Tea is my thing

Drinking a hot cup of tea has become my morning ritual.  It has been something I’ve done from time-to-time since I was a little girl but, in the last couple of years, I have developed a true reverence for it.  I find that I need my daily cuppa in order to feel like the day has gotten off to the right start.  Coffee smells amazing but I have never been able to adjust to the bitterness of it.  The golden elixir that is tea is the only thing that speaks to my soul.

My mother is the one who taught me the way to prepare a proper cup of tea.  In her late teens, she lived in England with her family and she picked up the taste for hot tea then.  Keep in mind she was (and still is!) a Southerner so it wasn’t her first time tasting tea, it was just different.  Sweet Southern tea, served ice-cold, is refreshing where a hot cup of tea is soothing, comforting, like a gentle kiss that greets you, “good morning”.  Anyway, my paternal grandmother is British (a WWII bride) and between her and my mother there was never a shortage of tea in our lives.  Even with that fact though, my true love for tea didn’t come about until 2011 when my husband and I took a trip to Ireland.

Our first morning in Ireland, we went down for breakfast in our hotel.  We were there bright and early and quickly learned that, in Ireland, breakfast is not served bright and early! Their pace of life is admirably slower than ours in the States and we grew to appreciate that immensely on our trip there.  After a short wait, we were seated at our table and anxiously awaiting the glory of the full Irish breakfast.  Our hotel did not disappoint!  When our waitress brought out our pot of tea and I poured the first bit into my cup, I was in awe of the beautiful, golden liquid I saw.  It was rich and luminous at the same time.  I added my milk (never cream!) and sugar and gingerly took my first sip of “real” tea.  It was heavenly!  The tea was so smooth I could not believe it.  All of my life, the tea at home had a strong bitterness that it imparted upon my palate but nothing like that greeted me in the glorious cup of Irish tea.  With that first sip I was hooked and I have had tea nearly every morning since.

whimsical life cup of tea

My favorite brands of tea are Irish.  We have since been to England (where we had the most beautiful and delicious cream tea) and while the tea there is infinitely better than the US brands, my heart still belongs to Barry’s or Bewley’s tea.  Loose tea is preferential to bagged but I must confess that the latter is what I use most often, simply out of convenience.  Thankfully our grocery store and World Market both carry Barry’s Gold Blend tea so it is fairly easy for me to replenish my supply when it runs low.  On the mornings when my husband is home, the loose tea leaves by Bewley’s make an appearance.  He shares the pot with me and it feels ever-so-lovely to pour the steeped tea from the pot into the cup.

barry

For me, tea is a bit of an indulgence and it brings me so much joy to sit at the table in the morning when the house is quiet and sip on my cup of tea.  Do you have a daily or weekly ritual that brings you joy?  If not, I encourage you to find something that does.  It is a wonderful way to begin the day!

morning tea

 

Claire - Hearthandmadeuk - April 14, 2014 - 9:17 am

Irish tea is obviously the best :p although i dont like barrys. I like tetley or twinings irish breakfast tea. I know i’m a terrible irish person, drinking english tea! I love your cup. It’s a gorgeous set of colours

Evie - April 14, 2014 - 11:55 am

Thanks for stopping by, Claire! I think tea is very personal and goes with each person’s individual tastes. My British grandmother loves Tetley tea! I drink Twining’s, too. Here I’d be considered a bad Southerner because I don’t drink the generally accepted Southern brand of tea. LOL My sister gave me that cup, it came from what she and I joke should be our second home, Target. ;)

Change Is Good

If there is one thing I’ve learned through all the years that we’ve been homeschooling it is this, be flexible.  That is the beauty of homeschooling to begin with, being able to change things up when one method isn’t working and, that is exactly what we did this week.  In my last post I mentioned that my oldest had just began working with a program from Reading Horizons.  It was highly recommended in a book I had read on dyslexia recently so we decided to give it a whirl.  Well, very quickly it was obvious that it wasn’t a good fit for Iain.  I can see how it would be good for a younger child but, at nearly 15, Iain found the instructions to be too babyish for him and, as a result, he just couldn’t muster up the resolve necessary to do the work.  I contacted the very kind folks at Reading Horizons and, since we had just signed up for it last week, they issued a refund without any issue or attempts to talk us out of it.  I appreciated that very much!  What we’re working on with Iain now is just the old-fashioned method of memorizing words and writing them down in order to get familiar with them.  He said this is his preferred method of doing spelling so, this is what we’re going with for now.  We’re using Megawords (1) and so far so good.  Because Iain has dysgraphia, the writing portion is a bit of a struggle but keeping the lesson short goes a long way in dealing with that.  I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

Speaking of change, Spring has finally sprung around here and it feels as though we are truly out of the winter weather woods!  While my yard is a disaster due to our pending addition, I was able to get outside and find some pretty things in bloom out there.baby daffodils violets lenten rose

The flowers in the last pic are my faves!  I think they are called Lenten Rose and I just love the way they look.  Mine always seem to be looking at the ground though.  I’m not sure if there is something I should do for them to help them look up or if that is how they are supposed to look!  Gardening has never been my forté so it is entirely possible that I’m not caring for them properly.

