Sunday, November 09, 2008

Cupcake Recipe Contest!

Hello Everyone!

I have never been much of a baker. My grandmother was an amazing baker, her pies were so amazing that I've pretty much given up even trying to make pies because they never turn out the way gramma used to bake. And, for the most part, unless I'm really in the mood, or it's the holiday season, I don't really enjoy baking cookies, I find it tremendously tedious.

I used to enjoy making cakes, but, somewhere along the way, I fell out of love with it, perhaps because I could never make them look nearly as lovely as I would like to... I have never felt at ease with a pastry bag in my hands, fumbling nervously with trying to make a simple rosette.

But, I love cupcakes! Even though I still do not feel at ease with the pastry bag, I can use it to pipe a simple spiral of frosting onto the top of a cupcake and make it look nice. Of course, they aren't so fancy that you'd want to put them on the cover of Martha Stewart's magazine or anything, but, they're still attractive enough to entice someone to want to eat one!

Besides, what a great treat to enjoy with a cup of tea?


(Photo Credit: Courtney, from HeyLadyCards. You can purchase her beautiful Cupcake Bath Bombs here.)

A few months ago, I purchased The Cupcake Deck by Elinor Klivans. I've tried a few recipes in the deck, and I've been fairly pleased with the outcome, however, I found the cupcakes to be a bit "lighter" than I wanted them to be. Sure, the light texture does have it's positive aspects, but, I found them to be a bit "too light" in texture to support the creaminess of my buttercream frosting...

Which brings me to the subject of frosting... it took me quite a while to perfect my recipe for buttercream frosting. I wanted something delicious, smooth, creamy, but not too sweet... I still suffer from nightmarish memories of buttercream frostings that was sickeningly sweet, slathered onto a store-bought birthday cake, purchased as an afterthought when my birthday had been forgotten. And the canned frostings... should stay in the can! yuck!

So, after many, many attempts with different buttercream frostings, I learned that it's not only the recipe but the way you process the frosting that is important when making buttercream.


(Photo Credit: Maureen, from ARoseWithoutAThorn. You can purchase these lovely faux cupcakes here.)

So... I'm happy with my buttercream, and I don't want to change that recipe, so now what I need is a cupcake that can stand on it's own with my frosting and not taste like a fluffy cloud of air sitting under my delightful buttercream.

And, since I'm not much of a baker, I am not sure exactly how I would go about adjusting a recipe to create such a masterpiece of a cupcake...

And, well, I have tried mixes. And I DO like cake baked from a mix. However, I prefer to know what I'm putting in to the foods I eat, and I'd really like to find just the right "from scratch" recipe.

So, I'm turning to you, my dear readers, to help me in my endeavor to find the perfect cupcake recipe (or recipes!) -- And the winner of this contest will win a tea time gift from me, complete with a brand new chatsford teapot and 6 tea sampler tins, filled with your choice of teas from my collection.

To enter:

1. Get your recipe! The recipe can be any flavor -- vanilla, chocolate... or anything in between... Just please make sure that the ingredients are easily obtainable. And, since I am a tea fan, it's better if you don't have coffee as one of the ingredients. However, if you have a recipe that uses tea as one of the ingredients... you get extra bonus points!

2. Email it to me by December 10. (Click on the link to get to my email address)

I will be making these recipes and they will be tested by a panel of experts that I assembled myself (my two daughters and myself). The recipe that we like the best will win the tea time gift!


(Photo credit: Roz from RozArt. You can purchase this, or another of her lovely paintings, here.)

Now, there may be more than 1 winner! For example, if we happen to like a vanilla recipe and a chocolate recipe equally... then, I'll award two tea time gifts!

SPECIAL BONUS POINTS: Special bonus points will be awarded for cupcake recipes possessing one of the following qualities:

1. Tea in the recipe. This pretty much speaks for itself. However, one qualifying point, no INSTANT tea... that stuff is just really gross.

2. Butter Pecan recipe. I LOVE the Betty Crocker Butter Pecan cake mix. I add ripe, mashed banana to this recipe and make amazing banana cupcakes that my oldest daughter adores.

OK... so that's it. I don't know when the official winner(s) of this contest will be announced, because it really depends upon how many entries we receive... because, we can't bake all the cupcakes at once, because I'm sure that if I did that, my adoration of cupcakes would quickly fade into... something else.

