If there’s something out there that you feel like you’re supposed to be doing, if you have a passion for it, then stop wishing and do it!
Okay Wanda, I’m passionate about chocolate and there’s a tray of chocolate cupcakes in my kitchen that I feel like I should be eating. Does that mean I can stop wishing and do it…because I’m passionate?
Instead, I went in a different direction and steeped a bag of Passion tea by Tazo. This bag was gifted to me by a friend who shares my passion for tea. We exchange a tea bag or two in our annual Christmas card. I’m shouting out a BIG thank you for this one!
This caffeine-free “plunge into paradise” (promised on the sachet) really was a plunge into flavour! It contains hibiscus, licorice root, orange peel, cinnamon, rose hips, lemongrass, and hibiscus and elderberry extract (for colour). It seems like an odd pairing (licorice and flowers?) especially considering it describes itself as “passion fruit flavoured”. There was no passion fruit listed.
But here’s what I discovered! First, since the sachet was a white and purple combination, I expected a rich colour, like David’s Just Beet It. Instead, it was a charming peachy-pink tisane, which was very inviting. Second, it smelled floral, almost like roses with a whisper of fruit.
My first impressions deceived me. This tea was bold and vibrant! It was slightly tart and mouthwateringly delicious with a fruity intensity and warmth from the cinnamon. Yes, there were floral undertones and a zing from the licorice root, but the fruitiness was a bright star. One sachet made a medium-sized pot and my tongue sang all the way to the last drop.
Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love… the clarity of hatred… the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we’d know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow. Empty rooms, shuttered and dank. Without passion, we’d be truly dead.”
Life is like chocolate…sometimes you gotta deal with nuts!
I recently baked some Date, Almond & Yogurt Bread and I tossed in some walnuts and chocolate chips too. Why not? It was sweet and crunchy, but a little heavy, but just right with a cup of tea.
But let’s not talk about the calories.
You may be nuts, and sometimes be I’m in the mood for something “Nutty”. Two of my all-time favourite “nutty” teas are no longer available: Teavana’s Caramel Almond Almaretto and Coco-Caramel Sea Salt. So I’ve been on the hunt for replacements.
If you’re feeling nutty, here are a few options to consider:
Forever Nuts by David’s Tea is a strong contender. This fruit infusion from Germany is caffeine-free. It contains dried apple, almond slices, cinnamon bark, beetroot and roasted almond flavouring. The beetroot gives it a lovely and tempting rosy colour, similar to beloved almond almaretto. It is has both sweetness and a lovely fruity tang, with just a hint of almond in every cup. No extra calories!
David’s Tea Caramel Shortbread is also a strong contender. It’s an herbal tea blend composed of apples, raisins, elderberries, willow bark, almonds, hazelnuts, sour cherries, raspberries, and sweetened with stevia extract and brown sugar. It may not be as satisfying as real shortbread cookies, but it still had the sweet buttery caramel smoothness. It’s also a tempting rosy colour and satisfies like a dessert.
If you like walnuts, try David’s Carrot Cupcake tea. It smells like carrot cake and cream cheese icing, but tastes like cinnamon-apple pie, with just a hint of walnut. This American caffeine-free rooibos tea contains carrots, cocoa shells, cinnamon, apple, ginger, licorice root, and natural whipped cream and apple flavour. It’s also kosher.
Or if you like peanuts, try David’s Peanut Butter Cup tea. It’s inspired by the sweet, rich (and might I add), deeply satisfying confection! It’s important not to skimp when filling your infuser or you’ll risk a weak flavour. I made that mistake the first time. It is a blend of apple, cocoa bits, almonds, chocolate chips, and safflower. That’s right, no peanuts. The colour is a pale yellow with a lovely roasted peanut flavour.
So whether you like nuts, or you are nuts, just know…I’m nuts about you!
I’m very pleased to introduce my first “What’s in my Cup” guest and a very special woman: my Mom!
I am a self confessed tea granny, with tea granny genes, which I have passed on to my daughter. And when she ran out of ideas for her blog, she called on her readers to share some of their favourite teas & teacups.
Then she asked her mother.
Now while Jennifer loves to try new teas & flavours, I prefer mine strong, hot, black, & fully loaded with caffeine. She keeps plying me with wonderful new flavours, some caffeinated & some not; others, flowery, nutty, maple-y.
I have decided that I prefer the richer stronger flavours over the flowery ones.
One of my favourite decaffeinated teas is also a comfort food. When I feel like I’m getting a cold or just feel crummy, I brew some Tetley Lemon Ginger tea. I love the lemon with just a hint of ginger. It is herbal & best sipped hot & clear, to allow the full lemon flavour to come through.
