Friday, December 31, 2010

A few goals are good too

Because I have been on this job for three years in April, I will be entitled to three weeks vacation this year. One of my goals is actually go on a real vacation this year - leave this area and stay somewhere - as opposed to a staycation - which are nice too. I received some really nice luggage this year for Christmas and I'm itching to use it. I haven't been on a real vacation in more than 10 years (occasional weekends in the big city don't count and I haven't even done one of those in more than a year) so I think it's time for a getaway.
With three weeks, I can plan on a one week vacation in the summer and maybe leave the other two weeks for the fall and spring at home. Ideally, I would love to go to Paris or London and my sweetie is dreaming of Cuba but frankly, even a week in a neighboring province would be great at this point.
Since September, I've been saving my extra income in a separate account in a different bank so it doesn't end up going towards mundane things like bills. So far, I have $880 saved and really should have more but with Christmas, oil bills and a few annual bills due at this time of year, I'm happy to have that amount.

Just one resolution

I am making just one resolution this year but I do think it will apply to just about every facet of my life.
Become more disciplined.
That's it. But really, what else do you need?
If you're disciplined, you will stay exercising and eating better, even when it seems neither are working. Eventually it will work - different people need different times. If you are disciplined, you won't buy everything in sight and leave yourself short. Instead, you will save and pay your bills off. You will do your job to the best of your ability and not whine when things don't go your way - after all, life is unfair and quite often, there's really nothing we can do about what others do - but we do have control over ourselves. So this year, I will keep exercising, eating more fruit, vegetables and green tea (which I actually prefer over black now), save more, shop less, help others more, practise and write more - because all of this will benefit me in the end.
And you gotta like that.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas All!

Of course, I do everything backwards - the Christmas greeting arrives after I hit the Boxing Day sales - but I do hope everyone has a pleasant and peace holiday season.

T'was the day after Christmas

T'was the day after Christmas
and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring
because they were stuffed and couldn't move...

And that just about sums it up here this Christmas. Two turkey dinners and too many calories yesterday and today, hitting Shoppers and Lawtons for the after Christmas chocolate and gift set deals. Yep, buying the half-price chocolate after Christmas is something of a tradition here and this year, I did hit the jackpot with lotsa Lindt, discount Toblerone and even a box of my favorite Golden BonBon nougats. I don't know if nougat freezes (it never lasts that long here) but most of the chocolate will be frozen for nibbling through the year. I also got some great gift sets in stuff I actually use - Aveeno, Nivea and Vitabath - so I'm supplied for quite a while. I even got a box of Walkers Shortbread.
But no tea! Nor coffee, which seemed a little strange. No pretty gift sets with new teas to try although I did score a pink rose tea for one set at Shoppers and I received a Twinnings tea and toast set for Christmas, complete with a metal toast rack, egg cups and a bamboo tray, which I really wanted. Still, there's always tomorrow ...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Goodie Order!

And what's better than a working phone and internet? The annual Christmas goodie order! Not overly extravagant this year but fun anyway. Here it is:
1. two sticks of salami.
2. deli roast beef for sandwiches.
3. french bread
4. honey dijon mustard
5. Liberte cream cheese
6. Liberte full cream mediterrean yogurt with cherrie
7. a fruit bread
8. litre of Scotsburn eggnog
9. Scotsburn's hoofprints ice cream (rich vanilla with chocolate caramel cups)
10. several bottles of diet root beer, white pop and cola
11. bacon wrapped filet mignons
12. shrimp rings
13. bacon wrapped scallops
14. apple pie
15. potatoes, carrots, stuff for salads
16. clementines, grapes, blueberries, various juices
17. honey garlic chicken wings
18. Italian meatballs
19. turkey
20. potato chips


With the exceptions of the steaks and scallops, nothing too expensive or out of the ordinary but a lot of this stuff, I don't normally eat. I love it and it loves my hips and blood pressure right back.
All this shopping for rich food is making me crave a nice cup of Earl Grey decaf or even some Candy Cane Lane by Celestial Seasonings.
Bon appetit!

T'was the week before Christmas ...Part 2

I went Christmas shopping this afternoon - gifts for my sweetie and the annual goodie order - and when I came home, THE PHONE WAS WORKING!!!!!
So I er, ahem, edited my last post slightly. Maybe I was a little harsh - but it's working now and it appears as though someone heard my rant! Thank you!

T'was the week before Christmas ...

...And all through the house, not a thing was stirring - since the phone and internet don't work.
We had a bad rain storm here this week - close to 200 mm of rain in 48 hours.As you can imagine, that caused all sort of problems including losing my phone and internet service on Tuesday night. Called Bell Aliant from work on Wednesday and they said others in my area were without service too but if that wasn't it, they'd come on Saturday to fix it.
Then they announced Thursday through a press release that all phone service had been restored in the area.
Funny, my phone still wasn't working. And they're saying all service has been restored? Hmmmmm.
Called them Thursday again and they said they were in the area and making the actual repairs while we were speaking. And if that didn't work, they'd come on Saturday, between 8 am and 6 pm to repair it.
Guess what? Not only was it not repaired on Thursday, they did not show up on Saturday. At all.On the Saturday before Christmas when I had a ton of things to get - I spent at home, waiting for someone to show up who never did. Am I steamed? Oh yeah.
However, the internet is working - somewhat. My phone is still dead though. I'll call again on Monday from work.
And this time, I plan to not be polite.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tea things

I admit I am a sucker for anything "tea." Cups, accessories, teapots - as long as it's tea-related, I want it. Today, a friend invited me over to her house for a Christmas tea, and as usual, I left wanting some new things!
She served a wonderful lunch, including egg salad sandwiches, which are my favorite. For the first time, I tried pannetone (which I probably have the wrong spelling), an Italian fruit bread, and yes, tomorrow, I plan to visit the grocery store to pick one up; tasty little cookies that I got the recipe for and plan to make and a piece of Collins Street Texas fruit cake - and oh, how I am tempted to order one! Best fruit cake I've ever tried. Everything was so good. But she also went "tea" in a Christmas present she gave me - a teapot ornament. It's my first one and believe it or not, for once, I actually loved getting a Christmas decoration for a present. Of course, the fact that I can leave it on display all year helps too - it's blown glass with hand-painted flowers - so pretty! She also gave me some Stash Christmas Morning tea and some soap made with tea so I'll be trying that this week!
I gave her a personal sized tsetsubin which I think (hope) she wanted.
All in all, it was a pretty nice way to spend a chilly Saturday before Christmas. Tea (orange spice, always nice), friends, presents, yummy food .... who could want for more?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Holiday favs

And after that depressing post, I've decided to write my annual favorite foods of Christmas entry - just so you'll know I'm not completely in the dumps.
1. Bigelow Eggnoggin Tea - Can't get it in Maritime Canada so thank goodness for Canada Post. Imagine tea flavored with rich eggnog but with no calories. Yeah!
2. Eggnog coffee from the Second Cup - I love this stuff even if it does disagree with me.
3. Red and white striped holiday mints
4. Purdy's Marzipan bars covered in dark chocolate
5. Garlic Pepper and Hot Jalapeno Pepper Jellies from The Galloping Cows. Sounds bizarre but it's soooo good, especially with a bit of cream cheese on crackers.
6. Clementines and pink grapefruit - probably my favorite fruits of all and the ones I absolutely can't have anymore - ever since I gave up citrus, I've had no acid reflux problems - sigh.
7. Filet Mignon steaks wrapped in bacon from M&M Meats - we had these last year and they're now our newest tradition.
8. cheese trays - I always have to try a bunch of new cheeses during the holidays.
9. shortbread cookies - and they have to be homemade. Oh my.
10. appetizers - it seems like shrimp platters and those cute little appetizers only show up during holiday parties but I could eat 'em all year long.

No snow here!

With the exception of a small storm a while back that melted within days, it's been pretty peaceful here weatherwise. It's about 50 F (10 C) here today and misting - more like a day in late October or November. I've been out running errands and managed to avoid the pre-Christmas Saturday shopping frenzy - it's hard to feel festive when you're buying recycling bags. But now that I'm home, I'm debating whether to bake a Christmas stollen or do some decorating.
I've already decorated a bit but there's no tree up yet. Part of me really doesn't feel like putting up one this year. We don't entertain and dearest isn't into it at all. I'm really only putting it up for myself and I don't know if, for me, it's worth all the effort. The decorating isn't an effort but all the cleanup and moving of furniture and stuff before and then taking it down afterwards is a chore. Yet, I do like Christmas trees - I'm really happy with the one at work this year - it's so pretty! I could put up a smaller tree - but it's not the same.
I sort of have the same feelings towards baking. I love baked goods but I am trying to cut back for dietary and health reasons. It's a lot of effort but I think I'd miss Christmas treats much sooner than a tree. Of course, I could buy them but they're never as good.
As you can tell, I am thinking about very important issues here! Seriously though, has anyone ever pulled back from the usual holiday stuff simply because they couldn't be bothered to spare the effort? I'm not lazy nor depressed - just reconsidering my usual efforts.
I'm drinking decaf coffee today - Artisans Butter Caramel - which isn't bad stuff. Of course, the shot of caramel syrup doesn't hurt either.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The not-so-good side of tea

I had a little mishap yesterday. I was making a pot of Upton's Christmas Blend when my hand jerked and I ended up spilling a teapot full of hot water over my right hand.
Yeee-ouch!
On the bright side, I now know ointment really does soothe a minor burn. The bad side is that I have two really tingly fingers that I use the most on the hand I use the most.
And a new-found appreciation for the dangers of boiling water.
I'll be using the Keurig a lot over the next few days!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ready For Santa

Once a year, I get an urge to wrap presents. The urge only lasts a few hours and if I don't take advantage of it, nothing gets wrapped. The annual urge arrived around 8 yesterday evening and by midnight, everything leaving this house looked pretty festive indeed. Wrapping presents early not only gets rid of a big chore but it also forces you to organize your gifts - and by doing so, I discovered I did have presents for everyone on my list - and I had thought I still needed three or four. I do have one present left to get - the big one for my sweetie - but he keeps changing his mind on it so that will wait until he's decided. No worries there. He's even content to go out after Christmas to get it, if it means a better price.
I also discovered I have plenty of treats in so even my grocery shopping should be pretty minimal. A bit of baking and I should be good to go.
And that means I can enjoy the season as much as anyone can who works full-time at a demanding job and part-time at a few others. This month also means shift changes since I regularly fill in for others, so that's extra stress.
Right now, I'm taking a break with a pot of Upton's Christmas tea, before resuming the usual Sunday chores. This is a tea that I didn't like when I first tried it a few years ago but for some reason, I ordered a sample with my last order. Am I ever glad I did - it's absolutely delicious and just perfect for this sort of day. It tastes of tea, oranges, cinnamon and almonds - nothing overdone.
Last week, I was in a shop when I saw a new flavor of green tea by Tetley - decaf green Lychee Pear. Green tea in bags is rarely a good thing and few companies can pull off pear flavoring so I hesitated. But something made me decide to buy it and I am glad I did. It's quite delicious. The pear flavor is more of mouth feel - sort of that edible silk texture you get when you eat a pear. There is some pear flavor but it's very subdued - just like a real pear. This is one of the nicest grocery store teas I've had in a while and it will make a good addition to my work tea stash.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Egads! It's Winter!

