a winter tea for you and me

“When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment?” ~ Muriel Barbery (The Elegance of the Hedgehog)



Hello, Cutie Pies. Happy New Year!

Baby, it’s cold outside. This winter’s shaping up to be a real cracker. It’s so cold around here we have to open the refrigerator to heat the house. So cold, a cake I just baked and set out to cool frosted itself. 🙂

Mr. Cornelius has taken to sleeping in oven mitts,


and is mad for fuzzy scarves (nice fashion statement, eh?).


But where are my manners? Please make yourself comfortable and have a nice spot of tea. There now, better?


Hope you enjoyed the holiday season. Len and I had a poignant visit with my family in Hawai’i. So good to see everyone, but when your parents are 89 and 99 years old, each Christmas, each day spent together — becomes more and more precious. The two gifts I most wanted to give them — good health and more time, were sadly out of my reach. The gifts they gave me — seeing how bravely they faced each day’s challenges and how they helped each other — will stay with me always.

No one tells you how hard it will be to see your parents age. My mother (always the pillar of strength in our family), who just a year ago was able to cook a big New Year’s Eve dinner, can now barely stand in the kitchen. Please pray for her, will you?

Love is all you need.

Lots of folks have posted their New Year’s Resolutions; some have selected a Word around which to shape their year. What I aspire to every year is the same. My word for the year is always the same: LOVE.


Love my family, friends, and neighbors, yes. Love my work, my country, the small and big things of this world. I remind myself not to be stingy about it, not to wait or hold back. We all only have this one moment, this one chance. No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.

Nothing matters more in this world than how you treat other people.

The golden rule may sound old fashioned and cliché, but so very many people have forgotten it. When you lead with love, good things follow: wonder, joy, compassion, creativity, inspiration, fulfillment, generosity, growth, tolerance, understanding, peace.

Human beings hunger for love all their lives.  It’s why we’re here, and when all is said and done, it’s the only thing any of us really has to give.



Since it looks like we’ll be needing lots of tea to get us through the winter, we’re gonna keep the kettle on all the time. Ah yes — nothing soothes the soul like sipping a freshly brewed cup of Earl Grey, English Breakfast or Darjeeling while snuggled up in a cozy fleece blanket and reading a good book. No better fuel for contemplation and reflection, no better companion for a cheeky chat.


What’s that? You’d like a side of England to go with your tea? I was thinking the same thing. So many of my favorite people and things come from the other side of the pond: Shakespeare, the Beatles, Brontës, Jane Austen, Pooh, Paddington Bear, Notting Hill, the inimitable Colin “takes the cake” Firth, scones, lemon curd tarts, Downton Abbey . . .

Wait, did someone say “Downton Abbey”?  Did you see it Sunday night? Hooray, it’s finally back!! Thomas looked especially hot, and how about that touching scene with Carson and Lady Mary? *weeps*

I’m happy to see how Edith’s character is developing; it’ll be fun to follow Rose’s adventures (what a minx, and Sam Thorley is a cutie, isn’t he?); and of course, the kitchen scenes with Mrs. Patmore and Daisy are the best (not sure I like Ivy so much).


I’m looking forward to serving up some Downton-inspired treats and poring over all these cookbooks:


Also on the Winter Menu: More “Indie Artist Spotlights,” chats with cool authors, illustrators and poets, book reviews, Poetry Friday Feasts, soup (of course!), our usual mischief.


Tea + England is basically the way to go. After all, everyone who is anybody is having a cuppa right this minute.



(via bing.com)

Pip pip! Let’s raise our cups. Here’s to a faboo 2014!

Stay Warm!

Thanks for the lovely bear pouch, Mia! (click to visit HandmadebyMia’s Etsy Shop)

“Come in the evening, come in the morning,
Come when expected, come without warning;
Thousands of welcomes you’ll find here before you,
And the oftener you come, the more we’ll adore you.”  (Irish Rhyme)


Copyright © 2014 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

57 thoughts on “a winter tea for you and me

  1. What a beautiful, heartwarming post to start off the New Year! Thank you, Jama! I especially appreciate your resolution of LOVE. When you lead with love, good things follow, indeed. If only more people believed and practiced that…
    There is certainly no dearth of love here in your beautiful world, Jama. I’m glad to stop in and share a warm cuppa tea with you anytime!
    A happy New Year to you, and all my best wishes for your parents.


