CFFC: Vibrant Colours

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Nature always wears the colour of the spirit. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

THIS IS MY ENTRY FOR CEE’S FUN FOTO CHALLENGE, DRAWING INSPIRATION FROM VIBRANT COLOURS

Happy Wednesday!

Rita’s Tea Room

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This summer, my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. That’s a long time to fall in love over and over again. To celebrate, they went on a 3 week trip to Canada’s East Coast, which included cup of tea in Rita’s Tea Room.

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Mom is on the left

Rita’s Tea Room, was the one-room schoolhouse in Big Pond, Cape Breton, in the 1930s. It was converted to a home in the 1950’s, and eventually became the home of late Canadian singer-songwriter Rita MacNeil.  She opened her tea room in the early 1980s.

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When Rita started the tea room, she “put out the word that we needed teacups and people came by with all kinds of them.  Some were delicate, the china so thin we could almost see through it.  … There were real treasures among them, but more precious was the fact that people gave them to us so freely…”. Many of these delicate treasures line the shelves inside.

As with any vacation, there were a few souvenirs. Little Guy got to sample 20,000 year old water from an iceberg ( it was really good) and Big Guy got to sample iceberg beer! And while I didn’t get to sip tea with my Mom in Nova Scotia, she brought home a little something to share with me.

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And that’s just what we did… Happy Monday!

I’ll accept the rose tonight, the one you give with so much love
You’ve taken all the fear inside and right before my very eyes,
You’ve turned it into love. – Rita MacNeil

Tense Days

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It has been a couple of tense days…in the car.

On the Thursday, I noticed silvery threads streaking across the windshield on the passenger side, and I wondered who or what could have scratched it this way. But on second glance, I realized with horror, that the silvery streaks were actually the silvery strands of an arachnid, and they were inside the car.

I pushed down the panic rising in my throat and forced myself to concentrate on the road in front of me. Afterall, I reasoned, who knows how long they have been there? Perhaps the spider is just a little fellow, who made a wrong turn in life and now he’s quaking in the corner because he’s trapped in the car with frizzy-haired, 2-legged giant. Perhaps.

It wouldn’t be my first encounter with a spider in the car. Or my tenth.

There was the time Little Guy was a baby and we were driving Big Guy to school. Fortunately, I was stopped at a stop sign when I noticed the creature running down my arm. I had enough sense to pop the car into park before bolting from, screaming and flailing like I was on fire. The guy stopped behind me wasn’t impressed.

There was the time Little Guy was trapped with one and since we were on a 4 lane highway at the time, all I could do was pass him one of the shoes I was wearing and instruct him to whack anything that moved.

There was the other time I was on a 4 lane highway in holiday traffic, and…oh never mind. It was a harrowing journey, but in the end, I prevailed!

This time, I made it to work without incident.

I made it most of way home again too, before the bites on the inside of my elbow started to itch. Coincidentally, bites that mysteriously appeared between in the Grocery Triangle – somewhere between home, the grocery store and Tim Horton’s. Coincidentally? Suddenly, every brush of my hair made me slap my body wildly. Every itch made me twitch.

I spotted something black crawling down my leg while I waited in the school parking lot. I managed to stifle a scream but slapped and flailed like a fish out of water. I don’t know if anyone noticed; I was too embarassed to look.

Unfortunately, the web was back yesterday morning. And closer. Like wrapped around the steering wheel, mockingly. Threateningly.

And in a few moments, I have to go out. In my car.

I have 2 prayers right now: 1) Please let it be hot enough in the car for nothing to survive. 2) Please don’t let it be a relative of this guy, that I found setting up housekeeping next to the cars.

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Happy Weekend!

Wilderness Wednesday: Red

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I love red!

I’ve had red hair. I think every woman should own a pair of red shoes! And I’ve always wanted to drive a classic red Mustang convertible. What more can I say?

Old Fashioned Red Roses

“I feel as if I had opened a book and found roses of yesterday,
sweet and fragrant, between its leaves.” –  L.M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island 

THIS IS MY ENTRY FOR CEE’S FUN FOTO CHALLENGE, DRAWING INSPIRATION FROM COLOUR – RED

Happy Wednesday!

Try Some Chai

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Chai in Hindi means “tea”, so when we say we’re drinking Chai tea, we’re actually saying were drinking “tea tea”.

Masala Chai is a fragrant tea, spiced with Indian spices, with the main core ingredient being green cardamom, the third most expensive spice in the world. In addition to black tea, at least four other spices are used to make a masala chai, which could include ginger, cinnamon, star anise, fennel seeds, peppercorn, nutmeg or cloves.  Sometimes the tea is combined with milk and sweetened to enhance the spiciness.

You would have to drink three cups of chai to get the same amount of caffeine as one cup of coffee. In addition to the antioxidant properties from the black tea, the various spices provide some health benefits, including heart and digestion, even as an aid for weight loss. And cardamom is said to benefit the lungs, kidneys, heart, and elevate mood!

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Sometimes I think I should give some to Little Guy….

Every Chai is slightly different so please don’t write it off if you find one too spicy or another too peppery. (I will share some that I have tried at some point too!) Chai can be purchased as a looseleaf tea or in pre-packaged sachets (Higgins & Burke and Tetley). Or if you’re in Canada and not sure, spend a toonie at Tim’s and give it a whirl (I take mine black since I have issues with dairy)!

