Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday Tea Time

Goodness where do the weeks go? Here it is Tuesday again and time for tea. Today's Tea Facts and information comes from a brochure printed by the Tea Council of USA...


Like fruits, vegetables and other plant-based foods, tea has been shown in numerous studies to have significant health benefits. Some scientists believe that tea's beneficial effects may be the result of the naturally occurring compounds called flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties. Flavonoids are present in fruits and vegetables, but are more concentrated in tea. Both decaffeinated and regular tea provide substantial amounts of these antioxidant flavonoids.

In the body flavonoids are believed to work to neutralize harmful molecules called 'free radicals' which, over time, can damage cells and tissues and contribute to chronic disease. Interestingly, laboratory research indicates that tea has similar or higher antioxidant power than many fruits and vegetables. While tea should not be considered a substitute for fruits and vegetables, it may be a valuable addition to a healthy, well-balanced diet. Studies suggest that flavonoids and other natural components found in tea may be beneficial in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. This may help explain why tea drinkers tend to have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease as well as certain types of cancers and many other chronic diseases.

I have already discussed tea's benefits in regards to heart health in a previous posting so will move on to other possible health benefits.

While tea is no replacement for other calcium rich beverages and foods associated with bone health, preliminary studies suggest that tea drinkers have stronger bones later in life. One European study found that women who drank tea actually had higher bone mineral density measurements than those who did not drink tea. While it is unclear how tea provides a bone-strengthening function, tea is a source of fluroid, which supports bone health.

Preliminary research suggests that drinking tea may reduce the risk of Type-2 Diabetes. Several laboratory studies have isolated potential mechanisms by which tea may decrease the risk of Diabetes, including changes to energy balance, food intake, lipid and carbohydrate metabolism and the antioxidant activities of flavonoids. Population-based studies also have found a reduction of risk for this disease amoung tea drinkers compared to non-tea drinkers.

Additionally in regards to Oral Health, tea - black, green, white or Oolong - may contribute to better oral health. Some experts believe that the flavonoids in tea may inhibit the ability of oral bacteria to form harmful plaque deposites. In additon, tea's naturally occuring fluoride may support healthy tooth enamal.

And in regards to Endurance and lean body mass some animal model studies have shown that tea flavonoids help prevent excess calories from being stored as body fat while others have found that tea improves endurance during exercise. In human studies, tea flavonoids have been shown to increase resting energy expenditure, while increasing at metabolism, making it easier to achieve lean body mass.

So have a cup of tea, or 2, and enjoy a healthier life.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Whimsical Wednesday

When I decided to dedicate my Wednesday posting to Whimsy (whimsey) I had no idea where my search for information on the topic would lead me. Each week I am surprised anew. This weeks search led me in an entirely now direction...
Introducing 'Lord Whimsy'

"Once, sissies were mistaken for gentlemen;

alas, now gentlemen are mistaken for sissies."

- Lord Whimsy

LORD BREAULOVE SWELLS WHIMSY (or "Whimsy" for short) is a gentleman who defies easy description; and as such, has been said to be both a noted dandy and a “glassgazing meacock”; a doyen of culture and a “jack-a-pudding”; a renowned lepidopterist and a “mere grammaticaster”; a Parnassian man-childe and a “finical dapperling”; an exemplar of male splendor and a “chutney-bottomed ninnyroger”—and of course, he has also been dubbed an Affected Provincial. But most importantly, he is the milky gnome who has conjured into being the collection of treatises and epistles entitled THE AFFECTED PROVINCIAL'S COMPANION, VOLUME ONE.

Whimsy delights with his jaunty prose and fanciful theories that leave in their wake a shimmering cloud of visions and ideas upon which the enchanted reader may ponder. The book is a distillation of Whimsy’s daily life: a sort of “personal folklore”, if you will. And like all folklore, it has roots in fact: Whimsy does indeed live near farms, raise moths and ride his highwheel bicycle through the rural town in which he resides. Whimsy has earned a loyal following through his regularly published articles in the Philadelphia Independent; readers have been known to give him handmade quince candies, love letters, and shouts of recognition as he strolls by. In return for these kindnesses, Lord Whimsy makes himself available to those in need, as he did when he once conducted a wedding for a couple of his readers. To quote a gentleman attending the event: “Dude, Whimsy’s real!”

