Hospitality with Tea

This winter has been an exceptionally cold one for Virginia, actually for anywhere with these temperatures.  And fortunately, I found another of my grandmother’s recipes helpful.
We made tea;  Hot Spiced Tea, to be specific.  With the help of my wonderful stash of Earl Grey from the awesome Virginia Tea Company this tea makes enough for a gathering of many, or as we enjoyed it, in Christmas Spode cups with multiple servings.

As winter seems not to be leaving us just yet, and even though we’ve put away the Spode, I’m posting this as a suggestion to try this year and enjoy for seasons to come.  Plus, as you can see from the picture, I want to copy these before they become any more “loved.”  In a funny side note, when I told my mother about finding her mother’s tea recipe she asked, “Where did you find Tang?” which her mother apparently swapped out for the fruit, I suppose.  I followed the original as printed below:

Hot Spice Tea, Inez Steele

1 teaspoon whole cloves

3 quarts water

2.5 Tablespoons black tea

3 oranges, juiced

1.5 lemons, juiced

1 cup sugar

Tie spices loosely in a bag (cheesecloth worked well) and bring to a boiling point in the water.  Add tea tied loosely in a bag and allow to stand 5 minutes.  Remove bags of spices and tea; add fruit juices and sugar. (25 servings, with small cups)

Blessings for warmth, health, and a happy February!


Love that Gets Messy for Clean Water

Love is not afraid to get muddy;  particularly if Luke Wright and his co-workers at MudLOVE pottery have anything to say about it.  MudLOVE has been on my radar since my friend Hannah, who is Luke’s sister, started promoting his business years ago.  Jonathan Krintz featured Luke on his podcast Amid the Grind in an interview titled, “Denying Self” which sums up the whole philosophy and motivation behind the company’s efforts to do good work and support the common good around the world and in their own neighborhood.

God blessed me through MudLOVE this year just a few days after the burial service for my father.  Hannah had mentioned to Luke that I like to promote MudLOVE on social media and he sent me a box of goodies in appreciation.  The box had a heart-shaped necklace with a chain that is the perfect length (talk about miracles, ya know!), two mugs, and a bracelet that says, “family”.  I was overwhelmed and touched. While I will confess that I rolled my eyes upon first seeing more mugs,  it turns out that my day is brightened every time my new favorite mug wishes me a “good morning.”  Pretty funny, I know.

Please take time this season to look at MudLOVE’s newly expanded product line and perhaps find just the right stocking stuffer or unique ornament for your tree, which will not only add joy to your season but will share clean water to people you bless with every purchase.

Blessings for days of comfort and joy!

Check them out!


Update and While You Are Thinking of Buying

Many of my blogs this year have been reviews.  I guess that is just easier than explaining that we are in a time of steady transitions, the kind all lives are made of.  Two months after the last blog I flew to Florida to spend the last day of my father’s life with him, my mom, my sweet sister-in-law and darling niece in hospice learning about the rhythms of dying to death.

Then there was a wonderful memorial service with most of our family and later a burial with friends.

In the midst of having spent most of the last year transitioning from having my earthly father move to heaven, our children progressed to further afield with one spending time overseas and one in an apartment not far from campus.  Plus, the move from middle school to high school.  Busy times, exciting times and changing times. Yet, in all of that, and maybe because of it, I found time to buy some books.  And not just any books.  Books recommended by and in support of my favorite, almost-local bookstore.  Yes, I drove there from here once a few years ago.

Byron Borger was one of the many talented people my father befriended in Pittsburgh during his days with the Coalition for Christian Outreach.  Now in Dallastown, PA, the Borgers run a lovely shop and lively business serving saints and seekers with reviews, books, music and thoughtfully modeling being salt and light, in person and even on Twitter.  This year I’ve purchased a book on parenting as your children age, It’s Not Too Late by Dan Dupee and Dar Williams’ What I Found in A Thousand Towns both rewardingly recommended by Byron.  I’ve also purchased books for our college students in areas they are studying, plus faith, science and growing up but not away from the ideas we have used as a foundation for our home.  Just yesterday they posted a sale of Advent books.  I follow @byronborger on Twitter and you can find them online at Hearts and Minds Books.  As you think about gifts for Christmas please consider supporting this excellent bookstore!

I’ve decided to post two more reviews in time to buy for Christmas, Lord willing, to support the businesses that have blessed my year and to get back to blogging more regularly.  I hope you are inspired to at least take a look at their work.

Blessings on your own transitions.

Everyone Gets Lost Sometimes

The oldest has a bad case of sophomore slump, or did when he came home for a short break around Easter.  His friend made a movie that used M’s music which won an award and seems to have perked him up.

Interesting that this theme of finding one’s way is a recurring one that I think of for the phase they are going through.  As he left for freshman year I played Andrew Peterson’s “You’ll Find Your Way” on repeat until I felt obligated to buy it (and the whole album).

This phase of their lives is so open that it can be hard to see where you’re going from where you are.  I often listen to the music he made in high school and then what he has made since and find great joy in the fruit of his efforts.  Growth takes time.  So does finding your way.  The investment in a foundation of solid learning is the foundation we are committed to providing.  What he and God do with it is his to find.

Investing in a future not mine to control, like so much of our lives, wasn’t in the writing on parenting.  So we balance our desire for a firm foundation with his to fly high and pray for God to hold it all.

