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!