Thursday, March 28, 2013

A World Tea Expo Anticipation Moment

It's official! I'll be at the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas this year, covering the sessions, the trade show floor, and getting some inside scoop on some of the speakers and vendors. Let me know if you'll be there - I'd love to highlight your tea or tea business or just say Hi!



World Tea Expo Heightens the tea ‘explosion’ this june

Tea’s Market Uprising Builds Through a Bevy of Exhibitors, New Products and
Expert-led Sessions at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nev., June 7- 9

LAS VEGAS, Nev.  WorldTea Expo is setting the pace for the tea “explosion” that’s building in the marketplace, especially in North America. The upcoming Expo, June 7-9 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nev., is the most prominent annual event for the tea industry. It gathers thousands of professionals for a packed three-day platform of new tea products, educational sessions, workshops and business-growing activities. Conference details are available at www.WorldTeaExpo.com.

            "Tea is on fire with consumers and World Tea Expo is ‘the big bang’ that keeps fueling businesses, helping them profit and grow from tea,” says George Jage, founder and director of World Tea Media, organizer of World Tea Expo and the co-located Healthy Beverage Expo. “We’re seeing more and more successful products on the shelf and online; the industry further focusing on quality; additional retail establishments springing up; and consumers learning about tea, enjoying its health benefits and appreciating its variations, complexities and cultural distinctions.”

Kim Jage, marketing and sales director, World Tea Media, notes, “Tea is more than 5,000 years old but it’s still new for many, evolving and winning-over new customers in the market. The industry is creating fresh trends, reaching multi-generational audiences and experimenting with infusions, blends and tea types. World Tea Expo showcases these innovations and ‘what’s next’ in tea, teaching the industry how to capitalize on all the unique opportunities – through in-depth training sessions, industry experts and a dynamic exhibit floor that gathers the global industry. Together, we’re contributing to tea’s rise.”

Overall, World Tea Expo covers every facet of the tea ‘explosion,’ while attracting top businesses from more than 50 countries for a product-filled exhibit hall, insightful learning sessions and plentiful networking opportunities. Delegates gain extensive product knowledge, connect with peers, visit more than 200 exposition booths and experience 200+ tea product unveilings.

Highlights of the annual World Tea Expo include: the 2013 World Tea Expo Best New Product Awards; the 2013 Tea Infusion Challenge; the North American Tea Championship Winners Tasting Circle; the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony; the New Business Boot Camp; a World Origin Tasting Tour; Core Conference Seminars; Executive & Technical Content; as well as Focused Tastings and hands-on Skill Building Workshops.

As the most comprehensive educational event in tea, World Tea Expo features more than 30 conference sessions, including hands-on skill building workshops, focused tastings and technical education. The entire curriculum covers the latest industry developments, answers current business challenges, and provides real "take-away" solutions for professionals.

Organizers expect more than 4,000 established tea room owners, coffeehouse proprietors, retailers, grocers, manufacturers and distributors, foodservice and beverage professionals, restaurateurs, allied partners, spa managers, hoteliers and innkeepers.
Visit www.WorldTeaExpo.com to register and to learn more.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Devotea Guest Blog: A Tea Blend Moment

I've been a big fan of my guest blogger for a number of years now. And Edie has become a fan of his due to his brilliant tea blend, "Persian Princess." I enjoy his wit, his humor, and his generosity of spirit when it comes to encouraging, suggesting, maybe even admonishing (in fun) many in this circle of tea lovers. When he mentioned he may an idea for a "Tea Moment" I could not have been more thrilled. And so, it is with great pleasure that I introduce Robert Godden, a.k.a. The Devotea as my very special guest blogger today:


TEA DEALER
The great thing about being a tea blender is that other people will share with us their moments; the ones that contain our tea.

But each of us also has our own tea moments.
Our tea company, The Devotea, has 21 blends, and you’ve probably never heard of them. Apart from our Special Earl Grey, they all have names that reflect what we want from the tea or how we see it. And names like Lord Petersham, Finbarr’s Revenge and Two Tigers don’t tend to pop up elsewhere.

When a new tea comes on line, it starts as a thought. And those thoughts come flying at us many times a week – only a small number make it through.
Sometimes we get a request. Sometimes we need something to suit an event. Sometimes people who visit our tasting benches and market stalls give us gratuitous advice at great length. Sometimes my wife and business partner Anne will make a highly strategic suggestion as in “We need a white tea with cranberry in it, because people will love it” or “Why not blend these two things that are great for digestion with a gentle green tea for people with dodgy digestive systems”. Both of those suggestions led directly to popular teas.

