Friday, January 31, 2020

Making My St. Brigid's Cross and Tea...

Since learning that I was indeed Irish just over 4 years ago (ok, half Irish) I have been trying to learn about my Irish heritage and culture. One of the things that caught my eye was a small green woven cross, known as St. Brigid's Cross, I wanted to learn more about it and make my own.  These are usually made on January 31st, for the Feast on February 1st.  They are said to protect the home from Evil, Fire and Hunger, when made and displayed in the home.
(google image, mine shown in the tea photo above)

"The tale as we know it is as follows....

There was an old pagan Chieftain who lay delirious on his deathbed in Kildare (some believe this was her father) and his servants summoned Brigid to his beside in the hope that the saintly woman may calm his restless spirit. Brigid is said to have sat by his bed, consoling and calming him and it is here that she picked up the rushes from the floor and began weaving them into the distinctive cross pattern. Whilst she weaved, she explained the meaning of the cross to the sick Chieftain and it is thought her calming words brought peace to his soul. He was so enamoured by her words that the old Chieftain requested he be baptized as a Christian just before his passing.

Since that day, and for the centuries that followed, it has been customary on the eve of her Feast Day (1st February) for the Irish people to fashion a St. Brigid's Cross of straw or rushes and place it inside the house over the door.

This rush cross, which became St. Brigid’s emblem, has been used in Irish designs throughout history, with many modern stylists using this now popular Irish symbol within the designs of Irish jewelry and Irish gifts." 

I set out to make mine this year using items I found at the dollar store, you see wild rushes not as easy to come by near where I live in Vancouver Canada, so I found some long green grass in the craft and floral section of my dollar store and I cut the leaves from the wire stem. I then watch youtube videos on how to bend the stems into St. Brigid's Cross, having to watch it a few times to get the hang of it, I felt proud as the cross came together. I am sure mine are far from perfect however I enjoyed connecting with my history in this way and there is a calming feeling as you create these crosses and as they form.

Google Image of Imbolic and Brigid 

Brigid is also a Celtic Goddess, she is the goddess healing, fertility and poetry, actually the saint and the goddess are intertwined and to me quite interesting and fascinating. Imbolic which is a celebration of the beginning of spring and of new life,  is  also celebrated on February 1st. In Irish mythology and medieval language the word Imbolic, means "in the belly", Small figures of Brigid are also fashioned and hung in homes to help protect the home and health of the people and their animals living within.

Thank you for joining me for a cup of tea and an Irish/Imbolic craft, I would love to hear from you so please leave me a comment here or email me at

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Ellery Adams Murder In The Reading Room

I did it! I was able to buy, download, and read within three days ! My first cozy mystery of 2020!!! This for me is a dream come true, being able to concentrate, retain and complete a cozy written by one of my favorite authors feels amazing. For those of you who may be new to my blog, I have dyslexia, and have worked on my reading for years. In 2018 I read and reviewed more than 200 + cozy mysteries, but in 2019 I had to step back, finding looking after my father, made it next to impossible for me to read or retain anything. My father passed away last March and I have made many changes to my own life, reading however did not bounce back as I had hoped.  I am beyond thrilled to have been able to set aside time to read and thoroughly enjoy the simple joy of curling up with a good book and a cup of tea.
I have read each book in Ellery Adams Book Retreat Mystery series, and I just finished reading Murder in the Reading Room. I ordered my kindle copy from and I absolutely loved it. I have gotten to know and love each character and story line in this series as if I was a member of the "Fins" a group of trained people sworn to protect main character Jane and her family as they are guardians of  a powerful and mysterious secret library. They operate a book retreat that any book lover would dream of attending, the best food, like minded bibliophiles, a picturesque location and a set of twin boys that will melt your heart. This book sent me on twists and turns I had not expected and thrilled me to no end. Putting it down felt like saying good bye again to some truly remarkable friends, this book has left me with one of the best book hangovers, so long over due.