But, I will keep you updated!!!

So, please... send in your recipes! I look forward to trying your best!

~Anne

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What have you been up to?

Hello Everyone!

I've been incredibly busy. Yeah, I know, I say that a lot! It seems like I've been averaging about a journal entry per month, and really, it doesn't seem like it's been that few for me, it seems like I only just charted my last entry a week ago! Time has a way of slipping past you when you're busy doing... whatever it is that I've been doing!

I'm still doing quite a bit of unpacking... well, actually, that's not completely true... I guess it's more accurate to say that I've still quite a bit to do... but I've not spent a lot of time doing it. *sigh* I do need to get busy on it though, in the coming months, it's going to be entirely too cold to be out in the garage doing much of anything, and I can't hardly justify purchasing a space heater for the garage if one can hardly navigate amongst the rubble! So, it's time to get busy.

We also want to plant our fall bulbs for spring blooming! Now that we actually have a yard -- it will be so nice to be able to have some beauty to admire in the garden. It will also be a great opportunity for me to spend some time with my youngest, who wants to help plant her favorite flowers - tulips.

In the midst of all this contemplation of what I should be doing... I have actually been working on tea too... I am still working out the kinks with my Caramel tea. I think I may have found the right combination, but I must wait... I think that's the hardest part of the art of tea flavoring and blending, is the waiting after I've flavored or blended a tea, to see if the flavors are harmonious. It's very important to allow those flavors to mingle and marry... what tastes good now may not be good in three weeks. So, it's an art that requires a great deal of patience.

And I've been sampling too... I'm currently looking for the right Darjeeling and I've also been sampling Oolongs as well. I have been very fond of my Formosa Choicest, however, my supplier has granted me a nice supply of Oolongs to sample and I might just find another I favor. We shall see.

So, that's what I've been up to.

~Anne

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Monday, September 08, 2008

What's in your cup today?

Hello, Everyone!

Well, it looks as though we'll be enjoying some warm weather for the next week or so, or so the weatherman tells us. I'm not sure if I'm pleased or not with that forecast, as I would love to be enjoying the cooler fall weather that I look forward to every year. I love to be able to cozy up to a hot cup of tea. Sure, I love my iced tea, and I've been enjoying quite a bit of iced tea this summer, but, there's nothing quite as satisfying to me as a cup of hot tea.

However, every morning, I do get myself a pot of hot tea... this morning, I enjoyed a pot of my yerba mate blend, Almond Mocha Mate. As I've mentioned before, I can't drink my favorite mocha drinks anymore, because my stomach just can't handle it.

That's why I do love this Mate blend. The Roasted Yerba Mate is somewhat reminiscent of coffee, and the addition of chocolate and almond flavoring brings it to life, and it tastes so much like my favorite mocha drink I used to order every morning... but without the ill after effects.

~Anne

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Tea Treat Review!

Hello Everyone!

Well, I guess it's no secret that I love my tea, and sometimes it's nice to have a little something to go with my tea. Whenever I'm in a tea shop, I eventually check out the tea time treats they offer, and I usually pick something new to try. You never know when you just might stumble upon a favorite!

Recently, I visited a tea bar in Portland, and I found "Choclatea" bars from the chocolate chefs at smilechocolatiers.com. They blend fine chocolate with finely ground tea to create a unique kind of candy bar. They're a bit pricy ($5.95 for a bar!) but, as I was conducting important research, I felt that I should bite the bullet and fork out the 6 bucks for a bar. The tea bar featured several different flavors, but the one that appealed to me most was the Wild Raspberry Tea Milk Chocolate Bar.

Of course, I had to select just the right tea to sip along with my chocolate. Today, I decided to brew my Masterpiece Chai.

The chocolate is very smooth, and the raspberry tea flavor is subtle at first. Then you notice the tangy wild raspberry flavor dancing upon your palette. Very nice, indeed. And while the bar may seem a bit costly, the flavor is very rich, so you don't feel so bad about sharing the bar with a friend or two while sipping tea together. (Or maybe saving a bit for yourself for later!)

As I mentioned, Choclatea bars come in several different flavors. I'm now eager to try a couple of the other intriguing offerings, such as Pomegranate White Tea Very Dark Chocolate, and Coconut Greet Tea Dark Chocolate. And while white chocolate is not my favorite, I might even be enticed to try the Pistachio White Tea White Chocolate. Just for experimentation purposes, you understand!

