Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Boxing Day Fun ...

In this province, the Boxing Day sales are on the 27th so we headed out today to see what we could find. After an all-you-can-eat Tex-Mex buffet bought on gift cards, we went downtown. We had fun using up our gift cards from a local kitchen store (sporks, olive spoons, grapefruit spoons, a new rolling pin and a pizza stone - all the essentials!) and then headed to the mall.
Oh my.
I never really thought every parking spot in an enormous mall parking lot could be filled but this one was. I wanted to leave then and there but I was persuaded to stay and I eventually found a spot. Inside, it was crazy busy but we still managed to find what we wanted. I got a prepaid smartphone for $59 at a major electronics chain, which surprised me since I just assumed they would be sold out. In fact, nothing was sold out which makes me wonder if people were just out looking instead of buying. I also got lots of half-priced chocolate, nuts and cookies so I am well-stocked for a while. Alas, no tea sales though!

Monday, December 26, 2011


Who knew I could eat so much? Two turkey dinners, carrot cake, pumpkin pie, endless chocolates, salsa dip and chips and now a chocolate Chex mix that's just too addictive - yup, there's going to be a diet in my future! Maybe even starting tomorrow.
Fortunately tea's got no calories and I got a nice selection of 12 for Christmas from David's tea so some fun ahead trying those. I also got a selection of hot chocolates - Gourmet Village - in such flavours as butter pecan and peanut butter. Unfortunately, they're not calorie-free but hopefully I can show a little more restraint than I did today.
Yup - fruit and salad days are definitely coming my way again and not a moment too soon!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I wish for loads of food and good tea for everyone!
I confess one of my favourite Christmas Eve traditions is hitting the grocery store late in the afternoon to take advantage of the markdowns - yeah, cheapness is part of my holiday fun! Anyway, today's haul was small but delicious - half price fresh cranberries which will be stored in the freezer for later use, honeydew melon which has already been eaten, fresh trout and haddock for a healthier new year and which have been frozen and a half price rotisserie chicken, which will end up being our turkey, which means savings on cooking costs as well. Gotta love those bargains!
Best wishes to all!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

New computer!

I finally broke down and ordered an iMac on Black Friday. Earlier in the year, I had bought a PC netbook because I thought I could get by with it - but no. For one thing, it's a PC, which means the constant threat of viruses and just the plain annoyances of that system. Secondly, it was just too small and therefore uncomfortable for me. My old eMac was about 7 years or more old and while it still worked, was getting slow and couldn't be updated so I knew I had to do something. Being me, I ordered the expensive exactly-what-I-want-Mac in its most basic forum and on Monday, it arrived.
Yeah, Macs are more expensive but it arrives with everything I need (Garageband, iPhoto, TextEdit and a pile of other stuff I haven't even looked at yet) and it works. Easily. It sets up easily and it works logically. The fact it looks great is just a bonus but an important one - who wants to look at something ugly all day? The fact I bought it on Black Friday essentially meant I saved the tax and I also got a reduced price on Microsoft Office since I need that program for freelancing.
I love this machine, mostly because I was able to set it up all by myself and it works exactly as I want it to - and who could ask for more?
The weather here today is heavy rain and high winds. 13 C, which is pretty amazing for the 8th of December. A perfect day for a spicy tea like Orange Spice or Upton's New England Harvest Blend - which sounds like a fine idea right about now.

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's not hard to do

A few years, we pretty much stopped going out to eat for financial and culinary reasons. Financial is pretty much self-explanatory but the culinary simply means we tend to make better stuff than anything we get out - I'm not bragging - it's just that homemade food tends to be tastier. The interesting offshoot of this is that we never get indigestion or food poisoning any more, which in itself, is a disturbing thought.
I also allow myself $5 a week for either a snack or an outing with a friend. When you're out Christmas shopping at the mall, a break for fries or a chicken salad wrap at Tim Horton's (big and only a $1.54 here) can be a welcome break.
As a result, when events occur and we do get a free meal out, we really enjoy the outing. This weekend saw us attend two such events, one a thank you party for volunteers and the other was a staff party for my part-time job. The volunteer party was held at a hotel and featured an all-you-can eat buffet with very limited selection. The staff party was held at a gourmet restaurant and featured a traditional chicken dinner and orange ginger cake for dessert but it was nicely done. Both were good but I confess at both, my tummy ached afterwards. The interesting thing was the tea. The gourmet restaurant served up lukewarm dishwater while the hotel's was piping hot and quite tasty. I've never been able to figure out how places which make good food can goof up something as simple as tea. All you need is boiling water and decent quality bags - is that so difficult?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Oddly thrifty

It's after 4 on a cold dark December day and I'm sitting here in front of the computer, with nary a light on in the house. I don't really consider myself a thrifty person but there are some things I really hate spending money on. One's electricity during the day for lights and the other is heating oil.
For some odd reason, buying heating oil is to me the same as burning dollar bills. But since my house is heated by an oil-fired furnace, some has to be bought every winter. But that doesn't mean I plan to buy a lot of it - I keep the house warm enough to prevent any pipes from freezing but the rest is done through extra blankets and plenty of warm sweaters and fleeces to get through the worst of it. Luckily, I love wearing cozy clothes so this has never been a hardship.
And while I do like electric light, paying for it is not something I enjoy so I deliberately refuse to turn on any light, even at this time of the year, before 4 pm.It helps that I prefer natural light, especially the softer light at the end of the day. As a result, my electric bill is pretty low but I do live in a province where the electric utility seems to come up with new ways to gouge the consumer on an almost monthly basis - my usage keeps falling but the darn bill keeps going up!
I'm not thrifty when it comes to my weaknesses, tea and chocolate. I know of people who actually re-use their tea leaves - that's not going to work for me - but I'm also willing to try anything so it's led me to some pretty good lower-cost alternatives. Sometimes taking a chance on a new product or a sample given out at a shop can lead to great new taste adventures. So it's all about spending what you have on what matters to you.
And yes, heat and lights are important but I'd rather splurge on other things.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Another Christmas season

I've always liked this time of year although there have certainly been some unhappy times during the years. I enjoy decorating, the foods and yes, even gift giving. I am disturbed by the recent uncharitable trend that seems to be appearing with people doing their darnedess to get out of giving presents.
Oh sure, if times are tough, certainly. No one should ever expect those who are having financial problems to go into debt so others can have presents or treats. What I am talking about is a general lack of wanting to give, to help others. You see it all over blogland - people complaining about the pressures of finding the right present for people "who don't need anything."
Says who? Everyone needs something - maybe you just need to put a little effort into finding out what it is. But don't limit yourself to tangible things, like the latest gadget.
My favorite gifts have run the gamut from an expensive musical instrument to a book to an inherited plate. The musical instrument has led to thousands of hours of enjoyment and a career as a professional player. The book is one I still reread on an annual basis. And the plate cost nothing - it was simply passed on from my mother to me but it's a pretty one and it still makes me marvel whenever I look at it.
Unfortunately, many people seem to equate gift-giving with buying stuff or expensive presents. There's much more to it than that. To me, it simply means putting a little extra effort into a relationship, something to make it more special. Sometimes it does mean buying an engagement ring or something expensive but most of the time, it can simply mean making a special meal or dessert for that person - their favorite cookies, for example - or even a promise they'll have complete control over the remote on certain days (not everyday - we don't want to be ridiculous here). Gifts don't have to cost anything but they do have to be specific to the person - otherwise, there's no point to the whole exercise. The plate from my mother cost her nothing but it was a good choice for me because she knew I loved fine bone china and beautiful things.
Some of the nicest (and cheapest) gifts revolve around food. We all have to eat and most of us have favorites but it's always nice to try something different that could end up being a favorite. Here are some food-related gifts that I have given over the years.
1. Tea - surprise! But seriously, there are thousands of teas out there to try - and very few cost much.
2. Coffee - this can range from a Tim gift card for those who need their daily fix to a single cup coffee maker or a container of K-cups. A pound of coffee beans is also a nice gift.
3. Mugs, teapots, implements - all the essentials for making your favorite brew. A good teapot may cost less than $50 but could last a person for a lifetime.
4. Chocolates - not necessarily a box of the usual but a box customized to their tastes - for example, a box of chocolate covered apricots or strawberries for the fruit lover. Or even a collection of favorite bars.
5. Food baskets customized to that person's tastes.
6. Gift certificates or cards to favorite lunch spots so a person can indulge on that cold, miserable February day when you really need a treat.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

In a jam!

