Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Winter Walk. . .

It's easy to get 'cabin fever' in the cold months of winter.  Slippery roads, gray days when the sun doesn't show its face for days upon end, and bitter cold cause me to opt for the heat of the wood stove rather than braving the elements outside.  But, fresh air and exercise do much to lift the spirits, especially on a day without sunshine.  The wildlife refuge next door creates an interesting place to walk.  There is always something to see, no matter what the time of year.  Because the ponds are frozen over now, the geese and ducks have moved to the river nearby.  The wildlife refuge seems deathly quiet and lonely without them.  Nature provides much of interest though.  Russian olives, rose hips, and snow white berries adorn shrubs and trees.  The bark of sagebrush, coated with a haze of bright yellow lichen stands out among the dreary landscape.  Its vibrant color seems to scream "look at me" and the viewer cannot help but smile when it's in view.  Empty nests, used and abandoned, wait to be remodeled for spring's new crop of birds. Viewing an oriels nest, and the osprey nest high on a pole, show contrast in size and style.  Each reflects characteristics of the birds who create them.  Tracks can be seen on the trail.  The now frozen ground preserves prints of coyote, deer, raccoon, mink, beaver, duck, goose, and man.  Identifying them is interesting and makes the trail seem shorter as each is identified and pondered about.  Brisk, refreshing, and energy inducing; walks at the wildlife refuge benefit even the most chilly of winter days.  Bundle up! 

Click on the montage for a better view.

Winter's Hearty Bean Stew

1 lb. assorted dry beans
2 cups tomato juice
1/2 cup apple juice
1/3 cup tamari sauce
1/3 cup pineapple juice or water
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup potatoes, diced
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup mushrooms, diced
1 onion, diced
1 tsp. parsley, dried
1 bay leaf
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. pepper, ground (optional)
1 cup rice or pasta, cooked
salt to taste 

Sort and rinse beans, then soak overnight in water. Drain beans and place in crock pot. Add tomato juice, apple juice, tamari sauce, and pineapple juice.

Cover with vegetable stock or water.  The juice adds sweetness and the soy sauce adds depth and flavor.  Cook on high for 2 hours.

Add the vegetables, herbs, and spices.  Cook for 5-6 hours at low until carrots and potatoes are tender. When tender, add rice or pasta and cook for one hour more.

Serve with crusty bread or your favorite crackers.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hearts at Home

May the heart of our home
always be a safe haven
where we can gather together
in good times and bad
to enjoy the unity, strength,
and support of family. . .
And may we always be thankful
for the warm comforts of kinship
and find our soul's greatest delight
in the most precious gift of our love.

~ Cindy Chuksudoon ~

Tablesetting by Paula at Elm Street

Love Found

What's the earth with all its art, verse, music worth -
Compared with love, found, gained, and kept? 

Robert Browning

Happy Anniversary to the one I love. . .

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Heart Remembers

The fires of youth may die away and sink to crimson embers. . . . The high romantic dreams may vanish --- But the heart remembers.

The heart remembers everything; the buried past is there. The rapture of loves first delight; the joy and the despair. The faces and the friendships and the names of long ago --- Lie beneath a drift of years like leaves beneath the snow.

The sorrows and the happiness --- Gay June and grey Decembers. The music fades, the roses perish. . . . But the heart remembers.

~ Patience Strong 1945 ~

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Rustling Flames on Hearth

Sometimes when the rustling flames are dancing on the hearth --- I catch the music of the trees along a woodland path. . . . I hear the wind move through the branches in a long low sigh --- and see a tracery of green against a summer sky.

The logs now crumbling into ashes once were sentient things ---- Tremulous with life and movement and the beat of wings. . . . The wood that gives its golden fires to light this wintry day --- has worn upon its living limbs the snowy blooms of May.

~ Patience Strong 1945 ~

Aaron and Rylan sit by the fire and soak up the heat on a wintry day.

A Chinese Blessing

Round the table
Peace and joy prevail.
May all who share
This season's delight
Enjoy countless more.

Author unknown

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Friendship Shared

The Traveling Christmas Teapot & Friendship Shared
by LaTeaDah

Mrs. Lindstrom sighed as she looked out her window to see the maintenance man stringing Christmas lights along the Park Manor eaves. The lights signaled the beginning of the holiday season, but since her husband passed away three years before, the holiday had never been quite the same. Unable to live alone, she had agreed to be moved to the nursing home in her community, but it seemed lonely there, especially during the holidays. Her son and his family wrote her letters frequently, but there were far away in Africa where they were missionaries.

