Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thursday Tea Time - Happy Anniversary!

My 28th anniversary is this weekend!  And how coincidental I found these two celebratory teas from Coffee Bean &Tea Leaf Anniversary Blend and The Republic of Tea 20th Anniversary Celebration Tea

Cost:  CBTL Anniversary Blend:  $10.95,
Republic of Tea 20th Anniversary Celebration:  $11.50
Number of teabags:  Blend: 20, Celebration: 3.5 ounces*
Caffeine:  Blend:  Yes,  Celebration:  Yes
Type of tea:  Blend:  White tea, green tea, oolong tea, black tea
Celebration:  Ceylon black tea
Steeping time:  Blend:  4 minutes, Celebration:  5 minutes
Add ins:  Blend:  CBTL's Fat free Vanilla powder, Celebration:  Natural Bliss
Tea fragrance:  Blend:  Fruity
Celebration:  *Let it be known, this is a loose tea (which can make 50-60 cups, so that's a good thing), but I didn't realize it until I opened the lid and some of it spilt.  Hubby came home shortly after and asked what smelled so good, and it was the tea!  Not only does it smell great, but the blue cornflower petals make it look pretty, too.  It definitely has a champagne essence.
Ingredients:  Blend:  White tea, green tea, oolong tea, black tea, lily blossoms, natural flavors.
Celebration:  Ceylon black tea, white wine grapes (they looked like raisins!), tea blossoms, marigold petals, cornflowers and natural champagne and vanilla flavors.
Opinion:  Blend:  I was surprised.  The Natural Bliss didn't do much for it.  I tried the CBTL Fat free vanilla powder and that helped save it.  It really smelled good in the mug and was fun to drink, catching the whiff with the sip.   I may try the other half & half creamers (I got the White Chocolate Raspberry marked down after Christmas) to see how it partners with them.
Celebration:  A teaspoonful in a teabag does the trick.  What a nice treat.  It definitely tastes different and unexpected and worth seeking out.   I found mine at the Rice Epicurian Market in River Oaks before it began the transition to a Fresh Market.  I don't know if the new store will continue to carry it.
Rating:  Blend:  3.5, Celebration:  4.75

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wednesday Work in Progress

More like prepping and playing!

I need to finish "Fred," my swan watercolor class project.  And I was gathering my Butterick patterns for an upcoming Butterick 150th anniversary article.  Fun detours!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I believe this is variety of Pyracantha or Firethorn.  See the lower left side heart-shaped berry?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Garden Update

Just added!  Indian Hawthorn - with bonus berry to to the right!
Here is my garden's progress to spring as of yesterday.  (and today -- I just added the Indian Hawthorn picture!) With our crazy warmer weather lately, the Celeste fig is starting to bud...the Carolina Jessamine is beginning its yellow profusion of blooms outside my sewing studio windo, and the paperwhites are making good progress from earlier benign neglect.

This is my first time growing paperwhites.  I bought the bulbs back in November, thinking I would force bloom them for Christmas, as I've seen and coveted in magazines.  But I forgot and then found where I put them.  They had started to sprout in the darkness under the pouch bags of tea (what possessed me, or whom shall remain nameless, to "hide" there?!), so I decided what the heck to plant them a few weeks ago.  Dirt is is a good medium besides a wire basket!
Celeste Fig
Carolina Jessamine


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Netflix Stars - Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom - 3 stars
Quirky would be an understatement.  (At first I thought it was a Coen brothers movie, then checked the envelope - Wes Anderson.  Ohhh...kaaay.)   Despite an Oscar-stellar cast, which is why we kept watching --  Best just to call it oddful humor.  Hubby and I looked at each other afterwards and said, "WTH?!"  And then laughed.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Fannin Flowers

Back in its heyday, Fannin Street near the Texas Medical Center/US 59 had blocks of flower stands, often open 24 hours.  Today there are still some around, survivors of when Metro put the train through. They were able to put together this great (and fragrant!) bouquet for me.  I was even allowed back in the cooler room to take my pick of the freshest and prettiest roses, too.

