Tea time

Thursday, July 12, 2018

If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you;
If you are depressed, it will cheer you; if you are excited, it will calm you.  

Tea is for every season, even, as William Gladstone reminds us, for the hot, humid days of summer. A tall, cool glass of iced tea is always refreshing, but hot tea is lovely, too.

Our on recent cruise to Alaska, we were able to enjoy afternoon tea several times. It is offered every afternoon on the Princess cruise line. We enjoyed hot tea and a selection of tea sandwiches, scones, and tiny cakes and cookies. I think Queen Victoria was on to something when she instituted this custom back in the day.

Lovely to watch the scenery while sipping tea. This is the life!

We took a ferry to Vancouver Island after we landed in Vancouver. We stayed at The Fairmont Empress where the famous Empress Tea Room is. We weren't able to schedule tea, but we did go have a look at the tea room.

I bought this mug in the gift shop. All the china and teapots in the tea room are in this pattern.

Disappointed to miss tea at The Empress, I asked the concierge back at our hotel in Vancouver for the name of a good tea room. He directed us to TWG Tea. At first I thought it was an abbreviation of some sort for Twinings tea, but there's no connection. TWG Tea is based primarily in the Asia Pacific, with the Vancouver location their only one in Canada. 

Oh my goodness. I felt like a kid in a candy store when we walked in.

Can you believe I didn't buy any tea? I still have so much left from our trip to China. But if I had bought tea, it would have been this. I don't even know what kind it is, but who could resist?

I couldn't figure out what SFTGFOP1 meant. But there it is, right on the box -- Special Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe First Quality. Of course.

They had a huge selection of tea. (I think they said 200 varieties in the tea room; many, many more online.) I always like to try something new, but I had no idea where to start. The waitress helped me pick out a black tea, my favorite, but I can't remember now what I had. It was delicious.

My husband had a blue tea, which I liked even more than mine. I just looked it up and blue tea is also known as oolong tea. No wonder I liked it.

My husband actually ate this quail egg. I just can't eat a runny egg!

I had to open up this contraption. What a clever way to keep the teapot hot.

Next time I'm in the market for tea, I'm definitely visiting their website. So sad our local purveyor of tea has closed down.

When we were in Vancouver, I had to pick up a couple of these candy bars.

A Canadian blogger friend (can't remember who) mentioned how good these were. They're not available in the U.S. that I know of, and you have to buy a case of them if you buy them on Amazon. Which I'm now thinking isn't a bad idea. They're delicious. Light, crispy, nice chocolate and coffee flavor.

More flowers from the Butchart Gardens.
When we got home from our trip, I went with my book club to a lovely little tea room just north of us. It is housed in an old Victorian home, and filled with beautiful, vintage decor.

We shared three pots of tea, including a fruity blend and a chai. The menu included quiche and salad and individual mini loaves of pumpkin bread. We shared desserts and more tea. It was lovely.

Besides the two rooms set up for tea and the kitchen, all the rest of the rooms in this house were filled -- filled -- with jewelry, teacups, linens, and other pretty things to buy. Mostly jewelry. We took little baskets around and had fun filling them up and selecting from the bargains.


 My friend Rita from Panoply blog just sent me the beautiful red bowl shown below to complete my vintage Pyrex bowl set. She has a booth in an antique mall in Charleston, West Virginia, and found this bowl while looking for items for her shop. Her blog is filled with wonderful antique finds and lovely home decor ideas.

I use my yellow bowl all the time (I have two of them) for mixing cookies and scones and breads. The other ones are in regular rotation. I'm excited to use the red one now. They look so happy together. Thank you Rita! 

I had a chance this past weekend to put these bowls to use. My sister and her husband and three boys came for a visit. These are white chocolate chip/cherry cookies.

And because one of my nephews is gluten free, I made some gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. These were from a Betty Crocker mix, and they were pretty good.

Thanks for stopping by friends. Don't forget to take time for yourself and enjoy a relaxing cup of tea.

How to eat dessert every night and not gain weight

Sunday, July 1, 2018

We just got back from a two-week vacation to Alaska. We did a land/sea cruise, starting in Fairbanks and ending with a few days in Vancouver. I will be sharing some photos of the stunning scenery we were able to see. But because nobody really wants to see anyone's hundreds of vacation photos, I thought I'd share something maybe lots of you all would be even more interested in.

