Friday, August 31, 2012

Once in a blue moon. . .

Really since only within the past three years, and which we won't see again until July, 2015!   It's the second Full Moon of this month.
So -   
Listen to Elvis' lunar lovelorn song - "Blue Moon"    
The Moony blues. . .
Better yet, get started on those list of things you said you'd do only once in a blue moon!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thursday Tea Time - Up, Down, Up, Down

This week - a two times twofer!  Tazo Calm and Awake and Yogi Relaxed Mind and Refreshing Mint ReVitalize (which for ease of typing and your ease of reading, I shall refer to as - Calm, Awake, Relaxed and Revitalize.  I tried to match the box colors!)

Cost:  Calm & Awake - $2.79 sale at Target, regularly $3.29
Relaxed & Revitalize - $2.99 sale at Kroger, regularly $4.29
Number of teabags:  Calm & Awake - 20
Relaxed & Revitalize - 16
Caffeine: Calm - No
Awake - Yes
Relaxed - No
Revitalize - Yes
(That was easy to figure out, yes?)
Type of tea:  Calm - Herbal, Awake - Black, Relaxed - Herbal, Revitalize - Black & Herbal
Steeping time: Calm & Awake - 5 mimutes
Relaxed - 8, Revitalize - 4
Add ins:  Calm - plain and then Stevia, Awake - plain and then CBTL Fat Free/Sugar Free Vanilla powder
Relaxed - Honey, Revitalize - Honey (Instinct just told me honey would be best and it was perfect!)
Teabag fragrance:  Calm - Spearmint, Awake - Malty-fruity, Relaxed - Sage!?  That's a new one. Revitalized - Peppermint, and oddly familiar and reminiscent of the 1970's "Morning Thunder"!
Ingredients: Calm - Chamomile and hibiscus flowers, spearmint leaves, lemongrass, rose petals, blackberry leaves, color (turmeric & riboflavin , peppermint leaves, sarsaparilla root, lemon balm leaf, licorice root, natural flavor.
Awake - A blend of black teas
Relaxed - Sage, English lavender flower, nettle leaf, skullcap leaf, chrysanthemum flower, blackberry leaf, Gotu Kola, Helichrysum, Shank Pushpi, lemon myrtle, stevia leaf, boysenberry and lavender flavor
Revitalize - Peppermint leaf, Assam black tea, spearmint leaf, cinnamon bark, ginger root, cardamom seed, green tea leaf extract, black pepper, stevia leaf, kola nut, guarana seed and clove bud.
Opinion:  Calm was horrible!  It tasted of spearmint with an odd aftertaste.  I even thought the teabag smelled awful.  I threw it all in the trash as soon as I finished this review.  "Wonderful apple-like aroma"?!  per the box - don't think so.
Awake - Loved this!  It was absolutely perfect with the vanilla powder, making a great tea latte!  A good, strong black tea when you are just looking for a "cream and sugar" tea.
Relaxed - I felt like I was drinking poultry seasoning!  All I could smell was the sage as I held my mug to drink, then it tastes a little fruity, and then the sage returns.  Yuck.  This was formerly named, Meditative Time.  All I can think of is Thanksgiving turkey.  Maybe someone might like it at work, if they don't read this review first.  It is different, that's for sure!
Revitalized - Wow!  This does revitalize you! I even checked the mirror to see if my eyes were dilated.  (They weren't.)  The box says each teabag has 77mg of caffeine, compared to 90mg in an 8 ounce cup of coffee.  If you need a pick me up, this will do the trick!  No jitters or racing heartbeat, just bright-eyed and bushy-tailed!  I'm still buzzing a bit two hours later, even after trying that Relaxed Mind turkey.
Rating:   Calm - 0
Awake - 4.5
Relaxed - 0
Revitalized - 4, 5 if you need a buzz!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wednesday Work in Progress

Making progress is making something...!