The local grocery store has been having some odd sales this week. They have been selling containers of brand name hummus for 99 cents, as well as containers of fresh ricotta cheese for 99 cents. We usually make our own hummus but for 99 cents, I'm willing to give it a try - this stuff's almost as good as homemade. One ricotta has been made into an Italian cheesecake, which will be dessert tonight and other two have been earmarked for lasagna.
But the best buy of all have been containers of raspberries for 99 cents. Last week, the same size container was $4.99. One container has been consumed and the other five have just been turned into homemade raspberry jam - six bottles and a bit leftover for bread at lunch. With sugar, it averages to about $1 per 250 ml bottle - pretty good price, I think. I might even top tonight's cheesecake with a little drizzle of raspberries - yum!
Gotta love sales!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The big melt

The snow is quickly disappearing around these parts thanks to some fairly warm (for this time of year) temperatures. Just the day to be drinking Upton's Baker Street blend which combines a small amount of Lapsang Souchong with black tea, giving it a mild, smoky flavor. The perfect late fall cup since it reminds you of wood fires and frosty days. Someone once asked me about Lapsang Souchong and how it tasted and I described it as bacon in a cup - you either love it or hate it. Needless to say, that puts off a lot of people but a small amount of smokiness can be quite pleasant and I would recommend this tea. Of course, it tends to go rather well with a freshly made croissant that's been heated with some extra old cheddar melting on top ...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Snowed In!

And 40 cm later, guess where I spent much of the day? In the driveway, shovelling for just over three hours. It's either that or spend a fortune getting it done. If I'm home, it's not so bad - I can take my time and do it at my own pace. I do hate it though when I'm working and it still has to be done - and yes, I will hire someone if necessary!
Drinking Upton's China Jasmine right now which is one of the few jasmines I enjoy since it's pretty mild and you can still taste the green tea. Just put in an order for my farmers market tea stall - the holidays are coming up and hopefully, everyone will be buying some tea - makes a nice gift, I think.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Well, I bit the bullet on Tuesday. I got up at 6 am, had breakfast and at 7, I waited for the tire store's doors to open at 8.
I was first in line and am now the proud owner of four new winter tires.
And undercoating. Even with a misquote, my tires were still $150 cheaper than getting an appointment - and that paid for the undercoating.
I am ready!

Hot Chocolate Weather

Some seriously nasty winter weather is expected this afternoon and the first flakes of winter have begun falling in this neck of the woods. It's a perfect day for hot chocolate and this year, there's some new ones to try.
The most obvious are those peppermint hot chocolates from McDonald's. This is seriously bad news for those of us who are trying half-heartedly to keep the weight off. Hot chocolate, mint flavor, whipped cream and candy cane bits - what's not to love? It doesn't help that they've given away free coupons either - I could seriously drink one or two of these each day. There's also a peppermint mocha but for some reason, it's the peppermint hot chocolate for me - seriously good stuff.
The Bulk Barn has also started carrying some holiday hot chocolates - plain, mint and candy cane which is a minty white chocolate. I've tried the first two and they're both good, the peppermint especially. Besides the fantastic flavour, it's one of those few hot chocolates that dissolves well and doesn't leave you with a mouthful of floury lumps. I've also bought the candy cane white chocolate and haven't gotten around to trying it yet. I'm not as big a white hot chocolate fan but it does smell wonderful.
The Bulk Barn has also been selling apple cider and it's pretty good as well.
Have you ever tried chocolate mint tea? If you get a chance, you should. These tend to be black teas with chocolate and mint leaves added in. Metropolitan Tea does a wonderful one if you prefer loose and Stash does a great bagged one (I think it's an oolong) that's also worth trying. And for those who can't take the caffeine, Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane is available again - it's a decaf green tea that's flavored with a peppermint creme flavor.Also very good.
There's nothing like something hot, chocolately and/or minty on a chilly, damp wintery day!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tires, Where art thou?

It's been a while since I purchased new winter tires - about four years - but I had no idea how much they went up in price. The only place that is affordable doesn't take appointments and when I showed up this morning at 9 am, they said to leave my car and they might get to it by 3 pm.
Er, no.
So I went to other places and got pretty much the same story - wait all day or make an appointment and pay almost double. The first place I mentioned is charging $435 - the place with appointments want $749. One guy told me when he shows up to work at 8 am, there's a crowd in the parking lot waiting - in lawn chairs. Are we talking winter tires here or tickets to a pop concert?
So what's a thrifty tea-drinker to do? I guess tomorrow morning, I'll be rolling out of bed at 6 am, having a bowl of oatmeal, dressing warmly and filling a thermal mug full of chocolate mint tea or maybe apple cidre to take my place in line at 7 am.
The things I'll do to save a pile of money!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Three for three!

When you try new teas, it's hit or miss and all too often, miss. A friend arrived home from a trip with a bag of teas for me to try from Teaopia and I'm thrilled to say all three were a hit! I had Caramelissimo, Lady Earl Grey and Coconut Cream Green tea and all were delicious. In fact, I'll probably order all three again when I run out. I'll be making a pot of the coconut cream green when I get home from the library book sale later today - mmmm, I can taste it now!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Garden Confessions

I'll admit I am not the greatest gardener in the world but every year, I do try to raise something edible, mainly in an effort to see if I can actually do it, if pinch ever came to shove. Over those years, I have made a startling discovery and one that will not sit well with the do-everything-yourself-naturally brigade.
Home-grown produce does NOT taste better than the stuff you buy in the stores.
There, I've said it. And I can say it honestly. This year, I have harvested garlic, onions, various herbs, lettuces, chard and several varieties of tomatoes. And not one of them tastes any better than similar vegetables I can buy at the farmer's market or the supermarket.
And before anyone gets snarky and questions me on this, here are the facts: everything I grow is 100 per cent organic. All of the above was grown from seed or bulb. And because of being involved in the tea business and doing my own blending, I have a pretty sensitive palate - I can taste differences pretty easily.
Is it worth the extra effort? Honestly, I have to say no - you can get better deals from farmers or the supermarket since they grow in quantity or buy in quantity. However, it is pretty neat to be able to make a salad at the end of the day with everything grown by yourself and harvested only minutes earlier. Also, you do know the history of the plant and what it's come in contact with and for many people, just knowing for sure no pesticides have been used is comfort enough. A taste difference though? Uh, no.
And I have to say the same about eggs and other organic products. One of the biggest myths surrounds blueberries - that the wild ones taste better than the farm-grown ones. Close your eyes and taste the two - there's really no discernable difference. In fact, you might be surprised to find the farm grown ones are tastier.
Now I'm not saying give up the organic products or home-grown ones but consume and grow them because you want to and because you enjoy the effort that goes into the harvest.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Another passing

