Showing posts with label tea time. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tea time. Show all posts

Daffodil Tea for A Worthy Cause

April 9, 2013







For some a daffodil is just a flower that announces the arrival of spring. But for us, who live in Canada, it is a symbol of hope, strength and courage in the fight against cancer, a way of showing support for people living with cancer and remembering those who have lost their battle. The daffodil's relationship with the Canadian Cancer Society started when a group of enthusiastic volunteers organized a fundraising tea back in the 1950s. I wrote about the beginning of Daffodil Month April here. 
It's April and throughout the Daffodil Month, volunteers across Canada are working together to kick off the daffodil campaign Fight Back. Everyone can show his or her support by purchasing a bunch of fresh daffodils and wearing the bright yellow daffodil pin, which was introduced two years ago. While the daffodil flowers can die very fast, the daffodil pins can be worn all month, especially on Daffodil Day- April 27. The Canadian Cancer Society promises that "money raised through flower and pin sales funds the most promising cancer research, supportive care to people living with cancer, comprehensive cancer information, prevention initiatives, and advocacy for healthy public policy." Look here to see what daffodils do.
To spread the word and to show support in my own small way, I would love for you to pull up a chair and join me, my family and my friends for a cup of tea and lemon poppy seed cakes. I don't know how cancer has affected you and your family, but I am sure it's touched your life in some way.
Who would you wear a daffodil pin for this April?  







"Imagine the unthinkable: You're a well-known, prominent physician, you have a loving wife and two beautiful kids, and you've made a meaningful difference in the lives of many thousands of people. Your only major unfulfilled desire is to be a rock star, and you're working on that one, too.
In a heartbeat, your life is turned upside down: your doctor just told you that you have metastatic cancer and you probably have less than a year to live. 
We all know we're going to die one day; the mortality rate is still 100 percent, one per person. But it's not something we think about very often unless we've had a brush with a life-threatening illness or know someone who has. Even then, though, the awareness of our mortality is hard to hold on to..."

from the book "Enjoy Every Sandwich: Living Each Day As If It Were Your Last" by Lee Lipsenthal, who died of esophageal cancer in September 2001; the book was released in November 2011;




Thank you!



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Inspired... by Flowers

March 15, 2013







OK, I caught the fever. Spring fever! It is contagious and one can get it very fast. The cold, the rain and the missing sun have got me thinking more and more about Spring. I love being in the moment and I don't usually dream of being somewhere else or doing something else; I even love winter, but this year it feels as winter may never end. It is the middle of March and no sunshine in the morning, no pretty blossoms blooming on trees, no white carpets of snowdrops signaling the new season... 
While waiting for Spring to finally show all its splashes of color outside, I found a very secret way to capture the mood of the season inside. I got in the car and paid a visit to the local florist. Spring was ruling there... like it was her kingdom. 
I bought white tulips, white carnations and white hyacinths. {To me, the smell of hyacinth is the smell of Spring. What is yours?} 
I got home and planted the flowers in various white containers, arranged simple spring bouquets in white vintage pitchers and sat on the sofa and looked at them. My heart filled with joy, my face covered with a smile, my journal of awesome got filled up with a whole new page... the home brightened with light, the chalkboard had a new not-so-carefully written sign on it... I got out the pretty vintage china with floral motifs and I was putting on the kettle... I cracked the eggs and I baked mini vanilla fig cakes... 
It felt like the lyrics to the song I was listening to were written just for me:
"I don't mind if it rains
 I don't mind if it rains
 if I leave my friends where I found them
 could I make my soul a mountain?
 could I tell them not to worry if it rains?.."

It is truly awesome how random little things make you want to give the world a high five!     

Well, we all know, that flowers are more than just eye candy and they make us smile. But do you know that scientific research has proven they are in fact "a powerful positive emotion "inducer". The presence of flowers triggers happy emotions, heightens feelings of life satisfaction and affect social behaviour in a positive manner far beyond normally believed. The results of a 10-month study at Rutgers University (paied by the floral industry)  reveal that flowers:
* have an immediate impact on happiness  
* effect moods in the long run
* make intimate connection with others
* brighten up spaces and create a sharing atmosphere. 

I have already experienced the difference for myself. I hope you did, too.

 You can read the academic paper here.  
   





" When someone holds up a flower and shows it to you, he wants you to see it. If you keep thinking, you miss the flower. The person who was not thinking, who was just himself, was able to encounter the flower in depth, and he smiled."

