Friday, April 22, 2011

Celebrating Earth Day!

Come Celebrate Earth Day with us!

Did you know, our packaging is made using recyclable paper and is reusable, recyclable and compost-able ! All of our teas and herbs support organic farmers and the earth!!

To honor Earth Day, we are giving you 10% off your entire order! Enter the code "earth" at check out. valid April 22-April 23rd. 
Come celebrate the earth and good teas!

Happy Earth day !

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Importance of Natural Play

 This month we would like to introduce Daria Gosset of Nobby Organics, who shares our commitment to natural, mindful parenting. 

Nobby Organics offers some of the healthiest and most natural childrens products that stimulate the creative imagination of children. Everything you find at Nobby Organics is 100% Natural, handmade and toxin free.

Importance of Natural Play
By Daira Gosset of Nobby Organics

Born into an artistic family, I have, from an early age, learned to love and cherish the creative process with its ups and downs and often surprising results. Having only a limited number of ready-made toys, my family would use different materials found all around our house to make our own toys. My grandmother would collect scraps of cloth and sew dolls for me and my brother, while old shoeboxes and drawers would serve as doll house furniture. As I grew up, I began to make toys myself, transforming old woolen sweaters into blankets and capes for my dolls and digging up clay from our backyard to make figurines and beads. Looking back, I am very grateful to my grandmother for teaching us to view even the tiniest and seemingly useless piece of cloth as a possible prompt for exploration and inspiring us to follow our own fantastic imaginations in our play.

Today everything aims at providing the most realistic experience, with mass-produced toys overflowing with life-like details, thus, totally dismissing the need for imagination. Toys with specific pre-determined functions utilize electronic features such as light, sound, and motors to engage the child, usually making him or her the passive spectator. But, as research has shown, it is very important for the child to actively participate in his own play, to complete a toy using his own imagination, which, in turn, plays a key factor in his social, moral, and physical development. Thus, for example, tying a silk scarf around the shoulders as a cape or placing it on the floor and playing among its folds as if it were a river allow the child to explore the world around him and communicate his feelings in a stress-free environment. Such open-ended toys also allow the child to adapt the toy to whatever game or situation he most relates to at that moment, again aiding in the development of not only his imagination but also his relationship with the adult world.

Natural materials such as silk, wool, and wood also provide a very different tactile experience from the plastic usually used for manufactured toys. Besides the comfort and warmth afforded by the natural materials, there is a great variety of textures available for the child to explore, further aiding his development, as opposed to the relatively uniform texture and unnatural coolness of plastic. Moreover, natural toys minimize the child’s exposure to harmful toxins which are abundant in mass-produced plastic toys. Especially dangerous are the dioxins contained in #3 PVC plastics, the Bisphenol-A (BPA) added to #7 plastics to make them rigid, and the synthetic dyes, containing heavy metals, used to produce bright, saturated colors. All of these are considered to be some of the most toxic poisons known to man, and now imagine the harm such chemicals can inflict on the developing body and brain of a child at this especially critical stage of his life.

We as parents should try to resist this new technological impulse, not giving into the temptation of using television and computers to keep our children busy but encouraging natural play. Encourage them to spend more time outside, maybe even helping you with yard-work such as raking and gardening, which provides them with inspiration for their own future games and symbolic play. Chose simple toys and teach them various crafts, all of which develop their imagination as well as offer loads of fun. 

With Easter and springtime approaching, a wonderful activity could be dyeing eggs. I still cherish those fond childhood memories of my mother collecting dried onion skins in a basket on the kitchen table and then using them, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables, to dye our Easter eggs. Not only does this creative process result in beautiful Easter decorations and presents, but it also teaches the children about the power and beauty of simple nature. Natural ingredients like spices, herbs and vegetables offer an endless variety of hues for dyeing eggs.

To get a beautiful mahogany color, place 10-12 eggs in a single layer in a pan. Add water until the eggs are covered and add the skins of 12-15 yellow onions. Bring to a gentle boil, then lower heat, and allow the eggs to simmer for 20-30 minutes. The longer you leave the eggs to boil, the deeper the color will be. Remove eggs, rinse in lukewarm water and cool them. If you’d like to add a soft sheen to your eggs, coat them lightly with vegetable oil and polish with a cloth.

