Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday Tea Time

L and I went back to the Hill Country, to get another college t-shirt to wear tomorrow at her school's National College Decision Day celebration.

(Wow, they can wear a t-shirt with their skirts! That's about as good as it gets at that place. Though I also bought for her a school colors mascot bandana, a set of 1" tattoos and animal paw print nail decals. Discretion is the name of the game - we'll roll the bandana and wear as a hairband, not headband a la Bret Michaels and maybe one tat on her inside wrist or arm, and one or two nail decals. I believe I am showing consideration restraint by not Swavorski-hotcrystaling the bandana or t-shirt.)
Of course, we had to make a stop at the closest Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf --wherein I was able to grab THE LAST canister of fat free/sugar free French Deluxe Vanilla. Just in time, for 5 minutes later, a couple came in asking for it -- and then eyeballing mine. Hey, possession is 9/10ths of the law!

Anyways, I tried and bought a new tea -- Indian Assam. It's a black tea which is described as ...bright with golden colors and a rich, piquant flavor with hints of spice, cream and notes of peach and chocolate...

All I can say is wow! Hard to actually describe other than very pleasant and yummy. Tastes great hot or in their iced tea lattes.

20 teabags for $8.20. (There was also only one can of that on the shelf, too!)

About Face!

Actually that is the name of my new rose - "About Face," a grandiflora rose from Costco for $13.99. The fragrance is described (and accurately, I add) as "freshly-cut apple" The outside of the petals are a bronze-y red, and the inside - gold.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cooking Light - Kalamata Olive Bread with Oregano

...And I added a bit of rosemary, several shakes of onion powder and a dash of garlic. I did not have the fresh herbs nor onion, so went with dried instead.

Kalamata Olive Bread with Oregano is from the January/February 2009 issue of Cooking Light. It received mixed reviews online.

In addition to subbing some of the ingredients, I baked the bread in two 3" x 5" loaf pans for 33 minutes - I started checking at 30 minutes and that extra three sealed the deal. I still included the tablespoon of olive oil which was supposed to be used for saute'ing the onion. I figured it needed the moisture and the bit of fat, since the recipe called for only 2 tablespoons of butter.

Our result -- 3 stars...not bad! I will add it to the notebook recipe binder and make it again. It is a denser bread. Fresh out of the pan warm, it reminded me of a dumpling texture. I almost think it would make a great biscuit or muffin, too. I may try that version next time. My original intent was to use this as a sandwich bread, but it's a bit too crumbly. But I think it would be absolutely yummy with soup, either in the mini loaf pan or muffin pan.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Stila at Costco!

Stila has two makeup sets at Costco for $19.99 - "All About You"- in both a Cool and a Warm version. The Warm version eyeshadows were more golden and brown. I already have a lot of those shades. But I heard that blues are trendy now, so I went with the Cool set, Item #498587. Most likely I will only blog about it, for my daughter is eyeing it right now as I'm typing!
You get:
  • Double Ended Brush #30
  • Lash Visor Mascara in Black
  • One Step Makeup tube in Medium
  • Smudge Pot in Black
  • Eye Shadow Trio in Cool -- "Stone, Smog and Kitten" (the colors in "Warm" are "Lame', Chloe and Kitten")

("Kitten" was voted 2008 ALLURE Magazine Editor's Choice Award for Best Beige Eye Shadow)

A pretty good deal for less than $20! You can do the math --

The brush is $32, full size mascara $20, the eyeshadows usually retail for $18 each, the Smudge Pot is the 2g size, half the regular retail size which sells for $14-$18. The .10 ounce One Step Makeup is new and supposed to combine primer, foundation, concealer and powder into one product. Retail size is $44. I would say this tube is a little bit larger than a sample size, perfect to tuck into your purse.

Friday, April 23, 2010

J.Jill Triple Play!

Gotta love it when J.Jill has overlapping promotions! There's a double Take 5 discount (10%) going on right now (ending April 25), and I just received this morning a $20 off $80 purchase email/coupon -- BB0510. Perhaps they may be starting the "Easy Style Pass" (April 26/May 16) early? Or I had a fairy godmother clerk! Hmmm, I just checked my pass card - the code is different! The Easy Style code is RF0510. And yes, it is a head start!