So, if you happen across Choclatea Bars, I highly recommend picking up a bar for your next sweet tooth craving! If you like tea and you like chocolate... well, you're just going to LOVE these chocolate bars!

~Anne

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I'm Back!

Hello everyone!

Well, as some of you probably already know, I've been in the process of moving... I'm not quite finished yet, still have a lot of unpacking and organizing to do (primarily in my garage aka the art studio!) but we are in the new house, out of the old place... it's just a matter of getting everything settled and finding a place for everything. It's a lot of work, and it's a big pain to have to move, but despite that, I'm glad we did, we really have needed a larger space for a long time now. The new house is so nice, and it's just perfect for us.

On to some new tea news!

Momoko Melon: IT'S BACK IN STOCK! This is one of my all time summer teas, it tastes amazing on ice! (It's also delicious served hot) So refreshing!

Sweet Caramel O'Mine: It's coming back! But only for a limited time! Here's the story: my supplier of flavorings discontinued it's caramel flavoring, however, they did have one bottle left of it, and because I had been bugging them they sent it to me. (Squeaky wheel gets the grease?) Anyway... I have one bottle of my special caramel flavoring left, so once it's gone, I don't know if I'll be able to get more!

So, what I'm trying to say, is keep an eye out, in the next couple of weeks, my first batch will be ready... so be sure to get some while you can! This is absolutely my very best seller... so it will sell out fast!

Creamy Irish Breakfast Blend: I have only a small amount of this left. I don't think I will be blending another batch for St. Patrick's day for 2009, so grab what's left while you can! (Oh, and it's clearance priced too!)

My Etsy Store: I haven't loaded any teas up there recently, as some of you may have noticed... well, that's because, as I said before, I've been moving... and the move has taken me from doing the things I need to get done! There are some teas there now... and within the next month, I plan to start uploading more teas... Once I get all my teas loaded to my etsy store, I will have my website automatically forward traffic to the etsy store... so when you head on over to my store sometime in the distant future, you'll be redirected to my etsy store. This change is very much for the better, it will help me streamline everything, and keep better track of my inventory.

That's about all from me for now... I need to make a newsletter soon!

~Anne

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Friday, June 27, 2008

I've been tagged!

Hello Everyone!

My good friend (and co-moderator of the Brunch-Scones-Tea yahoo group), Valerie of Tea & Trinkets, has tagged me!

Tag Rules: Each player answers the questions themselves. At the end of the post the player tags 4 people and posts their names, and goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment letting them know that they've been tagged asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you've posted your answers.

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So here goes!

Ten Years Ago ... my gramma and grampa moved away from Southern California (where I also lived) to Chester, Illinois, the small town where the two of them grew up, met, and married. It was a very emotional time for me. I was a single parent, and was quite content to be single, having no desire to get involved with someone and have my heart broken yet again. Little did I know that two years later I'd meet a man who'd change my mind! I was still in college, attending as a "non-traditional" student.

Five Things on Today's To-Do List: (ok, since today is nearly finished... it's 7 pm! I'm going to discuss the things that WERE on my list, and may have already been completed!)

1. Take my daughter to dance class (done!)
2. Go to tea at our local tea house before we move away (done!)
3. Pack till I drop!
4. After I drop, pick myself up and pack some more!
5. Contact someone to pick up our old dryer.

Snacks I enjoy: Chocolates, Cupcakes, and Carrots. Yes... carrots. I actually crave them, and if I go a day without at least one, I'm left feeling unsatisfied.

Things I would do if I was a millionaire: I'd invest some of the money so that I wouldn't have to worry about finances any more... then, I'd travel to places I'd like to go, such as Paris and Rome. I'd definitely go to Disneyland -- and even stay at the apartment in the park! I'd also buy a comfortable home... and I might even let my husband quit his job!

Places I have lived: I was born in Southern California, and lived a good part of my life there. I also lived in Nevada and Washington.

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I was tagged by my friend Valerie of http://www.teaandtrinkets.com

I am going to tag some of my art friends...

Gail at http://runmoremiles.blogspot.com/
Cheryl at http://luv2stamp.blogspot.com/
Tamara at http://magicmolecules.blogspot.com/
Liisa at http://room206-liisamannery.blogspot.com/

OK... so that's about it! Tag! You're It!!!