In his attempt to live as beautifully as his modest means will allow, Lord Whimsy has lived in a former army barracks in a small rural town in the New Jersey Pine Barrens for twelve years. There he has created for himself a garden-choked naturalist/aesthete's outpost filled with books, animals, and artwork. He regularly posts his dispatches on an online journal, where he discusses topics as diverse as carnivorous plants, moustache grooming, French nineteenth-century cameo glass vases, and the great Wallace Shawn.

You can read Whimsy's journal and other interesting information about him at the following website.


Tuesday Tea Time

Did You Know...
Tea is the second most popular beverage in the world next to water?
Tea was discovered by accident nearly 5000 years ago?
Tea contains naturally occuring plant compounds that may be good for your health?
Tea is an ancient beverage that is loved by people around the world. Green Tea is most popular in Asian countries, while Black Tea is the brew of choice in the US and Western European countries. All tes comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, which is a warm weather evergreen. The types of tea are determined by the freshness of the tea leaves at processing and the amount of time they are in contact with oxygen. There is a wide variety of flavorful variations of both Green and Black, as well as White and Oolong Teas, because each tea takes on the name of the district in which it is grown and each district is known for producing tea with unique flavor and character. Additionally tea is divided into different grades, determined by the leaf size.
Herbal teas do not come from the Camellia Sinensis, but are an infusion of leaves, roots, bark, seeds or flowers of a variety of plants. Although Herbal teas lack many of the unique characteristics of the traditional teas and are not linked to the research on potential health benefits of such, many believe these herbal infusions have potential health benefits all their own.
According to legend, the custom of drinking tea began around 2737BC when some tea leaves accidentally blew into a pot of boiling water belonging to the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung. Whether enjoyed hot with milk and sugar or honey, or sweetened and served in a tall glass over ice as we southerners prefer it, tea's popularity continues to grow. Always savored as a flavorful refreshment, ancient people believed that the brew cured a variety of ailments. Today, scientist continue to find a variety of health benefits may indeed be linked to this beverage, and that the natural compounds found in tea may, in fact, help to maintain good health.
If any of you would like to learn more about TEA I would invite you to participate in a 'Professional Tea Tasting' event. For more information you can contact Dea at The Baron York Tea Cafe... www.baronyorkcafe.com

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Another Whimsical Wednesday

Frank Zappa's Whimsical Songs Will Stand the Test of Time...

This week for 'Whimsical Wednesday' I wanted to focus on whimsical songs...when I typed those 2 words in my yahoo search bar I was once again transported back to my teen years as the name 'Frank Zappa' appeared on the screen. You see, Frank spent part of his early years growing up in the same area of the California desert as I did. He along with his musical buddy, Capt. Beefheart, graduated from my rival high school and I saw them perform together several times in the 60's during our local fair's 'Battle of the Bands'. I was a major 'band groupie' in my teen years and have fond memories of attending the practice sessions of several local 'garage bands'. Additionally I remember many small concerts and the best time of my high school years... attending the Monterey International Pop Festival.

Frank's time in Lancaster is written about here in his Wikipedia Biography...

By 1956, the Zappa family had moved to Lancaster, a small aerospace and farming town in the Antelope Valley of the Mojave Desert, close to Edwards Air Force Base, and Los Angeles.

At Antelope Valley High School, Zappa met Don Vliet (who later expanded his name to Don Van Vliet and adopted the stage name Captain Beefheart). Zappa and Vliet became close friends, sharing an interest in R&B records and influencing each other musically throughout their careers. Around the same time, Zappa started playing drums in a local band, The Blackouts. The band was racially diverse, and included Euclid James "Motorhead" Sherwood who later became a member of the Mothers of Invention. Zappa grew more and more interested in the guitar, and in 1957, he was given his first guitar. Among his early influences were Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Howlin' Wolf and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. (In the 1970s and 80s, he invited Watson to perform on several albums.) Zappa considered soloing as the equivalent of forming "air sculptures", and developed an eclectic, innovative and personal style.
Zappa's interest in composing and arranging proliferated in his last high-school years. By his final year, he was writing,
arranging and conducting avant-garde performance pieces for the school orchestra. He graduated from Antelope Valley High School in 1958, and later acknowledged two of his music teachers on the sleeve of the 1966 album Freak Out!

