Monday, December 18, 2017

Afternoon Tea in London

Tea at the Dorchester
 From The Telegraph India:
If your visit to England is short and restricted to the capital, fear not. London’s famous museums and art galleries house some of the best little tearooms in town (the National Portrait Gallery off Trafalgar Square is one of them), as do all the large department stores (Fifth Floor at Harvey Nichols, or Harvey Nicks to the locals, Knightsbridge has the loveliest modern food arenas). The finest places to take afternoon tea in London are undoubtedly in the city’s best hotels.

We in India drink more tea than anyone else in the world. But for us, it doesn’t smack of the same ritualistic heights practised by the Brits. Seen from a Louis XVI chair at The Ritz in Piccadilly, while the waiters in black tie and tails unravel “the last delicious morsel of Edwardian London”, you feel, briefly, as if time has stood still.

The Savoy, with its Edwardian art deco, used to be the home of the dansant (tea dances). Much more gracious in its airy simplicity is the Orangery in Kensington Palace in Kensington Gardens. This used to be Queen Anne’s summer dining hall and is converted into a restaurant, serving tea in the afternoon. English parks and gardens are a secret hideaway for tea — the simple, old-fashioned cuppa and a jam tart is still a staple in most park tuck shops and if it’s spring, you can sit outdoors surrounded by pink blossoms, bluebells and tulips. Petersham Nurseries in the plush London suburb of Richmond serves an enchanting afternoon tea in the middle of green fields and farm animals.

Whenever you find tea, eccentricity is not far away. The most unique tea experience possible must be in the two houses of the Parliament. Afternoon tea is served in several of the restaurants but the most spectacular place is on the terrace of the House of Commons, overlooking the Thames.

So what exactly is afternoon tea? Much credit has been given to Anna Russell, the Duchess of Bedford, who in the 19th century decided to meet the need, commonly suffered by people of high breeding and low on purpose, for an injection of “fuel” during the afternoon. What most books don’t mention is that it was actually Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II, who actually introduced tea and all the paraphernalia to England in the 17th century.

It became all the rage at court but it was Josiah Wedgwood (an English potter and entrepreneur) who popularised the habit by making the bone china tea service affordable and Thomas Twining who opened London’s first tea shop that had women patrons. This started an epidemic of tea drinking, which culminated in the popularity of the dansants and three-decker cake stands in the early decades of the 20th century.

Tea today is still a different kettle of fish by several hundred calories to just a cup of dull brown unremarkable-looking liquid. Afternoon tea is always served in bone china on a silver tray (with a lace doily on it) and is accompanied by a parade of thinly-cut, crustless finger sandwiches, filled with razor-thin slices of cucumber, egg and cress, smoked salmon, ham or chicken. Only white or brown bread can be used — no multigrain or anything that looks vaguely healthy and certainly nothing with an Italian sounding name (read focaccia, ciabatta…).
The sweet part consists traditionally of English cakes (Victoria sponge, marble cake, Dundee fruit cake, jam tarts), muffins and crumpets; the last two served warm and ideal for absorbing large quantities of butter. Third, the scones, served warm and sliced open, a perfect vehicle for thick, slightly yellowish clotted cream from Devon, Somerset or Cornwall and whole fruit strawberry jam.

Today, many hotels in particular prefer to serve French-style patisserie instead of old-fashioned English cakes. So, don’t be surprised to find madeleines, mille-feuilles and macarons next to your Earl Grey. Cream tea consists of a pot of tea just with scones, cream and jam and no sandwiches or cakes.

High tea is not a dainty affair. It divides day from night and is served around 3pm-5pm, often making dinner unnecessary. Many smart hotels serve high and afternoon tea at the same time. Please remember that any tea — afternoon or high — is generally only served after lunch and until 6pm. Come after that and you’ll have to order drinks and dinner! (Read more.)
More on afternoon tea in London HERE and HERE.

Information on best Christmas Teas, HERE. Share

Jeff Sessions and the Benefit of the Doubt

From The American Thinker:
Jeff Sessions must keep his hands clean of this entire investigation, letting the OIG present its findings and recommendations.  If I.G. recommends prosecution, A.G. Sessions can follow the OIG recommendations and unleash the cannons on the swamp creatures.  Sure, the media and their Democrat allies will explode with rage, but it will be a politically independent organization making the recommendations, not the Trump administration, whether the president or his A.G.

Despite the left making this entirely political, for Trump to deliver a knockout punch, he has to let Lady Justice swing the axe.  He has to keep politics out of his counterpunch. Will Rod Rosenstein be fired, as some fake news sources suggest?  Or is he in on the OIG sting operation?  Deliberately staying quiet so events can play out, as Sundance described? For now, I give A.G. Sessions the benefit of the doubt, that for optical and political reasons, he is lying low.  For the OIG investigation to play out as desired, he has little choice.  With the OIG report due early next year, this may indeed be the calm before the storm.  Thousands of sealed indictments.  Members of Congress retiring or not seeing re-election.  Trump acting happy and confident, whether in speeches or on Twitter. (Read more.)

