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 ....