Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve

It's New Year's Eve and I don't have to get up at 2:50 am anymore - at least for this year. That in itself is a reason to be thankful! I don't think I'll last until the New Year - I'm pretty tired and will probably sleep through it.
I tend not to make resolutions although I have a few goals for the new year. I want to do some work on the house so personal spending will be reduced considerably. My house is at an age where everything is needing to be replaced or fixed and I may as well accept that fact. New taps for the kitchen and a new toilet for the bathroom are first on the list - I have the money set aside and will be visiting the local hardware mecca when the shops re-open with their New Year's sales on the weekend, weather permitting. There is a tax credit available this year for home improvements so I may also pick up some paint and check out a sale on laminate flooring for the living room - 69 cents a square foot with a 25-year warranty sounds almost too good to be true but I will check it out. When the weather improves, a new roof will probably be installed, along with an oil tank - it's time for both. Not exciting but necessary - I will be sensible this year.
When I'm not fixing up the house, I will save as much as possible for my RRSP and Tax free savings acount.
I will take on some extra projects so I can make some extra money. I will try to write more and write more creatively. I will practise my instrument more - arthritis has made me lax but I will overcome that.
I will become more fit - exercise at least three times a week for a half-hour or more at a time. I will try not to eat so much junk. I will drink more water and eat more fruits and vegetables. And if I do those things, some weight loss should occur - I'd like to lose 10 pounds. I will sleep more and watch TV less.
These are pretty much the same goals I have every year and each year, I do feel I am making some progress. As long as I don't get any worse, I'll be happy.
And I will continue to try as many new teas and (decaf) coffees, and chocolates as possible. After all, we have to have something to look forward to!
Happy New Year everyone!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Two more wakeups ...

It's quarter to seven in the evening and I could crawl into bed right now, I'm that tired. Of course, it doesn't help that I spent the afternoon roaming around malls looking for bargains; I scored another box of Candy Cane Lane tea, a new drinking glass from the Dollarama and a half-eaten sandwich left from the lunch I bought with a gift card - great sandwich but it was huge!
The good thing is that I am officially sick of shopping and not a moment too soon. I have plenty of everything and I plan to go lean during January. There's nothing I really need, except some heating oil in another week's time so I want to see how long I can go without spending any money, besides fruit, vegetables, milk and bread. I may not reveal my progress publicly since my results are usually pretty embarrassing - not shopping for 3 or 4 days is usually my limit but who knows - maybe I'll do better this time.
When I first started the early morning shift, I would start the day with full strength coffee and by the end of the first week, I paid the price digestively. I've been starting the day off with tea ever since and it has made a real difference - I'm actually more alert but calmer, if that makes any sense. My tummy and throat are a lot happier too. Speaking of tea, I've become a real fan of Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane tea - it's a decaf green tea flavored with peppermint and vanilla. It's only available during the Christmas season. It's milder and much more soothing than regular mint tea - it tastes like a mint cream. Plus the fact it's decaffeinated make a great tea for evening.

Monday, December 28, 2009


I made a mistake - apparently Nova Scotia isn't the only province with no shopping allowed on Boxing Day. I just figured since we were the last place in Canada without Sunday shopping that we automatically had the stuffiest shopping laws in the country. Now, I'm not advocating no family time and working seven days a week - but I think everyone, regardless of who they are, should be entitled to do things when they want and can - and for some, that is on Sundays and holidays. Of course, when I had my small business, it did make for a challenge but you decide your own battles.
I just finished an early morning shift and I'm drinking egg nog mixed with decaf coffee - a tasty treat for the middle of the day. I so enjoyed the long weekend and I have another to look forward to this weekend, after just three more get-ups!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Boxing Day Sales Now On

I live in the only province in Canada where Boxing Day is a mandated holiday - and that means we have to wait until the 27th to hit the big sales. The frugal part of me wanted to miss it but guess which side of me was in the mall this afternoon? Yeah, the spendthrift side. I did get some great deals - a new bathrobe for $24 from $60, two Columbia fleece tops for $20 each and some odds and ends at Wal-Mart. I am happy with my purchases since I wanted them anyway.
I've been trying some Ashby teas lately - lemon and ginger peach. Nothing too inspiring although the red and green box they came in was quite pretty. There are nine kinds in the box and I am hoping the other seven will be better. A friend did send a sample of pear cream white tea to me. I love fresh pears, but like blueberries, pears do not lend themselves well to flavoring other products - it always tastes wrong. It's an OK tea, (as in I did finish the cup) but nothing I'd ever want to try again. I do love it when friends send me samples though - it's always fun to try something new because you never know what your next favorite is going to be!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Boxing Day - it's over!

And that's a sigh of relief from here. Now I can go back to being my usual crabby self! Seriously though, all the self-imposed pressures of the season end today and that's why it's become my favorite day of the holiday season. No work, no pressure, no relatives. Here in Nova Scotia, there's only one thing open and happily, it's also my favorite - Shoppers! I blew $60 in a matter of minutes, stocking up on my favorite shampoo, that was on sale for a $1.49, half-price good quality chocolate that will hopefully go into the freezer for snacking later in the year and some bath gift sets that are going to me - no one ever gives me that stuff for Christmas and I actually like those sets so every year, I pick up a few after Christmas for myself through the year. Most years, I also pick up wrapping paper but this year I am not doing that - I have enough of that stuff to last a long time.
After two pretty tasty turkey dinners yesterday, we're settling in with a good feed of bacon wrapped filet mignon, vegetables, garlic mashed potatoes and a cherry cheesecake pie. Maybe we'll pig out a little bit more on Sunday - but on Monday, we're going to open that gym membership that I bought - we need it!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Twas the day before Christmas
And all through the home
Not a thing was stirring
Not even the gnome
Because she ate too much and couldn't move ....

And that pretty much sums it up for me. The head cold is gone, most of the presents have been distributed and I plan to eat and sleep too much over my next three off days. I've got a book set aside, loads of tea, chocolate and cheese and a nice bag of Turkish Delight in case I get peckish. Hope everyone gets what they want or need - Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry ah-ah-chooo!

Yep. My cold has really come alive for this festive season. It even gives me a charming cherry red nose - and all these years I thought Santa had one because of the cold weather!
Time for plenty of soup, hot tea and one of those lemon-based cold medicines that you drink hot from a cup. They work as well as anything else. There are worse things than not being able to go shopping when you're sick at Christmas (yay, no mall crowds!) but I do need to work since we're short-staffed (aka I'm the only one left in the department) and I don't want to spread my sneezy joy to others on staff. Fortunately, I can finish up early and get out out before the most of the rest of the crew arrives. Also, I do want to do some visiting over the next few days and deliver presents to some shut-in family members so I want this cold to leave right away - vamoose! Well, I don't know if Mr. Cold will listen but I will do my best to make sure it does. Otherwise, someone else is going to be delivering those presents this year. I will not deliver germs.
I'm drinking the Ginger pear concoction from Tazo and Orange spice teas. I think some Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane will be my choice for the evening - minty teas are nice for colds because of the lovely mint scent.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Money for Christmas

Somehow, even in the years when I had next to no money, I've always managed to find enough for a Christmas that makes me happy. I tend to go overboard with presents for a few but I've never bothered with sending cards or having a Christmas party since there's never been any reason to do so - no one I know bothers with cards either and any parties tend to be either work-related or impromptu. So that's a saving there but for most people, eliminating the annual get-together or not sending the annual greeting is not an option. I also don't have or know any children - so I don't spend any money there either.
I do spend a lot on food - but then again, I really don't. I've never spent more than $60 at a time at the grocery store. What's my secret to avoiding the expensive Christmas grocery order? I buy it gradually through the year.
A lot of the traditional holiday items can be bought earlier in the year and stored. A freezer and a storage area are truly wonderful things. A few years ago, when I was really broke, I made due by buying all my items gradually, one thing every week. Somehow, an extra three or four dollars is a little easier to handle during the week than an extra hundred. A tin of nuts or a bottle of pickles bought in October, a box of chocolates when they go on sale in December or extra cranberries or pumpkin when the Thanksgiving sales are on isn't as hard to handle. I discovered that a turkey bought at one of the sales in July, when it goes for practically half of what it goes for now, tastes just as good as one bought at the last minute. Just freeze it and you're set. And just in case you're wondering about storing a turkey for that long, if your freezer's working fine, it will be OK. I've had them more than a year later and they were good.
If you have treats and chips left over from Halloween, don't eat them - freeze them - and have them during the holidays. Chips freeze really well. If you bought too many or received too many chocolates for Christmas, freeze them as well. It will be good for your diet and you'll have candy for next year (provided you don't raid the stash). Chocolate freezes beautifully - just don't put it in the refrigerator. For some reason, chocolate will turn white in the fridge but not the freezer. Chocolates stored in the freezer will look and taste as good as the day you put them in. I had proof of that the other night when I found a box of Ganong peanut clusters at the bottom of my freezer. They had to be in there since 2004 or 2005. They were delicious.
I don't know of these tips will help anyone but they worked for me.
Buy extra when you have the cash. When you need to, use up the stash.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

When you have lemons,

You make lemonade, which I just did. I used two large and very pretty lemons - but they were so sour, I had to add a third more sugar, which I really don't like doing - but no one would drink it unless I sweetened it a bit more. A few weeks ago, I bought a box of clementines and normally we eat these in no time. This box has been hanging around because they're so sour. And of course, you don't buy new ones because you have to eat the ones you have. Normally, I like sour foods (grapefruit is one of my favorites) so you can imagine just how sour these babies are, when I can't even eat them. I wish there was a way you could tell if citrus is abnormally sour before you bought it.
True to my word, I slept in until nine this morning - six extra hours of sleep! And I'm contemplating a nap as I write this. I'll be glad when this shift ends since I have a hard time with it.
I may make some shortbread cookies later - it seems like that sort of day. And it will go well with the lemon tea I am currently drinking. Actually, I couldn't detect any lemon off this batch so I added a half-teaspoon of of my puckery lemon juice. It's lemony now!

