tea tree

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tea tree

by Morning Sun's Jack Stafford

I was told that I could share a topic that I hold dear to my heart here on the Morning Sun Blog, and for my first blog post: tea!

Out of all the beverages in the world, tea is the most iconic.  With many different flavors and combinations it is the most widely consumed beverage in the world.  In fact, Americans alone consumed a total of 3.8 billion gallons in 2016.   The origin of tea dates back to the 3rd century A.D during the Shang dynasty where it was used medicinally.  After that, it was introduced to England during the 16th century where it became very popular among every social class, including the colonies in America. 

Camellia Sinensis, otherwise known as tea tree, is used for many different types of tea.  From one variety of plant, tea farmers can make black, white, green, and oolong tea.  It all has to do with the harvest and processing of the leaves.  If the leaves dry quickly either in the hot sun or in a frying pan, black tea is made.  If the tea is dried more slowly, less oxidation occurs and the tea holds less caffeine. This method creates a lighter tea, such as green or white.  Furthermore, the amount of sun the plant receives before harvest also affects taste and caffeine content. 

Now let’s begin discussing how to grow your own tea!  It is best grown in zones 7-9, but can be grown indoors or in a greenhouse:

  1. Soak the seeds in water for 24-36 hours: the seeds that sink are more likely to be viable.

  2. After soaking, allow the seeds to dry slowly by misting occasionally, and once cracked they are ready to be planted.

  3. Plant the seeds an inch deep in medium organic potting soil.

  4. Place them in a shady place, and the seeds will take about a month to germinate.

  5. Keep the soil damp, but not soaked!

  6. After the seeds sprout, slowly move them into the sunlight. 

Tea starts to produce enough leaves for harvest in about three years.  Although they may take awhile to grow, the process of growing tea can be meditative and rewarding.   I highly suggest you try growing this historical and delicious plant for yourself.

And remember

“For all the times your heart is weary and your bones are aching, there will always be a cup of tea to melt your pain away”

shinrin-yoku

by Sherri Gilmore, Morning Sun Designer

Photography by Jenny Davis, Morning Sun Designer

Forest Bathing, or Shinrin-yoku, originated in Japan in 1982 when studies revealed that walking through a forest had health benefits.  People were finding an enhanced sense of wellbeing and happiness, decreased stress levels, and strengthened immunities.  Those (with non-insulin dependent) diabetes even had lowered blood glucose levels!

It is believed that the benefits of taking a walk in the forest are due to breathing in the volatile substances, or wood essential oils derived from trees.  Also by engaging the other senses, using sight, sound, and touch while leisurely walking through a forest have therapeutic benefits including lowered blood pressure and increased concentration.

A quick perusal of the website http://www.shinrin-yoku.org/ encourages you to take a walk in the woods to support your well-being, and healing through sensory immersion.  There you will also find more information about different Shinrin-yoku programs, blogs, handbooks, and free starter kits!

Happy bathing!!!

Iceland

I recently took a trip to Iceland with hopes of seeing the aurora borealis, and for some needed rejuvenation before beginning the many preparations for our annual Spring Open House here at Morning Sun.

A record breaking snowfall hit the day after we landed in Reykjavik.  The locals hadn't seen this much snow since 1937.

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Everything about Iceland was enchanting.  The landscape, the abundance of natural hot springs, and the awe-inspiring northern lights that I was lucky enough to have seen.

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(This photo of the northern lights was taken by my friend Tai who happened to be in Iceland at the same time)

(This photo of the northern lights was taken by my friend Tai who happened to be in Iceland at the same time)

What surprised me about Iceland was the delicious food and the gracious hospitality of the people.  I was so impressed by their love and care for their land; this beautiful, rugged, yet fragile environment. 

I left filled with a sense of peace (and longing to plan my next trip back already). 