When I arrived home at 5 pm today, the ground was bare and it was chilly. Imagine my shock when I looked out the window three hours later and saw that everything was covered in snow! I had planned on going to the gym for exercise but I've decided not to - I hate driving when the roads get icy. So I guess I'm stuck inside a cozy warm house with lots of food, books and tea.
Yeah, feel sorry for me!
I'm drinking a cup of Bigelow's Apple Cidre Herbal Blend, which goes well with the scent of the apples and cinnamon cooking in my crockpot. It smells like applesauce here and that's not a bad thing.

Marzipan Nights

The shops are starting to get some interesting goodies in for the holidays. For years, I've always considered the Ritter Sport bars to be a nice change when I wanted something a little different but still relatively good quality. This year, one of the shops are actually carrying the Dark Chocolate with Marzipan flavor so I had to pick one up.
And I'll probably go back and get another. The dark chocolate is OK - not the best I've ever had but it works well with the the stellar almond paste filing. This isn't a bar you eat in one sitting. With 16 squares, I'll get four nights out of my $2.29 purchase, which I think is pretty good deal. By the time I'm finished, I'll hopefully have my marzipan bars that I ordered from Purdy's Chocolates in BC, along with ginger chocolates, Turkish delights, chocolate covered marshmallows and boxed chocolates for gifts. Nothing says the holiday season more than an excess of chocolates - but of course, they're all for gifts ... well, most ...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gardening done!

I am feeling pretty proud of myself right now - the laziest gardener in the world just planted 8 parrot tulips, 18 snowdrops, 10 Asiatic lilies, one brown-eyed susan, one pink peony, 1 dead rhubarb (hey, I'm an optimist and I forgot to put it in last spring) and 42 purple-necked garlics.
It took about two and a half hours and now I'm here drinking Upton's Harvest Blend and gloating to myself. I can't believe I actually did it! And it's not so much I'm lazy but I hate bending down and kneeling since I have super-sensitive knees. I bought this contraption that helps you plant bulbs while standing and it works! Not the easiest thing to use and tomorrow, I expect to be in excruciating pain but that's OK since it will give me an excuse not to finish the raking.
Besides, those dear little bulbs need those leaves to keep them warm during those cold winter days ...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tea at the end of a long day ...

As the weather grows colder, I find this year I am craving plain teas more than ever. Tonight it's Metropolitan Tea's Decaffeinated English Breakfast and it seems just right. My true order finally arrived from Upton and there's lots to try this weekend. I've already had the Season's Pick Yunnan GFOP and I might be ordering more. It's a good plain Yunnan - strong with tons of flavor. Just a solid everyday tea that's perfect for a winter's day. I also tried the Devonshire Earl Grey - very nice but I'm glad I only got the sample. This may sound odd but my favorite Earl Grey is a decaffeinated one, also from Metropolitan Tea, although the Season's Pick Earl Grey Creme from Upton is a close second.
Tonight, I took a few seasonal mugs out of storage. The cheery red teapot demands some perky counterparts and these look pretty appropriate. One is pale blue, white and silver while the other is apple green snowflakes against a white background - sounds weird but it's pretty. I also have a red mug with white snowflakes. Yeah, I know, nothing matches. Not into that, overly much - I just buy what I like.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

And speaking of tea pots ...

I love, love, love my brand new cherry red Stump tea pot! It has the best filter, looks cute and it does not drip.
At all.
I highly recommended it.

Shopping for Christmas

Yes, I'm shopping for Christmas already. It's something I really enjoy doing although half of the time, I wonder if I'm really doing it for myself! One of my biggest weaknesses are buying tea-related gifts. I've been buying them through the years but I'm sure all my recipients, who aren't as big tea fans as I am, are probably getting sick of them. So this year, I am really trying to buy things that I think they are more likely to want. But this is really what I wish people would give me, instead of those awful Christmas decorations that I seem to end up with every year.
1. tea selections. There's always such nice ones available at this time of year, especially at stores like Winners.
2. tea cups and saucers, tea mugs. Again, Winners has some really nice ones.
3. holiday teas and coffees. You know, the ones that are only available at this time of year, like Candy Cane Lane by Celestial Seasonings and Stash's Christmas Chai.
4. gift cards for tea and coffee shops for those on-the-way-to-work cravings.
5. things to go along with tea and coffee, such as infusers, filters, teapots and so forth. After all, who ever has enough tea pots?

Fall back!

And I have. I can't believe what a difference one little hour has made in my day. An extra hour's sleep and I still have plenty of time to get stuff done.
We should "fall back" more often!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Upton rocks

I have been ordering from Upton Tea for several years now for several reasons - their New England Harvest blend and the fact that you can buy many samples for only a dollar. It's a great way to try new teas without getting stuck with a pound of something that you may not like. My latest order arrived yesterday and when I eagerly opened the box, I found a kilogram bag of New England Harvest Blend.
Except, that wasn't what I ordered.
I had ordered a tin of Baker Street Blend, a bag of decaffeinated blackcurrent and a variety of Yunnan, darjeeling and Earl Grey samples. It had been a really cold, wet day here yesterday and I had been so looking forward to a cup of that Baker Street blend when I got home but it was not to be. I emailed Upton about the problem and today, they told me I could keep the huge bag of New England Harvest Blend and they would send me my true order ASAP.
Now that's service! I might not have been so happy to be stuck with kilo of honeybush or rooibos but there's never a problem of getting rid of my favorites.
I also received an order from Stash, which included my usual supply of their Orange Spice bags for work, a super cute red Stump teapot (my holiday season indulgence) that I have yet to try, some samples of Guayusa that I'll try on the weekend and a bag of loose Black Needle Yunnan that I am drinking now. I know there's been problems with Yunnans in the past few years but this is a nice serviceable brew. I'll finish the bag, no doubt about that.
And hopefully I'll have my order from Upton before that happens!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween's over - let the candy sales begin ...

We had kids at the door this year! The first time in about three years and not just one or two but 15! And what's even more surprisingly is that the kids were out in the pouring rain - they were all soaked. Fireworks have been going off for hours and that's surprising too - I really didn't think they'd go off when it's wet.
Tomorrow, I'll hit the half-price candy sales - it's a November 1st tradition in this house. We look for little chocolate bars and anything by Lindt. Most of it gets frozen but it's always appreciated when it comes out on a later date.
I went cookie mad this weekend. Made four batches - 34 double chocolate chip, 15 carrot orange, 44 oatmeal raisin and 60 sugar. The biggest surprise was the carrot orange cookies - they almost taste like an orangey shortbread cookie - delish! I only made a few since it was my first time with the recipe but they worked. All the recipes come from the Company's Coming set of mini-books - the one specializing in cookie recipes.I don't like to reprint the recipes unless they're mine for obvious copyright reasons. Now I have a nice stash for the holidays and afternoon tea breaks. Of course, now that I've started, I'd like to add peanut butter chocolate chip, ginger and shortbread to that pile so we'll see but for now, I'm well stocked for home-made cookies.
With those cookies, I've been drinking Harney's Paris tea and Upton's Baker Street Blend. Works really well.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween!

Maybe it's the time of year but it's hard to ignore junk food at Halloween. I've been so very good lately - well-balanced meals and snacks, low cal, low fat, virtually no salt - even exercising like a demon.
Then the stores started putting the Halloween treats on sale.
Grrrrrr.
And of course, you give in because you rationalize that you need plenty in case a lot of kids show up at the door (I think two showed up last year). So now there's tons of tiny chocolate bars lazing around my house, looking for a plump belly to occupy - yep, mine.
And I hear Shoppers has those little bags of chips on sale this weekend too.
There's no hope for me.
I wonder if the kids would settle for apples - I have those too ...
And actually, since it's going to be cold, wet and damp here this weekend, it might be the perfect time to make an apple pie. That and a cup of Upton's Baker Street Blend might be even harder to resist.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Not so nice

A few days ago, I was a nasty customer - of which I am not proud - but unfortunately, I had to be, to get the service I wanted. Looking back, I know I had no other options but I really hate it when a company's stupid policies drive you to the darker side.
This was the problem: I had a cellphone that I wasn't using. The phone company kept raising the rates to the point where I was paying about $50 a month for nothing - that's $600 a year! Time to get rid of the phone. First, I deleted some services on line, such as call display, but they kept charging me. So, I went into see them at their shop at the mall and was told I would have to call them at home. No way - I had tried that before and ended up waiting online for a half hour and still didn't get done what I needed done. Finally, they allowed me to use the phone in-store and after a wait of 15 minutes, I got someone. He took all my information and then said he could do nothing but he would send me to the cancellation department. Why did he take my information then - I told him straight off that I wanted to cancel the phone. After another 16 to 20 minutes, someone else came on the line, took my information again and then said they were transferring me again and I said no. He was the cancellation service and I had already waited a half hour - he said he could take it no further and got me someone else - who then had the nerve to try to upsell me. I had enough by then and told her all the services she was trying to give me for free had been free for me all along until three months ago when they started charging me for them and that I tried to delete them since I never used them anyway. She, although friendly, kept trying to convince me to keep the phone but at this point, I wanted to cancel my home phone and internet too because of their stubborness. Finally, I got through to her to cancel my cell - now I have to wait to see if it actually happens. I did have a business phone through this company before and I had to cancel twice - they ignored me the first time.
Why hadn't I cancelled before? Mainly to avoid this whole situation - when I want to cancel a service, I want to do just that. I don't want to be upsold, put on hold in hopes that I go away or be told that I need it. All this company has done is irritate me into never using their service again and looking at other options for other services that I am using.
And that's bad business, in my books.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Weeks Whiz By!