Friday, December 18, 2009


Week one of the dreaded early shift is over. There are two more weeks to go but each are four day weeks so that will be a little easier. The older I get, the more the early mornings bother me. It's bothered me so much this time, I actually got physically ill at work this morning and I'm sure it's the result of tiredness and stress. I don't care if it is the wrong thing to do - there's no alarm clock going off in this house tomorrow - I'm sleeping in! I need the rest.
Tonight I'm having an old sample of decaffeinated peach apricot tea from the Metropolitan Tea Company. It still tastes good and has to be at least 18 months old. I've also just had a piece of some German dark chocolate covered marzipan. Sigh. It tasted wonderful - the right amount of everything and not overly sweet but a lovely genuine almondy sweetness. Even though I haven't had supper, I don't think I'm going to have anything else today. As you can probably guess, my tummy is pretty sensitive today so I'll lay back from the gluttony for a night or two. However, the small piece of marzipan was necessary.
I find it interesting how ginger and peppermint are always being touted as cure-all for stomach problems. For me, they cause stomach problem - I like both but peppermint often nauseates me. I have to be careful with ginger too - there's somedays when it's too much for a delicate tummy. Besides mints and ginger, does anyone have any suggestions for stomach soothers for those of us who can't always tolerate them?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


It's Day 2 of the early morning shift. I've been waking up naturally extra early which is good since my job requires a fair bit of preparation - I've been going to work at 3:45 am the past few days and it seems to be working - you get so much accomplished when you're the only person in the building.
But it also means I'll be going to bed extra early - I'm sleeping at 8:30/9 pm. Considering I'm more likely to be watching TV at 2:45 am than getting up, it's a huge change for me.
Physically, it's a challenge. I really can't eat much past 5 pm and no matter what I eat, my stomach isn't terribly happy about it. Once I get back to my normal work hours, I'll feel better.
Of course, that isn't stopping me from munching and drinking. Bought some Christmas appetizers today - chicken wings, mini quiches and oriental-style goodies such as eggrolls, potstickers and spring rolls. It's fun to make a meal of those things every so often. And of course, I've been drinking lots of teas, including a green tea from Tazo that features ginger and pear - quite pleasant. Can't remember the name of it right now. I bought a box of Celestial Seasonings Candy Lane Lane, which is a decaf green with a creamy mint flavor - a nice tea to have before bed. I may get another box since it's only sold at Christmas time but would be nice at any time of the year.
And remember all that snow we had on Sunday? T'is gone. It's now raining. And that's winter on the East Coast.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

One of those days

I think it's predestined that I not accomplish much today. In fact, I am doing my best to avoid doing anything at all and that may have something to do with the fact there's a five foot drift waiting for me at the end of the walkway to my house. The entire driveway and walkway needs to be shoveled and I'm not in the mood. There are times when owning a home is downright tiring. In fact, a one bedroom apartment is beginning to sound pretty sweet right about now.
I opened the Harney's Boston blend this morning. I bought it last year and didn't like it then so I thought I'd give it another try. I'm still not sure about this one. It's a black tea flavored with almond and cranberry but to me, it tastes like their Paris blend with some cranberries tossed in for good measure. I love Harney's Paris blend and enjoy the occasional cup of their Cranberry Autumn but for some reason, the Boston blend leaves me cold. Maybe I'll try it again next year.
Now, what else can I do, to avoid shoveling? Sigh.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

How much?

I just can't stop writing today - blame it on the weather. I actually see this as a good thing. I started this blog with the express wish to force myself to write on a regular basis.
I do want to write a book someday. My computer is filled with half-hearted attempts and I do want to eventually complete something. It may never get published but that's doesn't seem to be the goal anymore - just to complete a fictional project would be fine by me.
But back in the real world, is it me or does food seem to be getting a whole lot more expensive again? Supposedly here in Canada, there's next to no inflation when it comes to food prices but I really doubt that. While I don't mind paying a bit extra for locally produced foods that keep farmers in business, it does seem like some basics are getting pretty pricey. Bananas have been running at just under a dollar a pound after years at being 70 cents a pound. It's hard at any time of year, but especially now, to get a lettuce for under $2.49 a head. I bought a kilogram of frozen corn today for $2.99 on sale - most of the other brands were well over $3. for smaller bags. Maybe I notice prices too much but that's the result of growing up in a family where every price was watched and nothing was bought unless it was on sale. I simply can't imagine going into a grocery store and just buying the stuff I need. Unless it's at a price that I think is reasonable, it will not be bought. It means doing without some things sometimes but it also means buying more when it's at a good price. This attitude is also part of the reason why we rarely eat out. When we were visiting the Big City a few weeks ago, we went to a Fast Food place for supper. After a chicken burger, deluxe burger, two fries and two pops, the bill came to almost $18. That was a shock - especially when I thought of the amount of food I could buy at the grocery store for that amount of money. I have no idea how people can afford to eat out every day. Even in magazines and on TV now, you'll see references to preparing a meal for $10 - and they make it out to be a big deal. Well I should hope that I can prepare a meal for under $10. I can make a pretty good meal for under $5, if need be. And I often do. In fact, supper tonight will be bacon, eggs and toast. Total cost for two people - just under $2.50.
Just remember - the more money you save on food, the more money you have for tea!

It's beginning to look a lot like ....

I'm going to have to shovel pretty soon. We went to the market, got the stollen, which hasn't yet been attacked (and I have no idea why we're being so civilized), a half-dozen of the best, butterlicious cranberry scones and a pile of vegetables - potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic. We purchased some lemons for lemonade at the grocery store but we finished our shopping early because the weather went from fine to a blizzard within a half-hour. So much for the occasional snow flurry that was predicted.
It's a great day to be home though. Hot drinks and cold weather are a perfect match. When we came home, I tried an envelop of Land o Lakes French Vanilla hot chocolate that I picked up at the Local Bulk Barn. It wasn't quite what I expected - I didn't really get a vanilla flavor but rather, a rich, buttery flavor, but hey - what's Land O Lakes known for? Butter. Butter and chocolate are an interesting and tasty combination although I can't imagine drinking this one in the early morning hours. I bet it would be dynamite with shortbread cookies.
And I wonder why I'm gaining weight ....

Christmas Party the day after

Last night was the job's Christmas party. A festive time was had by all, even us quiet ones. I'm not much of a partier - I've never been the life of any party; I'm the one who sits in the corner with one other person, next to the buffet table. On the down side, it makes me look like a cranky old fogey, even when I'm not; on the up side, I always feel fine the next day, when I know others don't!
More importantly, the buffet - it was pretty good - boneless chicken in a barbecue sauce, rice, mashed potatoes and other vegetables along with carrot cake for dessert. The tea of course was terrible - few restaurants are going to bring out the best darjeeling for an office party. OK, I'm making a joke - few restaurants even know what darjeeling is.
I'm off to the Farmer's Market in a few moments to pick up the stollen that I ordered a few weeks ago. I normally make my own but this year, I decided to cut back on some of the home baking, for my own sanity. I bought a fruitcake as well. While I'm sure the fruitcake will be better than my homemade (any fruitcake would be better than the bricks I produced), I did bake a pretty good stollen so I hope this one is as good. I confess I'm a sucker for any holiday-related foods - I've gained a fair bit of weight the past eight years and I'm blaming most of that weight gain on December's treats. Good thing tea has no calories. I'm drinking New England Harvest Blend this morning; it's perfect for a cold, snowy day.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Lunch - blech!

Every so often, I get so bored with packing a daily lunch that I avoid it until the last evil minute. And that's bad for me since I feel the effects of my inattention, boredom, whatever, the next day when I'm hungry and need something to eat. A daily packed lunch is a necessity since I have to stay in an office all day (any errands have to be done before my shift or on a day off) and there's no fast food places nearby, for seven months of the year. There is a small ice cream/burger stand at the end of the road but frankly, I wouldn't eat there even if I did have tons of money to spend and it's only open from May until October anyway. I try to pack a mid-morning snack such as a granola bar, a main course, such as a sandwich, leftovers or crackers and cheese or hummus and a mid-afternoon snack, usually fruit and/or cookies or nuts. It sounds like a lot of food but I tend to eat a very light breakfast (usually just yogurt or fruit) and my hungriest periods have always been between 11 am and 3 pm. I also take a Thermos of boiling water and a selection of teas. Because of the nature of my job, a lot of snacks that I can eat through my shift are much more appropriate than one big meal. I go through periods where leftovers from the previous night's supper are the best thing to frozen dinners and packaged granola bars to my bento lunches, which includes small servings of a lot of things that are best cold. I buy lots of food so there's lots of selection - so why am I having problems picking out my lunch tonight? It could be because I pack it the night before and by tomorrow at noon, I'm craving something entirely different ... like the fries that the guy in production just brought in from one of the fast food places further down the road. And even though I would love those fries, I do try to avoid greasy foods as much as possible. There are times I wish I could go back to the simplicity of a peanut butter sandwich - wait, I can - that's what I'll have for lunch tomorrow!
Am I the only person working outside the home who is lunch-obsessed? What do you take?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Yet another obsession

Chances are, if you're a dedicated coffee and/or tea drinker, you also have all the things necessary to properly and serve it. Sometimes, the desire for the latest and greatest can lead to some interesting collections.
I have to hold myself back from purchasing every do-dad imaginable. Right now, I have an obsession for cups. Not mugs (shudder), but beautiful, tastefully designed cups for both tea and coffee. Of course, I would never drink tea out of a coffee mug and vice versa so that means I have to have two of everything, right?
Well, not quite. I try to keep the coffee cups separate from the tea cups so I can tell which is which, something that can get a little confusing if you haven't used a certain cup in a few months. My preference for both are the thinner shaped cups, since the liquid inside the cup tends to cool at a slower rate than in the fatter mugs (hence my shudders). It also has to be bone china because for me, it has the least effect on the final taste of the liquid. Yeah, I can taste the differences between cups - if you put tea in an earthenware mug and a bone china cup, it tastes completely different. There will be those who say all cups are the same and there is no difference but I seriously can taste a difference. Bone china and glass have no flavor (unless it's dirty!) so they're the best for my tasting preferences. Porcelain I will tolerate and while I like the look of earthenware and pottery, I buy them strictly for looks only. Oddly enough, I don't mind tea in a paper cup, even though I can taste the paper so I guess the taste doesn't bother me too much. The same can't be said for styrofoam and plastic is simply unacceptable. I've tried the stainless steel travel mugs - again, I get a taste off it that's simply unacceptable. If anyone knows of a Canadian or US source of bone china travel mugs, please let me know!
Right now, I'm using Christmas bone china cups for my tea and my decaf coffee. And once the season is over, I'll put them away and take out a whole new set of wintery cups. Or, now that it looks like the snow is staying, there's a chance the spring cups will be coming out earlier than expected.
So what type of cup do you use? Do you have seasonal cups?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Snowing and The Prisoner

The tree is up, the lights are on and outside, it's snowing steadily. We're in the middle of a winter storm, complete with high winds that could bring us up to a foot of the white stuff. We may already have that. The roads are a mess and I'm worried - I have loved ones who are out today and all I really want is for them to get home safely.