And sometimes the two of us just evolve an idea.
Sometimes it will start with a fascination: we read a lot of history and have an interest in architecture, so one day just decided to create a tea that was reflective of the Art Deco period (circa 1930), thus Seaside Rendezvous was born. After a fair bit of research, of course.

One of our teas is special to me because it just popped into my head, fully formed. I just knew that if I blended certain teas and herbs and spices, in certain proportions, it would work.
I was in the shower when it did so. Racing out barely dried, I feverishly mixed the first ever batch of Kali Chai; a masala chai for people who don’t take milk.


It has never varied from that moment. It’s like it was implanted, fully formed, in my skull by tea- loving aliens.

It’s not our biggest seller, it’s only available from our Australian store and it’s dwarfed in terms of sales by its parner-in-chai Aussie Ginger Chai.

And yet, it’s special because I can remember the exact moment it sprung into being.

The Devotea is an Australian tea blender, video maker and writer, whose upcoming first visit to the USA is making many people quite nervous. His new book "The Infusiast: Diatribes by The Devotea " will be launched in Las Vegas on June 6th 2013. He is sometimes referred to as Robert Godden by people who don't know any better.

Follow him on Twitter: @The_Devotea

Friday, March 22, 2013

Day 9: A Tea Meditation Moment

This morning's cup of tea.


Vietnam Vanilla from California Tea and Coffee Brewery. It's their first tea from Vietnam, and while I'm usually not a fan of vanilla-infused teas, this one is uniquely balanced and subtle. Simple, surprising, but true to its name.

This "Tea Novena" began in response to the announcement of the new pope, Pope Francis. The enormity of the job that had been bestowed on him and his humble, yet clear, response to it got me thinking. And so I decided to make a journey alongside his first days in this role and reflect on how each of us impacts the world in our own, perhaps small, but meaningful ways.

His choice of name. Francis. The more you learn about St. Francis of Assisi, whose name this new pope has taken, the more you can understand his heart and purpose.

St. Francis came from a wealthy family and lived it up, as young, rich men do. He went to war, and in experiencing the other side of life's realities, his heart and priorities changed. He chose a life of poverty and humility, and people were drawn to who he was and what he was doing. There is a story of his visiting a church, and while he was praying inside, he heard God very clearly asking him to rebuild his church, which was falling into ruin. He took the order seriously and worked within the community to rebuild that church. As more men were drawn to the work he was doing and the life he was living, Francis decided to go to Rome and request permission to found an official monastic order.

As he journeyed to Rome, Pope Innocent III was having his own spiritual journey. He had a dream one night of the Basilica in Rome leaning dangerously, on the verge of total collapse. And there was a man just below it, wearing a very simple robe, and this man was holding the Basilica up, supporting it, not allowing it to topple.

When St. Francis arrived to ask for an audience with the pope, Pope Innocent III saw him and recognized him as the man in the dream. He granted the request of the monastic order, and the Franciscan order was founded. When God had asked Francis to rebuild his church, He was referring to the Church. Capital "C." The pope recognized this. And what an impact St. Francis had and continues to have.

Pope Francis has embraced that approach wholeheartedly, and we saw from the first words he spoke with his focus on his primary jurisdiction as the bishop of the city of Rome. He seems to feel that rebuilding today's Church begins with rebuilding the faith of the people of Rome, which explains his decision to go to a local juvenile detention center on Holy Thursday and celebrate the Mass of the Last Supper and wash the feet of 12 of the youth there.

As I end my 9-day meditation, I want to continue to hold the understanding that what we do, what we say, what we give to those right in front of us holds great importance and tremendous weight. In those personal interactions, we have the power to build up or the power to destroy. We have the opportunity to share our gifts with those who ask them of us, or to say no and leave the world a little less whole.

Today I intend to find the "Yes" in my personal interactions, with the hope of making a difference to those who are right in front of me.

Teas Etc - Tea Travel Mug, Tea Never Traveled So Well

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Day 8: A Tea Meditation Moment

The beginning of the day. The first cup of tea.


