Month: December 2015

AWR has a Taste Test Tea Party!

Posted December 31, 2015 by Alison's Wonderland Recipes in Teas / 2 Comments

It’s December 31st! The year is ending, and with it our Little Women menu. It’s been a fun year, folks! I’m excited to start a new one with you tomorrow, so today I decided to post something I’ve been working on for MONTHS: a full review of all of the teas we’ve made on AWR!

Back in August, I invited my friends Laura and Mary from The Twins’ Guide over to perform a very serious task: review our Alison’s Wonderland Teas. The goal was to see how the teas hold up across a range of different palates and get some ideas about which ones could be improved. There are a few teas in this post that weren’t reviewed at the party because I hadn’t created them yet (like the chocolate mocha tea). For these, I brewed them several ways over the course of weeks to be sure they created a balanced cup each time.

Below you’ll find a picture of each tea followed by its name, description, a food pairing, and notes from the review. The pictures and titles link to the page on Adagio.com where you can order each tea. Enjoy!

P.S. These are all loose teas. To brew, you can place them in a tea infuser or paper tea filter…or you can drink your tea like Professor Trelawney and brew the leaves loose in the teapot! 🙂

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Jo’s Christmas Gingerbread: Little Gingerbread Women

Posted December 24, 2015 by Alison's Wonderland Recipes in Little Women (Dec. 2015) / 8 Comments

I mentioned in my first Little Women post that Jo celebrates Christmas while living away from home for the very first time. She loves New York but is a little homesick…until a box of homemade gifts arrives from home, delicious bits of crunchy gingerbread among them! This recipe from Taste of Home is jut the sort of sweet, fragrant, gently spicy cookie that would warm my heart and lift my spirits if I were Jo March. And to make them even more in keeping with our Little Women theme, I decided to decorate my cookies to look like the March sisters!

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Baked Apples

Posted December 17, 2015 by Alison's Wonderland Recipes in Little Women (Dec. 2015) / 3 Comments


No fruit or vegetable appears more often in
Little Women than apples. They’re Jo’s go-to reading snack, and the final chapter is even set in the Bhaers’ apple orchard. In honor of Jo’s apples, I decided to make my own interpretation of baked apples, which pairs well with our turkey roulade and has enough sweet-savory balance to work as a side dish or dessert. Plus, it’s got those cozy, subtle spice flavors that fit so well in a Christmas menu!

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All Those Endearing Young Charms: Why I Carried Sunflowers on My Wedding Day

Posted December 14, 2015 by Alison's Wonderland Recipes in Holidays / 6 Comments

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Today is my 2nd wedding anniversary! Last year on my anniversary, I posted about the origin of my wedding ring. Since it’s still one of my most popular posts, I decided to do another anniversary post, this time about my bouquet. Enjoy!

When I was a little girl, I didn’t have big plans for my wedding. I had no idea what kind of dress I wanted to wear or how many tiers the cake should have. In fact, I very much doubted I’d get married at all, since I wasn’t exactly the go-out-and-meet-new-people type. I was more the stay-inside-reading-all-by-myself type.

But when I was in middle school, I came across a poem (an old Irish folk song by Thomas Moore) that made me sure of one thing: the kind of flower I wanted in my wedding bouquet. The song is called “Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms” and it goes a little something like this:

 

Believe me, if all those endearing young charms,
Which I gaze on so fondly to-day,
Were to change by to-morrow and fleet in my arms,
Like fairy gifts fading away,
Thou wouldst still be adored, as this moment thou art,
Let thy loveliness fade as it will;
And around the dear ruin each wish of my heart
Would entwine itself verdantly still.
It is not while beauty and youth are thine own,
And thy cheeks unprofaned by a tear,
That the fervor and faith of a soul can be known,
To which time will but make thee more dear.
No, the heart that has truly loved never forgets,
But as truly loves on to the close
As the sunflower turns on her God when he sets
The same look which she turned when he rose.

 

As a 6th grader, I hadn’t read a lot of love poems, but I’d read enough to know that they almost always fixate on the youth and beauty of the beloved. This one was different. It was about how those qualities will fade, but the lover only sees it as an opportunity to show how deep their love really goes. I realized this was what I wanted to find some day. And that’s what sunflowers came to mean for me: constancy, devotion through time

When the Mister and I decided to get married, I knew I’d found someone I was excited to get old with. I still wasn’t that worried about the dress and the cake, but now I knew why: the wedding day is just a single day. Yet, it’s the beginning of a marriage, which goes on for the whole rest of your life. Weddings aren’t about being young and beautiful. They’re about creating something that will still be there when youth and beauty are gone.

