But First, Fifty Teas.

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me. C.S Lewis

tea-m-1

Every year I set out to learn something new. I’ll be damned if I don’t have some personal growth every year of some sort. Besides, life is short or long depending on how you look at it; I am going to try to eeek out every experience I can before I die.

This process is really a hit or miss process.

One year I set out to learn everything I could about whiskey. I still don’t know my ass from my elbow when it comes to most whiskeys. However, I did learn quite a bit and sampled 27 different varieties till my impending motherhood put the kibosh on drinking. I would consider the whiskey drinking a bit of a miss only because of the kid but I did discover that I am indeed a 76-year-old British man deep down inside complete with tweed hat. You may call me Edmund Nigel Rickwillow III.

This is all a roundabout way to talk about my Tea challenge of 2013. Fifty teas in 365 days. No duplicates. Holy shit! How am I going to do that? With great joy and furious vigor that’s how. Annoying amounts of vigor

Typical household conversation while on the quest:

Hey, honey I heard there is a tea shop that mixes their own teas a short fifty-mile drive from here.”

“It will be fun!”

“Yes, it will. Don’t 

make that face.”

“Sweetie, please don’t hide in the bathroom. C’mon we are going on an adventure!”

71KVRzZ8OFL._SL1500_Annoying amounts of vim and vigor! Hell, even I annoyed myself. But, I love to talk exhaustively about my current mission/goal that totally isn’t obsessive. Yes, it is still cool. Please be my friend. ahem.

Here is what I discovered. I think in the same way wine is very much up to the user’s palette so too is tea. Yes, there are flavors out there; blends, mixes, regional variations that impart greater richness to the flavor profile. Again much like wine. However, if you are someone who can not tell whether the tea was picked in rainy season or sunny, that the person who picked it wore gloves and there was dew present on the tea. Who gives a shit! The most wonderful part of tea I think, I only speak for me, is that it is a hug from the inside out. It feels good in your hands, it feels good in your mouth, it relaxes the soul and gives you a hug. That is what it is all about and frankly, I think we all need more hugs. Internal and externally. I’ve attached my exhaustive list of tea I tried below. Some were very good, some tasted like satan’s asshole.

Teavana English Breakfast served cold. Only had it hot. Yummmy
Peach Tea by Stash. Serious yum. Mixed it with regular
I had a delicious English bmr-tea-1reakfast at cafe brief across from the library. Researching the brand
sweetheart valentines day tea by Bigelow. Bleh. Cannot stand red-hot candies and this is reminiscent of them complete with red food coloring…
Teavana Lime tea
white chocolate tea from Bigelow. Kills my sweet tooth craving for chocolate. But it is not really sweet.
St. Dafour organic black cherry tea
adagio peach oolong
bengal spice celestial seasons tea is delicious. I adore cinnamon tea and this is perfect non-bitter tea
Teavana – Kona Pineapple pop. YUMMY!
Teavana – wild orange blossom. Way to bitter for my tastes
Teavana – Blueberry bliss
Teavana – Citrus Lavender sage
Teavana – Opus rouge
Teavana – Strawberry rose champagne
Teavana – Maharaja Chai Oolong
stash – decaf chocolate hazelnut
Red Leaf Tea Company – Maple matcha
Peach Apricot – The Tao of Tea at the Portland Chinese Garden
Mint lime Mojito – Zhena’s Gypsy Teas. I own this tea but never had it hot. Total meh
Lemon Zinger by celestial seasons. Yummy lemon. Going to try iced.
Teavana Wonderberry chocolate truffle. This I liked a lot. But mark deemed it from Satan’s Asshole.
Tao of Tea Vanilla almond
Teavana – salt caramel tea
Teavana – Banana foster
Teavana – Peach tea
Strawberry Cream Tea Teavana – Too much hibiscus
Spiced vanilla chai blend – teachaiate
Vanilla tea from Camilla tea
Cinnamon tea from Camilla tea
lychee tea from Camilla tea
berry tea from Camilla tea
berry almond amaretto from Teavana
pineapple tea from Teavana
lime cola tea from Zoomdweebies.com
samurai chai mate from Teavana
maharaja chai mate from Teavana
dragonfruit devotion from Teavana- Yum from April
berry kiwi colada from Teavana
Peach Tea from Teavana
constant comment
house tea from Dragon tree
apricot creme from Thea.
Scottish breakfast tea
Twinnings Irish Breakfast
Tazo cinnamon spice tea
Tazo Organic Iced Green Tea
Teavana – Strawberry Sangria
Teavana – Fruit Bomba

 

My god. It has been a year.

I enjoy this. I enjoy writing. How did I get out of the habit of writing, of attempting to connect with people? Your answer is as good as mine. I want to say. “Life.” But god that sounds so trite. The fact of the matter is that I got out of the habit of doing just about anything in 2017. Anything but being a mom drone. That also sounds trite.

Normally at the start of the year, I look back on the previous year with a mixture of happiness, and hopefulness. I set out large lofty goals for myself, rarely meet them completely and learn a bunch in the process. It wasn’t that way this last year. I entered 2018 not actually able to remember if I had done anything of note the entire year. That is not to say that I hadn’t built anything, learned anything, or read anything. It just seemed all so inconsequential. It took my husband sitting down with me and recounting some of my adventures for me to recall anything, and my reaction of, “so.” For me to figure out that maybe something is wrong in the mental or happiness department.