I'm drinking Queen Elizabeth blend today; it's a mild-mannered black tea with unfailing good manners - good for a day when calmness is needed.

Last night, we finished watching The Prisoner. Let me give a little advice: never watch four episodes of The Prisoner in one sitting. Yikes! It's often said the first seven episodes are the best but there's a lot to be said for the last three. For one thing, it's definitely ... imaginative ... To keep a tea-theme going, there's a memorable scene of Patrick McGoohan carrying a tea tray in a windowed trailer speeding down one of Britain's motorways, and the people in the passing vehicles doing double-takes.
Yeah, my kinda series!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hooked on points

I have a new addiction - points at Shoppers. For every purchase, they give you points and eventually you get enough to get some money off a future purchase. I've never gotten more than $10 off before because I usually cash them in as soon as I can. It's kinda nice getting $11 worth of stuff for a dollar. But this time, I've held out a little longer and now I'm up to 35,000 points - that's $55 off a future purchase. Today, with a $75 purchase, they were giving an additional 15,000 points so that's why my balance moved up so fast. Did I mention how easy it is to spend $75 at Christmas time in a store that sells drug store products, magazines, makeup and food? Yikes! Anyway, this, along with an order to Amazon pretty much wraps up my Christmas shopping - hurray! I even got my Turtles at a good price. Now I've got to figure out what to get with that $55 - it sure will come in handy during those lean weeks!
One of the things on sale was Tazo tea bags at $2.99 - it's usually $5.99 here. I got a green tea flavored with ginger and pear - it sounds quite intriguing.
After I finished posting, I'm going to do some house cleaning and hopefully start on my Christmas decorating. It's not that the actual decorating takes so long - it's all the prep work before hand, such as moving furniture and stuff to make way for the tree. Oh well, I'm drinking some regular eggnog coffee that I bought from the Second Cup so I hope this will energize me for the work ahead!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Turtles move fast

I'm starting to wind down on my Christmas shopping - just a few more odds and ends to pick up, including a few boxes of those necessary Turtles - well, necessary for some members of my family. Apparently Turtles is celebrating 60 years in the chocolate world and I'll never be accused of getting in the way of an anniversary celebration. This past week, a shop was suppose to have these favored sweeties for $5.99 a box. Of course, somehow none arrived from the distributor for the $5.99 sale, which is odd because they're always around when they're $9.99 a box. Funny that. They're advertised this week for $7.99 - wonder if they'll arrive or not. Doesn't really matter - I've never been able to get Turtles on sale around here - they always disappear off the shelves too fast. Even at work, I miss out - today there was a box in the lunchroom and by the time I found out about it, it was empty. They may be Turtles, but in this part of Nova Scotia, they move pretty fast!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Winter Chill and Chitchat

We had a dusting of snow last night and today, the temperatures are reminding us that winter is nearly upon us. For the past few months, I've been taking Bento boxes full of nutritious snacks as my lunches but these past few days, I've been craving warm foods in the mid-day. I work in a toasty warm office so it's not like I'm outside freezing, yet, because of the change in temperature and the time of year, my body is instintively craving warmth. Good thing the grocery store has some interesting frozen lunches on sale this week! I've bought some breakfast-style meals, pot pies and pasta dishes to have on hand for those days when only a hot lunch will do - and that's ready in three minutes or less. Tomorrow it's leftover Chinese takeout which is almost enough to make me look forward to going to work.
Christmas at work is busy and we'll soon be shorthanded as people start taking their holidays. Even though I work in news, this is a time of year when no news is good news and I'll be hoping for everyone's sake that the next few weeks are quiet. I addition to working in a warm office, it can often get dry so I stay hydrated by bringing a Thermos of boiling water and a selection of teas into work everyday. The first teas of the day are black, the afternoon are usually green and if I need another cup by the end of the day, it will be a white since the temperature of the water remaining in the Thermos should be about right for a white. A typical workday of teas could go like this: Mornings - Tazo Awake, Stash Orange Spice or Earl Grey (all blacks); Early Afternoon: Harney's Tropical Green, Twinnings Graperuit/Pineapple, Bigelow Eggnoggin, Blackcurrent; Late Afternoon: Earl Grey, Bigelow Tangerine White, Stash Chai. Sometimes I'll bring in a selection of loose teas in T-Sacs; I did try using a teapot at work but found it cumbersome since our lunchroom is on another floor so now I rely on my Thermos, some carefully chosen bags or T-Sacs and a decent china cup. At home, I drink only loose tea but at work, the bags do work better - and they mean I can get a cup together pretty quickly. That's important for those of us who work continually on deadline!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Getting To Know Me

Happily snitched from Saving4Later and Moving On Up!

Last Movie I Saw In A Movie Theater? Angels And Demons
What Book Are You Reading? Like An Ever Rolling Stream
Favorite Board Game? Scrabble.
Favorite Magazine? Victoria, Tea Time
Favorite Smells? Lilacs
Favorite Sounds? Rain falling, wind through the trees
Worst Feeling In The World? Knowing I'm disappointing someone.
First Thing You Think of When You Wake? Am I dreaming?
Favorite Fast Food Place? Starbucks
Future Child’s Name? Not having any children
Finish This Statement—“If I Had a Lot of Money,” I’d quit my job and do exactly what I want.
Do You Drive Fast? No.
Do You Sleep With a Stuffed Animal? No. I like fleece sheets though.
Storms—cool or scary? Prefer more peaceful weather, especially since I live in a house surrounded by large trees.
What Was Your First Car? Nissan Sentra Classic Lemon (OK, I added the last word myself but it was a lemon even if it did end up being a new car by the time I traded it in - every part on it had been replaced.)
Favorite Drink? Dr Pepper.
Finish This Statement—“If I Had the Time, I Would…do more work on my house.
Do You Eat the Stems on Broccoli? Yep. I'll eat anything.
If You could Dye your Hair Any Other Color, What Would It Be? Black
Favorite Sport to Watch? Not a sports fan
What’s Under Your Bed? Dust bunnies. A lot of 'em.
Would You Like to Be Born As Yourself Again? Yup
Morning Person or Night Owl? Night Owl
Over Easy or Sunny Side Up? Omelets
Favorite Place to Relax? Home, in bed, watching Ghost Hunters on a rainy night.
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor? Butter Pecan or Peppermint

It's December - more foods to try!

I'm a seasonal eater - I eat everything that's in season and then some. Every year, I eagerly wait for December because that means it's time for those seasonal goodies. I used to be a big fan of magazines but I got tired of seeing articles on healthy eating and how to lose five pounds during the holidays - come on, for one month of the year, let us indulge without guilt. If you believed everything that's written in magazines, every food is a deadly sin to be avoided at all costs and we should exercise 24 hours a day - that doesn't sound too healthy to me.
So what are the foods I like to eat without moderation at this time of year? Here are the traditional favorites.
1. Chips (and dip) - I like chips all through the year but for some reason, the onion dip comes out in December and despite my dislike for condiments, I do like it.
2. Bits and Bites - For reasons entirely my own, it just doesn't seem right to eat these at any other time of the year.
3. French Creams - These are nearly impossible to find now. For those who live outside the Maritimes, they're sugary pastel confections that manage to have a creamy, hard fudgelike taste.
4. Barley toys - Again, hard to find but Robertsons of Nova Scotia I think still makes them.
5. Candy canes or red and white striped mints - again, it's almost sinful to eat these during any month but December.
6. Eggnog - My father made the most incredible (non-alcoholic, of course) eggnogs for me when I was a child - until I was 21, he made me one first thing Christmas morning. I get kinda sentimental since he died when I was 22 and I haven't had one as good ever since. I just buy a quart or two of the storebought stuff now but it still brings back pleasant memories
7. Cheese - I have to have a selection of cheeses every Christmas - and it has to be ones that I don't normally buy.
8. Boxes of cheap chocolates - Yep, it just ain't right unless there's a box of not-so-hot chocolates to snack on at parties - you know the kind - they're on sale now at the drug stores for $3.99 or less.
9. Turkey! Turkey! Turkey!
10. Mashed potatoes, mashed carrots and turnip, stuffing - the holy triumvirate of turkey accompaniments.
11. some sort of pie - maybe even mincemeat.
12. clementines - the easiest way to get some much needed vitamin C. Plus, they're really cute.
13. Glasses of cranberry juice or tomato juice - to imbibe before all the other stuff, of course.
14. Antacids. 'nuff said.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

No Spending from the Big Spender!

The past two days I haven't opened my wallet - am cutting back after the spending frenzy in the Big City! But I have been enjoying and using my purchases - which is the whole point of shopping anyway. I tried the Twinnings Green Tea with grapefruit and pineapple - very nice! It tends to have more pineapple than grapefruit flavor but pineapple in green tea is quite tasty anyway. Harney's makes a really nice one called Tropical Green and that one along with the Twinnings would be great for those who aren't fond of green tea but who want to start drinking it for health reasons. I drink it without sugar but for those who do, it would probably work well with a teaspoon or two. I would recommend it. It's a nice morning tea and would probably work really well as an iced tea.
When I visit the big city, I love to visit the large bookstores because of the variety of books offered and the accompanying coffee and tea shops, usually Starbucks. The past few times, I have noticed that when I've gone into these mega-bookstores, I usually check out the sale books, magazines and then head to the coffee shop. For some reason, the sheer variety has been overwhelming me and I tend to leave with nothing. I don't know if it's a sign of old age or that I really prefer smaller shops. Anyway, even with the large shops available, most of my book shopping is done these days online, where I can sit, sip tea and browse for hours - or even weeks. I tend to fill a shopping cart over a matter of weeks and then, on the day I finally order, weed out the unnecessary books, cds and dvds, until I meet an arbitrary budget number, usually between $50 and $100. This can take a while, since I sometimes have $500 or more in my cart! In fact, if I ever win a lottery, my first indulgence is going to be a shopping spree at one of these online bookstores with no cart editing! Otherwise, I buying from smaller local retailers and use the library a lot. You may have guessed by now that books are pretty essential to me - I read at least one a week and sometimes as many as four.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I'm back!