2011 has been the year from hell for me and it seems not to be finished yet. So far, I've lost my mother, my full-time job, several other relatives, my car and now, a big huge tree.
If you're wondering how a tree deserves to be in the list, let me explain. When I was 13, we moved into this house and my father and mother planted two spruce and one pine tree in the front yard. At the time, it looked funny since they were only knee high and tiny on a big expanse of lawn. But over the years, they grew and grew until they all reached about 30 feet, outliving the actual people who planted them - until last night.
Around 9:30 pm, I hear a strange noise, almost like someone opening a large bag of chips. Not scary or even loud - just odd. Since we were having a storm, I looked outside, expecting to see a planter or lawn chair out of place but instead, I could see down the street - something I don't ever remember being able to do before. Then it hit me - I could see down the street because a tree was gone. It was one of the spruces my parents planted. And how it fell was odd - it could have fallen back and hit the house, forward and hit the road or to the right side and hit the neighbors car. Whatever way it fell, it should have taken out the power lines. But it did none of those things. Instead, it fell to the left and landed partially on the pine tree in the centre of the lawn, which is a bigger tree and could support it.
It did damage the pine but it seems to be more aesthetic than anything right now. The tree people will be removing some of damaged branches. I should know later if it needs to be removed completely. A tree company came by and cleaned up the spruce mess this morning and remarked that it was a miracle that it didn't knock the other tree down as well but I think it's pretty miraculous it fell the way it did and didn't damage anyone's property, my house or take out the power.
I love my trees, mostly because I associate them with my parents so sentimentally, it's a loss for me. But I do know that I won't be replacing them with another tree - those things get too big and can cost a fortune to remove at a later date. Maybe a small shrub will be planted in their place in the future to remember my parents.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Just lazy today

Three posts in one day - so unlike me. Just finished dusting, vacuuming and cleaning floors - also very unlike me. It's all because I do have a pile of work facing me - and for some reason, I just don't want to do it. I'm not tired or sick. It's not terrible work. I just don't want to do anything but surf the net and watch TV.
I can be pretty immature sometimes.
I want the work, I want the money that goes with work - I just don't want to do the work. And I do know better. I just need to give myself the proverbial kick in the pants. In the meanwhile, I may just soothe my lazy bones with a pot of Winter Spice blend - black tea with apples, oranges and seasonal spices.
Maybe it will give me the energy to get back to what I should be doing!

Up and Up and Up

My family has always been a little odd - we all love to shop for groceries. My father, my mother, both my brothers and I enjoy going up and down the aisles, picking out our food. We've never been rich so the hunt for food has always been combined with the hunt for bargains. Unfortunately, bargains are few and far between these days.
When I was out earlier this week perusing the meat aisle, I was stunned at the prices. Packages of boneless and skinless chicken breasts were selling for between $25 and $32. A package with two small breasts were selling for $12 - just enough for one meal. I love chicken but frankly, I refuse to buy it at these prices - steak is much cheaper!
Even more depressingly, even though it's harvest time and fruit and vegetables should be at their cheapest, they're at all-time high prices. It's apple season and the stores around here want $1.99 a pound for substandard apples - what's up with that? Usually I buy a basket of pears at this time of year - I don't think I've ever paid more than $1.99 for a large basket. This year, the small baskets are going for $5.99. Didn't even get any peaches this year - again, way beyond my budget.
For a while, junk food was much cheaper than healthy food but those days seem to be past too. A large bottle of brand name soda used to go for 99 cents a bottle - now they want $2.49 for it.
No wonder people are using coupons and growing their own stuff - life is getting more and more expensive every day.

So much for that!

It's 5 C here today, raining in buckets and windy. Yep. Perfect fall weather. The kind of day where you really don't feel like doing anything except drink tea or, in my case, check out my new flavors of K-cups.
My order arrived this week and for $100, I think I did pretty well. I got a holiday box of 48 Green Mountain K-cups with spiced eggnog, French toast and gingerbread k-cups, several sample flavors, two boxes of decaf k-cups, including Green Mountain's French Vanilla and Dark Magic flavors and a box each of Gevalia's Swiss Hazelnut coffee, Twinnings Earl Grey and Twinnings Chai Tea lattes.
The Twinnings Earl Grey and Chai Tea lattes are old favorites. Don't really care for them in regular tea bags but through a Tassimo, they seem to take on a different personality. I'd highly recommend both.
The Gevalia Swiss Hazelnut smelled incredible out of the box - rich dark coffee smell coupled with hazelnut overtones. Unfortunately, the smell didn't translate into taste. They're OK but I won't be ordering that one again. And the same can be said of all the holiday flavors - they're OK but nothing special. Pretty disappointing since the whole point of the order was to get that spiced eggnog blend and it was pretty bland. Actually, the French Toast is the nicest of the bunch.
I also ordered a few samples, including one of Nabob's French Vanilla and that was a big mistake - shoulda ordered a box of that stuff! It's probably the best thing I ordered and I only ordered one. I'll have to be on the lookout for it at the grocery store.
Oh wait, the reason why I ordered in the first place was because no one carries this stuff around here ...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Remember Me?

For some reason, I just haven't been posting lately - I don't know why. I just haven't been thinking about it much. Might be time to shut 'er down.
I'm back to selling loose tea at craft shows and the local farmer's market. Around here , it isn't a money-making venture but it does allow me to indulge my first love - trying out new teas. One of those is Winter Spice from the Metropolitan Tea Company, which is a lovely winter-type tea that's a cross between an orange spice and a Christmas tea - what's not to like. And then there's Buttered Rum which is black tea with a non-alcoholic rum flavoring added to it - I think it would be nice blended with a black cream-flavored tea so I might try that at some point.
It's cold here, dark and dreary with rain. When I awoke this morning, someone had draped a set of pumpkin lights over my car. Odd. A bit unsettling too, since I really don't like people around my property. No damage done but I'm glad the car was locked up last night. And now I have this set of lights that I really don't know what to do with.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Back again!

Yikes! Where did the time go - here it is September already!I've lined up some part-time jobs and they have been keeping me busy. One of those jobs is selling loose teas at the local farmer's market again so I've been busy blending and getting ready for that. My first day is this coming Saturday. I'm going with a fall theme, with such teas as orange spice, harvest blend, apple spice and some nice organics. I'm going to start with about 10 teas and try to feature either a new one each week. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

New Month

August has begun and I've got great hopes for this month! Hopefully I'll be able to move out of my funk and get working again. The foot is still sore so I think my treadmill days are over - it's the exercise bike and whatever else my gym offers that doesn't bother my feet.
The new car is working out great - still getting used to it but I think, aside from those pesky power windows, it's a going to be a good vehicle. Filled it up for the first time today - gas prices are about $1.32 per litre here and because of a provincial gas shortage (the main refinery was damaged in a lightning storm and it's taking a while to fix it), I had to get Supreme gas which is 8 cents a litre more but I still managed to fill it for $40 - and there was only about an eighth of a tank left when I got it filled. You know with this type of situation, they'll be jacking the prices up so this will probably last for about two weeks since we have no plans to get out of town until the end of the month and hopefully the shortage will be over by then.
Stocked up on some new K-cups today - wanted to get the Green Mountain Coconut flavor but the shop ran out. However they did have Green Mountain's Wild Blueberry, which is surprisingly delicious, and Green Mountain's Glazed Chocolate Donut, and these more than make up for the loss of the coconut flavor. As for tea, it's been mostly iced King Cole Decaf Cranberry Raspberry Green, which is very tasty.
The weather's still cold but I am convinced that summer is still coming - it's just been delayed somewhat ...

Friday, July 22, 2011

What A Week!

