Thursday, February 28, 2013

This week - Magnum Exotics Holiday Tea - Gingerbread Cookie

Cost:  $3.49 at Cost Plus World Market
Number of teabags:  20
Caffeine:  Yes
Type of tea:   Black
Steeping time:  3 minutes
Add ins:  Natural Bliss Sweet Cream, and Vanilla flavors  
Tea fragrance:   Ginger
Ingredients:  Black tea, roasted barley, cinnamon, apple, ginger and artificial flavors
Opinion:  Pretty weak with just one teabag, you really need to use two.  It definitely has a gingerbread taste with a slight touch of fruitiness.  (Nice touch with the apple!)  PThe Vanilla Natural Bliss takes it up another notch and really makes it seem like those Target's Market Pantry Gingerbread Cheesecake cookies.  
Rating:  3

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Garden Update

The Celeste fig popped out a tiny fig leaf...

...and the Carolina Jessamine has burst into bloom

Since January 28

Monday, February 25, 2013

First Indian Paintbrush Sighting!

The first Texas wildflowers of the season -- Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja) spotted along Texas Highway 36 heading north, just before Orchard, Texas on February 23, 2013.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Moonrise at Sunset

Houston, Texas had a GREAT sunset tonight!  While I was busy taking pictures to the west, I turned to my left and saw. . . THIS!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Flowers from San Marcos, Texas

Texas Mountain Laurel,  Sophora secundiflora
(Also known as Mescal Bean)
Texas State University - Jackson Hall parking lot
San Marcos, Texas

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thursday Tea Time

Didn't crop the photo, I though it looked pretty cool as is!

This week -- Bigelow Cinnamon Stick and Bigelow Vanilla Chai.  Remember when the Bigelow teas came in tins?  Early 80's, I had them lined up along the top of my not-used-much stove.  They looked really nice.  One of them was the Cinnamon Stick (the others, Lemon Lift, Constant Comment, and, and, one other...oh!  Plantation Mint).  

Cost:  $1.49 - $2.49 at Kroger and Target.  Can usually get on sale for around $2
Caffeine:  Yes
Type of tea:   Black
Steeping time:  3-5 minutes
Add ins:  Natural Bliss Sweet Cream.  I tried the Vanilla with the chai and it was too sweet.
Tea fragrance:   Cinnamon for Cinnamon Stick, and caramel for the Vanilla Chai, oddly.
Ingredients:  Cinnamon:  Black tea and cinnamon, Vanilla Chai:  Black tea, spices, natural and artificial flavors
Opinion:  I always thought Cinnamon Stick tasted like a mug of cinnamon toast.  Talk about comfort tea.  I like it when I'm feeling a bit under the weather and when the weather is a bit drab outside.  I should also try it iced in the summer.   This is one of my favorite cinnamon teas, surprisingly.
The Vanilla Chai was a disappointment.  It didn't have a lot of oomph, so I doubled and put two teabags in.  That made it stronger, but jeepers, I'm about to use three next time.  I don't know why it is so weak.
Rating:  Cinnamon Stick:  4,  Vanilla Chai: 2 because I need to double/triple the bags.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wednesday Work in Progress

Well!   Actually I have an excuse for this and now a free pass to play.  I was working on the taxes.  So what do we have?  An old J.Jill shirt I will repurpose for fabric (what's left of it, I've worn it thin) and cool buttons.  A button which needs to be sewed on my favorite striped sweater (lucky me, the button fell into my boot!)  A yogurt cup to remind me what flavor I liked (Cascade apple pie a la mode - Yum!) and to use as a water cup for watercoloring, and Folio 2013 diary which has cool pictures.  I'm ready for the fun to begin!

