Friday, November 29, 2013

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thursday Tea(vana) Time

This week - a Teavana combo!   Samurai Chai Mate and Maharaja Chai Oolong

Cost:   That depends...
Caffeine:   Yes
Type of tea:   Oolong, Rooibos and Mate
Steeping time:  6 minutes
Add ins:  A little bit of sugar or honey helps make it even better.  Like a cinnamon Red Hot candy.
Ingredients:  Samurai Chai Mate:  Green mate & green rooibos blend, cinnamon, anise, cardamom, and almond, fortified with papaya, pineapple, orange, and lemongrass.  (the orange must be very minute, it did not trigger a migraine for me)
Maharaja Chai Oolong:  Oolong tea, cinnamon, ginger, clove and cardamom. 
Fragrance:    Samurai Chai - Fruity spicy
Maharaja Chai - Warm and spicy (I like this one the best)
Opinion:   My friends and I found this tea being offered as a sample on a cold, wintery day in Jacksonville, Florida.  It was hot and spicy and good.  So much we probably drank half the sample carafe when the employees weren't looking.  Teavana is known for pairing different teas, and this must have proven to be so popular, they now offer it as a blend.   If you are looking for an eye-opening chai blend, heavy on the cinnamon, this is worth a try.  At least purchase a cup in the store if you are dragging from shopping.  It may be cheaper than making your own at home. 

Drawbacks to Teavana teas -- 

They can be expensive.  And you can't purchase small quantities in the store.   I do believe they have adjusted it to 2 ounces, but that can still be eye-and wallet-opening, literally.  So between the three of us, we divied it up to avoid sticker shock.  We still did, because we bought a half pound of each.  The Maharaja Chai Oolong is available for $12.98 for 2 ounces (and one of Oprah's 2013 Favorite Things) and the Samurai Chai Mate is $5.98/2 ounces.  The blend is priced at $18.96 for 4 ounces.

They are also famous for the up-sell.  The clerks are super-scoopers, meaning they will go over the 2 ounce minimum.  Every.Single.Time.  I think they learn that in training.  It has happened to me in all their stores.  So be forewarned and pushy right back by having them get closer to 2 ounces.  They will sigh and roll their eyes. But at least you won't be paying them an extra dollar or two or three.   (Wanna bet what you purchase online will be charged and weighed exactly to measure?)

I also used one teaspoon of each tea.  Truth be told, Teavana doubles or almost triples the amount of tea they use in their samples.  And super sugars it.   That's why they taste so good and get you on the hook.
So if your bag instructions say 1 teaspoon or 1 1/2 teaspoons, try doubling it.  Or if you are using a large mug, triple it.  

Rating:  3.5, only because doing the math makes my head hurt and it is pricey, and I have to be vigilant to make sure I don't over-buy.  Drinking tea should be an enjoyable experience, along with purchasing it.   
That all being said, I would probably get the Maharaja Chai again and combine with another cheaper brand of mate, such as Trader Joe's Organic Yerba Mate.  Make my own Teavana tea combo!

Samurai Chai Mate
Looks pretty!

Maharaja Chai Oolong
(I can see why this is Oprah's Favorite)

Chai for a chilly day

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Rolling in the Dough

My latest find from Costco - $19.99.  ( It also comes in gray)  That's usually the price for just the mat itself anywhere else.  The rolling pin is bonus.  

I can't wait to try them both.  I especially like the circle side to help me roll out my pie crust more accurately and evenly.  And maybe this will help encourage me to make cookie cutter cookies again. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fronty Foggy Friday

Unretouched (color!) photograph taken by me this morning at Stewart Beach, Galveston.
Our cold front is on the way!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thursday Tea Time - Chai this!

Number of teabags:   20
Caffeine:   Yes
Type of tea:   Black
Steeping time:  5 minutes
Add ins:  Natural Bliss Sweet Cream
Ingredients:  Black tea, low-fat alkalized cocoa powder, spices, natural dark chocolate flavors with other natural flavors
Fragrance:  Chocolate-cinnamon
Opinion:   This is THE tea to drink to keep your appetite and calories under control.  I tried it during
the 2 PM snacky hungeries and it kept me away from the cookie jar. (I'm talking to you, Whole Foods Candy Cane Chocolate sandwich cookie!)   A great lower calorie, lower sugar substitute for hot cocoa, with the health benefits and caffeine kick of black tea I knew this was a winner when I grabbed the last box on the shelf.
Rating:  5 - I went back for more, even with or without the incentive to help meet the minimum purchase requirement for our Thanksgiving turkey!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

By cultivating the beautiful, we scatter the seeds of heavenly flowers...

Moonflower seeds and pods

Words are also seeds, and when dropped into the invisible spiritual substance, they grow and bring forth after their kind. ~ Charles Fillmore

Monday, November 18, 2013

Portable Snowman!

