National Hot Chocolate Day

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This was the lovely set-up my daughter did for her Secret Santa sleepover. This was the Hot Chocolate buffet: a variety of hot chocolate, peppermint candy canes, a wide range of marshmallows, and festive reindeer napkins. (c)2019

Hot Chocolate Gift Sets I put together for my kids. Penzeys Hot Chocolate Mix and a jar of mini marshmallows. Simple, cute, inexpensive, thoughtful, and delicious. (c)2019

National Tea Month – PG Tips

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​PG Tips was started in 1869 (this year is its bicentennial) by Arthur Brooke in Manchester, England. It was named for its pre-digestion properties as a digestive aid until after World War II when regulators ruled that tea did not help in digestion. The tips in the name referred to the part of the tea leaf used.

Tea in stringed bags were launched in 1985 and the current triangle/pyramid shaped bag (no strings attached) were offered in 1996.

Knowing the importance of adverts, Brooke’s slogan was released early in the history of PG Tips: 

“Good tea unites good company, exhilarates the spirits, banishes restraint from conversation and promotes the happiest purposes of social intercourse.”

Today was the first time I’ve read that slogan, and it very nicely sums up the experience of tea and sharing a cuppa.

While I was in Wales, I drank tea every morning, sometimes several times during the day. At home, I normally prepare my tea in a mug, but what I discovered in Britain was that it was so much better steeped in a pot and then poured into a warm cup. Glorious. Decadent even. I was fortunate to find a wonderful tea cottage in Llanrwst. It was set on the other side of the bridge alongside the Conwy River. It was beautiful, homey, and very tea cottage-y. I ordered white tea with scones and jam.

Tu Hwnt i’r Bont, Llanrwst. (c)2009-2019

I re-created that wonderful repast this week for my breakfast, using my last bag of PG Tips. Drinking it I realized how perfect it tasted and I’ll be going out to get some more!

Scones: Blueberry (Starbucks), Strawberry Yogurt (Starbucks), Cranberry Orange (Archer Farms) with butter, jam, marscapone, and the perfect color of PG Tips tea I have ever seen or tasted! (c)2019

I’d like to share an anecdote from when I was visiting a friend of mine. He is originally from Wales (which is relevant), but now lives in the US. I was visiting him and his roommates. He and his wife had gone to sleep, and a few of us stayed up for tea. Friend #2 set the water to boil in the kettle on the stove. We were talking and when the kettle began to whistle we ignored it, finishing up the thoughts we were making. Out of the bedroom comes British friend, says nothing to us, turns off the kettle, pours the boiling water into the waiting cups and goes back to bed. The rest of us watch this with mouths open. He did not remember doing this in the morning. The tea is strong in the British.

Every morning, he made me a cup of PG Tips with milk and sugar and I’d discover it on my bedside table. It is still one of my warmest memories.

Tea Time Tuesday – Tea Kettles

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I love my tea kettle!

My husband has been asking for an electric tea kettle for forever, and I just did not see the point of it. Even when our whisling kettle stopped working (we’ve gone through two or three of them), we could boil the water in a regular saucepan, but I have been convinced. We use it every day, sometimes several times throughout the day.

Please read or re-read my original post here: Tea Kettles

Our Hamilton Beach Tea Kettle. (c)2018-2019

Mental Health Monday – Profile – Wil Wheaton

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​Wil Wheaton is an actor, best known for his roles in Stand by Me and Star Trek: The Next Generation. His motto is: Don’t be a dick, and he tries to live his life with that philosophy at the forefront. It is a simple philosophy; one I equate to the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

He and his wife live in California with their two dogs, Marlowe and Seamus, and a cat, Watson. They are both (all) very committed to animals and their welfare, and lend a lot of support, both in time and financial charity to the Pasadena Humane Society and SCPA.

He homebrews and is a huge fan of the LA Kings, through good times and bad.

Wil Wheaton is a writer and has been influential to me in seeing alternative avenues of publishing, the importance of using social media to your advantage, and inspirational to keep going forward and to never stop writing.

He also has chronic depression and generalized anxiety, something that I can understand, having similar, if not the same diagnoses. I can only imagine how much harder it is when you’re a celebrity and all eyes are on you when you’re out in public. He is one of the voices speaking out against the stigma of mental illness and supports NAMI among other groups who help.

Visit his official website: Wil Wheaton

From Slate

In Wil’s Words

Wil and his lovely wife, Anne at a LA Kings game. Copyright belongs to Anne Wheaton. (c)2019

Tea Time Thursday – Salisbury Tea

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​What stands out most vividly in our brief visit to Salisbury was the wacky tea shoppe that Kathy and I wandered into. There were so many things on the wall, it was hard to miss the tiny flowery wallpaper. There were small round table with two or three chairs. I think they were metal, like patio furniture rather than wood, and they were all white. I feel as though a doily factory exploded in this shoppe. People were there, chatting quietly, sipping tea, adding milk, dabbing creme onto scones, the click of the spoon hitting the tea cup unmistakable and nearly constant.