Free Penzeys Spices Cinnamon

This is my favorite cinnamon!   It combines all their cinnamons - Korintje Vietnamese, China and Ceylon, for a perfect blend.  I put a 1/2 teaspoon-ish in my cereal in the morning.  They say cinnamon has many health benefits.  I like it because it makes food taste better!  I also like free! (With an additional $3 purchase)
Here's the coupon code for phone and online orders - 43537C

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Love this song!  It popped up on the XM 80's station.  Loved it back then, love it still.
Erasure - "Chains of Love" - 3:42

Peacock Gold

Is the 2013 Hoffman Challenge fabric - kinda 70's retro-y!  Click the link for their homepage and additional information.
Now that Sulky is a co-sponsor, they even coordinate Sulky threads for you!
Entry deadline is July 19, 2013.
Good luck!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Penzeys Free Cumin Seed Deal

The Winter 2013 issue of Penzeys Spices has a coupon for a free 1/4 cup jar of Cumin Seed!  The Coupon Code is 42730C if you order online or by telephone.    (The Spring 2013 catalog should be out any day now)

In addition to the coupon, the Winter catalog also has lots of recipes, including Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Cookies (!), Sweet Potato Enchiladas, Spicy Turkey Gumbo and Ham & Bean Soup, just to name a few to warm your heart and tummy.  Call 800/741-7787 or visit their website to get on their mailing list.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Christmas in February!

I even love the variegated leaf!

Oh!  The perfect pure red!

Mr. Nick (Version 215.13)

A little over a month later from my January 11 Poinsettia Post, the crazy weather and temperature changes helped add some more color!    

And my Mr. Nick (Nicotiana) is loving this weather, too.  One plant slightly out of view is over four feet tall!    It was just about last year it was starting to bloom, too. Such a great reseeder, his progeny are also growing in Virginia (Via US Mail!).

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday Tea Time

This week -- Sterling Tea "Winter Warmth" and "Mint Kiss"  I thought the packets and the flavors and the names looked and sounded very Valentine-y!

Cost:  1 ounce $4.99 at Central Market, 2 ounces $8 online (Mint Kiss only)
Caffeine:  Winter Warmth-yes, Mint Kiss, no
Type of tea:   Winter Warmth-Black and Red, Mint Kiss-Red
Steeping time:  5-7 minutes
Add ins:  Natural Bliss helped bring out the chocolate-yness in both very nicely!
Tea fragrance:  Winter Warmth-Clove, fruity, chocolate
Mint Kiss-Minty
Ingredients:  Winter Warmth-Organic rooibos, black tea, cinnamon chips, cloves, ginger pieces, apple piers, cinnamon, cacao bits, cardamon, mint, licorice root, natural flavors
Mint Kiss-Organic roobios, peppermint, natural flavoring
Opinion:  I liked Winter Warmth a little bit better, maybe because it had so much going on and such an interesting blend of ingredients.  Unfortunately, it is/was a holiday seasonal tea, but I think still drinkable until that A/C clicks on here.  Mint Kiss was not as chocolatey as I would have thought or liked.  And straight Roobios tea has a distinct flavor.
Rating: Winter Warmth-3.75 only because of the Roobios, had it been straight black tea, it would have rated higher.  Mint Kiss-3  Could have been chocolatier and mintier.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Backatcha, Mr. Big Heart Bear!

This is actually the top of a 15 foot pink and red metallic hearts wrapped bear holding this heart which says "Love You" at Fannin Flowers.   Everything is bigger, deep in the hearts of Texans!

On Fannin Street near the Texas Medical Center.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Happy Mardi Gras!

Mardi Gras Bonhomme De Neige

Let the good times roll, indeed!
Mardi Gras Snowman painted on window of ShyKatz Deli & Bakery in Galveston, Texas.  He's also happy and celebrating because the food is so yummy inside!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Cherry Vanilla Pecan Cookies

Baker's Dozen!
I combined my favorite vanilla sugar cookie recipe, which I've modified over the years from Taste of Home magazine with another recipe idea I saw in the Houston Chronicle recently.  I liked the idea of cherries and pecans.   But not their recipe ingredients of maraschino cherries and confectioner's sugar instead of regular sugar.  I used dried Bing cherries instead from Costco (cutting in half, they were huge!) and a cup of pecans, which I broke into pieces after "toasting" in the microwave.  Then I added Wilton's Pink food coloring gel and sprinkled pink and white sanding sugar on top before baking for even more pinky bling.

Happy Valentine's Day!
And "Go Red" Month, too!  Cherries are "good for you" with lots of anthocyanins - queritrin and ellagic acid.


