Tuesday, February 19, 2013

tea tuesday: Teavana Earl Grey Creme


When I first tasted tea as a child, I had a cup of some french vanilla tea. It was delicious. But then I had a cup of Earl Grey. It was even better.

Since that moment, nigh on 18 years ago, Earl Grey has been my favorite tea. My tea tastes have broadened considerably since then, of course. I can't recall a tea I didn't like.

But anyway. Earl Grey. What a stately name. There are many versions of Earl Grey out there. Nearly every tea company produces one. I guess that shows how popular it is. One of the best that I've ever tried is the Earl Grey Creme from Teavana. First of all, Teavana only sells loose leaf tea. That automatically makes their tea better than some other companies. Yes, I'm a tea snob, though you wouldn't know it from looking at my tea cabinet -- most of the tea in there is in teabags.

Earl Grey Creme is a black tea flavoured with bergamot orange. Bergamot is an acquired taste, I think. I know that my Grandma, who of all people ought to love Earl Grey, says she does not because of the bergamot. Ah well, more for me!

Here is the description from the Teavana website:

High tea is further elevated with tart bergamot orange tastefully tempered by creamy Madagascar vanilla then blended with the classic pomp of an Earl Grey black tea. A majestically smooth confection that is now available any time the senses desire. Sprinkled with sunny yellow marigold petals, this full leaf wonder is divinely delicious with a silky sweet finish. 

The tea that I have doesn't have the yellow marigold petals, so this must be a recent addition. The photo above doesn't really show those, either. One reviewer on the page said that it doesn't taste quite the same, so I guess we shall have to see.

But if you're looking for a stately and delicious cup of tea, try Earl Grey. It's delectable with a splash of cream and two lumps of sugar. And don't forget the scones! 

Monday, February 18, 2013

the "green" lifestyle

One of the things I've become enamoured with lately is the "green" lifestyle. The idea of living off the grid and being self-sustainable is fascinating and it's kind of a huge dream of mine. And when I say a huge dream, I mean it, because I also want to live in a giant old Victorian farmhouse out in the country, and I also want to travel the world, which would make self-sustainable living a bit hard.... I should mention that I have a lot of huge dreams, but they don't all coincide very nicely. No pretty jigsaw puzzle in my brain. That's what happens when you have an interest in almost anything and a severe case of wanderlust.

But as far as the "green" lifestyle goes, some of that is so easily attainable. Here are a few things I've already done to live more simply and in consequence, more green.

  • Make my own home cleaners using vinegar, water, baking soda, and lemons. (Essential oils to join in soon.)
  • Start experimenting with home beauty products. (I used half a lemon to rub raw honey all over my face, rinsed it clean with warm water, and applied a tiny amount of coconut oil as a moisturizer -- my face glowed. And felt so soft. I gotta do that again. Good thing lemons are cheap, haha.)
  • Stop buying processed foods and start making most things from scratch. This is excellent because there is less package waste, and we're not putting so many toxic ingredients into our bodies.
  • Start buying fair-trade and organic whole coffee beans. (Not only is this more sustainable, but for some reason this coffee tastes so much better.)
  • Make my own laundry detergent. (Granted, mine has Oxi-Clean in it, which might not be the best stuff, but the mix that I made has lasted almost nine months. Less money spent, less waste overall, and no fillers in the soap.)

This blog has a lot of focus on living a simple lifestyle, which of course doesn't mean easier. And to be honest, green living isn't necessarily easier, either. But it can be less expensive in the long run, because it truly does end up being healthier.
I'm no crazy environmental hippie, but I do know that God created the earth first, for us. Though we and it are no longer perfect and will most certainly not last forever, I want to help take care of the earth and take care of my own body because we are stewards. We need to take care of this fantastic planet that He has given to us, we need to have compassion on the peoples who inhabit it, and maybe in the process, the Holy Spirit will plant the seeds of faith.
Yes, that's a long stretch, but we are all connected, because we are all creations by God in His image. We are His children, though so many people on earth don't believe that.