~Anne

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Website Changes

Hello Everyone!
I am in the process of changing my website over to be redirected to my etsy store. Currently, I have 2 teas available in my etsy store, my Potpourri Tea, and my new Breakfast in Bed Tea... both in tins. I will be hopefully adding the rest of my teas later this week. By the time I'm finished, you'll be able to buy your favorite LiberTEAS tea in reusable tins or in the refill bags.

Potpourri Tea




Breakfast in Bed Tea


In the meantime, if you experience any problems with the website and would like to place an order of a tea that is not yet available on etsy, please email me and I'll be happy to take your order via email.

Thanks to everyone for your support! I appreciate it!

~Anne

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New Teas!

Hello Everyone:

Well, for a couple of months now, I've been telling you about my two new teas that I've added to my collection... and now, they're both finally available for sale!

The first tea is Green Apple Tea. I really love this tea, and it's delicious served both hot and iced! When I was younger, I remember a soda called "Aspen" -- it was an apple flavored soda, crisp and refreshing. I don't drink a lot of soda (usually only when I'm out to eat, as I usually do not care for the teas served at restaurants), but, if this soda was still available, I'd drink it. It was uncommonly delicious, and unlike anything that's out on the market today.

While my tea is quite obviously not a soda pop, the light, crisp flavor of green apples reminds me a lot of that flavor I miss so much from my childhood. It's also 100% organic! An absolute MUST try tea!

The second tea is Breakfast in Bed Tea, so named because it's a tea you want to linger over, just like a delightful, relaxing breakfast served to you in bed. It has a luxurious flavor and an amazing fragrance. Delicate Rose scented tea, with a creamy vanilla flavor and a subtle touch of cinnamon! This tea was inspired by a good friend and fellow tea lover.

~Anne

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I'm the Mad Hatter!







What Alice in Wonderland Character Are You?




You are The Mad Hatter

One thing is for sure- you're as mad as a hatter. You have an obsession with time and if tea time were to ever cease, you would probably be even more confused.
Take this quiz!








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But then, the result of this quiz should come as no surprise!

Just a quick update...

Green Apple Tea will be arriving later this week... please watch this blog for updates, or better yet, you can click here to subscribe to my newsletter!

Also... my new Rose/Vanilla/Cinnamon tea flavor will be ready for sale soon! This flavor is OH SO YUMMY!

~Anne

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Spring is in the Air!

And... whoa... can my sinuses and eyes feel it! UGH! This is absolutely my least favorite time of year. I know a lot of people love Spring -- as the world re-awakens after it's cold winter's rest... the vibrant colors of the daffodils and crocus begin to bloom and the beauty of the cherry blossoms delight... I love these things too, don't get me wrong. As an artist, how could one not just love the bustling colors of spring?

But, as an allergy sufferer, I detest the coming of Spring! The itchy, watery eyes, the coughing, sneezing and the runny nose! The stuffy sinuses that constantly drain yet never seem to be clear! The effects of the over-the-counter options are so undesirable too. Of course, yes, the products WORK to clear up the symptoms, but, they leave behind side effects of their own -- one leaving me feeling so groggy that I can't function, and the other leaving me so dry that I can drink a gallon of water and not begin to quench the desert that my tongue and throat becomes.

Fortunately, I do have Allergi-TEA! It works wonders! I love that after I've consumed a cup (or, in my case, mug!) my symptoms begin to disappear. During this time of year, I drink at least 1 pot of Allergi-TEA each day... my one big problem is that I NEED that pot first thing in the morning... and that's the hardest time for me... my sinuses have made my head feel like it's a bowling ball set upon my shoulders -- it feels so heavy and clumsy that I just don't feel like making tea! ha!

Ah well, I do hope that this season passes by as quickly as it seems the Fall (my favorite season!) did last year... it seems like I hardly had time to enjoy the brilliant colors of Autumn before the leaves fell and winter took hold! Although, I must admit, I do love winter too. Especially here in the Pacific Northwest, where the skies are multiple shades of gray and the bare branches of the trees are dancing among the dark clouds... it's so breathtaking.

And... of course, it is so comforting to curl up with that hot mug of tea!!!

Happy sipping!
~Anne

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

A New Rose Tea Blend!