What I'm Liking. . .Bread and Water

34-Degrees Whole Grain Crispbread.  A box of 72 for $4.99 at Whole Foods.  I found it above the olive bar. They are very thin and airy light.  My new favorite snack is now 8 crackers (9 is actually considered a serving) with a Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss wedge.  Together - 64 calories, 7g carbs, 1.5g fat (from the cheese), 3g protein.  And it only counts as a 1/2 carb serving for me!

Of all the coconut waters I've tried, I like this one the best. C2O Pure Coconut Water.  It tastes really good, almost oddly buttery.  Fat free and unsweetened.  I got this on sale at Whole Foods for $1.50  The only drawback, if you can consider it, is the amount.  The 17.5 ounce can is actually two servings.  1 serving is 50 calories, 13g carb, 12g sugar.  Next time it goes on sale again, I'm stocking up!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Netflix Stars - New Year's Eve

2 stars - So many people!  It took almost a third of the movie just to get their introductions and convoluted  storylines started.   Throw them all in and start the blender.  It just seemed -- crowded.  It's a movie to watch if there is nothing else to watch.   Not bad, not great, just meh.  I honestly thought a few of the stories  could have become good movies by themselves.

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Havana Brown (Feat. Pitbull) - "We Run The Night" - 3:47
Triple play - treadmill/running, swimming and skating!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Miranda Lee Richards - "The Reach" - 4:38
This was the haunting love song played when Michael visited Fiona in prison on this past season's Last Rites episode of  "Burn Notice."

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Netflix Stars - The Debt

4.5 stars - What a great thriller!  You kinda-sorta think what's going to happen (no, you don't!), but you can't wait to see how it folds out.  Oh, the suspense!  Helen Mirren, excellent as always.  Great pairing with Jessica Chaistain as her younger self.  Wow!

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Sew & Save - August 26/September 1
50% entire stock of thread
50% off interfacing by the yard

Labor Day Sale - August 31/September 3
McCall's - $1.99
Vogue - $3.99
50% off Notions Wall

September 6/8
Simplicity - $1.99
Burda - $2.49 -- BURDA?!  This is a first, WOW!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Double Peanut Butter M&M Pretzel Bars

(Not actual size)


1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup peanut butter (try the new healthier "naturals" variety out there now.  I like Skippy's the best)
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 of a 3/4 cup scoop cake flour (I just eyeballed it)
pinch of salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
Semi Sorta Crushed Pretzels 
2 cups (before crushing) pretzels (about 24 of the Costco pretzel barrel ones)
1/2 cup peanut butter chips/morsels
1/2 cup M&M's
Nonstick spray

Preheat oven to 350.  Cut up the butter and put in small oven proof bowl (I used an earthenware cereal bowl) and put in oven to soften while you are preparing the pan of crushed pretzels.  I filled and used my Cuisinart mini chopper and then picked out and used the bigger (1/4" - 3/4") pieces, trying to avoid the salt.  Always unplug first!  Layer pretzels in pan.

Check and see if butter has softened and add the peanut butter to the bowl.  Stir together.  Stick back in oven if the butter hasn't completely melted.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, salt.  Add and mix in the butter and peanut butter, then egg and vanilla.  Stir in the peanut butter morsels and M&M's.   Drop by spoonfuls over the pretzels and spread the best you can over them.
Spread dough the best you can!

Bake for 25-35 minutes until it looks set/lightly browned.   Let cool, though a little nibble for the baker is always allowed during the cooling process (they taste great warm!), then cut, serve and enjoy!


Modified from Bake Your Day's Peanut Butter Overload Pretzel Bars --
I cut most of the ingredients in half to make a 9 x 9 pan. How fast these disappeared!  A thumbs up and request for more immediately.
I also substituted M&M's for Reeses Pieces and Costco's barrel of pretzels for the pretzel crisps.  To make it just a bit healthier, I reduced to the sugar to 2/3 cup and knocked a tablespoon off the half stick of butter.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thursday Tea Time - Peachy Keen!