Even better – make your own. Homemade is best because you can control the amount of sugar, and/or make a substitution for the dairy. Food 52 has an easy recipe – one of these days I’ll try it (or you try it and let me know how it went!

For now, bottom’s up!

Two Times to Victory…Sponge

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“Good luck,” quipped Little Guy as he left the room, “you’re going to need it”. Thanks kid!

My first attempt at Mary Berry’s Victoria Sponge Cake Recipe was not really a victory. I didn’t realize it was supposed to be two round cakes, not 12 small ones. When I traced the bottoms of my muffin pan onto parchment paper, the marker quit working. And when I sprayed the cups with cooking oil, it was empty. I realized my cake pan mistake just as I put them in the oven, but there was nothing left to do but bake… I guess that kid was right – when it comes to baking, I need luck! A lot of it!

The Victoria Sponge or Victoria Sandwich is a well-aerated sponge cake sandwiched together with jam (usually raspberry), cream (or custard), and dusted with sugar. It evolved from the traditional pound cake with four equal parts of flour, sugar, butter and eggs.

I found two theories around the origin of this tasty tea-time treat. One source suggests this cake was served as Nursery Tea. In early Victorian days afternoon tea would have included a fruit cake and a seed cake, but both were believed to be a choking hazard to children. A,cake with jam was much more suitable. Another source suggests this cake became popular during the reign of Queen Victoria, and so was named for her. Queen Victoria insisted on cake and edible treats at every afternoon tea. Regardless of the origin, it remains a classic English teatime treat.

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My first attempt at a Victoria Sponge was in February, but late last week, I tried it again. This time it was for a late celebration of my Mom’s birthday. And this time, “lady luck” was on my side. Yum!

I’m not a total dead loss as a woman, I may not be able to knit or make plum jam but I can bake a bloody Victoria sponge… – Chris, Calendar Girls (2003)

Happy Monday – Go put the kettle on!

Wilderness Wednesday: Arise

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Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it. – Confucius

Don’t be shocked! On our last day of holidays, I was awake at 4:30. Big Guy and I headed to the dock around 6, to watch the sunrise. After a week of unsuccessfully photographing gaggles of geese flying up and down the river, imagine my delight at finding the whole flock right on my doorstep!

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. – Marcus Aurelius

Happy Wednesday!

Bridal Shower vs. Bridal Tea

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My parents are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this week, and I thought it would be fun (at 10 o’clock Sunday night) to do a bridal-related tea post. I picked an easy question: what is the difference between a bridal tea and a bridal shower?

Traditionally, a bridal shower is a party to honour the bride, and it is usually hosted by a close female member of her family, for example an aunt. Sometimes the hostess is the Maid/Matron of Honour.

This party frequently involves tea and punch, and dainty foods like cream cheese and cherry-filled finger sandwiches,  and squares cut into bite-sized pieces. A word of advice: eat before you come! Napkins, streamers, and 3D paper bells in the bride’s “colours” are draped around the buffet table. In the place of honour at the buffet table, is the cake! This cake is your reward for sticking out the next 4 hours with a plastic smile on your face, while you “oo” and “ah” over face cloths and oven mitts.

The room itself is set up with sticky folding chairs, borrowed from the church basement. The bride is seated in the place of honour, surrounded by a pile of boxes wrapped with rose-printed paper, and bags stuffed with tissue paper. Yes, the expectation is that you come bearing gifts. Fifty years ago, the purpose of bestowing gifts was to help the young couple establish a home. These days, it seems, most couples have everything they need or want, including a home, long before they “tie the knot”. And they have access to gift registries, which means they can tell you exactly which overpriced sheet set or ridiculous knickknack they’ll never use, to buy for them.

Before the snacks and the cake, however, everyone must gleefully participate in a series of party games designed to test your attention span (which we all know is focused on getting to the cake) and your creativity. Games like “Toilet Paper Wedding Dress”…because who wouldn’t find it hilarious to drape themselves publicly with something normally used for…well, you get the picture. My own experience in high school involving toilet paper was certainly hilarious for someone… Segue to the sappy “words of wisdom” written on cue cards with pencil crayons about communication and love…and that one risque comment related to sex intended to make everyone feign embarrassment.

“The key to a successful marriage is to argue naked.”

The one bright beacon of hope, aside from the cake, once the gift opening begins is the traditional paper plate “hat”, made by taping the ribbons and bows from the packages on to a paper plate, and forcing the bride to wear said hat and pose for embarrassing pictures! It’s a small passive-aggressive way to get back at the bride for causing you to miss your afternoon nap. Social media has just amplified this one small pleasure!

K-bridal shower hat

My Mom crowning her little sis!

Long, teary thank you speech from bride. Cue cake!

“Life is short – start with the cake. End with more cake! – jennsmidlifecrisis”

A bridal  tea is a more sophisticated and smaller gathering of family and/or bridesmaids with the bride for the sole purpose of celebrating the impending marriage. Usually tea and delicate finger foods are served, possibly on fine china or coloured napkins. No obligatory lame games are played. No parade of bows is undertaken. And no gifts are expected.  In fact, some brides consider this an optimal time to bestow a thank you gift on those attending the tea, for the parts they will play in her “happily ever after”! Oh…and there is probably cake.

Bridal teas are gaining in popularity. So are elaborate bachelorette parties. To each their own! Anyway, Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad! Love you!

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“Happily Ever After is not a fairy tale. It’s a choice!”

Cheers! Happy Monday!