Mrs. Lindstrom longed for a homey Christmas and the warm touch of a loved one. She knew she should not grumble, as the nursing staff was kind and gentle, but they were not a connection to her past. The past, when she had created and hosted fabulous Christmas parties for her husband's employees, or conducted caroling sing-a-longs with people from church. Her sigh served as a reflection of her lonely soul and the loneliness seemed to keen during the holidays.

The Christmas lights gave way to paper snowflakes on the lobby windows and a giant twinkling tree in the foyer. School children came caroling through the halls on Mondays, and on Tuesdays the "Healing Through Pets" lady came with puppies that were all dressed up in bright red bows. Wednesdays meant there would be turkey and gravy for lunch, and Thursdays were the day the community players came to read poetry to those who lived there. Fridays were a deeper cleaning day and when it was done the CNA's would add a new wreath or garland or twinkling lights to the room of each resident. On Saturdays most of the staff, except for the essential, went home to be with their families, except for a church group who came for singing bands. It was a lonely day. Sunday mornings Pastor John came to conduct church services and the staff served pie for dessert at lunch. And so the cycle of events continued, only to repeat themselves the following week. But for Mrs. Lindstrom, her longing for a warm smile and gentle touch from her past only accentuated her feelings.

As Christmas drew near, Mrs. Lindstrom grew more and more despondent. She had mailed a Christmas card to her son and his family, and had sent her end-of-year donation to her favorite charity. How she longed for the loving touch of an old friend. A week before Christmas fluffy white snow arrived. Mrs. Lindstrom could smell its freshness as it filtered in through the crack or her open bedroom window. She enjoyed the crystals that appeared on the pine branches as the snow piled up on them and she remembered how she used to make snow ice cream for her children when they were tiny tots. Eventually she touched the damp, cold window pane. A chill seemed to pervade the corners of her space and make her bones ache. The chill matched the loneliness she felt in her heart.

Two days before Christmas she heard the jingle of bells and a soft knock at her door. Without looking up she said "come in". Her door quietly opened and she looked up to see Hattie Brown, her neighbor from days gone by. Her radiant smile filled the room and she scurried over to give Mrs. Lindstrom a gentle hug.

"I'm so glad to see you, dear," exclaimed Mrs. Hattie Brown.

"And how wonderful to see you too," replied Mrs. Lindstrom.

With that, the two friends from the past started to chat and share.

Soon Mrs. Lindstrom noticed that Hattie was carrying an old-fashioned wicker basket. She remembered it as the one that Hattie had brought along for picnic lunches at the beach when their children were small. It was decorated with a bright red bow and a silver bell that jingled every time the basket moved.

"I brought a spot of tea. Would you like some, dear?" asked Hattie Brown.

"Oh yes," replied Mrs. Lindstrom, "it would be like old times."

Hattie Brown cleared a magazine off the small table by Mrs. Lindstrom's chair and swished open a small Christmas tablecloth, placing it upon the tiny table. Instantly the colors of Christmas filled the room! Then she started unpacking tea-time treats and accoutrement from her basket. A cheerful red teapot, two porcelain teacups and saucers in a Christmas Royal Albert design, a crystal lidded sugar bowl, a tiny silver pitcher, old and tarnished teaspoons, colorful napkins, and a tin of Christmas cookies were quickly arranged. With practiced ease, Mrs. Brown opened a thermos of hot water and poured it over black leaves that floated to the surface of the pot. After steeping the tea for three minutes while they chatted, Hattie Brown skillfully decanted the tea through a tiny sieve. A half-pint carton of milk was opened and poured into the silver pitcher. Then she un-lidded the crystal sugar bowl to reveal rich, amber cubes of brown sugar crystals.

"Milk and sugar? One lump or two?" asked Hattie Brown.

Mrs. Lindstrom knew that Hattie Brown didn't even need to ask. After years of having tea together, Hattie Brown already knew that she like a small splash of milk and only one lump of sugar. But, it was polite and gracious to ask.

Hattie Brown passed a steaming cup of tea to Mrs. Lindstrom and then poured one for herself. The cookie tin was open and set between them. Together they passed an hour, visiting, sipping tea, and taking dainty bites of cookies. It was just like it had been in days gone by. For a few minutes, Mrs. Lindstrom was carried back in time and she enjoyed the memories they shared.