Disclaimer - No actual snowmen were harmed in the making of these water bottles : )

How cute is this!?  And I am sharing the link to make these cute labels, courtesy of my sister and her website.

Perfect for school parties, get togethers and even toting around for yourself during the holidays.  She's even using this design for another clever upcoming project, so be sure to check back to her blog.

Here's some of her tips for best results:

- Make sure your printer has the option to "print to edge of paper" or something to that effect.  On my printer, it is one of the effects for printing photographs.
- Use regular printer paper NOT cardstock.  Cardstock will make the labels pop open like Santa's buttons after too many cookies!
- Use the thin dark blue lines as cutting guides.  There will be extra to slice off on the last label.
- Use Sticky Strip to fasten them on.

Have fun!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

"Simply Creative Christmas" Sale runs
November 16-November 27

Daily Deals - November 16
BIGIF Rotary Blades (all brands!)

Daily Deals - November 23
Butterick 5 for $5
Vogue $3.99

Friday, November 15, 2013

2013 Houston Quilt Festival Finds

I found a couple things and a couple of people at the Houston Quilt Festival this year.
Hope springs eternal breathing in the same creative air will inspire and these little quilting projects may/might turn out.

Mostly these items caught my eye for 1) their simplicity, and 2) their marketing/packaging/pricing.   Plus the booth vendors were very nice.  So a special shout-out to them!

I spoke to Pam Bocko herself, the Pieceful Designs designer of the Flash Cards Notebook Cover at the top of the photo, who even offered to help me via email.  The design is so cute and I loved how the pen is incorporated into the closure.

The bottom one from The Designer's Workshop is called "Coffee Break," but I want to rename my result, "Tea Time"!  I'm almost hesitant to unfold and use the fabric (which is enough to make both designs).  I think it would be a pretty Christmas ornament or sewing room decoration as is!

And for many of the others who wouldn't even look up, acknowledge us or try to sell their items. . .Sorry to bother you, I'm moving on.

But also how friendly were these ladies -- Alex Anderson and Lyric Kinard!  And Alex's husband who offered to take the picture!  Amongst other talents, Lyric also does amazing watercolors.

Flanked by quilting royalty!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thursday Tea Time - Immuni-tea!

This week:  The Republic of Tea Be Well Red Teas - Get Wellness

Cost:   $9.99 at Whole Foods
Number of teabags:   36
Caffeine:   No
Type of tea:   Herbal
Steeping time:  5 to 7 minutes, I went for 7
Add ins:  Natural Bliss Sweet Cream
Ingredients:  Organic rooibos (leaf), licorice (root), ashwagandha (root), European elder berries, astragalus (root), chicory (root), echinacea purpurea (root), natural spice flavor, cardamom and cloves
Fragrance:    Cardamom and cloves, then the distinctive rooibos
Opinion:  Tastes great and will boost my immunity?!  I will gladly drink a mugful of this every day!  I know that previously I said I was getting a bit off on the rooibos, but I like the interesting mingling of herbs and flavors.  The label even says:  "This sassy, spicy blend opens up to reveal sweet aromatic cardamom and assertive cloves with a soothing finish."  True that!   Who wouldn't want to drink and be sassy?!  Some have said it takes getting used to, but I loved it from first sip.  You could drink it plain with a little honey, but just a tiny splash of the sweet cream does me just fine.
Rating:  5  I'm running back for another canister (or two, or three, or four) to get me through the holidays, cold and flu season.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Way Back Wednesday - Simplicity 9544

Simplicity 9544
I LOVED this pattern!! 
Picture if you will, the Fall of 1971 - 7th grade Hoover Drive Junior High School. 
Otherwise known as Hell on Earth.   (Gah.  At least I thought I was sew cool.)  
A Mom and Dad-approved way to be able to wear 1) a mini dress, 2) hot pants. 

Picture, too, how cool these boots would still be today!  
I made this twice.  And yes, one of them with the rick-rack.  
(I even put it down the center…and in hot pink!)  
Let's bring back rick-rack.  Rick-rack, like frosting, makes everything better.
(Perhaps not so much being in 7th grade, but I think I got an A for effort, and in rick-rack application)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fall Garden Update

Latest additions to the garden, which finally seem to be taking.  I swear the past few months I was just burying money in there.

Penny Red Blotch Viola
(Blotch?!  Yes!)

Erysimum, if you want to get technical
I think my coolest find was this Wallflower, which seems to be very happy being so in my garden.  It actually is fragrant, like honeysuckle?  Who knew?!  It is a perennial, albeit labeled 'tender perennial' - aren't all wallflowers?  This is Erysimum in "Citrona Yellow"  The label also said it is "a superb cool-season plant, great with pansies and other fall plants."
Looks like I have a good combo!

Friday, November 08, 2013

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

November 3/9

McCall's - 5/$7

Veterans' Day Sale - November 10/15

Simplicity - 5/$5
50% off interfacing by the yard