And you probably didn't even miss me! I went to the big city for a few days on what was basically a free trip - hotel and transportation were paid for so all I had to pay for were a few cheap meals and my shopping - and I shopped plenty!
I went on my first trip to Pete's Fruitique - I want to live there. Imagine the best produce market surrounded by shelves of gourmet and international foods - heaven to a person who lives in an area populated with basic no-frills grocery stores. Of course, I spent a bundle. Tins of British McVities biscuits and Cadbury Roses for Christmas, along with a Neideregger marzipan pig and a bar of Fry's Orange Cream chocolate. I also bought lemon puff cookies, orange Scottish shortbreads, a loaf of the tastiest Hungarian bread (almost a sourdough type of bread), triple chocolate cookies, a wedge of some Nova Scotia gouda cheese, which is incredible and hasn't a hope of making it to Christmas, let alone Friday of this week. I also bought pounds of fresh pistachios and Chinese pears. And yes, I also bought some tea.
It's not often I'm impressed with a grocery store's tea lineup but a whole aisle devoted to teas that I have only read about is a good starting point. I could have spent hundreds here but I stopped myself at two.
I bought a green tea from Twinnings that's flavored with grapefruit and pineapple - I'm really looking forward to trying that! I also bought an organic Earl Grey from a British company called Clipper Teas, which looks intriguing. I should have bought a pile more but I had only so much money with me although I'm really regretting not getting the Twinnings Winter Spice tea, which is a spicey herbal tea.
Once I got out of Pete's, I hit Starbucks several times. I had planned to buy a box of their Tazo Joy tea but decided at the last moment to try a cup first. Good plan! It's suppose to be a blend of black and oolong teas and for some reason, I assumed it would have some spice in it since it's a holiday tea but it was actually quite bland. OK for an everyday tea but nothing special.
Another day, I tried their eggnog lattes - again, it was OK but nothing special. More bland than creamy. Tonight I made one that was even better. Just pour about half a cup of storebought eggnog in your cup and top off with strong coffee - yum! And much cheaper. However, I also tried one of Starbuck's Peppermint Mochas - now that was heavenly! Just the right amount of everything. I'd definitely buy that again. I did pick up a half pound of their decaf Christmas blend and a bottle of vanilla syrups so I can make my Earl Grey lattes.
I also went to a wonderful new teahouse, opened by a lady from Thailand. I hope she does well - service was impeccable and there's a lot of effort being put forth here. I had a pot of milk oolong, which was interesting. It tasted almost like buttered popcorn - which I like but I'm not sure if it works in a tea. I bought a tin of Russian Earl Grey and when I get to the big city again, I'll visit this place for sure.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Holiday teas in November

If there ever was a day to signify November, this is it. Cold, damp and windy and dark enough that electric lights need to be on for the entire day. Actually, candlelight would be nicer, but I don't like fire, even if it does look pretty.
I opened my box of Harney's Christmas blend today. With the exception of their Paris blend, it's always taken me a while to warm up to Harney teas, and the Christmas blend is no exception. For the first two years, I didn't really care for it but last year, I ordered some for gifts and ended up with an extra box and guess what - this year, I like it. I also had a cup of Bigelow's Eggnoggin' I only have four bags left! I do wish the'd start selling it in Canada.
The Walmart flyer for this week is featuring Tassimo coffee makers for $98 - I am so tempted. Don't need it but I have wanted one for some time. It's the idea of being able to make cappuccinos so easily that appeals to me. I have a coffee/cappuccino maker and it's a nightmare to use so I don't. I use my Kitchen Aid coffee maker for my decaf and it works great but still, the Tassimo beckons. If anyone reading this has one, I'd appreciate it if you let me know how you like it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

... and a not so productive one

Yep, yesterday was a washout - I got to work and didn't do much else and today is even worse, mainly because I had to pull an early morning shift - up at 3 am and finished at noon. It's not even 9 pm and I'll head to bed after writing this. I am just not an early bird.
But I did reawaken my taste buds for spicey chai tea again. Had a cup at Tim's while waiting for a ride on a cool, sunny November day and so enjoyed it. It's definitely chai time again. My favorites are Stash and Tazo but Tim's wasn't bad - their teas are pretty good and I should know - like most Canadians, I spend too much money there! Chai is the only tea that I add milk to (unless I'm having really bad stuff in restaurant) but never sugar. And I much prefer bags to loose since I make it by the cup and each bag is premeasured with spices, wheras loose, spices will sometimes settle and you end up with weak cups at first and then way too strong at the end. Yeah, you're suppose to shake it up before you use it but honestly, who does?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A very productive day!

Why is it that some days, I can barely open my eyes and get my bed made but on other days, I can do so much? Saturday and Sunday, I did nothing. Period. Today, I had a busy work day and then came home and made seven quarts of salsa, three half pints of orange cranberry sauce for the upcoming holiday season and a batch of strawberry freezer jam, using my stash of frozen berries. I also did a load of laundry. Normally, each of the cooking projects is an all-night event. Doing everything on a single night is unheard of - at least for me. And it all seems to have turned out well so that's good too.
A few minutes ago, while surfing the net, I found a recipe on how to make your own butter from pure cream. I am tempted to try it - all you need is a food processor - which I have - cream and patience. I'm not sure about using pure cream though - is such a product even available in Canada? What I would get would be the heaviest cream available at the grocery store but the recipe specifically says no additives can be in the cream - it has to be pure. I do know our Canadian milk products are safe but when you compare them flavorwise to that of Britain, it's like comparing apples and oranges. Our cream is pretty much comparable to their skim milk. And the flavor - oh my. I remember the first time I had cream in Britain many years ago - don't ever tell me the British don't produce incredible food! And the same can be said for their cheese and ice cream - I would weigh one tonne if I lived there! Interestingly enough, I don't remember having any decent coffee when I was there - I was a coffee drinker then. Of course, the tea was good - everywhere.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Spending, blending and The Prisoner

I've been spending alot the past few days but I really don't feel guilty about it. There have been Christmas presents, food and things I needed, like a new pair of winter boots, a pair of slippers and some makeup items. Well, maybe the makeup items weren't essential but they helped me earn a whole pile of points at Shoppers which will get me $25 in free stuff later and a $10 Tim Horton card. I plan to get Christmas goodies with the points money and the Tim's card will get me two free lunches when I'm in the big city next week so all is good.
I haven't been talking much about tea lately, mainly because I'm drinking my own blends, which you, dear reader, can't get since I no longer have my tea business. I have been mulling the possibility of doing an online version of it but that's next year, at the earliest. I'd probably emphasize my own blends, as opposed to having a big selection of teas that you can get pretty much anywheres so there may be limited appeal although some of my blends are pretty good! At this time of year, the holiday blend comes out. That's a black tea blend of apple, orange and mulled spices and it's a nice, warming drink on these cold days. It was one of my best sellers, along with another, which was a much stronger, breakfast-style tea. Another good seller for me was a spring blend, which included green tea with strawberry and blueberry flavors. I'm thinking I should do a November blend, something smoky but optimistic at the same time, if that makes any sense.
I've been watching The Prisoner the past few days - the episodes are available online. I loved it as a child and I'm a little shocked, seeing it all these years later, just how oddly current it is. Apparently a remake has been made and it's being shown on TV but it's not on a channel we get in this part of the world. Doesn't matter - the original is always the best anyway. Interestingly, most scenes have tea in them, always served from a teapot and poured into a dainty flowered china tea cup and saucer - almost looks Royal Albert to me. And people are always asked China or India, for their preference in tea - I wish they'd do that now! Although, sometimes reataurants will ask if you want green, black or herbal but it usually means they just have a larger selection of bags in the back. Wouldn't it be great if restaurants worked as much at their tea service as they do with their coffee service?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I worked today...

and I wasn't overly happy about it but, I will get the day off at another time. It was a bit frustrating really to be working because no one else is and that means you can't really do your job properly so you end up not able to do much of anything - not really the way I want to spend a day. But tomorrow, everyone is back so things should return to normal.
I tried the Starbucks VIA instant coffee. It tasted like .... instant coffee. Nice instant coffee but still, instant coffee. I won't be getting any more. I completed the drink with coffee whitener - uh huh. May as well go for gusto, eh? Some people drink this stuff every day. I did taste one coffee whitener once that tasted of chocolate and mint and it was pretty nice until I realized it was making me sick to my stomach. Sigh, even my individual body parts are snobs. I guess it's only real cream for my real coffee. And I'll have my preferably loose tea without any milk or sugar, thank you very much.
And now that it's mid-November, that can only mean one thing.
It's Lapsang Souchong time! Every year at this time, I have a few cups and try and convince myself that I like it. Will this be the year?
I'll let you know ...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Back to Big City Again ...

...but this time for free! I'm going with someone attending a conference so my transportation up there and my hotel are pretty much paid for - all I have to do is feed and amuse myself and that won't be a problem! I'll be going in two weeks time and yesterday I bought myself a Starbucks gift card - I foresee tea lattes and other treats in my future. It will also be a good chance to try a Chinese teahouse for lunch - with real Chinese food, as opposed to the usual stuff in my town that comes equipped with neon sauces and deep fried yummies - should be interesting!
And since I'll be up there in the final few weeks before Christmas, it should be a nice chance to try some holiday treats - I can hardly wait!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tried the chocolate ....

and it's OK - nothing great. It would qualify as "emergency chocolate," you know, the kind you eat when you really need some chocolate and there's nothing open and there's no gas in the car to get you there even if the stores were open. I might have known $2.99 for 300 grams of chocolate was a little too good to be true.
But my efforts from today's baking are truly good - banana chocolate chip muffins, peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and an apple crisp - everything turned out great! It's always good when your home cooking turns out well - now I can fully avoid the pastry stops on my way to work this week. Besides, I really do make good muffins, which is good since it seems most restaurants, coffee shops and bakeries don't. I always find they're too sweet or artificial tasting. Or even worse, have no flavor at all. Now cookies are a different story - everywhere makes better cookies than me, although today's turned out fine. Do you have any foods that you make really well or not?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

And now for the chocolate!