I haven't written in a while and there's good reason for that. While out driving two Wednesday mornings ago, the bottom fell off my car.
It's not a great way to start the day.
Fortunately there was no traffic - otherwise they would have been swerving to avoid springs and various other car body parts that came flying off. I have no idea how we got the beast home but when we did, I knew it was time to start looking for another vehicle. After all, there's really no point in putting thousands of dollars of repairs on a rusty 12-year-old vehicle that's probably going to fail inspection anyway. So, for the part week, I've been renting, taking the bus and walking, all the while looking at new-to-me vehicles.
I love to shop. But I despise car shopping. I finally decided on a small 2010 Chev that has few kilometres on it and some warranty left. I'll have payments for the next few years but I can pay it down whenever I can, so I know where all my extra money will be going. I hate having a car payment again but at this time, it's pretty much a necessity and I'll just have to adjust.
It's a nice little vehicle and I confess I'm a little afraid of it. New cars always freak me out a bit since you're never sure just how they'll react to certain situations. It has power windows and locks which I hate and if you don't use them, the horn will start beeping - I'm sure the neighbors are shaking their heads as I write this. It does have air conditioning, which I've never had before and I'm using it - it's been pretty hot here the past few days.
Of course, the fun never ends - when I arrived home after buying the car, my eight year EMac has decided that it's going on vacation - maybe permanently. So I'm looking at computers - I need a job soon to pay for all of this. So, today, I applied for a few jobs - the serious job hunt has begun.
Of course, all of this stress has exhausted me so I'm drinking Harney's Paris tea right now. I may have some Higgins and Burke Pear Green tea later - it's subtle and gentle for a hot summer's day.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Back to Tea

I awoke not feeling all that great this morning and decided to soothe myself at lunch with a traditional (sort of) afternoon tea. I took some homemade scones out of the freezer and slathered one with some homemade lemon curd. Then I made a peanut butter sandwich and cut it into fours and completed the food with a large slice of the blueberry pecan coffee cake that I made yesterday. The tea was a loose coconut black from Metropolitan Tea. And you know what - I do feel a little better! Maybe I was just hungry for something special.
I tried one of my samples from Upton Tea yesterday, a Yunnan Green Silver Buds Supreme. What a nice tea! I may have to order more of this one. It was light, vegetal with an orchid like scent - a lovely summertime tea.
It's back to hot and sunny today - it feels like July again.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Chilly Summer

After a week of heat and sun, the rain and cooler temperatures are back. I don't mind the cooler weather - it's much more comfortable - but I doubt if others share my opinion. We haven't even had a queasy day yet - you know, a day so hot, you haven't got the energy to do anything but sweat and it's so hot, you actually feel a little sick. I don't really consider it to be summer until we get one of those days but here it is, nearly mid-July, and none of those days are even in sight.
It hasn't even been hot enough yet to make iced tea or crave ice cream. I've been eating a lot of chocolate lately and it's not even melting. Yes, I have been drinking plenty of hot tea but mainly out of the Tassimo - Earl Grey, Chai Spice Lattes and the occasional Twinnings Ceylon Black. I really have to get back to making proper tea but I've been craving a Dragonwell Green and of course, that's the one tea I don't have. I may have to make do with a darjeeling or even a pouchong.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Summertime and the roofing is easy ...

Well, for me anyway - I hired people to do it. They've been here all week after rainy weather delayed them getting here by about five weeks. They're a hard-working bunch and I admit I don't envy them working in sun-drenched 29 C conditions but I guess it's better than working in the rain. I've had a chimney taken out on an old Franklyn stove that was improperly installed and therefore unusable so while it's looking nice outside, it now means I have a hole in my livingroom ceiling. It's covered with a grocery store bag, adding to the ambience of the room.
Despite the high temperatures, I haven't started drinking iced tea yet. I have been drinking Stash's Wuyi Chocolate Mint Oolong which is surprisingly good and a white orange spice that I picked up at the mall. I do think there will be some iced green peach tea in my future though ...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Iffy 50

I turned 50 today.
Yabba dabba dooooooooo!
Seriously though, turning 20, 30 or 40 never bothered me in the slightest. Turning 25 did because once you hit 25, you can't use the excuse of youthful exuberance any more for dumb mistakes. You're also a quarter of a century old which sounds even worse. Now that I'm a half-century old, it means I'm at least half-way towards the end and I'm definitely no longer a kid.
But everything was going OK until I looked at the newspaper online and found out that another relative had died. I guess that's going to keep happening with increasing familiarity now that I'm firmly in the middle of middle age.
Fortunately, there's a small birthday cake in the fridge and my friend gave me the prettiest Royal Albert teacup (Lovelace) and a package of Stash's Chocolate Mint Oolong. I'll raise a toast this evening, to my favorite great uncle and to whatever the future may bring.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Cloudy Days and Crazy Crows

The sun dropped by for a visit yesterday although it's gone back into hiding today. Apparently, according to the weather gurus, we've had 14 days of rain for the first 17 days of this month - yet, we haven't broken any records. I guess it clears up at night. Oh well, we're saving on sunscreen.
Of course, this is delaying getting my roof repaired although I may have some explaining to do when they eventually get here. As I drove out of my driveway yesterday, I noticed a crow with a hot dog on my roof. Now that's not something you see everyday! I watched as he carefully placed the bun in my rain gutter and then he began to eat it. It's probably the same bird that was up on on the roof a few weeks ago with a sandwich.I don't know where or how he's getting his meals but I can just imagine the looks on the roofers' faces when they'll take down the rain gutters off the house - an all-you-can-eat buffet? What's up with that?
As long as they don't start stealing my tea ...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Computers and the democratization of us all

Yes, I am getting pretentious here but when you think about it, what has, more than anything else, made us more equal than almost anything, besides the vote?
It has to be the computer and what it has led to.
Think back about 25 or 30 years ago. If you lived in a small town or rural area, you bought what was available at your local shop or you had to drive miles out of your way to the city. If you wanted to see a major entertainment or sporting event or even buy a bestseller, you pretty much had to do the same thing, since big name acts don't usually fly into beautiful metropolitan Podunk and many of these smaller areas don't even have (gasp) book stores.
It just ain't the same today. Thanks to computers and the internet, we can get anything we want when we want, whether we live in New York City or Hicksville. We can order whatever books and tea whenever we want or not when the local shopkeeper decides to carry it. I remember years ago looking for pants in an olive green color and being told by the local shopkeeper that she didn't sell them because people around here didn't want that color.
Yeah. Guess I didn't count.
But that's OK now because I can get them online in whatever color I choose and not what a local yokel fashionista deems to be the proper shade for my rump.
The same goes for my coffee and tea choices. I tend to get most of my day to day stuff online with the occasional taster bought locally when something catches my eye. I do try to shop locally when I can but I refuse to give up when they don't carry the things I like.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Just Getting Lazy

I've been buying teas lately and it seems every tea I try, I have a single cup and I'm not inspired enough to have a second. So I've been making too many cups of Twinings Earl Grey via the Tassimo. I mean, I like Earl Grey, but I wish it wasn't becoming my fallback tea because the other teas are so lousy.
My onions in the backyard are growing wonderfully. Unlike most Maritimers, they seem happy enough with the wet, chilly weather we have been experiencing lately. I've just learned about bag method for growing potatoes and I might give it a try. I've always wanted to grow potatoes but thought it was too difficult. The bag method sounds pretty easy and therefore, right up my ally!
I have been adding more and more cups and saucers to my collection, thanks to Value Village. They sell saucers for 99 cents and cups for the same - the trick is managing to match everything up so you get a complete set for a 1.98. It's a great, fun way to expand your teacup collection for next to nothing and you get some pretty amazing pieces. People just don't value these items any more - but that's good news for those of us who love a bargain.

Friday, June 3, 2011


I baked again today. On the menu today were mayonnaise biscuits (surprisingly delicious and few ingredients), rich tea scones, blueberry oatmeal scones, chocolate chip muffins and a President's Choice shortbread mix that I managed to burn. Everything that I made from scratch was delicious and the shortbread was OK - the unburnt stuff, that is. Nearly everything has been frozen except for the tasting scones/muffins so my freezer is now heaving and I'm stuffed!
The tea de jour is Grapefruit black, which cuts through all the sweetness quite nicely.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Muffin Mania!