So my search for whimsical songs lead me to an article entitled "His Whimsical Songs Will Stand the Test of Time" from which the following text was borrowed...

"Frank Zappa was and is an American rock music icon. Born in 1940, he passed away much too young at the age of 52 in 1993. Although he was perhaps most well-known for being the leader of the 'Mothers of Invention' musical group, Frank Zappa was also a very accomplished music producer and engineer. In addition, Mr Zappa was a very talented painter and filmmaker who created and produced a feature motion picture in the early 1970's titled "200 Motels". Although electric guitar was his primary instrument of choice, Mr. Zappa was proficient on many other musical instruments as well. His droll, often-spoken vocal deliveries were as much humorous observations as they were aural paintings and stories that were easy to visualize, due to his relaxed, absurdest manner. Much of Frank Zappa's song titles and content to this day, are still baffling to many people. Zappa, along with his contemporary, cohort and sometimes band mate, Captain Beefheart, created a body of work populated by whimsical and absurdest characters and themes very similar to bizarre musical cartoons. While much of Mr. Zappa's music can certainly be described as 'hard rock', at times, there are distinct elements of classical music evident in many of his works.

And so this week's Whimsical Wednesday is dedicated to the whimsical songs of Frank Zappa.


Tuesday Tea Time

Wow...Tuesday is here again already! It's time for more tea education.

Today I will answer a question posed to me by Ms.~K on my last week's posting comments. She asked, "I am on a strict no-caffiene diet, due to heart issues...can I find caffiene free green tea?"

In regards to caffine free Green Tea I have not been able to find any as yet, however, Green Tea has the lowest caffine content per cup of any of the teas...Black Tea has 25 to 110 mg per 6 oz cup, Oolong Tea 12 to 55 mg, and Green Tea only 8 to 16 mg, which, as you can see is signifigantly less. Additionally it has been found in several published studies that tea drinking is associated with improved cardiovascular health.

In regards to 'Heart Health', scientists believe Tea provides heart health benefits in a variety of ways. Research has associated tea drinking with reduced risk for hypertention , stroke and atherosclerosis, or harding of the arteries. Other studies suggest that tea may improve blood vessel and endothelial function and help control blood clotting, thereby supporting healthy blood flow and circulation. The current body of research suggests that drinking 3 to 5 cups of tea per day can offer significant heart health benefits ranging from reducing heart attack risk to lowering Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol.

For example, a large Japanese population study found that, amoung men and women, those who drank just over two cups (about 17 ounces) of Green Tea per day reduced their risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 22 to 33% compared to those who drank less than a half-cup of green tea daily.

Another study found that participants who drank more than 16 fl. oz. of black tea per day had a 50% lower prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CHD) than non-tea drinkers. And yet another study found that those who drank more than 3 cups of black tea per day (>375 mL) reduced their risk of heart attack by 43% as compared to non-tea drinkers. Additionally, a study conducted by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that participants who drank 5 cups of black tea per day along with a diet moderately low in fat and cholesterol reduced their LDL cholesterol by about 11% after three weeks.

So in answer to your question ~K, I would say that the benefits of Green Tea drinking would out-weigh any negative effects considering the minimal amounts of caffeine involved. Of course you should check with your doctor before you make your decision.

The facts in this post come from articles provided by the Tea Council of the USA, Inc. If any of my readers would like additional information you can go to www.teausa.org
Or visit us at The Baron York Tea Cafe and Gift Shop for professional Tea Tasting and educational Tea Experiences. Go to www.baronyorkcafe.com for additional information on our monthly special events.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

This photo image of my son and grandson was taken by me near the creek that runs through the back of our property on our grandson's first visit to our home when he was 5 months old. I just fell in love with the image and have added artistic touches to it and used it on cards and made prints for my son, my husbands parents (this is their first grandchild and first great grandchild) and myself. It is one of my favorite images.

I've been tagged by Ms.~K at Dog Daze to participate in a fun "Meme".
The directions are as follows: Open a document or photo folder and choose the fourth folder and then the fourth photo in that folder. Next, post the photo with a description about it and then tag 4 friends to do the same.