Friday, February 15, 2013

the wonders of coconut oil

Coconut oil on my skin.
Coconut oil in my coffee.
Popcorn made with coconut oil.
Coconut oil in my hair.
Oil-pulling with coconut oil.
Coconut oil in my smoothie.


Okay, maybe that last one is a bit much. But seriously, coconut oil is the new miracle food/drug/beauty product. Maybe not new, but it's new to me. When I purchased a big jar of the stuff from Wilderness Family Naturals after much debating and research, I intended mostly to use it for oil pulling (more on that in a moment) and putting in my hair. I do use it in my hair as a conditioner, leave-in or wash out, and it kind of works as a gel, too. And then my hair smells like summer should. Which is awesome.

Oil-pulling is an ancient health practice that just requires some pure oil and your mouth. Coconut oil is the best for this; never use vegetable oil or canola oil or any of those. I think sesame oil is okay, too. The downside of coconut oil is that you have to melt it first, since it is solid at room temperature, at least in the wintertime. But all you have to do is slowly swish the oil around in your mouth for 15-20 minutes, preferably before you even drink anything in the morning. This process draws out, or "pulls" toxins from your body via your mouth. The mouth is probably one of the more toxic parts of your body, which makes sense if you think about it. And never swallow the oil, because of course it is laden with toxins that you don't want in your stomach! There's not much more to the process itself; there's a fair bit of research out there to read on the benefits of it if you'd like. I had been meaning to try oil pulling for a month now, but I finally did it today. And I didn't last more than 30 seconds. My gag reflex is super annoying. But my mouth felt better even in those 30 seconds. My back teeth had been hurting, which is why I finally got up the courage to try this, and now they really don't hurt. Granted, that'll probably change as soon as I eat something hard, but I am going to attempt to be faithful with this oil pulling and see if I can train myself to be better about it.

As for other ways of using coconut oil, it does work really well on the skin. I put it on my legs after I shave, and they feel amazing. I even have smoothed a tiny amount onto my lips. Use it like you would a lotion, but you need very little because it's obviously oily. And, because it's solid, just rub a small amount in your palms until liquid and then use it. Coconut oil can also be used to make deodorant, body butter, sugar scrubs, lip balms, etc. I'll post recipes as I try them.

And this awesome oil can be used in the kitchen, too! I used it in my Stir-Crazy to pop popcorn last night and I could hardly taste the coconut and the popcorn wasn't super oily and heavy like when I use vegetable oil (which I won't be buying anymore!). It was delicious. I also occasionally put a scoop of oil in my cup of coffee or in my smoothie.

I never used to like coconut. The taste bothered me a lot. But I was determined to get over that so I could use this wonderful oil, and I think perhaps I have! If you have questions about the different kinds of coconut oil, don't hesitate to ask! I purchased extra-virgin, because that's probably the best for beauty products.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

Tea is good for your heart, so drink a cup of tea.
Whether alone or together, drink a cup of tea.
Tea is good for your soul, so drink a cup of tea.
Whether happy or sad, drink a cup of tea.

Happy Valentine's Day

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I write; it's just what I do.

In the last five or so years (pretty much since my family got fast internet, yay!), I have been blogging. Not regularly, perhaps, but I've made my share of posts. Private journaling has always been a hobby of mine, though I have let it slack off in the last few years. I guess now that I'm not a teenager with frivolous things like boys, shoes, and makeup to write about, there's nothing important left! I kid...completely and utterly kid. But the point is, I'm a writer.

My blogging has evolved from being more of an online diary to being something I purposefully share with the world. Does anyone remember Xanga? Or LiveJournal? I had an account on both of those while my family still had dial-up! I love some of the things I wrote on my LiveJournal. Xanga was definitely more on the frivolous side. And then there was MySpace, which wasn't exactly a journal. And Facebook notes were a thing for awhile, too. And I finally joined Blogger. Again, the point is, I'm a writer.