On that topic, I’ve been trying to think about what kinds of things to plant in the backyard once our addition is complete.  We are going to have a lot of windows and big glass doors on the back of the house so it would be nice to have some beautiful flowering trees out there.  Cherry and pear trees are two that I was thinking about because they are so gorgeous in the Spring.  For Fall it would be nice to have a couple of maples with their blazingly beautiful orange dramatic foliage.  I’ve got some time before those decisions need to be made so I’m not locked in to anything right now.

I hope to post some news soon on the remodel/addition.  I am SO EXCITED about it and can’t wait to share it with you!

Hope all is well with you and yours!

So much to tell you!

There have been a bazillion things going on here since my last post that it’s not even funny.  I really don’t know where to begin!  For starters, we were inundated with more winter weather than we have seen since the 80’s and, if I don’t see another snowflake for a few years, I’m good with that.  LOL  Even the kids, who were completely stoked for the first couple of snows were over it by the time we got ice and our power was out for 3 days.  You learn a lot about each other when the power is out and it’s not all pretty.

The first night was kind of fun, a bit like camping out.

poweroutage

After that, things deteriorated pretty quickly.  It actually made me wonder how people live on the streets, totally exposed to the elements, and I vowed to donate time or money to those suffering in that way.  Just one night of sleeping on a cold, hard floor with next-to-no covers, shivering to beat the band and I woke up in tears.  Yes, I realize other people have things way worse but I am not a “roughing it” kind of person.  Camping is off the list FOR SURE now.

A few days later the power was back on but then we were left with this massive mudpit in the backyard.  The day before the icestorm hit we had a couple of trees taken out.  This is what was left after the ice and snow melted away.  Isn’t it beautiful?

treesgone

 

Now, it hasn’t been all bad.  Nowhere close.  In fact, things are going pretty well!  Those trees I mentioned up above?  Well, we had them taken out because we are adding on to our home and I couldn’t be more excited about that!  We have lived here for 10 years and, while we have a very nice, modest home, our kitchen left much to be desired.  It is the size of a kitchen in an apartment (maybe!!) and isn’t very accommodating for a family of four, especially when the kids want to hang out in there, too.  So we are getting ready to put in the foundation of our addition and it is really, really exciting!!  I will post more about that in the coming days.

In other news, the boys and homeschooling is going incredibly well.  For a long time we were unschoolers and that fit well with our life at that time.  Now that the boys are older, we have moved towards structure, not too much, and that has been accepted by them without complaint.  I have mentioned before that we use Teaching Textbooks for math and I cannot express enough just how wonderful this program is.  Both boys absolutely love it and have moved through it at a great pace.  Iain started in November of 2012, doing 5th grade math (he would have been in 8th grade in school) and quickly moved through it, wrapping up in April of 2013.  We took some time off and he picked up with Math 7 in the Fall of 2013.  He just finished that and is now working in the Pre-Algebra course and he was able to skip ahead to lesson 50.  Watching his self-confidence bloom while working this program has been nothing short of amazing.  It reinforced to me that math really doesn’t have to be started until much later and that kids can learn a lot in a condensed period of time.  His younger brother has had a very similar experience.  He is working right now in Math 7 (he would be in 6th grade in school) and is doing so well with it.

In NC we are required to administer a standardized test each year.  For the last couple of years we have done a fill-in-the-bubble type test which takes days to complete but this year we went for something different, the Woodcock-Johnson III test.  This is much better for kids who might struggle with reading or for those who might need more time to complete tasks.  The boys average scores were both above grade level.  As a homeschooling family,  the worry is always in the back of mind, “Are we doing enough?  If they had to go to school today, would they do all right?”  The test, although it is a hoop I hate to jump through, does a lot to alleviate any fears and doubts I have about the path we have taken with them.  They are happy.  They have time to spend on the things they love to do and they are learning at a fabulous pace.  I cannot complain about that.

Something else we have just started doing is Latin.  When I was in school, Latin was the class that was taught by the quirky, bookish teacher who always looked harried, with mussed-up hair and crooked glasses.  The kids who took it were the ones I perceived to be serious students.  Everyone else took Spanish or French.  When I was researching languages for the boys to take, I came across a pin on Pinterest that led me to this site, Visual Latin.  If you are considering a language for your kids to learn, download the sample lessons on their site.  The teacher is FUNNY.  Not Robin Williams funny but he is so engaging and we love it!  Just in the introduction I could see how learning Latin actually makes learning other languages much easier and I wished I had taken it in high school!  I might have done better in French. The boys love this class, too.  They find the instructor very entertaining and the lessons are short so it is a win-win.  Once we’re finished with Latin, I think we’ll move on to another language and see what happens there.

One thing that is a struggle for my oldest is spelling.  He has dyslexia and dysgraphia and spelling is not something that comes naturally to him.  We are still trying to find the thing that fits him best and will help him with his spelling.  He also has ADHD so memorization is a challenge, too.  I’m not stressing about it.  I am hoping that the Latin work will help somewhat but we have also just started an online course called, Reading Horizons.  Right now, it seems very remedial but I am hopeful that the pace will quickly pick up and Iain will begin to gain confidence with his spelling, just as he did with math.  My youngest takes after me and spelling is just second nature to him.  He just inherently knows how to spell and that has been good for him.

Well, I guess that is enough for now.  I hope all is well in your world and please stop back by for updates on our addition.  If I can figure out how to do it I will upload a pic of our architect’s drawing as well as the kitchen plan I designed!  Stay tuned!