Friday, January 29, 2010

It's snowing!

Sigh. I knew the good weather had to end eventually. It snowed early this morning and on my way home, it started storming again. We may get another 10 cm tonight - and with a temperature of -6 C, there's no way to avoid it this time. I guess winter has finally arrived.
I'm waiting for a homemade pizza to cook and I think, for dessert, I may have to have a cup of hot chocolate - just because it's a winter thing to do. I have a package of Gourmet Village Orange Hot Chocolate set aside - at a $1.59 plus tax for a single package, it only gets drunk on special wintery nights. And yes, it's worth every penny. Next to Ghiradelli's double chocolate, it's the best hot chocolate out there. In third place, I'd give it to good old Tim Horton's - I usually buy a can every fall to get me through the winter. Has anyone tried Green and Black's Organic Hot Chocolate? I've seen it at Shoppers but it's pretty expensive. I do like their chocolate bars though, especially the milk chocolate almond and the Maya Gold.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Big Mac lover!

I've added yet another want to my list - the iPad. I am a Mac person from way back so I know this will be a great product. Do I need it?
But I have been coveting a Kindle-like device for books and the iPad does so much more. Maybe if I win the lottery ...
What I will be needing is a new computer and I will buy another Mac. They are more expensive and they're worth every penny. They're reliable, easy to use, have great graphics and they're pretty much bug-free. They don't crash! The one I have now is a base model EMac - six years old and still working really well at this time. In fact, my six year old EMac works much better than the one-year-old top of the line PC that I use at work and which will probably be obsolete in another few months. But while it's working OK now, I know six years is a senior citizen in the computer world - so a new one will have to be eventually bought. I'll hold off as long as possible but I am thinking about a laptop. My first home computer was a Mac laptop and I think I paid close to $3000 for it at the time - I won't have to pay anywheres near that this time. But still, a regular computer has its charms too - maybe I should get an iMac ($1100) and an iPad ($530), which would work as a laptop and a reader - it would still be considerably less than my first laptop ...
I better get saving!

Chips for a Dip

Yet another beautiful day here - wore my shoes to work today and a light jacket. Might be a storm tomorrow so our great weather might be ending - unfortunately. I rather like these mild winters!
I think I may have lost a little weight over the past few weeks - my clothes seem looser. However, I celebrated this by breaking into the last leftover Christmas bag of barbecue chips - probably not the best move but boy, were they good! Besides, if I eat them, I'm removing future temptations ... and being the frugal sort, I can't exactly throw them out, now can I?
It's amazing what we can sometimes justify.
Slowly, my taste buds are coming back, although my throat is still sore. I think a pot of decaf strawberry black tea might be just the ticket to get through this evening. Hopefully my biggest challenge will be deciding between Bones and CSI ....

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Even tastier at half-price

I have a confession to make. Whenever I see those carts in the grocery store filled with reduced products, I make a beeline for it. Some may assume the carts are filled with old, stale products but often they're filled with overstocks or stuff that simply did not sell. Whatever the reason, I sometimes pick up some good stuff and often new stuff that I would never normally buy. Last night, the carts were filled with tea, which in itself is dangerous. Most of it was stuff that I was familiar with or just didn't feel like trying. But I did get a box of Tazo Berry Blossom White, which is white tea flavored with blueberry and cranberry. It's delicious - I wish now I had taken all the boxes, especially since it was priced at half-off. Unlike most blueberry-flavored products, this actually reminds you of real blueberries - more tangy than sweet and a bit of a dark undertone. I'd recommend this one - might even pay full price for the next box.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Slowly coming back

I haven't posted in quite a while! Still sniffly but my senses of taste and smell are returning so food and drink are starting to appeal again. We had a bit of snow here this week but again, while the rest of the province saw amounts of up to 30 cm, we had between 2 and 4. It's January 24th and I can still see the ground and grass in most places. Interesting but odd for here.
I'm breakfasting with a golden oolong this morning. It may have been a little premature to re-introduce this tea to my palate since it is mild and delicate but I just wanted a good cup of oolong. I'll probably go with something more flavorful next - maybe some blood orange black. Speaking of which, the blood oranges are back in the stores. Every year, I have to buy a few because they're pretty tasty - and just plain pretty.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cheap is often better