Time to get ready for Fall and harvest a review from these fruity flavors!

This week - Adagio Teas Organic Peach Oolong Tea and SerendipiTea Cheeky Peach Tea.

Cost:  Adagio - $4.99 at HEB
SerendipiTea - $25.49/pound - $1.27/0.05 pounds at Central Market in Austin, Texas
Number of teabags:  Adagio - 10
SerendipiTea - Looks like 5-6 generous tea infusers-ful
Caffeine:  Yes
Type of tea:   Oolong, Black
Steeping time:  5 minutes
Add ins:  Half a packet of Stevia
Teabag fragrance:  Adagio - Ripe peach
SerendipiTea - Spicy-fruity
Ingredients:  Adagio - Oolong tea, natural peach flavor, apple pieces, marigold flowers and apricots
SerendipiTea - Cardamon, cinnamon, ginger, Indian black tea, peaches and peach flavor
Opinion:  I tried the Adagio first, it had a strong peach fruity flavor.  Not cloyingly sweet.  Just a tap of Stevia brought it out nicely.  I then added a little bit of vanilla almond milk, which played well.  Though I think this can drink alone.    The SerendipiTea was spicy, I almost thought it had cloves before looking at the list of  ingredients.  The cardamon and cinnamon are very prominent in both scent and flavor, with a kick of ginger.  The peach is there, but almost as an afterthought.  Think of it as a spice peached tea.  I didn't even need to add any sweetener.  Bonus!  And both tasted great iced.
Rating:  Adagio - 4, especially with the coupon attached.  Not a bad deal!
SerendipiTea - 4, worth seeking out.  Especially since online would probably be a better deal.  However, if you are in Austin, you can't go wrong with a scoopful to try.  I will easily be drinking this well into the Fall.  The peach is a nice surprise.  And I like the play on one of my favorite words, serendipity.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wednesday Work In Progress

Got to get in here and get working!  Otherwise, I will keep posting the same picture!

Netflix Stars - Hereafter

1.5 stars - I couldn't believe this was a Clint Eastwood movie. If you speak or studied French, you are in luck as a third of the movie is in French, with subtitles.  There are three storylines, unfortunately (or fortunately) none really get explored in depth.  Time jumps around, particularly toward the end, as if to hurry up and wrap things all up nicely with a bow.  But in real time, you'll be looking at your watch.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thursday Tea Time

This week - Zhena's Gypsy Tea, "Red Lavender"

Cost:  $6.99 at Wegmans in Rochester, NY
Number of teabags:  22
Caffeine:  No
Type of tea:   Herbal
Steeping time:  4-6 minutes
Add ins:  Half a packet of Stevia
Teabag fragrance:  Rooibos-y with a hint of lavender
Ingredients:  Just two!  South African rooibos and French lavender blossoms
Opinion:  Not bad at all, I was surprised.  I bought it because it was a interesting combination. Lavender?  Cool!  And I like rooibos for all its health benefits. It brews to a pretty pink-brown color, and has an unusual, can't-really-place-it taste.  No, not odd, just different, in a good way.  I liked it a lot! It was a very nice after dinner mug of tea.  If I can find it locally in Houston, I would definitely get it again.  If not, it's available online.
Rating:  4

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Shopping for Inspiration

Where do I find inspiration sometimes?  Believe it or not, grocery stores!  I love to shop grocery stores, but not in the usual way with a list and purpose.  If I have time to spare, and I’m in a different town, I will go to a grocery store.  I love Whole Foods (each one is different), Central Market (especially in Austin), Wegmans in Rochester, NY, or any regional, Signature and Flagship stores.  I’m especially drawn to the tea aisles, but that’s another post and posting series – “Thursday Tea Time”.

