Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Visiting Over Tea

Visiting over tea with friends from Chile

When I was in my mid-twenties and in nursing school, I shared a large house with a Chilean refugee and her 3 year old daughter and three other women.  Olga came here after the coup in Chile, 1973, and lived here several years before it was safe to return home to Chile.  Over the years, I’ve seen her a few times when she comes back to visit.  I’d love someday to travel there.  We share a close friend, Hilary, so we keep up with each other’s lives through her.  They both came to visit this evening and we shared a pot of mint tea, with Dino joining in.  It is wonderful to catch up with old friends.  I laugh and say most of my friends turn out not to like tea (how did that happen?!), but they always will share a cup with me anyway.

I met Hilary in nursing school and she first introduced me to Olga.  Hilary had lived in Chile and still has many friends there.  She and I have remained friends for over 30 years and seen each other through the many trials of courtship, births of our kids, young families, older parents, and deaths of loved ones.  We are all so blessed when we have friends like that.  

This evening’s visit was prompted by seeing Olga but also because Hilary had asked my advice for a tea to send back to Chile for a tea-loving friend, and I purchased a couple of very nice loose leaf black teas for her to send back with Olga.  I love it when people ask my advice on tea!

The Dog Walking Park

Walking my dog at Pt. Isabel Park

All my adult life I’ve had cats- even up to 4 at one time.  I love cats, and my husband loved cats.  I also love dogs, but my husband did not like dogs, so that was always out of the question.  These last couple of years, I’ve contemplated getting a little dog and researched dogs, rescue sites, etc.  I found a great little Bichon-mix (doesn’t shed!) last October and am learning how to take care of a dog again.  It is very different than fifty years ago, when we just kept them outside in the back yard all the time!

Dino's never far from me.

One of the appeals for me about getting a dog was to get out walking every day.  It wasn’t the most pleasant activity in the pouring rain of November and December, but this month we’ve had beautiful weather- cold and dry but crystal clear.  So Dino and I ventured out today for the first time to walk at the Pt Isabel dog park, right out on the San Francisco bay.  Pt Isabel is part of our East Bay Parks district and is wonderfully maintained.  I expected it to be quiet and empty at 8:30 in the morning, mid-week- but, oh no, lots of dogs and lots of professional dog-walkers with 4-5 dogs on and off leash.  There is a regular paved path following a small inlet of water, but there are fields and small hills with many narrow walking paths as well.

Yes that is the Golden Gate bridge in the background.  I live in the east side of the San Francisco bay area, nestled against the hills and directly across the bay from the Golden Gate.  On beautiful clear days, it cannot be beat!  After forty years, I'm still astounded some days at the beauty.

There is an outdoor café and a dog-grooming center at the center also!  So after our walk, Dino was bathed and groomed while I sat out having a bagel and hot tea (Republic of Tea's Irish breakfast) from the café.

Following are pictures from different days at Pt. Isabel.  One day I had lunch with the Traveling Teapot while Dino was getting a bath!  Another evening, Dino and I walked with my dear friend, Sue, and her dog, Pepper- and watched the sunset behind Mt Tamalpais in the North Bay.  The views are always spectacular.

Christmas Clutter

Cleaning up Christmas clutter!

I love holidays!  And I love decorating for holidays.  But putting away all the holiday decorations is never fun.  Now that the kids are grown and gone, I try to sort out and give away decorations and ornaments each year, so that seems to add to the cleanup time.  Also, this year, in the beginning of December we had heavy rains, and I had water leak into some of the boxes (yes, they were plastic!), so I had to re-think storage.  It was a two-day project to gather, sort, and box up all the decorations for storage. I seem to remember that each year I say to myself “I’m not doing that next year!”- but then, autumn rolls around and I’m ready to get out Fall, then Halloween, Thanksgiving and finally Christmas decorations.  

I usually drink a few cups of tea through the day, but during this project I kept a pot of hot tea going throughout the day.  The large Traveling Teapot brewed several pots of Yunnan Gold, my favorite, to keep my energy and spirits up. 

Posting At Last!

Well, I think I've figured out this blogging thing!  Thankfully, tea and the art of tea are not high tech, at least the way I prepare it using an old fashioned kettle of boiled water, so I've had a wonderful time with the Traveling Teapot in my life this month.

January 3, 2013

I eagerly anticipated the teapot's arrival and it was at my doorstep this afternoon.  The box looked pretty battered but was well-taped and packed, so all the contents are intact!  The box was filled with lots of goodies from Vicki, as well as a full bag of memorabilia from the teapot's travels, including of course its own passport- filled with stamps from its many adventures.

As you can see, it arrived while Christmas decor was still out.  A few months ago a friend commented on my affinity for green teapots and I denied it.  Then I came home, gathered and grouped them together and, sure enough, I love vintage green teapots!  Perfect for the Christmas mantle.

The teapot is a glorious plum color and now wrapped in its lovely Marmalady cozy.  It moves around the house so I can see and admire it regularly.  I love it here, under the picture of a steaming cup of tea. I purchased this photograph years ago from a local artist,  Jill Gustafson, selling her wares on the plaza in front of the San Francisco Ferry Building.  As I was admiring her photographs we got to talking about tea and turns out, Jill is the daughter of Helen Gustafson, the author of Agony of the Leaves and original tea buyer and staff trainer for Chez Panisse, our local but nationally famous gourmet restaurant.  I read that book many years ago and LOVED it, so it feels so special to have this beautiful picture by her daughter.  I actually now have a few of her photographs, but this will always be my favorite.  Here is a closeup of the picture- please forgive my reflection!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


I hope everyone has enjoyed wonderful holidays.

We had the "3 days of Christmas": 23 gathered at my brother Tom's on the Sunday before Christmas; 13 gathered at my sister Terri's on Christmas Eve; and 10 of us gathered on Christmas Day.  I don't need to eat again for 2 weeks!

Mindy & I had a delightful time with the Traveling Teapot.  She baked cookies & cupcakes, and we had a "dessert tea" for the great-nephews [Mason, in first grade; Austin, aged 3; and baby Wyatt].  We also had a "cream tea" for the sisters [me; Terri, Mindy's mother; Jackie], before going to a Gladys Knight concert [tickets were their Christmas present to me].

Mindy's Christmas gift to me was a white teapot, with a knitted tea cosy, so the Traveling Teapot had company on the drive home [Florida is a BIG state -- it is 600 miles from Pensacola to Palm Beach Gardens].

The weather was delightful, and so we walked everyday; when dining out, always sat outside; and did a strolling "homes tour" in the Old Northwood historic district of West Palm Beach -- toured 12 homes from the 1920s, mostly of the craftsman style.

The teapot and I drove home on Sunday, and it is now winging its way to Colleen in California.  I hope she has as much fun with it as I did!

It is almost kumquat season here in the Florida panhandle, so I want to share a very easy recipe:


1 graham cracker crust
1 8-oz cool whip
2/3 cup pureed kumquats
1 can [14 oz] condensed milk
1/2 cup lemon juice

  • Combine condensed milk & cool whip.  Beat.
  • Add lemon juice.  Beat until thickened.
  • Add pureed kumquats & stir.
  • Pour into pie shell.
  • Freeze.
  • Garnish with fresh kumquat slices or mint