 

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Legend has it Moore wrote the song for his wife, after she contracted smallpox and locked herself away from the world, ashamed of her scars. It’s said he sang it to her outside her door, and it gave her the strength to face the world again.

 

I still have the flowers in the picture, but they’re not fresh and young anymore. My mom dried them for me, and I keep them in a mason jar on our bookcase. They’re frail and withered, and they fade a little more each year.

 

But I still love them.

 

 

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Beautiful Books Linkup #3: In Which I Talk About My NaNoWriMo Editing Process and Writing Plans for 2016!

Posted December 11, 2015 by Alison's Wonderland Recipes in Blogging, Link Up / 13 Comments

Here’s my last Beautiful Books linkup for National Novel Writing Month! I got all the way to 50k words with my first draft, so I’m feeling super accomplished. Now comes editing! This linkup focuses on my plans in that arena. If you’d like to see which other NaNo writers have joined the linkup, swing by Paper Fury and take a look! Plus, read some of Cait’s posts while you’re there, because she’s hilarious and awesome. 🙂

 

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A March Family Christmas: Roasted Turkey Roulade

Posted December 10, 2015 by Alison's Wonderland Recipes in Little Women (Dec. 2015) / 1 Comment


As you may recall, we made roasted turkey legs for our Christmas Carol menu this time last year. However, the Marchs’ Christmas turkey features so prominently in Little Women that I decided to pay turkey another visit. This elegant turkey breast roulade (a variation on one I found at The Cozy Apron) is very different from last year’s simplistic recipe. The bread, apples, nuts, and sage are ingredients that the impoverished Marchs could have grown or gathered themselves. When paired with a small amount of luxurious dried cranberries and cider glaze, the dish is elevated to something truly special…and it stretches a simple turkey breast a long way, something a large family like the Marchs would have no doubt appreciated!

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Hannah’s Muffs: Sweet Potato Apple Bacon Turnovers

Posted December 3, 2015 by Alison's Wonderland Recipes in Little Women (Dec. 2015) / 11 Comments


December is here, and with it all the trappings of Christmas. Since I moved in early November and didn’t get a chance to decorate for Halloween, I was determined not to let that happen for Christmas. On the first night of Advent, I set the lights low, turned on a CD of Christmas hymns, and finished almost all my decorating in one night (I saved the tree for the next day). I was so ready for it, and it was actually really relaxing. I even found that it has been a lot easier to remember the “reason for the season,” I guess because it gave me a chance to think about why I was decorating. I know I won’t always get that, so I was grateful to have it this year.

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‘Tis the Season for a New Book of the Month!

Posted December 1, 2015 by Alison's Wonderland Recipes in Hints, Teas / 6 Comments

 

Happy December, folks! How was your Thanksgiving? I was home sick from mine 🙁 , but I was able to send the Mister with a batch of homemade applesauce I froze a few weeks beforehand. Yay!

In much more pleasant news, I FINISHED MY NOVEL FOR NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH! Not gonna lie, I spent almost 20 minutes last night dancing around and singing. I’m extra excited because this was my very first time doing NaNo. It was tough, but I made it!!! I definitely want to try it again next year. I already have an idea for the book I want to write! 😀

NaNo-2015-Winner-Badge-Large-Square

Of course, since we’ve come to the end of our November menu, we also have a new tea blend available through Adagio Teas. In honor of our Divergent menu, I created Tori’s Peppermint Tea. It’s the perfect blend of peppermint, spearmint, and lemongrass with a lemon balm and marigold inclusion: refreshing and full-flavored without the menthol sensation being too overpowering. I love it both hot and iced. In fact, it’s been one of my few comforts while I’ve been sick (nothing like mint tea with a touch of honey to soothe a sore throat). Totally my new favorite green tea!

What have we got planned for our December Book of the Month? Here’s a hint:

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All the items in this picture play important roles in our new Book of the Month (some of you may remember this picture from a guest post I published on another blog. If you can figure out which one, you’ll know the new book right away!).
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