This morning I'm steeping Best International Tea. It's the quintessential black blend, good for mornings, afternoons, or in my case - all day longs. There are teas that are conducive to a quick steep. 30 seconds, 40 seconds. Gaiwan is all about the shorter steeps (though I won't even pretend to know anything about Gaiwan, so we'll move along). But most of the teas we're all familiar with require some measure of time. There's the time to boil the water. There's the steeping time. If you're like me, and you like your morning cup o' tea to be able to stand up and kick you in the teeth, you've got to give it time. You've got to have patience.

Patience is in short supply, in my experience. Both globally and locally. And by locally, I mean personally. I've known other mothers whose friends comment, "Becoming a mother suits her. It has mellowed her." Motherhood has had the exact opposite effect on me. I'm more frantic, I have a shorter fuse. Patience, I have not - but I want it. I understand the need for it. I understand the value of it.

I remember as a child, not understanding why God didn't seem to answer all my prayers. It would seem so simple to me. "Just give me the puppy," I'd pray. "What is the big deal?" And then some grown-up, I don't remember if it was my Mom or Grandma or a Sunday school teacher, told me that God does indeed answer every prayer, but sometimes the answer is no. I was not amused. But even later, I came to understand that, often, the answer to the prayer is, "Wait." In other words, have patience.

We see it in our children, and so why can't we see it in ourselves - sometimes they think they know what is best for them, but if we let them have what they want it would have dire consequences. Or at least really annoying ones. And even more often, we see that if we gave into the child's want, they would not be able to enjoy something even better just a little further down the road. And so we teach patience. "Wait."

I have had many experiences where I can look back and think, "I'm so glad this didn't happen when I was begging for it at 19, 22, 25, 27..." Or having a fuller sense of gratitude when my prayer was finally answered in a way more beautifully and more perfectly than I could have imagined. It's a lesson I've learned over and over, and yet, it's like algebra with me. It will stay in my head for about a week - just long enough to pass the current quiz at hand - and then... gone.

Today, I intend to accept the answer of, "Wait," with grace, remembering that there may be something better or more important in store just around the corner.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Day 7: Tea Meditation Moment

The first cup of the day.


Ceylon Pettiagalla, from Whittard of Chelsea is one of my favorites, along with their Assam Hazelbank. These are single estate teas that come from individual tea gardens. How lovely, to have a single focus, to do one thing so simply and so beautifully.

I was in a business meeting yesterday interviewing some of the top performers in my industry, and as we were talking about their best practices, a surprising topic came up: talent assessment versus needs assessment. This manager focused on talent assessment and creating opportunity according to talents available rather than needs. She already knew the needs - there was nothing new about those. By matching the talent to the need, the result was higher engagement, higher productivity, and happier employees and customers.

We are not unique in our needs, as humans. Each of us needs food, shelter, clothing. Sometimes we need support for physical, emotional or spiritual challenges. Each business has the same general categories of needs or problems. What differentiates us are our gifts, our talents. Each of us brings an important piece of the puzzle to the world, and when we aren't there, or we don't say "Yes" when our gift or talent is needed, then the world is a little less whole.

People like to feel needed, they like to feel productive, and I love that this manager found a way to give her people the opportunity to to what they do best so they have the opportunity to shine and enjoy it in the process!

Today, I intend to discover a gift or talent in the people I encounter and see if there is an opportunity to let them shine. We already know the needs that exist. Is the gift or talent to meet an existing need standing right in front of me?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Day 6: A Tea Meditation Moment

The first sip of tea.


This morning, I choose A Li Shan Oolong from Naivetea. It's a high altitude oolong from Taiwan, and it's a tea that you can and "should" infuse multiple times. The same basket of leaves can keep me company throughout an entire morning. With each infusion, the flavors change and develop. It's the equivalent of a musical theme and variation - the foundation of the tea remains the same, but there are subtle elements of change.

Life is change. Some changes are wanted and needed, some are completely unexpected or unwelcome. Either way, it can feel daunting to be facing a change of any kind. I feel like as time has gone by, I've become more rigid in how I approach changes. I used to be (and people would actually comment on it) very go-with-the-flow. I used to say, "I never have any expectations of what this will be like. That way, it's always a pleasant surprise!" And it was!

Now I plan, I create structure, I develop processes. There are contingencies for every contingency. I don't know how it happened. (It seems to have coincided with having kids, and I developed a fear of everything going wrong and not having what I might need to keep my baby alive - dramatic, I know.) So now, even a small change rattles my cage more than I would like to admit. Deviate from the plan? Change course? Are you mad, sir?

