Spiced Tea…and Wildcards

The Spiced Tea Ruling…and Wildcards


My mother, the undisputed Queen of the Kitchen, as anointed by both the Stevenson and Keeney clans, has declared the right and proper version of the Spiced Tea Recipe. We do not argue with her, since everyone from the county mail lady to Ohio tourists begin showing up on her front porch in early November hoping for a cup.

My big sister, Gayle, and I–rebels that we are–have dared to create our own methods. Gayle’s is sweeter than Mom’s, and she’ll tell you it isn’t right to drink it without homemade gingerbread on the side. My take is more about getting it done; less sweet. More fruit pulp because the guys at my house will demolish a crate of oranges for a snack. Don’t even think about getting homemade gingerbread with my version, unless you stopped by the Pepperidge Farm.


We do agree on a few tips: first, buy multiple cans of unsweetened pineapple juice. If you’re expecting company, keep plenty of tea bags at the ready. Once the first batch has been made, we all add tea or more fruit juice to make the 2nd, 3rd, and more rounds as needed. No call for perfection or fussiness.

Second, we’d all love to juice rather than buying the tinned version, but girl, there are other things to do. If  When you get around to it before one of us, please let us know how it comes out.


Third, never, EVER, substitute a certain orange powdered product supposedly adored by astronauts. Reese Witherspoon’s grandmother may swear by it, but here, it does not work. We even have it on good sister-in-law authority, along with a horrifying story of a bridge game gone wild as a result of the failed experiment. Really, you don’t want to know.

Finally, you might as well plan on making multiple batches. The house will smell splendid. If your baking, wrapping, hugging, writing, and loving on people is all taken care of, I would suggest a wee drop of bourbon, rum, or whiskey added to the bottom of a cup. If you don’t have any of that done, and are suddenly thinking of better gift-giving all year long, and calendaring that in for 2015–put up your feet, honey, and make it a shot.

It all comes together. Plus, there’s band fundraising fruit in that background basket.


Mary Beth’s Spiced Tea

2 quarts of water

8 Lipton tea bags (standard size, caffeinated)

14 whole cloves

3 cinnamon sticks

1 lemon

1 orange

1 quart of unsweetened pineapple juice

1 Cup of sugar

Boil 1 quart of water. Remove from heat and add 8 Lipton tea bags.

While the tea is steeping, pour 1 quart of water into a 4-6 quart crock pot. Place the heat on high. Add the cloves, cinnamon sticks, and sugar. Keep on high heat for 15 minutes.

Slice the lemon and orange to 1/4″ thickness. Add to the spiced water in the crock pot.

Pour in the can of unsweetened pineapple juice. Then, add the quart of steeped tea. Cover. Turn the heat to low. Allow to heat through for 45 minutes. Remove the cloves and cinnamon sticks with a slotted spoon.


Gayle’s Sweet, Sweet Spiced Tea

2 quarts of water

6 tea bags (standard size, caffeinated) or 2 family sized tea bags

10 whole cloves

3 cinnamon sticks

1 Tb Ground cinnamon

2 oranges

1 cup of orange juice

1 quart of unsweetened pineapple juice

1 Cup of sugar

Boil 1 quart of water. Remove from heat and add tea bags.

While the tea is steeping, pour 1 quart of water into a 4-6 quart crock pot. Place the heat on high. Add the cloves, cinnamon sticks, ground cinnamon and cup of sugar. Keep on high heat for 15 minutes.

At the end of heating time, add steeped tea. Then, orange juice and pineapple juice. Slice oranges. Remove cloves and cinnamon sticks. Garnish with orange slices, cover, and turn heat to low for 30 minutes. Remove orange slices, cinnamon sticks, and cloves before serving.


Lora’s Calm and Fruity Spiced Tea

1 quarts water

10 Twinnings Irish Breakfast tea bags (naturally decaf)

14 whole cloves

3 cinnamon sticks

4 oranges

1 tsp lemon juice

1 quart of unsweetened pineapple juice

1/2 cup of sugar

Boil 1 quart of water. Remove from heat and add tea bags. Allow to stand.

While the tea is steeping, pour pineapple juice, lemon juice, and cloves, cinnamon sticks, and sugar into 4-6 quart crock pot. Place the heat on high.

Slice the oranges the best you can. Toss them in the crock pot.

Pour in the steeped tea. Add 1 quart of water. Cover. Allow to heat 30 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks and cloves.


No matter which version you choose, or how many variations you try, I hope you’ll be surrounded by people and love for the sharing.

Happy holidays,




Roots and Wings

Action Items for Fabulous Nashville Women and Men

Fabulous women don’t need me, or anyone else, to dictate to them what to think about the Midterm Election;

you were building households, families, neighborhoods, communities, businesses, non-profits, and …well, worlds, my friends– worlds! before last Tuesday…

and I heard a lot of great ideas last week. Got to listen in to some amazing conversations. And WOW–does Nashville ever have some  fabulous men, too–

but with respect, honey, before we pick the remote back up, change the channel, and return to our To Do Lists and necessities

here are some action items that you, my friend, can choose from (and add to in the comments, please and thank you), for your ownself:

1. Work on voter registration

2. Learn more about the needs of women in rural areas, and how to respectfully support them.

3. Give to Planned Parenthood. Their next fundraiser event is December 1st, and located on our new SALON community calendar, here, as well.