Blame it on Halloween but I've been eating a lot more chocolate lately and some of it has been pretty good. Of course, there's the inevitable little bars that I always pick up the day after Halloween (this year Crispy Crunch and Coffee Crisps have been the snacks of choice) but recently I did order from Purdy's in British Columbia. The candy arrived within a week to the other coast and was in perfect condition. I immediately wrapped up most of it since most of it was intended for gifts (Chocolate gingers and Turkish Delights for Mum, Chocolate covered English Toffee for brother, chocolate covered almonds for other relatives) but I did leave a bag of those almonds out for me.
They didn't last long.
They were huge, fresh almonds covered with a rich milk chocolate - just about perfect. The chocolate had a bit of a sour taste that's reminiscent of Hershey's (as far as cheap chocolate goes, I think Hershey's is alright) but much better - just really good milk chocolate.
Today, I bought a block of the nut and milk chocolate English toffee at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Darn, I wish that stuff wasn't so good! I could sit down and eat a whole box of it but I was smart and bought myself only one block - I know myself too well.
Then I was in Bulk Barn and they had 300 g bars of fresh Belgian milk chocolate with hazelnuts for $2.99 - into the cart it went. I haven't tried it yet but there are few things more divine than chocolate and hazelnuts so how bad can it be?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

On your mark...

November is racing right along, isn't it? It's the 5th already and tonight, we're suppose to have our first winter storm. Let's hope the forecasters are wrong! It's just too early for snow. I haven't even got the heart to look for my boots yet.
However, I did get my first bag of eggnog blend coffee a few weeks ago - in fact, I'm already on my second bag. I've been allowing myself a little coffee caffeine lately since the tea doesn't seem to be working at all. I'm all for relaxed alertness but sometimes, ya just need a little extra. But don't fear - I have the eggnog tea out too. It's creamy, cinnamonny black tea from Bigelows's. If it weren't for their expensive shipping policies (they automatically add $15 to Canada (even though they're not that far from where I live on the east coast) on top of their already high rates, compared to Stash, which is far, far away on the opposite coast, which has low rates and only adds $7 extra to Canada), I'd order another case in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, it's not available in stores up here so I'll savor the few bags I have left and hope for an eventual decline in postal rates.
Yeah, right.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


I've always liked November - why, I have no earthly idea. It's damp, gloomy, cold and unpredictable - much like me! But seriously, there is something about this month I really like and a lot has to do with the weather. It's just before the truly cold weather sets in and you start getting your warm clothes out of storage so it's back to cozy sweaters and jackets. We might get one bit of snow here but for the most part, it's just rain, which I don't mind. The leaves are everywhere and there's just so much atmosphere - I can see and feel why this month is so associated with ghosts and the spirit world.
Today was so Novemberish, it made me smile. I awoke to a light rain, warm temperatures and leaves swirling everywhere. Later, the sun broke out and it was fine for a walk - or, in my case - the annual pilgrimage for half-price Halloween candy.
Alas, there were no bags of mini-Toblerones. But there were bags of Coffee Crisps, Crispy Crunches and Caramilks for around a dollar so everyone got a bag of their favorites. Desert tonight was Coffee crisps, with the most divine pizza - a spinach and tomato florentine sauce, old cheddar cheese, green peppers, fresh mushrooms and fresh garlic - yeah, I'm stuffed. Somehow, in November, a meal like this seems downright cozy.
The tea today was New England Harvest Blend - it's back to old favorites today after all my tasting yesterday. And soon, a pot of decaf Earl Grey to wind away the weekend.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Trick or treaters are gone ...

and I'm left with 50 peanut butter cups and 44 bags of chips. Actually, slightly less than that since I have been snacking. No kiddies at my door - so sad. Now it's up to me to eat all that chocolate and chips - it's a tough job but I think I'm up to it - heehee. The only thing left to October is another cup of tea, put the clocks back, change the calendar and settle in for the night with the Ghost Hunters Marathon on OLN. I even have the perfect snack foods.
Life is good!
Happy Halloween!

A day of many teas

I've been in the tea-tasting mood today and it started when I went out to lunch with a friend. I tried a lemon black tea by Higgins and Burke and wasn't overly impressed. I am longing for a tasty, lemony tea that doesn't have that brackish flavor that so many do. I have been told Twinnings has a good lemon green tea so I may pick up a box when grocery shopping this week. This afternoon, I tried another tea from yesterday's Stash order with much more success - White Christmas. It's suppose to have white tea, mint and ginger but I could hardly taste the ginger. However, it was still quite lovely - can't imagine it in the morning but it would be perfect in the late afternoon or early evening. The mint is there but not overpowering so it has a calming flavor.
Now I'm having a cup of Upton's Jasmine season's pick. I normally can't stand jasmines but this one is suppose to be a pouchong, which I do like. It too is very nice - again, more of a late afternoon tea. Might be a little much for the morning. Most days, if I can fit it in, I like having afternoon tea. It's usually just a few cookies with a cuppa while I work although it can get fancier on weekends and holidays. Today it's Oreos and Jasmine tea - an odd combination on Halloween but still quite tasty. A bit of a respite before the trick or treaters arrive.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Tea Stash gets bigger!

The Ozzie Halloween costume went over well, but then again, I do work in a radio station. Some of the other costumes were pretty incredible and some were quite controversial since they reminded people of certain stories happening in the news lately. All in all, it was a lot more fun than I expected.
When I got home, there was a large box waiting for me - my order from Stash had arrived. Most of the teas I ordered were either gifts or I've had them before, with the exception of one - lemon and white decaffeinated. It's a white decaf tea flavored with lemon. When I ordered it, I figured it would be a hit - I like white tea, I like lemon and I need some more decaf teas for the evening - what's not to like?
Unfortunately, it's not what I expected. It's surprisingly flavorless, which is really odd for a Stash tea. I'm hoping I just got a bad tea bag and the rest are OK. Sigh - I really wanted to like this tea!
One of the nicest thing about ordering from Stash is that they usually throw in a few freebies. This time I got a green tea assortment and a box of teapot-shaped shortbread cookies. They also sent me their catalogue - now that could be dangerous reading on those chilly November nights!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

You know you're in trouble when ....

your halloween costume for work takes little effort because you already look like that person. I'm going as Ozzy Osborne. Maybe not the most ideal look for a middle-aged lady but hey, it's a chance to wear my black leather blazer and funky sunglasses. Spent am hour making a giant tin foil crucifix - makes me look like a cross between Ozzy and that rapper who wears a clock around his neck. What worries me is that some people may not realize I'm in costume ....
I'm really not much of a Halloween person. There's is something about it I really don't like but that's not really surprising when you consider Easter is my favorite holiday. Hope and new beginnings interest me far more than death and evil. But saying that, there is one aspect that I really like - the treats. It's a great time to pick up small snack sizes of chocolate, chips, crackers and so forth. Guess who's in the stores picking up her favorites half price on November 1st? Yep. I live in hope there will bags of mini Toblerones left in the 75 per cent off bins - I am a dreamer.
Right now I'm sitting here eating bats and skulls - trying to get in to Ozzy mode, eh? Actually they're small creamy candies, like candy corn. They're only out at this time of year and I only eat them at this time of year - wouldn't seem right at any other time. It also keeps me away from the peanut butter cups and chips reserved for the trick or treaters.
For a while, any way ....

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

In a pickle

I've just finished packaging up a batch of freezer pickles - four pints from a dollar's worth of cucumbers, vinegar and spices. I've vowed not to waste any produce this year - however .... I didn't get the last batch of cucumbers made up in time before they went bad so I made doubly sure with this bunch. I plan to make a deep-dish apple pie once I drag myself away from the computer - can't let those apples go bad!
I gave into the shopping urge and bought a whole pile of stuff off the Stash tea website the other night, including my favorite orange spice tea bags. I even asked the owner of a local health food store who said she could get any type of Stash tea in and she told me Orange spice simply isn't available in Canada. I find this a little bizarre - I can go to any grocery store and get chocolate mint, decaf vanilla hazelnut and peach oolong Stash teas but I can't get a basic like Orange Spice? Anyway, I ordered some Christmas presents too (really!). The shipping prices wasn't too bad - it was about 15 per cent of my order, which is one of the best shipping rates around in the tea biz.
The Twinnings Orange was working for me at first but now I'm not as crazy for it - plus it's disappeared off the shelves of the grocery store where I bought it. Storekeepers around here have an interesting attitude - if something sells out, they don't re-order. They justify this move by saying no one has bought any recently and even though you say, well, they haven't bought any recently because there's none there to buy, they just ignore you.
I kid you not.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Holiday shopping ... for me?

Every year, I spend too much on holiday shopping for one very good reason - at least half ends up being for me! It's a bit of a joke really - I try to buy nice presents for people but I end up either keeping them for myself (because they're so nice) and then have to buy the person something else or I'll see something for me while shopping and end up getting it too. Does anyone else have this problem?
One of the worst things is when I buy food gifts or coffee/tea gifts. I bought a gift pack of Ahmad tea yesterday that features six kinds of black tea. I've never tried Ahmad teas before. What are the chances this will never end up as a gift but in my cup?
I may try wrapping the presents early to see if this stops my expensive behavior!