Hello Everyone:

a good friend of mine offered a new flavor idea to try... so I did. She wanted a rose tea with a touch of vanilla and cinnamon. As I'm not particularly fond of most rose teas -- I find them to be too floral for my taste -- I wasn't too positive about the outcome, but I still decided to give it a try.

Well, I'm happy to say that the flavor combination definitely works! The rose is prominent, but, not overpowering. The vanilla softens the sharp rose flavor, and the cinnamon is a subtle undertone. The fragrance of this tea is outstanding, and the flavor is divine! A very delightful tea.

Since my friend suggested the flavor, I'm going to wait until she tries it and names it, before I go ahead and start blending it in large quantities. But, I'm excited about this new flavor!

I am also expecting to have my new green apple flavor available soon, as well as the Sikkim tea! I hope that you enjoy these teas as much as I do! These will be delightful additions to my collection for the coming of spring! Both should make delightful teas to serve hot on those crisp spring mornings, and iced on those warmer spring afternoons!

Now, for a bit of bad news... I've decided to scrap the warm cookie flavor. I just can't seem to get the right balance of flavors that I have envisioned. I am still working on my winter wonderland flavor... and hopefully that will be ready for next winter!

Well, that's all for now.
~Anne

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Tea Excitement!

Hello Everyone!

Well, I have some exciting news to share...

A few weeks ago, I received a sample from one of my vendors, and I tried it a few days ago. It's amazing! Usually, when I try a new flavor from one of my vendors, I experiment a little bit with it, try to see how I might improve upon it, see if I can "alter" the flavor a bit -- jazz it up, and make it uniquely "mine."

But not this time. This is one of only a handful of times that I've sampled a tea and have found it to be PERFECT just the way it is. The first time I experienced this sensation was when I first sampled Formosa Oolong - Choicest... it just tasted remarkable! Of course, since then, I've experimented a little with it, and found that the natural peach-like flavor of the Oolong pairs well with summer melon flavors, and hence, my Momoko Melon Oolong was born!

Most of the time though, I'll try something, and look for ways to improve upon it... and in doing so I'll create a blend of tea that is uniquely my own. I think that this is what differentiates me from many other tea vendors... I mean, if I'm selling all "stock" teas, and nothing uniquely my own, what's the point? Most tea vendors have their own retail business as well as wholesale, so why try to compete with that?

This is how my unique tea blends, such as Liberteas Breakfast Blend and Masterpiece Chai came to be. I'm very proud of these blends, as well as my other unique blends, because they're truly unique, my own recipes, and something that nobody else can duplicate.

However, every once in a while, a tea comes in to my radar... like my Formosa Oolong, that I just fall in love with and I must add to my collection! Green Apple is just such a tea! This is a flavored green tea blend... 100% organic, that is absolutely amazing! This tea will come available in my store sometime in March -- just in time for St. Patrick's day, I should think!

In addition, I will be adding my Creamy Irish Breakfast blend back to my collection -- it's nearly ready to be added to my shelves! Watch for it in another week or two!

I am so excited about these two teas -- one, making it's annual, seasonal return, and the other, making it's grand debut to my collection!

~Anne

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

January 31, 2008

Good afternoon, and I hope that this new year has been treating everyone quite well!

It's been a while since I've updated my blog on my tea happenings, so I thought it was high time I did so!

What I've been blending:

I have a new batch of my Almond Mocha Mate that will be ready to roll in about a week. I'm looking forward to this batch, because I've missed my mocha flavored fix! As much as I do adore tea, sometimes, I want something with the edge and bite that coffee can deliver, but, unfortunately, coffee and coffee products (like mochas) just do not agree with me! My Almond Mocha Mate is the perfect answer! I get all the flavor and enjoyment that I miss from my favorite mocha flavor from the local coffeehouse, but none of the disagreeable ill-after-effects. I can have my cake and eat it too!

My Red Velvet Tisane should be ready around February 11. This blend combines the flavors of pear and blood oranges to create a sweet, invigorating beverage! I just love it!

Do you suffer from seasonal allergy symptoms, but hate to take the OTC medications that leave you feeling groggy and just... out of it? I developed my Allergi-TEA for people like me, who wanted something to help alleviate those symptoms but didn't leave me feeling half asleep all day! My newest batch will be in stock in about a week.

Other happenings: I have 2 chatsford teapots (6 cup size) available! I will be posting them to the website soon...

That's about it!
~Anne

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