Aug 16, 2008

Spiritual Sundays: Faith

Here's another "Perpetual Tea Tray" as part of the Tea House of the August Spoon series. This is an Asian tea setting using a lime cast iron pot. These pots are wonderful for keeping tea hot for longer periods, and the weight and texture of the pot lends a nice sensory element. I love utilizing these Asian pots and teacups during my quiet time.


Hebrews 11:1 (The Message) - Faith in What We Don't See

1-2 The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.

Faith never stands around
with its hands in its pockets.

Teahouse of the August Spoon - 8

The rivalry between tea and coffee is much like the Hatfields vs. the McCoys. I happen to enjoy both beverages despite the commercial wars. St. Arbucks helped to make coffee the #1 hot beverage in the United States. However, thanks to online education, tea is once again rising in popularity.

Adagio Teas offered some interesting comparisons between tea and coffee in their online article, Tea vs. Coffee: The Battle for the Cup, asking, "Can't we all just get along?"

We'll begin at the most logical place: their origins. Both Coffee and Tea have legendary pasts. Tea, as discussed in a previous course, was discovered by the ancient Chinese ruler Shen Nung, when a fateful leaf fell into his boiling water. The similarly serendipitous story of Coffee dates back to the 1400's, when a Yemeni shepherd named Kaldi noticed that his sheep began to act unusually frisky after eating berries from a unfamiliar plant. Curious, Kaldi picked one and popped it into his mouth. Within a few minutes, he was as hyperactive as a kid after Halloween (well, Halloween wasn't practiced in Yemen, but you get the point). He told of his discovery of this stimulating shrub to a nearby town (called "Mocha") and its fame quickly spread.

Amazingly, the history of the two followed nearly identical paths. Coffee and tea were introduced to England within seven years of each other. Both were first enjoyed under the reign of Charles II (nicknamed "Milk and Sugar Charlie" for his fondness for these additions to both the drinks). In 1652, the first coffeehouse opened in England- the same year the first tea samples arrived to the country. Tea, however, became the favorite due to the fact that it was easier to make.

Aug 15, 2008

Paris in a Cup

The above dessert is featured on Paris in a Cup, the website for a newer tea salon in Old Town Orange, California. (Notice the Eiffel Tower on the dessert's surface.) There was no mention of what this tempting dessert is called, so I feel it is my responsibility to pay them a visit. Most likely, a name won't satisfy me and I will be forced to try it. I am praying for strength.

Aug 14, 2008

Teahouse of the August Spoon - 7

"Come, oh come, ye tea-thirsty restless ones - the kettle boils, bubbles and sings musically!"
-Rabindranath Tagore, 1913 Nobel Prize for Literature

Stay tuned... Teahouse of the August Spoon continues and there will be more on "The Perpetual Tea Tray", too!

Olympic Moment

There's a great deal of chatter about Mark Spitz. In 1972, the handsome swimmer won 7 gold medals in Munich. Now, with all the buzz over swimmer Michael Phelps, who recently added 5 record breaking gold medals, in Beijing, to the 6 gold medals he received in the Athens Olympics, there's speculation that Mark's 36 year old record could be toppled. Michael Phelps is being referred to as the ultimate merman.

My husband, Bear, was also a swimmer in High School and he does bear a likeness to Mark Spitz. In the mid 1970's, Bear was approached at Disney World by a tenacious young lady who insisted that he was Mark Spitz. She wanted his autograph. Bear recognized the futility of trying to convince her otherwise, so he obliged by signing his name "Mark Spitz."

Hey, Mark is now a prominent dentist in L.A. I already have his lookalike. I wouldn't mind his income, too! Oh, wait a minute, what if this woman is selling Bear's signature on eBay? I better go check...

Aug 13, 2008

Teahouse of the August Spoon - 6.5

Since a blog is a little like reading a book backwards, I need to explain anything that is part of a series. My August 12th post began my discussion on The Perpetual Tea Tray. I invited my guests to submit their August themed tea tray photos. Bobbie-Jo gave us her soothing combination just one post below. In this installment, I present 2 more themed trays...

Above is my August tea setting. It is comprised of a hand painted teapot that my mother brought to me from Italy. An Asian pear rests on a bamboo plate along with a bamboo spoon ready to measure out loose leaf Jasmine tea. A buttery napkin folded in the tea mug mimics a bouquet.

And here is another shot that brings the tropical background into full view. No, this isn't Hawaii.

Marilyn of Delights of the Heart hopped on over from Oregon. She recently experienced a Taiwanese WuWo tea in her backyard. She describes it below...

"The WuWo Tea Ceremony was developed in Taiwan and is a fairly new ceremony. It is done in the out of doors, all participants sit in a circle to create equality. It was developed to include everyone from prince to pauper. Each brings their own tea and service as you see in the picture. That is my set. There are 4 cups and you serve the 3 people to your left and then yourself. You then sit and sip each of the cups of tea. This is all done in silence as a meditative ceremony. When the group I participate with does this, we often end with a poem. I sometimes carry my set with me in my purse when I am traveling or to meet someone at the park to have tea. You also bring a thermos with hot water. Oolong teas work the best, as the water does not have to be boiling hot."

Thank-YOU, Marilyn, for sharing something that was new to me!

I am accepting new August tea tray photos up until Monday, August 18th at Midnight PST. If you have anything you would like to share, simply email the photo to me and I will post it here with a link back to your blog.