It still doesn't look much like winter here - there's no snow on the ground and the trees look lonely without their leaves. It's hard to believe just two hours from here that there's tons of snow on the ground.
My cold has returned with a vengence, this time giving me a sore throat, sniffles and a cough that is only settled with hot or cold drinks. As a result, I have no sense of smell and therefore, next to no ability to taste.
This is not a time to waste on high quality, expensive teas and coffees. I can't taste them and my throat simply wants to be soothed. So today, it's lots of plain, black tea and the cheapest decaf coffee. It is at times like this that inexpensive is really the best. Interestingly enough, Earl Grey is one of the few things that I can taste, along with honey. I never put honey into my tea although many say it soothes a sore throat. I just can't stand the idea of sweet hot tea. Now sweet cold tea is an entirely different matter.
Honey is another item that I genuinely prefer cheap. As a child, my mother would buy the occasional container of creamed honey and to this day, it's the only honey that I like. I've tried them all - paying some pretty ridiculous prices for some of it. And you know what - I still prefer the plain old creamed honey from the grocery store. It has to be creamed - liquid honey just doesn't do it for me. I know it's all the same - but for some reason, to me, creamed just tastes better.
I think most of our tastes are formed in childhood. If you grew up eating homemade cookies, you'll always prefer homemade cookies. If your childhood was filled with storebought foods, you probably always prefer them as well. As adults, we may feel a need to try new and different foods and we'll sometimes find new favorites. I never ate garlic before my 30s. It just wasn't something my family used. Now I can't imagine a day without it. But even with our new favorites, the tastes from our past will often follow us into our futures.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Good times!

It was really an uneventful day but a day I wouldn't mind repeating. Everything went well at work and I feel good about my performance. There were no mishaps, accidents or problems at home either. And everyone I know seems to be getting along - I'm raising a teacup to quiet, happy, productive days! Even my plain old Earl Grey bagged tea tasted extra good today. And there's even an employee's lunch tomorrow - free meals always make me happy.
Of course, my mood will immediately change if a blizzard is forecast for this area but even the weather looks good for the next week or so. Can it get any better? I'll take it!

What made me happy today: 1. productive day at work looks like another wedding gig is in our futures 3.Learning a friend is moving back home.
Weather: Temperature: -4 C, cloudy, just a dusting of snow.
Teas drunk: Tim Horton's Earl Grey; Tea of Life's Earl Grey
Money Spent: $5 for Tim's for me and co-workers
Work done: 10-6 at the office; paperwork, made nachos for supper.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Quiet days

Today started off uneventfully and that's the way I like it! After a quiet weekend, I'm hoping for a just-as-quiet week. Not really much to report - did try some Tazo Awake tea today - a nice unassuming bagged black tea.

What made me happy today: 1. quiet day at work looks like my taps are going to be fixed!
Weather: Temperature: -7 C, cloudy, about a centimetre of snow down
Teas drunk: Stash's Orange Spice bagged; Tazo Awake
Money Spent: $0
Work done: 10-6 at the office

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Lazy Saturday

T'was a lazy day. It's 9:30 at night and I'm still in my bathrobe - that's how lazy it's been. I will take a shower shortly - does that count?
Spent most of the day surfing the J-List and drinking tea. J-List is a fun site if you're into Japanese bento products and such. Saw a mini microwave vegetable steamer and a microwave rice cooker on there that I am tempted to order.
I started the day with an old favorite - Tukdah First Flush Darjeeling. This is a great tea if you're looking for a mild, almost vegetal Darjeeling. Then I tried the East Friesan Blend. I can describe this in one word: Bleck. This is a dark, assam-heavy tea with an almost molasses undertone. Of course, I really don't like Assams or tea of that quality so it didn't work for me. On to the next!

What made me happy today: 1. landing the wedding gig for next September 2. Spending a lazy day at home
Weather: Temperature: -1 C, cloudy, about a centimetre of snow overnight
Teas drunk: East Friesan Blend Black loose; Tukdah First Flush Darjeeling loose 3. Orange Spice loose
Money Spent: $0 - 5 no-spend days this week!
Work done: No paid work - just lazed. Made supper of Fettucine Alfredo and steamed brocolli

Friday, January 8, 2010

Too much caffeine

As I get older, I find I am getting more sensitive to caffeine and it has been limiting my tea tasting escapades. By the time I get home from work, I drink exclusively no-caffeine products. And when I go to work, I drink mostly bagged teas since they are more convenient and less messy for the workplace, especially since the kitchen is on a separate floor and I usually prepare my tea at my desk - as far away from all the electronic equipment and computers that I work with on a daily basis as possible. I usually bring my water from home in a Thermos but it's never the same as a freshly boiled pot - but this so far is the best compromise I've been able to come up with. So today, I tried three new bagged teas and here's my thought on each.

Ashby's Apricot Black - I was really looking forward to this one. I love apricots but I find in North America in general, apricots and blackcurrents tend to be somewhat unpopular, despite their stellar popularity in Europe. You're more likely here to find a peach flavored tea than apricot. Unfortunately, this tea was disappointing. It had minimal apricot scent and no flavor - just a strong black tea. I like strong black tea but not this one - it was just too murky.
Ashby's Raspberry Black - I had no expectations for this one after the apricot but it wasn't too bad. The raspberry flavor was more pronounced but not overwhelming. Again though, the black tea in this blend was too strong.
Ashby's Earl Grey - This one was pretty good - a fairly typical Earl Grey although the bergamot in this one tended to be on the more lemony side, rather than the floral side - which I prefer.