I can't believe it's the weekend again! The week whizzed by so fast, I didn't have a chance to spend any money - gotta like that! But tomorrow I'm going shopping and eating with a friend so I daresay a few bucks will leave the wallet.
Now that I've gone low sodium, Halloween and the resulting goodies available before are no longer much fun. They don't make my favorite low salt chips in tiny bags so there's no point picking up a box for the house. And since we're watching the calories, it's not a good idea to bring home the little bars either. Here's my list of foods that I wish they had out for Halloween.
1. mini bags of no-salt Kettle brand chips
2. pumpkin spice flavored packs of two tea-bags each - a bit different but neat!
3. Caramel Pears - why should apples have all the fun?
4. Halloween nougat with pumpkin seeds
5. small hot apple cidre packs

Speaking of Halloween flavors, I bought a box of Timothy's Perfectly Pumpkin coffee K-cups last weekend. They're .... OK - not my favorite, nor would I recommend them but I can finish the box. Wouldn't get them again though.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Rotten day!

There are days when it really doesn't pay to get out of bed. This was one of them. Everything went wrong today so that leaves me optimistic for tomorrow - all the nasty stuff is now out of the way. Viva la weekend!
'Twas a day for macaroni and cheese with a chocolate bar for dessert. Yep. Good ole comforting carbs and chocolate. Works everytime. Best teas for a day like this - can't beat the old standards like Orange Spice or a chai.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Another account

It's very fallish here today - about 6C! But sunny and windy so it seems even cooler. It was definitely a day for Upton's Harvest Blend. Right now, I'm having Timmy's Pumpkin Spice - it's an herbal tea! I've been drinking it for three years and thought it was a flavored black so I have never had it at night. Well, that's changed.
Earlier this year, I made arrangements for the bank to automatically take off money twice a month for my Tax Free Account and my RRSP. Painlessly, I've managed to save at least $800 for each account (at least since there was a banking error that saw that doubled for a few weeks). Normally, I would not have been able to save that much so I'm pretty pleased. I'll have $2000 put away by the end of December.
So today, I decided to try something new. I receive a nice amount of freelance income for music and writing, which supplements my pay - but because it's often paid by cheque, it has a habit of disappearing. In plain speaking, I just spend it on this and that and have nothing to show for it. Each item is worth about $75 or $100 dollars but combined, they add up to a new computer, car downpayment or a little vacation next year. I know there's about $1200 between now and the end of the year and for once, I want to do something about it. So today, I opened a savings account at another bank that allows only one free withdrawal a month - just the fact it's at another bank and the idea I have to pay for withdrawals should keep me out of it! I deposited $80 of my GST refund and used the rest to get a few extra boxes of K-cups. Just the fact the GST isn't in my hot little hands means it won't get spent on groceries or sales at the mall - and that's a good thing!

Friday, October 8, 2010

It's Thanksgiving Weekend!

That means unlimited food - and yes, we've been shopping our brains out. It seems there are deals everywhere this week. Last night, we got 10 pounds of pasta for $4, two cases of pop for $5, four frozen pie crusts for $4.00 and butter for $3 a pound and today, we got two more cases of pop for $4 total (brand names again!), balkan-style yogurt for 99 cents a large container, seedless grapes for 99 cents a pound and large blocks of cheddar cheese for $4! My fridge is bulging and I haven't even start cooking dinner yet!
I'm having the traditional turkey, along with all the fixings, and lemon pie for dessert. I might make some carrot muffins too - for some reason, they just say "autumn" to me.
It's going to be cold this weekend so I may be breaking out the lapsang souchong! More than likely, I'll be drinking Upton's Harvest Blend - my taste buds are back in business after a two-week cold. It was a good opportunity to use up some of less favored teas - after all, why waste the good stuff if you can't taste it.
I have my GST cheque and it's suppose to be destined for my new travel account - since I didn't go anywhere this year, I thought I'd set aside all my freelance and extra money for a nice getaway next year - but I've since learned that a hefty price increase is expected for K-cups. I may use some of the GST to stock up on some of my favorites - Timothy's Cinnamon Pastry and German Chocolate Cake coffees and their Chai tea and White Indulgence tea - I'm almost out of all of them. I just like this stuff too much!
Have a tummy-filling holiday weekend!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Cold again!

As in, I have that dreaded "cold" again. Sigh. I had it from December to April the last time - yet after a week, it still feels like I've had it forever. I have no idea why germs stick to me like glue. I do know when I worked from home, I was rarely sick. Since returning to work in an office, it seems like I'm always sick.
Gasp!
Could I be allergic to work???!!!
The worst thing about this cold is that my taste buds have gone on holiday. Can't taste a thing. That makes it a good time to use up all the not-so-hot teas and I've even been able to cut back a bit on the food.
I have been drinking gallons of water though. With the usual after-effects. Oh well, since I am now in the bathroom most of the time, I can see my skin does indeed look better ...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fall Days

After visits from Hurricanes Earl and Igor, albeit brief, glancing ones, the weather here has cooled down considerably in this area. The days are now in the mid-teens, or mid 50s, depending on what temperature gauge you use. It definitely feels like fall and for the first time in months, I've actually wanted to do some baking. Today, I made an apple pie using Nova Scotia Macintosh apples, with loads of cinnamon and nutmeg and it turned out pretty good. I also made a lasagna and a pasta salad for later in the week.
Timmy's has pumpkin spice tea again - hurray! I bought a box while out for a walk downtown and enjoyed a cup while strolling. It will go into my work tea stash when I head in tomorrow.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Yes, I drink tea(bags)

There now, my secret is out. I do drink teabags. I prefer loose, of course, but most of my tea these days is drunk at work and frankly, since I work around a lot of electronic equipment, it's preferred to keep tea and other drinks as far away as possible. A mug is bad enough but a mug and a teapot with lots of boiling water and leaves really isn't a good idea. So, I use teabags at work and loose at home. So this week, I broke down and ordered from Bigelow since their seasonal teas are exceptionally good - even if their shipping is overpriced compared to other companies. I ordered a case each (six boxes of 20 bags each) of peach green tea, Eggnoggin' and Apple Cider blend. I also ordered a box of six seasonal teas which included a pumpkin spice, one flavored with white chocolate, Gingersnappish and a cinnamon herb tea. Six boxes will end up in Christmas gift baskets while another two will go to a friend. That leaves me with 16 boxes - still more than I like but these teas are good until 2013 so I'll no doubt use them by then. So far I've tried the pumpkin spice - which is a surprisingly good black tea with spicy overtones - it would be nice with a touch of milk and sugar. I tried the white chocolate black tea today and immediately regretted not ordering a whole case - it's creamy, tasty and sweet even black. The apple cidre is a herbal blend - quite nice. Of course, Eggnoggin' is delish and for those who can't stomach green tea, give the peach green a try - it's pretty good.
I do live in an area where you can't buy these teas so even with the shipping and exchange, the prices averaged $4 a box or 20 cents a cup so it's still not a bad deal.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tea, tea, tea!

T'was a day for tea - lots of it! I've managed to try three new teas today and even more shocking, they were all good!
I visited my tea loving friend today and she gave me a bag of three teas to try and made me a pot of Tahitian Limeade Rooibos Tea by Teavana. This was interesting since it's a rooibos and I normally can't stand rooibos. This was really good with a subtle lime flavor that was really refreshing. Often lime can be quite overpowering so it was nice to have something was more laid back. I bet it would make a great iced tea.
When I got home, I tried one of my new teas, Teavana's Strawberry Slender Pu-Erh Tea. She gave it to me since it came to her as a gift and she's not a fan of strawberry teas - well, I am. I had it hot but it would also be nice iced. Suffice to say it's a strong black tea with loads of strawberry flavor - I thought it was absolutely delicious. What's even better is that she gave me a big bag of it so I'll have some for a while. She gave me a considerably smaller amount of Teaopia's Amaretto Cherry but I'll try to forgive her. That too was tasty - a black tea with cherry and almond flavoring. Not something I'd drink everyday but nice once in a while.
We also tried some of the Nestle's Intense dark chocolate, which was surprisingly good. It reminded me of the Dove promises that I used to pick up when travelling in the US - you couldn't and still can't get Dove chocolate around here. I went and bought a bar for myself afterwards. I also bought a piece of apple pie fudge - sounds disgusting but it's really good. Rich, creamy with chunks of apples and cinnamon. Good fall food, y'know!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Storm Season

Tropical Storm Earl left on the weekend but last night, a yet-unnamed cousin dropped by and entertained us for 12 hours with plenty of thunder and lightning. You know, the kind that shakes the house and makes you wonder if the roof is going to cave in since the rain is so heavy. I didn't even think thunder storms could last that long. And why do they always arrive in the middle of the night?
I don't know what's up with all this rotten weather but at least it's cooled down a bit around here. The temperatures are now in the low 20s, which is much nicer than the mid-30s we were having in late August, early September.
Even with the more fallish weather, we haven't delved fully into the fall teas yet. There's still plenty of time to enjoy the peaches and cream flavored black, the strawberry black decaf and the lavender green. I just had a cup of lemon herbal and this afternoon, I had a cup of Harney's Tropical Blend, a green tea flavored with pineapple - always a good choice.
However, last weekend, I did buy my first pears and apples of the season. I can't remember what kind they were, but the pears were divine and the apples, Jersey Macs, weren't bad either. And yes, I am starting to crave apple cider and spicy teas, like cinnamon apple. Today, I had a package of Mott's Apple Pie Cider in the mid-afternoon and it was a pleasant drink for a rainy, damp day.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Stormy days

I haven't posted in a while; no particular reason - just didn't get around to it in the normal course of life. Yesterday was stormy here. Hurricane Earl dropped by. When he arrived, he came in the form of a tropical storm to this area, which was a huge relief. While tropical storms can be bad, this one was no worse than any of our usual storms. Lots of rain and wind but nothing truly out of the ordinary. Of course, other areas were much more affected but we got off lucky and for that I am grateful! Wind storms do worry me since I am surrounded by large trees but I may even want to rethink that concern. Yesterday, in the midst of it all when the winds were around 64 kph, a flicker sat on a branch in the corner of my backyard and looked decidedly unperturbed. Trees also serve as a windbreak and if this bird felt safe there, who am I to argue? When the winds died down, he flew away. However, we were lucky and even my neighbours and most of the people in the small city where I live lost their power. We didn't.
When a storm is coming, I make the usual preparation but there is one I never forget. I always boil a big thermos of boiling water - sometimes several. That way, if the power does go out, I can still make tea. Yesterday's cup was Winter Blend from theteatable.com. It's black tea with almond, spices and maybe some orange - something like an orange spice but with more of an almond smoothness. A nice, comforting cup for a nasty, dark stormy day.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Can't Stop Eating!

