Black Friday Solution

Pride is such a subtle sin, one of those “you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone” kind of things. There you are cruising along feeling pretty good and then wham something humbling comes along and the 2×4 of reality strikes again.
It just dawned on me that I harbor pride for being early with my Christmas shopping. The reality is that I will do just about anything to avoid what some people so thoroughly embrace… the Black Friday and ensuing Holiday Shopping frenzy. Places I count unpleasant to the point of complete avoidance from now until Christmas? Let’s see, the mall, Target, Wal-Mart, Toys-R-Us, Michaels Crafts…. You get the picture. Amazon.com is my ultimate friend!
This year, I’m feeling even more savvy than usual. I did a lot of shopping at www.CompassionTea.com! Spoiler alert: If you are on my Christmas gift giving list, guess what you’re getting for Christmas! If you’re not on my Christmas list, you want to get there fast!
Compassion Tea is offering several really great tea samplers all prettied up for the holidays. There is the pyramid tea bag gift which has 10 pyramid tea bags (either Masala Chai, Provence, or Irish Breakfast) neatly snuggled in a classy black tin, perfect for storing your tea year round. I purchased some of these for my friends who aren’t already avid tea drinkers in the hopes of converting them! I also purchased several of the Holiday Tea Sampler and the Kenyan Holiday Tea Sampler gift packs. There are two types of tea to choose from, either a collection of three Kenyan teas or a collection of three holiday teas including our special blend, Compassion Spice. These packs arrive in a lovely golden pouch and include a tea strainer. I had the privilege of actually helping to pack several of the teas and so I also got to sample them! Yummy!
My favorite packaging pack is the brushed silver flip top canister filled with four teas and a tea strainer. Again, you can choose from a collection of Kenyan teas or holiday teas including Compassion Spice. The canister is just the right size for storing a number of teas in your pantry or even on your counter. And then there is the ultimate gift pack, the Compassion Tea Premier Gift Pack, for those who have been truly exemplary this year. This features five of the highest quality teas Compassion Tea offers in individual tins along with a tea strainer and one month free on any Compassion Tea membership purchase.
Of course, the really great thing about doing your holiday shopping at Compassion Tea this year is that the profits from the sale of these gift packs is also doing charitable work. Each gift pack you give comes with information about the work of Compassion Tea and the CareNow Foundation so you and your recipient can learn more about “the world’s least served.” In church this morning, the question was posed, “What if what we purchased helped people a world away?” What if? For those who purchase and enjoy Compassion Tea, that what if is a reality. Stay tuned for the next blog to learn about Ed and Wendy Bjurstrom’s trip to Africa and about the joy with which they’ve delivered medical supplies and monetary support to a number of clinics around the continent, thanks in part to Compassion Tea sales!
Yes, I’m mostly done with my Christmas shopping and I’m feeling pretty good about it, possibly even smug. But with a product and a cause like Compassion Tea, I think this one pridefulness will be excused.

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Playing With My Food

My love affair with food is relatively new. For the longest time, food was sustenance and, besides the joy of ice cream, it brought very little value to my life. Then I moved overseas. It was probably the exposure to cuisines from France, Spain, the Netherlands (yes, believe it or not!), Thailand, Japan, Argentina, Italy, Greece, and India that sparked the interest. The fun of pairing wine with different foods (because wine is more diverse and cheaper in Amsterdam than here) added to my awakening. But I owe a lot of that interest to my own cooking experiences. I mean, one HAS to get creative when one has a stove, a toaster oven and a microwave/convection oven with which to work. Have you ever tried roasting a turkey in a microwave- sized convection oven? Have you ever baked the stuffing in a toaster oven? The local Albert Heijn grocery store just didn’t carry the same kinds of basics as our overstocked American stores. Moving to Amsterdam meant it was time to move beyond meatloaf and roasted potatoes (although there was that one dinner party when we invited our French neighbors up for a “typical American meal” but that’s a whole different story).