  Storyton Hall, Virginia, is a paradise for book lovers who come from all over for literary getaways. But manager Jane Steward is temporarily leaving for another renowned resort—in hopes of solving a twist-filled mystery . . .
 Jane’s boyfriend is missing, and she thinks she may find him at North Carolina’s historic Biltmore Estate. Officially, she’s there to learn about luxury hotel management, but she’s also prowling around the breathtaking buildings and grounds looking for secret passageways and clues. One of the staff gardeners promises to be helpful . . . that is, until his body turns up in the reading room of his cottage, a book on his lap. When she finally locates the kidnapped Edwin, his captor insists that she lead him back to Storyton Hall, convinced that it houses Ernest Hemingway’s lost suitcase, stolen from a Paris train station in 1922. But before they can turn up the treasure, the bell may toll for another victim . . .

*I am not an amazon affiliate and I will not get paid if you follow the link here to the kindle addition on  

Thank you for joining me for a cup of tea and a long over due Cozy Mystery Review post. I would love to hear from you so please leave me comment here or email me at 

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Bell's Lets Talk Day

Today in Canada is Bell's Let's Talk Day.  A day where in Canada just a little bit of social media time watching a short video a donation will be made by the Bell Company which will fund Mental Health Initiatives across Canada.

  From the Bell Website....

Taking Positive Action

 I feel it is very important to not just talk but  to also gain the skills needed and the confidence to take charge of our own mental health, learning more than self care, using learned tools to manage anxiety, accessing these tools through talk, through therapy, through art, through self expression. I hope today you will get a chance to have a conversation with someone you know and trust to learn more about or share about your own mental health. 

Thank you for joining me for a cup of tea and a thank you to Bell for helping bring Mental Health Awareness and Mental Wellness to a global scale.
I would love to hear from you so please leave me a comment here or email me at  

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Sick Day and Self Care

“You can complain because your roses have thorns or you can rejoice because your thorns have roses”-Pablo Picasso

Well I have had the pleasure of having the flu, (stomach), a 24 hour version, not that awful regular flu,  it has not been fun. I did something I have not done in a really long time and asked for a sick day. I am so grateful to my boss who was able to come in and cover for me. I thought I was going to be okay and tried to work through it, but somethings just really do require rest. 

Between having children and working with the public, it is a perfect storm for picking up the odd virus and common cold and usually leads to a pretty strong immune system, normally I can soldier on, this time I soldiered to bed. Self care, more than facials, cups of tea and time away, are great but never under estimate taking to the bed. Sticking to the BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Apples, Tea) I have kept down tea, apples and rice, so hoping to be back to work tomorrow, just waiting on the bananas to ripen...

Thank you for joining me for a cup of tea and a sick day/self care post. I would love to hear from you so please leave me a comment here or email me at 

Monday, January 27, 2020

You have heard of Elf on a Shelf, but how about Wonder Woman in the Washroom

Above is my Monday morning tea, Believe, is the message and when I was about 3 Wonder Woman was who I believed in, I even remember cutting out from a coloring book her picture to put above my cubby hole for Preschool. Things in my life happened and I somehow stopped believing in Wonder Woman but over the last few years, she has made her way back into my life and she somehow evolved with me. I have dedicated my washroom as a bit of a shrine, bit of nostalgia and a bit of fun, to the idea of Wonder Woman and thought I might share some funny photos from my washroom...
I found and printed this amazing image of Wonder Woman from deviant art google images, it truly spoke to me, from her long flowing hair, to her powerful thighs and delicate teacup in one hand sword in the other, I fell in love with this image and I framed it and hung it above where I hang my necklaces in the washroom.
A cardboard cut out and small statue that when pressed gives out Wonder Woman affirmations and advice sit on my counter.
A powerful young Wonder Woman rides the bathroom ape, whom I decorate for each holiday, he is in his red bow tie for Valentines day, his New Years Glasses took a chunk out if his nose paint...

I do think that the funniest addition to our bathroom is this thrift store found Wonder Woman who stands about a foot and a half tall with her arms up. We all seem to take turns posing her in funny ways to shock the next person in the washroom, I found her hanging from the towel hooks yesterday and then I set her up in the shower to spook the next person in the shower/bath before I left this morning....
We have had her "perched on the potty,  under the sink, behind the door and holding the roll"
I think her true purpose in the washroom is the fun she adds.
I think though my favorite image of Wonder Woman in this Washroom, is this framed photo I ordered on Etsy of a full figured faceless Wonder Woman who reminds us that we are all Wonder Woman.