It's one of those days - when I keep shovelling in the food! Last night, when I was packing my lunch, I thought I was bringing too much. Well, I had it finished at 12:20 and then went to the nearby take-away and bought a large order of onion rings and an order of fries. That kept me full for most of the afternoon, but it didn't stop me from eating two helpings of my Poor Man's Lasagna and a big piece of apple pie. Maybe I'm exercising too much!
Yes, I am still exercising although I'm taking tonight off. I'm still not feeling any better and I still don't see any improvement ... I'm doing between 30 to 45 minutes a day and started two weeks ago so shouldn't I be seeing some benefits by now? My clothes are actually getting tighter - so much for the "getting rid of inches theory." I admit I am feeling a little discouraged by all of this - so far exercise seems to be only giving me a bigger appetite - which I didn't need!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Life's (very) little frustrations

I am back to work, unfortunately on the early shift. I have been exercising 45 minutes a day since last Wednesday and since Sunday, I've been eating very healthily.
So why do free meal invitations always come when I'm being good? We just found out we're required to be at a dinner at a nice restaurant tonight. The invitation came just after we ate a huge lunch, with the idea of having a very spartan supper. And tomorrow, there's a free lunch at work. If you're anyways thrifty, you never turn down a free meal but I wish they were a little better spaced out so I could enjoy them more!

Today I took a two pound bag of pasta, two bottles of really good tomato sauce and some cheese and made nine lunches to keep in the freezer - sort of a healthier version of those frozen pasta dinners that seemed to be soaked in sodium - not these! We call 'em Lizzileenas since my name is Elizabeth and they're suppose to replace frozen supermarket lunches. They're actually pretty good and easy to make. In total, it cost me around $5 to make the whole lot so that's a lot cheaper than frozen, even when they're on sale.

Yesterday, I made a pot of Yorkshire tea, which is a blend of Assam and Indian teas. Best with milk, even though I don't usually add milk to my tea but this needed it. Just a nice basic strong tea - there are days when only this sort of cuppa will do.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Drinking my yogurt

I love yogurt but my newest favs are those yogurt drinks. I know they've been around for years but sometimes I take time getting to things. I'm a big fan of the DanActive drinks, especially the strawberry flavor. Today I bought some Yops on sale for 50 cents and I may have to get more - they were delish. They just remind me of a slightly sour milkshake. In fact, I'm almost craving them, which could be related to the fact that I'm eating less salty foods and maybe the sourness makes up for that. Whatever the reason, they're great!

Success!

After about two months of adhering to a low-sodium diet (with a fair bit of straying), I can happily report that my systolic pressure has stayed steadily at 116, compared to my highest reading of 140. I have added a (very) little exercise so I expect that will get even better as I embark on a regular exercise plan. And that started today - we started our health club memberships and I did 32 minutes on the treadmill, 8 on the exercise bike and about 5 minutes on the various weight machines. I don't feel any better - exercise has never made me feel better or even good, even when I did it regularly when I was much younger.I have never found that it gave me extra energy either. But I guess it must be done.
So eating low sodium really does make a difference, at least for me. Have I lost any weight? Maybe a few pounds. I think a regular exercise program should take some more weight off. However saying that, my clothes do seem to be fitting a lot better - I even bought a small t-shirt at the mall the other day that's plenty big. I can't remember the last time I bought a small anything!

Monday, August 9, 2010

I love being on vacation!

Yet another relaxing day here. Got up late, did some writing, went to an all-you-can-eat buffet and then went shopping - perfect day in my estimation! The buffet featured pasta dishes and was OK although my sweetie made my day by saying my pasta dishes were much better! Got a nice grey golf shirt for $4.99 and a beige sweat-type shirt also for $4.99 at Mark's - gotta love those end of season sales. Then I got a Sigg water bottle for $3, a box of my favorite Golden Bonbon Orange Nougat and some Turkish Delight, both for %4.99 each, along with an interesting looking box of Touch Oolong for $2.49, all at Winners.
I'm now drinking black Cream tea, from Adagio, which is truly worth ordering across the border for - it tastes like a good tea that has cream in it. Probably won't have any supper tonight since I am still stuffed from lunch but I do feel like making something ... not sure what though.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Summertime and the drinkin's easy ...

It's been a while since I posted - I haven't been overly busy but I have been overly tired. I'm going to blame it on the oppressive heat we've been experiencing this summer - we Maritimers aren't really used to this! Anyway, today's my first day of vacation and I am looking forward to gloriously wasting time ... too many deadlines can be counterproductive!
The local Bulk Barn has been selling small bottles of fruit-flavored waters and we have been drinking far too many of them lately. They ring in at around 80 calories so I am assuming they are flavored with real sugar and not artificial sweeteners. Cherry and peach are our favorites although the coconut isn't too bad either. At 49 cents a bottle, it's a relatively cheap treat. We've also gotten into the habit of taking a small cooler with us whenever we go out so we don't have to buy (expensive) drinks. I've been making plenty of lemonade and iced tea as well, with white apricot tea bags from the Bulk Barn winning out as this summer's favorite. Another favorite is lime water - to me that is the quintessential taste of summer since it was the major summer drink in my family when growing up. Rose's Lime Cordial watered down with icy cold water tastes like August to me.
Of course, I haven't given up on hot drinks. The Keurig is in use several times a day, mainly sometimes for the lack of heat it gives off. Current favorites are Timothy's German Chocolate Cake Coffee for the morning, followed by Timothy's White Orange Indulgence Tea. However, saying all that, I do feel a sudden craving for a pot of Harney's Paris Black tea and maybe a jug of iced black tea for later.
Maybe fall is just around the corner.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Yes, My Blog looks awful...


but eventually it will get there. Have patience.
After five days of eating fast food - my only excuse is that it was simply too hot to cook - I got back on track today with my low sodium diet. It wasn't that hard to get back to my new normal - a shredded wheat cereal and berries for breakfast and boneless, skinless chicken along with some pasta for supper, rolls and soup for lunch - the soup wasn't low sodium but I did eat very little of it - just the vegetables really. I did check my pressure today, expecting it to skyrocket since I had three cups of coffee, stressful morning shift and too many days of bad eating but it's still at the level before my binge so there's hope for me yet. Because of the early morning shift, I managed to drive over to farm country today and bought some nice fresh vegetables - tomato, cucumber, yellow beans, green pepper,radishes and potatoes. And when I left work, I bought fresh raspberries, cherries, dried apricots, raisins and more of those Kashi granola bars - lowest sodium ones I can get around here. So I will be good this week.
I did buy another box of K-cups today. Timothy's German Chocolate Cake. It tastes of coconut and chocolate and I think I have a new favorite. O yumyum.
A friend the other day let me try Teavana's Orange Blossom, an herbal. I want to like their teas but ... it just doesn't do it for me. I did have a cup of Bigelow's Apple Cinnamon though and quite enjoyed it. It smelled like an apple pie and tasted warm and happy - even on a 90 F day.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chocolate really works!


A few weeks ago, I purchased a stash of chocolate when Shoppers had Lindt and Cadbury chocolate bars on sale, 4 for $5. One of the bars I bought is Cadbury Orange Dairy Milk, which incidentally, is pretty much my favorite right now. In fact, I would have foregone the Lindt and only bought the Orange Dairy Milk but it was the last one in the store. It's a tough bar to find at the best of times, let alone on sale. And little wonder. It's the epitome of creamy milk chocolate, flavored with just a hint of orange. I'd say it's even better than Terry's Orange, which I find is often too brightly flavored.
Anyway, I was feeling a tad out of sorts before the bar but since eating a few blocks, I feel so much better. Chocolate really does soothes.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Felled by a Virus

Most of my working life, I've been fortunate to work in places that use Macintosh products so until today, I've never had to deal with a virus.
And I hope I never have to again. The virus made it virtually impossible to do my job today, which, while it meant doing less work than usual, also meant the stress levels went through the roof. I'd much rather be busy than not able to work. The problem's hopefully fixed but more than ever, any thoughts that I had of leaving the Apple boat have been completely erased.
When I left, I bought another box of K-cups as a reward for getting through a pretty bad day. This time I got Sugar Bush Maple. Normally I drink my coffee with cream and no sugar. But while the coffee smelled fantastic, the flavor just wasn't there. So grudgingly, I added a bit of sugar. The difference was amazing! Definitely a treat for those days when you sorely need one.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Death by caffeine

It wasn't a pretty sight.
I'm still working the early shift so at 3:30 am, I made my morning coffee in my trusty Keurig. This morning I decided to try Timothy's Colombian. I find Colombian coffee is often hit or miss - sometimes it's wonderful and sometimes, well, it's not so wonderful. This morning, it was exceptional. I had taken a few sips and laid the cup down for a second when a small moth, that had somehow gotten into the house, flew over my cup, turned around and then divebombed directly into my coffee.
He died instantly. Death by caffeine?
Not exactly.
The coffee was hot, after all.
I guess the smell attracted him to the fatal cup. Needless to say, I didn't finish that particular coffee. After throwing it down the sink and pretty much sterilizing the mug, I did make another though.
And this time, I had it all to myself.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Chocolate or Vitamins?

I should stay out of Shopper's Drug Mart. Especially when I have a limited amount of money and they have a good sale. Today after working the early shift, I went in to get milk and saw that they had multivitamins on sale for $4.99. I got a bottle and then saw they had Lindt chocolate bars on sale, 4 for $5. Except that I only had money on hand for milk and either the bars or the vitamins - but not both.
Yep. I bought the bars.
So much for healthy living.
At least they're low in sodium ...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hot Days

The past few days have been very hot - humidexes have been reaching 37 C (or 99 F), which is unheard of for this part of the world. It never gets really cold or hot here so we really notice the extremes when they arrive. Most homes around here and even some shops don't have air conditioning since it doesn't seem to make much sense for a single week each year. But apparently this hot spell plans to hang around for a while so who knows - air conditioning sales may be rising in this area.
To cope, I steamed up eggs, vegetables and cooked up a pot of pasta earlier today so they'll be ready to be turned into egg salad, devilled eggs and pasta salads as we need them over the next few days. We've been living on sandwiches, salads and popsicles so it will be nice to have a little variety.
Lemons have finally come down in price so I'm making lots of lemonade and hope to make some lemon cordial in the next day or two. I'll be using the recipe from Rhonda Jean's Blog, http://down---to---earth.blogspot.com/ since I've tried her recipes before with great success. Her apple muffins are the best! Her blog features tips on how to become more self-sufficient and less wasteful, while enjoying and making the most of what you have. Good advice in this day and age.
I'm drinking hot Starbucks decaf right now but when when the rest of the pot has cooled down, I'll add some milk and a bit of liquid chocolate sauce and pour it into bottles for my version of an iced cappucino - for a cheap and easy summer treat. I may even throw a few white apricot tea bags into a pitcher of cold water and leave it in the fridge for some easy iced tea. When it gets this hot, cheap and easy is appreciated!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

In a jam ...