All too soon the tea party came to its natural end. Hattie Brown drew a simple envelope out of the basket lining as they were finished and gave it to Mrs. Lindstrom. It contained a Christmas poem in Hattie Brown's own handwriting and a beautiful lace hankie.

Hugs were shared, and a tear by each of them, as they said good-bye and wished one another a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! The traveling Christmas teapot was carefully packed back into the wicker basket, its service done. Together, the teapot and Hattie Brown had shared the true meaning of Christ's gift --- LOVE --- with another on a December day.

Using the Traveling Christmas Teapot to Bless Others

Sometimes adding a new project or activity into our lives can seem overwhelming. Making the time to start a new habit or tradition takes effort. By having the traveling teapot and accoutrement, packed and ready to go, it becomes a part of daily life and is much more likely to take place. Take it with you as you go about your life routines. When an opportunity arises to use it, you'll find it convenient to have already in your car and ready to go. So, when you visit the beauty salon, your favorite antique or gift shop, or health club, take it along and share when you see an opportunity to reach out to others. Taking the traveling teapot to a friend's house, a church meeting, to work, or to school when picking up children can all brighten the day of another. Starting this project within your normal, daily routine will help establish it and will make you comfortable with the process of serving tea from the traveling Christmas teapot and basket.
Once you have established comfort, it's time to go outside of your normal zone and reach out to someone new. You could visit a neighbor you haven't met yet or a neighbor down the street who is elderly and alone; visit a nursing home; share tea with a teacher from your past; stop by and share with community food bank staff; or drop by the doctor's office and share with staff there. The possibilities are endless as you reach out to those who serve in your community.

During the whirlwind of the holiday season, it blesses others when time is taken to enjoy the true spirit of the season with those around you. In the process, you are blessed as well. By taking the
time to reach out to those who may not have someone to share the holiday with, the blessings are multiplied. The traveling Christmas teapot is a tool that can work as a prop as you reach out to others around you when seeking and sharing the true meaning of Christmas. Enjoy a wonderful Christmas and be blessed!

Elements of the Traveling Christmas Teapot Tea Party

A Traveling Christmas Teapot tea party consists of several elements. They are the implements, the tea and food, and the tuck-in gift.

--- The implements: a pretty basket or hamper, decorated with a red bow or holly sprig; a small holiday tablecloth or square of yardage in a Christmas theme; pretty Christmas napkins; a Christmas teapot; porcelain teacups and saucers or tea mugs; silver teaspoons; a small candle and matches.

--- The tea and food: a 1/2 pint jar filled with sugar-cubes; a selection of tea bags (herbal and black; include Christmas blends); a small carton of milk or soymilk; a pretty jar of strawberry jam; a tin of cookies or scones; a thermos of hot water (or a small electric tea kettle and bottled water).

--- The tuck-in gift: a card or hand-out made by you that explains the purpose of the Christmas traveling teapot that includes a special Christmas message, verse, poem, or Christmas carol; a small tuck-in gift to give to your guest like a bookmark, doily, hankie, Christmas ornament, or antique teaspoon.

Photo: Clarice's beautifully appointed tea table

[to be continued]

The Christmas Traveling Teapot

Christmas can be a time of hurried activity and stress, as
Christmas presents are bought, holiday decorating is done, and traditional holiday foods are prepared. Christmas preparations, parties, pageants, and concerts fill the days surrounding Christmas with much activity. With the whirlwind, sometimes it's easy to forget the true meaning of the holiday. Christmas is about relationships as illustrated by God's gift of His Son. The love represented by this gift becomes ours to share. Having an object or tradition that causes us to stop to pause and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas can help us to remember what the season really is all about. Thus the traveling Christmas teapot becomes an integral tool in finding the meaning of the holiday.

Preparing for and participating in a personal traveling teapot
project is one technique that can be used in sharing the meaning of Christmas. Too often there are those around us who find the holiday season lonely and sad. It can be our privilege and joy to create a memorable and warm holiday season for them. The elderly, single, divorced, or young living away from home keenly feel the sadness of not having someone to share Christmas with. Memories of holiday's past become a time of poignant introspection. Even those with families nearby can get caught up in the frenzy of the holiday season and simply need a quiet reminder to help them identify more clearly the meaning of the season. The traveling Christmas teapot can be your way of sharing the real meaning of the Christmas with them. It is a method that can be used to share the love of the Christmas season. It helps by slowing down life's pace and replacing some of our Christmas tasks with things or events that promote relationships and can change the pace of the holidays. By so doing, the shift changes from doing things to being ourselves and enjoying quality relationships with those around us.