Even though the weather here argues to the contrary, I do believe we're going to have a long, hot summer. So, I'd like to have a freezer full of my favorite baked goods ready so I don't have to turn on the oven more than necessary during the summer months. Last week, I made a few loaf cakes and today, it was time for muffins. I started at 7 pm and by 10 pm, I had baked five and half dozen muffins: blueberry, strawberry, double chocolate and banana chocolate chip. Four and a half dozen have been frozen while the remaining dozen have been left out for snacking purposes. And I do have to say - I make a great muffin! Muffins are one of those foods that have to be made at home - I have yet to have a decent one in a restaurant or coffee shop. Also, the ones you buy are so big and full of calories - at least homemade ones are smaller and can be adapted for whatever diet you follow.
To go with those muffins, I just received some of Stash's Meyer Lemon Herbal tea and have been drinking that. It's very lemonny and not at all grassy tasting, like so many lemon teas are. I'll definitely be ordering more.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Weather's better

The weather is back to normal for this area - low teens and misty. Pretty much perfect weather for gardening and that's what I've been doing. Planted a small vegetable garden today - asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries, onions, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, peas, beans and zuchinni. The tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, lettuce and some herbs will be planted in pots while the rest are in my new raised bed. Who knows what will happen now - it's pretty much up to Mother Nature.
I am drinking Spring Pouchong today and it's still the best tasting (and smelling) tea I have ever had. It smells like a spring garden filled with lilacs and roses. I am drinking it in a Royal Doulton "Nicole" pattern cup and saucer, which my mother gave me about 20 years ago. It's cream colored bone china decorated with tiny yellow flowers and what looks like sprigs of lilacs. I prefer to drink tea out of bone china but I usually use a mug. The past few days I have been using a tea cup and saucer and it does enhance the experience. Since a china lover can never have too many cups and saucers, yesterday I hit Value Village and scored quite a nice haul. For just over $9, I bought five saucers and five cups. Yes, they're mismatched but I managed to get them to nearly match so that only an expert would know the difference. My best purchase was a cup by Rosina called Wild Flowers, which is pretty blue flowers on a white background. I think it's a demitasse since it's smaller than the others. I highly recommend this as a way to expand your tea cup collection but it does take some time - most of the time what's in stock is pretty awful.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sometimes You Do Get What You Wished For ...

Ooops! In my past posts, I mentioned how I want cold damp weather - well, I got it! On Thursday and Friday previous, we had sunshine and temperatures in the mid-20s C (mid - 70s F). Yesterday and today, it's been foggy and in the low single digits (high 30s). Now personally, I love this sort of weather - I'd like it year-round - but I know I'm in the minority and I now feel kind of bad for those hoping for nicer weather on the holiday weekend.
However, it's still great weather for trying new teas and I did just that. I tried Tazo's Sweet Orange, which is an herbal orange flavored blend. Quite nice although not as good as the Orange Tangerine from Celestial Seasonings, who get it just right. I also tried a Cherry Rose green which was pleasant enough, at the one local restaurant that actually offers loose tea, served in a proper pot. Unfortunately, they don't decant but hey, who expects everything? I'm just impressed that they see the need for loose over bagged. Someday, we'll reach the 20th century around here!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Good Weather - Oh Well

Yes, you read that right. We have been receiving spectacular weather the past two days and I am none too happy about it (see previous post). Oh well, it is suppose to be freezing here tomorrow so hopefully that will come about. I am being a real scrooge but I am worried about my roof and oil tank - once they're fixed, let the sunshine and hot weather reign!
It's the long weekend and even more importantly, it's the weekend when they'll be showing the new Jesse Stone movie on CBS. Sunday night at 10 EST. I love these movies - not so much for the stories but for the characters, atmosphere and setting. I could care less what happens - I just want that house that Stone lives in! It's in the most beautiful setting possible.
I'm drinking some Earl Grey from my Tassimo right now. I confess I am using that machine entirely too much. But it does make good Earl Grey!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wet Times!

It's 5 C and pouring rain here. Definitely a day for vanilla cupcakes topped with cream cheese icing and sunny yellow sugar sprinkles. Fortunately, I had a half-dozen of the cupcakes in my freezer and I just finished icing and decorating them. Well, actually, I just finished eating one - quite nice, if I do say so myself.
With that, I am having a cup of loose orange spice - a wintery tea but it seems as cold as a day in early December out there.
In a way, I am almost relieved. I have to get a new oil tank and a new roof this year. I just got the oil tank filled before I found out I could get a good price on a new tank so now what I had planned to do in October will be moved up to sometime within the next month. I also have rotting boards on one section of roof so I want that repaired before some enterprising wasps build themselves a nest - so I am actually hoping for cold weather over the next three weeks so the nasties will remain napping.
Now, I am not being selfish or anything. I just want cold weather for my little spot - everyone else can have sunshine and roses - and with all the microclimates we have around here, that just might be possible.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Library Tea

Our local library is always putting on free programs on a variety of subjects that are interesting. This week's event was on vegetable gardening and since I am a (very) amateur gardener who prefers to eat her garden, we went to the two-hour session. It was interesting and I left inspired to plant a few new things. Since my yard is shaded, I now know that lettuce and other greens are pretty much the best things for me to grow (and garlic!).
Of course, in this area, you can't do anything without including a lunch and refreshments - one of the perks of Maritime living. Since the session was about growing fruits and vegetables, the foods included a fruit tray and a vegetable tray. But for me, the best thing about the evening was the chance to try two new teas. Both are by President's Choice. The second was Raspberry Thriller - I have to confess I wasn't so thrilled. Just another reddish-colored herbal that really didn't have that much flavor. But the first tea I tried was a completely different story. It's called Lemon Thriller and it lives up to its name. It's another herbal and features a full, rich lemon flavor with no grassy overtones. The very next day, I went to the grocery store and purchased a box so that should tell you how much I liked it - if you're a lemon fan, this one is worth trying!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Tea and cookies

Is there a more perfect pairing? It's definitely one of mine. This week, in celebration of all things British, I bought two old favorites, crumpets and milk chocolate digestive biscuits. I had forgotten just how good both are. Neither were brand names - just store brands - but both were truly tasty.
Maybe it's because I drink my tea plain with no sugar or milk but I often like to have something sweet with it. Yet, often my favorites disappear off store shelves just as I develop an addiction to them. Maybe they're still offered in other areas but here's a few of the yummies I can no have because the confounded local stores no longer stock them.
1. Chocolate HobNobs by McVities
2. McVities Chocolate and Orange Digestives
3. Lemon Puffs (the old fashioned sticky ones)
4. Coffee Crisp Orange Fingers
5. Bourbon Cremes

I've seen some of these online but shipping rates are often too high to indulge.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

I've always loved Easter but I think any holiday associated with chocolate is wonderful. And let's face it - Easter chocolate is among the best.
I'm sitting here now with half a white Lindt chocolate bunny, half of a Laura Secord buttercream Easter Egg and half a bag of Lindt double milk chocolate eggs - gee, I wonder where the other halves went?
Certain days of the year, I allow myself the luxury of eating as much and whatever I want and Easter happens to be one of those days. So yes, I have been overindulging in my favorite treats but that will soon stop. My tummy is starting to protest so it may be time to either freeze or throw away the leftovers because I'll just keep eating them if they're left out.
While there's certainly plenty of good stuff out there, the variety no longer seems to be there. I hate this new trend of simply taking everyday chocolate and repackaging it for every holiday. Sorry folks, but a Snickers is a Snickers is a Snickers - putting a foil egg wrapper around it does not make it an Easter candy. Years ago, we used to be able to get Easter-specific candies but that no longer seem to be the case. The only ones that seem to remain are the Cadbury Easter Cream eggs, chocolate eggs with a thin candy crust and marshmallow covered-in-chocolate bunnies.
Remember those pan eggs - a hard shell of colorful candy surrounding a soft marshmallowy inside? They could be pretty awful but they were definitely a part of Easter. Couldn't even find them this year. I also couldn't find any cherry cream, maple cream or buttercream eggs this year - but peanut butter eggs are everywhere. Again, that's something I can buy any day of the week - I want the stuff I can only get at Easter.
Maybe these things are still available in the bigger centres but I wish they were still around in my area.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Teatime In My Own Little World