How I ate dessert every night for two weeks and didn't gain a pound.  

I know that many people have sworn off white sugar and flour. I think that's great. That's how I've lost weight in the past. But, seriously, are you never going to have a piece of birthday cake ever again? Or a scone with lemon curd? Or a homemade cinnamon roll?

Some are really disciplined and can do this. But why can't we have our cake and eat it, too, I ask?

I think I might have found the answer.

A feeling of abundance versus deprivation. And moderation.

On a cruise ship, the food is everywhere. This was our first cruise, and the stories are true. Unlimited amounts of food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. An afternoon tea every day. An open-all-day ice cream bar and pizza and burger counter. An all-you-can-eat pastry bar next to the coffee counter.

Yes, there's lots of healthy options, including fruit and veggies, salmon and yogurt. But loads of things I try and keep out of my house -- cakes, pastries, cookies, muffins, breads, pancakes, and more -- are everywhere you look.

I've heard people can gain an average of one pound a day on a cruise, and I can see why. 

I felt like I ate a lot, and ate a lot of "forbidden foods," including the dessert every night, sometimes a pastry in the morning, and many days, a large salted caramel latte. 

Crumpets for breakfast at The Fairmont Empress in Victoria. Can't believe I've never had a crumpet before -- delicious! I think they taste like a cross between an English muffin and a pancake.

Beautiful presentation. Though small, this is utterly satisfying. 
Afternoon tea on the cruise ship. We met some lovely people, including three Mississipian ladies who were as sweet as pie!
And we really didn't get a lot of exercise. We were either on a boat, a train, a bus, or a ferry. Some walking but less than what I do at home on my treadmill.

Mt. Denali (formerly known as Mt. McKinley), the highest mountain in North America, at over
20,310 feet. We got a wonderful view. We were told that 2/3s of the time it is covered in clouds.
Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island. I have more pics to share. It was beautiful.
So how did I maintain my weight?

I think I felt such a sense of abundance around me that I was able to relax and enjoy everything in small bites and in moderation. At home, I never have any treats in the pantry or refrigerator unless I'm having guests over, and think I probably feel deprived all the time. Because when I do get a dessert, it's like "last copter out of 'nam!" Hurry up and eat, and eat all you can because it's my last/only opportunity to eat something sweet before I have to deprive myself again. Kind of sad, really.

I end up munching on too many "healthy" snacks, such as almonds, and probably consume just as many or more calories as I would if I'd just allowed myself what I really want, such as a little bit of chocolate or a small piece of pie.

But with all the desserts around me on this vacation, I could relax and tell myself, they'll be here in the morning, and tomorrow night and the next day. I can have a dessert whenever I want. There's no need to squirrel it all away. As if I'm preparing for a famine. Or the apocalypse!

So I was actually able to eat a small dessert without finishing it. As in, take a few bites, and push the plate away. I knew there would be a pastry the next morning. And yes, I was eating sensibly the rest of the time, small servings of meat, simply prepared, without a lot of breading or gravy, vegetables, and lots of water. I only ate one roll from the bread basket all week. If I had really craved the bread, I probably wouldn't have had the dessert.

Although I didn't go to the ice cream or pizza counter (no need! I was full!), we did go to afternoon tea twice, and enjoyed scones and cookies and little sandwiches. Two hours before dinner!

So I've been thinking a lot of about the idea of deprivation versus abundance. 

If I were to keep muffins and desserts and other such treats in the house on a regular basis, so that I knew they were always there, and never off limits, would I begin to relax and see these foods in a more healthy way? I.e., a normal, acceptable part of a balanced diet? Would I be less likely to binge if I knew I could have a scone or a (small) brownie every day? Would these foods start to lose their power over me? 

Could I begin to eat more sensibly, without bingeing and without deprivation?

{Someone reminded me that this is actually the theory behind the book French Women Don't Get Fat, which I read some time ago.}

And I've been testing this new theory at home. This last week, I went to a tea room with friends where I had pumpkin bread and dessert. My husband and I split a mini cherry pie from the local farmer's market. I've had a few crumpets with strawberry jam. Otherwise, I've been eating lean protein and veggies and salads. And I've lost two pounds. 

We got to see glaciers up close.
Reindeer. They serve reindeer sausage up there!

Does this make sense?

I'll keep you posted if my theory holds up long-term.
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