[to be continued]

Winter Snow

"We woke up to a storm of whirling snowflakes this morning, the first snow this winter. The storm was soon over however and it was followed by bright sunshine and a sharp frost at night."

Edith Holden ~ 1906


"When all aloud the wind doth blow,
And coughing drowns the parson's saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marion's nose looks red and raw."


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Eve Grace

Christmas Eve Grace

A holly wreath upon the door.
A fire burning bright.
A boldly shining silver star.
The gift of heavenly light.

Tinsel frosted Christmas trees.
Angelic choirs sing.
Hymns of joy and restful peace.
This blessed night shall bring.

Louise I. Webster

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Christmas Past

Christmas Past

The memories most enduring
No matter where we roam
Are those of Christmas Past
In a place we knew as home.

The magic of the season
With scent of wax and pine,
The aroma from the kitchen
That beckoned us to dine.

The dancing lights upon the tree
That cast their Yuletide spell,
The joyous song of carolers --- Peace on Earth --- Noel!

The ghosts of cherished loved ones;
They live and always will,
For no one ever dies in
The place where time stands still.

The treasured scenes of yesteryear ---
Could prayers but make them last,
Traditions of the heart live on
In dreams of Christmas Past.

C. D. Hay

Thursday, December 03, 2009


Twilight at LaPush means peace and quiet. Cormorants and brown pelicans fly in an out of the cove, and sea gulls settle down to floating the waves after a busy day. A small, out of the way place, this beach is one of the farthest points west in the United States. A rocky shore, a quiet cove, a tree-topped island, and beautiful sunsets make this a favorite place of many. Picnic lunches, photography sessions, and bird watching are all melded together into sweet memories here; days going way back to my teen-age years. The closest town is Forks, a tiny little burg that became famous with the introduction of the Twilight books that are so popular now. But long before the Twilight of fiction, the reality of a beautiful beach at twilight fills my heart with memories and joy. Of all the places in the world, it seems like beach spots draw me most.


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Vintage Musings

Have you noticed the trend in design and collecting? Vintage is absolutely in style! How strange it seems that antique and vintage shops are now filled with items that were common in my childhood. When I was a little girl, I remember asking my mother how old something had to be to be considered an antique. She thought a moment, and then said fifty years seemed about right. Well, now that fifty years have passed, I would prefer that items of that genre be considered vintage, not antique. But, it is all about perspective, isn't it. Just like fashions cycle again after several decades, so do household items and decor. Retro is in. I like the bright colors and stylized patterns of the fifties. But, I am not so fond of the resurgence of avocado green and brash gold. But, by the time that trend is in full swing again, I will probably be happy for the subtle changes in how it is used, and will embrace it wholeheartedly. What is your favorite, retro trend?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving


I'm counting my blessings
and know you are too!

Enjoy a wonderful day!

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.

Psalm 107:1

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Christmas Ideas!

There's lots going on at "Today's Creative Blog" --- great ideas for Christmas decorating and homemade gifts. Stop by and visit their McLinky where others are sharing what they are doing to prepare for the holidays!


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Grandpa's Cranberry Molded Salad


Here's the recipe for the cranberry salad that has become a family tradition. It is Grandpa's contribution to Thanksgiving dinner each year. It's beautiful and turns out so well. He always makes an extra one to share with friends. It is so easy to make, but looks really fancy and time consuming. The perfect kind of recipe for the holidays!

Grandpa's Cranberry Molded Salad

You'll need:

2 (16 oz.) cans cranberry sauce
2 (20 oz.) cans crushed pineapple
4 cups non-dairy whipped topping*
2 cups chopped pecans

Mix cranberry sauce and crushed pineapple together well. Gently stir in non-dairy whipped topping and chopped pecans. When well mixed, pour mixture into a mold of choice. Cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer. Freeze for at least 10 hour (can be made days ahead and be kept in freezer until ready to use). When ready to serve, remove from freezer and gently unmold onto pretty plate or cake stand. You can use a warm, moist towel to gently thaw the salad so it releases easily from the mold. Garnish as desired. It's pretty with more non-dairy whipped topping, whole cranberries, orange slices, pineapple mint leaves, etc.