Teahouse of the August Spoon - 6

Bobbie-Jo of It's Good to be Queen stopped by from Arizona last night! This was our first official introduction, although I do recognize her blog. In my previous post, I extended an invitation to submit photos of August tea trays and Bobbie-Jo enthusiastically accepted my challenge.

Yesterday's photo celebrated the soothing, amber colored goodness of chamomile tea. As it turns out, this is also one of Bobbie-Jo's favorites. Chamomile tea was introduced to her by a nurse during a hospital stay. The tea's calming properties have become a regular part of her tea time!

Aug 12, 2008

Teahouse of the August Spoon - 5


There are those who regard taking tea as a featured component of a normal day. Others view the tea ritual as a grand splurge and many have no interest at all. The "splurge" set has more than likely not grown up with the habit of taking tea, and the thought of preparation and clean-up seems to defeat the objective: relaxation.

Many moons ago, I introduced The Perpetual Tea Tray in some of my retail workshops. I suggested that the ladies always have a tea tray ready for the act of tea. There's nothing more inviting than a well prepared tea tray with instructions that read, "Just add hot water." I also encouraged the ladies to tailor the tea tray to celebrate the events of each month or season.

Tomorrow, I will be showing my August themed tea tray, and I invite YOU to submit a photo of your ideal tea tray. Simply email a photo to me by
Monday, August 18th at Midnight PST. I will be happy to post your photo here with a link back to your blog.

Aug 11, 2008

Today's Bouquets

My sons challenged me to go on a blog-o-thon during the recent Bloggy Giveaways Carnival. Believe me, this was no small undertaking. Out of 1050 Giveaways, I entered a little over 900. My boys had very little interest until they saw a paddle board game, some Wii games, and a whole slew of free Cocoa Puffs.

So, Mommy blogged away... It would be simple if one could just read, click, comment, and publish. However, many blogs do not automatically add in my personal information and then there are those wonderful visual verification boxes. Some blogs had multiple Giveaways within their posts; or there was a requirement to check out a web site, select a product, and then return to comment on it. Obviously, the main objective for many of these hosts was to generate more exposure. I'll admit that it was often grueling!

There could be a few Giveaways still going on, but here are my results at this point. I won...
2 Giveaways with a total of 3 boxes of Cocoa Puffs (which, by the way, were born the same year I was!)
1 eBook on The Values-Driven Family
One free personally designed side bar graphic from Bringing Good Home
Clean and Simple Scrapbooking - The Sequel, by Cathy Zielske
$25.00 gift card to - An Eco-friendly product company

This was pretty good considering that some Giveaways had hundreds of people entered. My boys were sad that the games didn't pan out, but they have had no objections with eating Cocoa Puffs!

NOTE: Coming later today... The Perpetual Tea Tray...

Aug 10, 2008

Spiritual Sundays: New Beginnings

Friday the 13th has never given me the heebie-jeebies, and any concerns over walking under ladders or stepping on cracks has always seemed silly to me. In Judaism, the number 13 is the number for LOVE. The "Love" chapter is found in I Corinthians 13. Additionally, when Jesus was present with the 12 disciples, there were 13 in number.

Despite my lack of superstition, I have had some sobering encounters with evil. I just don't subscribe to the little fears that can rule a life.

The Olympic Games began their Opening Ceremonies at 8:08 on August 8, 2008. This translates to 8-8-8 at 8:08. The Chinese believe that the number 8 represents wealth and prosperity. The Bible, too, is very much into numbers: not numerology, but numbers that have great significance in the eyes of God.

Biblically, the number 8 represents new beginnings. The number 7 stands for completion. Seven days make a week and the 8th day is the beginning of the next week. On a piano, 7 notes are included in a musical scale. The 8th note is the beginning of a new register. Hence, the number 8 suggests starting afresh at a higher level or plain.

As it happens, my favorite number is the number 8. When Barry and I were praying about a wedding date, we both came back to each other with December 8th. Neither of us even knew if this date was a Saturday, and it was. Since then, we have witnessed many new beginnings throughout our almost 24 years of marriage.

When I was in 6th grade I learned a way of checking addition that involves reducing numbers to a single digit. For instance, the number 87 would be reduced to 8+7=15 and then 15 would be reduced to 1+5=6. Later, I discovered that Judaism reduces numbers in the same way.

We went through a season of layoffs that ended exactly 7 years, to the month, from when it began. The 8th year brought favor, a new home, and the birth of a son whose Birthday reduces to the number 8. Even my own Birthday, 1-29-1958 equals 8.

When we lost Barry's business over a year ago, our landlord, unaware of this loss, decided to sell our home. We ended up moving out on the 7th of May; and May 8th was our first day at the new address. As we recovered from our setbacks, 2 major financial miracles came about on the 8th of two different months, just in time to meet our rent obligation.

We signed the paperwork for a new car about a month ago. The dealership congratulated us and handed us the keys. A week and a half later, we began receiving phone calls and letters telling us that we had been declined. How could we be driving a car without approval? Well, last Friday (8-8-8) a lender called to make sure that our new vehicle was being added to our insurance policy! It was a done deal!

Also on Friday we were able to start an online business with funds we received that day! And, 2 Giveaway prizes arrived in the mail. Closure and increase had come to us on 8-8-8: triple new beginnings!

I don't pretend to understand how God works, but PRAISE HIM FOR NEW BEGINNINGS!

NOTE: My series on "tea" continues tomorrow. I will be discussing The Perpetual Tea Tray.