Compassion Tea’s Top Ten Holiday Gift Ideas

Holiday Gift Pouch available now at http://www.compassiontea.com/gifts

Holiday Four Tea Gift Box highlights four of our most popular teas.

I barely got the Thanksgiving dishes washed and whamoo Christmas lights were up all over town. One day, the grocery store aisles were designed to steer you toward all you would need for a Thanksgiving Day feast and overnight the stuffing and cranberries disappeared and were replaced with chocolate, peppermint, baking supplies, and holiday cheer. In the blink of an eye it became “the most wonderful time of the year.”

My reaction reminded me of my husband. In the early years of our marriage, I discovered a penchant for moving furniture around, always searching for a better arrangement, more floor space, better TV viewing, something a little more chic. It got really bad in our first apartment in Amsterdam when I had a lot more time on my hands and a lot less furniture. This was difficult for Matt who operated by memory many mornings, stumbling toward the coffee pot with eyes at half-mast. When there was a new piece of furniture in his way, well, he had multiple stubbed toes as a result. He grew to hate change of this nature. I felt the same way about the rush of Christmas this year. I was really enjoying being thankful, quiet, deliberate; with Christmas upon me, I look more like a chicken with its head cut off.

At any rate, the holiday season is here and we will continue to hurdle toward it rapidly. We survived Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday and I just noticed that Green Saturday is coming up. If perchance all of this consumerism hasn’t helped you work your way through your entire holiday shopping list already or if you just discovered a few teachers or colleagues you forgot to add to the list, I proudly present the TOP TEN TEA GIFTS available now at Compassion Tea Company!

1. Holiday Four Tea Gift Box
2. Holiday Pouch
3. Holiday Tea Caddy
4. Gift membership
5. Donate directly to CompassioNow in honor of someone
6. A gift certificate so the person on your list can pick out his or her favorite tea flavors
7. A pouch of tea with a recipe for your favorite cookies, muffins, or marinade
8. A plate of homemade cookies and a pouch of tea
9. 2 cup teapot with a pouch or two of tea
10. Make someone tea, share the afternoon, and send them home with a pouch of the tea you made.

There! Easy peasy lemon squeezey as the kiddos say. You can order all of these gifts at www.compassiontea.com and to donate directly to CompassioNow, go to www.compassionow.org.

Gentle disclaimer:  Purchasing tea gifts from Compassion Tea Company will do untold good for people in rural parts of Africa where medical care is scarce, where medical supplies run out quickly, where people are malnourished, fighting infections without antibiotics, leaving broken bones unset, and living with diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, diabetes and yet don’t have any medical care or have to walk miles to receive care. To learn more about what your gift of tea can do, join our email list (info@compassiontea.com), follow us on Twitter (@CompassionTea) or become a fan on Facebook. We share teas to save lives! So can you!

Happy shopping! May your toes remain unstubbed!

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Bountiful

Holiday Gift Pouch available now at http://www.compassiontea.com/gifts

As we gather around our separate tables of plenty this Thanksgiving, the directors of Compassion Tea will be sharing praise and thanks for our first year as an online tea company. From a personal perspective and with an eye to the business, this year has been bountiful beyond our wildest dreams. Here are a few specifics on our “We are Thankful” lists for 2012.

Chris and Jack Faherty: We’re thankful for the coming of age of our kids and the time we got to spend together in Africa last summer. We think it had a big impact on all of us – helping us realize just how blessed we are to live where we do, to have each other, and to have the expanded family we have. There are some seminal memories of silly things one or several of us did as well as some real poignant ones. We’re also grateful for safe travels throughout our trip. Lastly, we’re very grateful for the folks that tend to the needs of those less fortunate; including everyone who supports Compassion Tea through their memberships.

Anne Kennedy: I am thankful for the opportunities God has given us through Compassion Tea to share our passion of serving the least served and help make a difference in the lives of others in the far reaches of the world. I am also grateful for the support of our families, friends, tea club members and those who will support us in the future. I am blessed.

Lee Kennedy: God has blessed Compassion Tea in so many ways that it is difficult to pick only one for which to give thanks. However, I would have to choose the Compassion Tea team. This team strives to let the Lord lead, prayerfully shares each week in a team prayer time with our CEO, willingly puts Compassion Tea ahead of other activities in the giving of their time and talents, and supports, encourages, and lifts up each team member. It is a group that, while friends at the start of the effort, has become so much more as each member demonstrates love for each other in the way they work together. I am blessed to be a part of the team.

