Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas time and other favorite things

We've had some lovely days here...

 
 
...and done some Christmas preparation at Fulk's Tree Farm where I caught this 4-footer white pine, last Saturday after we ran the muddy North Ridge in Weston:

 

And Nugget even followed the rules, as much as she would've liked to become one of Santa's Lil' Helpers:

 
The tree lights sure brighten the entire tiny house:


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here!

I've been indulging in the Acorn TV subscription free trial on Amazon now that we cancelled Netflix...does anyone else watch Doc Martin and imagine living in his perfect village?  I sure do...though I'd rather he not be my GP!  The way I see it, trade the Missouri River for the cliffs of Cornwall, and there you are, Leavenworth is Kansas' version of Portwenn.
 
Among other unbearable quaintnesses, we've a tea shop walking distance from home, next to a knitting shop, yoga studio, various restaurants and bars, and cupcake shop.  How this small town supports such enterprises is a mystery to me, but I won't complain.  D and I support local shops frequently, and hope lots of others do too.  We don't just buy twee nonsense in town -- our title company is downtown, our major appliances all came from Dolsberry Appliance and local contractors did all the work on our house, apart from the 150 feet of privacy fence that D built by hand in 2 weeks, after work and on weekends.
 
Last week, after our office Christmas party at Ten Penny restaurant, some galpal workmates and I walked a few blocks to The Queen's Pantry as we delayed our return to the office...how had I missed this wonderful place before?

The entryway is full of delicate china tea sets, displayed amid all sorts of treats and sweets from the UK.  Further back, an entire wall of shelves houses large jars of tea, with canister samples for sniffing each and every blend (which I did, tyvm). There is of course a corner set aside with Styrofoam cups and thermos for tasting the day's featured tea.  Boxed teas are available too, and just about any tea-cessory you'd like - cozies, towels, balls, jams, marmalades, tea cakes, fruit slices, sugar tongs.  I even spied Marmite and Colman's mustard for those of us who prefer our treats savory. 

The teas are grouped by red/black/white/green with some set-aside novelty blends featuring additions like marshmallow and chocolate chips...which I really don't like in my tea at all, but might tickle the palate for others.

Can we take a moment to talk about tea?

I have lots, of all sorts.  My ol' reliables are Yorkshire Gold, Darjeeling and Lady Grey.  I like spiced teas in the colder months, like Twining's Christmas Tea and of course Constant Comment.  Green tea is nice at work late in the afternoon when I wish to avoid too much caffeine.  I've convinced myself that it aids digestion, and it reminds me of all the time I spent in Japan and Korea years ago.

Lately I've been warding off the evening chill with the tisanes I just purchased from Queen's Pantry.  My favorites are Lemon Souffle Rooibos (creamy and lemony just as it's named) and a highly aromatic Men's Herbal Brew (yeah, yeah, so maybe I call it Men's Urkelgrue) which tastes mostly of anise, lemongrass, ginger with a pleasant cardamom (or pepper?) bite, nestled in a base of rooibos as well.  Isn't it funny and sad that after all these years I can pretty much quote every episode of the Office by heart?

And here is me not starting down the path of discussing gender-specific tea (fairly, they do sell a Women's Herbal Brew) so all you SJW can have a nice cuppa and calm down right about now!

I've enjoyed red teas for years and the new ones I picked up are pleasant excursions from the typical vanilla-dominated blends.  The rooibos are not truly teas, and have no caffeine, so I allow myself to drink these teas by the pot!

Only 938709858364+ more teas remaining from Queen's Pantry for me to try...

A tea Snellen!  I love it so much I can't bear to use it as a tea towel yet!
Though I haven't visited the Leavenworth Yoga Co-op or yarn shop (for fear of overdosing on downward dogs and skeins of merino) we've ordered cakes from Karma Cakes on several occasions.  I declare them the best bakery in town and at reasonable prices, too.  You can't go wrong with a bake shop that decorates freshly-baked cupcakes with not just homemade frostings but cookies and candies too.

If you don't have a local tea shop, feel free to support mine and order online!

After all these tea parties I've been having, D and I cure our cabin fever and run the trails in Wyandotte County Park weekly as we prepare for the Psycho Wyco.  It's lovely to run in the chilly rain and just yesterday in the late afternoon, after work, I tested out some more variations of my winter gear plan.  I wore shorts (yes! this was a good move), my old trail shoes, a base-layer long sleeve shirt with zippered collar, a looser, fleecier middle layer with thumb-holes, and a light zippered jacket.  For 40 degrees in mild rain and minor winds, with the addition of a hat (the one I'm wearing in my tree-catching picture) it was perfect.  We ran one of the hilliest and muddiest segments of the race path yesterday and I could moderate my temperature well with zipping/unzipping/donning/doffing.  Learning has occurred!

Today we are off of work for the rest of the day and planning to run some errands before heading to midnight mass.  I'm not sure where we will run today.  D got called in to work at 1 am this morning and so I'm trying hard not to wake him. 

Tomorrow is Christmas brunch out with friends. 

It's a lovely day here, as long as I stay away from streaming news and thinking about work too much.

The sadness of the whole world weighs heavily, but Christmas gives us all hope that maybe this won't always be so.  I'm ever thankful for the blessings in my life and I wish the same to you.

A Merry Christmas to you and yours!


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