The fresh local strawberries are finally here and today, I picked up two quarts on the way home from work. They're sweet and delicious and they've already been turned into five containers of strawberry freezer jam! That's two jams made - raspberry and strawberry. Of course I'll be making more jam and getting more berries - but it's always nice to have that first batch out of the way.
I also picked up some vegetable plants - they were reduced to 84 cents and look pretty healthy. I got pickling cucumber, regular cucumber, red cabbage, cauliflower and eggplant. I confess I'm not that keen about cauliflower and cabbage but they looked so healthy and it would be interesting to see if they'll grow any further. Wanna bet they'll grow and the cucumbers won't?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

More fruity news!

I did try something tasty the other night. I had an ice cream when I was out and noticed the restaurant sold smoothies as well. One of their featured smoothies was a blueberry pineapple smoothie - well, I had to try that - but at home, of course.
About a year ago, someone near and dear went on a canned pineapple buying binge. And I have a pile of blueberries frozen in the freezer. So I used a base of grape juice (apple juice would work too), a cup of blueberries and a small tin of pineapple and threw it all into my new blender. It's a delicious combination.
Getting rid of those tins of pineapple isn't going to be so hard anymore!

Back to work

It's my second day back at work and just to make things more festive, I'm on the 4 to 12 shift - as in 4 am to noon. I've had six hours sleep in two nights. I am stating this so when the spelling errors begin, you'll understand!
I am drinking a cup of Tetley's Red Plum Rooibos. Normally I don't like rooibos but I do like plum. At first taste, I didn't like it but now I find it's rather pleasant. I wanted to try this tea since on the way home, I stopped off at Wal-Mart and they were selling tins of it for 50 cents. I figured I had better try it first before buying any more of it. It's OK but I don't know if I'll get anymore. But if you see it anywhere, for 50 cents a tin, it's definitely worth trying.
When I work the early shift, my breakfast and lunch primarily consists of fruit, cheese, yogurt, low sodium granola bars and/or cereal (the last two from Kashi since they have the lowest sodium cereals and granola bars out there). My poor tummy can't really handle much outside of that. But one of the great things about summer is that fruit gets really cheap. On the way home, I picked up a pint of blueberries and a raspberries for $1.99 each - sometimes the half pints go for $3.99 around here. Right now, I have fresh apricots, nectarines, cherries, raspberries, blueberries, two kinds of pears, bananas and clementines in the fridge - an excellent start to the day no matter what way you look at it.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Vacation ending soon ... sigh!

I am sitting here eating a tea biscuit slathered with butter and a pot of black current tea. Tomorrow will be the last day of what has been an action packed vacation - it almost seems as though I will be heading back to work to get a break!
We went to a free night at a local luxury resort last night, that was gained through work, and ended up with two nice free meals as well. While last night's barbecue burger was nice, I was much happier with this morning's continental breakfast - a raisin tea biscuit, old-fashioned oatmeal with brown sugar and cream, orange yogurt and a bowl of mixed melon along with orange juice and coffee. Oh my! Kept me full until I got to the family event this afternoon, which featured lobster and homemade fries. Yikes! Needless to say, things haven't been as salt-free as they should be but I'll get back on track soon enough. Have to confess I really liked having three delicious meals, a nice room and gym privileges for free - I don't even want to think how much it all would have cost normally.
So all in all, a pretty cheap vacation. My biggest expenditure was two new boxes of k-cups and my share in a Texan Barbecue buffet.
Of course, I'll just ignore the $500 brake job that occurred mid-week - after all, the car is 11 years old and it's the first thing done to it since last November!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Vacation and Happy Canada Day

I have been on vacation since last Friday. Since I had a bunch of obligations to face first, including car repairs, I don't really consider the vacation to have started until yesterday. But I am on it now and have no real plans to go anywhere or do anything. I've got a stack of movies booked out from the library and an appropriate amount of junk food so I'm happy to stay right here.
Found a new source for K-cups and tried two new flavors - both are really good. Timothy's has a seasonal flavor called Winter Carnival, which is chocolaty good, and another is Orange Indulgence, a white tea flavored with orange - seriously tasty. I also got a good tip - if you don't like your tea too strong, make two cups from a single K-cup and then blend the two cups together in a teapot. Two cups for the price of one and for me, more to my taste. You can do the same with the coffee - just use a thermos to blend the two cups together. Of course, if you prefer strong tea and coffee, just ignore this!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

And yet another year in my life begins - I can't even imagine what this year will bring. Nothing ever turns out the way you imagine it. I slept really late and thoroughly enjoyed the extra rest. When I got up, I saw the cutest woodpecker in my backyard. He and a huge Monarch butterfly lingered for quite a while. At least I think it's a Monarch - it's orange and black and really big. I've never seen one quite like it before.
We had steamed eggs and old-fashioned oatmeal for brunch and my favorite Orange Spice Tea. I've got lots to do today but it's just stuff like laundry and getting ready for the week ahead. Nothing too strenuous.
And that's the way I like it.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

It's been a while!

It's been a while since I've blogged. Yes, life has been busy enough to find it difficult to do a lot of things. But next Friday, I go on vacation - yippee! I am so looking forward to it. It's just a week, but it's a necessary one.
I've been drinking a lot of the Timothy's Chai Tea k-cups over the past week - it's really good. Probably one of the nicest morning cups of tea around. Today I managed to snag a box of Timothy's Earl Grey. I tried the Timothy's Kahlua the other day - don't bother. It had potential but it just doesn't work. Smells great though.
Right now, I'm drinking lavender butterfly, a green tea with lavender. It's surprisingly good. I think even people who don't like floral teas would like this one. It's available at theteatable.com
I'm still trying to eat as low-salt as I can. An employee lunch day from Subway and a family barbecue this week didn't help. Processed meats, sauces and bread are loaded with sodium so even a so-called healthy sandwich from the sub shop is a no-no. The barbecue - well, I won't even go there - let's just say I over-indulged. But barbecues only happen two or three times a year and I'm back on track today and yesterday. I am really surprised at how differently I feel when I eat low-salt and how I feel when I eat the regular stuff. Maybe I have a mild allergy to sodium - who knows. Let's just say the feeling is significant enough that I WANT to stay on this diet, even with its limitations. The lack of baked goods is a downer - I may have to order some salt-free products such as baking powder, baking soda and soup bouillion from the US since they don't seem to available in Canada - at least this part of Canada.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Salt Free and the eating's easy ... sort of ...

I am continuing on this path of eating salt-free, or, in reality, less salt than I am used to. There's sodium in everything so it's pretty well impossible to completely escape it. But I think it's going to work for me. Why?
1. I haven't felt this good in years. The achiness and brain fog are gone. Completely. Who knew?
2. No upset tummies or acid - in four days! That's a record for me!
3. Food tastes way better. Seriously.
4. My clothes are starting to fit a little better.
5. I seem to fill up faster and my cravings are less prevalent.

However, it's not going to be easy to keep following because ...
1. Pretty much everything you buy, including my beloved baked goods, is saturated with salt. I had no idea just how bad it is. Even basics like baking powder and baking soda are loaded with salt - to the point that I'm putting baking aside for a while.
2. Restaurant food will pretty much become a thing of the past but then, I don't eat all that often in restaurants now so I won't mind too much.
3. I'll be doing even more scratch cooking than I am now - and I'm doing a lot now!
4. I'll have to cut back on cheese and bread - two surprisingly salty foods!

I think the benefits will far outweigh the losses though!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

More tea! Less Salt!

Over the pleasantly long weekend, I read a few books on salt-free living and diets that manage to avoid GERD problems. I grew up in a a family that practised eating low-salt, low-fat, low cholesterol diets and surprise, surprise, we were all thin and healthy. Skip ahead a few years and guess who's forgotten how to cook and eat that way? And who now has blood pressure and weight issues? And guess who's now getting back on track? The best thing about the low-salt books is that they pointed out the biggest sources of hidden sodium (canned soups are unbelievably high) and what foods are OK since there's next to no sodium. And if you cut back on sodium, weight will probably come down too. Armed with this knowledge, I visited a few grocery stores yesterday, planning to buy low sodium bread, low sodium cheese and various other products to keep me on the straight and narrow.
Guess what? I could find hardly anything low sodium or sodium free in our stores. I live in an area that has one of the worst cardiovascular rates in Canada and that usually starts with high blood pressure .... which can be caused by too much sodium over time...
I can't say I'm surprised. Stores only stock what they can sell and what's in demand. But still, I really thought there would be more products available. I did manage to find some sodium free cereals by Kashi so at least breakfast will be OK. And some salt-free peanut butter for a lunch sandwich. Both products were great and I had both today. I fell off the tracks at supper with macaroni and cheese - which I found really salty after my salt-free foods earlier. And that's a good thing - I really don't like the taste of salt so if it's noticeable, I'll make more of an effort to cut it out.
I was a little more lucky at the K-Cups store and managed to snag a box of Timothy's Chai and Timothy's Cranberry Green. The Chai is delish - just the right amount of spice and excellent for morning. The Cranberry Green was so-so - it could have been better but now I'm stuck with a box of so-so.

Monday, June 7, 2010

New tea!

I'm not usually a fan of Celestial Seasonings teas although I have to credit them with introducing me to herbal teas in the first place. Lemon Zinger and Wildberry Blackberry were two of my favorites over the years and Candy Cane Lane is one of my more recent favorites. I finally got around to trying their Vanilla Strawberry Rose today and I have to say it's pretty good. I've been wanting to try this one for well over a year but something always stopped me before, which is a shame. It's a strawberry cream flavored black tea - not much rose - and it's quite lovely in a summery way. A good drink for those who like strawberries but who are not sure if they're ready for a full-fledged tea yet. And again, I do think it will work well iced for summer. Not for everybody but if you like flavored teas, you should give this a try.