I’m serving it in a fragile semi transparent teacup that belonged to Jenn’s grandmother. Wish we knew its story.
Now dear readers of this blog, be brave & send your own tea choice. I know some of you & will be watching for your contributions. 😉
Now to enjoy my lemon ginger tea!
Life handed me lemons, so I made lemonade, lemon cake, lemon drops, and I even used the rinds to make lemon art. So, the joke is on you, life, haha!
It’s the kind of day when you want to just pull the blankets over your head. Ok, that’s every Monday, but today is special because we’re having an old-fashioned snow dump. I’m taking a whopping 35cm expected, which may not seem like a lot, but in the city, it’s a lot! People here don’t know how to drive in it. Narrow streets can’t be cleared. It’s chaos.
Good thing I can stay home and drink tea!
Actually, as I settled in for tea, I noticed my neighbour though the haze of blowing snow. She ran up her driveway, grabbed a shovel and ran off again. Or tried to run. Even though Hubby started to plough our driveway, within 30 minutes, you couldn’t really tell. Guessing her car was stuck in the snow, I tossed on some clothes and went to see if I could help.
It was a slow walk, with snow well over my ankles and few car tracks to walk in. She wasn’t at the corner. She was, in fact, several blocks away, and by the time I got 3/4 of the way there, sheand her husband drove off. So much for saving a damsel in distress.
With the feeder topped up (the snow was up to my knees in the backyard), and my mittens and socks drying on the heater, I settled in for something tropical!
Hubby picked up a boxed set of tea with the intent of sharing it in the evenings. Unfortunately, every box is flavoured black tea, and he can’t have caffeine after 2 p.m. Like most boxed sets, what it promises isn’t always delivered, save one: Hibcus & Honey.
I actually sampled this at Christmas…without Hubby. I used too bags to make a pot because I expected it be a light flavoured tea. My Mom found it a bit too flowery. Big Guy thought it was nice but not really his thing. I thought it was great. Although it was a flavoured black tea, and therefore slightly artificial, it was still delicate and floral, and I could taste the honey at the back of my throat. It was a light golden yellow colour and smelled stronger of honey, which I found very appetizing after all the Christmas feasts. Honey is a natural sweetener, and contains antioxidants, promotes healing, and suppresses coughs. We all agreed that adding a little more honey would have sweetened the deal.
I would have liked a pj day today, but someone has to help with the snow. And we’re getting more tomorrow. In the meantime, I’m going to keep sipping, work on a beach bag, and maybe have a siesta or two.
You can’t always get what you want. No. But if you try sometimes, you just might find You get what you need.
Roller disco, bushy sideburns, bell bottoms, and funk were all popular in the 1970s…and some of them are trends that are better left in the past.
But the trend of licorice tea has endured the test of time. My Dad and I both like black licorice, so this Christmas, my Dad picked me up a box of Stash Licorice Spice tea.
Licorice Spice is an herbal tea. It has no added sugar or sweetener, yet it possessed a light and sweet flavour. It is also moderately spiced with cinnamon, orange peel and oil, star anise, sarsaparilla, clove bud oil, and cardamom oil. If I hadn’t read the ingredients, I would have said this was a chamomile-based tea, (or even fennel tea) with that tell-tale grassy note. Instead, its main component is licorice root. but the licorice flavour, while present, is certainly not predominant. It’s a good blend licorice and spices…if you like licorice! 😉
When reading ingredients, keep in mind that licorice root and star anise are not the same thing, though they may taste similarly. They come from different plant families. Licorice root do not belong to the same plant family. Anise or anniseed is a fruit, from an umbellifier, a fragrant, flowering plant, the same as celery and fennel. Licorice root is also a flowering plant, alongside beans and legumes. The root is used because it contains a sweet-tasting acid that is purported to be 50 times sweeter than sucrose or cane sugar.
While both licorice root and cinnamon have a lot of health benefits, however, but both should only be consumed in small quantities. Pregnant and nursing women, and people with heart disease or high blood pressure should avoid licorice root completely. Licorice root and anise are not the same thing, although they taste similarly.
There’s nothing quite like the bond between a father and his little princess.
Dear Diary – The raging inferno of my dying youth has been wreaking havoc for weeks, so on Christmas Eve, I wore my ugly Christmas t-shirt. Just the thought of an ugly Christmas sweater made me break out in sweat.