The other day I wandered down the wine aisle, mesmerized by all the interesting labels, and I saw this one.  I wonder if it tastes like macaroon cookies?   Besides the idea of cookie wine (!), I was drawn to the label itself – the colors and the highlighting touch of metallic silver, and the pairing of the colors together,  were very pleasing to my eye.  I thought these colors could be used in an upcoming project, or  to play with the color wheel  for secondary combinations and beyond.

Keep your eyes open and your camera/phone handy – you never know where inspiration opportunities await and what you will find.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Calvin Harris (featuring Ne-Yo) radio edit - "Let's Go" - 3:46

Great song for running, swimming, and skating!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Kid Rock & Martina McBride - "Care" - 4:08

Thursday Tea Time

Are you ready?  This is a combo review!
First is the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Pineapple Green Tea, then The Republic of Tea Hibiscus Coconut Tea and finally a visit to the past with Stash Chocolate Hazelnut.  They all just lead naturally to the next.  Here goes!

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Limited Edition Pineapple Green Tea
Cost:  $8.20
Number of teabags:  20
Caffeine: No
Type of tea:  Green
Steeping time:  Per label, 3.  I did 5 trying to oomp it up.
Mix ins:  I tried Stevia, Coconut Almond milk, and CBTL’s Fat-Free/Sugar-Free Vanilla powder. 
Teabag fragrance:  Strongly pineapple
Ingredients:  Taiwan green tea, natural flavors
Taste:  Only slightly pineapple-y
Opinion:  I love pineapple, and was very happy to see this as a Limited Edition offering. As you can tell by the mix-ins, I tried to like this as is.  I kept losing the pineapple and just getting more of a blah green tea taste.  I tried it iced and it tasted just awful.  This really needed a boost of something to get it going.  Until I thought of combining another tea bag – The Republic of Tea Hibiscus Coconut!  Hoping for a pina colada flavor, I added a teaspoonful of the Vanilla powder.  It worked!  Got a good tropical thing going on.  But unless you have other teas to combine with or another idea, overall I was disappointed.
Rating: 0, 3 if I combine it with the Hibiscus Coconut.

The Republic of Tea Hibiscus Coconut Superflower Tea  
Cost:  $9.50
Number of teabags:  36
Caffeine: No
Type of tea: Herbal
Steeping time: 5 minutes
Mix ins:  Lots!  Coconut Almond milk, CBTL’s Fat-Free/Sugar-Free Vanilla powder and different teas.
Teabag fragrance:  Fruity coconut
Ooh, pinky-purple
Ingredients:  Hibiscus, rosehips, apples, Stevia, coconut bits and natural flavor
Taste:  Coconut, definitely
Opinion:  Good thing The Republic of Tea is generous with their teabags for the price.  This is a great mix-in tea.  It saved the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s Pineapple tea’s leaves.  And then I combined it with Stash Chocolate Hazelnut and got a yummy Almond Joy flavor kick.   The Republic of Tea does Hibiscus well – I’ve tried and really liked  their RaspberryRose, Pineapple Lychee and Vanilla Apple.  It also keeps its nice red/pink color instead of turning ghastly gray as soon as you add anything to it.
Rating: 5 – Have fun drinking as is or mixing with other teas!

Yes, that is a fork in it!

Now try and add this!

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Thursday Tea Time - Tuesday edition

This is at the Wegmans - Pittsford location
I call it the Mothership, others call it the "Gucci Wegmans"

I just stood in front of this and started to twitch!  They had loose teas you could purchase, too.

I think I showed considerable restraint!
My Thursday Tea Time reviews have been off kilter because I've been visiting my home town and -- WEGMANS!  Take a look at the tea aisles (yes, plural!) and Tea Bar!
And the bounty I brought back (Thank you TSA for not taking it!).  Look for upcoming reviews, starting this Thursday!

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Super Weekend Sale August 17/19
5 for $5 Simplicity
50% off all thread - Coats & Clark, Sulky and Gutermann - includes multi-packs, cones and spools

August 12/25 - 30% off Gingher scissors, rotary cutters and blades.

Sunday, August 05, 2012