Gift Guide: Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a bit of a funny thing, since a lot of countries have their own version of Mother’s Day – and not everyone celebrates it on the same day (or even month!). If you’re in Canada or the United States, then you probably celebrate it on the second Sunday of May, which just so happens to be next week. If you’re in another country that doesn’t celebrate Mother’s Day next week, then I’m either late (and you can use this gift guide for next year) or I’m early (which is great!).

When I was younger, Mother’s Day consisted of a hand drawn card, usually me making a cup of tea, and some sort of breakfast. It certainly progressed and got a little bit more sophisticated as time went on, but the general idea remained the same. A card, a cup of tea, and food. I like to think that I make awesome pancakes, but it’s harder to do a surprise! breakfast when I no longer live in the same house. So here are some of the gift ideas that I’ve come up with for Mother’s Day this year!

I still recommend getting a card or making one. Remember how much your mom loved those cards you made in school? Nothing says I love you like being a little bit creative. You can buy premade a Mother’s Day card at grocery stores, specialty card shops, dollar stores, or head to your local Big Box craft store and find some supplies to make your own. Bonus points if you have kids and get them to help you out – stamping your child’s hand or getting them to help with drawing or colouring would be a fantastic idea and make it all the more heartfelt. $

Breakfast or brunch is still a good idea. I don’t know about you, but everyone I know needs to eat! Why not take your mom to her favourite eatery for some breakfast? Brunch is very on-trend right now, and who doesn’t love pancakes? Bonus points if you also show up with a small bouquet of her favourite flowers. You’ll probably see a lot of bouquets of carnations leading up to the big day. Carnations are the flower for Mother’s Day – coloured if your mom is still with you, and white if your mother has passed away. $-$$

I’m all for afternoon tea, as many of you might have picked up on. It might not be too late to call up a local afternoon tea salon to see if they still have a table available! Not only will you have the opportunity to treat your mom, you’ll also have a lovely experience – complete with sandwiches and dessert, yum! If you’re local to Metro Vancouver, check out some of my past reviews of places where I had tea experiences! $$-$$$

And who wants to meet up with their mom empty handed? While not all moms might love flowers since allergies are a very real thing, she might also like a nice scented candle, bath bombs & fancy soaps (bonus points if you find something locally made!), a new teapot (or tea set…?), jewellery (I recently purchased some goodies for Mother’s Day from Etsy, specifically from a shop called Lulidesigns), a spa day, or perhaps a brand new book that you spotted on their Amazon wishlist or one that you spotted that made you think of them. Anything that tells your mom that you’ve been thinking of them is a good gift. $-$$$

I hope this Mother’s Day Gift Guide has helped give you some ideas of what to give to your mom for Mother’s Day. Hopefully the restaurants and tea locations in your area aren’t too booked up just yet, so you better get on calling for a table! However it goes, don’t stress out too much because that’s not really the point of Mother’s Day. Hopefully nex Sunday will be filled with joy and serenitea!

One Lump or Two? Sweetener Options for Your Tea

There are a lot of different sweetener options out there if you want to add a little something to your tea. But is any of it good for you? A lot of nutrition experts out there refer to refined sugars as being empty calories because it contains calories but no nutritional benefits, which is not what you want. I’m sure most people on the internet these days are no stranger to the phrase obesity epidemic where a lot of people (especially children!) are consuming more calories than they’re expending. It’s the sad reality in relation to eating highly processed foods and foods that contain a lot of sugars/carbohydrates. However, I believe in eating in moderation, and that includes having sweetener in my tea (especially for drinks like a London Fog – yum!).

For those using imperial measurements, 10g = 10mL = 2 teaspoons.

Honey, an animal product produced by honey bees, is a tasty sweetening option. Pure raw honey contains sodium, potassium, iron and more vitamins and minerals – depending on where the honey is harvested from. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, getting locally harvested honey or bee pollen can be a great way to lessen the severity of your seasonal allergies – have a chat with your primary health care provider or allergist!
Per 10g of honey, it contains 8.2g of sugar and 30 calories.