Rainy Weekend

It rained all weekend and last night, it thundered for hours - very unusual for around here! In fact, this part of the Maritimes is suppose to have the least amount of thunder storms in Canada. Last night ended that. Today, it looks as though it will rain even more but little matter.
I'm off!
I scored a day off work and I plan to waste it wisely. I've got some errands to do after I write this and I may pay a visit to the bank today but otherwise, I plan to do as little as possible and thanks to the weather, initial plans of lawn mowing and other garden activities will be curtailed. Electric lawn mowers tend not to be a good idea in torrential downpours.
I will be looking for new K-cups to try when I visit pretty much the only location around here that sells them later. I did try the Timothy's decaf Columbian again last night and again, I didn't like it, which is bizarre. I've really liked everything else from Timothy's - their teas are terrific. This decaf tastes like bad decaf that's been left on the burner for too long. Maybe I just got a bad box.
On Saturday I visited Value Village and hauled home a stash of English bone china tea cups and saucers - 3 cups, 4 saucers - for $10. I don't think anything has ever been used. I have a weakness for anything tea-ish, especially pretty cups. Right now I'm drinking a freshly opened sample of raspberry black loose tea from theteatable.com. It's pretty good - you can taste the black tea and the raspberry equally. I think this would make an even better iced tea.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bad Week For Everyone

Today seemed a little better, especially when I found out everyone else was having a bad week too! Misery does love company!
Of course, compounding the problem today was an overwhelming desire for salty foods (no-no for high blood pressure) and the fact they put a charity chocolate bar box in the lobby where I work. I ate ramen and blew 4 bucks on two bars, which are now safely tucked away in my desk for emergencies. Yeah, chocolate cravings are now considered to be an emergency. So much for healthy eating. I'll try again tomorrow. Lunch will be a peanut butter sandwich, clementine, blueberries and a granola bar.
Speaking of weird emergencies, this area lost cell, telephone and internet for two hours yesterday, due to a cable that was accidentally cut. Two hours. You'd swear by the way people were reacting, that their best friend had died. The Emergency Measures Organizations stepped in and police had to step up their patrols - I kid you not. Since when did losing the phone for an hour or two become an emergency? Personally, I found it to be a relief - I actually got some work done! I think people are much too fond of their phones these days. I use my cell phone as an emergency device and only turn it on when needed. I could live quite happily without it but on trips, it does make me feel a little better. But for the most part, it is a money waster. I much prefer to use a land line because the sound quality is so much better. The sound quality on most cells is so bad, I don't know how people can stand it. But then, I find MP3s and wav files pretty irritating too - I really do hear a difference and anything less than the best just doesn't cut it for me.
There are some things where I am really snobby and others that I could care less. Here's my snobby file:
1. quality tea, coffee and chocolate
2. sound quality on everything
3. grammar and punctuation in professionally produced books, magazines and newspapers.
4. Mac computers

My "Could Care Less" file
1. cars - as long as they run
2. garden weeds - dandelions are pretty!
3. books - I'll read just about anything!
4. music - I'll listen to anything - it just has to be done well
5. status products
What does your list include?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Work, Blood Pressure

I am seriously hating my job these past few days. I go through periods of this every so often and it doesn't help that it's been a busy, fast-paced, brutal week. I even had my vacation week cancelled - and normally it wouldn't bother me since I didn't have anything special planned for that week - but today, it seriously steamed me. I can take another week in its place but I did want that week off. Grrrrrrr.
I did a blood pressure check on my self on Sunday and found it was high - which was a shocker for me. I've had low blood pressure for all of my life until now. Maybe work is stressing me out too much. I've been eating really well the past few days - lots of fruit and vegetables - but I ate a chocolate bar when I got home because of all the work stress. I needed it. My diet has been bad lately and I am working to clean that up - now I really have no choice. Supposely tea is good for all that but right now, it doesn't seem to be helping.
Any ideas for a new, low stress career?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lawn Mowing!

I can't believe the grass this year - it's growing like there's no tomorrow. It's been just a week since I did the front yard and I had to do it again today - and I'm not fussy about how the lawn looks. I did half the back lawn before the mower gave out - and I did too. The grass back there was so tall and thick. I'll finish it another day. Normally I don't even start mowing any grass until mid-June ...
It does look nice out there though.
I'm on my own this evening so I'm debating a few meal options. Natchos with cheese and homemade salsa. Black forest ham and cheddar sandwich. Big Ole salad with romaine lettuce, mushrooms and tomato with Caesar salad dressing. Soup. Oriental appetizers with rice or ramen.
I'm also considering a nice pot of tea - preferably something with a light taste like peaches or strawberries. Sandwiches and tea do go well together and maybe some fruit - fresh strawberries - for dessert.
Sounds good to me!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I did try ....

My plan was to buy a children's book and a gift certificate for my niece and husband, who are expecting their first child. That was the plan .... Let them decide what they really need.
Yeah, right.
Just like men and hardware or electronic stores, what is it with women and baby stuff? I've never had kids - never interested - yet today, wandering around the baby departments of several stores, I just spent way too much money. So much cuteness!I bought sweet little books, CDs of lullabies, sleepers, a rattle/giraffe, blanket (all in the prettiest shades of yellow, which is one of my two favorite colors) and a larger gift of a fuzzy sheepskin-like liner bag for the inside of a stroller or carseat so baby doesn't need to wear a jacket when getting around in winter. The little one should be arriving in the fall. I had no idea of just how expensive these things were either - yikes.
After all that cuteness, I've been home drinking Bigelow Orange Spice Herbal Tea with Christie's Maple Cookies. Toasted tomato sandwiches are looking like a distinct possibility for supper.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Busy!

I have been busy. The new coach arrived on Saturday and then the whole weekend was spent cleaning everything up - funny how changing one large piece of furniture can completely disrupt your house. But it's worth it - it looks great - nice coach, clean and (relatively) clutter-free living room.
Last night I made my homemade salsa, which takes a few hours and tonight, I tackled the front lawn. One solid hour of mowing - I'm exhausted. Yeah, I'm out of shape.
And let's not forget work, which has been quite busy as well. So I am off to bed in just a few minutes.
I'm still trying k-cups. I had Gloria Jean's Earl Grey tea this morning - oh yum. Just the way I like it. I'd highly recommend this one. So far, my favorites are as follows:
Timothy's Blueberry Lemon Herbal Tea
Timothy's Chinese Green Tea
Gloria Jean's Earl Grey Tea
Bigelow's English Breakfast
Bigelow's Orange Spice Herbal
Van Houtte's Eclipse Blend Coffee
Tully's Kona
Van Houtte's Decaf hazelnut
Van Houtte's decaf vanilla
I still have a few more to try!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Getting better all the time ...

It's a line from a Beatles' song and it pretty much sums up life here. Mum left the hospital today - not completely cured but so much better than she was. Antibiotics do work. In a period of 24 hours, I was amazed by the change. So the mood is much better around here.
After work today, I went into a favorite furniture store, mostly on a whim. I wanted to look at a bench but instead found a dark brown soft leather recliner sofa that's so comfortable that you literally sink into it. It had been $1299 and it was reduced to $199. Seriously. Aside from a bit of stiffness from one of the recliner sides, it's pretty much perfect. Yes, I did buy it. And yes, I did check it over. It will be delivered on the weekend, which means a major cleanup in the living room over the next 36 hours. This sofa will be replacing a 26-year old sofa with ripped seat cushions that features rust-colored flowers on a beige background - need I say more? And I'm actually paying less for this sofa than I did for the old sofa when I bought it 26 years ago. It's not everyday you can get a nice sofa for under $200. Heck, I've paid more than that for pots and pans!
I've been trying some new K-cups. I'm not hugely impressed with the Bigelow teas except for the Orange Spice, which is OK. The lemon herbal tastes almost minty and the French Vanilla Black is pretty bland - not enough vanilla. The coffees seem to work better in the Keurig. Van Houtte's Eclipse Blend is fabulous - dark and rich and perfect for an early morning wake-up call. A lady at work has given me some Korean herbal teas to try - I'm a little nervous about trying them since I do have some allergies and sensitivities but I'll get over it.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Getting Distracted

Sometimes, getting distracted is the best cure for a situation that can't be helped. My mom is still pretty sick but there's not much to be done right now - she is frail and has pneumonia and she is being treated very well in hospital. What happens next is up to a higher authority - I'm praying he or she is in a good mood.
So, when life is rough, I turn to food. Hey, I turn to food when life is good. It's no secret I like to eat. Here's my list of the bestest comfort foods for those rotten days when yumminess is next to godliness.
1. Ruffles Barbecue Chips or Lays Salt and Pepper Chips. The biggest bag you can find. Don't share!
2. Liberty Lemon Yogurt - the full-fat stuff. Low fat doesn't cheer you up. One big tub and one small spoon.
3. Homemade hash brown potatoes. Fill plate up once. Then fill 'er again!
4. Homemade macaroni and cheese - made with old cheddar.
5. Rice Krispy squares. They're not just for breakfast anymore ...
6. Toasted French bread with real butter.
7. Grilled Cheese - made the old-fashioned way with non-nutritional white sliced bread and cheese slices!
8. Peanut butter or oatmeal chocolate chip cookies - or just make both and freeze what's left... if there's any left.
9. Your favorite chocolate - mine's Scharffenberger Milk Chocolate but to each her own. Preferably consumed with your favorite hot drink. Or six.
10. Roasted vegetables and/or fresh berries. For those times when you're down but still thinking you might want to get back into your normal clothes again - you can only wear your bathrobe for so long.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Just tired ....

It's been a rough week. My mum is in hospital, taken there by ambulance earlier this week and I have been spending a lot of time at the hospital. So I'm more weary than anything. When I have more energy, I'll put forth a decent post.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Chilly May Daze

While the rest of province is enjoying warm, sunny days, we're shivering in 7 C rain - oh how spoiled we have become! Actually, that's pretty normal for early May here. And I really don't mind it - I moved my summer clothes in my main closet over the weekend but I really don't feel it's time to break out the t-shirts yet - although a 20 C day could change my mind. I also planted some vegetable seeds in containers yesterday - lettuce, swiss chard, radish, peas and beans - cold weather appreciators, one and all.
I got my tax refund today - that was quick! I'm kinda impressed. It will be going to the bank - I've already spent the amount I had planned to keep for myself and my new coffee machine and pots should keep me out of the shops for a while.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

New (expensive) habit

This week, I got a really good deal on a Keurig coffee/tea maker. No problems there - I love it! It's quick and is great for the mornings when I want a nice cup of something in a hurry. However, it does mean I have to get those K-cups and being me, I need a selection - that adds up. And living in a small area, there are surprisingly few places to buy them so I've been getting them where I can. Of course, the places that do sell them cater mainly to the coffee crowd and there's few selections for tea and decaf - it looks like I will have to order on line for any real variety. But for now, I am well stocked for English Breakfast and green tea. I also managed to score a box of Timothy's Columbian decaf and a Van Houte decaf. I also got a Van Houte selection box and a Tully's Kona - I love Kona so I splurged. All are really good. The English Breakfast is a tasty surprise - it's strong and loaded with good black tea flavor. But the nicest surprise of all was the one box of herbal that I managed to find - Timothy's Blueberry Lemon. Oh. My. Goodness. It's absolutely delicious. It tastes like the blueberries were just picked, with a hint of lemon. I actually hesitated on this one but I am so glad I did buy it. I would highly recommend this one, especially if you're a blueberry and/or lemon fan.
All week, I've been using the Keurig but today I did take time to make a pot of orange spice. It's great. When I'm in a rush, I'll use the machine but you still can't beat the flavor of a well-made pot of loose tea.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

So much for saving ...