Mary Jane Loves Omar

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thursday Tea Time

This week - Zhena's Gypsy Tea - Hazelnut Chai Black

Cost:  $6.99 Cost Plus World Market.  Also available online on their website for the same price - whew!  Good to know I can get more.  This was part of their seasonal chai tea display at World Market.
Number of teabags:  22
Caffeine:  Yes
Type of tea:   Black
Steeping time:  5 minutes
Add ins:  Coffee Mate's Natural Bliss Sweet Cream
Tea fragrance:  Spice
Ingredients:  Organic, Fair Trade Certified™ Indian Black Tea, Cinnamon, Ginger Root, Licorice Root, Natural Flavoring, Cloves, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Black Pepper, Vanilla Bean.
Opinion:  Can chai tea get any better?  Yes, if you add hazelnut - Wow!  A nice warming spice tea, with the chai kick.  The hazelnut is there, but nicely balanced.   It smells and tastes great!  I've been drinking it in the morning and afternoon for a nice energization. And who knew clove could help with memory enhancement?  I'll be sure to remember that!
Rating: 4.5

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wednesday Work in Progress - Awaiting

First step, clear the table, put all which was dumped upon it during the holidaze away and await inspiration and direction.  I've pulled my Martha Stewart February issues and just bought the new one today.  I'm starting to look for Spring.

Like the Chantal soup bowl and lid?  It's one of my outlet sale finds from a few years ago.   Actually it was part of a combo deal - I got this huge, same green/brown inside soup stock pot with two of the bowls.  I repurposed one of them, it makes for a cute hiding place for little things which may go awry or awol.  (Bonus it is the same spring green I'm trying to bring into the studio to freshen it up a bit.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Do Drop In!

If you are also on Blogger or another blog platform, I found and love and have really been using and appreciating the Dropbox app!

So helpful and timesaving coordinating photos taken with my Android phone to Mollie Mac and my iPad - I used to just email them to myself and then download (hoping for a fast connection at home or having to hit the road in search of). Now I send them from my cellie camera to Dropbox and then move over to iPhoto and edit.  No more waiting for the email to arrive.  No more extra steps.  Just dropping in this tidbit to you!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Little Black Dress-It

My daughter found these Post-It notes for me at Office Depot - aren't they cool?

A pad of 100 3.9x x 2.8" -- The packaging labeling near the barcode said "6343-FS-DRS" 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cool Cookie Cutters!

Check out these cool cookie cutters I found at the Kitchen Chick in Galveston -- a palm tree, ornament and State of Texas for only $2.99 each!  I actually hung them on my Christmas tree.  They are made by Ann Clark and include a cookie (and frosting!) recipe on the tag!  What a fun little shop located in The Strand, and if you love to cook and bake, you'll find lots of things you didn't know you needed and also what you didn't know you were looking for!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Flowers - Tippy Tulips

I like how they looked rotated on their side rather than right side up!  What is right is really relative, right?
I think this unretouched picture really came out neat!  
If only I could look this great unretouched in the bathroom light, too.
Boo!  (Yikes!)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thursday Tea Time - Cocoa-banana!

This week - The Republic of Tea - Banana Cuppa Chocolate

Cost:  $10.99 at Rice Epicurian/River Oaks
Number of teabags:  36
Caffeine:  No
Type of tea:   Red/Rooibos
Steeping time:  7 minutes
Add ins:  Coffee Mate's Natural Bliss Sweet Cream
Tea fragrance:  Banana!
Ingredients:  Rooibos, cocoa, carob, sweet blackberry leaves, banana bits, chocolate flavoring, banana flavoring
Opinion:  This really does taste and smell like bananas -- and slightly chocolate, but not artificial-y at all.   I used two teabags, and a huge (16 ounce) mug, and drank every last drop.   This is another of their "cuppa chocolate tea" series.  Hey, when you have a good thing going, why stop?!   I only wish the chocolate/carob was a bit stronger, that's the only reason for the slight ding from a 5
Rating: 4.5

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Today's Favorite Workout Song

I am now finding really cool songs on the Pandora "Workout Songs" channel.  My iPod Shuffle battery died as I was getting ready to hit the trail, bummer.  But then I thought for grins to use my cellie and try Pandora - tah-dah!  It practically had my playlist anyways - haha!  And I found some new songs!  Here's one of them:

Pitbull - "Shake SeƱora"  - 3:35

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Vera Bradley Screensavers

Did you know you can get free screensavers for the four newest Vera Bradley Spring Designs??
"Go Wild!"