First and foremost this year we bought a house. That is fucking huge. I am trying to curb my cursing a bit, but I can think of no other word that describes the immensity of purchasing a house. It is very very large undertaking. First paperwork. All the paper that has every been printed out since the Guttenberg Bible needs to be signed, notarized, viewed, corrected, then re-signed. Then then the moving in process, which I jokingly said that I was done and was going to set everything on fire. I didn’t, obviously. But I learned a lesson that I have way to much crap. More on that later. Our house is an odd shape. It is a great house, but very long. Kinda like a giant hallway with bedrooms attached. Trying to figure out how to decorate and move our family in has been a challenge. Plus, I am a designer. I hate saying that. It makes me feel all uncomfortable inside and awkward. But, I am a trained in architecture and worked in the field for ten years. If something is off design wise it makes me physically uncomfortable. So couple that with new house and I have set myself off to have about 8k pins on Pinterest of things I want to do.

I have overwhelmed the crap out of myself.

I also have a three-year old. Which means I cannot get anything completed ever.

Couple my inability to get anything done, my wish for all the pretty things, and my penchant for anxiety and depression.. well you get the idea. I have pretty much fried my brain.

So here I am a year later, older and maybe a touch wiser. I have started a soul clean out of sorts. I am not connecting this to the new year or anything else. There needs to be a change and no calendar is going to tell me that it is too late or early to get it done. I think that simplification is in order. I have started purging and reevaluation of things that actually don’t hold value to me. Do I want to look at it, touch it. If the house was on fire, would I grab it? This has nothing to do with pets or family. Just the tactile belongings one surrounds themselves with. Is it beautiful? Is it useful? Does it add value to my life? Not much does when you boil things down to the bare minimum of things. So far I have concluded a few things. I don’t want to buy clothing that doesn’t want to make me spin around in a mirror. I have too much clothing to start with, and I end up wearing nothing but yoga pants and t-shirts. Neither of which make me feel great. But that is another adventure for another day. I have too much hair care, and facial products. Our bathroom is small and has very little storage. Time to pare down.

I need to figure out what real things and pursuits mean the most to me, and go after them. I think I have spun my wheels to long. Here is what I have so far:

  1. Things that I love:
    1. My antique kimono
    2. My necklace from my sister April.
    3. My books (maybe not all. But certainly my Dr. Seuss and pop up book collection)
  2. Things that bring me immense joy
    1. Gardening
    2. Art (both doing and looking at)
    3. Reading books

I’m going to start from there. See where I go. I already deleted about 8k pins in one fail swoop of cathartic soul cleaning.

“More hot pies! More hot pies! – Part 1”

Is that a pie fit for a king? Such wondrous Sweet and most particular thing?

Sweeney Todd – God that’s Good

 

A few years ago I set a goal for myself that I was going to learn to cook pies.. ahem bake pies. You see my problem here. I set a goal of 50 pie recipes for myself to bake that year and set to work. I was a frigging fool.

“Making pie is hard ,” she whines.

Seriously, I am physically incapable of doing anything small, makes me ill. Must go big or GTFO. So fifty. le sigh. I made 25 that year. I learned a lot, and can make killer apple/almond pie and a coconut pie that would make you want to “slap yo mama.” All courtesy of this fabulous cookbook Sweetie-licious Pies: Eat Pie, Love Life

However, there is something I have always been a little fascinated with. The weird pie. Well the weird food anything… Taking something that one would not associate with yummy pie deliciousness, and turning it into something delectable. So in my quest for the weird pie, I have made a pie out of vinegar, one out of avocados, and one out of buttermilk. Now it is time to experiment with meat. I am going to make a classic mincemeat pie. As in a dessert pie with meat and I am going to force-feed it to my family and friends. I am feeling so medieval at the moment.

“[Toby]
Well, ladies and gentlemen
that aroma enriching the breeze,
is like something compared to its succulent source
as the gourmets among you will tell you, of course.
Ladies and gentlemen you can’t imagine the rapture in store,
just inside of this door!
There, you’ll sample Mrs.Lovett’s meat pies.savory and sweet pies,as you’ll see.
You who eat pies Mrs. Lovetts meat pies conjure up the treat pies used to be!
[Customers]”

Sweeney Todd – God that’s Good

The recipe I found (after much digging) is one from the 1861 volume Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management and was a feature in Saveur magazine. The article can be found Here.

sweeney-todd-the-demon-barber-of-fleet-street
Gratuitous picture of Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd. He was frigging brilliant.
MAKES ONE PIE

For the Filling

2 cups finely chopped beef suet
34 cup currants
34 cup finely chopped rump steak (about 3 oz.)
12 cup raisins
12 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. brandy
1 12 tsp. chopped candied citron peel
1 12 tsp. chopped candied lemon peel
1 12 tsp. chopped candied orange peel
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
14 tsp. grated nutmeg
1 12 granny smith apples, cored and finely chopped
Grated zest of 1⁄2 lemon

For the Crust

Instructions

In a bowl, combine beef suet, currants, rump steak, raisins, brown sugar, brandy, citron peel, lemon peel, orange peel, lemon juice, nutmeg, apples, and lemon zest. Mix well.
Transfer mixture to a 1-qt. jar. Cover and refrigerate for 2 days to 2 weeks.
Make dough, prepare pie crust, and add filling. Heat oven to 350º. Bake until golden, about 1 hour.
I am of the impatient disposition, so the (incubation? infiltration? saturation?) period on this pie’s filling will probably be 3 days instead of the 2 weeks. yeesh. I will post lovely, artsy, and  beautifully photographed pictures of my pie-wreck when finished. I feel there will be much schadenfreude from my friends and family after this little experiment.