Google image I found show above may need to be the next addition to my Wonder Woman Washroom decor. 
Thank you for joining me for a cup of tea and a look at my Washroom. I hope you have a wonderful day. 
I would love to hear from you so please leave me a comment here or email me at 

Sunday, January 26, 2020

“What is done in love is done well” -Vincent Van Gogh. 

I bought myself this lovely cup and saucer organizer from amazon this week. It is such a small thing but I think it is a delightful part of my tea accessories. Truth is Amazon, like Facebook seems to know exactly what I need even when I don't know I always needed it! Which is part of the reason why I have this small yet amazing teacup and saucer stand on my table. Honestly their suggestions on what I might like is on the mark too much of the time!  This week it has Royal Albert's Petit Point on it, one of three sets that I have enough cups and saucers to fill in one pattern, (And then some). 

This little lovely was only $12.99 Canadian and for me a beautiful way to display on my table or tea cart my tea cups.  I found it on and you might be able to still grab one by visiting amazon at this link. I am not an Amazon Affiliate, I don't get anything if you click the link. Just sharing a fun find for tea time! 

I think  it would be fun to add ribbon or garland to it for each of the seasons don't you?

Thank  you for joining me for a cup of tea and a cute tea time find. I would love to hear from you so please leave me a comment here or email me at

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Vancouver's Hot Chocolate Festival...

Today I am 100% sure I consumed three times the recommended daily caloric intake. My friend Daniela organized an outing for the second year in a row for us to try out one of our favorite places participating in this years Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival. The festival runs from January 18-February 14th and even if you only make it to one, the one I say is not to miss is the one at Thomas Haas.

This festival is in it's tenth year but this is only the second year I have known about it. Not sure how I missed a hot chocolate festival  in the past but I know I don't want to miss it ever again. I had the Black Forest Hot Chocolate, which was so very rich I truly did not need the two desserts that I ordered with it but it was so fantastic!
This very rich dark chocolate hot chocolate came with what tasted like a heavenly black forest cake, complete with unbelievable chocolate goodies and a kirsch  soaked cherry, balanced on a chocolate shortbread with whip cream stars.

This was a lovely visit with friends all whom have the busiest of schedules and yet we were able to meet up for the second year in a row to indulge in such a delicious way. My only regret is that I forgot to get a picture of us together! If you get a chance to visit a Hot Chocolate Festival in your area I highly recommend it! Here is a link to the locations here participating and some of the amazing hot chocolates they offer. 

Thank you for joining me for a cup of Hot Chocolate today and a look at one of the best Chocolate Stores in Vancouver!
I would love to hear from you so please leave me a comment here or email me at

Friday, January 24, 2020

Tales From The Tea Shop....A Friday Funny True Story...

This was my tea this morning, calm and serene after the funny events of yesterday, so bare with me as I share or over share a bit about how yesterdays lunch went.

Tales From the tea shop....
Beans and Boobs don’t mix.
 I am trying to be healthier, trying to eat better, putting only things that are an absolute joy to eat in my mouth. So yesterday on a particularly wet day I thought baked beans in my crock pot was the perfect meal for lunch.   I savored ever bite, glad for a moment to eat in piece, in my busy tea shop. With that very last bite, I brought the spoon to my mouth closed my eyes to truly amerce myself in that final joy, but my shaking arms from ballet Wednesday night betrayed me and that final bite was not meant to be as I felt the Luke warm spoonful slip from the spoon and into my cleavage. In my sports type bra, fresh from the laundry and largely doing its job, now doubling as receptacle for bean refuge.....

I hope this made you giggle a bit, it added some comic relief in a very blessedly stressed week. Thank you for joining me for a little laugh and a cup of tea this Friday. I look forward to sharing more tales from the tea shop again with you soon...
I would love to hear from you so please leave me a comment here or email me at

Thursday, January 23, 2020

A Little Leap Of Faith Goes A Long Way...