London Fog Latte and miserable Sundays

It's a wet, miserable Sunday here - an overnight storm has taken most of the leaves off the trees. A typical fall occurence except that it doesn't usually happen until mid-November - and that has me wondering just what kind of winter are we going to have this year. It doesn't bode well.
I've just finished a pot of St. Isaac's Blend from Upton Tea. It's a lemony Earl Grey type of tea and for some reason, it just seemed right on a stormy day.
On Friday, I decided to try my own version of a London Fog Latte. Since I didn't make it until I got home from work, I used decaf tea. I also used my own homemade vanilla, which involved putting vanilla beans in a bottle of vodka and letting it steep for about a month, so my version had a bit of a kick. I think I'm going to invest in a bottle of Vanilla Syrup though - that will get rid of adding the sugar and will allow me to drink this at any time of the day - even before driving!
I made eight ounces of very strong decaf Earl Grey, from two teaspoons of loose leaves in a filter. I heated up four ounces of milk in the microwave (I'm impatient and didn't feel like getting a saucepan dirty). I also took two tablespoons of the homemade vanilla and two teaspoons of sugar and placed them first in the bottom of a large cup. I put the strong tea in, stirred and then added the warmed milk. I had two of these - quite good! For some reason, I didn't think the vanilla as being alcoholic but I soon realized that it was - I rarely drink alcohol so I'm pretty sensitive to its effects - so don't use storebought or homemade vanilla if you have to drive after or while drinking this!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Swine Flu and all that

So the government here is going to start innoculating people for the swine flu next week. So the debate is, should I get vaccinated or not. I tend to take bad reactions to drugs and in fact, had a horribly bad case of the flu a few years ago when I did get the seasonal flu shot. Yet, when I was a child, I had a lot of respiratory infections and as a result, am much more susceptible to chest colds, bronchitis and pneumonia as an adult and apparently alot of those who get really bad cases of the flu are healthy people (which I am) who have underlying respiratory weakness (which I also have). The vaccine has been rushed through trials so is it really safe? Lots of issues to ponder but I'll have to make a decision soon.
It's been so cold here that it appear the warm fall is simply not going to happen this year. For some reason, I've been in more of a decaf coffee mood lately but I think it's just a lower calorie version of hot chocolate, which I have been craving and trying to avoid. I've been eating like a horse and I'm trying to avoid drinking like one too, although I've never met a horse that drank hot chocolate. Or coffee. I daresay these drinks aren't even safe for animals. I plan to start my tea experimentation again soon -like tomorrow. I have been drinking Upton Tea's Baker Street blend and I think some nice Yunnans may be right for these cold autumn days.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Back from the Big City

The older I get, the less I like crowds and traffic. There were plenty of both when we visited the city this weekend for a family wedding. I did all the driving and even though we got home last night, it's only now that I'm beginning to relax - I have no idea how people can drive in those busy conditions all the time!
One good thing about visiting the city is that I can visit some coffee and tea stores for new things to try and this weekend, I ended up at Starbucks twice. I've been a big fan of their coffee ever since I visited Seattle in the 1990s. I used to be a coffee drinker until my tummy started to rebel against the stronger caffeine of coffee; now I have a cup or two of decaf on a daily basis. And yes, I know decaf isn't as good as the real thing but Starbucks decaf comes pretty darn close, in my opinion.
I bought a pound of their Sumatran decaf and I just finished drinking two cups. Oh yum. It's delish! I bought some of my favorite cookies, the Starbucks chocolate covered grahams. Two bucks for two small cookies - and worth evey penny. I also bought a three-pack of the new Starbucks instant coffee more out of curiosity than anything - I will try it on one of those days when I need extra artificial stimulation. I can't remember the last time I had instant coffee - despise the stuff but apparently this is suppose to be pretty good. I picked the Italian Roast flavor. In the shop, I had a Pike's Peak decaf which was good and an Earl Grey latte. Quite tasty although I don't know if it's tasty enough to want another. I may try to make up a home version though. Before we left on Friday, I did make a home version of a pumpkin spice latte - let's just say it did not inspire me to buy one at the store.
I also visited a magazine store and got the latest Tea Time and Tea A Magazine - can't get them here. So despite the awful traffic, it was a good trip. The best part was coming home and making myself a nice pot of loose decaf English Breakfast in a proper pot. I'm all about no stimulants these days.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Cold Weather sets in

Falls in this part of Atlantic Canada are suppose to be warm - we usually don't see any snow until well into December - some years not until after Christmas. So what's going on this year? It's freezing and there's a very distinct chance of snow or freezing rain. We had hail yesterday - brrr. Definite hot chocolate weather. I'm getting low on my Ghiradelli stash so I bought some Nestle's Noir when it was on sale here recently. I hope it's good - I think I'm going to be drinking a lot of it over the next few days.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Isn't it funny how something that's delicious to one person can be completely repulsive to someone else? I read once that a Hollywood star was completely sickened by a person who ate fried egg sandwiches with ketchup - and that's one of my favorite meals! In fact, I just finished having one for breakfast. As for me, I am completely nauseated when I see someone dunking and dipping their food, whether it be biscotti into coffee or carrot sticks into a dip. Yuck! There could be crumbs in your coffee! Why would you want to ruin the taste of carrots with some sort of creamy crap? I just don't get it.
OK, most people would probably consider me to be the weird one but dunking and dipping is just not in the cards for me. I like my foods plain - toast maybe with a smear of butter or some grapefruit marmalade but never dunked into a drink. I'll have my vegetables plain, thank you and forget about that dip for the chips - I think they're tasty enough on their own. Yes, I even forgo the salad dressing - I just don't get why people would want to ruin the taste of their food with the flavor of something else. Even sauce on ice cream doesn't work for me - I want the ice cream plain. I do make a few exceptions - such as that ketchup on a fried egg sandwich but you know what? That's the only thing I'll eat ketchup on. Fries are much better on their own, with no ketchup. I eat hamburgers and hot dogs with no condiments. I will have butter, marmalade or peanut butter on toast but not much else. If someone told me I could not ever have a sauce, jam or dip ever again, I wouldn't miss any of them.
But here's the real irony - I make great jams, relishes, sauces and salad dressing for others! It's to the point that people have told me that I could probably sell them and I have considered it. I just don't know if it's a business that I could get excited about - making products that I don't eat.
So just out of curiosity, are there foods that you can't stand to see people eat? Are there thing you make that others love but which you can't stand to eat?

This might work

At the end of September, I announced I was no longer going to drink soda pop - and so far, I've been good to my word. It's been the longest period of my life without a daily glass of pop and the last two days, I came close to buying some. But when I looked in the mirror this evening, I noticed a real difference - my skin looked great! Now, I don't know if there's any connection between drinking acidic carbonated products loaded with either sugar or sweeteners and the quality of a person's skin, but I am wondering. Of course, I am drinking more water and teas, so maybe that has something to do with it too. Hopefully having nicer skin will keep me on the straight and narrow. I am also trying to cut back on sugar and processed foods but that may be a tougher battle. When you're busy (and who isn't), convenience can be pretty tempting!
It's going to be chilly today and raining - it may be time to break open the Harney's Cranberry Autumn tea - especially since it's Thanksgiving weekend!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Nuts about Nougat

When I was a child, my parents would buy me small packets of nougat as a treat and I have loved it ever since. But finding decent quality nougat has been problematic ever since. In the summer, I managed to get a large bag at Costco at the other end of the province but that was the first in years.
This week I've been in Nougat heaven.
A local bargain retailer has brought in boxes and bags of Golden Bonbon nougat and I've been stocking up ever since. It's as fresh as can be, important in this sweet. They're selling bars two for a dollar and bags of the bite sized for $2.99 - I don't think I could get it at wholesale for that price. So far, I've bought 28 bars and three bags - I'm stocking up for the long term since this shop often brings in things one time only. The bags aren't as good a deal but they do feature the orange and maple flavors which are incredible, even though I am a die-hard plain almond nougat fan.
I've also made the mistake of sharing this with several other people - now they're stocking up on it too. But this could be a good thing - maybe if they sell out quickly, they'll get more in.
Are there any rare food items that inspire you to stock up when you see them?

Monday, October 5, 2009


I saw this meme at Saving4Later but it originally came from Book Sanctuary - and now I plan to answer it too!

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?
No, even though I like to snack while I'm doing everything else. It could have something to do with the fact I do most of my fun reading in bed and I can't stand crumbs in the sheets.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of
writing in books horrify you?
The only marking that should ever appear in a book would be the author's signature on a first edition.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears?Laying the book flat open?
I use bookmarks or any available piece of paper.

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both?
Both. In fiction, mainly murder mysteries, thrillers and ghost stories. In non-fiction, I'll read pretty much anything.

Hard copy or audiobooks?
About 98 per cent hard copy. The audiobooks come out on long car rides, which I rarely take any more thanks to the price of gas.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point?
I read until the end of a chapter. Overly long chapters annoy me and I tend not to go back to the book if it's kept me reading longer than I like.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?
I try to figure it out by context but if that doesn't work, I'll look it up at the next possible convenience.

What are you currently reading?
Basement Suite by Susan M. Farrell and a big book on Ghosts by Hanz Holtzer.

What is the last book you bought?
Liquid Jade which is a book on the history of tea.

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can
you read more than one at a time?
I prefer to read one book at a time but I usually have a couple on the go.

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read?
I like to read in bed, just before I sleep. There is something especially gratifying about hearing the rain fall or the wind blowing in a quiet house late at night, with a good book.

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?
I like 'em all.

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over?
If I find another murder mystery fan, I usually recommend Sue Grafton's alphabet mysteries, Laura Child's tearoom mysteries and Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston's archeological thrillers - the kind of books that keep you reading all night.

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?)
Whatever fits into whatever available space.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hello again!

It's been a few days since I've posted and October has set in with steadfast determination. The trees are every color but green and the temperature are getting nippier - the thoughts of a cool glass of iced tea are long-gone. I've been drinking Upton's New England Harvest blend for the past few days because it's delicious and it suits the time of year. It's black tea flavored with orange, apple and cinnamon-type spices. It goes well with the apple crisp I made yesterday or the spiced pear pie fillings that I prepared for next weekend, Thanksgiving.
I so want ginger cookies but the good ones are about 40 km from here, in a restaurant that features an on-site bakery which also makes the best raisin bread I've ever tasted. Instead of spending the gas, I should make my own cookies. They would probably be just as good and I can't use the excuse that I don't have the ingredients in anymore. This payday, I replaced 90 per cent of my cooking ingredients since this is one of the best times of the year to do that - those things tend to go on sale just before Thanksgiving and Christmas. I suppose I didn't need to replace everything but when you open the ginger spice tin and can't smell anything, it's probably a good time to toss it. All together, and because I already had fresh flour, cinnamon and baking soda in, it probably cost me about $50 to renew my baking supplies and I'm sure it will help me produce many hundreds of dollars worth of food (plus keep me out of those bakeries). I even got some cherry and lemon pie fillings, which I rarely buy since I make my own pie fillings - but cherry tends to be one I prefer to get in the can. We rarely get decent cherries around here and pitting them for filling is, well, the pits.
I also bought some apples yesterday - ginger gold, honey crisp and gravenstein. Some will end up in another pie - I suppose I better start making crusts although sometimes I cave and buy the frozen crusts. The problem with the frozen crusts is that it's nearly impossible to get that second crust to go over the first, if you're trying for pie with a crust on top. They usually tend to fall apart. While I enjoy the occasional French apple tart, I do prefer a double crust apple pie.
If this sounds like I sit around eating pie all the time, I don't.
Not that I'm against the idea ....