Parenting Lessons From Ma and Pa Ingalls

From My Little Robins:
Chores: I recently saw a ad that showed a melancholy little face with a puffed out lower lip. She was sad because her parents were cleaning the house. The solution?- says Hire a housekeeper! I wonder what Ma and Pa Ingalls would say about that. They literally worked from sunrise to sunset, almost every day. Their children didn’t complain that Ma and Pa didn’t play with them- they helped! Once Mary and Laura did their chores– and did them well- they were allowed to play. But they played together, and not under the watchful, hovering eye of a parent. Which brings me to the next lesson:

Downtime: Before bedtime, Pa played the fiddle or told the girls a story. This was the extent of how he entertained them. And if he was too tired from the day’s work, he just didn’t share a song or a story. The modern idea that good parents have to entertain their children All The Time is exhausting. And it’s not even good for kids. Many of Laura’s happy memories didn’t revolve around Ma and Pa- but on playing and discovering. I’m learning how to find the balance of engaging with my children, but also allowing them to play without me.

Meals: Along these lines of hard work, I started to think about the meals I prepare for my family. I so often throw something together quickly, hoping to make dinner in under a half an hour so I can get back to my kids. But the adult Laura remembered all the love and care her mother put into meals when she was young. Ma didn’t have to worry about her children eating too much sugar or salt or processed foods. Everything they ate was made by her hands, and was a result of her efforts. This is something I want to be better at- putting a little more time and love into what my family eats. (Read more.)

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Iraqi Christians Now

Notice how the men sit on one side and the women on the other, an ancient custom. May we be worthy to share heaven with those who have suffered so much for their faith. From Aleteia:
Iraqi Christians attend Mass at the heavily damaged Church of the Immaculate Conception in the predominantly Christian Iraqi town of Qaraqosh (also known as Hamdaniya) some 30 kilometers from Mosul a few months after the Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State group jihadists. Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who was split between “sadness” and “hope,” celebrated the Mass for the “renaissance” in Qaraqosh. The Christian population was around 50,000 before the jihadists took over the area in August 2014, making it the largest Christian town in Iraq. (Read more.)

Artificial Birth Control and Breast Cancer

From The New York Times:
Women who rely on birth control pills or contraceptive devices that release hormones face a small but significant increase in the risk for breast cancer, according to a large study published on Wednesday.

The study, which followed 1.8 million Danish women for more than a decade, upends widely held assumptions about modern contraceptives for younger generations of women. Many women have believed that newer hormonal contraceptives are much safer than those taken by their mothers or grandmothers, which had higher doses of estrogen.

The new paper estimated that for every 100,000 women, hormone contraceptive use causes an additional 13 breast cancer cases a year. That is, for every 100,000 women using hormonal birth control, there are 68 cases of breast cancer annually, compared with 55 cases a year among nonusers. While a link had been established between birth control pills and breast cancer years ago, this study is the first to examine the risks associated with current formulations of birth control pills and devices in a large population. (Read more.)

Art and Dementia

From AJC:
Don and Charlene Willis of Smyrna have never been the type to spend an afternoon poking around an art museum, but now they wouldn’t think of missing their monthly visits to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. They are regular participants in “Musing Together,” an art tour designed for those in early stage Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. Care partners are also invited to the free program, which is a partnership of the High Museum and the Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter. “We both thoroughly enjoy it,” said Charlene. Don, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2014, “loves it,” she added.
The tours are led by art educator Amanda Williams, who selects a theme, then leads the group through various galleries to view and talk about specific works of art related to that theme. She creates a safe space for them to express their opinions, ask questions, and just interact and make friends. For caregivers, it’s an opportunity to get out of their set routines. “We just want them to come and enjoy themselves,” Williams said.

There’s a lot of laughter, and a lot of learning, too. The program, which started in March, is offered the first Wednesday of the month from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Both non-profits are still trying to figure out what works and tweak what doesn’t. Museum staffers were trained by the Alzheimer’s Association on how to respond appropriately to visitors with dementia. The group is kept small, no more than 20 at a time, and they don’t go into galleries that are overstimulating. A staff member from the Alzheimer’s Association is also present throughout the program to assist if needed.

Art has multiple benefits for the brain, providing good cognitive stimulation in different areas, said Kara Johnson, an Atlanta Alzheimer’s Association care consultant. But the program is more than an art history lesson. It’s an opportunity to build friendships with others going through the same journey. Participants are encouraged to engage in conversations about the artwork, as well as share their life stories. (Read more.)

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Marie-Antoinette and Orange Blossom Water

From the Trianon Health and Beauty Blog:
Orangeries, or orange groves, had been popular in the French Royal Family since the fifteenth century reign of Charles VIII. The orangerie at Versailles, cultivated at the order of Louis XIV, can still be visited. In Marie-Antoinette's day, the oranges were used to make orange blossom water, which served the Queen in her beauty products and especially as a tonic for her nerves. It is still in use today. (Read more.)


The Great American Sexual Meltdown

From The Federalist:
If it feels good do it. Have whatever sexual relationships you want, when you want, with whoever you want. That is and has been the prevailing societal view for decades, and it permeates our music, art, film, literature, social media, and conversations. There is nothing right or wrong. Oh, sure, folks will say it is wrong to hurt other people. But the truth is, when you throw objective morality out the window, everyone gets hurt.

 It used to be true that pornography was indecent, lewd, wrong, and, well, pornographic. It used to be true that killing unborn children was just that: killing. It used to be true that foul language was foul. It used to be true that adultery was a bad thing and marriage was forever.

None of that is true in America anymore. In fact, nothing is true now (with the possible exception of climate change). All moral codes are simply outdated and “puritanical” backward thinking. We are progressing. The guardrails, traffic lights, and yellow lines have all been removed. How’s that working out?

The Left likes to pretend the root problem is an outdated, patriarchal view of the world. They are only half right on this. They are right that men are behaving badly. This is indeed a factual analysis, and no man deserves a pass. Not only that, the more who are called to account for their tawdry actions, the better. (Read more.)