Ed and Wendy Bjurstrom: We are so very thankful for the partnership of Compassion Tea with CompassioNow in the work of saving lives in Africa. We are also grateful for the way God used the number 85, and all of our members who encourage us along the way.

Linda Taggart: I am so thankful for the ways in which God has directed our steps as a company, for how He has placed people in positions and situations to help Compassion Tea grow this first year. I am also thankful for those who have joined our team as members and who are monthly supporting the life-saving work of people like Dawn Leppan, Sister Marta, Danny and Nancy Smelser, Geoff and Nell at Mission Medic Air, and all of the other people who have given their lives to help people in rural parts of Africa.

As you sit down to a feast or as you widen the belt in advance of the pumpkin pie, spare a moment to ponder the people in Africa who lack food, shelter, medical care, and comfort. Give thanks for what you have and then give back. On Black Friday, do all of your Christmas shopping online… at http://www.compassiontea.com!

Holiday Four Tea Gift Box highlights four of our most popular teas.

Happy Thanksgiving!

META4

I love to read vanity plates. I think it is the puzzle behind it. I see a group of letters and numbers and wonder what they can mean. Sometimes the jumble never does make sense. Other times, discovering the meaning is easy. I consider it a small personal triumph when I figure out the difficult ones. Vanity plates cover all kinds of ideas and purposes. For example, my parents have special dates, my in-laws use their initials, and my neighbor uses his hobby — WINEMKR. My other neighbor tips her hat to her kids and to her British background with the use of MUM on her plate. Businesses use vanity plates to advertise, and sports fans use them to promote their team. Can you guess which football team is represented by R8DERS? There’s a local PT Cruiser owner who seems to love Pleasanton; PTOWN PT is that car’s plate. And then there are the people who want you to know something about them, like HOTROD and DZNYFAN. I thought this statement on life was great: ITLE DU. Some plates require a fair amount of decoding such as 2MCHCO2 spotted on a Prius recently. RX4GAS was proudly sported by a Lexus hybrid. Or then there was the Hummer I saw with the plate that says, “<3S GAS” (and for those of you not completely hip on text talk, the ❤ symbol is for a heart as in “loves”). Then there was the car with the plate 2ME4ME – not gonna touch that one with a 10 foot pole! If I were ever to wander down the vanity plate path, I would choose META4 after my favorite literary device. Such fun! Maybe we should hold a contest to see who can come up with the best vanity plate rendition of Compassion Tea! Would it be CMPSHN T or CMPASONT or maybe, like our phone number, SHR TEAS!

We actually all have vanity plates, though, don’t we? I live in a part of the world where the tags on your jeans still say a lot about who you are – at least from an income-based, where you shop, how you spend your money perspective. The labels in my community range from how you feed your family (organic farm fresh or fast food), to where you vacation (Tahoe or Disneyland), from sports teams your kids play on (recreational or competitive), to the coffee shop you frequent (Starbucks or Peets).

A funny thing happened the other day. As a room mom, I am part of a team collecting money to provide gifts to our teacher throughout the year. A fellow mom saw me the other morning and said, “Money! I’ve got to get you money for the teacher gifts!” I assured her that she still had time and then she said, “When I saw you I thought ‘Money’!” What she meant to say was that the sight of me reminded her that she could donate to the class fund. What I heard was that the sight of me looked like money. It was particularly thought-provoking for me because I had on my (drastically reduced but still über-cool) new 7 for all Mankind black jeans and a matching top and was feeling good that I was actually “dressed up” and not in the “I just rolled out of bed and need to go work-out after this” uniform of my daily life. Is that what people see when they see me? Money?

The way we act, the things we say, our attitudes and responses are like license plates of identity. I don’t want people to look at me and see money. When I affirmed my faith in Jesus Christ as my personal savior, my dad and pastor gave me the Bible verse Matthew 5:16 – “Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.” With God’s help, I’ve been striving, sometimes successfully, more often not so much, to live up to that verse. Yesterday, in church, the message was about what that looks like. In the New Testament, there are 27 one anothers… things we as Christians are to do to show God’s love in the world. I’ve attached the complete list so you can see the challenges this call presents.

