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Once in a Blue Moon….A Paradigm Shift.




It has been my tradition since I was in high school to list my goals and resolutions every January first.


During the next year, on occasion, I sneak a peek at The List. Pulling it from an obscure hiding place, tucked haphazardly in a drawer, incorporated with miscellaneous receipts, business cards, notes to self, and outdated coupons, I steal a glance at the numbered contents.




Still working on this….


Yikes….what made me think this was something I wanted to do?

Oops, forgot about that one.

Should I revise this one?

Ha, ha…




I stuff The List back in the drawer and forget it, but in a few months I retrieve it again for another review.


At the end of the year, I fetch The List for the final assessment. With pen in hand, I judiciously, and joyfully cross off those goals and resolutions accomplished.


I study the unmarked enumerated intentions.


Sometimes I experience remorse. Regret. Wishing I’d had more resolve to complete a task or commit more fully to a resolution.


Sometimes I chuckle. I am amused at my own naïveté.


I evaluate whether to add the unfulfilled ones to The New List, or trash them.


And, on January first, early in the morning, I find a lovely piece of paper, a nice pen, pour myself a cup of tea, and sit down to meditate on the coming year and write out The List.



I have repeated this process for over fifty years.


However, on occasion, Once in a Blue Moon (meaning “rarely”)…..but enough times in my life to recognize it now….I experience a “paradigm shift” creeping, crawling into my mind. Infiltrating my thinking when I am agitated or reflective.


Perhaps, because I am in the habit of striving and brawling like a thug to change my circumstances, I am not responsive to a knock upside the head, or a slap in the face.


Explosive revelation doesn’t seem to be part of my journey. No burning bushes, or parting of the sea.


A “paradigm shift” disclosure that I am able to embrace has come like a caterpillar….in an unhurried, nonchalant but determined forward stride.


I realize, in time, but reluctantly, that I must admit my attitude and my thinking need to adjust to a reality I had previously been unwilling to identify as unchangeable.

I was not raised to believe “it is what it is.” I was raised to believe that what “is” can be changed with prayer and hard work. And, while I wholeheartedly subscribe to this view, I have experienced circumstances that are NOT alterable:


The responsibility of caring for someone 24/7.


The death of an unborn baby.


The death of a son.


The theft of a trust.


The betrayal of a friend.


The ravishes of a disease.



Once I capitulate, once I surrender, once I yield to the understanding of “it is what it is” I am free to let go of the fight to change something outside my ability to alter.


2012 is a Once in a Blue Moon kind of year for me.


The List is ready. I’ve written down my goals and resolutions, but on this New Years Day, I have no strategies, no plans, no ideas of how to accomplish what I want to do.


The List is ready to be superimposed on the “it is what it is” reality page.


I will have to adjust, tweak, and rearrange this overlay to accommodate pursuing my intentions on The List.

Of course, the process doesn’t happen in a day. It may take the first six months of a New Year…..but, just as the caterpillar emerges from the cocoon a butterfly, I believe my adjusted reality will allow me to achieve my goals and resolutions.


Do you have a List of goals and resolutions for the New Year? Have you experienced a “paradigm shift” recently?


Wishing all of you a blessed, joyful, prosperous New Year!

















Waste not, want not…..Muffin Heaven….

I was raised by parents who endured the depression. Both grew up on farms. They learned to “make do” and to find a use for everything. Reuse, recycle, reduce, repair, restore, and how to be a good steward of land and possessions was a way of life, not a “movement.” For most of my life I have lived by these principles too.

I do admit to a few extravagant years….but considering the economy and this season of our life, I’m more and more inclined to resurrect my “back to basics,” and “frugal is fun,” thinking.

I’ve been juicing for awhile. We love the freshness, the healthy ingredients and the unexpected pleasure of varied combinations of fruits and vegetables. ( And although it’s not fancy, this Jack LaLanne juicer is great! http://www.powerjuicer.com/ )














But….it’s always difficult for me to throw away the pulp.


We don’t have chickens anymore. We aren’t growing an urban garden. Although, we probably should. I don’t have a compost pile.


A couple of friends and I have tossed around a few ideas on how to use the leftover pulp…muffins, breads, filling for tarts, layering for cookie bars.


This morning I juiced apples, oranges, one lemon, a cucumber, and a few carrots. Delicious and refreshing. Invigorated by the wafting aroma, I resisted no longer and gathered everything to stir up a batch of muffins.