 

the incredible “dancing ladies” orchid

by Tracey Pestian, Morning Sun Manager

Since I have been employed here at Morning Sun, I have fallen head-over-heels in love with orchids. We normally carry several beautiful varieties here at the shop, and before I worked here I would dream of them being in my own home.  I used to let them intimidate me into not buying them (for fear that I would most likely slowly kill them).  I now have seven of them in my home office.   And they are all doing very well!  For those of you who also feel intimidated by orchids, I am here to let you know that if I can keep these beauties alive, so can you.

This particular variety of orchid is called “Dancing Ladies” and it is of the oncidium species.  Most oncidiums produce dozens of small flowers at the same time, giving you a spectacular show that lasts for several weeks. You can see by the shape of the bloom that it really does look like a beautiful lady in a pretty yellow gown happily dancing her little heart out.

Orchids need plenty of light, but never place them in direct sun.  If you do not have a proper spot in a window of your home, then artificial lighting works well.  Even fluorescent bulbs are efficient (use one warm white tube and one cool white tube under a reflector and place the orchid about six inches beneath the light for 14-16 hours per day).  They do require darkness at night.

Repotting your orchids will be necessary every couple of years. The best time to repot is when you see that new growth begins, shortly after blooming.  Fir bark medium is used and you may purchase this at any local garden center.

Orchids need slightly cooler nighttime temperatures for them to bloom.  Oncidiums tolerate temperatures from 55 degrees at night and up to 75 degrees during the day.  Some orchids will even bloom more than once per year.  Keep the bark medium lightly moist during the growing season and be careful not to overwater (yellowing leaves is a good sign that you are overwatering).  You may feed your orchid during the active growth period every three weeks with an organic orchid fertilizer that can also be purchased at any local garden center.

With good care, you may expect your orchids to bloom for you year after year. I am very much enjoying my new-found beauties and hope that you will too!

caring for maidenhair ferns

by Tracey Pestian, Morning Sun Manager

Did you know that Maidenhair Ferns (Adiantum) are not so difficult to maintain as indoor houseplants? Here are our secrets to taking care of these elegant, evergreen foliage plants with the beautiful lacy fronds:

  1. Place them in a draft-free area with bright, indirect light or filtered sunlight. Nighttime temperatures should be 55 – 60 degrees.

  2. They must have high humidity and consistently moist soil to thrive in your home. They work very well in a terrarium environment due to the humid conditions. If you do not have a terrarium, then you may provide additional humidity by placing the planter on a tray filled with pebbles that you can keep moistened, or place fresh sphagnum moss around your Maidenhair. Keep the soil evenly moist, although cutting back slightly on watering during the winter months. Ensure that her roots never dry out and do not let her sit in water for more than an hour or so.  

  3. Feeding monthly from spring through mid-summer (half-strength is fine) will keep her healthy and allow her to resist pests.

  4. Always remove dead fronds by cutting back the stem to the base of your Maidenhair.

  5. When she becomes root-bound in her pot, gently re-pot her into the next larger size pot using a rich, well-draining potting mix. The planter should have plenty of drain-holes.

Once you have the care routine down, you will enjoy your lovely Maidenhair in all seasons!

new year's eve recipe

by Tracey Pestian, Morning Sun Manager

As our year 2016 is coming to an end and a new beginning is upon us, I reflect on the experiences that have been presented before me over the last 12 months – some truly wonderful and some not so wonderful, but it is in our own perspective of each as to the hidden meaning that we must learn from them. One of the best experiences presented to me this year was becoming a member of the Morning Sun staff in March. To work in this environment each day which is truly like an Oasis, as one of you described it when you were in one day; I am reminded each day of Life, Newness and Beauty. There is so much of it in this world but sometimes we choose not to see it. I will choose to see it in 2017 and beyond. I just LOVE it when you, our dear customers, come in our door and I hear our little bells on the door jingling, only to see you take it all in, in your breath, your eyes, and your heart. I love it when you tell us that you just came in for ‘therapy’ or just to ‘breathe’.  I get that. You are all so precious to us.