What made me happy today:
1. getting the first request of the year for a possible wedding gig next September 2. Seeing a Certain Someone is starting to feel better
Weather: Temperature: -1 C, cloudy, no snow - yet
Teas drunk: Ashby's Earl Grey, Apricot and Raspberry black bagged teas
Money Spent: $0
Work done: worked 10 am to 6 pm at regular job, made supper of teryaki rice and oriental appetizers, found in the freezer stash

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Steamed eggs and all that

This is the first day in over a month without rain - although I did check the weather network a few minutes ago and they did say there was flurries.
The cold/flu seems to gradually leaving and my energy is returning; although I haven't been overly productive today, at least I made the effort. I interviewed a friend today who told me he liked to eat honey when he had throat/vocal problems because of the soothing properties. I usually combine honey with lemons but I don't have a problem eating honey on its own - as long as it's not that nauseating manuka honey - ick. So tonight, on the way home, I picked up a container of creamed honey. I'll swear it doubled in price since the last time I bought it. I came home, ate some on a spoon and the rest on toast and yes, my throat really does feel better - back to normal, even. My friend did recommend putting honey in tea but I find sweet tea nauseating so I think I'll skip that. I was hoping to try a few more of the Ashby teas today but I forgot to take them to work with me - hopefully I'll have some opinions tomorrow.

What made me happy today: 1. getting my GST rebate cheque in the mail - who doesn't like getting a cheque? 2. Getting a health tip from a friend that worked - eating creamed honey did sooth my throat.
Weather: Temperature: 0 C, cloudy, no snow - again...
Teas drunk: Stash Orange Spice bagged, Stash's White Christmas
Money Spent: $17.14 - $4.52 at Dollarama for a shower liner, 2 packages of freezer containers, bag of cherry cough drops; $1.62 for Tim's large decaf coffee with cream; $11 at Wal-mart for two boxes of Nature Valley Sweet and Salty granola bars (my weakness), a jar of French's honey Dijon mustard and a container of creamed honey
Work done: worked 10 am to 6 pm at regular job, made supper of steamed eggs and toast and honey ... otherwise lazed.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Back to work!

Today was my first day back this week and while my performance was singularly unimpressive, I think they were just happy to see me - you can only go shorthanded for so long! We're now back to full-strength and that should make everything move a little easier. Hopefully tomorrow, I'll be more productive - I don't feel right when I can't give my all to whatever I'm working on. Found out what some people did over their holidays - good grief! Some people can do so much and be so productive. I admire that. Maybe it's time for me to find a new project to sink my teeth into so I can at least rev up my enthusiasm again. I did write a short story over the weekend so maybe that's a start. I've become comfortable and lazy recently and I've got to get out of my little rut. I've added yet another regular listing to my post, thanks to Canadian Saver - things that make me happy. What a great thing to remember!

What made me happy today: 1. Receiving a new book in the mail to review - one I really wanted to read. 2. Getting a really nice reception at work after being off sick for two days.
Weather: Temperature: 0 C, cloudy, no snow,
Teas drunk: Stash Orange Spice bagged, Harney tropical Green, Ti Kuan Yin
Money Spent: $10 for Tim's large decaf coffee with cream, 8 yogurt, 2 grapefruit, 2 tomatoes, 2 loaves of bread at the grocery store
Work done: worked 10 am to 6 pm at regular job; made six tomato, cheese and beef pasta lunches from one bag of rigatoni, half bottle of sauce, mozzarella and leftover hamburger from supper. Six lunches that I have stored in the freezer for about $3.25 - cheaper and tastier than store-bought frozen meals!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

This n That

I am feeling almost human today. I made a great batch of bran muffins and the worst batch of waffles ever - in fact, so bad they went into the garbage. The odd thing is, this is a recipe that I have used many times with great success. For some reason, it wouldn't work today - as in, it wouldn't cook up at all. I even tried to make pancakes with the naughty batter but the same gelatinous mess emerged both times. I guess it wasn't meant to be.
It's back to work tomorrow. Whoopee. Sorry, that's my inner sloth speaking - there are times when the idea of working is just not appealing to me. Like over the entire winter. I'd be quite content to stay home in January, February and March when the weather is exceptionally cruddy and then working extra hours the remaining nine months. Unfortunately, my employer at this time is a 24-7-12 entity so I don't think they would be too impressed with my idea of new and improved work hours.
I haven't spent any money in four of the last five days. Of course, being off sick for three of them and one holiday probably has a lot to do with that.
Today, I'm going to start putting down some basic facts, more as a service to me, when I want to know just how lousy the weather was a few months ago.

