What’s in my Cup: Pomegranate Raspberry Green Tea

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It may only November, but by yesterday afternoon, it was “beginning to look a lot like Christmas”. Bing Crosby was by no means the author or the first to record this song, but I always hear his voice crooning it this time of year.

I don’t know if it’s because of covid restrictions or the fact that I’m not as stressed as in years past (mostly because I’m not working and I don’t have little people at home) but, like so many others, I’m ready for twinkling lights and seasonal spices.

I don’t want to rush the season, though it does seem to get shorter every year. We usually celebrate Little Guy’s birthday before breaking out the decorations. Sipping something sweet with a rich, rosy colourm however, while snow fell silently (and kids and dogs delighted not so quietly), felt right.

Stash’s Pom-Rasp Green tea contains hibiscus, orange peel chamomile, pomegrantate and raspberry flavour, citric acid and matcha! The warm, rosy hue and delicately tart scent of berries was inviting. Unlike most green teas, this one was also a delight to the tastebuds. I have had other pomegranate teas, including green teas, but they lacked body and the green tea was easily distinguishable. Or in one case, it tasted more like hot fruit juice. Yuck! If Stash hadn’t identified “green tea” in the name, I wouldn’t have noticed. This was citrusy and bold; I really liked it.

It went really well with warm homemade muffins made with french vanilla yogurt and frozen cherries, raspberries, strawberries and pomegranate.

Kindness is like snow. It beautifies everything it covers.

Khalil Gibran

May your cup of tea overflow with peace, love, joy and awesomeness today!

Dear Quarantine Diary #33

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Dear Diary – Last week, Big Guy texted me to see if I had all the ingredients in a recipe. I did if you ignored the work “distilled” before vinegar. So Friday afternoon, Big Guy arrived to make pickled carrots.

I pulled out the ingredients, pots and jars, and explained how to sterilize the jars. Then I stood back and watched. He peeled, sliced, measured and boiled…I only stepped in when it was time to remove the boiled jars.Watching him trying to fish out the bottles with my tiny tongs was like watching a baby raccoon fishing in a koi pond, cute but unsuccessful.

The first batch of brine only covered one of four jars of carrots, so it made sense to triple the recipe. I don’t know how we ended up with too much brine; we just added a fifth jar of carrots.

We taste-tested them the following afternoon. They were very crunchy and tasted strongly of carrot, pepper and vinegar. Maybe, like women and fine wine, they need a little more time! While it wasn’t a smashing success, I’m tickled that he tried, and I’ll treasure the time together.

I promise…. it’s green glass jars that make the pickles look skunky.

Dear Diary – My crazy friend texted me out of the blue – could I sew 100 facemasks and deliver them 4 provinces away in 1.5 weeks? Let me see….NO!

Dear Diary – How is it that I’m approaching 50 and the prospect of having to talk to a teacher has kept me awake most of the night, and has had me tied in knots all day. Every time I’ve had to negotiate for my kid, my stomach twists and I break into a serious sweat. It even happens on parent-teacher conference night. Some might venture to say that I suffer from PTSD, and it’s true. I’ve had sat in the hot seat at more than my fair share of parent-teacher meetings! I always feel like I’m being graded as a parent and clearly, I have failed as a mother.

Courtesy of boredteachers.com

After a few emails, wherein I’m proud to say I restrained the “mama wolf” and stuck to the facts with my lawer-ly training, and waiting by the phone (i.e., literally carrying around 2 phones everywhere I went in the house for the entire day, because you know if I don’t, he’d call when I was in the loo!), we reached an agreement. My kid failed to do the work so naturally, there have to be consequences; of that we are in agreement. But as for some of the other things, “stick to the facts ma’am, just the facts”!

I hope Little Guy at least realizes that though I may not be his favourite person in the world right now, I’ve still got his back!

Dear Diary – I’m a highly suggestible person. My family knows this and sometimes takes advantage but slipping in a phrase from a song or humming a tune. Then they wait. 99% of the time I’ll start humming or singing, and then ask, out loud, “why am I singing this? Where did it come from?”…and they laugh and laugh.

Sometimes the song gets stuck for hours…or days….

Last night wasn’t the case but it’s stuck anyway. Hubby started singing a silly song and I asked him, “How old are you? That sounds like something from the thirties”. He replied sarcastically, “I’m 110”. The song? My Old Man’s a Dustman.