I go back to my basic training of discernment, and learning about the gifts we have been given to, in turn, give to those around us. In order to understand our gifts, we have to be willing to use them. Be willing to say, "Yes" to the request for them. Often, that boils down to doing the next obvious thing.

And so it is with all change. We see it in front of us, we know it's going to happen, so rather than sit in fear and dread, do the next obvious thing. And when you've survived that moment, do the next obvious thing after that. Sometimes, the worst thing about change is that very first acknowledgement of it, and the first action that begins to make it a reality.

Today, I intend to stop procrastinating against the changes that I encounter, and instead take ownership of them by doing the first obvious thing. I will do this with eyes wide open to see who or what is brought into my life as a result, and remove the focus from how I feel about it all, to how I can make a difference for that "who" or "what."

Monday, March 18, 2013

Day 5: A Tea Meditation Moment


A cup of tea on this typically frenetic Monday morning.

I was in such need of this cup of tea, I couldn't even wait to take the photo.
The Rooster, even cracked, he laughs at me
Someone has a "case of the Mondays," and it's me. And so, I reach for my old standby - Kaiser from Mariages Freres. It's kind of funny that the one black tea blend that I often find the most comfort in is one I can't easily find myself. I have to rely on my good friends who visit family in France annually to smuggle the goods back to me, or my dear A.H. in Germany, who has been known to send me a surprise ounce when I've been particularly out of sorts.

There's that saying, "Man plans, God laughs." While I tend to focus more on the absurdity of my need to plan things to the nth degree and invariably get derailed with one or several monkey wrenches, the part I am wanting to focus on is the second part: God laughs. It's easy to get huffy that God would laugh at us, but what I need to learn is that God is not laughing at us. He's laughing because he has a sense of humor at it all. Something I am well aware I do not have enough of.

When my husband talk about his mom (who has 10 children), he often mentions how nothing rattles her, how she just laughs at everything. And it's true. She cares very deeply about each of her children and their families, and her regular letters and phone calls are testament to that, but she has learned to keep absolutely everything in perspective and see the humor in it all.

I, however, do not. As demonstrated over the weekend when Edward the dog escaped through the front door as my arms were occupied with the baby. He shot out joyfully - free at last! free at last! - as I tried to decide how to contain baby and 4-yr-old. Husband has stitches, so he couldn't run after the dog. It was all on me. At one point, I took a dive for his collar, and wiped out on the grass, and have the grass-stained knee to prove it. Instead of laughing at the ridiculousness of the entire situation (as my entire family looked on), I fumed throughout most of the morning, as we had our "family time." Does this mom know how to create a fun family weekend or what? Any attempt on my family's part to laugh at mom's superhero dive was met with icy silence.

Sigh.

We were created for happiness. One needs only to look at a platypus or proboscis monkey to realize our Creator has a very good sense of humor. Our bodies are predispositioned for happiness, as we need only force ourselves to put a smile on our face and our chemistry changes toward the positive.

Billy Graham, said, "A keen sense of humor helps us to overlook the unbecoming, understand the unconventional, tolerate the unpleasant, overcome the unexpected, and outlast the unbearable.

I shake my head at my own hypocrisy, as I chide my 4-year-old for getting upset over little things. I encourage her to laugh about it, to see how funny it is. And yet the examples she sees...

I like the story that came out about Pope Francis as he completed his first meal with the cardinals who chose him, he toasted the group by saying, "May God forgive you for what you've done."

Today, I intend to look for the humor in the humiliating or unexpected, and allow myself the luxury of not taking myself (or others) too seriously.

Here's an example for me on keeping light what could be so terribly formal and serious.



Sunday, March 17, 2013

Day 4: A Tea Meditation Moment

This morning's cup of tea.

Teasource Dark Green Needle
I've enjoyed the teas offered by Teasource for many years, and when I found myself in the Twin Cities for a conference, I took the opportunity to visit their retail store and was even bold enough to reach out to Bill Waddington, the owner, to see if I might catch him in-person. I was absolutely blown away when he not only welcomed the "hello," but carved out an hour to sit and talk tea, tell me about his journey in the business, show me part of his warehouse, and even have me taste some of his current favorites. Yes, he is a businessman whose chosen vocation is to discover and sell tea, but there's more to it. People ask him for what he has to give: knowledge, wisdom, tea, and he gives in abundance.

