Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Thursday Tea Time - Yerba Mate, piled on

This week - Whole Foods 365 Every Day Value Organic Yerba Mate with Green Tea & Peppermint

Cost:   $4.99

Number of teabags:  40
Caffeine:   Yes
Type of tea:    Yerba mate and green
Ingredients:  Organic yerba mate, organic green tea, organic peppermint, organic spearmint, organic licorice.  And 35 mg of caffeine
Steeping time:   3 minutes
Add ins:   Nothing, and a splash of Pure Bliss Sweet Cream in desperation
Fragrance:   Grassy/minty
Opinion:   I was disappointed.  I was hoping the addition of two mints and green tea and licorice would make this great.  Nope.  Just odd.  I thought it would be mintier.  And it had a strange aftertaste.  Points were also deducted for teabag packing.  Four groups of ten in a cello, unsealable, bag.

Trader Joe's Yerba Mate is much, much better!
Rating:  .5   Only because I liked the description on the box, which suckered me into buying it.
(Can I say anything nice?  Sure.
Click here for Whole Food's tea tips.  There were some I didn't even know about.)
Pretty color!

Wednesday Work in Progress - Water Color Wednesday - "Feeling Crabby"

This is the sketch for my next watercolor project.  It's the huge crab in Rockport, Texas.  I have no idea if it has a name - "Rocky" would be good, or "Crabby."  I think it is a bit scary looking right now (perhaps because I have never drawn a crab before?) so it will be interesting to see what watercoloring will do.  

Friday, July 25, 2014

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Jo-Ann-iversary Sale - July 27-August 9

Whoa!  70% off regular-priced Notions Wall items July 27  (you need a coupon, though)

July 27/August 2 - $1.99 Simplicity

August 7/9 - $1.99 Butterick 

Super Weekend Event - August 7/9

5 for $5 Simplicity

Monday, July 21, 2014

Netflix Stars - Her

1 star - For maybe if I had finished it, it would have gotten better.  (I probably should have fast-forwarded it to the end.)  But I gave it a chance.  I thought it was wincy and oddly uncomfortable to watch.  And kind of sad that this is the way we as a society are headed, more into talking and interacting with machines rather than people.  No wonder people's social skills are becoming practically nonexistent.  

Sunday, July 20, 2014

More Fun with Figs! Fig Pie!

Fig Pie!
We are still working our way through the first round of our 2014 Celeste fig harvest.  I thought this time I would try making a fig pie.

For my almost 7" in diameter Chantal pie plates, I used the Deep Dish pie shell recipe proportions, since I was making a double crust.  I've found it is better to have extra dough rather than trying to stretch, and rip, the pastry to fit and cover the plate and filling.

Pie Crust Recipe - Adapted from Good Housekeeping magazine - November 2008

Ingredients for a 9" pie shell:

Before assembling the ingredients, I fill a measuring cup with water and ice to get that water ice cold.

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted cold butter, cut up as you place in the food processor
3 tablespoons Crisco
4 to 5 tablespoons ice water (I've never had to use that much, perhaps because I live in a humid climate)

For a Deep Dish Pie Shell (or a double crust for a 2-cup size/6-3/4"diameter x 1-1/4"deep Chantal pie plate) Increase flour to 1 1/2 cups and vegetable shortening to 1/4 cup.


In food processor with knife blade attached, blend flour and salt.  Add butter and shortening, and plus until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle in ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition, until large moist crumbs just begin to form.  The trick is to keep it crumbly instead of turning into a ball.

Shape dough into disk/s, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes or over night (if over night, let dough stand 30 minutes at room temperature before rolling)

Put dough between wax paper and roll into a 12" round, approximately 1/8" thick.   Remove one side of wax paper and flip over into pie plate (with the other wax paper side up).  Fit into plate and remove remaining wax paper sheet.

Trim excess crust and place in freezer for 15 minutes.  In the meantime preheat oven to 425.  

Bake pie shell for 10 minutes.  
Fill with fruit.

Sprinkle with some pretty sanding sugar on top, adjust  heat to 400.   Or lower temperature to 375 if it is browning too quickly.
Bake for an additional 30 minutes or  until crust turns golden.