    1. Happy New Year, Iza! So nice to be back, especially when I’m greeted by such wonderful friends like you. Cornelius and I are honored to have you at our tea table. Hope all your New Year’s wishes come true, and thank you for continuing to create such beautiful books for children. 🙂


  2. I LOVE this post and second your word of the year. It’s so true, in the end, all we have is love. It’s our best currency–spend it like you’re a zillionaire. I know this visit home was especially difficult and I’m glad Len was with you. I hope you both got to enjoy the weather there–we froze here!

    Cornelious looks especially cute in his oven mitt! I watched “Downton” last night (no TV, get it on Amazon prime but I have to wait a day) with a cuppa Cream Earl Grey and homemade oatmeal cookies. Frank has become a tea-holic (?) and gets out the teaball and warming pot every evening.

    My word of the year is coming. I’m late, as always, posting to my blog. But cheered so much by yours!

    Here’s to a happy 2014!


    1. Yes, we did enjoy the weather in Hawai’i — what a shock to come back to such cold temps here. Had to readjust my inner thermostat all over again. Actually we returned to no heat downstairs. Luckily we only had one cold night before getting our air handler motor replaced the next day.

      I think you can also watch Downton at the PBS.org website.

      Frank is definitely a man after my own heart. First soup,and now he’s a tea freak too? Hope you post some “Frank tea” photos like you did with the soups.

      Happy 2014!! We all deserve a happier, calmer, easier year, don’t you think?


  3. Oh Jama, you’ve outdone yourself AGAIN! Such a lovely post–delicious, as always, and I adore the pictures! Especially the ones of Cornelious and the Queen (and that darling little girl, whoever she is), in matching hats! You’re my culpa tea, Jama, truly. I cherish our friendship, and I’m delighted to see you blogging again.

    Oh, and YES, I’ll send warm, strength-building thoughts to your mother, whom I’ve come to know and love through your blog. I know very well the path that you’re traveling, so I’ll wrap a cuddly scarf around your shoulders, too. xoxo


    1. Thanks for the healing thoughts for my mom, Melodye. We’re all quite worried about her.

      I hope you know I wouldn’t be blogging if it weren’t for the truly loving and supportive online friends I’ve met over the years — and you were among the first from the old LJ neighborhood. So glad we’re still in touch. Every good wish to you for 2014. Hope it’s your best year yet. 🙂


      P.S. I think the girl with the upside down teacup on her head is supposed to be Alice in Wonderland.


  4. Happy New Year, Jama! Blessings on you, and much love flying your way, too! I’m sorry you had a sad time with your parents, but it is wonderful you did get to be with them. I remember there was a time when all of a sudden I realized I was taking care of my mother, not the other way round. I’m not sure we’re ever prepared for that. Thank you for your lovely beginning to the new year for us, the sweet pics and the chuckles, too. Cornelius in the oven mitt-so happy he’s keeping warm, and hope you are as well. Best wishes for your parents!


    1. Happy New Year, Linda! So appreciate your caring thoughts and good wishes. We all have to walk through doors we don’t especially want to, and few are ever really prepared for the reality that lies on the other side. It’s certainly comforting to know others have been there and understand.

      Cornelius and I are keeping warm. Though tea helps a lot, it doesn’t compare to the warmth of friends sharing stories and experiences. I’m looking forward to reading more of TeacherDance this year! 🙂


  5. I love the idea of tea (and, as you know, all things British), but, alas, I do not love the taste of it. But I will enthusiastically join you, coffee in hand, and am looking forward to all the treats in store. And speaking of love, I loved this wise post — it warmed me right up on an icy cold day. You truly are a gem, Jama. I’m sending good thoughts to you and your parents.


    1. Not like tea??!!!

      Okay . . . well, we DO have some nice Kona coffee to serve you. I imagine even the QUEEN and Colin drink coffee sometimes. 😀

      Actually Mr. Firth alone would warm anyone up all by himself, don’t you agree?

      Happy New Year, Linda!


    1. -5F? Wow!! It’s about 12 degrees here (a heat wave compared to you).

