Wilderness Wednesday: Our House

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Our house, was our castle and our keep
Our house, in the middle of our street*

Our Street

Our house is located by the second tree, on the left. It’s hardly a castle, but it is home. All the trees on our street looked beautiful last Thursday afternoon, but our first winter storm wreaked havoc on the leaves through the night. It made raking leaves on Saturday a rather interesting job! I quit after filling 4 bags of leaves…all from what fell on the driveway…because my fingers were frozen. Even with mittens on. I wonder how many bags it will take to finish the job?

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is time for home. – Edith Sitwell

(It’s also a good time for hot chocolate!)

Happy Wednesday!

* * *

Our House lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Songwriters: Carl Smyth / Chris Foreman / Daniel Woodgate / Garaham McPherson / Lee Thompson / Mark Bedford / Michael Barson

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A Ladies’ Day Out

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Would you like an adventure now, or shall we have our tea first? – Alice in Wonderland 

This summer, while Little Guy and my Papa enjoyed Guy Time at McDonald’s, I enjoyed a Ladies’ Day Out with my Mom and my Aunt M.

We went to a tea room in a neighbouring village to enjoy a delicious lunch and the nostalgic amenities – lace, linen tablecloths, fine china, and silver. I enjoyed my warm croissant with ham and brie, and mixed green salad with homemade raspberry vinaigrette. Each of us received our own teapot, and for dessert, we shared a scone with fresh strawberries and English cream.

After lunch, we browsed in the Antique Emporium next door, with an eclectic selection of antiques, collectibles, and curiosities.

And then we went to another antique shop, where I fell in love with a number of items, including a card catalogue still containing handwritten ledgers from the 1940’s, heavy cast iron floor grates (which reminded me of my Grandmother’s farm house), and tea cups galore. Instead I purchased a modestly priced Higgins & Burke wire tea rack, which holds 9 cannisters of Tetley tea, freeing up more space in my cupboard for other important things like…well, more tea!

By the time we finished shopping, it was time for afternoon tea, but since we were still full from dessert lunch, we headed home to put the kettle on (and our feet up)!

Speaking of kettles, it must be time to put mine on again… Happy Monday.

I like to party, and by party, I mean sit home and drink tea. – Anonymous

 

WPC: Temporary Frost

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October extinguished itself in a rush of howling winds and driving rain and November arrived, cold as frozen iron, with hard frosts every morning and icy drafts that bit at exposed hands and faces.
– J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Thursday morning’s stroll around the building before work. No strolling today – we had our first snowstorm last night. Time for hot tea and warm socks, red woolen mittens…and sassy green boots! Happy Weekend!
To see more “Temporary” photos, click here.

Brown Betty

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After a busy day with lots of errands (thankfully not in the rain), I’m ready for a cup of tea. The humble Brown Betty teapot is a favorite among collectors and tea connoisseurs.

Brown Betty Teapot

Originally, the pots were made from a red clay discovered in the Stoke-on-Trent area of Britain, in 1695. This clay seemed to retain heat better, thereby creating a more flavourful tea. The colour brown and the more rounded shape we’ve come to love came about in the nineteenth century. The colour comes from the manganese Rockingham glaze, which was painted on the pot and free to flow over the sides, creating a streaky texture during firing.

In the Victorian era, tea served from a brown betty teapot was considered the most flavourful and therefore, it was the most popular teapot. No one is certain whether it was the result of the rounded design which was roomier and let the tea leaves move as the water was poured into the pot, reducing bitterness. Others believe the flavour is attributable to the clay itself. Since the clay can absorb and release flavours, it is best to steep the same type of tea in a brown betty tea pot. The pot should also not be washed, just hand-rinsed and allowed to air dry.

Queen Victoria’s first command upon her ascension to the throne:
“Bring me a cup of tea and the Times”

\we have Queen Victoria to thank for making tea a regular custom in North America and Europe, and she favored tea made in the Brown Betty teapot.

Green Tea (& Chocolate)

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Drinking a cup of green tea, I stopped a war. – Paul Reps

Paul Reps was an American artist, poet, and author, best known for his unorthodox haiku-inspired poetry. And apparently, a green tea drinker.

Green tea was first popular in China, but quickly spread throughout Asia. Now it is one of the most popular types of tea consumed in North America. For centuries it was used for medicinal purposes, from headaches to depression beneficial properties continue to be acclaimed.

Green and black tea leaves come from the Camelia sinensis plant, but how the leaves are treated once harvested makes the difference. For green tea, mature leaves are pan fired or steamed, then quickly oven dried to avoid oxidization and retain fresh flavour. It can be served on its own or blended with other organic materials, such as fruits, nuts or other leaves. Green tea leaves plucked in morning can be steeped by evening.

Green Tea

Top: Organic Spice is Right / Left: Organic Japanese Sencha / Right: Organic Detox, David’s Tea

Green tea is sugar free and low in caffeine. Most tea brands list it as 25 mg per 8 fl. oz. Some studies have shown that green tea can increase the metabolic rate, (burning more fat), in the short term, and it may kill bacteria and inhibit some viruses, improving health overall. Green tea is also high in the amino acid, theonine (which we learned about last week), can have a calming effect on an individual. Other health benefits attributed to green tea including improved brain function, lower risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, and a lower risk of certain types of cancer.

