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  • Holiday Road Trip With Ella

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    EllaDuring the holidays, our family had the rare occasion when we could all take time off from our jobs and busy schedules to make the 11-hour drive to visit my husband’s family. We packed up the car and tucked Ella, our 3-month-old puppy, into some blankets on the back seat with our son. Ten hours into the trip, Ella got carsick. We’re not too sure why she got sick, though she was watching a DVD with Ryan when it happened. I got everyone cleaned up without too much trouble, and we got to Gramma’s without any other delays. The whole incident, though, brought up a lengthy discussion on the uses and benefits of teas for dogs. When we got back home I did some research and was surprised with the results.

    Tea and coffee are dangerous to dogs because it affects their heart and nervous system. Like chocolate, caffeine is a stimulant that can cause all kinds of problems. Small amounts of caffeine can cause vomiting and diarrhea, whereas large amounts will increase heart rate and blood pressure and can lead to seizures and death. That means black, green and oolong teas should never be given to your pet. The question arises, is decaffeinated tea ok? It seems that I could not get a clear answer. While some studies say decaffeinated tea is all right in moderation, other studies say that even decaffeinated tea still has some residual caffeine, and a greater concern would be the dog’s reaction to the chemicals used in the decaffeinating process.

    I then researched herbal teas for dogs. There were even more pros and cons on this subject, but I found a few that seemed safe enough for dogs.

    Chamomile tea was safe in most cases. One caution, animals with allergies to goldenrod or ragweed should not consume teas containing chamomile. Also, never give chamomile tea to a pregnant animal since it can cause uterine problems. Chamomile tea is used to calm an animal; place a little in their water dish or soak a treat in it.

    Ginger tea seemed to be generally accepted for pets. It is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and can be used to treat a myriad of aliments such as gas, nausea, arthritis and heart problems. It can also be used as an antiviral and fever reducer. There are some cautions when using ginger. It can decrease blood sugar levels, increase absorption of oral medications and might cause uterine problems in pregnant dogs. Too much ginger on an empty stomach can actually cause a dog to become nauseated.

    Rooibos tea was the one herbal tea that I couldn’t find any negative side affects. It’s packed with over thirty powerful antioxidants that strengthen the immune system and doesn’t contain caffeine. With its natural sweet taste, dogs seem to love it.

    The best way to use tea for pets is topical. Here’s a few interesting ways to use teas.

    Brush your dog’s teeth with green tea. Green tea is great for oral health and helps kill the bacteria that cause plaque build up, cavities and gum disease

    Use green tea as an astringent for healing minor open sores. The antibacterial properties of green tea are great for drying out and healing hot spots.

    Spray your dog’s coat with Chamomile tea. It makes your dog smell great and, since Chamomile kills bacteria, it can sooth and relieve itchy skin

    Here are a few tea recipes that will help make your doggie more comfortable.

    Ginger Tummy Tea

    Pour a cup of boiling water over several slices of peeled fresh ginger root and steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove ginger slices and cool. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of Ginger Tummy Tea to your pet’s water about a ½ hour before leaving the house. This tea can be administered every 2 to 3 hours while traveling. Keep tea in the refrigerator or cooler and discard after 48 hours.

    Coat Deodorizer

    Brew a couple of cups of chamomile tea, cool and place in a plastic spray bottle. To use, lightly spray your dog before brushing. Keep tea in the refrigerator and discard after 48 hours. If your dog has itchy skin, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the tea.

    Remember, I’m not a veterinarian and am only sharing what I learned. Only your veterinarian knows what’s best for your particular pet, so before trying any natural or herbal treatments, always consult with him or her first. Please be a good pet parent and keep your pet safe.

  • Holiday Traditions

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    The tree is up and the house is decorated for the Holidays. Christmas music is playing and smells of fresh baked cookies fill the house. As I bake I wonder what will happen to our family traditions. My son is dating a very nice girl, but she’s not into baking or interested in Christmas decorating.

    Mom always kicked off the Christmas Season on the 6th of December by celebrating St. Nicholas. As children, my brother and I would hang our stockings up the night before. In the morning the stockings would be brimming with chocolates, a candy cane, a pair of gloves, a dime and an orange. That was what my mother received as a child. She loved telling the story how she would roll her orange to make it juicy inside, then stick part of her candy cane in and sip the juice out. As we got older she continued giving everyone a small gift to celebrate the day.

    My in-laws put a lot of emphasis on the holiday foods. Their big feast occurs on Christmas Eve at the Wigilia supper. The table is filled with fish, homemade pierogi, sauerkraut soup and delectable sweets like Russian torte and apricot cookies. Before digging into the feast, everyone receives a piece of Christmas wafer called Oplatek. This wafer is often called the “bread of love” and, as a piece is broken off, you offer a good wish to each other for the coming new year.