Fig Fruit Filling

Well, I didn't quite measure/count the figs prior to trimming the stems and cutting in half and placing in a saucepan to cook.  If I had to guesstimate, I would say it was probably 4 cups of fresh figs.  Always better to err on the win-win plus side, you can always use and eat the extra!  I did add a little less than 1/4 cup sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon.   Then for this particular pie, I added a tablespoon of cornstarch to thicken the fruit once it started to bubble.   In hindsight, I probably didn't really need the cornstarch.  It was not that watery.  And I actually couldn't tell any difference from the other sauce I had made.   I was just following other fruit pie recipes, which did call for cornstarch.  My pie bottom was not soggy and the filling not runny.    Perhaps the kitchen angels were smiling upon me.  And hopefully you, too!

Fig Pie a la Mode!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sea Salt and Almonds Match Up

I love the Chocolove Almonds & Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate bars, the love poem inside the wrapper…but not the price.  Slowly the price has been increasing at Whole Foods.  I used to be able to get them on sale for $2.50 or for $2.99 regular price.  Last time I was there, it had increased to $3.49.  Ouch!  Now they have become more of an occasional treat, rather than getting a bar each time I shop.

As I was checking out, the clerk saw the bar and asked if I had tried the Salazon version.  I had not, but it was on sale, 2 for $5.  I was willing to save 99 cents, and put back the Chocolove.  I'm glad I did.  I like it even more!  And it is 72% dark chocolate versus 55%

The nutrition comparison facts are skewed, as the Salazon shows the count for half a 2.75 ounce bar, and Chocolove for a third of 3.2 ounces.  But all math aside,  I still love the Chocolove, but will wait for it to go on sale.



Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thursday Tea Time - Trader Joe's Coconut Green Tea

This week - Trader Joe's Coconut Green Tea  

Cost:   $5.99
Number of teabags:  N/A, it's loose-leaf tea - 5 ounces.  Using one teaspoonful per mug, this is a serious stash of tea.
Caffeine:   Yes
Type of tea:    Green
Ingredients:   Green tea, lemongrass, coconut pieces, natural ginger flavor, natural coconut flavor, organic vanilla flavor

Steeping time:   5 minutes
Add ins:   Splash of Natural Bliss cream
Fragrance:  Coconut and lemon
Opinion:  At first I was thinking this was going to be just another coconut tea.  But the combination Trader Joe's created took it to another level.  I think it was the addition of vanilla and ginger.  Plain, it was OK, but when you added Natural Bliss cream - wow!  Just like the coconut cream tea you would get at a tapioca boba teahouse.  It was light, it was creamy, it was delicious.  I'm grabbing another canister next time I'm at Trader Joe's.
Rating:  5+
Love the artwork!

Yup, it's green!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Go Glitter Girl

Once a week, I try to stop by Texas Art Supply -- preferably on the weekends when they take an additional 50% off their Red Tag Clearance.  This week's find was Art Institute Pee Wee Glitter - $4!
The original retail list price is $15 per collection.  Both "Bouquet" and "Petals and Wings" caught my eye.   In addition to augmenting my glitter stash, I thought these soft and transparent colors (love the names!) would also work nicely to enhance some of my watercolor projects.

Ultrafine Transparent - "Bouquet" -
baby's breath, mimosa, jonquil, spring mint, forget me not, wisteria, blue rain
Ultrafine Opaque - "Victorian"red oak, persimmon, brass, deep forest, teal, dubonnet, platinum

Ultrafine Mixed--"Petals and Wings"
transparent sea shell, transparent rain forest, transparent blue whale, transparent flax, transparent fleur de lis, transparent lion's mane, and opaque black

Update:  I went back today and picked up two more, "Summer" and "Victorian" - jewel-toned opaque glitter. 
Ultrafine Opaque "Summer"
carnation, goldilocks, yellow, leaf, sky, heather, silver

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Coupon Commotion is July 13/19
Great site for vintage patterns

July 17/19 - Simplicity patterns $1.99

July 24/26 - Butterick patterns $1.99

Monday, July 14, 2014

Fresh Fig Muffins

Fresh Fig Muffin
(Christmas in July?)
From "The Figgery" today. . .I baked this Fresh Fig Muffin recipe adapted from The Craft of Baking by Karen DeMasco.   These turned out GREAT!  Tasted wonderful warm and at room temperature.  Hopefully they will freeze well, as I was able to get 15 muffins out of this recipe.  Albeit using my "seasonal" cup cake paper cups.  I don't like to try and pry muffins out of the tin, but I do like an after-holiday sale.  I can usually pick these up for 10 to 25 cents a package.  I also think the designs are pretty.