*Rich's non-dairy whipped topping works very well for this recipe.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pumpkin Smoothie

Pumpkin Smoothie

This is a favorite family recipe! For an 'on the go' breakfast, I serve these to my family in plastic, disposable cups with a straw when they need it 'on the go'. What a delicious way to get Vitamin A! This smoothie was garnished with pineapple mint and spearmint.

1 cup soymilk

1 medium banana, frozen and broken into pieces

1/4 cup solid pack pumpkin

a dash or two of cinnamon

a dash of nutmeg

1/2 tsp. stevia (or to taste)

Place all the ingredients in a blender. Blend until very smooth. Delicious! Serves two.

***We enjoy this recipe year around. There's supposed to be a shortage of pumpkin this year because of flood conditions where pumpkins are grown. So --- to be prepared, we bought a case of pumpkin! It was even on sale for the holiday.

Cranberry Tea

Cranberry Tea

1 bag fresh cranberries (or 1 1/8 cup unsweetened cranberry juice)
3 cinnamon sticks
5 whole cloves
1 1/2 quarts water
1/2 cup sweetener of choice
1 1/2 cups water (to be added after cooking)

Combine ingredients in a large kettle and simmer over medium heat for 45 - 60 minutes. Add additional water. Serve in a pretty mug or teacup and add a cinnamon stick for swirling! Or serve chilled on ice with mint leaves for garnish.

Sip with thankfulness all week as you prepare for Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 16, 2009

In the Forest

"Summer's glory lies in ruins --- for the forest is afire --- Richly glows the crimson light on burnished dome and golden spire. Towers of jade collapse and rumble: walls of amber crack and crash. Leafy cities of the woodland fall in clouds of dust and ash.

Rafters of the green cathedrals --- roofs of beechen colonnades --- Hang in charred and burning beams across the blue and smoky glades. . . But Nature's unseen architects will work in silence day and night --- to build the mansions of the Spring upon this red and ruined site."

~ Patience Strong ~

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Orange-Date Fruit Rolls

Orange-Date Fruit Rolls
Makes 2 rolls

1 1/c cup dates, pitted
1/4 lb. coconut, shredded, raw, unsweetened
1/2 lb. figs
1/2 cup nuts, chopped
1 Tbsp. orange juice
1 tsp. orange rind, grated

Grind dates, coconut, and figs in a food mill. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Shape into 2 long rolls about 1" in diameter. Roll in additional chopped nuts. Place in refrigerator until chilled. Then, slice and garnish with candied cherries or walnut halves. Or form into balls and roll in date sugar.

*Terri's kitchen; photo by Paula

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Eyes Unto the Hills

Autumn brings beauty and interest on the mountain.

Brent enjoys 'spotting' for elk on the mountain from Cabin-Ridge Road. He was able to find several herds dotting the ridges, and could identify the bulls and cows.

Although the flowers are long past, colorful leaves, pods, seeds, berries, and pine cones are interesting things to look for and observe.

The yellow dots in the top, left-hand picture among the evergreens are tamarack trees. They are so beautiful this year, as the needles turn completely yellow and fall, just like those on deciduous trees. They create much beauty in the autumn.

Click on montage for closer view.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Where Would You Be?

We have a game in our family that we play at dinner-time sometimes. It starts in the form of a question: "If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?" Usually this question occurs during a busy time of work or study. Often it's a poignant walk down memory lane. There are no restrictions to the answer you may give, but it is always amazing that family members usually cite a place they have already been. Past experiences, favorite places, memories of warm times shared always win out. Although we all dream of venturing to a far-away land and seeing new things, it's always special to remember favorite places we've been before. Today this picture of a past trip to the sea on a sunny winter day reminds me of a favorite place that's filled with warm memories: a walk to the lighthouse; observing the boys in a nature photo-shoot as darkness nears; a picnic with friends. How I'd love to be there right now, with a cup of tea in hand. Memories relived and dreams of a return visit warm my day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Helpful Herbs

Spring is a time for planting, and some of my favorite things to plant are herbs. I especially enjoy mints like chocolate, English, lemon, pineapple, and more. But stevia, sweet basil, sage, rosemary, bee balm, and tarragon and others are planted alongside and appreciated all summer long. Autumn is the time for harvesting herbs, drying them, and putting them into fragrant and helpful use. Most of mine are dried and stored for culinary use. Sometimes I make potpourri, herbal teas, and sugar scrub. And recently I have been learning how to make salves, balms, and lip protector. It's been fun and amazing to see how simple it is!