1/2 cup (minus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture and mix well.
Drop by teaspoonfuls 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Yield: about 3-1/2 dozen.
Nutritional Facts
2 cookies equals 109 calories, 5 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 22 mg cholesterol, 90 mg sodium, 16 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 1 g protein.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Greetings from Texas

Soon your snowness will melt away and Spring will spring!   And our melting heat will return.

But for just a moment, we certainly enjoy our life in Texas!  This absolutely gorgeous, almost two-story Japanese Pink Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana)  tree picture was taken today by me in Houston, Texas - at the corner of Bissonnet and Shepherd Drive.

Friday, February 08, 2013

"Yet here now, at this moment, at this place, 
The world of the flower, the whole of 
the world is blooming. 
This is the talk of the flower, the truth 
of the blossom: 
The glory of eternal life is fully shining here."   
-  Zenkei Shibayama  

My paperwhites bloomed!  And they smell as pretty as they look!  
I am definitely going to plant these again.  They are in a pot with a magnolia tree-ette.  I love the contrast!

She saw sea shells by the the seashore...

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Thursday Tea Time

This week,  Souvenirs from St. Augustine - The Spice & Tea Exchange

Cost:  Two of the three were specialty holiday teas - the Limited Edition Teas the Season Gingerbread Spice and Cinnamon Plum.  However, my favorite is still available online, Coconut Oolong 1 ounce for $4.89, along with the Cinnamon Plum.
Caffeine:  Gingerbread Spice - No, Cinnamon Plum - No, Coconut Oolong - Yes
Type of tea:   Gingerbread Spice and Cinnamon Plum - Herbal.  Coconut Oolong - is, uh, oolong.
Steeping time:  5 minutes
Add ins:  Oh boy, see the results.  All three teas tasted just fine without any add-ins.  But the Coconut Oolong was kicked up a notch with the Natural Bliss.
Tea fragrance:  Gingerbread Spice - clove, Cinnamon Plum - cinnamon/fruity, Coconut Oolong - omg! Coconut!
Ingredients:  Gingerbread Spice:  Lapacho, vanilla, ginger.  Cinnamon Plum:  Cinnamon, hibiscus, currants, plum, licorice root, natural plum flavor.  Coconut Oolong:  Bao Zhong oolong, coconut flavor.
Opinion: The lapacho/Gingerbread Spice was interesting - it looked like twigs. Smelled great. Didn't brew very strongly.  I think that could have been a good thing, after I Googled lapacho tea.  Sounds like the jury is still out on it.  But it tasted good and as long I as don't overdo, I will still enjoy it.
Pretty in pink!  Pretty awful in mouth!

The Cinnamon Plum brewed to a beautiful color, as you can tell.  I may just use it in the craft room, too!  I bet it would taste great iced.  Evidently it does not play well with
creamer/milk addins!

Cinnamon Plum - Pretty!

Coconut Oolong

The Coconut Oolong was my favorite!  It tasted just like the tea I got at the Tea Lounge in South Austin, albeit minus the tapioca balls.  Very coconutty!  I loved it!  With or without the Natural Bliss.
Rating: Gingerbread Spice - 2.5, just because they Googled side effects and articles were a little unnerving.  Cinnamon Plum 3 - I'm not really a huge fan of hibiscus.  But maybe iced with a little sugar to finish it out. . .Coconut Oolong - 5!  Yup!  That will be a reorder...or another trip to St. Augustine.  I loved that city!

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Puppy Bowl IX

PUPPY BOWL is back this Sunday!!

Beginning at 3 PM Eastern time/2 PM Central on the Animal Planet Channel.
New this year are the hedgehog cheerleaders.  And can it possibly get any cuter?   The puppy hot tub for after-game play.  Once again you can also follow the "tweets" from @MeepTheBird on Twitter.

So while you wait for the Super Bowl commercials, enjoy some pregame entertainment with Puppy Bowl IX!

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Hearts Renewed

Tell me, what is my life without your love
Tell me, who am I without you, by my side

Friday, February 01, 2013

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

February 3/23 - 
30% off Gingher

February 8/10 - 
Vogue Patterns $3.99
McCalls $1.99

February 15/18 - Presidents Sale
Simplicity 5 for $5
BIGIF buttons