On the last day of September I boarded a plane to London England, alone, something I never thought possible. When I look at the photo above I find it hard to believe that that person is even me.  Somehow this photo captures the very spark of who I truly am, who I want to be. Even though in this moment I was terrified, I found the courage to feel the fear and do it anyway.  An overnight flight to London, turned out to be some of the best hours I have ever spent alone. I was very well fed, taken care of and slept, the plane ride itself a huge surprise as well as success.
I landed in London at Heathrow, my sister met me at the gate and treated me to a croissant and much needed cup of tea.  I learned so much in the first few moments of landing, one if you don't tell them not too, they put milk in your tea, I always take it black! I also learned that you have never every truly had a croissant until you have had one made with British Butter.  Yum! It has wrecked croissants here for me.
On my first night in London, I did one of the most Canadian things possible, I went to my nieces Hockey game, she is the goalie (My sister and I are both Goalie Moms) and well she is a tad taller than I am and just entered her teen years....
I do think that even though she is so much taller we do look a lot alike...

One of the best things my sister did for me in London was to book us on the Afternoon Tea Bus with Brigit's Bakery.  This was a converted Double Decker that drives you though London, showing you the sights while you enjoy some wonderfully decedent tea time treats.
Our table....

 This was my favorite shot from the tea, my sister and I through the treats and sandwiches...

The Queen has been for me a very important role model and someone I have looked up to for years. I have so much respect and admiration for her that I do keep a photo of her beside my bed, I was sad to learn that even though I made this huge trek hoping to get a glance of her, she was still in Scotland so I this was as close as I got, at Buckingham Palace in the gift shop. :)

Even though I am a normally apprehensive traveler I am proud of myself for the fact that I learned to take the Tube, and did so on my own a few times! I actually felt safer in London than I do in my own city.
I have much more to share about my time in London and will hope you will indulge me from time to time. It is said that if you leap the net will appear, and I was not one to believe it however I did find that taking even the littlest of leaps of faith do go a long way.

Thank you for joining me today for a cup of tea and a cozy mystery I would love to hear from you so please leave me a comment here or email me at

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Love of A Great Cat

I have been blessed to have in my life the love of a really amazing rescue cat. If you are new to my blog, I have a black and white, long haired, tuxedo, feral rescue cat, who came named Squirrel. I could look it up but I think she has been with me know almost 5 or 6 years. Originally we adopted her because of how she responded with my middle son, immediately connecting with him was a huge sign that she should come live with us. I swear this cat can sens anxiety and is intuitive and magical. We quickly formed a strong bond.
I knew that a choice I made this fall would separate us temporarily and it was a very difficult but necessary part of my transition. I was worried about leaving her behind, and visited her almost daily, and I worried she would not take to the new life when we were reunited, however I should never have feared. She was so cuddly and receptive and it was a huge relief.
I had, during our separation seen on Facebook I kept seeing adds for these funny pet portraits that make your pets portraits as if they were old world nobility and only because I love and have such a huge bond with my cat I CHOSE to have her immortalized as the very elegant and classy cat she is.  I have it hung up right where I can see it everyday and it makes me smile, even though my young friend Lily told me it was CHEESIE...I still think it is really fun and classy.

If you are looking to do a photo of your loved one there are several companies out there and since purchasing mine from Iconic Paw, I have seen many different styles and fun ideas from movie posters to mugs.
Thank you for joining me today. I would love to hear from you so please leave me a comment here or email me at    

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Dancing (Stumbling) Home Again...

Wednesday's in 2020 have me doing something different, not entirely new but entirely new to me as an adult. I have started taking adult beginning ballet classes. I have thought about returning to the bar for more than 25 years. I started ballet at age 5 with Anne Gordon Dance Studio on Pemberton, here in North Vancouver. I did not stick with ballet, largely due to family finances and the fact that my parents had so many young kids it was hard to get me there. In high school, when I could I took Dance instead of PE, I am not at all nimble, nor sporty and it was the lesser of two evils. While I was not good at the dancing part I really loved the repetitive movements and stretches that ballet brings. I have not danced sine the mid 1990's...
I have made many changes in my life in the last year, most are motivated, I am sorry to say, by fear. Healthy Fear I call it. I have in the last ten years lost both my parents and my brother. My mother was 56, my brother in his early 30's and my father, last March at age 65. I celebrated my 44th birthday in April and weather I like to admit it or not, the fear that I may only have a short time left to live my life or the fear of the un known has motivated me to get myself together for better or worse.  

