Tag: Tea

25
May

Jane Austen Tea Party

I like big cups and I cannot lie…

My shoulder is feeling a little better. I’ve been icing it every day, resting, and so far it seems to be paying off. I can type without it hurting now, and am even able to cook and bake if I’m really careful. Which is good, because this Wednesday is my GOLDEN BIRTHDAY!!!!

You may have noticed by now that I love my birthday the way most five-year-olds do. I can’t help it. Every year on May 1st, my official birthday season begins. Then, the whole week leading up to the actual day is my birthday week. I wear fancy dresses and my wedding crown. I told you I was five.

I’ve dreamed of having a birthday tea party for years. I love drinking tea, eating tea, and all the foods that go along with the traditional tea ceremony. Since my golden birthday falls in the middle of the week, Shane and I are going to be celebrating it together this coming Saturday. But since he’ll be busy working Wednesday, I decided to throw myself the girliest birthday party EVER: a Jane Austen tea party!

Ain’t no party like a birthday tea party!

A few friends and I are going to meet, drink tea, eat food, and watch a Jane Austen movie. In addition, I’ve told everyone to bring a copy of their favorite book to share book club-style. Hermione would be so proud.

I’ve been planning the menu for a few days, and here’s what I think I’ll be serving:

Jane Austen Tea Menu

I have a feeling she’d be a big fan of my book

Tea:

Organic Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla (black tea)

Organic Mango Green (decaf)

Organic Earl Grey

Mocha Hazelnut Yerba Mate

Sandwiches:

Avocado egg salad

Tomato-basil

Cucumber (of course!)

Snacks:

Cranberry-Orange Biscotti

Fresh fruits & veggies

Dessert:

Green tea ice cream

I’m off to bake and cut crusts off of tiny sandwiches (and then eat all the crusts while no one is looking). In case you missed it, here’s the story Lakeland News did on my first book signing on May 16th!!! What a great early birthday present. 🙂

Happy Monday!

01
May

Friday Favorites: Springtime in Minnesota

All I wanted to do all week is lay in a hammock and read!

This whole week has just been absolutely gorgeous. While I would have loved to spend every second in the sunshine, I mostly stayed in my homework chair, diligently hacking away at my final project. I’ve also made a fair amount of progress on the sequel, though late-night reading cut into my writing time just a bit. My book of the week has kept me up reading waaay later than I should have been, so my alarm in the morning was even less welcome than usual. Luckily, this week’s warm weather inspired some delicious iced drinks that have kept me fueled up and energized.

I worked as a Barista through high school, college, and even a bit when we first moved to Minnesota. In other words, I know my way around fancy coffee and tea drinks. During that time, I experimented with flavors and learned how to concoct delicious drinks at home for a fraction of the price you’d pay at a coffee shop (as a Barista, you scoff at paying for coffee). This week, I brewed up two fabulous drinks–one tea based, one coffee based–that will keep your taste buds happy, no matter your preference!

 

Sweet n’ Salty Caramel Iced Coffee

Iced coffee is the perfect summer drink. Oooooo, do I love it. And this homemade brew is the best I’ve ever tasted. My secret? Instead of using traditional ice cubes which water down your drink, I make coffee cubes. All you have to do is brew a small pot of coffee and let it cool for a bit. Then pour the cooled coffee into an ice cube tray. Freeze over night. The next morning, you have caffeinated cubes! They are a girl’s best friend.

To make my Sweet n’ Salty Caramel Iced Coffee, you need a caramel coffee syrup. The one I recommend is Madhava’s Salted Caramel Coffee Syrup. Made with agave nectar (so it is low-glycemic and oodles healthier than high fructose corn syrup), the caramel flavor is OUT OF THIS WORLD. When I opened the bottle the first time, I was tempted to just guzzle the syrup. Fortunately, I decided to add it to my iced coffee instead. The best part of all this is the whole bottle of syrup will only set you back about what ONE iced drink costs at a coffee shop.

Here’s what you do:

1. Brew a pot of coffee the night before (my little coffee maker brews about 5 cups at a time)

2. Pour coffee into large mason jars. The mason jars should be about half-full with just coffee.

3. Refrigerate overnight.

4. The next morning, pour in about a 1/2 cup dairy or non-dairy milk (if desired). Add a Tablespoon of Salted Caramel Syrup and stir.