Run to J.Jill and start shopping and saving now! The new catalog is out and the store has lots of new clothes in stock from it - especially linens and in new colors -- red and orange. With the discount, the coupon and clearance sale markdown, I basically got a dress almost half off and a free camisole tank!

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Super Saturday Sale - May 1
McCall's $1.99
Butterick $1.99

April 25/May 1 --
50% off interfacing by the yard
30% off Gingher cutting tools

Target Liberty of London - Now 30% Off!

Just the ladies' clothes right now, at least at one of the Targets in my area. Some items have been moved to the 30% markdown rack, others are red tagged and still near the front in the Liberty of London women's clothing section.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thursday Tea Time

When we were in Phoenix, we tried unsuccessfully to find a boba or tapioca tea place. But along the way we serendipitously discovered something else instead -- The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

They only have U.S. locations in California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and Texas. None in Houston, yet, but Austin has four!

I became addicted to their iced tea lattes, and L the Ice Blended Fru-Teas and straight up iced teas in the different flavors. She also likes the Japanese Cherry Green Tea. And check out the purple straws!

The Spring Peach Oolong and Peach Ginger Green Teas are special limited editions. The Peoria/Phoenix location was sold out of the Peach Ginger, but I was able to get the Spring Peach AND the French Vanilla Powder -- in the fat-free/sugar-free version.

BUT -- when we went up to their website, we found and went to one of their Austin locations! There I found and bought the Peach Ginger (last one!) and then tried the Raspberry Ceylon iced tea latte. Bliss! It was like raspberries and cream!

Aren't the tin containers pretty?

CBTL teas are whole leaf teas. So these pretty silky teabags go from this

and turn into this ---->

Practically golfball-sized!

I have been making the hot tea lattes in the morning or when I need a little something sweet and filling. The French Vanilla Powder also goes well with the Stash Moroccan Mint tea - iced with a touch of honey. Sa-weet! Thank goodness for mail order and maybe another trip to the Hill Country to try and buy more tea...and Vanilla Powder!

Celebrate Earth Day at Hancocks!

Starting today through April 25 at Hancock Fabrics --
99 cent McCalls patterns
50% off Blumenthal buttons
50% off Bamboo fiber, pillow forms and batting

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Free Summer Grilling Coupons from Penzeys!

The newest Penzeys catalog - Grilling 2010 - has a free 1/4 cup coupon for your choice of three grilling seasonings -- BBQ 3000, Black & Red Spice and Northwoods Seasoning. . .

Along with their great recipes for these spices, such as Northwoods Grilled Asparagus, Black & Red Chicken and BBQ 3000 Veggie Skewers. (And Whoopie Pie Cookies - no, you don't use the grilling spices for those, but the recipe is also in the catalog on page 51. They look cute and tasty!)

If you aren't on their mailing list, sign up! Not only does their catalog have a wide variety of spices, seasonings and extracts -- which are not only affordable but also educational to read about -- it features yummy, real-life recipes which easily rival and surpass those found in cooking magazines, and for free! Call 800/741-7787 or visit their website,

Can't wait for the mail to get a peek at the recipes? You can download their catalog now, too!

Online and phone coupon codes are: BBQ3000 20235C...Black & Red 10537C...Northwoods Seasoning 22134C

Timing is everything - or - Oh, NOW I read about it!

In the May/June issue of AAA's Texas Journey magazine, just received today -- I found out as an AAA member you can renew your vehicle registration at your local AAA branch office if you live in Dallas, Denton, Fort Bend, Harris, Montgomery or Williamson counties. Sigh, after going to FedEx/Kinkos or whatever they are calling themselves to make a copy of the insurance card, I dropped it in the mail yesterday. . .

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chantal at Costco!