My new favorite recipe, Buttermilk Pumpkin Muffins, ( http://tea4kate.com/2011/10/06/mini-buttermilk-pumpkin-muffins-a-fall-tea-party-favorite/ ) adapts easily, substituting the pulp for the pumpkin.












It worked! These “pulp” muffins are full of flavor, hearty and perfect with tea!








And I feel a little better being able to use some of those fresh ingredients.


Now, I wonder what to do with the pulp from our afternoon broccoli, beet, carrot and cucumber juice? Bread? Stock for a soup or sauce? Hmmmm…..


Happy juicing, happy infusions!




Mini Buttermilk Pumpkin Muffins…a fall tea party favorite…









Planning a fall tea party? A Book Club gathering? Or maybe you want to be ready when a friend drops by to share a cup of tea. These delicious mini muffins are full of healthy ingredients…. pumpkin, raisins and pecans. I found this recipe in my wonderful “old” Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm Cookbook (http://www.bishopspumpkinfarm.com/index.htm).

Happy Infusions and enjoy!


Mini Buttermilk Pumpkin Muffins


  • 1/2 c oil
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 c pumpkin, mashed
  • 1/3-1/2 c buttermilk
  • 2 cs flour
  • 1 t soda
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t allspice
  • 1/2 c raisins, pecans or walnuts


Beat together oil and sugar. Add eggs and pumpkin: mix well. Stir in buttermilk. Combine dry ingredients and mix into batter, just until all flour is moistened. Stir in raisins and nuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Makes 16-18 regular sized muffins.
























Drink your bloomin’ tea…

A Mother’s Day tea….or tea for Mother’s Day…

Since Mother’s Day seemed to come out of nowhere this year, I haven’t had time to plan the kind of tea party I like to have for a Mother’s Day celebration. My mother has become a vegetarian, often times vegan, in her elder years. The delectable cucumber sandwiches….aren’t there some fantastic recipes out there….are perfectly suited for her. With the addition of Pear-Pecan Scones and Lemon-Strawberry Jam Squares we have a menu for a delightful tea party!

Nice idea.

My reality: there isn’t time to organize and prepare. My mother, however is a tea lover.

My solution: gift of a Blooming Tea, sometimes called Artisan or Display Tea.











In Southwestern China, green and white teas, picked early in the morning while the dew is still on the leaves, are selected and sorted according to type and size. Tea leaves are shaped and formed around a blossom or petals artistically designed in the center and then tied with a silk or thin cotton thread. Each creation can take one to ten minutes to complete.

Using a glass tea pot or tea cup offers the most dramatic presentation……


Watching the leaves unfold to reveal their secret surprise is magical and mysterious….and sparks great conversation.

The tea is light and refreshing…very mild.

And the blooms can be preserved for several days if kept in cold water…..I like to use it as a centerpiece on the table.



Wouldn’t any mother be thrilled? She can feast her eyes and drink her bloomin’ tea!

May all your days be full of bloomin’ joy!

Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Infusions,



Laughter is Good Medicine

I have the most incredible Sweet Husband….loving father, great cook, sucessful business man, well read, politcally astute, world traveler, and good friend!

I’m amazed though,when he loads the dishwasher, he just can’t remember which soap to use. I know , I know, it has to do with our realms of interest. I know which bullets go in My gun, but if he ask me to hand him shells for another gun, I just hand him everything I can put my hands on…..one of those boxes has to be the right one. And I remember when he used to send me to Lakeview, Oregon (about an hour from our ranch, if you traveled over the dirt road pass) for tractor parts.. This was before cell phones. And the Part Man asked me questions I couldn’t answer. So I understand “realms of interest”….but really….the Dish soap and the Dishwasher soap don’t even look alike and they have clearly printed labels.

If I’m around he’ll ask me. If not, he figures it out by himself….and more than once, this has been the result……


Well, a floor can always use a good scrubbing.

And it’s good for a laugh…..after all laughter is good medicine!

Happy Infusions and remember to laugh !



Not Your Momma’s Tea-Party Recipes

What could be more refreshing on a hot summer day than the traditional Southern Sweet Tea? What about “Tipsy Tea”….a fun “party” variation of an old favorite!


My daughter gave the me the inspiring and delightful book called, “Porch Parties”. This book is dedicated to cocktail recipes and lots of ideas for outdoor entertaining!


For “Tipsy Tea” start with a great Sweet Tea….