"Jazzy Blooms"

"Midnight Blues"

"Plum Crazy"

Click here for the link to "Inside Stitch:  The Official Vera Bradley Blog"

Monday, January 14, 2013

John 15:12

Photo by Patrick Feller
I thought this picture and sentiment too pretty and nice to wait until Valentine's Day -- so I'm posting it a month early.  This picture was taken in the Houston area.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Tree Hugger

Sunrise - December 29, 2012

Unlikely Companions

When you count your friends, don't be too quick to exclude the ones who are there for you, night or day, whenever you need them;
who, through the years, remain constant and loyal; who kindly, gently, offer perspective.
They are the trees around you, the path before you, the sky above, the view ahead.
Cherish them and they'll never let you down.

From the January 2013 issue of Self magazine - "A Moment For Yourself"
(picture taken by me)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Winter Warm-Up Sale -- January 13/19
5 for $5 Simplicity

January 13/February 2 --
40% off Gutermann thread

January 17/19 --
$1.99 Butterick
$1.99 McCalls

January 24/26 --
$1.99 McCalls
$3.99 Vogue

Super Weekend Sale -- February 1/2
$3.99 Vogue
$1.99 Buterick
50% off entire stock of thread

Friday, January 11, 2013

2011/2012/2013 Poinsettias!

These were my poinsettias from Christmas 2011!  The remaining two from the Costco three-pack I bought November 2011.  I have never had much luck with keeping poinsettias alive through Christmas, much less until now.  I thought they were pretty much goners after that Christmas and just tossed them (pots in all) in the far right corner and side of my kitchen garden.  I was surprised to see tiny leaves reappear on the stalks in the spring and felt certain our drought would finish them off.  But no, they kept growing, roots now attached firmly to the garden dirt.  Our crazy temperature changes must have triggered the color change.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thursday Tea Time - Merry Mint Tea

This week -- The Republic of Tea Merry Mint Chocolate - A Cup of Cheer

Cost:  $11.99
Number of teabags:  50
Caffeine:  Yes
Type of tea:   Black
Steeping time:  5 minutes
Add ins:  Coffee Mate's Natural Bliss Sweet Cream
Tea fragrance:  Minty, ginger
Ingredients:  Black tea, peppermint, cinnamon, cardamon, chicory, cacao kernels, ginger and coconut.
Opinion:  Alas, I should have bought another canister.  This is only available at World Market in the stores, not online.  You may even luck out and find it half price or even less now at your local store.   I hope they will bring it back next year.  This is really, really good.  Think of a tea version of peppermint mocha.  But with the additional subtle sweetness and heated twist of coconut and ginger.  I make a mug of this instead of cocoa!
Rating: 5

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Wednesday Work In Progress

Shine on Apple!

Even the plug!
Isn't this gorgeous?!

Speaking of which, here's my pimped-out Mac, Mollie.  The design is called "Cosmic Flower" by Creative by Nature, and I got it at DecalGirl    Be sure to "Like" them on Facebook and sign up for their email list to get discount codes.  This is my third purchase from Decal Girl, and I am a very satisfied and happy customer!  I've also dressed up my Nook and iPad.  I love the matching wallpaper/screensaver, too!

I'm Back!!

I don't know what bug I had, one of many going around out there.  Stay healthy, fellow cyberfriends!  And be on the lookout for more fun postings, albeit some may be out of order and a little wonky as I'm getting used to my new computer.
(Thank goodness for the Apple One to One program and the patience of my personal genius guy!)

Monday, January 07, 2013

Everyday Food - Flourless Chocolate Almond Coconut Cookies

I should really call these Almond Joy cookies!

Here was another contender for Christmas Cookie 2012!
This is from the last issue (#98) of Everyday Food, December 2012 - page 101

Flourless Chocolate-Coconut Drops

(I'm still going to call these Almond Joy cookies!)


  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder (spooned and leveled) -- I used the regular Hershey's Cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (5 ounces)
  • 1 cup roughly chopped toasted almonds
  • 3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, with racks in middle and lower thirds. In a large bowl, whisk together confectioners' sugar, cocoa, and salt. Stir in chocolate chips, almonds, and coconut. Add egg whites and stir until combined (do not overmix).
  2. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons, 2 inches apart, onto parchment-lined baking sheets.  (sprinkle with holiday jimmies for a festive look)

    Bake until tops are dry and cracked, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks.
Store in airtight containers, up to 3 days.
If everyone doesn't eat them all first.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Trader Joe's JUMBO Cinnamon Rolls!

Even the packaging is nice to look at...

 Seriously, YUM!!