      Enjoy your tea but don’t get your Einstein mustache wet. 🙂


  6. love this post, Jama…your words are perfect for this cold winter’s morning…
    I so relate to the precious moments left with your parents–one of the most difficult paths to walk in life is losing them. enjoy every moment…and stay warm!


    1. Hi Sharon! A difficult path indeed. Just wish I didn’t live so far away.

      Hope 2014 is a good year for you and yours. Looking forward to enjoying more of your poems and photos :).


  7. Jama, thanks for your warm and lovely post. I hoped you were in Hawaii over the holidays, seeing your parents. Watching your parents becoming more frail is hard. You do learn to cherish every moment with them, storing up memories.

    Our winter started off with a wallop–an ice storm and loss of power for three nights. Although it was uninvited, the ice storm did remind us of what is most important: the simple things–light, heat, electricity, hot water, hot coffee or tea, health…and being together with the ones you love.


    1. Hi Barb,

      Sorry to hear about the ice storm and power outage. Though we didn’t have heat for one night, we still had electricity. I guess we all tend to take certain things for granted until we’re forced to go without. “Simple,” seemingly small things can make a big difference.

      Hope you enjoyed the holidays, and that you, M, and Echo are keeping warm. Happy 2014!!!


  8. Prayers for your dear mother, Jama. I’m glad you got to see your parents over the holidays!! I can’t stay up until 11:00 and get up at 6:00 the next day, so my husband and I watched DA last night. I love the kitchen scenes too! And, oh, that scene with Carson and Mary. ❤ Happy new year with lots of love…


    1. Happy New Year to you, Lisa! I get sleepy around 10:30, but don’t worry about nodding off, since my PBS station repeats the broadcast Monday afternoons. Don’t mind watching each episode two days in a row :).

      I’ve always loved the special relationship between Carson and Mary. He’s always there for her — steady, forgiving, honest — he keeps it real for her without being disrespectful.

      Thanks so much for your prayers. We’re grateful we were able to make the trip, especially since we had just gone in April. If only Hawai’i were closer to Virginia.


  9. Happy New Year and welcome home! Thank you for this lovely warm post! A good reminder – to Love, for tea, for family and friends, for appreciation! I haven’t watched Downton yet. Saving it – maybe today! Btw- I got this great thermos for loose tea at Teavana – it keeps your tea hot for 8 HOURS! Loving it!


    1. Happy New Year, Debbi! Thanks for the nice welcome back.

      8 hours? That “is” a long time. Let’s see — how many cookies, scones, and little cakes would I need for 8 hours worth of tea? 🙂

      Happy Writing in the Word Nest!!


  10. Leave it to Mr. Cornelius to warm himself in oven mitts and fuzzy scarves. Thanks for the warm and wonderful post. I’m sending all my best to you and your parents. You’re so right about no one telling you how hard it is to watch your parents age. Your post brought a few tears to me–I’m so glad that you got to spend the holidays with them. This January is two years since my mom died (and about 8 since my dad passed away) and the memories of those final months are still difficult but important. And with time, those memories don’t leap to the forefront as much as the years of caring and love. Great word for the year!
    We watched Downton yesterday with the magic of PBS on roku–and it was a glorious start to the new season. I was relieved when Carson gave Mary a kick as I had just started giving her a talking to.


    1. Sorry to hear you’ve already lost both your parents, Buffy. It’s comforting and reassuring to know that “the years of caring and love” leap to the forefront more with passing time. Thanks for sharing that, and for your good wishes for my parents. We’re blessed that they’re both still with us; they’ve lived good, long lives worth celebrating.

      I’m also very glad Carson stepped in for Mary. I liked how Tom Branson also gently prodded her with lines like, “it’s time for you to come back to us.” He’s becoming a more likable character for me. Mrs. Patmore reminds me of one of my aunts, so it’s always a treat to see her. Sweet that she sent Daisy that valentine. 🙂

      Have a good 2014. Special hugs from Mr. Cornelius!


  11. You tempted me with pics of the Fabs. Even Bob Dylan (with a KITTEN)! But I do not like them Sam I Am. I do not like thee, Drink Called TEA.

    Coffee. Black. Slatts.