This is even cheaper than the prices at Chantal's annual warehouse sale! And in a cool color I haven't seen before, too. $19.99 for 2-piece stoneware baker set. Rectangular 9x13, square 8x8 in a gorgeous Pomegranate Red. Item #366387. Found in the Houston Galleria store this afternoon, a third were gone already.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Back in the Oven Again...Cooking Light Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

Finally, after battling fierce allergies to record-breaking tree pollen levels and being out-of-town, I can get back to baking and cooking!

Tonight I made Cooking Light's Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin, found on page 28 of the Cooking Light Best Recipes 2010 (which is on the newsstands until April 23) This recipe was originally from the March 2009 issue. The "Best Recipes of 2010" is actually the top-rated recipes from 2009.

Very easy to make, but I think I would change up the directions just a bit. Instead of preheating the oven first, start the oven after you've seasoned the pork and while it is standing for 20 minutes. Why heat up the kitchen any longer than you need to. I also transferred the pork to a baking dish instead of putting the pan in the oven. My pan is old, and I'm not sure if the handles are or were ovenproof. The dish helped corral the juices, and after transferring the cooked pork to a plate to rest and stand, I poured the extra liquid on top.

The rub is an interesting and fragrant combination of spices, typical of Cooking Light. I used all pre-ground spices. The house smelled wonderful. And the pork was just delicious! It is definitely going into our family favorites binder.

Today's iPod Workout List

My iPod was so random today. It found and played these songs--

Ghosts 'n' Stuff - Deadmau5...SexyBack - Justin Timberlake...Skateaway - Dire Straits...I Can't Help Myself - Four Tops...Fort Knox - Goldfish...You Make My Dreams Come True - Hall & Oates...You're the First, The Last, My Everything - Barry White...It's All Been Done - Barenaked Ladies

What a workout!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010

There's still some left!

of the PJ fabric, but I've folded and put it away for another day, another project. (I even saved the mini patch pocket). It's probably my part magpie tendency with the silver metallic stripe or the color combination, I just really liked and enjoyed repurposing this fabric.

For my last trick, I made a little drawstring bag -- the waistband already had the buttonhole openings. And the stripe placement was too fun to pass up. I just serged finished a strip of fabric for the tie. Again, I'm trying to get away from plastic, so I'll probably use this little bag to put my eyeshadows or brushes in for my travel case. And yes, still be able to enjoy the fabric! (ooh, shiny pretty...!)

Spring International Quilt Festival Moving to Cincinnati!

Next year's Spring edition of the International Quilt Festival will be April 8/10, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. After eight years, this is the last year for Chicago to host the Quilt Festival, which is starting today, April 15, with Preview Night - through April 18 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois.

The decision to change locales was based upon attendee feedback, requesting easier parking, affordable accommodations and more restaurant options. Festival Director, Karey Bresenhan points out, "I think this shows we're really sincere in our desire to seek out and act upon well-thought-out suggestions for improving our shows..." Nice to know it is worth your time to complete those evaluations and surveys, and that people listen!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Shoo Plastic! Fabric Shoe Bags

I really did love the fabric from the pink stripe PJ's! In addition to a fabric tray, I used the legs to create shoe bags for traveling. Even reusing the elastic waistband as a closure because I was too lazy to make a drawstring! Since it's just a shoe holder and just for my eyes only - well, now bloggy land - I didn't even bother to finish off the raw edge of the waistband I snipped off. Of course for a gift, you probably would be using new or stash fabric, not old PJ's.

These did the trick just fine - I'm even making another pair from flannel PJ's a little bit bigger and little more sturdier for my sneakers. Plastic bags are fine to use for workouts, too - especially for wet things. But I hated wasting them for workout shoes which are dirtier and ultimately rubbing against each other, unless you use two bags, etc., etc. And nowadays I'm not getting as many as I'm bringing my own bags shopping.

Traveling Fabric Trays

Thank you to Megann at Boutique NutMeg Designs for her easy-to-follow tutorial instructions!

I repurposed a pair of sleep pants and a fleece hoodie, even using the drawstrings from both as the tray ties. I grabbed a package of the fusible fleece during Jo-Ann's recent 50% off notions wall sale.