4. Tell stories; from how you got your education and experience to what it feels like to walk down your street to how you take care of your health and well-being

5. Find out who your elected officials are, and write them a letter. Here’s a nice PDF sample version, if you aren’t a writer. It’s from the good librarians at The American Library Association (where a lot of great, free, things happen for young people in disadvantaged urban and rural areas every day).

6. Repeal Amendment 1 Petition. Will it be effective? I do not know. Does it make me feel better that over 12k people have signed it–you betcha!

7. Teach our daughters they own their own bodies.

8. Sign up for AWAKE’s email list, and support their work on behalf of all TN women and children. Did you know how common violence against women is in TN?!?

9. Teach our children to call it what it is. Yes, I wish this was not necessary, but sexual abuse happens to 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys in the U.S. each year.

10. Give time to young women in TN, in Nashville, in your community, and/or in your neighborhood. It doesn’t have to be formal. Listening means a lot. 

11. Pay attention to the TN judiciary. There are 3 branches of government, and politics is certainly a shell game with an ever-moving pea.

12. Offer to help in voter drives on campuses

13. Advocate for plain language in governance

14. Draw cartoons about TN’s dichotomies. Or look at Clay Bennett’s. Or make photographs, paintings, poems…

15. Find out more about TN women political candidates.

16. Choose a local candidate to support, now. I’ve chosen Nancy VanReece, who is asking for pledges of volunteer time and not just cash, and a better future for District 8 and Nashville.

17. Do your due diligence on all candidates: Project Vote Smart is one resource.

18. Be a savvy consumer. (Open Secrets searchable records for public corporate campaign finance.)

19. Be a savvy giver. (Giving Matters Tips on non-profit due diligence.)

20. Learn more about mandated reporting of child abuse and neglect. Review the guide on state statutes to help advocate for our young people.

We aren’t alone, my fabulous friends, and we are not powerless.






Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie. Jim Davis

Mediation on a Pumpkin


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Thanks to @NancyVanReece for sharing the images, above, from her time with the Amqui Station Farmer’s Market.

Today is Closing Day at the market, and our Nashville friends have a final opportunity to stock up on the heirloom pumpkins and other goodies between noon and 3pm.

The Coleman Brothers, pictured above, have been growing heirloom pumpkins for three generations. According to the University of Illinois, over 90% of the pumpkins grown in the U.S. are raised within 90 miles of Peoria, IL. So, we’re particularly fortunate to have growers in the SouthEast, and expert cultivators, no less. Lucky us.


Mama Said Best Reads September 14th – 20th

Mama said there’d be days like this.

When those days turn into a week…I like to have some resources ready.

James Maxwell’s Everman series was a great trip to another place. The link is for Enchantress, Book 1, but I dove right into #’s 2 & 3, as well. The lead characters are an orphaned brother and sister who we grow up with through the series.  Both characters are learning and developing magical, or magic-aided abilities, while learning about their family’s past and growing more savvy to the challenges of their kingdom’s future.

For those who like a little more realistic dreaming, Arcadia Falls: A Novel, by Carol Goodman is full of modern topics and historical side trips to explore. The novel is set in a fictitious, small college town, surrounded by a beautiful, but threatening wilderness. The college founders are two tangled lovers, female partners, who also share an art patron and artisan relationship. They lay the tangled groundwork for a mystery for a new, modern-day professor to unravel. If you’re fascinated by the Arts & Crafts Movement, academia, or art history, you’ll a plethora of engaging material here.

BTW, if you’re a Kindle Unlimited Account holder, both of these titles are included.

The illustration above is from YUKO SHIMIZU. I’ve flipped it sideways for the purposes of sharing. SHIMIZU is one of Japan’s most renown artists. If you can’t get to a book this week, give yourself a few moments to look at her work. She’s a world-builder, too. She has prints for sale, here. Plus, an open, honest, and insightful blog, right here. Shares through Creative Commons, and all along the way, she includes advice, instruction, and examples for aspiring artists…because that builds this world.

Finally, lest we forget–The Shirelles are here for us, too, honey.


16th-street-Baptist-church (1)

The Ballad of Birmingham: a Mixed Media Recollection

Monday, September 15th, was the anniversary of the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963.

Four girls–Denise McNair and Cynthia Wesley, both 11 years old, and Carole Robertson and Addie Mae Collins, both 14–were killed in the blast. The long, American story of bringing their murderers to justice can be found here, from The Oxford Companion to African American Literature and the University of Illinois Department of English.


Poet, Dudley Randall, memorialized the girls’ passing with a ballad written from the perspective of a mother.  The poem’s conversation, between a daughter who wants to be out of the house, and we might infer–to fight, to be free, to live– and a mother who wants to keep her child safe, rings current, today.


My friend Bob Bradley, a Tennessee State University professor, shared this video with me. It was created by TSU students. Bob refers to this as a “tone poem,” and I like the sound of that.

Angela Davis mentioned, when interviewed about her own recollections of Birmingham, the whitewash history has painted over events in Birmingham.* Watch the video, below, and tell me–can digital artists write a new version?


*Further reading: Davey D's interview with Angela Davis for Hip Hop and Politics.
The Ballad of Birmingham.org. 
Trio of TSU Students Set Civil Rights Poem to Music, Nashville Scene. 
Nashville Public Radio Report.

Rabbit Holes. Tangents. And Other Trips Off the Beaten Path.