    When I got married, I started our own traditions by blending in the ones from both families and adding our own. The tree is always decorated in time for St. Nicholas and we still exchange a small gift. M&M Champ cookies and a bottle of eggnog start off the holidays season. I learned how to make pierogi, sauerkraut soup and Russian torte (Gramma still provides her special apricot cookies) and we celebrate the traditional Wigilia supper. Christmas presents are opened Christmas Eve and the stockings are filled and opened on Christmas morning.

    The Holiday Season is exhausting with shopping, decorating, and cooking, but the memories that are made are priceless and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Here’s wishing all of you Happy Holidays and an amazing New Year!

  • Stress In Your Life

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    Does it seem like you never have enough time to get things done. Are you always on the go? Do you find yourself over whelmed with responsibilities? If so, you know what it’s like to be stressed out.

    Long-term stress can cause a lot of nasty health problems. It can lower your immune system making you more susceptible to infections. It has a direct affect on the cardiovascular system causing high blood pressure and increases your chances of heart disease and stroke. Continuous stress causes the body to stay in “flight or fight” mode and the liver produces high levels of blood sugar. If this happens, you’re at risk to develop type 2 diabetes. It can affect your memory; make you depressed, or more aggressive.

    There are some easy ways to reduce or eliminate stress in your life.

    Eat right – don’t skip meals, limit junk food, drink plenty of water, substitute teas for coffee and energy drinks. Green teas have natural antioxidants and a soothing and calming effect on the nervous system.

    Laugh or Cry – laughter releases endorphins that counteract hormones that causes stress. Crying rids the body of harmful stress induced hormones.
    Exercise – simple stretching exercises, a short walk, or yoga all work wonders to improve our mood and release stress

    Rest – lack of sleep actually increases stress. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Having trouble falling asleep? Listen to soothing music or sounds. Avoid caffeine late in the day. Try Rooibos Tea. It’s an herbal, caffeine free tea with excellent calming abilities.

    Take Deep Breaths – slow, deep breathes by inhaling through the nose and slowly exhaling through the mouth oxygenates the blood, clears the mind, and lowers stress.

    Talk – find someone to talk to. Make sure that person is someone you can trust and will be sympathetic and reassuring. Can’t find someone, then talk to yourself. Make a plan that you can easily achieve and then tell yourself everything will be OK and tomorrow will be another day.

    Touch – hold a loved one’s hand, pet your cat or dog, hug you child, or get a massage.

    Sound – forget rock and roll when you’re stressed. Try classical music, wind chimes, or simple natural sounds like ocean waves or cascading water.

    Hobbies – pick a fun hobby, something you enjoy and allows you to escape from the daily grind

    Get Rid Of Clutter – clutter causes stress so clean up your house or office and keep it in order

    Learn To Say “No” – don’t take on more than you can do in a day. Find different ways to get unpleasant tasks done. Learn to nicely say no to extra responsibilities or obligations that you know you can’t possibly fit into your schedule.

  • Other Uses For The Ceylon Bodum Iced Tea Maker

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    You don’t have to use the Ceylon Bodum Iced Tea Maker just for tea. It’s great for making other drinks such as spa waters, juice infusions and Sangria.

    SPA WATER

    Ceylon Iced Tea Pitcher

    A spa water is filtered water or mineral water that is infused with fresh fruits, herbs and/or flowers. Creating deliciously refreshing, healthful filtered water is easy and inexpensive when you use the Bodum Iced Tea Maker.

    To make classic spa waters, fill the infuser basket with your choice of fruits, herbs and flowers, fill the pitcher with filtered water and refrigerate 2 to 6 hours before serving.

    One of my favorite recipes for great looking skin is Classic Cucumber Water.

    Classic Cucumber Water

    1 small cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced

    1 lemon thinly sliced

    3 sprigs each of mint and rosemary

    filtered water

    Place thin slices of cucumber and lemon and slightly crushed mint and rosemary sprigs to the infuser basket. Pour 2 cups of boiling water into the pitcher and wait 5 minutes to start the brewing process, fill the pitcher with cold water and refrigerate for 2 hours.

    JUICE INFUSIONS

    For Sunday brunches, make fruit juices special by adding infusions of fruits, spices and herbs. Just place whole spices, chunks of fresh fruit and / or herbs into the filter and fill the Ceylon pitcher with your favorite juice. Chill several hours and enjoy your flavor sensation.

    Try this Bloody Mary recipe at your next brunch.

    Mock Bloody Mary

    1 lemon and lime thinly sliced

    3 sprigs of dill

    1/8 cup celery leaves

    1 large can of spicy tomato juice

    celery sticks for garnish

    Place lemon and lime slices, dill sprigs and celery leaves in the infuser. Pour spicy tomato juice into the Bodum Pitcher and refrigerate for 2 hours. To serve: fill tall glasses with ice, pour in tomato juice and garnish with a celery stick.