5. Add enough coffee cubes to chill, lid your mason jar and give it a shake. Stick a straw in your creation and sip pure bliss.

*Note: If you get a craving and didn’t refrigerate coffee overnight, you can totally make this recipe with fresh, hot coffee. It will just take more coffee cubes to chill it down to the right temperature.*

 

Iced Mango Green Tea with Frozen Berries

If your cup of tea is more, well, tea, then I’ve also got a drink for you! I love sipping tea any time of year, but a nice glass of iced tea in the summer is especially refreshing. My favorite iced tea is an organic mango green. The nice part is this particular tea is also decaffeinated *gasp*. So, if you want to chill out without getting buzzed up, this is the perfect spring treat. Loaded with fruity mango and slightly sweet from the frozen berries, it is sure to put a smile on your face!

I usually tend to sprinkle some organic Xylitol (a natural sweetener–what Shane calls my “Hippie Sugar”–that is derived from American hardwood trees) on top for an added bonus. Perfection!

*Note: If interested in trying Xylitol, use an organic brand that specifies the sweetener was derived from North American hardwood trees. Otherwise, it is most likely coming from GMO corn. If you aren’t sure, go to your local Co-Op and ask about the brand they carry.*

Here’s what you do:

1. Bring 6 cups of water to boil. Remove from heat and add mango green tea leaves(I usually do 6-7 teaspoons of loose leaf tea in 6 cups of water, but you could also do 6-7 tea bags if that’s how you roll).

2. Let steep about five minutes–any more than that and the tea will be CRAZY bitter–and remove the tea.

3. Refrigerate (if you have the time and self-control), or add a handful of berries directly from the freezer. I use whatever is on hand, but find that a mix of strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries is my favorite. Of course, frozen mango is a no-brainer.

4. Sprinkle in a little Xylitol or other sweetener, and sip! At the end of your drink, make sure to eat all those berries! 🙂

 

Book of the Week: The Gigantic Beard that was Evil

I love, love, love graphic novels. When I saw this one on display at my library, I snatched it up right away. The title alone makes me giggle. Soon after I cracked open the pages, it was evident that I would be doing a lot more giggling as I read my way through The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil. And though the book delivers as much sardonic humor as the title suggests (the narration reminds me of Roald Dahl–whimsical and poignant), it also provides social commentary on the dangers of conformity and what life can be like if we dare to be different.

Here’s the synopsis provided by the publishers:

On the island of Here, livin’s easy. Conduct is orderly. Lawns are neat. Citizens are clean shaven-and Dave is the most fastidious of them all. Dave is bald, but for a single hair. He loves drawing, his desk job, and the Bangles. But on one fateful day, his life is upended…by an unstoppable (yet pretty impressive) beard.

The characters and artwork are so engaging that I’ve been staying up past midnight (a shockingly late hour for me) devouring this book! Whether you are a graphic novel nut like me or have never picked one up before, give The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil a try!

Pairing Suggestion

A delicious homemade iced beverage, a pair of sunglasses, and a hammock

Happy Friday!

02
Mar

Immunity Boosting Tea

A cup of tea can do a world of good

A cup of tea can do a world of good

It’s finally March. My new favorite month. In just nineteen short days, my book will be released. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? I still can’t. The whole publishing and planning process has kind of felt like planning a wedding: you spend so long preparing for the event, it doesn’t ever feel like it’s actually going to happen. I don’t think the fact that I will be a published author is going to sink in until I have a copy of my book in my hands. It’s just too surreal, such a dream come true, it is difficult to believe.

Now, the stress and anxiety, those things I do believe. Because while becoming a published author is a life dream, it is also a crazy amount of work. And, like anything worth doing, it scares the hell out of me. I have many doubts and fears. Ask any of my poor family members or friends who have been subjected to my worries. Will the book sell? Will people like it? What if no one shows up to my book signings? What if my book talks suck? What if, what if, what if. These questions hang around my head as I write this post and follow me throughout the day. And that’s okay. Because, while some of the things I’m worried about might actually happen, I’ve got to try anyway. I am getting the chance of a lifetime: the chance to be an author. Nothing is going to stop me from putting 300% of myself into writing and promoting my work. If I’m lucky, it will all pay off. No matter what, it will be worth it.