We each have a vocation, whether we believe we choose it or not. I've discovered, however, that most people aren't aware of it.  We each have gifts to give the world, and if we pay close enough attention, we find that people will ask us for what we have to give. Our choice is to give that gift or squelch it. It's a matter of saying yes or saying no.

Are you the one people call when they need a shoulder to cry on? Are you the one people turn to at work when they don't understand something and need it explained? Are you the one that can always identify a solution to the problem at hand? Do people turn to you when something needs to be organized?

The interesting thing is that often, if we look at the patterns in our lives, we see that the same type of thing is asked of us again and again. And even more interesting is that usually what is being asked of us is something we find great joy in. Contrary to the notion of, "No pain, no gain,"  we are intended for happiness.

John Henry Newman best described it this way, "God has determined, unless I interfere with His plan, that I should reach that which will be my greatest happiness. He looks on me individually, He calls me by my name, He knows what I can do, what I can best be, what is my greatest happiness, and He means to give it me."

Today I intend to listen more intently to what it is people are asking of me. What is the gift I have to give to the world? How do I feel when I say yes? How do I feel when I say no? What is it that people consistently ask of you that makes you feel good upon giving?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Day 3: A Tea Meditation Moment

Recently I went on a tour of teas from Emeyu, based in London. They mailed me the most beautiful assortment of teas!

My favorite kind of delivery!

English Breakfast Tea
 
Organic Assam
 
Crisp, clean, the tiniest bit astringent in a very good way!
Eight Butterflies Green Tea
 

Puer Chai
 
Smells amazing, like a spiced lavendar field! It does not have the gravitas I associate with puer, but it somehow balances the intensity that I associate with chai. I did not expect to enjoy this, but it was actually my favorite of the lot!
 
 
 
 

Emeyu aims to provide a total tea experience with their teas by not only providing the tea, but unique packaging, information, training, and more so that there is a real "moment" created for the one being served.

There are those in this world who do an amazing job of creating beauty. Whether through drawing, painting, scupture, crafting, scrapbooking, quilting, knitting, gardening... need I go on? The ability is undeniable, when we see it. And the lack of ability (in my case) is as equally clear.

While there have been times and groups throughout history who have argued against decoration or artistic endeavors as being wasteful, I believe we were created with an innate appreciation of and need for beauty.  What is the first thing we do when we move into a new space? No matter big or small, we typically set out to make it "homey." For some, that is hanging pictures or art on the wall. For others, it is adding touches with decorative pillows, window coverings, plant or flower arrangements. Even in college dorms, young men may create a certain aspect of their idea of beauty with a "beeramid."

Walk into a retail store or restaurant, and there is a tangible difference in the experience if the venue is created with care and infused with the owner's sense of beauty. We may feel more relaxed, more important, more comfortable, more confident in some environments, less so in others. The impact of beauty, or lack of beauty, is real. It makes a difference.

I'm not gifted or even skilled at making things or places beautiful. However, I feel it's important to try. By making my business presentation as pleasing to the eye as possible may make the reader, the client feel more comfortable and maybe even more confident in the service I'm providing.  By setting the table with pretty dishes or using colorful cloth napkins may make my family feel more important because a place has been made as pretty as possible just for them. Returning a borrowed item, wrapped carefully in a package, or returning it with a nice presentation of cookies or flowers may make that person feel more respected for providing the loaned item.

Today my intention is to make interactions as beautiful as possible in order to signify the importance of the person with whom I am interacting.  How do you make moments beautiful in the mundane transactions in life?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Day 2: A Tea Meditation Moment

Let's start with a cup of tea.


A green tea from PT Harendong, an Japanese artisan tea farm that was introduced to me by Kyoto Obubu Tea. I've been a long time fan of Obubu Tea, who is now a part of a collective of Japanese products under the newly formed Yunomi.us.   In order to give the world access to Japanese artisan tea farms, family-owned tea businesses, teaware artists and small manufactureres, and in turn provide a gateway to the world for these Japanese small businesses, Yunomi.us connects the dots and provides a online marketplace.  What a difference this exposure can make to so many individuals and families, especially many of whom who are in the Tohoku region of Japan that was so devastated by the 2011 earthquake and Tsunami.

I love that some individuals got together, saw an opportunity to share their expertise in promotion, manufacturing, exporting, online retail, etc. and applied it to the betterment of their local communities, to their own jurisdiction.