The changes I made were using Celeste figs and sprinkling some Sugar in the Raw on top before baking for sparkle.  Next time I may try subbing out 1/4 to 1/2 of whole wheat flour.  I will try 1/4 cup first, as these are so light as they are.  Also the cinnamon-y/brown sugar muffin base smells and tastes just heavenly as it is baking and afterwards.   I bet you could make these again and sub out pieces of apple, or blueberries, or peaches for the figs.  Add walnuts or almonds.   This recipe is definitely a winner!


1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2  cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup chopped fresh figs (I quartered the smaller Celeste figs)

Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. Generously butter a standard 12 cup muffin pan or line it with paper liners.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.

In a second small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and vanilla.

Using an electric mixer (if you have a paddle attachment, use it.  I used the regular Kitchen Aid one), beat the butter and brown sugar until well combined.

With the mixer at low speed, alternate adding the the dry and liquid ingredients - 1/3 flour mixture, 1/2 buttermilk mixture, 1/3 flour mixture, 1/2 buttermilk mixture, 1/3 flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Do not overmix.

Remove bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the figs.

Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full.
I love my Pampered Chef stoneware.
A nice remembery gift from a very dear friend of mine

Bake until the muffins are a deep golden brown in color, 25-30 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Then turn out muffins from the pan and let them cool completely.

Makes 12 to 15 muffins.
Look carefully -You can see the melted and caramelized  figs inside

P.S.  How impressed was I by this recipe??  I just bought the cookbook!  Since it was published in 2009, Amazon has them new and used starting at $3.99.  Target and Walmart also sell it online, if you have a gift card from them - I'd consider getting this cookbook.  And then give the giver something you made from it. 

Netflix Stars - About Time

4.75 stars - This weekend's movie with hubby.  Who left in the middle and came back for the ending.  I, however, was hooked from the get-go.  I thought it was a very cute movie...and Bill Nighy stole the scene in each one he appeared.  The family dynamics are enjoyable to watch and all immediately endearing. A heartfelt reminder to enjoy and live each day to the fullest.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Psalm 5:3

In and outside of yoga class, I put my hands together in prayer position.  My thumbs rest against my heart and feel its beating, the tips of my fingers underneath my chin.  Then I bow my head slightly.  I acknowledge the connection of my head, my voice and my heart - in thought, word and deed.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Garden Update - Super Moon-(Flower)

Moonflower trying to open in between rain showers

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary or Thyme

Your choice for a 1/4 cup jar with the coupon from Penzeys Spices latest "Summer of Love" catalog.  Which also has recipes for Herby Oil Dip and Coconut Cream Layer Cake, just to name a couple!
The coupon codes are - Parsley 31930C, Sage 33439C, Rosemary 33134C, and Thyme 34036C.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Figgy Fun Friday

"Fresh Fig Bars"

Our Celeste fig tree is still setting new figs…  So far we have given way almost ten pounds of figs!
I've made two batches of "jam". . .
Fig Sauce
(quotes because it is not "official" canned/processed jam, but merely a figgy sauce with a touch of cinnamon and a little sugar.)  Which I've put on cereal. . .
Oatmeal with walnuts and figs
and yogurt and ice cream. . .
Figs a la mode
and yes, even by itself as a snack.

But now it is time to find and try out fig recipes!
I've tried two cookie recipes -- the favorite is the one pictured at the top of this post.  Both are from the California Fig website

"Fresh Fig Cookies"
First recipe tryout -- Fresh Fig Cookies
Maybe if I had followed the recipe (I substituted cinnamon for the cloves and didn't add walnuts and replaced 1/2 cup of white flour with whole wheat), they may have been better.  The problem was they were so "cakey"(mushy?)  and blah.  Despite the recipe calling for a cup of sugar, they weren't sweet.   Not even sprinkling sanding sugar on top or drizzling a bit of frosting helped.  My taste testers were forewarned by my saying, "Do these taste good to you?"  Oddly I kept wanting to add raisins - I think because it had the texture of a typical soft raisin cookie.


