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 ...