    SANGRIA

    Sangria is a fruit filled wine drink that is thought to have originated in Spain. This refreshing and easy to make drink is typically made with red wine and seasonal fruit, and there is no “wrong” way to make Sangria. Just add your favorite fruit to your favorite wine and enjoy.

    To make delicious Sangria, fill the infuser basket with your choice of small chunks of fresh seasonal fruits. Fill the Ceylon Iced Tea Pitcher with your favorite wine and refrigerate over night.

    Here’s a recipe that goes perfect with backyard barbecues.

    Basic Sangria

    1 bottle of red wine

    1 lemon, lime and orange cut into thin slices

    2 Tbsp of sugar

    2 oz of brandy (optional)

    2 cups of club soda

    Place the lemon, lime, and orange slices in the infuser. Mix together the bottle of wine, sugar, and brandy and pour into the Bodum pitcher. Refrigerate over night. When ready to server add the club soda.

    For a great Sangria that goes well with chicken or fish

    White Sangria

    1 bottle of white wine

    1 lemon, lime, and orange sliced thin

    1 handful strawberries or raspberries

    2 oz of gin

    2 Tbsp sugar

    2 cups of a citrus soda

    Place the berries, lemon, lime and orange slices in the infuser basket. Mix together the bottle of wine, gin, and sugar and pour into the Bodum pitcher. Refrigerate over night. When ready to serve add the citrus soda.

  • Tea In The Garden

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    The title of this blog might be a bit misleading. I’m not talking garden parties or afternoon tea; I’m talking gardening with tea and tea leaves.

    Tea is high in nitrogen and contains minerals like magnesium, potassium, zinc and even fluoride that are needed for healthy plants.

    Tea leaves make a great organic fertilizer. When added to soil, they add bulk and acidity and help absorb and hold moisture. The recommended tea leaves for fertilizer are black, green, oolong, and Rooibos (also known as redbush).

    True teas from the Camellia Sinensis plant are highly acidic and are the most beneficial for acid-loving plants. Try sprinkling your used black, oolong, green and/or white tea leaves around the base of azaleas, rhododendrons, ferns, hollies and roses. Vegetables plants that benefit from tea leaves include tomato, pepper, and eggplant.

    Got leftover tea? Add it to your watering can and use it to water your indoor and outdoor potted plants. This will add nutrients and, in the case of green tea, may even discourage insects.

    Another added benefit of adding tea leaves to your soil is the possibility of warding off slugs and snails. Some studies have shown that as little as a 1 to 2 percent solution of caffeine can kill these pests.

    This sounds great, but does it really work?

    I scared my husband a bit when I surrounded his tomato and pepper plants with a generous amount of used tea leaves. After a few waterings, he had deep green, healthy plants that almost doubled in height. It was amazing. Even the little runt of a tomato plant greened-up and started growing. So after the vegetable garden, I moved on to the roses which are now blooming like crazy. When we potted up some flowers, I added tea leaves to the potting soil. So far, I have nice healthy plants that seem to be withstanding the heat.

    Just remember that too much of a good thing can kill you plants. It’s recommended that you only add tea leaves or water your plants with tea no more than every two weeks.

    Happy Gardening!

  • Why Buy a Ceylon Bodum Iced Tea Maker?

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    Ceylon Bodum Iced Tea Pitcher

    Ceylon Bodum Pitcher

    Iced tea is easy to make without fancy equipment, so why buy a special apparatus?

    The Ceylon Bodum Iced Tea Maker is a heavy-duty plastic pitcher with a removable filter called an infuser basket. All parts are dishwasher safe, and with its sleek design, this pitcher fits nicely into most bins on refrigerator doors. The pitcher is typically available in 50 and 100 ounce sizes and makes tea by the “cold brew” process. Since no electricity is required, this is an excellent pitcher for those that who enjoy camping.

    The Ceylon Bodum pitcher is perfect for making iced tea with loose leaf tea. The unique design keeps the tea leaves in the filter so you always get a crystal clear glass of tea. If you don’t like making iced tea with loose leaf tea, tea packets also fit nicely into the filter. Both loose leaf and tea packets are easy to remove with less mess than the traditional way of brewing iced tea.

    An added bonus to the infuser basket is the ability to add spices, fruit, and herbs with the tea leaves or tea bags to make your own iced tea infusions.

    One of my favorite summertime teas is Madame Butterfly. This is a fruity Green tea, blended with sunflower petals and bits of dried peaches. I like to tuck a stick of cinnamon in with the tea packets to create a taste of fresh peach pie. What a great iced tea for hot Summer afternoons!

