Happy Lucky’s Tea House and Treasures: Serving Up World Change

On our recent trip to the West, we stopped in the city of Fort Collins, CO on our way to Montana via South Dakota. We didn’t spend much time, just enough to have lunch at Coopersmith’s Pub & Brewing, which has a wonderful menu with fresh, local items and several vegetarian options. We wanted to grab some coffee for the road, and my eye was caught by an interesting looking store/tea house with an inviting looking name – Happy Lucky’s Tea House and Treasures.

This light-filled shop, housed in a former firehouse, had high ceilings, and beautiful exposed brick walls. Along one area, shelves were lined with tins labeled with all sorts of appealing-sounding tea names. Happy Lucky carries over 100 whole leaf teas. They also carry a nice selection of fresh baked goods from local bakers including galettes, scones, cookies and lemon bars.

I chose a very sensual smelling chocolate and cinnamon tea, and a gluten-free oatmeal bar to go with it. While I was waiting for my tea to brew, I looked around the light-filled, colorful space. Across from the cash register was a hand-written sign explaining why there were paper cranes in a basket and adorning the brick wall. The story of Sadako and the 1000 origami cranes has always touched me, and I thought of it the other day on the 65th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.

In the back of the store, there was a nice selection of fair trade handbags, clothing and accessories handmade in Cambodia. Several handbags and accessory pouches caught my eye, but I resisted since I already have an ample collection at home. All of the bags were very attractive and made with repurposed materials.

In reading some literature on a table in the store, I found out that the Cambodian goods are tied into the Happy Lucky mission to support fair trade and education – 10% of profits from the teahouse go to support education in Cambodia via a donation to Sustainable Schools International.

Sustainable Schools International works with poor, rural and marginalized communities in Cambodia to sustain their schools in ways that serve their children and support community needs. Kari Grady Grossman, who was working the counter at Happy Lucky the day I visited, is the Executive Director of Sustainable Schools International (formerly know as Friends of the Grady Grossman School).

According to the Sustainable Schools International website, “In March 2001 George and Kari Grady Grossman traveled to Cambodia to adopt their son. Their desire to leave a legacy of hope for the children left behind led them to American Assistance for Cambodia, a Phnom Penh based humanitarian organization that builds rural schools. They spent three months selling photographs on the internet to raise the $15,700 for a school to be build in their son’s honor. Their donation was matched by the World Bank and construction of the Grady Grossman School began.”

I love discovering businesses that do well, do good and have amazing products. Happy Lucky Tea House and Treasures certainly fits the bill. If I lived closer, I would be a regular!

Happy Lucky is located at 236 Walnut Street in the Old Town section of Fort Collins. If you are interested in finding out more, or hearing about their daily specials, you can visit their website, Fan them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter @happyluckys.

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Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate

On our recent travels through the west, we passed through Boulder (a place I definitely need to spend some time exploring in the future). We stopped by the Pearl Street Mall and took a walk around, looking for a good place to have lunch (we chose Centro Latin Kitchen & Refreshment Palace, which turned out to be an excellent decision!).

image copyright Almightydad.com

We passed by cute boutique after cool-looking storefront. But the one that caught my eye was The Boulder Bookstore. It was filled with lots of books, fun gift items, and a surprisingly large selection of fair trade chocolates! I wanted a copy of Rachel Carson‘s Silent Spring to read on the plane home, and figured this indie bookstore would have to have a copy in stock. I inquired at the desk, and was told that I could find it in the Ecology section. I found Silent Spring, and also made a wonderful additional discovery – Edible Wild Plants: Wild Food from Dirt to Plate, a new book by John Kallas, PhD, founder of Wild Food Adventures.

I have been on Kallas’ mailing list for over 2 years, but have yet to attend one of his amazing wild food events, which are mostly held in Oregon. So I was very excited to find a book through which I could glean some of his expertise in the field of wild foods.

While I love my collection of wild foods books by Euell Gibbons and Jim Duke, I was thrilled to see the detailed information provided on each plant profiled in Edible Wild Plants. Like Gibbons, Kallas goes into depth on just a few plants (only 15 plants, as this book is part of a series he plans to write over the next few years). And like Gibbons, he includes recipes for each plant.

However, Kallas’ book has the added feature of multiple photographs showing each plant during its various stages of development. This has been my major complaint with other wild plant books, in that it is often very difficult to identify a plant based on just one photograph. As Kallas points out in his book, “The same plant can look different not only in this book but in other books, depending on the angle of the photograph, the condition of the plant…” and “While moving through different stages of growth, a plant can transform so much that young and old versions look like different species.”

When I opened the book in the store, it fell open to the first of 17 pages devoted to one of my favorite wild plants, garlic mustard (which I wrote about earlier this year), including 16 photographs and two recipes. I knew I had to buy it!

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