Paderno has taken over a local arena and filled it with kitchen goods.
Yes, I know I should have stayed away but ... $194 later, I have some beautiful things I needed and wanted for quite some time. I got a combination stock pot with two different sized steamers, which means it can make anything from steamed vegetables to spaghetti. While the steamers are a lovely extra, I didn't have a stock pot and needed one so I am glad to get everything for $54, from $159. Everything's stainless steel. I got a set of three stainless steel mixing bowls for $19.99 from $45, a stainless steel travel mug for $2., really nice tea towels for $3.99 from $12.99, steak knives 2/$1.00 and yes, a Keurig mini brewer for $69. Considering I've never seen this for less than $100, I thought this is a great deal. I got a box of English Breakfast tea k-cups for $10 and a box of Green Mountain cocoa for $10. I've had a cup of tea and a cup of coffee (10 complimentary ones are included with the coffeemaker) and both are great. It's so quick too.
Definitely no regrets on my purchases. Which is good, because I won't be spending for a loooooooong time!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Back to work

I owe, I owe, it's off to work I go ... or something like that. As you can probably tell, I am really not in the mood for the work world but I'm usually cranky on Mondays - weekends are so nice!
Yesterday was spent with the laundry and baking - blueberry muffins and yogurt scones, as well as a coconut pie. For real food, I made a roast and potato salad; breakfast was hash browns. Anothers dieting downfall day but hey, it was worth it!
I tried a chocolate orange black tea that a friend gave me yesterday and was disappointed yet again. This one had chocolate chips in it which just ended up giving it a muddy taste. I had a nice one years ago from the Metropolitan Tea Company but haven't had a decent one since. The search goes on.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday again

It's been a pretty quiet week. After gathering receipts last weekend, I took the tax return in on Monday and on Tuesday, I was told I was getting a very nice return back. After having to pay the equivalent of two weeks salary back last year, I feel much better about the news this year! Of course, it helps to get an extra $40 bucks taken off each pay - for some bizarre reason, this company doesn't take enough tax off. I plan to bank the whole amount in my brand shiny new emergency fund - well, except for 70 odd dollars that may end up in a book store cash register - after all, a geek's gotta have some fun! There's a tea or two I'd like to try as well.
Today I went to lunch with a tea friend to a new tea/coffee shop that everyone's giving rave reviews.
Except me.
They served only bagged tea. Strike one.
I went up and asked for a London Fog latte and was told they were all out of vanilla syrup but if I wanted, I could select another syrup. Yeah, like chocolate mint or amaretto is going to work in that drink! A coffee shop without vanilla syrup - c'mon! Strike two.
Needless to say, I wasn't impressed. It was expensive too - a tiny cookie was almost $2 - the kind I could make at home for under $2 for four dozen. Strike 3.
We had lunch there, which was merely OK, and then went to our old favorite for desert and more tea - which cost less than half of the new place. Sometimes old favorites are that for a reason! Plus it serves the most divine chocolate cheesecake brownies and a really nice Numi white tea with rose - the rose is lovely and laid back - not too perfumey and in your face. I had a Two Leaves and A Bud organic Darjeeling at the other place that was singularly unspectacular - nothing to recommend that one at all. My friend had an orange sencha about which she said nothing so I'll take that to mean it wasn't worth talking about because she would say something if it was good.
I also broke down this week and read Twilight - and was pleasantly surprised. After reading it, I can understand why Stephanie Meyer has done so well - she really brings the reader into the story and makes them want to keep reading. I wish all writers could be that compelling!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Blogs are an education

I confess I love reading other people's blogs. For me, it's a great way to learn new things (recipes, ways to do things, trends etc) and to learn about people. Recently, I read a thread on wedding gifts and the expectations that go along with it, which surprised me, not because there are expectations (don't delude yourselves - there's always expectations on everything) but because some readers refused to believe the expectations.
Reader reaction is always interesting and for some of the readers, there seemed to be a belief that giving an inexpensive present or gift card is OK and that basically the couple should be happy with whatever they get. The blogger in question was trying to get across that if you're going to a wedding, you should give a nice present with some thought that's not too cheap. If your financial life isn't too good, let the bride know but always give some thought to your gift or just not go. I also read a blog post where a person who's making a lot of money was whining about people expecting her to give more because she had more money. And then there are those people who want to give up on the whole gift-giving thing altogether because they don't have the time nor the money to do so.
I was taught to always appreciate what was given to me and that "it's the thought that counts." But while it's nice to be pious and say you have no expectations of any gifts at any time, who hasn't been disappointed when they received a gift from someone that they thought should have known better?
In my mid-20s, I was living alone in a new city with a new job that wasn't going well. I was lonely and away from my family and friends. My best friend had just married and she was living in another province but we were still close. Or at least I thought we were. When her Christmas present arrived in the mail, I was excited. When I opened it, I was devastated. She sent me a pair of cheap black socks (price tag still attached) with a card that just had a signature on it.
At that time, I needed a friend. The socks, for me, indicated what she now thought of our friendship - it was on the bottom of her priorities. If there had been a note, I could have forgiven the socks. Needless to say, I just couldn't face her after that. I was pretty hurt. Did I handle it well? Nope. Would I do it the same today? Honestly, I am not sure. Much of my reaction at the time was based on what I was feeling at that time in my life - loneliness, unhappiness, job problems - so maybe today, I could just laugh it off and move on. Yet even today, I wonder why she sent me that. It wasn't the gift that bothered me - it was the lack of thought put into it.

Some people are really put off by money or gift cards - and then there are those of us who would love to get them! So gift giving is a pretty individual thing. It's so easy to get it wrong and there are lasting effects if you do. But there does seem to be one common thread - you have to put some thought into it. And unless you're going to do that, you'll rub someone the wrong way.
But then again, we give gifts because they're a sign of affection for a relationship - we want to make the recipient feel good - why wouldn't you want to put thought and time into something that important?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

All out of sorts in a Titanic-sort of way

Even though I got a good eight hours sleep last night, I felt tired and out-of-sorts all day. I went to a book festival event tonight and one of the authors mentioned that April 14th is the 98th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Of course I wondered if it's any coincidence that the anniversary of the Titanic sinking is on the same day as the anniversary of my job. Hmmmm....
The only bright side was that the event offered some homemade treats - and they were awful! I was actually shocked and nearly had to spit it up. That was a good thing though because it stopped me from eating too much. And in an odd sort of way, it cheered me up because I know I can make really good stuff when I get around to it. Isn't it odd what can cheer you up sometimes?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday sighs ...

As is usual, I am bemoaning my lack of energy. I didn't really get much done this weekend (what else is new) but it's so nice to take it easy on the weekend. And I am so good at it ...
For breakfast, I had a cup of Harney's Paris tea, a glass of Cranberry Apple Cider and two homemade chocolate chip cookies. Lunch will be homemade waffles, maple syrup and a fruit salad. And some Earl Grey Creme tea. A nutritional nightmare I am sure but oh so good. Supper is looking like pasta with a parmesan spinach sauce.
My garlic from last year is growing great. And my chives made it through the winter. I am actually tempted to plant some swiss chard today - it's sunny but windy here today - but my order from Vesey's hasn't arrived yet. Since everything is more than a month ahead of schedule here (my trees are all budding and this doesn't usually happen until the end of May), I am wondering if the gardening shops will open a little earlier this year.
In addition to my new blender and bread machine, I also ordered books from Mary Hunt, Debt-Free Living, and the main one from Dave Ramsay, since I couldn't get them at the library or any book shops around here. I think I'm on the right path but I figure a little extra advice never hurts.

Adam's Peak and Teaberries

I drank Adam's Peak white tea today and actually enjoyed it. It's mild and has no acidity at all and that's probably why I appreciated it. Still haven't used the new bread machine and the blender - I'm still at the stage where I'm casting admiring glances and not wanting to dirty it up. But I did make brownies (from a mix) with hazelnut coffee icing and chocolate chip cookies from scratch. I also made an interesting sandwich - orange pepper jelly, cucumber and emmantaler cheese on brown bread with lettuce - pretty tasty, if I do say so myself. Tonight I finished reading the latest Laura Childs tea mystery - Teaberry something or other. It wasn't one of my favorite ones although I did read it until the end. I also got Twilight out of the Library - I'm just curious to find out what all the fuss is about. I may give it a go when I go to bed in a few minutes.

Friday, April 9, 2010

TGIF ...

And it didn't come a moment too soon. I just get too stressed by work. Granted, I work in a high-stress job but I'm not overly happy working when it's low stress either. It's not the right area of work for me but hey - gotta make some bucks to pay those bills. Eventually I'll find what I want to do and hopefully make a living from it.
I ordered a KitchenAid blender and a Black and Decker breadmaker from Amazon - both were half price so my GST cheque and a small freelance cheque will take care of those. My breadmaker just died and I've been drooling over the blender for about a year. It's smoothies for breakfast tomorrow!Yum!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

I think all I did this weekend was sleep and cook - and I had such plans! Oh well. The turkey was tasty, the lemon pie delish and my homemade buttercream and peanut butter eggs were quite good. But I think it's time to freeze the chocolate and get back on track - I can literally feel my pants getting tighter and it's not because they were in the dryer too long! Back to sensible eating and work tomorrow.
I've been drinking rum cream tea this weekend - it's from theteatable.com and it's very nice. Black tea, probably Ceylon, with a flavoring of rum and cream - reminds me of those rum and butter chocolate bars that used to be around here.