Another wonderful experience has been my introduction to Juliska! After living in Europe some years ago, this inspiring and soulful artisanal line of stoneware ceramics and mouth-blown glass takes me back there each time I use them. One of my favorites is the Graham Rocks Glass - 8 ounces of gorgeous glass that makes my Old Fashioned taste so much better! Since New Year’s Eve is almost upon us, I am sharing my recipe for a great Old Fashioned with you: 

Place a few ice cubes into the Juliska Graham Rocks Glass. You don’t want so much ice that it waters it down or too little ice that it is not cold enough. Then take one Silver Dollar size piece of a Naval Orange rind and twist it over the ice and place it inside the glass the side of the ice cube. Add 2 ounces of good Bourbon (my favorites are Blanton’s, Buffalo Trace or Woodford Reserve) to the glass. Add 1-2 teaspoons of Simple Syrup (I make my own using unrefined sugar, but store-bought will do) to the glass. Then add about 4 dashes of Angostura Bitters. Add 2 Luxardo cherries (if you have not experienced Luxardo cherries, you must do so! I buy them at Arrow Wine), ensuring that you get some of the cherry syrup when spooning them out of the jar.

Then, last but not least, using a cocktail stir-stick, gently whirl the drink around in the glass for a minute before you take your first sip. Sit back, relax, and enjoy your cocktail, letting all your cares float away….with my very best wishes to you and yours…Happy New Year!

 

Old Fashioneds in Juliska's Graham Rocks Glasses - Yum!

bringing the plants in

As we lose the light earlier and the nights get cooler, it is time to spend a little more time inside.  I find myself pulling in the plants that have summered on the porch and patio to now take their places back in the windows, creating a renewed feeling of home. 

I nestle my favorite chair, throw my favorite wool blanket over the back, making the perfect place to read, or just rest and reflect.

I nestle my favorite chair, throw my favorite wool blanket over the back, making the perfect place to read, or just rest and reflect.

Surrounding ourselves with plants makes a house a home.  Not only are the plants visually pleasing, but they are working for us to provide oxygen, cleansing the air and neutralizing orders naturally.

wabi sabi

by Sherri Gilmore, Morning Sun Designer

As a new "instagrammer" this past year, in addition to following friends and family, I also follow many other artists.  Exposure to beautiful imagery that I crave as a visual person and as an artist myself, has stirred in me a desire to explore other aspects of my artistic side.  I have started taking crochet lessons and will be soon starting guitar lessons (again).

I also appreciate learning about artistic terms or crafts of which I'm not familiar:  Wabi sabi is one such term that I learned about from an article I happened upon on wholeliving.com.  It is an aesthetic philosophy in Zen Buddhism that celebrates beauty in simplicity, imperfection, age and wear.  There is an appreciation for that which is handmade and authentic.  As described in Whole Living's article, "Wabi Sabi Your Life:  6 Strategies for Embracing Imperfection", wabi sabi is "asymmetrical heirloom vegetables and handmade pottery, crow's feet and the frayed sleeves of a favorite sweater, exposed brick and the first draft of a difficult letter.  It isn't about giving way to carelessness or seeing a junk pile through rose colored glasses.  It's about appreciating, showcasing, and sustaining the beauty of what's natural."

Here is an example of wabi sabi - my favorite wooden bowl at Morning Sun:

Notice the many imperfections in the craftsmanship, and how a large crack lovingly repaired with a metal fastener (which might make some want to throw it out altogether) lends this bowl cherished character.

Notice the many imperfections in the craftsmanship, and how a large crack lovingly repaired with a metal fastener (which might make some want to throw it out altogether) lends this bowl cherished character.

Abandoning perfection is the key to living a wabi sabi lifestyle.  The article describes how to bring aspects of wabi sabi into 6 different areas of our lives: relationships, food, home, beauty, closets, and work.  It is a quick recommended reading for those wishing to simplify their lives.  Check it out!

http://www.wholeliving.com/133628/wabi-sabi-your-life-6-strategies-embracing-imperfection