Cinnamon intense
Oh yeah!  Trader Joe's Jumbo Cinnamon Rolls.
At first I balked at the 5 for $3.99 price; but college girl was home for break and these looked like a great breakfast treat.   They were!
They are jumbo huge!
And jumbo yummy!
With lots of cinnamon, a non-cloying vanilla frosting...picture perfect!
I only ate half of one, with considerable restraint.  It went down really easy.  Each one weighs in at 350 calories, 14 g fat, 6 saturated, 750 sodium, 51 carbs (yeah, yikes!), 26 g sugar and 4g protein.
These are definitely a winner - grab one the next time you are in Trader Joe's and several friends and family to enjoy them with.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Friday Flowers - Lavender's spikes, diddle, diddle...

"Lavender's blue, diddle, diddle" --
So goes the song:
All around her bush, diddle, diddle,
Butterflies throng;
(They love her well, diddle, diddle,
So do the bees;)
While she herself, diddle, diddle,
Sways in the breeze!

"Lavender's blue, diddle, diddle,
Lavender's green";
She'll scent the clothes, diddle, diddle,
Put away clean --
Clean from the wash, diddle, diddle,
Hanky and sheet;
Lavender's spikes, diddle, diddle,
Make them all sweet!

Potted lavender from Trader Joe's -- Only $5.99!  It is now in my side garden off the kitchen, still blooming!

Cooking Light Cream Cheese Frosted Pumpkin Muffins - & Loaves!

My Pampered Chef stoneware cupcake/muffin pan - the more I use it, the better it gets!
Putting my Williams-Sonoma Gold Touch Loaf pan to good use  - they popped right out!

Page 396!

Pumpkin Muffins (from the November 2006 issue of Cooking Light)  I added the cream cheese frosting and pecans!   And the Fall-colored jimmies for fun.   You can also find the recipe in the Cooking Light 2007 Annual Recipes book.

For the frosting, I used a package of Neufchatel cream cheese and added about a cup of confectioner's sugar and a little bit of skim milk to get a frosting consistency and a bit of sweetness.


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 10 ounces)
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • large eggs
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 400
  • Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. 
  • Combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, ginger, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
  • Stir in raisins; make a well in center of mixture. 
  • Combine brown sugar, canned pumpkin, buttermilk, canola oil, molasses, vanilla extract, and eggs, stirring well with a whisk. 
  • Add sugar mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moist.
  • Spoon batter into 18 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. 
  • Sprinkle with granulated sugar.  (skip if you are going to frost)
  • Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove muffins from pans immediately; cool on a wire rack.
  • Add frosting and toppings if desired.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Thursday Tea Time at Marshalls

Santa who?!
This week - Tea of Life -A New Age Tea- Holiday Teas, found at all places, Marshall's!

Cost:  $4.99
Number of teabags:  50
Caffeine:  Peppermint Ginger - No
Irish Cream - Yes
Type of tea:   Peppermint Ginger - Green
Irish Cream - Black
Steeping time:  5 minutes
Add ins:  Coffee Mate's Natural Bliss Sweet Cream, Bailey's Irish Cream Fat Free
Tea fragrance:  Peppermint Ginger - hard to detect peppermint, Irish Cream - Oddly sweet
Ingredients:  Peppermint Ginger - Green tea, peppermint and ginger flavor
Irish Cream - Black tea, irish cream flavor
Opinion:  I found out about these from a friend.  I had no idea Marshall's had tea in the food gifts/home dec section in the back of the store.  I saw lots of other brand names (
Tazo, Stash, etc.) and still-fresh/unexpired teas.  There were two others in this series, but I did not get them because they had citrus.  (damn migraine trigger!)  You can't beat the price - $4.99 for 50. The tea bags are sealed in two foil pouches inside.  But the teabags are small.  I used two per mug.  The Peppermint Ginger was pretty good, albeit a bit wussy in the flavor strength department.  I almost think I would need to use even three teabags the next time.  It is easily over-powered by the Natural Bliss.  The Irish Cream, well, yuck!  It had a very artificially sweet flavor slightly favoring irish cream, but not really.  Especially if you are used to the real deal stuff (hic!)  But the containers are cute, and would make nice gift basket additions with a cute mug and spoon, etc., if not for the decorative value and if they like the tea, bonus.  For me, I'm dumping the Irish Cream and keeping the container, and will shove as many teabags as my Keurig MyCup will hold and use up the rest and also keep that container.  It has a really useful latch lid I can store stuff in.
Rating:  Peppermint Ginger - 2.5, Irish Cream - 1
Points were given for the containers.  Yeah.  The Santa looks eerily in a nice way like my father-in-law!