I followed the directions for the pink stripe PJ's; and then for the purple hoodie, I serged the edges of the layers together, then tacked the ties in place.

We used these on a recent trip and they did a great job corralling change, car keys, room cardkey and cell phones.

Coca-Cola Happiness Machine

I consider myself lucky if I don't get an exploding can or bottle...!

Costco-Clean Cars!

Discovered at the Peoria/Glendale/Phoenix Costco -- A car wash! Taken early in the morning for Arizona - we were still functioning on the two hour time difference. The puzzled, yet friendly guard (why is someone taking a pic of a car wash? I told him I was a Costco fan visiting from Texas) said you can get "the works" for only $8 and other locations would soon be getting them. It just opened there about six months ago.

Costco - Gooey Caramel Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

How do you type that Homer Simpson sound when he's fantasizing about food?!

We found these in the Austin Costco last week and they are now in the Houston area ones. Nine rolls for $7.99. Warm them in the oven or give 'em a quick nuke in the microwave for about 10 seconds to release that yummy caramel and slightly melt the cream cheese!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

"Ghosts 'n' Stuff", Deadmau5

This was the music used by Beat Freaks for the Season 5 teaser commercial for "America's Best Dance Crew." The version featuring Rob Swire is the one with the words. It's fun for the treadmill!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Can they plant a tree I'm not allergic to?!

An interesting German website, "Make It Green", will plant a tree in Northern California's Plumas National Forest for each participating blog to help reforest and help reduce carbon emissions.

Here is the response I received from Christin Gerick --

Thank you so much for participating in our initiative and making your blog carbon neutral! Your tree will be planted this month by the Arbor Day Foundation. The scheduled start plant date is Monday, April 19 and the trees will be planted by a contracted crew. The roads are being plowed, all contracts solidified, and twelve shipments of 150,000 seedling each are being assembled. We thank you for the support!

National Library Week!

April 11-17, 2010

Libraries have always had a soft spot in my heart. Growing up I used to spend hours there reading and eventually even working -- shelving the non-fiction books as a teen. (Sewing! 646.2 Cookbooks! 641.5) My daughter's Girl Scout Gold Award involved teen literacy and forming a book club. She was also a library volunteer.

If I may step on the soapbox, I do want to mention it is a pity budget cutbacks have curtailed these great places of community and learning. In particular, the City of Houston has proposed closing the branch libraries on Saturday of all days, only being open Monday-Friday (just the main library downtown is open on Sunday). Why not reconsider closing on Mondays instead and reopening on Saturdays? Just a helpful suggestion from moi while Houston City Council ponders and hopefully undoes their big goof.

Support your local library and let your voice be heard before you get shushed!

Peet's Tea Surprise in Houston

All places, Houston Hobby Airport. Peet's Coffee & Tea has a place near Southwest Airlines gates. I think this is their only storefront location in Houston. Pity, they make a great iced tea at a great price, especially in an airport. I got a large for only $2.45! Crystal-clear and not at all grassy or funky. Great ice, too!

Now if only Hobby would get free wifi. . .

(Psst! If you are by Southwest Gates 22/24 near Buffalo Wild Wings, you can grab their free signal. While not strong enough to connect your iPod Touch through (it could detect the signal, that's all), you can get up and surf the Internet with a netbook or laptop. There is also a table for two with an outlet next to the ordering area. I point this out only because while Southwest has some gates with tables and chairs with outlets, Gates 22/24 do not. So if you are charged up or can wangle that spot, go for it!)