Weather: Temperature: 2 C, cloudy, no snow
Teas drunk: Orange Spice loose, Earl Grey decaf
Money Spent: $0
Work done: One article written

Monday, January 4, 2010

Still sick

I'm still feeling sick but my energy is slowly returning. I actually managed to do some cleaning around the house today and get the tree put away. I'm calling in sick tomorrow too because I think another day inside will do the trick and hopefully put this cold/flu out to pasture. The worst thing about 9-5 jobs is that you can never take enough time off to get over a cold or flu properly. The bosses are always yammering about not coming in when you're sick yet they make you feel guilty as heck when you actually need those days. I hate going back to work without properly recovering. I'm sure there are some workplaces where this doesn't happen but in all the places I have worked, getting enough sick days when you need them has always been a problem. Of course, it doesn't help that there are people taking sick days or "mental health days" when they're really not sick physically (they're just sick of work) - but I'm not one of those people.
Today's tea has been loose Orange Spice - a nice, comforting blend. The weather is clear and sunny here today. No snow and the plants are actually growing. I never thought I would be harvesting Swiss chard in January - there are times when I wonder if I've changed coasts!

Sunday, January 3, 2010


I am sitting here at 2:30 in the afternoon with my pretty new fluffy purple Boxing Day bathrobe on. This is not something I normally do. I am usually dressed by the time my feet hit the floor and tend to cringe at the idea of lounging around in my jammies all day. But I'll make an exception for today. This cold is going nowhere and seems to be enjoying my company - I can't say the same. Add to the fact that it's a gray, grim, rainy day outside and you have a recipe for a stay-at-home sick day. I am even considering calling in sick for work tomorrow - haven't done that in a long time. Figured it's as good as day as any for my first annual top 10 new to me tea list - 2009 edition. Here it goes in no particular order:
1. Blood Orange Tea - Metropolitan Tea (loose black)
2. White Tea Secrets - (loose white)
3. Earl Grey Creme Vanilla Season's Pick - Upton Tea (loose black)
4. Baker Street Blend Afternoon - Upton Tea (loose black)
5. Decaffeinated Strawberry - Metropolitan Tea (loose black)
6. Decaffeinated Earl Grey - Metropolitan Tea (loose black)
7. Decaffeinated English Breakfast - Metropolitan Tea (loose black)
8. Candy Cane Lane - Celestial Seasonings (bagged decaf green tea with peppermint, vanilla)
9. Golden Nepal - (loose black darjeeling style)
10. White grapefruit - Upton Tea (loose white)

Those teas were all new to me - here's my all-time top 10 favorite list:
1. Orange Spice - Metropolitan Tea (loose black)
2. Orange Spice - Stash Tea (bagged black)
3. Earl Grey Creme Vanilla Season's Pick - Upton Tea (loose black)
4. New England Harvest Blend - Upton Tea (loose black)
5. Decaffeinated Strawberry - Metropolitan Tea (loose black)
6. Decaffeinated Earl Grey - Metropolitan Tea (loose black)
7. Plum Tea - Metropolitan Tea (loose black)
8. Spring Pouchong - Metropolitan Tea (loose oolong)
9. Paris - Harney Tea (loose black)
10. Tropical Green - Harney Tea (bagged green)

Runners-up include Illam (Metropolitan Tea), a black loose darjeeling tea from Nepal, decaffeinated English Breakfast from Metropolitan Tea, blackcurrent black loose tea from Matropolitan Tea and darjeelings and pouchongs in general. This year's goal includes finding the ultimate darjeeling and a serviceable lemon tea.

Friday, January 1, 2010

First post of the New Year

It's the first post of the New Year but life continues as always. My cold returned with a vengence yesterday and today, despite an invitation to spend New Year's with an old friend who will be leaving the area tomorrow, I've decided to spend a quiet day at home and rest. The idea seems to be working - I am feeling a little better after a day of general lazing around. For supper, I decided to cook a real meal even though it's only me here so I must be feeling better. I made a quiche, with a premade crust, eggs (of course!), half a tomato, two large mushrooms and some leftover Havarti cheese - it's delicious! I know a certain someone will enjoy it when he gets home.
The teas today are quiet ones since a cold tends to freeze up the taste buds. I started the day with some plain Queen Elizabeth blend and later, when my stuffiness left, I got into my box of Ahmad tea. Yes, it was intended for someone else but since they didn't pop by to pick it up, tough! I tried the English Afternoon, which is flavored with a bit of Bergamot. I thought it would taste like Earl Grey but it tastes completely different - in fact, I could even see drinking this in the early morning. It's pretty mild and inoffensive - not a great tea but good for those times when you're not able to appreciate greatness - like when you have a cold.