Fresh Fig Bars
Yet another recipe calling for walnuts.  Which I skipped again.  This recipe shows you how to make the filling, albeit time-consuming.  I just used my Fig Sauce/Jam I had in the fridge.  There is also more than enough oatmeal mixture to cover the bottom and top.  They were a little crumbly but I had no complaints from my taste testers - at all!   Next time I will try packing the bottom a little more firmly to see if they will hold their shape a little bit better.  You definitely need to use a fork or be ready to use your fingers to grab errant, flopped off pieces.  I'm going to try and see if they can be frozen, too.  I also added four packets of Sugar in the Raw sprinkled on top, hoping for extra crunch and texture.

Cookie bottom and top:

1 cup shortening
¾ cup packed brown sugar
2 cups sifted flour
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups quick-cooking oatmeal

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cream shortening and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Combine 2 cups flour, ½ teaspoon salt and oatmeal; stir into creamed mixture. Divide and press one half oatmeal mixture into bottom of well-greased 9x13 inch pan. Spread evenly with fig mixture.

Sprinkle remaining half oatmeal mixture on top and press together lightly.

Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. Cut 4x6 into 24 squares while still warm.  (no idea what that means - so here's what I did.  Then I cut these rectangles in half after removing them from the pan.)

Cool completely before removing from pan.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thursday Tea Time - Beautiful Leaf

Cost:   $16.00 at Central Market-Houston.  They were doing a sample-tasting
Number of teabags:  N/A, it's four ounces of loose tea.  But using 1 teaspoonful per serving, I'd say there are at least 40+ mugs awaiting your drinking pleasure.
Caffeine:   Yes
Type of tea:    Green and white and rooibos
Ingredients:  White tea*, green tea*, green rooibos*, pieces of mango*, pineapple* and apricot*, natural peach flavour, natural flavors.  (*Organically-grown ingredients)

Steeping time:   In tiny print underneath it said 3-4, but I only found and noticed that after my first cuppa.   So I did 5 minutes.   That extra minute just made the tea more flavorful, not bitter.
Add ins:   Tasted great without anything added
Fragrance:  Pineapple-mango-apricot
Opinion:   Oh, this is good…and oh, this is a little pricey!  But they were doing a demo at Central Market and it tasted great.  Plus I'm a sucker for a neat container, and a good theme/design (Lov-e the bird).  How much to use per serving was also not noted on the container, so I did 1 teaspoonful - and it really expanded. Go small and go big.  P.S. Lov is Scandinavian for leaf.
Rating:  4  It would have been higher if more readily available and a little bit cheaper.  $10-$12 usually tops what I am willing to pay.  But this had pineapple and three kinds of teas that I like.  So, it was worth the price gamble.

nice color!
Update:  Here is the watercolor I did for Every Day In May of the tin --

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Can I?

It all started with a $3.44 book...
Celeste figs

Coming attractions!
Celeste Fig Tree 2014

The figs started ripening on our Celeste fig tree, and it looks like a bumper crop this year.  I've already given five pounds away.  When I was walking through Target, on their end cap I found the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving marked down to $3.44.  And the canning jars were on sale.  I've never tried canning before and I thought, hmmm.  I can always use the jars for something else and donate the book to the library if things don't work out.   Kroger had the pectin and the utensil set in the baking aisle.    I will keep you posted of my attempt at canning!

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Netflix Stars - Pitch Perfect

4 stars!  I know, I was surprised myself!  This was a really cute and funny movie.  (And shhhh!  I don't even particularly like Glee!)  While Elizabeth Banks was a comedic surprise as both an actor and as a producer,  Rebel Wilson steals the movie.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Today's iPod Workout Song

Done with busted up knees and waiting for them to heal…
This is song is on my iPod Shuffle for swimming and skating.  Great beat!
I especially like the start up change up at  :55,  to 1:07 and again at 2:06/2:18.
I be flying in both forms of water - liquid and solid

The Madden Brothers - "We Are Done" - 3:36

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Time to let go

She just let go.

No one was around when it happened.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be.

A small smile came over her face.

A light breeze blew through her.

And the sun and the moon shone forevermore…

Edited from an essay by Rev. Safire Rose

Saturday, July 05, 2014

A Tree Grows in Texas

The Tree and Me
“Look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.”  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

This tree is over 1,000 years old -- And it is called, "Big Tree"  Big Tree is a coastal live oak and is 11 feet across the trunk, 35 feet around, 89 feet across the crown and 44 feet tall.   It resides in Goose Island State Park in Lamar, Texas, close to Rockport.

(I loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith.  It was one of my favorites growing up.  Tall, like this tree - plus an additional 38 feet, haha!)