Blessings as you journey on for light to your path.  And a good week of finals!


A Review of Things

First flowers
2016 Camellia

I continue to enjoy The Virginia Tea Company’s lovely loose leaf teas.  And given that I work in schools, and have spent the last couple of days home with a sick kiddo, but have managed, with the help of Immunity to avoid illness, I’m sold!  And I’ve run out of my first supply, leaving me with a fun way to wrap a little hostess gift.  I’ll pop it in their tea box with the label removed but that still has their classy logo.

I also downloaded our local library app, “hoopla” to my Kindle Fire.  This has allowed me to read, 10 Days in a Madhouse by Nellie Bly and The Girl from Rawblood by Catriona Ward (just Rawblood in the UK, I think) and watch B-Side and See Girl Run movies I would not have otherwise come across.  I have also enjoyed the Netflix Original Abstract which highlights the work of successful artists in various fields and tells their stories of achievement.  Inspiring and a welcome addition to the Netflix Original series.

Each of these deserves its own review but well, I recommend them. Please leave a comment with what you like, or don’t, about any or all.  I do prefer conversation to lectures anyway. We’ve burned our last fire of the season, Lord willing and put a sizable amount of wood to good use, which was the goal as it has lived in the backyard too long.

Off to make the enchiladas and black beans with rice.  May you enjoy the shifting seasons. And find your own time to sit down with a cup of tea and a good book, or movie.




The Virginia Tea Company Makes Great Tea

I admit to rarely being excited by free offers or coupons, generally wondering, “What’s the catch?”   Yet, in the case of The Virginia Tea Company’s gracious offer on their Facebook page to bloggers interested in writing reviews I couldn’t see a down side.  I need a reason to sit down and write; for which a cup of tea is always reliable and a cup of free tea is perfect.

Four beautiful containers arrived together in the package at my front door.  Each contains loose leaf tea, specified in detail on the label, a set of tea bags, a wooden tea spoon and a small tea strainer.  I’ll admit to being a bit overwhelmed.  I received other loose leaf tea as a Christmas gift from the darlings and it only recently ran out but I was obviously lacking some tea making skills.

When I signed up they promptly sent a message asking my preference for herbal or caffeinated tea.  I replied that I usually drink herbal tea warm and make sweet iced tea from the black tea I’ve bought at the Giant. I received three organic, locally sourced, herbal teas and one caffeinated tea from a fair trade farms. 

At first I was concerned that each box comes with 8 bags, a spoon and strainer, however, after the first sip of a light amber “Immunity” with ingredients listed as ginger, cinnamon, Echinacea, elderberries and eleuthero root* all grown to organic standards, I was calculating the odds that I could give away the container without anyone noticing that I’d tried some.

Here is where I confess that that plan will not work as I should have readily admitted to being a simple coffee drinker.  Somewhat bewildered by the various steeping options I chose none of the above and instead used my wonderful straining tea cup not the pouches or the strainer.  Turns out I have an infuser cup and some of the tea was in the cup. In an effort to strain it I poured quite a bit of liquid on the counter and floor.  The dry tea is in a wax paper type of pouch and seems unharmed.  Sadly, the container label smeared when I picked it up with wet hands.  Small price to pay, I know, but some days one more thing is too much.  The purists are scandalized, but unsurprised, by the fumbling of an American making tea; in any case, the tea that survived is delicious. 

I did follow the instructions and used only one teaspoon full.  I’m very glad as I’ll be having another cup as soon as I stop typing!

You can find this lovely company and their wonderful tea at  Please do!


*Also known as Siberian ginseng.

P.S., Good morning! Providentially, my computer ran out of power while I was scrambling to clean up the tea, make dinner, and watch the latest magic trick.  Graciously, MSWord saved the document and I can tell you that the Earl Grey, even warm, is an enjoyable morning companion.  It is flavored with bergamot, 97% organic, and did steep equally well 3 times from one post (bag) as promised on the label.  I did boil the water again for the third cup having recently read an Englishman’s lament over tepid water served with a tea bag as considered NOT tea.  I did use Gram’s china cup so it looked as good as it tasted! 


Whitman When No One Else Will Do

Nay, Tell Me Not To-Day the Publish’d Shame

Winter of 1873, Congress in Session

Nay, tell me not to-day the publish’d shame,

Read not to-day the journal’s crowded page,

The merciless reports still branding forehead after forehead,

The guilty column following guilty column.

To-day to me the tale refusing,

Turning from it — from the white capitol turning,

Far from these swelling domes, topt with statues,

More endless, jubilant, vital visions rise

Unpublish’d, unreported.

Through all your quiet ways, or North or South, you Equal States,

you honest farms,

Your million untold manly healthy lives, or East or West, city or


Your noiseless mothers, sisters, wives, unconscious of their good,

Your mass of homes nor poor nor rich, in visions rise –(even your

excellent poverties,)

Your self-distilling, never-ceasing virtues, self-denials, graces,

Your endless base of deep integrities within, timid but certain,

Your blessings steadily bestow’d, sure as the light, and still,

(Plunging to these as a determin’d diver down the deep hidden


These, these to-day I brood upon–all else refusing, these will I con,

To-day to these give audience.

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, Old Age Echoes, p. 485, Easton Press 1977