To illustrate this fact (the "I'm a writer" one), I'm going to tell you a story. A few years ago, June 2010, I went camping up north with my husband (boyfriend at the time!) and some of his long time friends. I knew exactly two of them, but by the end of the trip I knew I fit in well. At any rate, it was fun. But the whole being a writer started to get to me the morning after we arrived. I had completely forgotten my journal! When I go out into God's glorious creation, I should have my journal with me. So I improvised, pulling out my little cell phone and using the "Notes" function to write. I don't know how many separate notes I filled when Nate finally asked if I wanted to buy a notebook at the general store. He bought me one, which of course got soaked because it rained almost the entire week...that's a different story, though. But I got to write, and I was happy.

I need to get my thoughts out. And I like to share with people the things I know and the things I am learning, in hopes that others will share with me what they know and are learning. It's a two-way street. And writing is my witness to a lost and broken world. Being a Christian permeates every aspect of my life, and because writing is one of my skills, I use that to share the Gospel. Once shared, it is the work of the Holy Spirit, not me. It's all God's work, not mine. He just uses me in His work.

I write; it's just what I do.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

tea tuesday: PG Tips

PG Tips  Tea Bags - 40 count

Hello, my name is Beth and I'm addicted to tea. (The irony is that I'm drinking coffee as I write this.) Other than books, I probably spent most of my little money during college on tea. I still have some of that tea, but we won't talk about that. I have a shelf in my beverage cabinet overflowing with tea. I drink at least one cup of tea per day, oftentimes two or three. I don't have an overarching preference; it's more my mood, how my body feels, and the time of day.

One of my favorite black teas comes from England. Surprised? I didn't think so. Anyway. I was first introduced to PG Tips about eight years ago when I first met the Tea Ladies. These lovely ladies serve only PG Tips at their soirees and tea parties held mainly in the parlor at the David Davis Mansion in Bloomington, IL. The mansion is one of my favorite places on this earth. I have walked the halls in various period costumes, played Christmas carols on the parlor piano, given a couple of small tours, worked in the garden, and last but not least, taken tea in the parlor. I have also served tea in the parlor, as a maid for some of the parties. I could go on about that place, which I miss so much it physically hurts, but this post is for tea, not the mansion.

PG Tips is a black tea. On the side of the box is written this description: "A popular British blend of the finest Assam, Ceylon and Kenyan teas which produces a rich and refreshing flavour. The definitive traditional English tea." Funny how we think of tea as coming from England, but it is obviously not grown there. Anyway. This tea does indeed have a "rich and refreshing flavour" that I love very much. It is perfect plain, or with milk and sugar, or honey and lemon, or whatever combination you would like. But please don't put milk and lemon together -- that would curdle the milk and then your tea would be nasty!

One of my favorite ways to drink PG Tips is as a hot toddy in the evenings. I make a mug of tea, add a jigger of whiskey, and either a teaspoon of sugar or honey. It is quite delicious and excellent on cold and dreary winter nights. (Click on the picture at the top of this post to purchase some tea!)

Monday, February 11, 2013

welcome to "a blissful simplicitea"

Greetings, and welcome to my lifestyle blog! As you can see in the header, this blog is for recipes (probably lots of recipes -- I have an obsession with cooking and baking), natural health and wellness, various crafts and DIY projects I take on, thoughts on marriage and life in general, and tea. Yes, always tea.

I am hoping for this blog to give others inspiration while also giving me inspiration and building my confidence, because the largest goal is to eventually build a business. Granted, this is a very large goal, and probably quite far away, possibly unattainable. But I hope that anyone who follows me will enjoy the journey, and perhaps learn a few things along the way.

You'll have to bear with me during the early stages of this blog. I do not have a working camera -- just my iPod and cell phone. My iPod photos turn out rather grainy for reasons I don't know, and my cell phone is unfortunately not good with transferring photos. I am saving for a DSLR, but in the meantime I hope to purchase a simple point-and-shoot. I also do have a Polaroid that I will experiment with, but that's a separate topic for later posts. ^_^

Posting will be somewhat sporadic in these early days, especially as I am still fiddling with the blog layout and stuff. So, here's to the beginning of a new adventure! I can't wait to see how it all plays out.