There are times when it becomes very clear that I am living on another planet and am not at all in touch with reality. I was reading a blog early today about an afternoon tea event that sounded really nice and I decided to investigate further. At this particular restaurant, you could get a pot of tea, a sandwich, soup, scone and a few cookies for $25 per person.
At home, you could probably make the whole shebang for well under $5, from stuff in your fridge. And yes, I understand that it's always nice to eat out and have someone else to do the cooking and cleanup - after all, that's why most of us go to a restaurant. There's a further complication for me that has nothing to do with price - you can't even get afternoon tea around here since no restaurants offer it.
It's not so much that I live in the middle of nowhere but you can see it from here.
But I have no intentions of doing without. I'll make it at home. It goes like this.
About once a week, I bake something. Usually muffins or cupcakes, but sometimes cookies or scones. Since there's just two of us and we're both watching our weight, I leave a few out for a dessert and freeze the rest. Then, for those days when afternoon tea seems a necessity, I simply make some sandwiches (egg salad or ham usually) and defrost a few scones, muffins and cookies. Afternoon tea on demand, on budget and not a whole lot of work.
And that's a good thing for a sometimes cheapskate who lives in the middle of nowhere like myself.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Oh well ...

My new tea, the white plum ambrosia from Zhena's Gypsy Teas is rather ho-hum. For one thing, even though it smells like plums, it tastes like melon. Which is sort of nice - first time I've ever had a melon-flavored tea and I do like melons. But I did want a plum flavor in a bag and for my money, the loose black plum blend from the Metropolitan Tea Company is still the best tea out there for those who like plum flavor.

Just When You Thought I Was Getting Too Serious ...

I find a new tea to try. Today I bought a tin of Zhena's Gypsy Tea White Plum Ambrosia. It smells divine - I'll let you know how it tastes. I hope it's good - at $8.95 a 22-bag tin, it's pretty pricey for teabags. It's a white tea, flavored with plum, rose petals and strawberry leaves - sounds like spring to me ... even if we're suppose to get a snow storm tonight.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Wrong Reactions ...

Did you ever have the wrong reaction to a situation but kept your true feelings under wraps because to say anything to the contrary would have been controversial and maybe lead to others reprimanding you or even shunning you?
I have these reactions all the time.
My most recent inappropriate reaction came today when I learned that I wouldn't be getting a job that I had been interviewed for.
I felt relieved.
I know - I am suppose to be sad and bewildered that they didn't want me in their office but frankly, I realized when I left the interview that it really wasn't the best situation for me. It will be a great job for someone else though and I wish whoever got it the best of luck. Meanwhile though, I will be pretend to be sad.
When my mother died a few weeks ago, a relative asked me what charity did we want donations to go to since sending flowers was such a waste since flowers only died and contributing to a charity was the right thing to do.
Well, my mother loved flowers. Simply adored them. And so do I. I don't consider them to be a waste and indeed, the fact they die is pretty symbolic of the whole living/dying process. As far as charities go, I actually find it kind of repulsive that they're gaining donations because of the collective guilt and misery of others. Since when did it become required for people to donate to a charity because someone died? Personally, I'd rather the flowers but not to offend that person, I told them they could donate to whatever charity they wanted but not to feel obligated in any way. Give what you want and when - but don't feel you have to do it because of this.
It's also trendy now to give donations in a person's name instead of a gift because the giver has decided that person has everything and doesn't need anything. I had this done to me once at an office Christmas party. I don't remember the charity but I do remember feeling pretty miserable because of this and the fact that I was the only one in the room not to receive anything. It was at a low point in my life when things weren't good and a gift would have gone a long ways to cheer me up. It probably sounds pretty selfish to some of you but that incident made me vow never to impose my personal standards on another person. If I ever get to a point where I don't want to give things to others, I'll make sure to take my name out of the gift exchange!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Gotta love lemon!

Lemons are finally getting cheaper thankfully. Homemade lemonade is one of the nicest drinks around and last night, I made the first pitcher in what seems to be a long time. My recipe is pretty simple - grate the lemon zest into your glass pitcher, squeeze the lemon juice from at least two large lemons and add sugar to taste. Stir it and then add water to fill the pitcher and chill. It takes a while to zest the lemons and get the sugar amounts right and you do have to stir it vigorously, every time you want a glass but it is so worth it. I also made a lemon loaf cake this week from a recipe in one of the Company's Coming cookbooks.
Candywise, I just tried Lemonheads for the first time - I love'em! They're like jellybeans with attitude and you have to love the real lemon taste. At 50 cents a box, I'll definitely be getting more of these.
My search for a good lemon tea goes on. So far, Twinings seems to be winning this battle with their Green Tea With Lemon but somehow, I think there's still a better one out there.
I did try a really nice Teavana Chocolate Mint black tea yesterday - it's almost enough to make me consider placing an order ...

Friday, April 15, 2011

New Habit

Well, last week I mentioned buying a Tassimo. Since then, I have become addicted to the cappuccinos that it makes - at least one a day and somedays, two ... OK, most days, two. Yum! The Twinings Chai tea lattes aren't bad either and I really like the Twinings Earl Grey tea.
The Starbucks coffee is great and I expect the Nabob coffee lattes to be good as well. The only real disappointments were the Suchard hot chocolate - yuck - and Nabob's Cafe Crema - double yuck! I might buy a large mug and combine the Crema and the Suchard to come up with a mocha - I am not wasting all that stuff but I'm definitely not drinking either as they are now.
My Keurig is sitting there waiting for me to return to using it. And I will - for overall ease of use, it's still Keurig's game.
But I just love those cappuccinos!
Tea-wise, I've been getting into some of my old favorites, Harney's Paris blend is in my cup right now. And a Tetley Green Earl Grey is my surprise of the week - pretty good for a tea that I had been avoiding - just couldn't imagine combining green tea with Earl Grey flavorings - but it works.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I really needed this ...

For the most part, I'm a thrifty person. I have been known to save and my bills are always paid on time. But I do have several weaknesses - books, music and the subject matters of this blog, tea, chocolate and coffee.
Even though I already own a beautiful KitchenAid coffeemaker, a cappuccino maker, a Keurig, several French Presses, a Melitta, several small coffeemakers, a Teadrop electric tea maker, and numerous kettles and teapots (and I use them all), I felt the need to buy a Tassimo this week.
Notice I said need and not want?
So far, I am happy with it. I bought it primarily for the coffee drinks such as cappuccinos and lattes, which are much easier to make this way. As soon as I had my first cappuccino, I knew it was a good decision. Oh. Yum. I've had the Nabob which is much better than I expected and the Starbucks, which is exactly as I expected. I've also had the Starbucks Verona blend which is divine and have yet to open my Starbucks House Blend. We don't have a Starbucks around here so this is a wonderful way to get my fix. Starbucks will be available for Keurig later in the year but this will keep me going until then.The biggest surprise was the Maxwell House Decaf - this is seriously good for an inexpensive decaf!
Teawise, the selection is pretty disappointing. I can only get Twinings Earl Grey (which is quite good) and Chai Tea Latte around here and I haven't tried the latte yet.
As for the perennial question, Tassimo versus Keurig, here's my thoughts:
Tassimo is much noisier than Keurig
Tassimo is messier than Keurig
Tassimo makes coffee and tea speciality drinks; Keurig does not.
Tassimo has limited flavors in coffees and teas; Keurig has about 150 and most are pretty good.
Keurig is easier to use.
Keurig is definitely the machine to use if you're a tea lover.If you can afford just one machine, you're probably better off getting the Keurig.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Chocolate, chocolate