What is that bumper sticker?

William James, renowned psychologist, said, "Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does."

I think as a society, we've lost this notion. With the rising popularity of all things social media, we have learned to say or post whatever we want, whenever we want. The consequences, intended or otherwise, don't seem to come into play. The Golden Rule sometimes seems like an antiquated notion. "Do unto others as you would have done unto you."

The reality is, however, that what we do and say (or post, or tweet) absolutely has an impact on others.  Intentionally or unintentionally, what we do does make a difference to someone.

I see this so vividly in moments when my 4-year-old sees someone she knows from a distance and she yells a greeting and the person doesn't acknowledge her greeting. I try to explain that the person hadn't heard her, but she is crushed at the perceived rejection. I also see this in business communications that are written IN ALL CAPS. "Why are you yelling at me?" I think to myself, as we all do when we receive such communications. These are unintentional slights, but the sting is as potent as if intentional.

Today I intend to think before I act to try and examine if what I'm about to do or say will hurt or diminish someone. How many times will we catch ourselves? How many bumps and bruises will be avoided? I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Day 1: A Tea Meditation Moment

Yesterday was full of noteworthy moments. My brother celebrated his birthday. My daughter celebrated her First birthday. And the Catholic Church welcomed its new pope, Francis.  When Pope Benedict XVI announced he would be stepping down, it was my brother (a non-Catholic) who texted me the news.

"What do you get a Pope as a retirement gift?" he texted.

"Excellent question," I texted back.  "A new hat?"

Pope Francis brings with him a life of humility and engagement. The bits and pieces I've been learning about him are inspiring. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, he chose to live in a small, modest apartment rather than the ornate home provided to him in Argentina. He took public transportation, both an economical choice as well as an opportunity to get to know the people within his jurisdiction, the people for whom he was responsible. From his first remarks to the crowd gathered in St. Peter's Square yesterday, it is clear that he intends to take that same humility and engagement into this new responsibility.

Which got me to thinking about our responsibility to our fellow man, whether family, friend, neighbor or stranger. I started thinking about our personal jurisdiction and what that can mean.

Which got me to thinking that as Pope Francis begins his first days as the head of the Roman Catholic Church, I'd like to purposefully journey those first nine days with an intention of meditating on what my role is in the world and how I might make this world the littlest bit better. I invite you to join me, regardless of your religious or spiritual bent. Let's see what comes out of it.

But first, a cup of tea to get the thoughts in order.


Maharajah. One of the first teas introduced to me by American Tea Room. Dark, rich, smooth, malty with subtle undertones of spice, I instantly fell in love.  And (quite honestly) I was just as in love with the name as with the tea. I remember the first time I had ever even heard or read the word, "Maharajah." It was my discovery of my now-favorite children's book, The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodges Burnett.  Frances. Hmm.

Anyway, discovering England through Mary's India-colored lenses was magical for me, especially the anecdotes she shared with her new English friends about the Indian royalty she had observed. India, in my imagination, has always been a rich, mysterious place full of color, heady scents, celebration and tradition. It is the country of Mahatma Ghandi, who said, "Be the change that you wish to see in the world."

Which brings me back to the idea of jurisdiction. I was first introduced to the concept of "my jurisdiction," by Sherry Weddell and Father Michael Sweeney, co-founders of the Catherine of Siena Institute. We, as people in the world, have a jurisdiction that "follows us around." Whomever we encounter is our opportunity to either make the world a little better (or a little worse.)

I've been trying to find the exact quote and who it should be attributed to, but I've been unsuccessful. It is something along the lines of: we don't have to change the world, but we might be able to change the world for one person. (If you know who said this, or what the actual quote is, please let me know!)

That's been the biggest struggle in my life. I've always had delusions of grandeur - that I would somehow do something big and powerful and meaningful - that it was my destiny! And year after year, I was disappointed, that somehow I had failed my destiny. And as trite as it may sound, those delusions have slowly crumbled largely because of my two girls. As a parent, I AM their world. I shape it, I give them the tools to deal with it. I have the power to make their world a good one or a horrendous one. And I desperately want it to be a good one. I make a lot of mistakes. I lose my patience WAY more easily than I should. But each day I have the opportunity to try again. And not only with my children. With each encounter with anyone, I have the opportunity to make their world - or a minute of their world - a little better, a little more pleasant. What I do with that opportunity is a choice I must make each and every time.