                                                                                                                                                                                  ~ Thich Nhat Hanh, "Peace in Every Step"




Thank you!





A Winter Weekend of Simple Pleasures

January 28, 2013








The sun was mischievously staring through the window fooling around that the cold too had its day off... Only after a morning walk with the dog one can become fully aware of the chill winter coldness ruling outside. 
No plans for the weekend!
Not so long ago, I would be frustrated by the absence of a vision for the end of the week - exhibitions, friends gatherings, events, private lessons, antiquing, community courses, movies, sports, short trips - I usually have had the list ready since Monday... But not anymore. I have been learning to allow myself to be bored; something that my man had acquired long ago and my son is on his way to enjoy occasional boredom. Yes, boredom! I think I was first exposed to the "art of relaxing" not as hours of laziness, but rather as hours of just being, not doing while I was reading Richard Carlson's books. He explains that if you allow yourself to be bored, even for an hour, or less and don't fight it, the feeling of boredom will be replaced with feeling of peace. It works!
So, the three members of our family decided unanimously that this weekend we will stay home, read, play games, drink coffee, cook, drink tea, bake, drink cocoa, bake, and bake again.... Sounded like the best plan ever ( if it was a plan at all) even to my teenage son!
Somehow along the way, for us as a family, and for everyone of us as an individual it became almost impossible to sit still and do nothing, much less truly relax - even on the weekends. I often feel guilty when I find myself doing nothing. While sitting on the sofa or simply wandering through the clouds, my busy mind would not forget to remind me that there are millions of things waiting to be done. Overwhelmed by the pressure of performing and doing something important every second, we easily overlook the wonder of life, the beauty of the present moment, the simple pleasure of the ordinary activity. 
The extreme cold weather this winter helps us to replace busyness, plans and getaways with home, cuddling, warmth, togetherness, and peace. On days like these an aching urge makes me want to bake. While my boys were playing chess and the dog was snoring in their feet, I tried the simplest and quickest tortelli-cookies that I have ever made (the recipe and photos you can find here). Then, on Sunday, I woke up with happy thoughts about the winters in my childhood. Images of sliding on the hill, drying soaked mittens on the fire, my mom baking her ultimate winter tea cake made me call her and talk for hours. I wrote down the recipe and put my fancy apron once again. This time I baked this easy apricot cake and made fruit tea. During summer, my grandma with the help of my mom would gather fruits from the garden, or the farmer's market, or the neighbor's trees and will make compote (french for "mixture", it is a recipe consisting of whole or pieces of fruit that has been stewed in a sugar syrup and other flavorings). Then in winter, we would have compote as a dessert at the end of the dinner, or for breakfast with yogurt, and mom would bake with it, and dad will drink the fruit juice with delight... I cannot make compote, but when a couple of days ago, on the store shelf I saw a jar of apricots, I knew immediately, one day I will bake my mom's winter apricot upside-down cake.
The tea cake turned out really great, moist and light. The cheerful orange-ish color of the sun-like dessert, compensated for the grayness and gloominess outside.
On this "empty, bored" weekend, while I was not baking in the kitchen, I was quietly reading Katrina Kenison's book "Magical Journey" snuggling up in a cozy wool blanket. If you haven't read it yet, please, put it on your list. This is a beautifully and eloquently written memoir about soul-searching, self-acceptance and personal growth. I relate to her story and experience. The voyage she illustrates in the book is LIFE itself, filled with searching, loss, suffering, love, healing, vulnerability, forgiveness and divine awakening... If you see my copy, it is full of underlined thoughts, passages, exclamation marks, words, because her heartwarming insight into life has come to me in the absolute right personal moment and has touched me in a really profound and emotional way. Once again, the author proved that the only journey we, humans, have is the journey within and ... it is a magical journey, indeed. 

"Recognizing that life is a moment-to-moment gift meant acknowledging not only friend's mortality, but my own as well. The realization that in fact we all dying, all the time, to something, nearly broke my heart, but it also opened it, helped me begin to recognize the fleeting beauty of all of life. We mourn summer's passing, but winter comes nonetheless, revealing a different landscape altogether, equally lovely in its own way. The sweetest day draws to close, night settles in, and we turn our bodies to one another for comfort..."      