I meant to get this posted earlier in the day, but as I was concluding some research (past my bedtime), I discovered another side to green tea that I want to experiment with and report back on in a month or two. And that, my friends, is the “Beauty Benefits” of green tea for hair and skin. So far, I’ve purchased 72 pure green tea bags and a carton of yogurt when I went grocery shopping. I figure, if this is a complete disaster, I can either:

a) experiment with cooking with green tea; or,

b) use the yogurt to bake some more coconut lime muffins (apparently they’re so good, I’m getting requests)!

I wonder if green tea infused chocolates have the benefits of chocolate and the benefits of green tea?

Green tea Chocolate 2

 

Chocolate – it’s cheaper than therapy and you don’t need an appointment.

It’s time to put the kettle on – put yours on too, and we can share a cup together! Cheers!

 

 

So happy together?

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bed_ed

My bed. I used to be in love with you. We’d spend hours together on Saturday morning ignoring the world outside. When I didn’t feel well, when I was sad, when I was lonely, you were always there for me. We’d dream of distant places and lost loves, of adventure and chocolate! Before we’d even said goodbye for the day, I’d miss you. I would spend my waking hours longing for the moment when you’d embrace me again.

We were perfect for each other.

But I’ve changed, and it’s tearing me apart.

When I look at you, I desperately want it to be like it once was. Just you and me. You’ve got to believe me. Every night I hope that tonight will be like it once was, but it never is.

I wake up in the middle of the night and I can’t get back to sleep, and though you are holding me, it doesn’t feel right. My body aches in places because it’s not fitting right, so I toss and turn. The blankets are twisted around me and I feel trapped.

Or worse, I’m so blessed hot I feel like I’m going to melt right through you until I’m only a puddle underneath you. As if catching on fire during the day isn’t enough. And you! You just lie there. You promise escape and sweet release, but instead I find myself caught in a nightmare in the dark. Alone.

I used to consider the alarm clock a jealous whore because it was always trying to break us up. But lately, I find myself awake and waiting for it to sing to me. I stay up too late, avoiding that moment when bliss becomes Blah.  In the morning, I cling to you until the last second, but I don’t find the joy in our time together.

I’m sorry.

Colin Powell says “A dream doesn’t become a reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work”. I’ve got the sweat covered, and I’m determined and willing to make us work again. Are you willing to work hard to get us back to where we once were, because I still love you, you know. In fact, let’s start today. I’m committed and willing to do whatever it takes, day and night, all weekend long. Our relationship means that much to me. I want to sleep with you tonight and wake up next to you. I want to cuddle with you right now. What do you say?

Me and you and you and me
No matter how they toss the dice, it had to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy together

Happy Together, The Turtles, Written by Alan Gordon, Garry Bonner • Copyright © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Carlin America Inc, BMG Rights Management US, LLC

WPC: Grief

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Beauty is ever to the lonely mind a shadow fleeting; she is never plain. She is a visitor who leaves behind the gift of grief, the souvenir of pain. Christopher Morley

coming-home-1024x494

I took this photo on the way home from my mother-in-law’s memorial service. It had been a difficult weekend including hours of driving. The sun was setting and we were nearly home. As I stared out the window, the landscape seemed to reflect my own thoughts and feelings – calm and turmoil, light and dark, joy and sorrow.

 

To see more Glow(ing) photos, click here.

Citrus Kiss

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Today, I’m sampling a new tea called Citrus Kiss from Tetley’s signature series. Citrus Kiss is a green tea with lemon and grapefruit.

Now, I am not a big fan of green tea. I find they all tend to taste the same – like straw…and as it cools, like bitter straw.  Yummy? I think not! But I saw this on the shelf and thought I’d give it a try! Bonus: it has a drawstring tea design that promises the opportunity to “squeeze out more flavour and remove the tea bag without any mess”.

Green Lemon Grapefruit (800x556)

First, I didn’t let my kettle come to a roiling boil. Green tea is better when steeped at a lower temperature. Second, I removed the bag after 2 minutes to avoid over steeping. This can help reduce the bitter the bitter flavour I was getting by the end of the pot.

The colour was a rich honey brown. The bouquet of this tea was light and lemony, with only a hint of the “grassiness” of green tea. The flavour, however, was disappointing. The green tea flavour overpowered the lemon, and I didn’t really catch any notes of grapefruit. That was, until it cooled. Once the tea had cooled (because let’s face it, who has time to sit and drink a whole pot of tea these days), the grapefruit and lemon were much stronger. It might be a tasty option for iced tea!

As for the unique drawstring tea bag, it’s gimmicky. I didn’t find it enhanced my experience any. I had to read the instructions on the side of a box more than once to figure out what to do, I didn’t have to worry about nicking a dripping bag from the pot. Some tea experts also agree that squeezing the bag releases more tanins in the tea, which can contribute to a bitter flavour.

But I must say, a smooch of Green Citrus Kiss tea paired with a homemade coconut lime muffin is a tasty treat when you’re feeling peckish!

Next week in What’s In My Cup, we’re Going Green!

It’s time to put the kettle on. Happy Monday!