At the back of the shop was a counter where you got your order and behind the counter were three old women. Ancient would be more apt. They were all quite deaf or extraordinarily hard of hearing. Although they didn’t have one, it would not have surprised me one whit if they had one of those ear trumpets that you would put into your ear and had someone scream into.

They were shouting orders back and forth and repeating as necessary because of the hearing. It was very much like the Where’s the Beef commercials.

As Americans, we were already loud, but not quite loud enough for this place.

I’d like a tea with milk please.

What?

Tea. With milk, said a little louder.

What?

One more time.

She turned to the lady behind her, in the more kitcheny area and repeated my order.

What? came the reply from the back.

The first woman repeated it.

What?

A third woman back there repeated it even louder and was met with a silent nod as tea kettles were poured and prepared and given to us on a tray. We must have paid but I don’t actually remember paying. I also don’t recall if we got anything to eat with our tea.

We sat and sipped and listened in astonishment as our conversation was repeated with the customers who came after us. We grinned occasionally at the absurdity of it all.

It was so perfectly, stereotypically British that I would not have been surprised had Mrs. Slocum come out of the back complaining about her day.

I don’t remember what was upstairs – there was a little shop, but I do remember going up the narrow stairs and then coming back down relatively quickly. We slid past other customers coming in, back onto the narrow cobbled walkway, under the stone arch that had been there since before America was a nascent thought and back to the hostel; or more likely to the hostel for the first time after our very British sustenance. Tea cures all ills, and with its special powers we were able to walk the rest of the way to the hostel where we would stay the night and then continue west by train through the lush green countryside bordered by grey sky.

January in England. We made our own sunshine.

Mental Health Monday – I AM THE CHANGE

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Chester Bennington was the lead singer for Linkin Park. After his suicide in 2018, his wife and sister made this video for Now This while at the same time coordinating an awareness campaign: 320 Changes in Direction. The video can be seen in full here.

5 Signa to Look For:

1. Change in personality

2. Agitation

3. Withdrawal

4. Hopelessness

5. Decline in personal care

I AM THE CHANGE

We are all the change. Go to their page at 320 Changes in Direction and see what other resources are available for you or family/friends.

If you are feelling suicidal, please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at

 1-800-273-8255

This Week (And Last)

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New year, new you, resolutions, goals, intentions, and then I started. I was getting up every morning, eating breakfast, staying at the table and writing. It was wonderful.

And then my car sounded funny.

And then I sneezed.

And then the phone call came, that my 2003 mini-van was done. It ran the good race, but it was over. We still need to go empty it out so the mechanic can get rid of it for us. 

So, now we are carless. I’m not sure how long we will be without a car. We can’t afford a payment, we can’t afford a used car with our non-savings. I briefly considered a go-fund-me, but with the government shutdown, I’m not sure how I feel about adding to the donation burden when people are going without medicine to feed their kids.

Went to make dinner last night, and our oven didn’t work. It’s been temperamental since the fall, and my husband can probably cajole it to work (hopefully tonight), but instead of a gorgeous roast chicken we had spaghetti, not that there’s anything wrong with spaghetti, we eat it often, and we love it, but I really, really wanted chicken.

Then I got sick. It’s a cold, but it’s a really bad cold. My throat just closed up a bit; I’m having trouble swallowing, so I think it’s swollen and it hurts a little. I’m drinking tea. Plus the nose running and the coughing, and the headaches.

Then, a very close acquaintance passed away. He was young, under forty with a family, and he was just a great, lovely, fun-loving, kind man who as little as I saw on Facebook and on my Gishwhes team, I will truly miss him for a long time. What a wonderful human being he was.

Sometime today, I will get back on the horse, and I will post Mental Health Monday, and the two tea posts will appear later this week. I was also writing a Martin Luther King reflection, and I still may.

I have wonderful friends who are helping out where they can, and I still feel blessed if a little depressed.

Thank you for sticking with me. As something I can “give” you in return, I will offer you a recommendation – Google John Mulaney, grab your tissues and weep with laughter.

30 Day De-Clutter Challenge

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By the time the holidays are over, we are all in need of a good de-cluttering, whether it’s our surroundings or the inside of our heads. Last year I began to attend a workshop on organizing, downsizing, and letting go of clutter. It began for me with a weekend retreat on the same thing. It was a spiritual retreat and it really focused some things for me. I’ve committed to going to at least four to six of the monthly workshops and keep the momentum going despite not doing so well at the end of the year.

The first thing on my list is my closet and getting rid of my professional/teaching clothes that I won’t be using (not that any of them fit anymore).

One rule of thumb and piece of advice – fifteen minutes is all it takes. Take fifteen minutes and do one thing. And then do another fifteen minutes. Don’t overwhelm yourself. I started by not letting  things come into the house in the first place. One example is mail. As soon as the mail is in my hands, all of the junk goes right into the garbage.

Good luck.

I’ll check in with you in fifteen days.

Click picture to link to the source (The Hearty Soul dot com). Copyright belongs to them and the author. (c)2019