    1. Sigh. Though you’re not a tea fan, so glad you stopped by Mr. Slatts. If you promise to come again, we’ll serve up some coffee too, as you’re not the only non-tea drinker here. 🙂

      But I do want to find a way to convert you just the same . . .


  12. “…small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment?” How beautiful that is!

    Our holidays were uneventful, but I treasure a brief moment when my son received an unexpected gift that was absolutely, unequivocally perfect for him and he smiled with his whole heart!

    So glad to have you back and sharing your sweet and heartfelt ideas with us dear Jama!


    1. Thanks so much for sharing that moment with us, Cathy! There’s no greater feeling than making a child truly happy with just the right gift.

      Glad you liked that quote; sometimes I chastise myself for focusing too much on small things, but so often they turn out to be the most significant part of an experience. Have a grand year!


  13. Jama, I’m so sorry your mom is not doing well. I’ve loved all your posts about your parents–they are just amazing! Sending you lots of love and warm, comforting tea!


  14. After a busy and very, very cold day your blog post is my cup of tea. Even though I’ve never had the pleasure of hearing your voice, it’s like you are reading this to me. You have such a way of lifting everyone up who visits your blog, Jama. And of course, I will send out prayers for your Mom. Love truly is all we have. Happy New Year you wonderful woman.


    1. Thanks for the prayers and nice words, Margie. It makes a world of difference knowing you’re out there. And speaking of voice, I still think you write some of the best book reviews in the kidlitosphere. 🙂


  15. Your mother will be in my prayers. 89 and 99 – that’s incredible and a blessing. Beautiful post. Inspiring and thoughtful (for me, at least). Mr. Cornelius is a star. Love his sleeping bag oven mitt! Have you ever tried the Republic of Tea’s Vanilla Almond? It’s my current favorite. For dessert, there is their Peppermint Chocolate (I love that combination. I know it’s not for everyone). I’m sorry my mother wasn’t able to read your blog. She would have loved your creativity, photos of Mr. Cornelius, and your words. The closing Irish rhyme is lovely.


    1. Thanks so much for your prayers, Samantha — and for the tea tips. I will have to get some RT Vanilla Almond and Peppermint Chocolate! I’ve never had any chocolatey teas before.


  16. Hi Jama, Nice to have your sweet self back. And Cornelius, in all his fuzzy glory. Sending good thoughts to you and your parents. Hard, hard, it is.


      1. Didn’t know you were a Newman fan! I knew you had good taste, but now I’m even more convinced. A little salad dressing and blue eyes go a long way. 🙂


  17. Thanks for this, Jama darling. As always, a beautiful post. Your words, your heart, and your LOVE take my breath away. Oma & Apa will be in my prayers… As for Mr. Cornelius… I think he deserves his own picture book, don’t you think?


    1. Ginger darling,

      Thanks for the prayers and lovely words. Friends like you inspire me to continue blogging.

      As for Mr. Cornelius, his head might explode if he ever had his own book. I mean, with all the attention he’s getting now he’s a little hard to live with and often dictates what I should write about here. Who would keep him under control? 🙂


  18. Lovely post, Jama. What a gift to have brave and loving parents. Mine were, too. Though I lost my mom 26 years ago now, and my dad 2 years ago, their strength and love forever changed my life. I’ll pray for your mom. I’m so glad for your visit, and very glad to have wonderful-you back 🙂


    1. Happy New Year, Jill! So heartening to hear how your parents continue to inspire and inform your life years after their passing. Thank you so much for your prayers. Hope you have a wonderful year :).


    1. Thanks, Michelle! No one ever called me “Poppet” before. I think I like it — it beats Melon Head and is “almost” on a par with Apple Dumpling. 😀


  19. Hello dear Jama,

    Have a lovely New Year! Thank you for this beautiful post, and all the best to you and yours, and especially to your mom, she’ll be in my thoughts.

    Thank you so much for the link, I am happy the pouch has found some inhabitants 🙂

    Wishing you a bear-filled (not a hard one I reckon?) weekend, and many warm wishes from gray Finland!



    1. Hi Mia,

      Thanks so much again for the beautiful pouch! You can see it was immediately put to good use — I only hope the tiny inhabitants will let me use it too sometimes. 🙂

      Wishing you the best new year — I think we’ve gotten your snow this winter.


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