So did baking pie. I baked a green tomato pie using green tomatoes that were stored in my parents’ freezer. The foil on the top said “Happy Thanksgiving 2020!” I soaked the raisins in rum, which sparked a series of “Jenn’s in the rum” jokes.
And I alarmed Youngest Son when I passed him in the living room and shared that “I’m done decorating Dad’s log”. What I meant was that I was finished decorating his birthday cake, a yule log cake, but you can imagine the terrible mental image I painted for him.
Hubby and Big Guy arrived in time for dinner. It was a slow drive because Hubby’s car was making rude noises on the highway, and he had to take the “scenic route”. I could finally tuck in for a long winter nap with my favourite peeps.
With no little ones in the house we slept in and took the morning slow. I broke out my first German stollen.
We opened gifts and I finally got to see what this was:
We exchanged gifts before lunch, which included silly socks, goofy t-shirts, even a whopee cushion…because the joke never gets old. I could finally give Auntie M her new gnome; I was having too much fun with it.
Don’t worry – Auntie M’s gnome was quarantined prior to the holidays and properly masked with a handmade, blue tissue-paper mask.
Even though we thought we’d never need to eat again, the dinner hour arrived. With leftovers laid out, one by one, we fixed a plate and enjoyed round #2. We also enjoyed a rousing game of Scattergories, which was particularly hilarious with our tryptophan-induced brains.
The day ended with a bang! I asked had asked Eldest Son to help Auntie M take her things to car, then I went in my room to put on my fuzzy jammies. Nice Mama! It had been raining all day but we didn’t realize how much it had iced over. I heard the crash from the far side of the house and I knew it was bad. Both Auntie M and Eldest Son had fallen, but Auntie M wasn’t getting up. Dad is a retired firefighter and we let him take the lead. I called 911 and we paced inside, while Eldest Son and Dad kept Auntie M company and scraped ice off cars and the sidewalk. When they went to move her vehicle so ambulance could park closer, the doors were frozen shut. They also wandered carefully, with flashlights, looking for her car keys, her purse, and the crockpot lid, which all went flying! Thankfully, the hospital wasn’t busy and Auntie M was not seriously injured. She was sent home at midnight. Dad and Eldest Son made sure Auntie M and her pumpkin car, made it home. She’s badly bruised, and in no hurry to get back out there! I wonder if she’s working on the evil puzzle I gave her…
The rest of the week has been spent sleeping in, watching Harry Potter movies, and eating non-stop. We’ve also played board games. Mom got upset when she spotted someone’s trains on “her” track. It was her train. Eldest Son was given a couple of genuine Guiness and the closest thing we could find for a proper drinking vessel was a flower vase. Boxing Night, we watched Christmas Vacation, my all-time favourite Christmas movie. Right up there with…Die Hard!
I also had one final sewing project to complete by the end of the year, which should have been easy peasy. Instead, it took several hours because I’m so talented. I sewed things in wrong and had to rip them out over and over. I spilled warm tea all over the table, and me! Then, with only 1.5 inches left to sew, the machine started to grab and snarl, and make a right mess of it. After multiple stitching and ripping, and with more holes in the fabric than on a tattoo artist, my Dad took the machine apart. Back together again, and with the end so close I could taste it, I started to sew, hit a pin, and snapped the needle.
I finished the bag the next day!
It’s hard to believe that a New Year is right around the corner. I’m not sure yet if we’ll be ringing it in with Eldest Son’s traditional crack of his Terry’s chocolate orange. His girlfriend’s father passed away suddenly from covid; her mother was released from hospital earlier this week. He may be heading home to spend some time with her. If she had called him on Christmas Day and asked him to come, I would have given him my blessing. While there is no better place than with my family around me, I’m well aware that we’re all growing up, and I never want to be an obstacle in my children’s lives. I just pray they’ll still share a slice of their life with me. Afterall, they were once my whole world.
When we took this photo December 31, 2019, I had just quit my job. I had spent November coping with kitchen renovations and December baking up a storm. Youngest Son was facing his Grade 9 first semesters finals, the only ones he’s written to date. Eldest Son was preparing for a career-advancing exam. And my folks were planning their annual trip to Myrtle Beach. We had no idea what was to come…
I still somehow feel like we’ve lost time, 2 years to be exact. As if we have all been hibernating and it’s time for new beginnings and greater adventures. I feel like we should be celebrating the start of 2020, not 2022.
Like we deserve a do-over.
Don’t we? It’s time to re-engage with the great big world beyond our front doors, even if that engagement is a phone call, an email, a handwritten letter. I’m not suggesting we disobey the rules or take unnecessary risks. I never want to put others in harm’s way, but our souls don’t belong to a virus. We can’t let covid hold us hostage any longer. It’s time to resdiscover joy. One day at a time.