Years back, I drank coffee and little else. Then the caffeine began affecting my tummy so I began to explore the world of tea. All along, I drank decaf coffee, usually Starbucks or a flavored decaf in the evening whenever I could get it. I didn't really start to drink full-strength coffee again until I got my Keurig - for some reason, I can drink a cup or two from the Keurig without it bothering me in the least - yet, if I drank the same coffee prepared another way, it would make me sick. Apparently I'm not the only one who has noticed this - some are even wondering if the Keurig application somehow affects the caffeine content of the finished cup. Fortunately, there are plenty of flavors to try and it's nice to start the day with a cup of coffee. Nothing against tea - I do love it - but for some reason, I can't drink it first thing in the morning since it nauseates me. After I eat, I can enjoy a pot or two.
But all along, I've aways enjoyed the occasional cup of hot chocolate, usually on the coldest days of winter. This year, the cravings have arrived during the past week and I've been able to satiate them since I always keep a stash of cocoa on hand. This year, the cup of choice has come from a Canadian company, Gourmet Village. I have to recommend their Creme Brule and Maple flavors but I wish they still made my favorite, Chocolate Orange. Unbelievably good - just like a liquid chocolate orange. Other wonderful hot chocolates come from Ghiradelli (if you can find it), Nestle Noir and Tim Horton's makes a great hot chocolate that isn't all that expensive either. Since I've just run out of my Gourmet Village stash, I'll be having a cup of Ghiradelli today. I've already got an order in to replenish my supplies!

Monday, March 28, 2011

What would I do ...

if I had $1000 to spend only on myself. Oh my! I read about this on the Asian Pear blogsite (http://theasianpear.blogspot.com/) and the only qualifications was that it couldn't be used to pay bills or debt. Sounds like fun!
In actuality, I would probably use the money to buy a new iMac (mine's seven years old and getting really slow), but for here I decided to do one based on tea instead - and wow, you can really get a lot of stuff for a thousand bucks. Of course, most of the money would be spent online since there's virtually no choice around here. Here goes my list:
1. I'd head right over to www.tweedandhickory.com since they sell a nice selection of Metropolitan Teas and K-cups. I'd buy one pound bags of my favorites: grapefruit black, orange spice black, blackberry black, rhubarb cream black, pineapple black, decaf English Breakfast, decaf strawberry black, decaf peach apricot and decaf Earl grey (approx. $310), I'd then get about $200 in assorted Kcups and about $40 in hot chocolate flavors from Gourmet Village. I'd probably also break down and buy a Tassimo and some coffees and teas to go with that (another $200 at least) although I might be tempted to spring for a more upscale version of my present Keurig.
2. I'd then go to Harneys and buy some of my favorites there (Tropical green, Paris, Cranberry Autumn, Earl Grey and something new - preferably some greens or a pouchong ($100) and then to
3. Stash for a big supply of my favorite Orange Spice and some of their teawares - a Stump teapot, a new tea cozy and a selection of some new cups. Believe it or not, everything, with shipping and taxes, together would come to about $1000.
4. If I economized somewhere, I might be able to add a Shelley teacup and saucer to the mix - at some point, it would be nice to have one of these in my collection.
Fun to think about and I confess, I'm a little surprised at how quickly that money would disappear. What would you do with a $1000 in tea and/or coffee money?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sort of back

It's been a rough, sad few weeks. I guess it's time to start getting back to normal, although I'm not sure what that is any more. Some people return to work within a few days of a death while others work on through. I have no idea of how they do it. I'm actually glad not to be working right now since I would be absolutely useless in any workplace.
But next week, I do have a professional engagement one evening so I better start screwing my head back on. Don't want to break down in front of a room of strangers.
One thing I would like to point out is this - if someone you know experiences a death in their family, please send a condolence. It can be a phone call, a card or a one-line email. Don't worry about sending flowers or donations - just let them know that you're thinking of them. And the time AFTER the funeral is actually the best time to make contact - that's when everyone leaves you alone, and yet, that's the time when you need people the most.
And never hesitate to send food - even the most ardent chefs among us are too overwhelmed to do any cooking during those initial days. Any extras can always be frozen for the next week.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bad time

Shortly after I wrote my last post, I received a call that my mother broke her hip. She died from complications two days later, and frankly, it was a horrible death. It's been an awful few days and I suspect I'll not be blogging for a while. It will take a while to understand why all of this happened.

Friday, March 4, 2011

I Should Like This But ...

As you may have guessed by now, I love to eat. I also love trying new things. However, there's one part of foods which have confused me - the stuff we want to like but just can't.
When I read magazines, I immediately want to try such things as Lavender Lemonade, Lavender Shortbread and salads made with edible flowers - they just look so good to eat. And let's face it - few foods are more visually appealing than sushi.
Yet, all of these things turn my stomach. The only thing I like about lavender is the color - can't stand the smell of it and the taste is nauseating - so why would I ever think that it's going to be good in cookies or lemonade? And I don't like leafy greens, salads or fish much - so the fact that it's pretty isn't going to improve the flavor.
Some may believe that we eat with our eyes, but if you can't stand a food, making it look good isn't going to help matters. Maybe it's just me, but dressing it up in new clothes isn't going to change the essential nature and taste of the product.
But after saying that, I do confess to liking Lavender Butterfly Tea - it's a green tea blended with lavender. But I think it's a case of the tea blender having a clue and allowing good quality green tea to stand out, instead of the flower. And even so, this isn't a tea for the early morning.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Springing into March

February is nearly over and the only good thing I can say about it is that it is the most consistent month of the year.
The weather is ALWAYS crappy in February. Even in years where there has been plenty of good weather, February always manages to stick in a few blizzards and ice storms just to keep those arm muscles toned (from all the driveway shovelling). This year has been no exception. As I write, there's a blizzard blowing outside.
Yet, earlier today, the sky was blue and sun shone like nothing I had seen in a while. It even seemed warm, in a wintery-sort of way. I went for a long walk. When I came home, I made a batch of double chocolate chip muffins and drank lemon tea.
Maybe spring is coming. One thing's for sure.
March is definitely coming in like a lion this year ...
Let's hope it owes up to the second part of the cliche.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Online Shopping Woes

There are times I wish the internet had never been invented. At one time, I was content to buy my tea at the local grocery store and purchase the occasional tea mug or cup at a nearby shop, usually when my last one was broken.
Now I can buy whatever I want whenever I want.
And there are times when I want a lot!
Case in point. Today I discovered Stash Tea (www.stashtea.com) has introduced their new spring lineup of teawares. It wasn't long before I had my shopping cart loaded up with three new teapots, three teacup and saucers, two tea mugs, two cozies and two of their newest blends. And I could have kept going. We're talking cups decorated with violets, toile, chintz ... all the good stuff! Tea flavored with Meyer lemons!
Fortunately, I finally managed to force myself off the site. So I went to www.harney.com, drooled there for a while and managed to get away from there before I spent any money. Then I went to ... well, you get the point.
I don't need any new teas. Nor do I need any new mugs or teapots. I'm quite well-stocked, thank you very much.
But for some reason, I still crave more.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Food, glorious food!

I did lose 17 pounds - and now I'm afraid to weigh myself because I'm back to baking and eating! One thing about being off work - it gives you plenty of time to bake up goodies. Today, I made brownies with a lazy chocolate icing - just take two milk chocolate bars and place them on top of the hot brownies from the oven. The bars will melt and you can spread the chocolate all over the brownies. It will harden when the brownies cool and you will have the best tasting icing ever - without messing up any dishes! I also made carrot pineapple muffins, which are as tasty as they sound. We might be having a pizza for supper but I might just make a cheese and mushroom quiche anyway - if we do have the pizza, we can always have the quiche tomorrow.
I do need to make some tea and it's either going to be a coconut black or a plum black tea. Both are favorites and today I feel the need for something tasty and familiar.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Kindness works!