                                                                    Mom's Winter Apricot Upside-Down Tea Cake 


Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
1 cup plain flour
5 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1 jar of apricot compote
vanilla
icing sugar (optional)


Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a circular spring form cake tin. Arrange the apricot halves from the compote, cut side down in the tin.
Stir together eggs and sugar into a bowl until pale and fluffy. Add flour and vanilla and stir until mixture is creamy and double in volume. Gently spoon batter over apricots and spread evenly. Bake cake until golden brown or a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Invert a large plate over the top of the tin and quickly turn it out. While still warm, moisten the cake with cold apricot syrup. Drizzle with icing sugar if you wish. Serve cold or slightly warm.



Hope your days are happy!







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Lilac, Cake & Tea for Moms

May 11, 2012






Happy Mother's Day weekend, dear friends! 
To honor our mothers, I have a simple suggestion: 
bring back precious memories for Mom with a special tea gathering for her and friends. Make it memorable by setting a simple, but thoughtful table. Keep in mind one of the many crucial advices she has given you all these years "Very often a simple statement makes the greatest impact" or " Never forget the importance of a first impression as you would never get a second chance to make it again"... 
Choose a simple menu to "reflect" her personality: genuine, uncomplicated, funny, friendly, and enjoyable. Make something from her recipe journal, something easy, most trusted, something that she likes, that is HER personal trademark ... an angel fruit cake ... Remember how the sweet vanilla smell coming from the kitchen waked you up countless mornings?...
Put the dried chamomile flowers into the kettle and prepare a soothing, relaxing tea. Remember your childhood summers when you both collected these tiny daisy-like plants and dried them on a special table in your grandparent's house... 
"Dress up" the table with her favorite flowers, lilac and peony. I bet, branches of lilac scent her living room right now. Let the thoughtful final touches be the pretty presents gift-wrapped with vintage ribbons. You can even put on the music, her favorite Sir Tom Jones' Delilah and she would be the first to dance ...Oh, she loves to dance...( You, too!)
Nothing fancy; it has always made her a little uncomfortable!
...and then 
share the motherhood,
"mothers and daughters are closest, when daughters become mothers"


    

As a matter of fact, my lovely mom lives thousands of miles away from me; I prepared this table for Mother's Day afternoon tea with friends and family thinking of her. I will call my mom on Sunday and we will talk for hours, laughing and crying...
Funny how the distance has always made our mother - daughter bond stronger and our love deeper! 
 



What's the most cherished advice your mom ever gave you?
Which song is her favorite song? What was your favorite dessert growing up?


A wonderful, sunny Mother's Day to all of YOU and those you love!



Spring Afternoon Tea

March 28, 2012





Spring is such an inspiring season!
Nature during this time has a way of drawing our senses to the 
outside world,
soft colors,
rain showers,
a special buzz of baby insects, 
green grass,
fast flowing water in the creek, 
tiny buds on tree branches,
captivating fragrances,
young sun,
open windows, 
wild violets that choose where to grow and " signal healing and hope "  
organic eggs ( and EASTER eggs ),
pansies that can be eaten, 
birds that say "good morning" and make you cheerful....

The weather was kind of crazy here - warm, the next day cold, rain and sunshine, from -2 to +18C - changeable as a women's mood as my grandpa used to say. While I was walking our dog in the nearby woods, a spontaneous thought came to mind "This sunny day needs to be celebrated... How do I make it special?" It didn't take me a lot of thinking to figure out that an afternoon tea outside would be a treat and a great way to savor this tiny ray of sunshine beaming down...
There is truly something special about eating dinner or drinking your morning coffee or afternoon tea outdoors. 
I didn't put lots of effort in preparing the table since I had already planted pansies in a basket which I made a table centrepiece. I had crystallized a few flowers the day before. It also happened that I have enough vintage china with a hand painted pansy pattern as well as a flour cloth with violet print which became a tablecloth.
To me, the only way to entertain elegantly is to keep the look pared down but pretty. Focus on people, laughter and a good conversation:) 






















 







A simple afternoon tea can become a memorable experience as every other activity when we show our love for our family, friends and the natural world that surrounds and enriches us. Inspiration in our lives lays in all that Mother Nature unfolds in front of us, we just have to see it... and sense it... 
Inspiration is often something we use in our regular life and because we have grown used to it, we don’t often see it as such...






... And, so, the afternoon passed and the beautiful clear sky began willingly to accept the gray rain clouds ...

I made a note to myself: make time  for the people you love and savor the brightness of each day!


Share with me what inspires you and how you make everyday a celebration.

Thank you for your visit and nice words.






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