Saturday, April 28, 2018

Belle of the Ball

When did this little girl grow up? How has time marched on so quickly that we find ourselves at this moment, eighteen years later? Surfing among a sea of colorful balls, Angelica has seized each day as her own. We have watched her glide through adventures with her warm heart and honest spirit. Sincere and serene, beautiful inside and out, she makes us smile.

and tonight, she dances off to the Mechanicsburg Senior High School Prom.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Puerh Tea Tasting

Our Mid-Atlantic Tea Business Association meeting at TeaScapes in Atlantic Highlands, NJ featured a quick puerh tea tasting guided by Deborah Raab, newly elected president of the association and owner of Tea-for-All, along with her husband and outgoing president, Mike Raab. Deb provided a sampling of a dark puerh, which she referred to as 'cooked' and also a green puerh (the lighter tea on the right). Puerh teas are known for their unique flavor, a somewhat acquired taste, or as Deb described them, 'they are both edgy'. To my untrained palate, the green puerh was more enjoyable, the dark tea a little too intense. I can see how one could develop a love of this tea though as our palates change and mature over time. 

 These teas were from Jalam Teas, and hand sourced by Jeff Fuchs in the remote villages of Yunnan province in China. As members of the 'tea a month club', they receive these specialty tea cakes complete with a history of the tea, the region, the people, and the health benefits associated with the tea. To quote Jeff, "Each tea is an adventure and each tea has a tale." He is eager to share his love of the leaf, particularly the unique tea cakes that are puerh tea. For more information, be sure to poke around the Jalam Teas website. There are video tutorials and interesting insight into the journey of discovering these special teas. 

'If tea isn't offered, a relationship isn't offered''- Himalayan saying

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

TeaScapes - Beyond the Tea - MATBA April Seminar

The quarterly seminar for the Mid-Atlantic Tea Business Association was recently held at TeaScapes in Atlantic Highlands, NJ. Hosted by business owner Kathleen Edinger, members from PA, MD, and NJ gathered for an enjoyable day of sharing, learning, and reconnecting. TeaScapes is a modern tea bar where Kathleen encourages you to surround yourself with tea. She hopes that you take time for tea and for yourself, all the while enjoying the moment.

Kathleen, a certified tea consultant, is energetic, bubbly with enthusiasm, and on the go. She invited us to enjoy the morning reception of coffee cakes and fresh fruit with yogurt and crunchy toppings and offered a variety of tea flavors to fill our cups.

The shop has a great assortment of premium loose leaf teas organized by region of origin. Various tea accoutrements, from T-sacs to tea pots and hand crocheted cozies line the shelves. Kathleen also offers classes, tastings, and special events. If you ever find yourself in Atlantic Highlands, do stop in for your tea fix. Kathleen will be sure that you enjoy your time spent at her tea bar.

MATBA members at TeaScapes, Atlantic Highlands, NJ

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Give a Weed an Inch!

In the middle of winter --- no one is missing this part of the garden as it is covered in snow. Now that spring has officially sprung... let the weeds do their thing!

Photo from the summer we lost control...
and the weeds won!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Turrón de Doña Pepa - Guest Post

Recently I (Angelica) gave a presentation in my Spanish class about a Peruvian festival called “El Señor de Los Milagros”, or the Lord of Miracles. The festival is one of the most important Catholic religious phenomenons in the world. It is celebrated in Peru during the month of October with parades in the streets and the carrying of the statue of Jesus. Citizens wear purple to show their gratitude for a received miracle, wearing the clothing for a week, the whole month, or even the year. The festival is celebrated with singing and dancing in the streets, practicing their faith, participating in the parade and making a sweet and sticky treat called Turrón de Doña Pepa. 
Turrón is a nougat-like dessert made with anise, a sweet fruit syrup, and small pieces of shortbread combined together to make a crunchy yet smooth bite of sugar. I made some for my class after a 2-day process. Most of my classmates enjoyed it, but I have a suspicion that there was too much anise for some of them. A close family friend provided a store-bought version purchased in Perú and hand carried back to PA so that we could sample the real deal. IMHO, the homemade version was better. It was quite an experience to be able to have the opportunity to learn and present a Spanish holiday. Each student had to present to receive their major grade in the class, so I have learned so much about Spanish culture around the world. It is such an enjoyable activity, to sit and listen to the speaker talk about the festival or holiday they were assigned. All of the presentations gave me the interest and the fascination to visit each country and experience each holiday.