    To use the 100 ounce Bodum pitcher for iced tea, add your choice of ¼ cup loose leaf tea to the filter or two iced tea packets, pour 2 cups of boiling water into the pitcher and wait 5 minutes to start the brewing process, fill the pitcher with cold water and refrigerate until the tea reaches the desired strength.

  • Boost The Healing Power of Green Tea: Add Ginger

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    Spiced Green Tea

    Green tea and ginger have become important elements in preventive health care. Their high concentrations of antioxidants boost the immune system. Also, both contain plant-based chemicals called polyphenols that neutralize free radicals in the body.

    One’s risk of developing cancer may be greatly reduced by Green Tea and ginger’s ability to neutralize free radicals. These polyphenols might help arrest the growth of cancerous cells and possibly diminish those that are already present in the body.

    Due to their antioxidants, Green Tea and ginger protect against blood clots. Ginger is a natural anticoagulant. Green tea is believed to help reduce cholesterol levels and promote healthy blood pressure. Thus, both are useful in the prevention of heart attacks.

    Ginger is known to help reduce nausea. Those suffering from motion sickness, morning sickness, or nausea that is caused by chemotherapy can benefit from drinking Green tea and ginger.

    Note that pregnant women should discuss the use of ginger with their doctor since ginger may stimulate uterine contractions.

    Both, Green Tea and ginger have potent anti-inflammatory properties that are useful in significantly reducing the pain and joint swelling associated with arthritis.

    Ginger also:

    • Increases blood circulation and reduces blood sugar
    • Has an aphrodisiac effect on the body
    • Treats colds and coughs by reducing fever, soothes sore throats, and helps clear up phlegm
    • Relieves heartburn, indigestion, diarrhea, and vomiting
    • Eases headaches, fatigue, muscle pain, menstrual cramps, gout, and soreness

    Caution:  If you have a medical condition, take medication, or are pregnant, consult with your healthcare provider before using Green Tea and/or Ginger either medicinally or therapeutically because they may interact with certain medications and medical conditions.

    Green Ginger Tea

    Peel approximately 1 inch of fresh ginger root and slice it thinly.

    Place the ginger in a saucepan, cover with 4 cups of water and simmer for 15 minutes.

    Let ginger steep in the boiled water for 5 minutes before removing and discarding.

    Brew Green Tea in another pot.

    Combine both teas.

    It’s recommended that you consume 3 to 4 cups of the mixture per day. Store mixture in the refrigerator and discard any leftovers after 24 hours.

    Or try Evanor Tea’s Spiced Green Tea; a light, not too spicy, refreshing drink that’s popular both hot and as Iced Tea.

  • Which Tea Do You Drink With Dinner? Part III

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    Some feel that Oolong tea has such a complex flavor and aroma that it should be consumed on its own. Pairing foods with Oolong teas is a little trickier since Oolong’s character tends to fall somewhere between a black tea and a green tea. Lightly oxidized Oolongs tend to go very well with foods that would be paired with white wines. On the other hand, full and medium oxidized Oolongs would go with foods that are normally paired with red wines.

    Lightly oxidized Oolongs tend to have a sweetness that pairs nicely with sweet, rich seafood dishes, such as scallops and lobster.

    The toastiness and full flavor of medium and dark Oolongs matches well with stronger flavored foods. Dark Oolongs are excellent with grilled foods, spicy or tangy dishes, and Chinese or Thai foods.

    For a wonderful ending to a meal, try pairing an Oolong with a sweet dessert like crepes or Pecan pie.

  • Which Tea Do You Drink With Dinner? Part II

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    When you want food combinations that go well with Green teas think about the foods you consume with white wines. Green teas have a fresh, light flavor that is well suited to mild flavored foods.

    Green teas are superb with seafood. Other foods that would be paired with Green teas would be salads; rice, chicken, vegetable, and fruit dishes.

    Surprisingly, Green tea is great to drink with fried foods. It “cuts” through the greasiness of fried food and reduces the chance of indigestion.

    Fruity desserts and white chocolate are excellent with Green teas.

  • Which Tea Do You Drink With Dinner? Part I

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    Black Tea and Food

    The other day, a friend asked me if, like wine, do you pair certain teas with certain foods. He thought he was making a joke and was surprised to find out that there is a correlation between food and tea.

    Black teas have robust flavors and aromas, and are rich and full-bodied with strong finishes. Think of Black teas in the same manner as red wines.

    Black tea would be paired with full flavored foods such as red meats, curries, and desserts. They are compatible with foods that have high oil or fat content and for that reason they work well with most breakfast foods, cream based pastas, egg dishes, sweet, creamy desserts, and anything containing chocolate.

    Black tea goes excellent with any spicy dish and would be a great accompaniment to Mexican, Italian, or Indian foods.

    For a special treat, try a Black tea when indulging in a box of fine chocolates!

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