8 cups water
8 heaping teaspoons nice black tea in an infuser
1 cup sugar
Bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Remove pan from heat. Add tea in the infuser. Stir in the sugar. Steep for at least one hour.

Fill a glass with ice and pour tea over ice.

Now add 2 ounces of Orange Flavored Vodka that has been chilled. Cut a round slice of an orange and then cut in 1/2 and use as a garnish.

Woowee…yummy…I’m sure this will be a hit!

Another Great Tea “Cocktail” is the Green Tea ‘Tini

This recipe calls for the use of a speciality item called:


According to the Zen Green Tea Liqueur website, this liqueur uses “green tea leaves from Kyoto, the historic capital of Japan, well-known for it’s superior quality tea.”

The Green Tea ‘Tini recipe is as follows:

3-4 ounces Citrus Flavored Vodka….chilled

2 ounces Green Tea Liqueur (Zen Green Tea Liqueur)

1 ounce lemon-lime soda

fresh lemon or lime slices

Using a cocktail shaker, combine the vodka, green tea liqueur, soda and ice. Shake well and strain into chilled martini glasses. Garnish with lemon or lime slices.

And toast to your health…after all your having your “green tea” aren’t you?

Iced tea is quite versatile… and can be combined with many other beverages to enhance flavors and taste. The famous “Arnold Palmer”…1/2 lemonade and 1/2 tea is quite refreshing.

So this summer, make it a point to try some new recipes featuring a great standby…iced tea!

Happy Summer Infusions!!





Life’s a Bowl of Cherries


How many times have I heard “Life is just a bowl of cherries”?

And sometimes it’s true. Life just couldn’t be better!

Sweet and colorful, fresh and ripe….pleasant and perfect.

But like cherries in a bowl, I only have to wait a day or two and then, I find a cherry that is beginning to deteriorate…darkened skin…a little white place. The rotting process has begun!

I pick through the cherries, discarding all the decaying ones. Once again my bowl of cherries is perfect. I am diligent in this ritual until all the cherries have been eaten or thrown away.

I wish the “rotten” things in life could so easily be detected and so easily amended! My attentiveness might avert one disaster, and in the next moment, I am in the midst of another crisis.

I just want to enjoy that bowl of cherries!

Fortunately, tea time gives me the break I need to take a moment, breathe, relax and choose a new perspective to view my “chair of bowlies”! ( A Mary Engelbrit saying)

I like to listen to this version of the song….”Life is just a Bowl of Cherries” while I drink my tea and reflect!


Happy Infusions !



Poached Pears with Vanilla Ice Cream…

While sorting through my cookbook collection, I came across this delightful recipe in my “French Women Don’t Get Fat” book. (Very inspiring, by the way!)

I adapted it, since I didn’t have any Muscat Beaumes de Venise on hand…. What kind of wine is this? Ah ha, I had to look it up and found out it’s a dessert wine. (Sorry, my lack of wine knowledge is showing!) I decided to substitute a Sherry, but I think Brandy would also work…it’s good to experiment, n’est-ce pa?

Here’s the recipe:

Poached Pears with Vanilla Ice Cream

2 cups Muscat Beaumes de Venise or any good dessert wine

1/2 cup sugar ( I used 1/4 cup raw and 1/4 cup regular white)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

4 Bosc pears, peeled, cored and halved ( I cut them smaller to fit better in my dessert dish)

1 or more scoops of your favorite Vanilla Ice Cream ( I love homemade!)

In a heavy saucepan, bring wine and sugar to a boil. Simmer for 5 more minutes….

Add lemon juice and pears….cook about 10-15 more minutes on low to medium heat.


Cool and refrigerate.

When ready to serve, bring the pears to room temperature. Serve with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream and a sprig of mint!


A refreshing dessert perfect with tea!

I have missed my “mint patch” that used to grow right outside our back door at the ranch. It was proflic! Of course, the dripping faucet helped! Every winter, it would die down, and I would wonder if this was the year it wouldn’t revive. Behold, every spring, little green leaves appeared and I rejoiced!

This year I planted a little mint with my little viola’s. I can quickly grab a sprig or two…right outside my back door again! Can’t wait for iced tea season…of course this Saturday I have to make a Mint Julep and watch the Kentucky Derby!


Happy Infusions,



Sorting the Cookbook Collection….

I love each one of them. They have distinct personalities. How could I sort and throw out any of them?

There they were stacked on my counter awaiting their fate…..


My cookbook collection. My recipes. Those wonderful creations that had saved my reputation more than once.