Part of the requirement for Angelica's class project was to prepare a typical food that is enjoyed during the festival. After poking around the Internet, and watching several 'how-to' videos, she decided she could make the Turrón following this recipe. The recipe states 10 minutes prep time, 30 minutes cook time for a total time of 40 minutes. HA! HA! We spent two days putting this together. The first evening, Angelica measured and prepared the shortbread cookies. Rolling, cutting and forming long thin equal strips and baking them. That in itself was more than 40 minutes.
Measuring the flour, making the shortbread
Rolling, measuring, cutting the shortbread

The second day she prepared the syrup. It smelled divine - a sweet mixture of apple, lime, orange, prunes and spices; cinnamon, cloves and allspice. And then it was time to assemble the confection. The shortbread pieces are placed in the pan layer by layer, with each layer going in opposite directions. The warm sweet glaze is then poured over the cookies, filling in all the holes. After letting the glaze firm overnight, the dessert was cut.
Mixing the spiced fruit syrup.
Glazing the shortbread with the syrup.
Can you discern the home made version vs. the Peruvian version? Special thanks to Nancy and José for gifting us with this special delicacy from his homeland. Angelica was pleased to be able to share both with her classmates.
Angelica's homemade version is on the left with the purple decorations.

Monday, April 16, 2018


Another culinary delight from the Middle East was this container of Zataar. Most of the herbs are powdered in this blend, so it's not as easy to distinguish as the Bedouin Tea which had whole herbs and spices. But, a little Internet research shows that oregano, marjoram, wild thyme, and sesame seeds are the common herbs found in this mix. However, it looks like there are as many variations on this mix as there are cooks and the combination of herbs was often kept secret even among family members. My sister shares that while on their vacation, they were served bread alongside a shallow bowl of oil blended with these herbs. Tasty!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Bedouin Tea

Our sister and brother-in-law journeyed to the Middle East this past February for an adventure of a lifetime. The Holy Lands beckoned them, and they went as part of their on-going 50th Anniversary celebrations, experiencing camel rides, the pyramids, and desert adventures. Periodically, photos were sent long distance, both to share the experience and to allay concerns while they traveled to such a foreign land. 
One such adventure included taking tea in a Bedouin tent. These nomadic people, known for their hospitality, delight in making and drinking tea over an open fire in the desert. Shown here, Carrie and Phil are enjoying Bedouin Tea in Wadi Rum in Jordan. 

Prepared in a metal kettle over an open fire, a variety of indigenous herbs and spices are tossed into the kettle to boil and brew before serving. How lucky to be gifted with a container of Bedouin tea from one of the fabulous markets they visited. Slivers of Lemon Grass, large sections of cinnamon bark, chunks of ginger root, cloves, and beautiful whole pieces of Star Anise coupled with green cardamon pods, create a delicious fragrant pot pourri of herbs and spices harvested from the desert.

This chilly April day, feeling more like winter than spring, inspired me to brew a batch of the tea, on the cook top, not over an open fire alas. Tossing a handful of the herbs and spices into the pot, I boiled it for about 15 minutes to release the essential oils. The fragrance permeated the air. The warm spicy brew was comforting and flavorful - a delicious lemon flavored spiced herbal tea. The lemon grass was predominate and the spices lingering in taste. Perfect!

Special thanks to Carrie and Phil for sharing their adventure!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Fairy Festival Flashbacks

Looking back at the early years of our Fairy Festival when we were excited to welcome 30 kids ! Over the years, we have had so much fun playing in the garden and dressing up.

The fairy festival is a very magical event for all who attend and all who believe.

 Posie's Queen of the May costume.  A fan favorite. Posie's costumes have changed over the years - always elaborate.
Nancy creates amazing treats. In the early years of the festival, the treat table was 'self serve' and based on the honor system. Fairy cakes continue to be a popular fairy festival yummy!
 Now the fairy festival has grown and is throughout the gardens and sprawls into the back alley.

Fairy Rose and her children have danced and played with us over the years. As time marches on, some of her family of fairies, elves, and jesters have grown up and are now married.
Do you have memories of the Fairy Festival to share with us? Please share!
Mark your calendar for this year's event, September 8th and 9th, 2018. See you there! For details, visit our website,

This little fairy is off to college in September! How did that happen?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Victorian Hair Art

One of our special events in early 2018 featured "Victorian Hair Art". Our presenter, Lucy Cadwallader  learned about this art form through her involvement with Civil War Reenacting. It was quite common to save a lock or length of a loved ones hair before they went off to fight the war.

Small brooches or lockets could be made with the basket weave woven pieces of hair.  Gentlemen would have pocket watch chains created out of hair. Large family heirlooms could be made with pieces of hair from multiple family members. 
Lucy brought this "Remembrance" bracelet, created to remember Queen Victoria, to display at Sweet Remembrances.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Onion Skin Dyed Eggs

Happy Easter! Our family tradition includes onion skin dyed eggs as part of our festivities. And this year was no exception.

Simply place the eggs and onion skins in a large pot, cover with water and bring the eggs to a boil. Once a rollicking boil has been reached, cover the pot, turn off the burner, remove from the head, and allow the eggs to sit in the pan for about 25 minutes. Drain and run under cold water. You will have a lovely natural dyed mahogany brown egg.


The eggs are nestled among natural straw in a wooden bowl.They will grace our Easter table as we carry on the family traditions.