And that brings me to the recipe I am sharing with you today: Honey Garlic Immunity Tea. Because if I’m going to give being an author my all, I’ve got to feel my best physically and mentally. The germs of the world, however, seem to have different plans. In Minnesota, we’re still deep in the trenches of winter and colds are plentiful. This past week, Shane caught a nasty one. In response, I’ve been making huge vats of this Honey Garlic Tea.

garlic-276356_1280

Sound weird? Honey (especially raw honey) is antimicrobial, has been used as a remedy for sore throats for centuries, and is supposed to boost immune systems. Garlic is incredibly medicinal, a cough inhibitor, clears your sinuses, and also boosts immune systems. The lemon juice adds a citrus kick, feels great on a sore throat, and is supposed to reduce mucus production. Put all those together, and you’ve got one powerful cold buster! The tea couldn’t be simpler to make and actually tastes really good (if you like garlic, which I love).

Stay healthy everyone!

See you at the book release party in NINETEEN DAYS!

23
Jan

Friday Favorites

Most days, I have to actively make time for writing. Sometimes, life just gets in the way and despite my best efforts, no writing gets done. Those days are tough. Fortunately, this week has been good to me in a variety of ways. I’ve been able to write fairly consistently (even if it’s only a few snatched moments in a day), and I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy a few treats. Here are a few of my favorite things of the week:

Irish Breakfast Tea

When I do get time to write, it is often veeeery early in the morning. And I’m not quite human yet. The first thing I do when I wake up is make a BIG pot of strong Irish Breakfast tea. Never had Irish breakfast tea before? Think of English Breakfast tea, only with a kick. It is not for the faint of heart, my friends, and it has been the fuel for many a writing splurge. Tea is one of my daily joys. A cup of tea can perk me up, help me unwind, inspire me, be a decadent treat, or a healing medicine. I don’t feel fully human until I have that first mug in the morning (yes, mug. Delicate china cups are beautiful, but let’s face it. They just aren’t big enough).

I started drinking tea when I was about ten years old. I read the Hobbit and became completely obsessed with all things English. What better way to become a hobbit than by adding afternoon tea to your list of meals? Honestly, I didn’t like tea much at first, but I kept trying different varieties and found some I loved. My tastes have definitely matured since that first cup, and I’ve learned quite a bit about brewing the perfect cup.

So, to begin our Friday morning, let’s brew the perfect cup of Irish Breakfast Tea. For black tea, you want to get the water nice and hot. I’m talking a full rolling boil. Immediately pour the boiling water into a mug with 1-1.5 tsp. of leaves (I’ve been known to use 2 full tsp. of tea leaves. Yeah, I live on the edge).  Steep 2-3 minutes (3-5 if you like it strong and sassy). I used to think tea needed to steep 20 minutes. Don’t ever do that. TADA! Your tea is ready! If you really want to be English, add some milk and drink with your pinky out. For more information on brewing, check out the Teavana website, but be warned: this site is addicting.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Need something to go with your tea? This week, another one of my favorites has been homemade cinnamon rolls. What more needs to be said? Sweet, gooey cinnamon rolls with maple cream cheese frosting are the perfect accompaniment to a nice cup of tea. This apple dumpling cinnamon roll recipe is my favorite. I substitute organic virgin coconut oil and Sucanat in place of refined sugars and oils, and the result is absolutely amazingly delicious! I’ve made this recipe countless times, and have used a variety of substitutions and add-ins (pumpkin cinnamon rolls, anyone?). This time, I left the apples out and just had traditional cinnamon roll goodness. What could be better inspiration than that?

Now that you have a perfectly brewed cup of tea and a warm cinnamon roll, you are ready to curl up with your favorite book!

My favorite book of the week: Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen. I love this author. Her stories are sweet, meaningful, and always have more than a little magic sprinkled into them. Allen is a beautiful writer who can transform the simplest of plots and characters into spellbinding stories of heartache, identity, and love. I’m about half-way through the novel, and here is my favorite quote so far:

“After you finish a book, the story still goes on in your mind. You can never change the beginning. But you can always change the end.”

Happy Friday!

What are you reading this week?