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This time, I'm going to do it!

After drinking an average of a can a day of soda pop for most of my life, I have decided it's time to give it up completely. First all, it wasn't an easy decision - I love the stuff. But I can no longer drink my favorites - colas and root beer without major digestive problems and the aspartame/splenda pops don't really agree with me either. In a choice between taste and a calmer tummy, the tummy wins.
I guess this means I'll be drinking more tea ....

Waiting is the hardest part

I am still waiting for my car to be fixed - hopefully, everything will be done tonight. It's amazing how dependent we can get when it comes to vehicles. I didn't buy a car until I was 30 - I just walked everywhere and thought nothing of it.
Life has changed.
For one thing, where I work now is located out of town and therefore, not on a bus route. Not having my own transportation over the past five days has meant bumming rides from fellow workers (who have been very kind), not going anywhere on the weekend, realizing that I need to keep more spare cash around since taxis to work aren't cheap and some walking - we did have some rain over the last few days so I didn't walk nearly as much as I should. Keeping a small emergency cash stash will be easy enough but I seriously have to start doing more walking - even my shoes aren't really up for it any more - they're comfortable but not meant for long distances.
As for hot, comforting drinks, I'm celebrating National Coffee today with several cups of Starbucks decaf!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A quiet weekend - maybe

Yesterday, my car decided to drop one of the bracings that hold the gas tank to the underbelly of the car. Considering there are only two bracings holding the tank in place, I decided that perhaps it was not a good idea to do any driving this weekend. Since the part can't be ordered until Monday, it will hopefully be repaired that same day. So I am pretty much tied to home this weekend. However, a tea friend did pick me up for a lunch date and when she heard I wanted to try the Twinnings Orange, she said she just happened to buy a box herself this week and gave me a few bags to try - swell! When I got home, I immediately made a small pot and tried it in the new fallish designed teacup and saucer that I bought at the restaurant.
Well, I can honestly say that I will be buying a box - it's pretty close to the Stash orange spice and there's no shipping involved - just pick it up on the way home from work. It will make a fine work brew - it's a nice black tea with a good orange flavor - not spicey but the orange is very natural tasting. Quite enjoyable. And so is my new tea cup and saucer. China from England with a beautiful design of whole and cut peaches and butterflies and it only cost $5.99 - and no, it's not used. Gotta love a bargain and a new favorite tea that won't break the bank.
Hopefully my car's listening ....

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Another day, another ... well, let's not get into that

I simply have to budget my money more wisely. I have a week to go before payday and I have $3.51 lurking in my pocket. Just enough to buy that packet of Twinnings Orange that I've lusting after, but that leaves literally pennies to get through the rest of the week.
Actually, there is more money to be had but I am trying to discipline myself to spend less money. For example, I really don't need that packet of Twinnings - there's literally pounds of much better tea in this house that's just waiting to be slurped. Yet, if there's something out there that I haven't tried, well, I just have to have it. Fortunately, tea is a relatively cheap indulgence. It's pretty hard to spend more than $10 on a small package and you can usually try most teas for much cheaper than that. Of course, like anything else, there are expensive teas to be had and I confess to trying most of those when I get a chance. But for the most part, most of my favorites are pretty inexpensive.
Probably the most expensive tea I've ever bought was Adam's Peak, from Upton's. I think I paid about $20 for two ounces - it was OK. When I had the tea business, I would occasionally get samples of the really good ones and I tried a Badaling Yellow that was quite nice - but not enough to fork over a lot of money. I also tried some darjeelings that were quite nice - seems to me that there was a Castleton that was truly exceptional. The most expensive tea that I went out of my way to buy was a spring pouchong - can't remember the price except that it was a lot. The only problem is that it was so expensive that I only want to drink it on special occasions - as if life wasn't special enough.
In fact, I think I'm going to make myself a pot of that pouchong right now. I think Wednesday is pretty special in itself.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

In praise of cream teas!

Way back, when my tea world consisted of grocery store bags, I used to drink my black tea with milk, never sugar. Since discovering better quality teas, mostly loose but some bagged, the milk jug has remained in the fridge. I can't even imagine putting milk in some of my favorite teas but at one time, it had to go in. Even now, when I have a cup of tea at a restaurant or at an event, the milk will invariably go into a cup since most places still serve pretty low quality stuff. And that's what milk does - it takes some of the bitterness out of cheap tea and mellows it. Even though everyone rails against putting cream into tea, deep down, you have to admit, cream is pretty tasty - much more than milk - but for the most part, it is too overwhelming for your average cup of tea.
Well, for those who actually like the taste of cream in tea but who don't want the calories or for anyone to see them pouring cream into their cup, give the cream or vanilla flavored teas a try. For the most part, they're black teas with cream or vanilla flavoring added. All the taste without the calories - who could ask for anything more?
Two I would recommend are the Cream Flavored Black tea from Adagio and Metropolitan Tea's Irish Cream Black Tea. These two are absolutely delish - very satisfying for those days when you want your tea to be a little richer. For those who still prefer bags, give Bigelow's Eggnoggin' a try - it's only out for a month or two before Christmas in the US or all year round on their website. It has that creamy taste with a hint of cinnamon and is pretty good. Today, I'm drinking the Metropolitan Irish Cream. Of course, no one should ever add milk or cream to green tea but if you're looking for a guilt-free creamy green treat, try the Candy Cane Lane by Celestial Seasonings. Again, it's only out just before Christmas, but it's a decaffeinated green tea flavored with mint and it has a creamy, minty taste. Very nice for the end of the day.
For those who want cream in their Earl Grey, try Earl Grey Creme from Metropolitan Tea (loose) or the season's pick Earl Grey Creme from Upton Tea. If it sound hard to imagine a creamy Earl Grey, just imagine an Earl Grey that has been smoothed and mellowed - it's a surprisingly good cup.

Friday, September 18, 2009


I've just finished a great supper that featured homemade garlic mashed potatoes - oh my! And the weekend stretches out before me. Ahhhh. Of course there will be the usual things to do - house cleaning, laundry, catching up on freelance projects - but there will also be time for sleep and some junk TV. I have a weakness for programs on ghosts and hauntings - I know better but it's a guilty pleasure, just like potato chips and pop. And yes, I know I should be eating more salads and water and reading great literature but hey, I can't be perfect ALL the time!
Here's a few of my guilty pleasures - what are yours?
TV - Ghost Hunters, Most Haunted, CSI, Antiques Roadshow, Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie, Survivorman
Books - murder mysteries such as the tea shop mysteries by Laura Childs, anything by Sue Grafton or Dougas Preston and Lincoln Child; ghost stories but nothing horror-driven
Foods - Salt and Pepper Chips, Jalapeno chips, triple chocolate cookies or peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies, nougat, garlic mashed potatoes, fried chicken, french fries
music - Beatles, Eagles, Byrds, Monkees, most instrumental and anything with a flute
Drinks - orange spiced tea, decaf starbucks, cola

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fast week!

Is it just me or is this week going by extra fast? Tomorrow is hump day already. Today was payday and just in time, too. We get paid twice a month and sometimes, since the deposits are never made on weekends and some months are longer than others, it can be as long as 18 days between pays - which it was this time. It feels good to have some money again and tonight, I went for a grocery shop. While shopping, I noticed Twinnings has a some new flavors out. One that caught my eye was a black tea flavored with orange. There was also an interesting looking chai. I didn't buy the orange tea tonight but I have a feeling that a box may be coming home with me pretty soon. I have a weakness for orange flavored black teas. Few can beat Stash's orange spice but since I have to order directly from Stash to get it, that can get pretty pricey since they don't offer that flavor in Nova Scotian grocery stores. I'm also a fan of pineapple and/or citrus green teas - which I notice President's Choice is now offering. There could be some cheap tea tastings in my future. With luck, they may even taste good.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Eat Local? Just a minute ...

The 100 mile diet has been talked and written about a lot lately. I've read the book and basically agree with the main premise - buying your food locally is better for local farmers and the environment. And as much as I would like to follow the diet completely, there are some fairly major problems.
First problem is that this is 2009 and I live in northern Nova Scotia. Nobody grows any rice, wheat, grain, oat, nut, tea (I'm talking real tea and not herbal tisanes), coffee, orange or lemon within 100 miles of me. In fact, I'm pretty sure none of these foods are grown anywhere in the province, if even in Atlantic Canada. Yes, there are processors and those who roast the beans and get these foods ready for consumers but no one actually grows any of these products for thousands of miles from here. I can't really imagine getting along without bread, pasta, muffins (although I could easily give up certain of these foods just not ALL carbohydrates), rice, orange juice, lemon anything and of course, coffee, tea and chocolate. Back 200 years ago, grain crops were probably grown here but with limited success so they're not grown here now. This area of Canada has always imported many of its foodstuffs and I can't really see that changing anytime soon. I am wondering if the buy local challenge may inspire someone to start growing grains in Nova Scotia - if they do, I'll certainly give it a try. People who live in central and western Canada do have more access to locally grown grain products.
Now the grapefruit juice, tea, chocolate and coffee could be more of a problem - it has to do with a four month growing season ...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fall is in the air

It's a beautiful sunny Saturday here but you can feel the fall in the air. I decided to put away the summery clothes today and bring back the fall/winter stuff - always a tad depressing. We're going to a barbecue tonight and part of me is hoping that we won't be eating outside - the nights for that now seem to be past. It does seem as though the cooler weather is going to settle in more quickly this year and there's not much you can do about that.
I'm back to drinking decaf Starbucks and my orange flavored teas - more signs of the changing seasons. I'm quite cheered by the fact that six of the last nine days have been no-spending days - only two days left to pay day and I still have $8 left so there should be no problems there. I have to confess to doing some online browsing - but as long as I don't put anything in the shopping cart, I'll be OK. It's good for me to tame my shopping demons - I have everything I need already and retail therapy doesn't solve any problems - if anything, it creates them.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Figuring it out

As noted in my last post, I have since learned that the problem of not being able to answers or make comments on blogs is due to my ancient Safari browser. If I go to Firefox, I can do what I wish so that's one problem solved. Eventually, I'll get this figured out.
Had the most divine supper this evening - garlic crusted chicken, fresh yellow beans, carrot slaw and garlic mashed potatoes. With mint chip ice cream for supper - can you say heaven? With a cup of Starbucks decaf to end the meal, it pretty much was heaven to a hungry person. Had left over Chinese for lunch with that divine Earl Grey Creme Vanilla from Upton's, plus lots of chocolate through the day.
As you can tell, the diet isn't going that well ....