All you need is faith, trust…and a little pixie dust.
I have always loved ballet, and as a little girl, I aspired to be a prima ballerina. But I lived in a small town with no dance studio so I happily passed the hours in my pink tutu and pink leather slippers, pirouetting to The Nutcracker, on vinyl. It wasn’t very good for the vinyl! I also endured the endless ridicule of my big brother, who would prance around the house wearing my Dad’s work boots and call in a high, sing-song voice, “look at me. I’m a ballerina”. I hated it, but I also refused to let it dampen my joy.
I still pirouette from time to time, when no one is looking…and carefully. I may still have aspirations to be a ballerina, but definitely not the body to succeed. Still, there is something magical when we engage in an activity that we enjoy, or allow our minds to dream in ways that delight us. It lifts the spirit and lightens the load so we can take a deep breath and move forward. I think “tea time” can be one of those magical moments…and on the plus side, it doesn’t make you dizzy.
As we bask in the final moments of this holiday season, take some time to reflect on the past and rejoice in your blessings. Consider what brought you joy and in your mind, sprinkle it with pixie dust, and carry it with you into the new year.
We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.
My plan is to do what I have done every year for the past 40+ years (with the exception on last year): wake up in my parents’ home and celebrate Jesus’ birthday with my family. That’s Plan A. But I also have Plan B. And Plan C. I hope it doesn’t come to Plan C because it involves a sugar-induced coma. And since it’s not guaranteed that I will be embarking on Plan A just yet, I decided to start celebrating a little early with a cup of Stash Christmas Morning Tea. It is a blend of black and green tea lavishing the imbiber with a bold flavour, like English Breakfast tea, as well as gentle floral notes of jasmine.
Christmas Morning Tea is part of the Holiday Family Tea series, which contain an assortment of seasonal flavours and spices in black, white or herbal blends. It’s available in many grocery, drug, and box stores, as well as online. I picked mine up at the Bulk Barn. If you want something spicier, I’d also recommend Holiday Chai and Red Dragon Chai. But after December, they can be hard to find!
I think it’s a welcome change to plain black tea when I’m busying myself with fun, holiday things. This morning I enjoyed a quiet moment at the start of my day, next to the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree. And perhaps I’ll savour another as a pick-me-up while I continue baking spiced breads, cakes and cookies, wrapping last-minute gifts, or packing to travel.
It’s possible Santa would appreciate a cup to refresh him during his international flight in only 5 sleeps! I’m not ready….are you?
You better watch out, you better not cry Better not pout I’m telling you why Santa Claus is comin’ to town
Dear Diary – Last week, I took my friend up north to get her covid booster shot. It felt like a quest since it was after dark and during rush hour. Rush hour in the city is always an adventure. Strangely, we toodled our way to the place without incident, and she happily “suited up” and headed in a happy camper.
She was not a happy camper when she got back to the car half an hour later.The system said she was one day short of being eligible for her booster,even though she was already past the recommended timeline.
We had to go north again a few days later and now the deed is done. But a government-based health care system that doesn’t work properly? There’s a shocker!
Dear Diary – Once again, our Christmas plans are on hold as covid numbers climb and a new variant threatens to hold us hostage in our homes. Already my parents’ area has been put under restrictions, which means our small family gathering of seven people is too many people. It’s disappointing, but I’m trying to keep things in perspective.
We had a wind storm Saturday evening which knocked out our power. You know you’ve been married awhile, when the house is void of candles, and the only ones I could find refused to stay lit without a lot of personal attention. I tried to stay calm. I had dragged my keester out of bed early to make my babka dough, which had been proving in the fridge for the last 6 hours, and needed to be baked in 2 hours. I would require more than a needy candle to make the chocolate spread and bake the loaves. But I knew if I couldn’t, if I sat in the dark for hours, it wasn’t the worst thing. My families were safe in their homes, and we were already immeasurably blessed. I had no idea that so many families south of the border were literally having their lives torn apart.
I always struggle a little at Christmas. I know so many who are facing their first Christmas missing someone they love. I know a family facing their last with someone they love. I see lonely, hurting people, and a dark and broken world, and I sometimes feel like I could be crushed under the weight of it. But it isn’t my pain alone to bear.
On Sunday, the pastor talked about hope. Hope is something that is built in all us. It is the anticipation of or confidence in a favourable outcome in a situation. But sometimes we are disappointed because we don’t get what we hoped for or we find ourselves in a place we didn’t expect to be. But the Creator who built hope in us also gave us a reason to hope in the form of a beautiful baby.
