Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tea Time

I am proof #1, a constant rhythm is critical to my well-being.  Grumpy with the shakes is a fair characterization if I don't eat on a regular schedule.  Make me stay up later than my usual bedtime?  I'll just fall asleep on you anyway or get whiny.  Fortunately, I don't let myself get too out of whack because I would become an unmanageable beast.

Knowing thyself is half the battle.  What you do with that knowledge can help you win the war whether it's a battle with weight, energy levels, managing an illness or keeping the metabolism in check.

Recent studies and writings are revealing just how important a constant state is. Dr. David Agus, author/researcher/oncologist describes the body's desire for predictability beautifully is his book, The End of Illness
The body loves predictability. One of the best ways of reducing stress on the body and keeping its preferred, balanced state of being—homeostasis—is to maintain a consistent routine every single day, especially with regard to the body’s natural rhythms as dictated by sleep-wake cycles, eating patterns, medication use, and physical activity. You’ll feel the difference in more energy, an enhanced sense of wellbeing, and my bet is you’ll effortlessly find the motivation to attack all those other goals on your list.

What does this have to do with tea time?  This spring as I was sipping tea at two different afternoon teas, my companions at both events wondered if I might write about our lovely afternoons.  The big camera may have led them to believe that was a possibility. 

In researching an angle for a possible afternoon tea posting, the Duchess of Bedford from the 18th century revealed how this posting would unfold.

The Duchess didn't need an army of researchers to tell her what she already knew about herself, she was experiencing a "sinking" feeling in the afternoons.  The custom of the day was to have a late breakfast with a secondary meal of the day late in the evening.  Of course she had that "sinking" feeling in the afternoon!  Her solution?  She had her personal chef prepare a small meal with tea which soon became known as afternoon tea.  She is credited as being the founder of tea time.

From that point forward, afternoon tea became an event.  Actually it became many types of tea events, whether it was a high tea usually taken after 4p.m. which served more as a working man's dinner typically including hot/savory items, a Royal Tea where champagne or sparkling wine would be served, a Low Tea commonly held between 2p-4p utilizing coffee tables (low tables) or a Home Tea commonly held for friends, family and acquaintances highlighting finger sandwiches, scones and other tasty treats.

Royal Tea Setting

My family started me on weekend home teas since I was a tot and we've continued our tradition to this day when we are together.  Afternoon snacks do not necessarily need to be perfunctory just to retain homeostasis; why not celebrate a lovely cup of tea along with a treat?  Wouldn't our days be just a bit nicer?  Listen to your inner self and you'll know the answer.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bravery Required to Harvest Lettuce....Really?

If I had to hunt and gather all my own food, I guarantee you I'd turn into a full time vegetarian.  Hunting instincts don't normally embody my soul.

My huntress weakness was on full display years ago when my grandmother's husband took me fishing the year Elvis died.  (I have no idea why I remember that).  I had no problem putting the bait on the hook.  Nor did I have any issue with casting.  Yank, yank... The moment I reeled in the poor little fish, I couldn't bear plucking him off the hook and watching him flop in the bucket to his death.  Back in the water he went.

Gentle urban farming is more my thing.  You know the drill, treat the soil and plants well, exercise patience, reap the rewards with great appreciation later.

There is nothing finer than enjoying a crisp salad, fresh out of the yard.  No squeamish issues while plucking a few lettuce leaves out of the garden should happen, right?

Having cut what was left of the lettuce from the garden and stuffing them into bags, I brought the bounty into the kitchen to begin washing, spinning and storing away.  Following Ina Garten's advice of putting the leaves in a tub of water to rehydrate and letting a majority of the dirt float off I was taken aback when an earwig crept off a leaf.

Then an army of them appeared.  You should have heard the squeals emanating from my kitchen.  Somehow, John was doing a good job ignoring me from the other room.  The only good news I could see is they ultimately drown in the water.  Maybe I do have a killer instinct.

On my second bag of harvested lettuce leaves, I couldn't take it anymore.  The darn critters were bigger, fatter and feistier than the first troops.   I had to admit defeat and called in for backup help.  John to the rescue.

Being a bit more experienced at bug killing, he swooped in, grabbed the bag and took it outside.  He flushed every last one of those suckers out, including the free-rider spider.

I may not be any good with my predator abilities, but I do know when to appreciate those who do so on my behalf.
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