The sun is finally out after our most recent two-day storm. I slept in, partially because I was tired and partially because I was afraid to look outside and see how much snow there was in the driveway. When I finally got out of bed, there was a nice surprise - someone had plowed the bottom end of the driveway. There's still work to do around the car, the walkways and steps but by clearing out the bottom half, including what the city usually dumps in our driveway when it plows the street, my secret snow plower has lightened my load by at least 50 per cent. I have no idea who you are but THANK YOU!
A little bit of human kindness has gone a long way in restoring in my faith in people - I needed that - and not just from a physical standpoint.
I tried one of my new teas last night. Tangerine Orange Zinger from Celestial Seasonings is delish! It's an herbal tea with a wonderful orange flavor - when the weather warms up, I can imagine it making a wonderful iced tea. Definitely worth trying.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Storm weary

It's now past mid-February here and the snow is stacked high outside. The temperatures has finally gotten back up to around 0 C and the sun came out yesterday and even hung around a bit today. Of course, that makes the fact we're expected to have two snow storms this weekend seem even more dreary.
Winter has officially overstayed its welcome. Yeah, I know it's Canada but still, in a place where storms usually leaves amounts measured in feet, enough is enough.
I planted a pot of herbs today - parsley, basil and chives. I'm drinking more green teas, probably more of a reaction to the heavier black teas of winter. But today, I did receive two new ones - Celestial Seasonings Tangerine Orange Zinger and Zhena's Gypsy Rose Black tea with rose petals - they both seem pretty springy to me! Here's hoping they're good.

Friday, February 11, 2011

18 bottles of jam on the wall, 18 bottles of jam ...

I've been reading everything in sight, including cookbooks. I came across a few recipes to try and today, I got the ingredients. After three hours, I had 10 bottles of lemon pineapple jam and eight bottles of white grape jelly made. The ingredients cost about $14 so that works out to around 77 cents per eight ounce bottle - definitely a bargain, if you don't count labor costs. Plus, homemade jam is always better - even if it looks like the grape jelly isn't gelling - grrrr. And I even followed the directions for a change ...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Good N Cheap!

For the past while, I've been wanting to try Tetley Earl Grey Vanilla but I've always managed to talk myself out of it. Well, on Saturday, it was selling for $2.49 for 24 bags and I thought - if you're going to try it, now's the time.
I've gone back to mostly loose leaf teas but this stuff is great for when you can't be bothered dragging out the infusers, filters or what have you. The Earl Grey flavor is strong enough not to be overpowered by the vanilla, and all in all, it's quite a nice cup. One bag will handily do a small teapot or two cups. I'm comparing it today to my Upton's Earl Grey Creme and it stands up surprisingly well. This is definitely one of Tetley's better offerings.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Snow Day!

The snow fell fast and long yesterday - leaving us to shovel a foot of the white stuff off our walkways and driveway today!
Everything's pretty much shut down and understandably so. A good day for hot chocolate and a pasta, cheese, tomato and hamburger casserole that I found in the freezer. Since shovelling burns off tons of calories and I was out there for a least an hour, I'm not too worried about the calories on this meal.
Tried that Lipton Mandarin Orange Green Tea - not bad. Not my favorite but certainly very drinkable. The orange flavor is fairly light and not too artificial tasting. Probably wouldn't buy it again but I'll finish off the box.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The fun never stops - please?

The last half of January is just something I'd rather forget, between losing my job for no good reason, finding out that the person who I recommended for a part-time position has now taken over my former position (ouch!) and accidentally eating one of my back fillings while consuming an otherwise delicious homemade apple crisp.
OK, enough with the bad luck please - it's now time for a break.
I went out today to run a few errands and while downtown, bought myself a beautiful handmade tea cup in the most gorgeous shade of pale mauve. Just looking at it cheers me up. Of course, what's the point of a new cup without some new tea to put in it? So I bought a box of Twinnings Lemon Green, which I am drinking right now and a box of Lipton's Mandarin Green in the pyramid bags, which I plan to try later. The Twinnings Lemon Green is really nice - fresh and lemony without that icky weedy taste that lemon teas often fall victim to.
A storm is apparently on its way here - at least I don't have to worry about getting to work! There are some advantages to my new lifestyle ... and I plan to enjoy every last one for as long as I can. I raise my pretty new teacup towards a better future - not just for me - but for you too!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Another tea

A fellow blogger sent me a nice pile of tasty teas a few weeks ago and I've been slowly trying them. The latest is an Earl Grey from The Assam Tea Company. I normally shy away from Assams - just don't care for them. But I think Assam is just a name for the company - this tea seemed more like a Ceylon-style or even Nilgiri. Whatever it was, it was pretty good!I also tried a peach or apricot tea from this company and also liked it. Apparently they're a Canadian company so I'll have to check them out on the web. Thanks again Marlena!

Major Changes

I haven't posted in a while - some major changes came my way that I wasn't expecting. I was laid off at work - and it wasn't expected. So I've been going through some major stress - I'll be OK but I wished I had more warning - maybe I would have rethought a clothing and shopping spree the weekend before. And I can't return anything since I wore it all through the week before I was officially told - I did really like everything though. Everything but the lay-off, of course. One good thing about it - we've had some really bad weather here this week and it's nice not to have the pressure of getting to work on icy snow-covered roads.
So now I need to find another job. And around here, that's going to be tough - jobs are hard to get, especially in my field. Moving's not an option. However, I am willing to try new things and I'm not too hung on what I do - as long as it brings in some money!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Love this stuff!

Slowly, I am getting through a lovely pile of tea that a fellow blogger sent me in December. Today, I decided I needed a darjeeling so I opened the bag that said Tea Spot New Moon Darjeeling and made a small pot. From the first sip, I knew I had found a new best friend. It's light but has a definite floral tea taste - not at all overwhelming but just right for a tired tummy. I could drink pots of this stuff. Thanks Marlena for letting me know about this one!

Good News, bad news

The good news is that despite the holidays and several weeks of eating more than I should, the scale says I have lost another two pounds!
The bad news is that I have some sort of bug - no sniffles but I'm exhausted and achy with gastro symptoms - that's making me take time off work. So I am at home today, reading all the blogs and wondering if I have enough energy to do a load of laundry - yeah, I'm that tired.
All in all, it's a good day for tea and toast. Preferably, a nice darjeeling.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A week later ..

... and it's amazing how different everything looks. Last week at this time, I was swatting mosquitoes since we had no snow and it was still somewhat warm for the time of year. Today, it's a winter wonderland. Snow has been falling since yesterday but we also had some earlier in the week so there's lots out there now. At some point, I'm going to have to waddle out of my nice warm cocoon in here and shovel my driveway. I need the exercise but I'm really not in the mood. Who is ever in the mood to shovel snow?
I'm drinking some Russian Earl Gray from The Tea Table that was sent to me by Marlena, a fellow tea-loving blogster. I've been lazy in my tea explorations lately. I've just been making stuff that I already know I like and not trying anything new. If you like Earl Grey, you'll like this tea. It's a little different from the standard Earl Grey but nothing drastic. A little orange has been added so it ups the citrussy taste - which I like. A pleasant cup, especially for those of us who prefer a more citrus-based Earl Grey flavor. Some Earl Grays are just too perfumey for my taste.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Disciplined ... and wary!

So today, I look at my end of year pay stub and used it as the basis for my first honest-to-goodness budget. Discovered that I really need to make more money (duh - I already knew that) so I will have to look into that further. Decided maybe I should wait a while before getting a new car. And when I had everything planned and figured out, I went to visit a friend in the 11 year old car that has not given me a lick of trouble in an entire year.
Half-way through the 40 minute drive, the engine light comes on.
Hmmm ... maybe that brand spanking new budget is going to need some adjustment.
I got there safe and sound and got home safe and sound. But obviously, it's going to have to be checked. And if the repair is too high, I might be getting a new vehicle quicker than I had originally anticipated.
On the less expensive side, I did try a new tea today - an Arizona mandarin orange hot tea with ginseng. It tasted a bit artificial to me, although I do have to admit that I normally don't like drinks with ginseng in them.