Empress Tea – The Smackdown

In celebration of their second birthday, the ladies of Empress Tea have thrown down the gauntlet with a battle for my favorite tea tales.

I have been an enjoyer of tea for a very long time.

The Old

Since my early twenties my “go to” cup of tea is a knockoff from the English. I prefer to make my own cup of tea and often request when a guest in friend’s homes that I be allowed to make my own cup of tea. First, there is no dainty English bone china for me. I use a BIG round cup with a sturdy handle. The first step is to warm the cup by filling half full with hot water. Cold water is put in the kettle and allowed to boil. Just as the kettle water is coming to the boil, the hot water in the cup is poured out. In goes an Orange Pekoe black tea bag and the fresh boiled water. This is steeped until a dark rich color is achieved and then I use the back of a spoon to squeeze all the goodness left remaining in the bag. A teaspoon of agave syrup or coconut palm sugar is added along with enough warmed milk to make a light brown brew. For the last forty plus years, this cup of tea is how I finish my evening meal. On occasion, I have added brandy, rum or instead of the warm milk an ample shot of Baileys! Yummy and addictive!

My favorite cup of tea

My favorite cup of tea

At Work Green Tea

Throughout my work day, I am sipping on a mug filled with a brew of green teas. One of the first duties of the morning along with opening the window blinds is heating the kettle for my first cup of tea. I have a varied selection and depending on my mood or stress level, the choice will be different in the morning than in the afternoon. Lately, my favorite has been “Island Mango and Peach”.

My tea selection at work

My tea selection at work

The New

This past Fall in Europe, I was introduced to a new way to enjoy mint tea and now in Canada, whenever I can find fresh mint, I enjoy several cups of mint tea. In Brussels, at one of my daughter’s favorite cafes, I watched as a clear glass mug was stuffed with fresh mint leaves and brought to the table with a pot of hot water and lemon wedges on the side. I find this cup of tea very refreshing and soothing. Today, I was able to find some mint and am enjoying this refreshing cup of tea as I write this blog.

A new favorite - Mint tea

A new favorite – Mint tea

There ladies of Empress Tea is my tale of the savoring of tea! I have enjoyed all of your musings over the past year. Happy 2nd birthday!!

Posted in Challenges, Finding Joy, Food and Drink, Fun, Happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Stairs

Cee’s fun foto challenge for this week is stairs.

One of my favorite memories of walking the El Camino was spending the afternoon exploring the Templar castle in Ponferrada, Spain. I became so lost in the exploration of the castle when strolling the high ramparts which offered magnificent views of the city, to skillfully mastering the spiral stairs leading to the dungeons that I almost missed closing time.

Here is a mosaic of those spiral stairs.

Posted in Challenges, Creativity, Finding Joy, Fun, ipad, Phonegraphy, Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Daily Post – Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

The old elm tree in the yard describes change very well. Year after year it shows its splendor through the changing of the seasons.

Posted in Beauty, Challenges, Creativity, Finding Joy, Happiness, Out My Backdoor, Phonegraphy, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Spring Says, “I’m Here” – Winter Says, “Not Quite Yet”

The swimming pool where I destress after work is closed for its annual yearly maintenance, so by Sunday I was in need of some exercise and connecting with nature. Saturday evening the ground was covered with a thin layer of fresh snow and Sunday morning did not look too promising for sunshine. I coerced my sister to accompany me to the butte to search for Spring flowers and spend a few hours connecting with Mother Earth.

We set out about noon with the sun breaking through the clouds. The butte is about a forty-five minute hike with about 300 metres elevation gain.

The front side of the butte is open grassland and one of the first places in the area to be free of winter snow. But there was snow along the path and snow clung to the branches of the trees.

Approaching the top of the butte we had to pass by an old tree leaning into the hillside.Around the other side of the tree was a large hole which contained a small journal book and several small toys. We opened the book and found a message from Katie who had chosen this tree to create a tree house. There were numerous messages from others who had visited. We left a message, returned the book to safe keeping in the tree and ventured to my favorite tree at the top of the butte.

At the top there is an old tree that has huge roots hugging the rocky ground. This year some handy person has created a bench which sits near the tree allowing you to sit and soak up the beauty of the mountains or the warming rays of the sun. Neither was offered as the low clouds covered the mountains and from our viewpoint we could see storm cells in the valley below.

Because the wind was chilly, we did not linger too long at the top. Instead we started down the back side where we encountered more snow among the trees.

Large snowflakes began to come down so we altered our direction to head back to the car. However, the snow squall did not last long and the sun attempted to burst through the clouds. Coming back through the grassland there were numerous bunches of Pasque flowers (Pulsatilla) poking their heads through the grass.

Also found in the snow were yellow bells and Spring Beauty – very tiny white flowers with pink centres.

The most abundant were the bluebells with their striking blue color dotting the grassland and nodding in the breeze.

Ah, winter, I do believe you are losing the battle and Spring is telling you it is time to relinquish your hold and let the beauty of Spring burst forth.

Almost .... Yeah Spring!

Almost …. Yeah Spring!