This autumn I joined in a project with a lovely group of women who grow and create with herbs. I've learned so much about using the natural remedies of the Creator from this group! They conducted a swap where items created from their herbs grown were shared. My box arrived in the mail yesterday and its fragrance exuded from every corner and crack! Upon opening, I was delighted to discover so many wonderful things! I'm amazed at the talent of my swap partners!

Elderberry Elixir to be used at the first sign of a cold or flu. Wild Cherry Syrup for coughs. Cucumber-Mint Toner for skin care. Herbal Healing Balm. Comfrey Salve. Cucumber and Aloe Cream Soap. Luscious Lemon Sugar Scrub. Cool CukeAloeMint Soap. Mango Peach Soap. Melissa Aloe Soap. Propolis and Myrrh Lip Balm. Lavender Sugar with a recipe for Lavender Lemon Sugar Cookies. Sweet Dreams Tincture of Hops, Valerian, Chamomile, and Passionflower. Lavender-Calendula-Chamomile Bath Tea and Soap. Herbal teas of herbs like holy basil, rose petals, lemon verbena, and elderberries.

Such fragrant treasures! Such helpful tools for a healthy winter. Thank you for the wonderful herbal gifts!

Monday, November 09, 2009

A Chocolate Day

Who doesn't like chocolate? I don't think there are many, although I have met a few who didn't like this yummy, dark treat. It's always nice to have a handy, quick chocolate treat available for those times when a chocolate craving strikes. Easy to make and delicious to eat, there are only two ingredients in this chocolate 'recipe'. And better yet, it's something that anyone in the family can make, not just the usual cook. Together, one box of Mori-Nu extra-firm tofu and one package of Mori-Nu Mates chocolate pudding mix work together with a splash of water and a food processor. If you store the Mori-Nu tofu in the fridge, you won't even have to wait for it to chill. The ingredients in Mori-Nu mates are: dehydrated raw cane juice, Dutch cocoa powder, potato starch, guar gum, non-hydrogenated coconut oil, soy lecithin, and vanilla. Natural and healthy, easy and quick, vegan and gluten-free, and delicious too! Garnish with berries and a cashew cream topping --- or place in a chopped nut crust for a delicious pie. Also, very good as a filling for tiny tarts for teatime! You can never go wrong with chocolate!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Replete with Thankfulness

O Lord that lends me life,
Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.

William Shakespeare

Sing & Give Thanks

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Adios, Traveling Teapot

The traveling teapot has been the avenue to many blessings for the past few weeks. It's gone with me many places as I've gone about my daily life. It's last adventure was a trip to the hairdressers. Although the little tea party was meant to surprise my stylist friends, I think the teapot and I had the greatest surprise! My friends, normally brunette and strawberry-red, were wearing bleach-blond wigs and costumes for Halloween! Surprise! Surprise! So, the traveling teapot poured tea for a lady in black and a flapper! Much fun was shared and before the afternoon was over all the stylists and clients in the shop were offered a cup of tea. Chamomile, peppermint, lavender, and Tazo Joy were the flavor choices of the day --- served with the sweet herb, stevia. It was the perfect send-off for the traveling teapot. It's now back in its shipping box and will be mailed to a tea-friend far away --- ready for more adventures in sunny California. Adios, little teapot. It's been fun!

Click on photo for larger view.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Carob Cookies

Carob Cookies

My mother-in-law was famous for her Carob Cookies! Cake-like, delicious, and a handful, they were always welcome after any meal. Often they were carefully packed in a large, round Tupperware container for camping trips and vacations. They were loved by all, even those who had never eaten carob before. Here's her recipe ~ enjoy!

1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup carob powder
2 cups whole wheat pastry
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare cookie sheets with parchment paper or a light layer of oil. Blend syrup, oil, vanilla, and carob powder until smooth. By hand, stir in remaining ingredients in small amounts. Do not over mix! Drop dough by the spoonful onto cookie sheets, about 1" apart. Bake until cookies are sightly browned and feel firm to the touch (about 8 - 9 minutes). Cool and enjoy!

Makes 3 dozen

*The child's apron in the photo was made by my friend, Terri. Isn't it beautiful? She has it for sale in her shop.

Monday, October 26, 2009



"How silently they tumble down
And come to rest upon the ground
To lay a carpet, rich and rare,
Beneath the trees without a care,
Content to sleep, their work well done,
Colors gleaming in the sun.
At other times, they wildly fly
Until they nearly reach the sky.
Twisting, turning through the air
Till all the trees stand stark and bare.
Exhausted, drop to earth below
To wait, like children, for the snow."

- Elsie N. Brady

Be Blessed

"O satisfy us in the morning with thy lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days."

Psalm 90:13

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Zesty Fruit-Nut Balls

Zesty Fruit-Nut Balls

3/4 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup pecans or walnuts
1 cup raisins, softened
1 cup dates, pitted
2 Tbsp. maple or agave syrup
2 tsp. grated orange rind

Grind sunflower seeds in dry coffee
grinder. Chop pecans, raisins, and
dates. Mix first four ingredients.
Add maple or agave syrup. Mix well.
Roll into 1" balls. Chill and serve.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

An Autumn Walk

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood! Autumn is the perfect time to visit the nearby wildlife refuge. The ticks of spring are gone, and so are the summer rattlesnakes! Instead, we enjoyed ducks, geese, and a plethora of wild seeds for the birds! The walk around the slough was interesting and the exercise felt good. Enjoy this little walk with me as you view my Photo Show of autumn.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Elm Street Teapot

The traveling teapot went to Oregon yesterday to serve tea to Paula and her sister, Jacque. The decor was perfection! Elm Street Antiques is a lovely, vintage shop filled with china, linens, antiques, and more. Paula and Terri really know how to create beautiful displays that draw the eye, and recently redecorated their entire shop. Every nook and cranny is filled with beautiful things! So much so, that we had to improvise our tea table. A recent shipment, still packed in a large brown box, created a table. A pretty tablecloth from a nearby display was draped over it, and the tea basket unpacked of the blue traveling teapot, pastel yellow teacups, a candle, tea, and cookies. It wasn't long before the tea kettle was simmering, and tea was brewed. Antique chairs covered in lovely patterned fabrics were drawn to the improv table and we sat to tea. It was a quiet day, but as soon as we sat down to tea, things got busy. It was alright; a friendly, cheerful twist ensued as cookies were shared with Paula's customers. Conversation, tea, and friendship shared together on a lovely autumn day in a beautiful impromptu tea room! Thanks, Paula, for welcoming the traveling teapot!

A Little Gift Box

I have been having fun with a template book of gift boxes and tags from K&Company. Although it is Christmas themed, I've discovered that if I use the back of the templates rather than the front, they work for general themes. This week I made this little box to contain a tiny gift for Paula. Like Clarice from Storybook Woods, I'm discovering the fun of prisma glitter! Additionally, both giant and little buttons, rick-rack, and satin ribbon add to the charm and fun! A holiday gift tag made a great hinge so the lid can open and close. There's something very relaxing about creating something 'just because'.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bucky Loves Catnip

Summer herbs have grown proficiently and any gathering and harvesting needs to be completed soon. I've brought some of my favorites into the house so I can have fresh basil, sage, thyme, rosemary, and stevia for a few of the winter months. And some I am gathering and cutting to dry and store. Bucky also loves herbs! He can be a pretty independent kitty until the catnip comes out! After I sprinkle some on a heart-shaped rug on the porch, he immediately looses focus, forgetting the world and becomes the most tranquil kitty ever. He becomes lost in its hypnotic effect. After ten minutes or so of pure enjoyment, Bucky wanders off to sleep. Catnip is a member of the mint family. To learn more, go to the Cat World website. Interesting stuff!

In humans, catnip (which is safe to ingest) acts as a mild sedative and is usually taken as herbal tea. It's used in cooking and to treat symptoms like headaches, coughs, and insomnia. Catnip is also a powerful defense against mosquitoes, being ten times more potent than popular commercial mosquito repellents. Just some trivia for the day!

Be blessed and enjoy life today!

The Colors of Autumn

The colors of autumn are bright and happy. They are crisp, but warm. Vibrant, yet relaxing. With trees of blazing glory, mood is lifted and cheer results. Golden brown, canary yellow, barn red, scarlet, brown, and gray --- these colors meld to create a glorious whole! Glorious! Glorious!