Friday, April 2, 2010

A lovely, nothing day

By the time 4 pm hit and all I had done for the day was get dressed and make my bed, I had a pretty good idea it was going to be a lazy day. But then, I really needed one and I still have a full weekend ahead of me to do everything else.
I love long weekends!
I found my plum tea today - yum! Plums have always been a weird fruit for me. I love how they taste but can't stand eating them - there's something about the texture of the flesh that repels me. But that means anything plum flavored is always a hit, although there's little of it out there. Besides jam, there's isn't a whole lot out there in plum flavored or plum-filled foods. The plum tea I have came from the Metropolitan Tea Company and I've never seen it anywhere's else. You couldn't buy it from me either when I had the tea business - I'd open a bag and end up keeping it for myself. Essentially it's good quality Ceylon black tea flavored with plum - and it's really good natural plum flavoring. If you can get your hands on this tea, go for it - it's wonderful stuff.
Otherwise, it's been mainly leftovers and junk food today - not the best diet but oddly satisfying. I'll go back to eating healthy and being a productive member of society tomorrow ... afternoon.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Holiday with no tea...

Where I work, we usually work through holidays and take the day off at a later date. But this year, I actually get Good Friday off - Woo Hooo! So that means a three-day weekend, my first full holiday weekend in a few years. And it doesn't come a moment too soon - a three day weekend is just what I need. A day to be lazy, a day to do chores and a day for personal projects, like some writing. Of course, cooking will be among the projects since it is Easter Weekend and something tasty will be on the menu.
Ye Olde GERD is becoming a true pain in the neck, even with medication. Today, I allowed myself a single tea. Normally, I would have four or five cups, including decaf and/or herbal. Unfortunately, the lack of tea did make a big difference. I'm drinking water instead. I'll try this for a few days - maybe even no tea at all - and see how it works. If it works too well, I may have to change the name of this blog.
Another thing I may have to give up completely is chocolate. At this time of year, I love to eat those tiny foil-wrapped chocolate Easter eggs. Once the Easter candy is gone, I will try to cut seriously back on that too.
But just one thing at a time!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A fun list

I got this from Marilyn at http://heartsdelights.blogspot.com/ and thought I'd fill it out for fun!

If I were:

a color, lilac
a verb, do
a day, Saturday
a TV show, Ghost Hunters
a taste, a cup of darjeeling tea
an emotion, calmness
a month, November
a flower, pansy
a holiday, Easter
a movie, The Mission
an article of clothing, a wool sweater
a book, a cozy mystery
a car, Jeep
a piece of furniture, overstuffed sofa
a scent, lilac
an instrument, flute
a store, LL Bean
a shoe, clogs
a fruit, blueberries
a song, Greensleeves
a tree, white birch
a planet, earth
a tool, brush

And now spring's gone on vacation!

We had 15.7 C here last Saturday - and today it's -6 C with strong winds and snow. I think I like last Saturday better! It does get me out of yard work though and I'm not feeling too ambitious today.
I'm sipping on a cup of Irish Cream black tea, trying to get enough energy to start the weekly cleaning marathon. It really doesn't take long - laundry, vacuuming, dusting, decluttering and a thorough cleaning of the bathroom - but it always take me a long time to summon the energy to start doing it. Why is that? I really don't mind doing it once I start. I'm like that with everything though - a true procrastinator!
Haven't done the taxes yet either. In Canada, the due date is April 30 and I usually have it done by April 29. I thought this year would be different since having a full-time job means less paperwork but I'm still pretty steamed about having to pay taxes last year because they didn't take enough off at work (which I've since fixed) so I'm in no hurry to do it this year.
Once I get the housework done, I hope to do some baking. I've been craving some good chocolate chip cookies and I have a recipe for Irish soda bread that looks simple enough. On a cold spring day, working in a toasty warm kitchen sounds like the best plan of all.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring has arrived ....

And it's warm! Yesterday was around 16 C. Today was around 3 C, which is still nice for March in Canada. I've been doing yard work the past two days (8 large bags of leaves which comprises about 5 per cent of my property - still a long ways to go) and I was surprised at how dry the ground was. No spring muck here and that's even odder than the warm temperatures.
I've been drinking strawberry black and blackberry black teas, which are both tasty. I've also been eating far too many rice cereal squares. Somehow I justify it by saying since it's made with cereal, it's reinforced with vitamins and perfectly fine for breakfast.
Sure ... makes sense ... sorta
Back to work tomorrow. I've been thinking that two days are not long enough for a weekend. A three-day weekend would let you get so much more done at home. I wouldn't even mind working four 10-hour days to get a three day weekend. Some people could work three days at 10 or 12 hours and others could work four days - same amount of hours and there would be more productivity - it would be a win-win situation.
I just want another day off!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Shocked and appalled

When things get slow at work, I'll sometimes look at the webpages of various media outlets. If I'm really bored, I'll read the public's comments. I don't consider myself to be a politically correct person but I'm usually flabbergasted at what other people think of certain news stories and how unforgiving most of these people are. Case in point - at this time, the MLAs of this province are under scrutiny for their expenses and a few have even resigned. One of those who has resigned had a pretty good reputation up to now and he hasn't been charged with anything, let alone found guilty. Yet, these commenters are being really nasty and writing awful things about this person - all without knowing the whole story.
Shucks, I thought you were innocent until proven guilty. It seems to me that people expect politicians and anyone in a publicly-paid job to work for little or nothing - I have to wonder what planet they're living on. You're not going to attract good people by paying them nothing. People can be so critical and are so quick to blame the media but maybe they should look at themselves a little harder and from a distance - they may not like what they see.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bunny Time!

The weather here is still beautiful and it seems as though spring has truly come to this part of the world. It hit me today just how close we are to Easter. I have always loved Easter - for me growing up, it was all about chocolate bunnies and eggs - how could you not love that? Yeah, yeah, I already know I'm beyond redemption. But seriously, as I grow older, I appreciate it more for the rebirth of the seasons and the fact you can go outside in relatively mild weather without getting attacked by mosquitoes. And of course, the occasional chocolate bunny never hurts either.
So, at some point, I will go and do my Easter food shopping. Today, I bought a package of hot cross buns at SuperStore - very tasty! I've tried making them and this year, I'm burying that ghost too. My hot cross buns were always pretty awful, if I do say so myself. These store-bought ones are much nicer. I will buy yummy chocolatey goodies for three people plus myself and maybe one of those pretty cakes - or I might make a lemon meringue pie. I'm not sure what the main course will be - I have a turkey in the freezer but I associate ham with Easter so it may have to be that. A ham with a honey mustard and brown sugar glaze, along with potato salad.
Of course, the teas will have to be a strawberry black (regular or decaf), blackcurrent or blackberry.
Mmmm, I'm looking forward to this!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Strawberry Cream

I am drinking a cup of strawberry cream fruit tea from theteatable.com. It appears to be similar to the one sold by Upton Tea. Both are delicious. The predominant flavor is tangy strawberry with an undertone of vanilla cream, which tones the berry flavor down a bit. It's quite lovely and one that I think you could serve to people of all ages, even children.
I've been getting into the blackcurrent black tea, both decaf and regular, also. They just seem to be the right kind of springy teas for the past few days.
I'm sure Peter Rabbit could easily get into these types of teas!

Not quite yet spring cleaning

For the past few weeks, I've been busy decluttering in a quest to see my floors again. Seriously though, this weekend was a big breakthrough for me.
I threw out my craft supplies.
All my knitting and needlework. Gone.
YES!
I've been involved in these two hobbies for more than 30 years. And in that time, after spending, I am sure, thousands of dollars and hours, I have produced only four items that I would show to other people: a mohair shawl (that I've never worn), a single pair of wool socks (that I won't wear in fear that I'll wear them out), a scarf (which doesn't get worn either since I'm not a scarf person) and a floral cross-stitch picture. The rest were mute testimony as to why I should throw everything out.
Give some people a ball of yarn and needles and they will produce a beautiful sweater; give me the same supplies and I'll make one that makes me look like a certain large bird from a well-known children's program. Not attractive.
It's taken a long time for my to acknowledge my lack of craftiness; now that I have finally accepted the fact, it feels so good!

Crocuses? Huh? It's still winter!

Winter is suppose to end a week from today. Today, I saw crocuses coming up in my yard. Down the street, on a property that's not so shaded by trees, they're already in bloom.
I have never seen crocuses before the first day of spring before. You have to understand, in this part of the world, despite what groundhogs may say, spring doesn't really arrive until the end of April or early May. Only fools plant before June 14th. Spring is usually celebrated with a good snow storm and lots of groans. We've been known to have the occasional snowstorm in May and June.
Those crocuses are at least a month early.
This is more than a little early.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

It's Thursday!

Which means tomorrow is Friday - yay! I'm just tired of work and winter. It's usually about this time of year I begin to seriously envy those who go to sunny, warm southern climes at this time of year - although this year, I think the weather has actually been better in this part of the world. Apparently average temperatures are up on average by 4 C this year and precipitation is down by 22 per cent in Canada. And even with a week's worth of sunny weather predicted, I'm still a little winter-weary.
It's usually this year that I also begin to dream of vegetable gardens and leaving the windows open while driving (I have a car without air conditioning). Last year I planted seeds indoors but little thrived until I planted a few things outside. In reality, I'm not much of a gardener or outdoor person but there's something about March and April that makes me crave warmer weather.
In the meantime, physicially, I am feeling just fine and I might even try a cup of decaf Earl Grey before th hour gets too late.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Could have avoided it

I finally relented on Monday and got a prescription for my acid reflux. Things came to a head when I ate a banana - a banana, a food they give to the sickest people because it's so mild - and I could feel the burning acid rising in my throat. Two days later, I don't even feel like the same person. The thing is, when you have acid reflux on a daily basis, you don't even notice it after a while - until it's gone. When I first got the prescription, I made a joke that I could now eat normally again but the fact is, I plan to stay on the straight and narrow. It was bad eating and genetics that got me into this mess in the first place; while I can't do anything about the genetics, I can at least try to eat better, or more properly, better for me. I may be on this for a while - the last time, I had to give up taking this because of a lack of prescription plan, no money and an attitude that I didn't want to be on any type of drug, even ones I might need. Since then, the price has come down considerably and I've come down to earth so I think I could afford to keep taking it even if something happens on the job-front. I'm just finding out now that serious cases of GERD can cause laryngitis and even sinusitis, two other conditions that have been plaguing me the past few months - and to think that I could have avoided all this - grrrr!
At least now, I can eat and drink tea in relative comfort - hurray!
It's even looking more and more like spring out there.