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Things I Did(n't) Know About Myself

The best part about being alive is that there's always something new to learn. Usually, it's something to learn about the world around us or something mundane that's limited (like a great sale at a nearby shop). And then there's the days when you learn something new about yourself.
Now those days can be uncomfortable, especially when it's something that you may initially protest. I am 48 years old. I did not grow up with computers in school, but once I got to university, I worked with them and have been doing so ever since. I would never say I'm computer literate but I do know how to use Macs (home) and PCs (work) with a fair amount of ease, thanks to years of seeing far too many changes on both systems. I think I know my way around enough to at least get by.
So why can't I answer comments on my blog? I can comment on most other blogs, yet I can't seem to reply to comments on my own. Eventually I will figure it out, once I get a few minutes. I have a feeling it's due to the fact I haven't upgraded in a while or it may be a Mac/PC thing - you'd be surprised how often a website on a Mac can look completely different on a PC. I also haven't figured out how to put on pictures or show what other blogs I'm reading. Through my job, I regularly update two company websites yet I can't figure out my own simple blog.
Anyway, I will answer comments here until I figure this out.
Yes, Canadian Saver - that Plum Orange Conserve is delish! I did buy organic plums and I'm glad I did cut them up for the jam - I was a little startled by what was inside a few of the plums - ick! I hate to think I may have eaten a few of those inadvertently. Oh well, at least the Conserve is safe. I also have a five pound bag of pears so tonight, I may make some pear mincemeat, to have on hand for the holidays - it's delicious as well. I can't quite stomach the commercially-prepared mincemeat that has suet in it - too heavy for me.
And Marlena, yes, there's nothing wrong with being an introvert. One of the weirdest things I find lately is this tendency in the media (and I work in the media!) to label anyone who's a loner as being a looney. Maybe the loners are just trying to get away from the loonies.
I am drinking a tea that's called Angel's Dream. It's a black tea flavored with maple and blackberry. It's nice but nothing spectacular. I'm glad it's just a sample. I think for work, I'll bring some Earl Grey Creme with me. Am trying to stay away from Timmy's this week - had a no spend day yesterday and I would like to have another one today. Payday is September 15 and I have $20 to last me until then. With a full fridge and cupboard, it is do-able - as long as I stay out of the shops!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Laboring on Labor Day

Yes, I worked today. I grumble about working on holidays but in truth, it's really not that bad. For one thing, it's usually nice and quiet and it's usually easy enough to get everything done. As well, it now means I have another day banked for when I need it - which is always nice.
But Labor Day is sad in a way - it means summer in this part of the world is pretty much ending and any hot day from now on is pretty much a gift. Unlike other parts of Canada, we had plenty of nice days this year - probably more than what we're used to. And we also tend to get really nice falls so hopefully the dreaded snow and ice will hold off until mid-December like they usually do. As usual, I think of all the things I should have done this summer but hey, you can only so much.
I bought a beautiful new glass pitcher this summer to make iced tea but I really didn't use it that much. I'd probably make a batch this evening of decaf orange black iced tea, before I put the pitcher away for the season. I wanted to like that decaf orange tea as a hot tea but it didn't do that much for me so I'll try it cold.
Tonight, I may make a batch of plum-orange conserve, which is delicious on buttered toast. The question is, so I have the energy?

Saturday, September 5, 2009


This week flew by but I'm still glad it's over. I'm in need of some serious "me" time - by nature, I'm a loner, who tends to get overwhelmed by being around a lot of people. Some people say this is shyness but I'm really not shy - more reserved than anything. I'm quite happy being alone and doing things by myself, which a lot of people don't understand. Case in point - I've had a cellphone since they became popular but I still leave the house 90 per cent of the time without it and I rarely turn it on. I view it as an emergency device whereas others use it so they can always be in contact with others. Most of the time, I'm quite happy not to be in contact with others. I like the idea of times when people can't reach me - I think it's unhealthy to be always on a electronic leash. It's not that I don't like people - I just need time to myself alot more than most.

But today, I did take some time to be social by going to the Farmers Market where I know just about everybody. There was lots of great stuff besides - pears, apple, plums, carrots, potatoes, green tomatoes, garlic, lettuce and chocolate croissants. Yeah, I know the last is not a vegetable but I can't be virtuous all the time. I'm drinking some fair trade decaf right now which isn't too bad.

As for the rest of the day, I plan to stay out of the shops, drink jasmine tea that a friend gave me to try and just get in touch - with myself. And the laundry.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


It's Thursday night and I'm exhausted. I don't really know why - I'm just thinking it's an end of the work week thing.
I spent no money on Wednesday but boy, did I make up for it today. Fortunately, most of it was necessary stuff but it still adds up. I did get some Clif bars, tins of fruit, granola bars and boxes of raisins for lunches - all on sale. When it's back to school time, the stores seem to have all sorts of neat things for lunch on sale and I figure it's a good time to stock up. The ethnic meals continued with pizza on Wednesday and for lunch today. Tonight, we went to a business-type reception and feasted on deep fried hors d'oeurvres - not sure of their ethnicity but they were pretty tasty.
As far as teas go, I'm really liking the Baker Street blend by Upton, the more I drink it. I may have to break down and buy another bag before the truly cold weather arrives. It's definitely a fall brew.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September comes in .... like September

This week, we're enjoying the cuisines of the world - homemade Chinese food Sunday night, Mexican on Monday and Greek tonight with souvlakie (and I'm sure that's not how you spell it), oven roasted potatoes and salad with lettuce from my garden and topped with a yogurt dressing - made with my own yogurt that I made last night! It's the stuff that I made in the crockpot and it's delicious!
Tomorrow night will be Italian night and I'm making pizza dough right now so it will be ready for toppings tomorrow evening. There is something truly satisfying about making your own stuff - even the salad tasted better with its few odd leafs from the garden.
Teas are definitely getting more seasonal - had pumpkin spice at Timmy this morning. It's definitely one of the nicer bagged teas around - I'd recommend it. Right now, I'm pondering a cup of chocolate cream decaf while I wait for my dough to do its stuff. That might be one of my better ideas today ...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Garlic galore!

In mid August, I planted my spring garlic. I kid you not - sometimes, it takes me a while to get around to things. At first, it looked like something was digging up the bulbs so I daresay there's a few squirrels or crows in my neighborhood with really bad breath. This was followed by a mini drought and then came Hurricane Bill, followed by tropical storm Danny - about 200 ml of rain in two days. Well, I checked the garlic patch today and everything looks peachy - the garlic is shooting up plenty of scapes so there is hope of garlic in either the late fall or next spring. Someday soon I am going to harvest one of the spring garlics that I did plant back in May. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I know there's room for a vampire pun in here but I'll hold back since I am starting to nod off and not as erudite as I could be.

High cost of postage

I love getting stuff in the mail - who doesn't? Today, I received my Bento box from Bento Crazy - it's the cutest little thing - three layers even - but I am, ahem, how do I say this delicately, a big eater, especially around lunch time. I love to eat and I love to eat lots. I may have to use another box besides this box although a diet may not necessarily be a bad idea. Apparently grown men use these boxes for their meals - surely a medium-sized woman could do the same. And just think of the money I could save if I cut back on my eating ....
Nyahhh. Like that's going to happen.
Anyway, I also dropped by the Post Office to mail two parcels. One to another part of Nova Scotia (a medium sized box that weighed less than a pound) and one to the southern US (a small envelop that was stuffed with notecards). It came to just over $21. It's enough to discourage you from mailing yet - I love getting mail. I assume everyone else loves getting it too.
Anyway, yesterday I made iced tea with Shoppers Drug Mart English Breakfast tea bags. This morning I tried it. To say it was a bad idea would be an understatement. It's not often I spit out tea but when it comes to truly bad tea, I'll make an exception.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I'm a newbie

You can tell I'm a newbie to blogging - it never even crossed my mind to see if anyone was commenting on my blog until this evening! Thank you Canadian Saver - now I know someone is reading! Anyway, I apologize for not publishing the comments until now - this whole month has been a bit d'oh for me! In reply to your comments, yes, you should give hot tea a try - you might be pleasantly surprised; yes, I find it hard to leave Shoppers without a cartful too and I got the address for from your blog - a very dangerous place for those of us who like cheap books!
We escaped another tropical storm relatively unscathed this weekend and last night I saw the Oak Ridge Boys, thanks to complimentary tickets. They were great! Lots of energy, good singing and great songs. I'm not normally a fan of this sort of music but I'll make an exception here - if you get a chance, go see them.
I wish I could say I got lots done this weekend but I didn't - however I did try some nice Rose Congou tea yesterday at a friend's. Very pleasant, although I think I would prefer it for the spring or early summer. I'm craving heavier teas now and may even make a spicy iced tea for the morning.
I've made three bentos since my last post - I think this could become very addictive. If nothing else, it will force me to use up more of my food and allow me to have healthier lunches, and that can't be bad. I hate wasting food, especially hate to see fruit and vegetables go bad so maybe the bento lunches will help use up the small bits and bites.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Storms and bento

Here I sit with a cup of plum tea and pondering the following: yet another hurricane/tropical storm is headed this way this weekend. The problem is, no one will pay much attention to it and that could be bad - mainly since this one has a far better chance of hitting us dead on. I guess I'll worry about that through the day as I do my newscasts. People blame the media if we give them the forecasts and tell them to prepare and then nothing happens. These same people scream if we don't tell them and something does strike. It's tough to find an accurate balance, especially when you're dealing with something as fickle as the weather. You don't want to frighten people unnecessarily but you still want them to be ready. This will be my challenge today.
I tried decaf orange tea last night from Upton. Not bad but I think I'll use more leave when I try it again - it didn't have quite enough flavor for me and it could be my fault.
I've been surfing a little too much lately, looking at bento box sites. It's inspired me to try one today for my lunch - blueberries, nuts, crackers and cheese and a granola bar. Hopefully I can use the smaller bento serving sizes to get me to eat less - been enjoying my meals a little too much lately!