What color is your world?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Cozy Kitchen

You are invited to visit my other blog, My Cozy Kitchen. It's a quiet place where I share healthy, whole-food recipes. The recipes are posted from my collection as I prepare them or as they come into focus when I am browsing through my recipe files. They are filled with antioxidants and phytochemicals, are full of fiber, and help maintain wellness and promote good health. If you stop by, please leave me a comment so I know you've been by. I'd love to share a cup of tea with you, but in blogland a few words will have to do. Happy eating and stay healthy!

Sisterhood of Herbs

Herbs, seeds, and flowers all reach their peak at summer's end. Gathered and dried, they make lovely teas or flavoring for foods prepared during the winter months. Those not gathered are left in the garden to feed the birds. With cooler days, the craft box attracts attention, and pretty papers, ribbons, buttons, and glitter all work together to make something fun! Recently I created little paper boxes and filled them with harvested and dried chamomile and calendula blossoms. Inside each box, a shiny surprise was placed, just like in a Cracker Jack box! Ribbons, glittered tags, fancy buttons, and a message tag were glued to each one. Bundled together, they were mailed off to a group of friends participating in an herb swap. In a week or two, a package will be arriving in my mailbox, filled with sixteen different herbal gifts made by my herbal friends. What a fun way to celebrate harvest, to hone creative skills, and to nurture friendships!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Books from Scratch

Sometimes its enjoyable and relaxing to break from routine to create! So, with glue, string, and papers I sat down to see if I could make a book from scratch. I've always admired the handmade books found in places like Etsy. Although my book was small and simple, it surprised me how much time it took. Embroidery floss and a buttonhole stitch trimmed an edge while strong thread on a needle bound the book at its fold. Giant rick-rack was glued on the edge, creating a scalloped look on the back. Another book was bound in the Japanese style and its pages were individually crafted with the help of a Dremel (power tool) after being dipped into tea and dried with a blow-drier. A plastic bracelet expressing 'gentleness' worked as a fastener for one, while another was bound by brad and a crocheted string of floss. Relaxing and fun, these little journals are a special place to keep notes, express feelings, or write goals. Creativity really is fun!

Covers the Sky with Clouds

He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills.

Psalm 147:8

Friday, October 16, 2009

Perfected When Shared

Happiness is a sunbeam. . .
When it strikes a kindred heart,
like the converged lights upon a mirror,
it reflects itself with redoubled brightness.
It is not perfected until
it is shared.

Jane Porter

Green Tomato Mincemeat

The weatherman forecast our first hard frost, so I made a point of picking several boxes of unripened tomatoes from my garden. They are ripening up nicely in the warm kitchen, but there were more than we could use at one time. I decided to make green tomato mincemeat, a dish I remember making with my grandma and mother when I was a child. I don't know why I didn't try it again until recently. It's delicious! Here's the recipe:

Green Tomato Mincemeat

12 cups chopped green tomatoes*
6 cups peeled, chopped tart apples
2 cups raisins
1 cup dates, chopped (may use currants)
1/2 cup diced candied pineapple (or citron)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt
3 cups brown sugar, firmly packed**
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice

Chop all ingredients and place in a kettle. Cook slowly over low heat until tender and thick (2 or more hours). Stir frequently to prevent sticking.

Can or freeze as desired (if canning, use water-bath method with 20 minutes of processing; omit cloves if freezing).

Delicious on toast! Layer with peanut butter if desired! Also great served as a fruit sauce, as a pie filling, or for tarts for tea.

Makes about 8 pints.

*If you don't have green tomatoes, tomatillos from the supermarket will work.

**I used agave syrup.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rhapsody in Blue

The traveling teapot stayed home today. But it was put into commission as a friend came to visit. Sharon stopped by on her way home from work, to spend an hour or more chatting as we relaxed on sofa and chair. It was truely an afternoon tea. Duchess Genevieve teacups and saucers blended beautifully with the traveling teapot and its beautiful rhapsody of blue. A lighted oil lamp and a votive candle provided a soft glow on the low sofa table. Star-sliced apples dipped in cinnamon and stevia were paired with dark chocolate-chili pieces and tiny strips of fruit leather. A full-bodied French blend tea filled the little blue teapot. Together, Sharon and I enjoyed our tea and sweets. Long-time friends, we shared joys, sorrows and tidbits of our lives. Quaint and cozy, our tea experience was a simple respite in a week with its own stress and worry.