Refined white sugar is an easy store staple to get a hold of. It’s probably the first thing most people think of when they think of sugar and it quite literally contains nothing else besides sugar. White sugar is produced either from sugar beets or sugarcane.
Per 10g of refined white sugar, it contains 10g of sugar and 39 calories.

From left to right: agave syrup, refined white sugar, wildflower honey (local).

Brown sugar, on the other hand, is a mix of sugar with molasses. Because of the addition of molasses, you’re actually getting some extra nutrients with the sweetness. Brown sugar contains sodium, potassium, iron, and magnesium.
Per 10g of brown sugar, it contains 9.8g of sugar and 38 calories.

Agave syrup (or agave nectar) is a sweetener produced from the agave plant – which is also where tequila comes from (fun fact?). It has been marketed heavily as a “healthy and natural” alternative compared to white sugar, despite being a heavily processed sweetener product. Agave syrup is often described as being ~1.5 times sweeter than white sugar, so you need less of it to get the same level of sweetness. However, agave syrup is on par with high fructose corn syrup in terms of healthiness – it may be “better” for diabetics as it has a lower glycemic index (no huge spikes in blood sugar after consuming the product), but it has a high level of fructose, which has been heavily linked to obesity, type-2 diabetes, high triglycerides.
Per 10g of agave syrup, it contains 6.8g of sugar and 31 calories.

Rock sugar is another sweetener that often gets some fame for being “healthier” than refined sugar. Rock sugar can be either refined or unrefined sugar that’s been crystallized into irregular shapes. It can be made with either cane sugar or sugar beets.
Per 10mL of rock sugar, it contains 10g of sugar and 40 calories.

Whatever option you choose, it’ll add some sweetness to your tea. Sweeteners can help brighten up the flavour of your tea, especially if it’s a tea blend. I find that it helps make some ingredients stand out a bit more or helps to temper other ingredients, like the tartness from hibiscus. What’s your favourite sweetener that you like to use?

Recipe: London Fog with Lavender Simple Syrup

One of the most elegant drinks that I’ve ever ordered at a café has been the London Fog, otherwise known as an Earl Grey tea latte. There’s a lot of variations on this popular drink and you get something a little bit different depending on where you go. Allegedly, the drink originates from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (as per its Wiki page). Today, I’m sharing my recipe for a London Fog which has everything I love in a good tea latte – made with a bit of vanilla extract and a homemade Lavender Simple Syrup.

London Fog Recipe

2 tsp Earl Grey tea or 2 tea bags – I am using DavidsTea’s Organic Earl Grey
450ml water
1 Tbsp Lavender Simple Syrup (see recipe below)
¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
125mL milk (or dairy-free alternative), frothed

Steep the Earl Grey tea to your liking – you want it to be stronger than you’d usually drink Earl Grey straight.
Stir in Lavender Simple Syrup and pure vanilla extract.
Froth milk – either with a dedicated milk frother, frothing wand, or with a mason jar (my personal favourite method).
Pour milk into your cup of tea, spoon foam over top.
And enjoy!

I’m using a 600mL double-walled latte (or soup) mug (pictured above). If you’re using a different size cup than I am, I essentially aim for approximately two-thirds of the cup for the tea and one-third for the frothed milk & foam. I find that ratio works best for my tastes when it comes to tea lattes, but you might find it needs more or less tea – experiment and figure out what works for you!

Lavender Simple Syrup Ingredients

1 cup sugar*
1 cup water*
2 Tbsp dried culinary lavender buds

* You can make more or less simple syrup depending on how often you want to have a London Fog, as long as you use equal parts water and sugar. You will want a clean jar/bottle on hand to store the Lavender Simple Syrup.

Lavender Simple Syrup Directions

Combine sugar, water and lavender buds in a saucepan and place over medium heat.
Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Allow the syrup to simmer for 1-2 minutes, then remove from heat.
Once cooled, strain/remove lavender buds.
Pour the Lavender Simple Syrup into an jar or bottle and refrigerate.
The Lavender Simple Syrup will keep for at least 2 weeks in the fridge – don’t forget to label it with the date!

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