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Books A-Go-Go -- Mobile Digital Libraries

OK, this is pretty cool -- and FREE! Our county library has digital book downloads for all sorts of media players, including iPods, phones, BlackBerry and other MP3 players. I can even play it on my computer. You just have to download the software -my library uses the OverDrive Media Console. I was able to transfer it directly into my iPod without going through iTunes. (I'm going to see if I can put it on my iPod Touch, too.) And it was free -money-wise and virus-wise. You "check out" the book for two weeks. Since this is my first time trying it, I have no idea what happens after two weeks - does it delete itself? Can I "renew"? I'll keep you posted. Sure beats having to pay for retail audio downloads. There were lots of titles available -- I was able to grab "The Painted Veil"
OK, a few more things I've just learned -- 1) Haven't tried this yet, but forewarned is delete your "book" you need to connect your iPod into iTunes using the manually managing option. 2) Downloading the book into the iPod took a long time. I thought it was just my computer connection. OverDrive divides the book into Parts. Each Part took about 7-8 minutes, about 48 minutes total for this particular book, which is a little over seven hours long. Once you have downloaded the book into OverDrive, you can just download one part or as many parts you want at a time. I didn't know that and my little iPod got HOT! I had to plug in my power cord as the battery drained to almost 4% before it finished. And that was with a charged battery.
I'll keep you posted with other hints, tips and suggestions as I go along. I'm the type of "click this-oh s**t!, click that-Whew! electronic gadget girl!

Netflix Stars - The Painted Veil

4.25/5 - I don't know how Netflix recommended this for me, but I liked it. (Despite it being set in 1920's China during the cholera epidemic?!) Especially the evolution of the relationship between Naomi Watts and Edward Norton, wow. The scenery - gorgeous. A movie that will linger in your memory. Too bad the Kindle doesn't have W. Somerset Maugham's novella, I'd download it to my iPod Touch in a minute. I even checked eReader. I'll probably have to read it the old fashioned way.

Netflix Stars - 2012

3.5/5 - Combine a little of "Day After Tomorrow" and "Titantic" and any other disaster movie coming to mind, toss in Woody Harrelson being, well, Woody Harrelson. Add about two hours of your time. Once you're in, you're in - just to see how it ends. But there is an alternate ending, be sure to watch that. John Cusack just doesn't age. Excellent special effects, bordering on suspension of disbelief. Not a bad movie to watch when there is nothing else to do.

Netflix Stars - Did You Hear About the Morgans?

1/5 - Hoped it would get better, but it didn't. Cringe-worthy dialogue and situations. I loved SJP in Sex and the City, but she lacks the chops for movies. Even an aging Hugh Grant coudn't pull it off for us. We gave up after 20 minutes.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Thursday Tea Time

Cost: $1.99 at Super Target
Number of teabags: 20
Caffeine: Yes
Type of tea: Green
Steeping time: 3-5 minutes
Double-Dipping potential: Yes, 6 minutes
Mix ins: sugar
Teabag fragrance: Spearmint
Ingredients: Green tea, spearmint, lemongrass and peppermint
Taste: First spearmint, then a little kick of peppermint. Smooth, not overly minty
Opinion: A nice variation of mint tea. The subtle, almost undetectable lemongrass helps balance the two mints. Very soothing and relaxing. I think this would be refreshing iced, too.
Rating: 4 teabags

One of us!

The March 31 New York Times had an article about how champion golfer Michelle Wie enjoys the creative outlets of sewing, baking and drawing.

"...She sews many of her street clothes and bakes vegan cookies and muffins from her own recipes ...the sewing machine, the sketchpad, the kitchen; these are Wie's escapes..."

In fact, here's her blog with some of her creations - A Black Flamingo She's quite good at everything she does!

Absolutely Alice

From the OPI "Alice in Wonderland" collection. The entire collection is sold out everywhere I looked in Houston. Stroke of luck (or gold sparkle blue) my nail place still had a bottle!

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

April 8/10
$1.99 Butterick

Daffodil Dash - April 11/17
99 cent McCall's
$3.99 Vogue
50% off all brands of rotary cuting tools and mats!
50% off Sulky, Gutermann and Coats & Clark thread

April 22/24
$1.99 Simplicity

April 5/24
50% off Coats & Clark thread
50% off Dritz notions wall

Peeps Show IV

Check out The Washington Post's "Peeps Show IV" Peep diorama contest entries -- the winner is a take on the movie, "Up"

There is even an iPhone/iPod Touch app! "The Washington Post Peeps Show" For only 99 cents, you can see over 130 top photos from all four years, commentary from the creators, share your favorites online and more.