Posted in Finding Joy, Fun, Happiness, Hiking, Out My Backdoor, Phonegraphy, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Favorite Benches

Ailsa from Where’s My Backpack weekly theme is benches.

My favorite benches:

I am a book junkie and the library is one of my favorite places to visit on my lunch hour. This bench is featured in a small garden by the main entrance.
Library Bench

I often walk along Mark Creek and there are two benches where I can rest in solitude and listen to the sounds of nature and the bubbling of the creek.

The last bench that I enjoy using is on the Butte about a forty-five minute hike from the highway. The bench sits under an ancient tree and provides a magnificent view of Mt. Fisher and the Steeples if the cloud cover is not obstructing their view. A wonderful place to enjoy the beauty of nature.

The tree, the bench and the view

The tree, the bench and the view

Posted in Beauty, Challenges, Finding Joy, Fun, Hiking, Photography, Solitude | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Reflection – One Hundred Posts

When I began blogging in the latter part of August 2012, I did so with two goals in mind. The first was to chronicle my journey of walking the El Camino and describe for my family and friends that journey. I completed the El Camino in October and continued to blog about the remainder of my hiatus in Spain, France, Belgium and a few days spent with family in England. My second goal was to endeavor to blog about my journey through the winter stage of life. I have just begun this winter aging process and it is my desire that I will walk this journey with hope, much grace and with lots of happiness and joy tucked in my back pocket.

I am a firm believer that if you are present with your spirit and the universe you usually receive gentle nudges which offer insight to problems or situations where you are seeking clarification or which may give you pause for reflection and open discussions with family and friends.

The past several weeks, I have received several such nudges.

One of the films shown by the Rockies Film Festival was Director Michael Haneke’s film Amour which portrays a powerful and very moving portrait of an elderly couple struggling with their mortality. This film provides insight of deep abiding love, yet depicts the struggles a husband encounters as he watches his friend, lover and wife slip further and further away by a series of strokes.

While I was puzzled by some of the scenes and the ending, the film did provide many opportunities for reflection about aging, sickness and the challenges to be met along the way.

The second nudge came while listening to CBC’s The Current with Anna Marie Tremonti and her interview with Susan Griffiths.

Susan Griffiths – I honour and admire you.

I have never meet Susan Griffiths and that opportunity will never become a reality. Winnipeg Free Press story.

I admire you for your courage and your fearlessness in making a choice that was correct for you and honouring to your spirit against the social norms and laws of Canada.

I was supposed to be working but I listened attentively to your interview with Anna Marie Tremonti as you described your sixteenth month  journey being diagnosed with your horrible disease and the road you travelled to reach your courageous decision.

This interview once again gave pause and reflection to aging and dealing with death through dignity.

Oh yes, there was a third nudge. Again listening to CBC at work, Mark Forsythe on BC Almanac featured a physician discussing the need to have legal documents in place so your wishes are carried out should a medical crisis arise. Having an Approved Directive in place causes less confusion and stress as medical personnel and family struggle to make choices at what is a critical time for everyone.

So yes, I will continue to walk my winter journey knowing that there will be more struggles and numerous challenges each of which I will attempt to face with hope, grace, happiness and joy but, also, knowing I can make choices that I feel are best for me on this pathway.

So…. one hundred posts written and the journey continues……..

A journey taken one step at a time

A journey taken one step at a time

Posted in Aging, Beauty, Challenges, Deep thoughts, Family, Finding Joy | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Above The Clouds – Wild Weekly Photo Challenge # 27

I have a huge fascination for clouds and cloud formations. When I fly, as often as possible, I choose the window seat so I can plaster my nose or camera lens against the plane window and watch the clouds and sometimes the scenery that appears above the clouds. I have chosen to accentuate this fascination in Let’s Be Wild weekly photo challenge # 27 “Clouds”.

The following series of photos were taken on a flight across BC from the East Kootenays to Victoria. There were clouds above the lower blanket of clouds which covered most of the mountains except for the highest peaks which managed to peek through. Mount Baker clearly sits above the clouds.

Posted in Beauty, Challenges, Color, Fun, Out My Backdoor, Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Overlooked – Let’s Be Wild Weekly Photo Challenge # 26

For Let’s Be Wild weekly photo challenge # 26, I must share this picture of a grouse that took refuge in the crab apple tree in early autumn. It is truly “overlooked”.

Can you see the grouse?

Can you see the grouse?

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Beauty of the Iris – Color and Overlooked

Let the following pictures show the beauty of the iris by focusing on the beards, falls and color. Let’s Be Wild photo challenge # 26 is “overlooked” and the Daily Press weekly photo challenge is “color”. These pictures showcase both challenges and display the beauty of the Bearded Iris.

Posted in Beauty, Color, Creativity, Finding Joy, Fun, Garden, Phonegraphy, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Jake’s Photo Challenge – Entrance

Jake at Jakesprinter Sunday Post has chosen “entrance” for his weekly photo challenge. Using nature as a catalyst, my photos of “entrance” feature wood and rock.

Posted in Challenges, Creativity, Finding Joy, Fun, ipad, Out My Backdoor, Phonegraphy, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment