Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Flowers - Rochester, NY edition

I found these orange pom-pom Craspedia for only $4 at Wegmans in Rochester, NY, to brighten my hotel room!
And these glads from Frear's Garden Shop for $3.99 to give to my friend, who I was very glad to see after almost 34 years!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Water Colors

At Vera Bradley, even the water bottles are pretty!  
Scored big at their Buy One Get One Free Sale Day at the Outlet Store in San Marcos, Texas, and with bonus $20 off a $75 or more purchase (not  a problem!)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thursday Tea Time

This week - Yogi Perfect Energy ~ Vanilla Spice and Raspberry Passion
Vanilla Spice

Cost:  $3.99 at Whole Foods
Number of teabags: 16
Caffeine:  Yes - 80mg and 72mg compared to 90mg in a cup of coffee
Type of tea:  Green, Black, Herbal
Steeping time:  4-6 minutes
Add ins:   Tastes best without any, or maybe just a tap or two of Stevia.
Teabag fragrance:  Vanilla Spice - cinnamon vanilla, Raspberry Passion - Very raspberry
Ingredients: Vanilla Spice - Assam Black Tea, Cinnamon Bark, Green Tea Leaf, Rooibos Leaf (Redbush), Honeybush, Green Tea Leaf Extract, Ginger Root, Licorice Root, Stevia Leaf, Gotu Kola, Ashwagandha, Shatavari Root, Shankpushpi Leaf, L-Theanine Suntheanine®.
Raspberry PassionAssam Black Tea, Green Tea Leaf, Hibiscus Flower, Stevia Leaf, Sage, Green Tea Leaf Extract, Gotu Kola, Shankpushpi Leaf, Ashwagandha, Shatavari Root, L-Theanine Suntheanine®, Natural Flavors 
Opinion:  If I were to bet before trying these, I would and did think the Raspberry Passion would have been the favorite over the Vanilla Spice.  The Raspberry Passion smelled terrific when I opened the tea bag, but blundered into nothing after brewing.  No, more like a hmmm/odd nose crinkle.  I didn't taste raspberry nor passion for that matter at all.  Now the Vanilla Spice was like a comforting mug of cinnamon toast.  With a kick.  In the behind I needed for my mid-afternoon slump.  Comfortably energized without buzzing crazy.
Rating:   Vanilla Spice - 4, Raspberry Passion - 1 (because it gave me a $2 coupon, which I will use to buy another box of Vanilla Spice!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Eat, Clean, Scent

 Fun Finds!

Tea Forte’ MinTeas
You can take it with you in this cute tin!  All natural, sugar-free, organic tea.
Prices range from $2.99 to $2.49 on sale at Whole Foods near the check-out register.

I tried these three and liked them all: 
Reboot – Tea Mints for Energy - Cocoa Mate
Fight fatigue with nature’s natural energizers of uplifting Brazilian yerba mate’ and rich, deep, chocolatey Columbian cocoa.

Results – Tea Mints for Fitness - Matcha Chai
Slimming matcha, with a tingle of cinnamon to aid in keep you fit and feeling fab.

Regroup – Tea Mints for Focus - Ginger Pear
Ginko with the lush flavor of juicy pear will bring focus to your mind.

“Uplifting Spicy Vanilla Chai”  by Desert Essence Organics
Body Wash and Hand and Body Lotion
8 ounces each, $6.99 (on sale), $8.99 found at Whole Foods
Do these smell great!!

Organic black tea and and yucca cactus (body wash) and Organic black tea, vanilla extract, shea butter and jojoba oil (body lotion)
100% Vegan, Gluten/Wheat free – No:  Parabens, Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfates, phospates, phthalates, artificial fragrances or colors, silicones, EDTA, glycol or petroleum-based ingredients.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Be Your Own Compass

You have a plan for your life.  You've set goals, and you can see exactly where you want to go.  But along the way, there will be diversions.  Every once in awhile, allow yourself to peek down a different path.  You may discover something extraordinary, or more of the same.  By pausing to choose your direction, you'll learn more about your true self, strength and desires.  This world is yours.  Where you travel next is up to you.

Self, May 2012

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Netflix Stars - This Means War

5 stars!  Despite it not doing well at the box office and overall critic's panning, I really enjoyed this movie.  The end keeps you guessing.  Tom Hardy  (I first discovered in "Inception") was really good here, too.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Sunny Savings Sale - July 15/28
40% off Gutermann thread

Coupon Commotion Sale - July 15/21
50% off coupons in the circular for sewing and quilting tools, craft/floral/framing items, regular* priced items & regular* priced fabric.

Including 99 cent Butterick (no coupon needed)

July 22/28 - 50% off Notions Wall

*I don't know about you, but I always find there is a sale on almost everything during these promotions -- "Sorry, you can't use the coupon for that."   But there is a 20% off your total purchase, including sale and clearance priced items July 22-28 coupon on the back page.   Plan your shopping accordingly.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thursday Tea Time

This week - The Steeping Leaf Rooibos Caramel Cream

When I was in Colorado Springs last November, we stopped at Marika's Coffeehouse (I love to follow them on Facebook just so I can read about their made-from-scratch daily treat offerings.  Marika's even has a baking blog for the recipes.) and I found this tea there.  I think I paid ~$12 for the bag.  If you click on the link, scroll down to the Tisanes and you will find this blend.  Amongst other great offerings and combinations. You can contact them to order via email -- 

I also used my tea filter bags, which I got at Chantal's Warehouse sale for only 50 cents.  The box!  I find all kinds of cool stuff at this annual sale here in Houston.  (Seriously, if you live in the Houston area or can plan a visit during their sale weekends, you need to go!  Get on their mailing list for special offers)  Here's the link to the Finum website;  I'm thinking Teavana and maybe Whole Foods/Central Market type stores would carry these.  You can also use a tea infuser ball or spoon, too.  But you can stuff more tea in the bags,

Number of teabags:  I used one tablespoon in a tea filter bag.  I believe this is a 3 ounce package.
Caffeine:  No
Type of tea: Herbal Rooibos Artisanal Tisane
Steeping time:  5 minutes
Add ins:  A little bit of Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Fat Free, Sugar Free Vanilla Powder.  Also try with skim milk.  No additional sweetener needed.  
Teabag fragrance:  Creamy caramels!
Ingredients:  Rooibos with caramel nibs (you can see them in the package!) and natural flavoring
Opinion:  Holy cow!  This. Is. GOOD!!!  (Sherry, I know you are reading this, I will send you a tablespoon and a teabag so you can try it!)  Like drinking warm caramels.  Those ones with the cream center which make your mouth (and dentist!) happy.  This is even better and will make your soul and heart happy, too!
Rating:  5+ -- off the chart!  Woo!

Knock, Knock!

Cue "Jaws" theme music!

All the rain we have had lately has turned the basils into a force to be reckoned with.  

Remember my June 29th post?  Less than two weeks ago?  You could still see the two feet of cement stoop leading to the sliding glass door window.  I think it is Pesto Time!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Do The Crazy Thing!

I actually found this on a yoga page, but think it is applicable to the creative and sewing process, too!  And life!

Netflix Stars - The Descendants

3.75 - Interesting movie, I'm glad I stayed with it until the end.  Though there were several moments in the first half I was ready to put it back in the envelope.  I loved the Hawaiian history, scenery and music.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Netflix Stars - Water For Elephants - (Updated)

5 stars!  One of the better movies I've seen in awhile.  Fortunately, the movie adaptation doesn't quite follow the book, especially towards the end.   Looks like Robert Pattinson may have a career outside the Twilight saga.  This is the photo  I took the day after I saw this movie.
The Circus came to town!

Monday, July 09, 2012

Costco has an app!

For the Android and iPhone/iPad!   I love to visit other Costcos to do some treasure-hunting.  Each store is different.  This will locate those stores, allow you to upload pictures for printing, shop online and see current warehouse offers, order prescriptions, and read The Costco Connection.  Even make a shopping list for you.  This is one of the better and more useful retail apps,

Netflix Stars - The Muppet Movie

0  stars -- Two tries over the weekend, fell asleep both times!

Saturday, July 07, 2012

10 Pack!

Plus one!

Including the coveted, hard-to-find "Vanilla Bean" - heralded as the perfect brown for 2012 home dec and accessorizing craft projects.

The 10 pack of Satin finish paints (they also had a set of the Metallic & Pearl paints) goes for $19.99.  Scored today with the 50% off coupon. Sweet!

Colors include:  Mint, Surf, Sea Lavender, Hailstorm, Pink Carnation, Raspberry Ice, Habanero, Carrot, Jonquil and Chestnut Brown. (Love the names!)

I used the Martha Stewart paints in another craft project, and just loved them.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Thursday Tea Time

This week, The Republic of Tea Raw Green Bush Tea - Plantain Coconut.

Cost:  $9.99 at Whole Foods and Central Market
Number of teabags:  36
Caffeine:  No
Type of tea: Herbal Rooibos
Steeping time:  7 minutes
Add ins: Stevia and unsweetened Almond Coconut milk
Teabag fragrance:  None
Ingredients:  Raw green rooibos, natural plantain banana flavor, natural coconut flavor and banana fruit powder.
Opinion:  Another entry for the high hopes failing to deliver column.  Granted, I was close to the "Best Sipped Date of July 6, 2012" stamped on the bottom, but there just wasn't much flavor or kick to this.  Plain, it was tasteless.  With the Stevia, just sweetened.  A splash of the almond-coconut milk brought out surprisingly a banana flavor.  I couldn't really detect the coconut at all, which I was hoping for.  Banana tea?!  Oh well.  I gave it a 1.5 only because it is supposedly so good for you.  I would expect more than blah coming out of such a creative pretty canister design.  
Rating:  1.5  

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!

Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins and Bread

Three cheers for the red, white and blueberry!  I love blueberry recipes, and for the 4th of July -- Perfect timing!

Inspired by Jane Hornby and her Fresh and Easy:  What to Cook & How to Cook It  in the  June 2010 issue of Glamour magazine, on page 210.  I already had and love a tried and true blueberry muffin recipe. (She also suggested substituting peaches or plums for the blueberries.  I think even raspberries would be yummy, too.).  I used Neufchatel 1/3 less fat cream cheese for more calories and fat savings.

My Blueberry Muffin Recipe!

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar (just a bit less)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons oil
1 egg, beaten
1 cup of blueberries
Cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon Penzey's Cake Spice, optional
A splash of vanilla or almond extract

Heat oven to 375. 

 Line 12 muffin cups with paper baking cups. (There usually will be extra to fill a small loaf pan or additional muffin cups or ramkins.)  In medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cake spice - mix well. In small bowl, combine milk, oil and egg (I also add a splash of vanilla extract), blend well. Add to dry ingredients, stir just until moistened. Add blueberries.  Spoon batter in cups, pans, ramkins halfway, add 1/2 teaspoon of cream cheese.  Top with more batter and add another dot/s of cream cheese on top.

Bake for 18-23 minutes or until light golden brown. (start checking around 16 minutes). Cool for one minute, remove from pan and serve warm. If there are any left over, these also freeze well.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Kroger CARBmaster Yogurts

I know, "cultured lowfat dairy blend" ?!   Well, I am trying to watch my carbs and these flavors sounded appealing to me.  I liked the numbers, too - 4g carb, 8g protein.  Let's just see if they taste as appealing.

Here's the label breakdown --
Calories:  60
Fat calories:  10
Total fat:  1.5g
Saturated fat:  1g
Trans fat:  0
Cholesterol:  10mg
Sodium:  90mg
Potassium:  15mg
Total carb: 4g
Fiber:  0
Sugars:  3g
Protein: 8g
Vitamin A 6%, Vitamin C 2%, Calcium 20%, Iron 2%, Vitamin D 15%

Here's my ranking --

Favorite:   Spiced Pear.
Runner Up:   Carrot Cake.  I thought for sure the Carrot Cake would taste the most artificial and chemical-y, but no,  I liked it a lot.  It reminded me of carrot cake batter!

Most Surprised They Were Just Awful:  White Chocolate Raspberry and Blackberry.  Usually the berry flavors do well artificially.  Not these. Yuck and yuck.

Also Candidates For The Garbage Can/Leave Behind At Kroger:   Banana Cream Pie (that's always a toughie to replicate.  Actually it was a bit more edible than other brands.  It had a good texture.  I finished that one, along with the Vanilla Chai only because I was hungry.

Overall, if you are looking for a nice change of pace, change of flavor from the Greek yogurts, give these a try.  There are other flavors, too - but not reviewed because I'm allergic to strawberries and citrus gives me migraines.  Those just  may end up in your Favorite category.

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Angus & Julia Stone - "Mango Tree" - 3:45

Monday, July 02, 2012

Giant Cinnamon Rolls! Part 2

Continuing my earlier post - the results from my new Williams-Sonoma baking tin!

Raisins - MINE!!

Ready to rise

Baked and ready to frost

TEXAS-Sized!  Ready to eat
Here is my (whole wheat) cinnamon roll recipe (click here for original post from 2008) - this time I made it even more whole wheat-y with 1 cup of white whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 cups regular bread flour.


3/4 cup water, plus 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons butter, softened
*2 1/2 cups bread flour (1/2 cup white whole wheat, 2 cups bread flour)
1/4 cup sugar Italic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bread machine yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon (Penzeys Vietnamese)
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 tablespoons milk

Place all ingredients in bread machine pan, except the cinnamon filling and glaze. (I know, duh!).
Select Dough/Manual cycle.

Flatten dough with hands or rolling pin into 9" square (or best attempt) on lightly floured surface. Spread or dot with 2 tablespoons butter or margarine; sprinkle with Cinnamon Filling. Roll dough up tightly; pinch edge of dough into roll to seal. Cut roll into 1' slices. Place in pan. (Stop here and refrigerate if needed to bake later). Cover and let rise in warm place 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until double.

Heat oven to 350, bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Drizzle Vanilla Glaze over warm rolls. Serve warm.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

We Love Because. . .

We Love because He first loved us – John 4:19

Do you believe in love at first sight?  I do!

On this day 28 years ago, I had my first date with my husband to be.  A blind date, yet!   Love is not blind.  The moment I first set my eyes on him, I knew.  And I could see he was the one for me.

This is a card from a box of stationery I found a few days ago by La Bonne Vie Studio in Hermosa Beach, California.  It is beautiful.   The Bible verse one of my favorites, (and it is my favorite shade of purple, too!)

It was a set of six cards.  Emphasis was.  I am taking one out to keep.  I’m pretty certain the recipient will laugh and not demand it back to recomplete.  Sometimes all that is missing is just love.  And that love completes.