Mother Teresa, who adopted India, and in particular its poorest of the poor, as her personal jurisdiction said, "God has created us so we do small things with great love. I believe in that great love, that comes, or should come from our heart, should start at home: with my family, my neighbors across the street, those right next door. And this love should then reach everyone."

Today I intend to use each encounter as an opportunity to make the moment for that person a little better, a little more pleasant. As you take ownership of this intention, I'd love to hear your experience of it.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Sweetest Cupcake Moment

There may not have been tea involved, but I have been enjoying the sweetest cupcake of my life today. Happy first birthday to my sweet baby!

Big sister, Edie, picked the birthday cake!

She and her sister are both miraculous gifts to Gene and me.


I look forward to many special tea moments to come.

Happy birthday, Anne Marie!

Friday, March 8, 2013

An Irish Afternoon Tea Moment

March turns our thoughts to all things green, and ... Irish! While St. Patrick's Day is typically surrounded by beer, corned beef and cabbage, I think it's time to start a new tradition and have an Irish Afternoon Tea - good for March 17th, or any day you need some good ol' luck o' the Irish!

Use this as an excuse to get the women in your family together, or maybe it's been too long since you and the gal pals have caught up. Or if there are  some gents in your life who prefer Irish teas to tipple, round them up and sit them down. Whomever you invite, this menu is sure to please!

An Irish Afternoon Tea
Menu
Irish Herb Scones
Corned Beef Tea Sandwiches
Irish Cheddar and Chutney Sandwiches
Refreshing Cucumber Sandwiches
Shamrock Sugar Cookies
Chocolate Mints
Suggested Tea
Irish Breakfast Blend by California Tea and Coffee Brewery (hand blended by the masterful Diane)
Irish Herb Scones
1/2 pound potatoes
4 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 teaspoon savory
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon powdered sage
Oil for frying

Boil the potatoes, then pass through a food mill. Mix the flour, salt, oil and herbs with the potatoes. On a floured board, roll this dough to a thickness of about 1/4-inch. Cut the dough into triangles 3 or 4 inches wide. Fry in very hot oil on both sides until light golden.
As found on http://oldfashionedliving.com/irishtea.html

Corned Beef Tea Sandwich
1/2 pound thinly sliced corned beef
3 Tbsp. spicy brown mustard
1 tsp. mayonnaise
8 sourdough or rye bread slices

Preparation
1. Combine mustard and mayonnaise
2. Spread mixture on one side of each bread slice
3. Arrange desired amount of corned beef slices on 4 slices of bread
4. Assemble sandwiches
5. Cut crusts from bread, using serrated bread knife, discarding crusts.
6. Cut sandwiches diagonally into quarters. Store cucumber sandwiches in an airtight container for up to 1 hour before serving.

Irish Cheddar and Chutney Sandwich
1 small package Irish Cheddar, sliced thinly
1 small jar of prepared chutney (sweet or spicy depending on your preference)
8 wheat bread slices

Preparation
1. Spread chutney on one side of each bread slice
2. Arrange cheese slices on 4 slices of bread
3. Assemble sandwiches
4. Cut crusts from bread, using serrated bread knife, discarding crusts.
5. Cut sandwiches diagonally into quarters. Store cucumber sandwiches in an airtight container for up to 1 hour before serving.


Refreshing Cucumber Sandwich
1 – (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 medium cucumber, peeled, and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
8 white sandwich bread slices
Preparation
1. Spread cream cheese on each slice of bread
2. Layer cucumber slices evenly on 4 slices of bread
3. Sprinkle dill lightly on remaining 4 slices of bread
4. Assemble sandwiches
5. Cut crusts from bread, using serrated bread knife, discarding crusts.
6. Cut sandwiches diagonally into quarters. Store cucumber sandwiches in an airtight container for up to 1 hour before serving.
Shamrock Sugar Cookies
2 cups all purpose flour
Salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Green sugar/sprinkles

Preparation
Preheat oven to 325 F. In medium bowl combine flour and dash of salt. In large mixing bowl cream butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed. Add egg and vanilla and beat until well mixed. Scrape sides of bowl and add flour mixture. Blend on low speed until combined.
Gather dough into ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Roll out dough onto floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. Use shamrock or leaf shaped cookie cutters to cut out shapes and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Decorate with sugar/sprinkles.
Bake for 13-15 minutes.
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