Jesus is the voice that whispers hope in our dark times. He came and died on our behalf so that we could have hope in every situation. When we believe in Him and give Him our hearts, we can live without being crushed by hopelessness.
I know that He is the only One in whom I can place my confidence. It won’t preclude me from anxious or fearful times, but I can trust that He will provide all that is needed to walk through those times. I can trust that He will comfort those who are hurting this season, and will produce wholeness and beauty in their lives through their experiences. Our current pain is temporary. Jesus’ death on the cross makes it possible for us to one day enter Heaven, where pain no longer exists. Hope, joy, love, peace – all these things are possible in Jesus even in the midst of suffering.
So I’m taking this jumbled package of hurts and needs to Him. Christmas may not look the same this year. For some, it may never look the same. So I’m asking Him to pour out His grace around each of our homes, however we are gathering. And I’m asking Him to whisper “hope”.
And dear diary, the power came on in time, and the chocolate babka was saved.
Dear Diary – Yesterday, Hubby went to the office, giving me a rare day to myself and I wasted it playing video games. I got my flu shot and felt too crummy to tackle cookies and candies. I’m only halfway through my adventourous baking wish list and running out of time. The house is a disaster and I don’t know if I’m hosting Christmas Day. But I needed a “day off”.
Today is Hubby’s official first day of Christmas vacation. He started it by drinking coffee and watching ridiculousness on t.v. What on earth am I going to do with him for the next 2 weeks?
The holidays tend to be the only time when the “fancy” plates and “good dishes” come out. I think that’s a shame! Beautiful things should be enjoyed more often. While I haven’t had many occasions to use my silver tea set, I have used it a few times, and not just for holidays.
Silver tea sets were used for afternoon tea, a tradition that began in the 17th century. A basic set, like mine, included a tea pot, creamer, and sugar bowl. More elaborate sets might also include sugar tongs, plates, and tea cups.
They are certainly less popular than they used to be. Silver and silver-plated dishes tarnish terribly, and require careful cleaning on a regular basis. I don’t do so well remembering to clean and polish on a regular basis, but I do it because my set is special. It was a gift from my paternal Grandmother at my bridal shower. If I got the story right, she won the tea pot, creamer and sugar bowl in a raffle from the store where my grandfather purchased their wedding rings. The silver tray was a new addition just for me.
My grandmother was one of 6 daughters. Her father was apparently quite a woodsman, and I wonder what he thought about 6 daughters! When one of her younger sisters was born, she was sent to an older, childless couple while her mother recovered. It was a long recovery, involving a move to a nearby large town. When they brought Nana to live with her family, she was so distraught at being separated from this older couple, who had cared for her for so long, that she was returned to them. She kept in touch with her family, but was happier in a quiet setting. She cared for this couple as they grew older, leaving school to take a job in the local store.
There she met a quiet guy who lived with his parents on a farm in a nearby village. His parents were not ecstatic about the match and tried to dissuade him from marrying her, but he was smitten!
Years ago, I gave my grandmother a journal and asked her to write about her life. She didn’t begin to write as much as I had hoped, but she wrote this entry in April, 2003:
Today would be our 65th wedding anniversary. Much like today, cold, damp, slight rain. Met at A. [Anglican} Church in E. at nine AM. In attendance, Roy’s parents, brother Ray and wife from T, Mr. & Mrs. Fenwick. Rev. Posture officiated.
Since the soap the villagers put on the windows froze, and by the time we got to C., decided to return home by D. and clean the soap and remove the tin cans.
We stopped in N. and had our pictures taken, a custom in that day. We drove to T. to Ray’s, and stayed 2 nights. Returned home and I baked for the wood sawyers the next day.
We saw one movie on the way “Ebb Tide”. Doesn’t sound very exciting, that was usually the style then, we didn’t have money for a lavish wedding, and we didn’t borrow in those days.
Roy had a tip top taylor suit which cost $24.00. I had bought a deep blue dress, bought material to add sleeves to it. You didn’t get married without sleeves and a hat.
Nana and Papa were married 38 years. Life on the farm was difficult, with aging in-laws, extra relatives during holidays, 2 children, and all the duties of household and livestock.
This year we celebrated our Silver Anniversary – #25!
I asked her once if she ever thought about getting married again and she chuckled. “No,” she said, “once was enough”. I’m inclined to agree.
Why do we save the good stuff for the guests? Why are we not important enough to use the good dishes? And the white towels? So, I have decided that we are using the good dishes.