If you’d like a more delicate decoration, try tying fresh small leaves to the egg with string. Then follow the previous directions. This process takes a little bit more patience, but the results are stunning!

Happy Spring!

About Daria,  
Mother to five children and the owner of NobbyOrganics. Born in Russia, I moved to the U.S. with my husband, and have been living in Westchester County, NY in a setting surrounded by trees, flowers and lakes for almost half of my life. There’s a lot of creativity and play in our family, and we’re passionate about the environment, brestfeeding, mindful parenting, traveling, crafting and exploring the world.  Having started my business venture less than a year ago, I am very excited about it and carefully choose the products made with only eco-friendly and organic materials such as wood, cotton, wool, and non-toxic dyes from around the globe. I believe that nature provides everything for keeping us comfortable and healthy. 

Visit Daria's shop Nobby Organics to find a fantastic selection of natural, organic products.

Visit our web site to browse our entire collection of teas!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Bow, A View, A Bowl of Tea

By Donna D’Orio

I was happy to receive my invitation to be a part of Love & Tea through the sharing of my experiences in the practice of Chado. I study the Uresenke tradition with the Waiki Association in Portland Oregon. It is my hope that my posts serve to inform and inspire making more possible an authentic and joyful relationship for the readers with the traditional Chanoyu.
The objective of the Japanese tea ceremony is to purify the soul by becoming one with nature through a ritual that employs the attributes of grace, gentleness, compassion, acceptance and respect of imperfection, regard for all things and also to pay homage to the aesthetic of austere simplicity and refined poverty.  The tea ceremony is part of the spiritual practice of Zen.

Uresenke tradition holds as its father the Zen monk Sen Rikyu (1522-1591). A monk and student of Zen Rikyu brought this influence into his discipline of tea. He emphasized direct experience and held to the principals that are the foundational principals in Chado today. The four main principals in Chado are:

Wa or Harmony
Kei or Respect
Sei or Purity
Jaku or Tranquility

This lovely poem by Fujiwara Ietaka reflects Rikyu’s philosophy nicely.

 “To those who long only for flowers in full bloom, I would show the spring of young shoots pushing through snow in a mountain village.”  by Fujiwara Ietaka.

The spring birds are darting through the woods, lighting on rain soaked branches as the season reaches it climax. The cherry blossoms signal the fullness of spring and become the theme of
April tea. The hearth-pit season comes to a close and the sunken hearth will remain covered until November. I thought this would be a symbolic month to begin the writings for this blog.

The fresh smell of aired tatami mat greets me as I bow (signifying all are equal) and enter the Chashitsu (tea room) on my knees. The Tokonoma (raised alcove) serves as the focal point and houses the hanging scroll holding a calligraphy poem or phrase written with brush strokes and chosen carefully to reflect a theme chosen by the Teishu (host) for this occasion. A  bamboo Chabana holds the delicate display of Camillia. I bow, pause and reflect on the scroll, admire the flower arrangement and then take my place as guest. Practice begins. It is the perfect compliment to sitting practice in the Zen tradition.

The Teishu enters carrying the Chawan (tea bowl) which holds the Chasen (tea whisk), the Chakin (tea cloth) and Chashaku (tea scoop). The bowl represents the moon (yin) and is placed next to the water jar which represents the sun (yang). Placed perfectly the Teishu returns to the Myzuaya (preparation room) to get the Kensui (waste water bowl), Hishaku (bamboo water ladle) and the Futaoki (rest for Kama or kettle lid). It is a lovely procession of beautiful utensils all finding their place under the most gentle direction. The outside world falls away and we are in the grace of direct experience. It is so incredibly nurturing, the most basic acts refined and implemented into a moving meditation, a physical interaction that is tangible and designed to reconnect us to the joy of being. There is no use for the internet or other forms of modern technology here, those things would not serve the fundamental purpose this direct experience fosters. I am so relieved and profoundly grateful for this time in the Chashitsu.
See you next month…A Bow.


In the hazy field of springtime,
The scent of the flower…
Is it the blossoming cherry?
                                From the Manyoshu

A bit about Donna D'Orio: a Colorado native residing in Western Oregon (the land of rain) as I study Chado, Zen and participate actively with my grandchildren as I continue to pursue my artistic path. I hold a BA in Art and Cultural Studies. I am currently building a body of work to show and make available through my upcoming blog and website currently under construction and hope to see you there in the future.