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 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.