I tag:

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Different Roads

Recently I have re-connected with several of my old 'childhood/high school' friends...it is a good feeling to find old friends and get to know them once again. Many of the folks I have found are people I grew up with. We were raised in different families with varying backgrounds and traditions yet there was a common thread holding us together. We were all raised in a close knit community, some of us attended the same church, others attended various other churches of differing denominations...but we were ALL raised in 'Christian' homes. And we were raised in a time when 'parenting' was a community responsibility...by that I mean regardless of whose home we may be in at the time the parents there had the responsibility of teaching, disciplining, and caring for us, and they took that responsibility seriously. I feel that all of my friends parents played an important role in raising me, as did my parents in raising them. So, why did we all turn out so different? Why have some had such hard lives and others seemed so blessed?

We have all chosen different paths...taken different roads to where we are now. Some did not choose so well...but did they make a mistake? Or was it just their destiny to follow that rough road? Only God knows for sure. It is my belief that there are no 'mistakes', no 'coincidences' in our lives...just choices and consequences, or outcomes of those choices.

This past week I spent some time with one of my closest childhood friends...life has taken a toll on her body, but it has not broken her spirit. She chose her path and it has not been an easy one, but when asked if she had it to do over again would she do it differently her answer is 'No'. I have asked myself the same question a few times when things have not been too great in my own life...and guess what, my answer is also 'No'. And for both of us the reason is the same...because if I had chosen differently I would not have the 'blessings' that I have in my life today. Both of us realize that the most important things in our lives...the people we love the most...our children and grandchildren...would not be ours if we had chosen a different mate (or mates in her case) and thereby chosen a different road. We may have missed the bumps we hit in the road we chose, but there would have been other bumps and there is no guarantee the results/rewards would have been one bit better in the end, or even as good. I pray her life (and mine too) from here on out is easier and sweeter, if it isn't I hope that for this part of the journey we will be there for each other and our spirits and faith will keep us strong.

I end this post with the following quote which has come to mean a great deal to me during the past year...

"I've lived through things I would never have thought I was capable of and I am much less afraid than I used to be.
The process of wounding awakens us to our strength...it shuffles our values and the top priority is never what you thought it would be. It's never about perfection or power...it always turns out to be about LOVE.
Knowing ourselves to be vulnerable and our time here to be limited we are freed to live more passionately and fully than we have been before...to discover what's worth fighting for and who we are...real strength lies buried at the depth of any wound we have survived. "
Author Unknown

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Whimsical Wednesdays


Whim"si*cal\, a. [From Whimsey.]

1. Full of, or characterized by, whims; actuated by a whim; having peculiar notions; queer; strange; freakish. "A whimsical insult." --Macaulay.
My neighbors call me whimsical. --Addison.
2. Odd or fantastic in appearance; quaintly devised; fantastic. "A whimsical chair." --Evelyn.
Syn: Quaint; capricious; fanciful; fantastic.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.

I think all of our lives need more 'Whimsey' in them. Growing up I had a wonderful imagination. We didn't have a television in my family's home so I grew up surrounded by books...read to me by my parents on a daily basis until I was old enough to read them myself, and then later reading everything I could get my hands on. Additionally I lived in a small community and our home was several miles outside of town so we used our imagination to create fun things to do and magical worlds to do them in.

One of my old friends recently reminded me of the castles and forts we used to build from 'Tumbleweeds'...yes that's right, I said 'tumble weeds'. We would pick them up and stack them in all manner of fanciful arrangements from walled forts to multi-room structures. Sometimes covered with old sheets or blankets to shelter us from sun or rain, others left uncovered to let the breeze blow through, these tumbleweed temples were magical places where we played and stretched our imaginations to the limit.

And so, in memory of those times I present...Whimsical Wednesdays.