And so, food became a creative outlet… a chance to explore, experiment, enjoy, and mother. I love making a meal for family and friends, trying new recipes, tweaking old ones. I actually get excited about the flavors and colors and the organic goodness of what comes out of my kitchen these days. Two years ago, Matt challenged me even further. He brought home 40 lbs. of venison, a meat I had never tasted let alone cooked! Suddenly, we had a freezer full. Last year, it was pheasant. This year, it was 60 lbs. of antelope. Thank goodness for the internet!

And thank goodness for Compassion Tea! About a month ago, Aunt Anne gave me a packet of Sencha Kyoto Cherry Rose tea, a green tea found in the regular offerings. As I took a whiff of the tea, I began to envision cherries (frozen from our cherry picking days back in June) mixed with tea and antelope and decided to give it a try. First, I sautéed some onions and garlic in butter and put them in the slow cooker. Then I dredged the antelope pieces in flour and lightly browned them in the butter. I put the antelope and the defrosted cherries (I think a can of cherries would work well too) in the slow cooker and poured about 2 cups of Sencha Kyoto Cherry Rose tea, leaves included, over the top. 8 hours later, I dished it out and my family devoured it! The stew was delicious with just a hint of sweet cherry goodness and an earthiness from the tea leaves and the antelope itself. I think this recipe would work for any kind of wild game. And as Clara would say, “It’s easy peasy, lemon squeezy!” (For dessert, try a cup of Almond Rocker, a lovely herbal that truly is like “marzipan in a cup.” The tea has a hint of cherry mixed in with the almond to make it a delightful end to a very cozy meal.)

Here’s the point to my ramblings. Tea is great to drink. But it has other functions too! Cooking is just the beginning! And when your tea is Compassion Tea, you know that you are helping a great cause beyond enjoying a great cup of tea, or recipe, or bowl of potpourri, or….

Brew Up The Holidays!

My mom and dad left today after a delightful fall visit to our home. We had a great time celebrating Halloween and the arrival of our newest family member, Winston Lightning Bolt, the goldendoodle pup. As we sat around the breakfast table this morning, Mom said, “Well, it’s only 6 weeks or so until Christmas so we’ll see you again very soon.” Something about that sentence took my breath away. I think it was the 6 weeks part. Isn’t it overwhelming to comprehend that we’ve got the festivities of Thanksgiving in about 2 weeks and all the hubbub of the Christmas season fast approaching!
And yet, what joy comes with the holiday season! From the cheery light displays and animated deer on people’s lawns to the somewhat frenetic holiday music blaring throughout the stores, from the endless lines in stores to the emphasis on good will, generosity, and peace, from the holiday feasts of turkey and dressing and cranberries and pumpkin pie to the gingerbread, peppermint, and chocolate delights, there is an increased happiness, togetherness, awareness, and festivity wherever you turn. For me, talk of Christmas harkens a wide variety of very pleasant memories. I’m sure the same is true for you
Not too long ago, I walked into Uncle Lee and Aunt Anne’s house for a Compassion Tea meeting. I was greeted with a cup of tea crafted by our own exclusive tea blender, Chris Faherty. Called Compassion Spice, this caffeine-free tea uses a rooibos as its base and is infused with cinnamon, anise, cardamom, and cloves. The smells of the steeping tea took me back to sipping the gluhwein at the Christmas Market in the square next to Cologne Cathedral in Germany. It reminded me of visiting a certain home every Christmas and enjoying warm cups of wassail. I recalled Christmases in the variety of places we’ve lived… the beauty of the trees, the smiles of children, the abundance and joy and peace. In short, the tea smelled like Christmas! And it tasted like it, too! This year, I plan to add Compassion Spice to my line-up of holiday traditions. It will pair perfectly with pumpkin pie and gingerbread house building. It will tickle the tongues of the kids while we make and decorate Christmas cookies or hang the stockings by the fireplace. It is the perfect cup before settling down for a long winter’s nap or for warming up after a romp in the snow.
Compassion Spice tea is available in the regular offering and will be featured in the Holiday Spice Sampler and Holiday Spice Canister gift packs. It’s time to brew up the holidays… with an extra measure of compassion. It’s time for some Compassion Spice!