Love this one. It’s full of fabulous uncomplicated, gourmet, delicious recipes, and is a storehouse of information. It was a keeper.

My mother ask me to take home a few of her cookbooks the last time I visited her. Considering the current state of affairs, I thought this one might

be helpful….


Perusing through this collection from the Sunday Parade Magazine, I spotted several variations of the “Budget Casserole” and “Budget Stretcher” I remember my mother using. My favorite from this era, though, are the molded gelatin salads and the Baked Alaska dessert….


Oh dear… I hadn’t found any to dispose of yet.

Memories flooded my mind when I reached for this one….


I went with my children and now I’m going with my grandchildren on field trips to Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm in Wheatland, California. (That means Bishop’s has been in business over 25 years!) This little book is full of memories and great recipes like the Applesauce Pumpkin Bread (moist and tasty)

and I love their Persimmon Cookie recipe. I put it in the sentimental stack.

In my quest to raise healthy children, I collected these two fine cookbooks. The Snacks has clever ideas for “presentation” of healthy foods and the CANDY

was invaluable for great traveling ideas…foods, games and “how to’s”. Ok, these two belong in the sentimental pile.



I felt like hugging some of these cookbooks. They’re like old friends! When we moved to our ranch in Surprise Valley, I loved using recipes submitted by so many people I knew and saw at least once a month! Great food and sometimes a story or two makes this one a little like a story book…..


This darling notebook, given to me by my precious daughters, holds my accumulation of handwritten and typed recipes from

family and friends, and those I cut from magazines and newspapers.


And then there was the time My Sweet Husband and I attended a conference for small family farms and met a woman who was collecting recipes

and farm stories for her cookbook. We agreed to contribute and were published in this cookbook….



Probably one of the funniest cookbooks I’ve ever seen was given to me by my sister-in-law…


It does have the best bread pudding recipe I’ve ever tried! Sometimes it’s fun just to read through the names of the recipes…”Uncle Willie’s Swamp

Cabbage Stew”, “Clara Jane Vickar’s Creamed Tuna Lunch”, “Betty Sue’s Sister-In-Law’s Fried Eggplant”. It does have a whole section of recipes I don’t

think I will ever use….”Boiled Squirrel”, “Butt’s Gator Tail”, and ” Aunt Donnah’s Roast Possum”. However, one should never say never! I’m not ready to

part with this one yet.

This was my first cookbook. I had to buy it for my high school Home Economics class. It’s a basic, classical cookbook . It is beloved. Currently, the cover has been duct taped, and some of the index pages have come loose from the three ring binder, but for the most part, it is in great shape and still quite useful.


Well, I did manage to find six books to give away. I discovered I had never used a recipe from any of them and had no attachment to them.

Next there is the magazine recipe collection to sort through….the Bon Appetit, the Taste of Home, the Food Network.

Not right now though. I’m ready for a cup of tea!

Happy Cooking, Happy Infusions,



Bananas in Brown Sugar Sauce….

Recalling the advice of my dear Homemaking teacher, Mrs. Whalen, I decided to try the recipe before making it for guests.

Fortunately, I even decided this two days in advance, and not the day before. When I retrieved the brown sugar from my pantry, the jar was filled with rock hard lumps!


I had heard putting a piece of bread in an airtight container with hard brown sugar would soften it overnight.
We only had whole wheat bread. I carefully laid a piece on top and looked for recipes without brown sugar.


I didn’t really believe it would work by the next day. Since I had “read” that this was a guaranteed method, I presumed it would eventually soften the brown sugar.

The next day, it was perfect…not one lump!


I proceeded to make my….

Bananas in Brown Sugar Sauce for Two

1 teaspoon butter ( I used a little more)
1/2 teaspoon canola/vegetable oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar ( no lumps)
1 teaspoon lime juice
2 tablespoons dark rum (optional)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Sprinkle nutmeg and ginger (optional)
2 small bananas (quartered or sliced)
Scoops of……….Vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt

Heat butter and oil, add brown sugar and heat until it bubbles. Add rum, if desired, lime juice and spices. Cook slowly until it thickens slightly. Add bananas and cook until heat until tender.

Divide for two and ladle over a scoop or two of ice cream or frozen yogurt.

This is lovely and tasty ! I have made it with the rum and without, delicious either way. It is very rich and a little goes a long way!

I had a cup of Spiced Pear black tea with this.

Happy Infusions,

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