been over 6′ tall.

Most of the crew members, all R.A.F., were also killed. The other crew members were Canadian – one was taken as a Prisoner of War, and one escaped with the assistance of the French underground and returned to England.  The POW’s report stated that the plane was heading to its target and came under heavy fire. They barely missed colliding with another Lancaster that was on fire. Shortly thereafter, a fire broke out inside the plane. The pilot sent others to assist with the fire. When the controls burned out and the plane started into a vertical dive, he forced himself out of the window with a parachute. He woke up on the ground with a broken leg and cracked skull, and was captured by the Germans.

Shortly after the war, the first letter arrived from Germany, from the medic who had attended my Great-Uncle following the plane crash.

Dear family R.,
perhaps you will ask yourself why I wrote to you. I had so many addresses that I had unfortunately to destroy. But I guarded your address like a sanctuary, for a great sympathy united me with your son. In your son I saw a Canadian sportsman, he reminded me of the ice-hockey games Canada Germany in the Berlin sport-palace. And so I am very glad that I can give you any information. It was permitted me to return home after a military-time of long years and an imprisonment of one year, where my young wife awaited me. On the 30th of January my little boy has his first birthday. He is giving us very much pleasure, and so we forget many a trouble and sorrow that oppress us deeply today. I now hope that these lines will give you a small consolation in your grief, and we should be very glad to hear from you again. We should like to send you the pocket-lighter, if you want. We send you the kindest regards, Yours very sincerely, E. P. and family.

My Great-Grandparents wrote back, and received this second letter:

Dear Family R.
By your dear lines I now have the confirmation that you are the parents of Mr. R. I thank you very much for the nice letter, and I am very happy that you call me your friend, and in this friendship I want to report you truly everything what I know of the death of your son. In June 1944 we had our airfield near the village … in northern France. On the 24lb June 1944 at about 23 hours, a heavy air attack ensued on our anti-aircraft position and the neighbouring V-position. At this raid German night-fighters were put in, and in a few minutes a heavy airbattle developed in the nightly sky. In the course of this battle the bombing aircraft of your son must have been heavily damaged. After the air-battle I got the order to search the near environs for the dead and injured persons, and there I found your son. He was lying alone about 300 m from our position, and as I still remarked weak signs of life I called for medical assistance, but it was all in vain, with low words I could not understand, unfortunately, your son died in my arms. My thoughts were in his native country with his relatives. We had became comrades; for tomorrow already I could have had the same fate. So I closed the eyes to your son and said: May God give you the eternal rest. I suppose that your son died by the consequences of the inner injuries he got by the fall. The parachute had taken fire and was not opened, the occiput[sic] had a small injure. The next morning I had to take off all the things of the dead persons and must give them to a German burial-commission that had to send them on to the Red Cross. Therefore I am very much astonished that you did not received the last things of your son. On the 26th June 1944, we brought your son to his last place of rest. He is lying with other comrades on the churchyards “…”. I am going to mark the place for you by an enclosed sketch. I assure you that we buried your son as well as every German comrade. A plain cross of wood with name, day of death and number of recognition adorns his soldier-grave. Herewith I also want to pronounce my sincerest condolence to you.

Some time following this letter, Mr. P. visited my Great-Grandparents and returned a few of my Great-Uncle’s possessions. I find it remarkable, that in a time when tensions still ran high between different nations, that this medic reached out to a small farmer’s family in an attempt to bring them peace.

My Great-Uncle’s fiancée never married. Nearly every year my Grandfather would attend the Remembrance Day Ceremony on November 11th, and the cenotaph in town…to remember. Grandpa would touch his brother’s name on the cenotaph and leave his poppy at its base.

We took him to see a Lancaster bomber in the early 1990s. Grandpa walked around that plane several times before we went inside. Over and over, he’d shake his head and mumble “isn’t that something”. It wasn’t until we moved to the rear gunner’s position that he started to share. “My brother was really skinny and over 6′ tall. How could he possibly fit in there?”, he chuckled. “He would have had his knees in his face”.  Then his smile faded and his eyes welled with tears. He looked at me and tried to say something but he was too emotional, so we just held a quiet memorial there, before he commented “isn’t that something” and turned to go.

My Grandpa is gone now, but his family, we will always remember…

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“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” -Matthew 5:43-44a