All 27 of the one anothers found in the New Testament

Mandates like “Have equal concern for one another” and “Submit to one another,” like “Do not grumble against one another” and “Clothe yourself in humility toward one another” are not easy to follow through on, particularly after the election cycle we all just suffered through. But these are the tags, labels, vanity plates we should present to the world.

One label I am proud to carry with me is on my Compassion Tea tumbler. Whenever I hand out my card, wear my Compassion Tea shirt, brew a pot for a friend, or show up to an event with hot tea in hand, I am proud to tell people about what we are doing for the one anothers in Africa. I love that we’ve provided eyeglasses to grandmothers, sterile wound dressings to people with infected wounds that will require surgery once the infection is healed, ibuprofen and aspirin to people with fevers, antibiotics to people with infections, care to people deemed a drain on society, clean water and new sources of electricity, nurses to care, doctors who won’t accept the local government-run hospital’s assessment that a patient isn’t worth treating, and removal from enslavement, disease, and dismay through the work of CompassioNow and the clinics with which that organization partners. While the people in Africa are doing the serving, the carrying of one another’s burdens, their work would be impossible to complete without the support of those of us who make wise decisions about how we spend our money and who choose to buy with our consciences.

Compared to the rest of the world, we as Americans do look like “money” – even our poor look wealthy to a majority of the rest of the world. But if we used that label, that vanity plate, for the betterment of humanity… well, as I recently heard, that is the power of loving well.

I run the risk of sounding cliché in asking this, but I can’t stop myself. What does your vanity plate say about you?

Pumpkin, pumpkin!

The week before Halloween, the weather turned fast. In the span of a weekend, I turned off the pool and the sprinklers and turned on the fireplace! I had to laugh at the response I heard around me; I can’t begin to tell you how many people told me about their new-change-of-season night-time apparel. It is cozy flannel and comfort food season and even though the summer wasn’t terribly oppressive or long, there was a sense of excitement at the rejuvenation that the rain brings to the sun-baked hills of the East Bay. The earth and the people seemed to be sighing collectively in relief.

I’ve been drinking West Cape Chai like it is water. Nothing warms my insides better! I love the creamy milk and the spices make my mouth sing. My son, Joseph, thought I was drinking hot chocolate on the way to school one morning this week and feeling left out grabbed my mug. Instead of being upset to discover it wasn’t hot chocolate, he was elated. “This is so good, Mommy!” he repeated over and over as he consumed my chai. I nearly had to resort to fisticuffs to get my mug back before it was all gone!

Do you know what else I love about this time of year? It just screams pumpkin! Adding pumpkin to pancakes or making pumpkin muffins or bread or cookies or pie or lattes… it is the rule of the day. I can’t get enough of pumpkin! I just stumbled across a recipe for Pumpkin Swirled-Cream Cheese Brownies that looks decadent (I’ll let you know if it is as good as it looks!) and another for Pumpkin Risotto Bites (which combines two of my favorite foods in one… hooray!). Recipes forthwith pending the tasting board of approval.

I have to confess something. I have been dying to somehow combine West Cape Chai (the organic, fair trade rooibos-based chai that Compassion Tea recently added to its line-up) and pumpkin into something. BUT WHAT!

A walk through the Halloween candy aisle at the local grocery looking for candy corn led me to the solution! Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses! I tweaked the thumbprint recipe a bit using chai instead of peanut butter and this is what I got!

Ingredients:
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature (next time, I might try browning the butter first to add that nutty flavor)
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1/4 cup West Cape chai prepared (I made 1 cup milk, 1 cup water, 2 tbsp. of chai, simmered on the stovetop for 5 minutes. That way, I could have my chai and drink it, too!)
• 1 large egg
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 tsp baking soda
• 1/8 tsp salt
• 1/2 tsp West Cape chai ground with mortar and pestle
• approximately 24 Pumpkin Spice Hershey’s Kisses
Preparation:
Cream the butter and sugar for about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg, prepared chai, and vanilla. Mix until combined. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl as necessary. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Using your hands, roll the dough into approximately 24 1 inch round balls. Place the dough balls on parchment paper lined baking sheets and sprinkle ground chai lightly over cookies.
Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes.
Remove the cookies from the oven and immediately place pumpkin kisses in the center of each cookie. Don’t press too hard or the kisses will melt into pools of orange. Cool completely. Enjoy!

As you can see, they are festive and fun and très delicious. I really like how light they are, almost like a shortbread.

Do you have a favorite pumpkin recipe? Please share!