So this is me, in my tea shop after work before my first class, I put on my ballet suit, (the largest the store sold) pink tights, black wrap around skirt and new soft pink ballet shoes, I pulled my shoulder length hair back into a bun, set my phone camera timer and posed for my "I can do it!" moment. 

In November my sons Foods teacher, whom I knew from High School, came into the shop and we began talking about her dance recital, and when she left I looked up the school and emailed about starting in January. When I got the email about class starting I had a pang of worry, mixed in with excitement, I made a special stop at our local dance shop and purchased the items needed, relieved that they had something to fit me, even though I had my heart set on a pink leotard, black was the only one in my size. When I arrived at the address of the school, memories came back to me, as I climbed the stairs to the studio, I remembered that this studio One Dance, was actually the studio I started at when I was 5! I remembered there used to be a bakery below and my mother would wait at the bottom of the stairs of the school with my brother in his stroller. It even smelled the same. I arrived and checked in, the young girl behind the desk was putting together a display of the School Jogging suits sets and I caught up in the nostalgia and moment, bought myself a set.  My teacher was a man who is the same age and we exchanged pleasantries as we waited to enter the studio, I was nervous, and began to get very self conscious, my two other classmates looked way better in shape and much thinner than I am. Once we started the pleasantries we exchanged in the waiting area, disappeared and a very strict and well trained dance teacher emerged from the very nice man I had talked with in the lobby. It was clear that he meant business and if he was going to give 100% then I should too. Twisting my body into shapes it has never made proved harder than I had expected. I have never been able to touch my toes but found myself actually wishing I could. When the teacher told us to have our heads up I thought mine was, It apparently wasn't and the teacher came to correct me, using my go to self deprecating humor I said " I am short, my neck is short" he said nonsense. "You and I have the same vertebrae " and at that moment I swear my neck grew. I pushed myself and my unwilling body through the different positions,   I learned and heard from muscles I had not used or who had been altered following three c-sections that they were not planing on co-operating.  I could not help but laugh at myself, I found I was having so much fun and kept pushing my uncoordinated self. When the class was over, I was relieved but excited and truly looking forward to my next class.
In away it felt good to "come home" even if I was stumbling and not dancing and I cant wait for my next class, followed by Advil, a long soak in some Epsom salts and a large cup of tea. What I currently lack in graceful dance skills I more than make up for in enthusiasm and tea....

Thank you for joining this tired new/old ballerina for a cup of tea and encouragement.
I would love to hear from you so please leave me a comment here or email me at

Monday, January 20, 2020

A Cup of Tea With Karen...

Hello and welcome. My name is Karen and it has been a really long time since I updated this blog. Many things happened in 2019, some really truly painful things and some really truly brilliant things. Thank you for giving me the time to focus on self care, new beginnings and the courage to come back.

While some major things have changed in my life, I am learning that it is more than okay to change and evolve and become who you are meant to be. Change was never welcome nor did it come easily to me. Somethings may have changed but many things have stayed the same.
I am still passionate about tea, and rescuing tea cups and I am working my way back to reading. I have truly struggled to read for almost a year now and I miss it terribly.  The above photo shows the first rescued tea cup of 2020. I found this lovely Shelley cup and saucer at my local Salvation Army thrift store. I paid $7.99. I loved that the shape was so different and the simplistic pattern and color. It is called Snow Crystal and I laughed when I saw the name because I was in the middle of a very big snow storm when I found it. I quickly hurried to work (Still working at the tea shop) and washed it, ready to use it the following day for my morning tea and me moment.
I was curious about my teacup find, as I always am, to see if they have any monetary value, this one was a huge surprise, I found that it was worth much more than I had paid for it.  For those of you who do not really know me I am one who uses my tea cups, not someone who puts things on a shelf for display only.  I find so much joy in using this treasured and often discarded pieces of history. 

Thank you for joining me for  for this cup of tea and catch up session. 
I would love to hear from you so please leave me a comment below or email me at