This week...a whimsical poem...

by: Lee Jun Hui
"Let's crystalize the beautifullest memories of ours.
Then they would be tangible.
And when we're feeling down,
We could take a look at those pearly crystals.
And reminisce the happiest times of our lives.
We could display them on the glass shelves.
And they would showcase without hesitation,
The fond memories of childhood,
The fun and laughter,
The best of times we've ever had!
We would keep those memories to ourselves.
And treat them with precious care.
And share them with other people.
May those crystals of fond memories,
Sparkle with pride.
And last for an eternity.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tuesday Tea Time

Three days each week I work at a small Tea Room/Cafe...I have learned a lot about Tea during my 4+ years there and have decided that here on my blog Tuesday will be for Tea education...I will start with an article about the benefits of green tea published in the Harvard Woman's Health Watch. I hope you will find your time here to be enjoyable, interesting and informative.
Benefits of drinking Green Tea
The proof is in: drinking tea is healthy,
says Harvard Women’s Health Watch

Boston , MA —Although tea drinking has been associated with health benefits for centuries, only in recent years have its medicinal properties been investigated scientifically.
Tea's health benefits are largely due to its high content of flavonoids—plant-derived compounds that are antioxidants. Green tea is the best food source of a group called catechins. In test tubes, catechins are more powerful than vitamins C and E in halting oxidative damage to cells and appear to have other disease-fighting properties. Studies have found an association between consuming green tea and a reduced risk for several cancers, including, skin, breast, lung, colon, esophageal, and bladder.
Additional benefits for regular consumers of green and black teas include a reduced risk for heart disease. The antioxidants in green, black, and oolong teas can help block the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, increase HDL (good) cholesterol and improve artery function. A Chinese study published recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed a 46%-65% reduction in hypertension risk in regular consumers of oolong or green tea, compared to non-consumers of tea.
Here are a few tips to get the most out of tea-drinking:
*Drinking a cup of tea a few times a day to absorb antioxidants and other healthful plant compounds. In green-tea drinking cultures, the usual amount is three cups per day.
*Allow tea to steep for three to five minutes to bring out its catechins.
*The best way to get the catechins and other flavonoids in tea is to drink it freshly brewed. Decaffeinated, bottled ready-to-drink tea preparations, and instant teas have less of these compounds.
*Tea can impede the absorption of iron from fruits and vegetables. Adding lemon or milk or drinking tea between meals will counteract this problem.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

In loving memory of
Meredith Hope Emerson
1983 - 2008
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Rest in peace sweet girl...your spirit will live on in everything you loved and in each of us who love the gentle rain, the feel of the soft wind caressing out cheeks, the smell of pines, the sound of the water rushing over the rocks and the friendship of our furry companions.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Awe, a fresh new year...filled with hope and promise. A time for new resolutions...some will be kept, some not. I have only one resolution this year...inspired by the events of the past year that influenced me the most...I resolve to 'live a more glorious life'. It will take work on my part...I will need to be more giving and forgiving, kinder, more caring and above all, more grateful for the people in my life. I will do my best, with God's help, to keep this resolution.

A while back a friend's comment inspired me to look for a book I used to refer to often for strength in my convictions on some personal subjects...it turned out it wasn't the book I was actually suppose to find at that time, but rather an old newpaper clipping that tumbled from between the pages, that I needed to read at that particular time in my life. Below I share the insight found in that old clipping...I'm sure I knew who's words they were when I clipped it from the paper (perhaps the author of the book)...alas, my memory fails me, so for now I will simply say...author unknown...

"This is our Father's world, and we must lend listening ears to the songs and signs found in nature, the events of history, and the social encounters of our daily routine. We never know when or how new meaning might break through. We can't predict when a new understanding might emerge or a divine insight might be revealed to illuminate our dark and lonely paths. We don't know how God might act to open up a new way, a new joy, a new freedom, and a new, more glorious life.
I have come to believe that God is truly with us. And what may seem accidental or even tragic at the time of the occurrence turns out to be...just one more development in a continuously unfolding, marvelously meaningful plan for one's life."

And so, as we start this New Year I pray that all of us will be more mindful of our surroundings, always aware that nothing in this life happens by chance and that God has a plan for each of us. We may not always understand the timing of events...finding an old friend, meeting a new one, the loss of a loved one or aquintance, a personal triumph or tragedy...the important thing is to be aware that it is all part of this journey we call life, moving us forward...never backward. We need not always understand...we need to simply embrace the moment for that is all we are ever guarenteed...one moment in time.

And so as this new year begins I pray that God will bless you my friends. May you find strength to move through all the seasons, circumstances, tragedies, and events of your lives moment by moment, step by step to find a truly 'more glorious life'.