Dear Diary – We are once again in the “Red Zone” and, from the sounds of it, we may heading for the “twilight zone”! My region’s covid #s are climbing and I’ve heard rumours that even stricter guidelines are coming. I may not be seeing family in person this Christmas, and the prospect of staring at grey skies from my sewing “room” is dreary. But I’m trying not to borrow trouble, just stay focused on each day and look for the blessings.

Today the blessing came on my walk back from the mechanics. It’s time for oil changes and snow tires. On Sunday, we dragged Little Guy from his lair to walk around the block before the rain set in. The next day, I realized I was missing a mitten – a cozy, thick red 2012 Canada mitten. It wasn’t in the driveway or the car, so I assumed I’d lost it at the grocery store. I have the bad habit of taking my mitts off in the car and then getting out, dropping them on the ground. I don’t always notice.

When I got stopped by a red light, I decided not to be so lazy and I extended my walk home around the block. Lo! And behold! My red mitten. It was sodden and half-frozen, and the cheeriest sight on this damp day. I spent the remainder of my stroll greeting squirrels and the lady who passed on the road so I could have the sidewalk. I even walked an extra block.

God reminded me that He blesses us every day, sometimes in the smallest ways, simply because He loves us. He reminded me that I have every reason to smile, and I am supposed to share that smile with others. Even if they can’t see my smile behind a mask, they can see the crinkle of my eyes or the wave of my hand. They can read my body language. They can hear my tone. And as stressed and bummed, and emotional as I may be, there are others struggling with the same things. Or worse.

Finding my mitten may hardly seem like a marvel, but finding my joy today, that is.

Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding. For wisdom is more profitable than silver,  and her wages are better than gold.

Proverbs 3:13-14

What’s in my Cup: Blueberry Jam

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I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill.

Fats Domino

Dark, sweet, and plump, blueberries are a great way to start the day…and maybe end it too. They’re the most nutrient-rich berry, packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, and potassium, and plenty of healing properties.

When they’re added to jams or muffins, the calorie content increases. That’s not the blueberries fault! David’s Blueberry Jam tea lets you enjoy the juicy taste of blueberries without adding sugar. This tea from David’s is a blend of organic black tea, organic black currants, organic blueberries, organic elderberries, cornflower petals,and stevia. It’s also kosher and Fairtrade.

I made this tea the other evening and took it with me in the car. The whole car smelled deliciously fruity! More importantly, the flavour is a strong, natural blueberry note, while still retaining the robustness I want in a black tea. I often find flavoured black teas are weak, artificial or very grassy, but this is very satisfying, not cloying or tart. It’s now a “must-have” in my every day supply!

Advice from a Blueberry

* Be well-rounded * Soak up the sun

* Live a fruitful life * It’s ok to be a little blue

* Make sweet memories!

Happy Monday!

Dear Quarantine Diary #32

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Dear Diary – Christmas is coming and I don’t know how long the line will be at Bulk Barn, or if we’ll face another flour shortage! So last week, while Dad was waiting in the woods for Bambi to wander by, Mom and I made…Salvation DOUGHNUTS! The only hiccup was how to cut the hole, since I forgot my “hole cutter” in the city. Crafters always find a way! After several failed attempts, we discovered that a spool of thread works well. Except that we ended up with a spool full of dough too.

They taste even better than they look…

Especially with tea!!!

Dear Diary – I got an email this week from unsplash.com that said I’ve received “500,000 views on your photos! More people have seen your work than the summit of Mt. Everest”. This is the closest I may come to being “popular”.

Dear Diary – We’ve been very blessed with beautiful warm and sunny weather. On Tuesday, I took advantage of it and went for a long walk with my ipod!

It wasn’t long before I was peeling off my sweater and wishing more time had passed so I could go home and be lazy! Just then, a heavy metal song came on, one I used to run to when I was training for Mud Hero. Just thinking about it made me very tired. I decided a long time ago that unless someone is chasing me, I’m done wih running. I even compiled a list of 10 reasons Why I Don’t Run Anymore!

By the time I was 2/3 of the way through my long walk, and really “feeling the burn”, I noticed an older guy with a red cap. He was standing in his yard with his arms crossed and a mean scowl on his face. At first, I thought he was glaring at me and I started running through the list of things I might be doing wrong? Was I dressed inappropriately? Did I miss a “no walking” sign? But as I got closer, I realized he was giving the “evil eye” to the maple tree in his front yard. A row of brown yard waste bags already lined the end of his driveway. I guess, as far as this dude was concerned, he was done his yard work for the year! I felt sorry the tree.

I made it home from my walk without setting my pants on fire from my thighs rubbing together, or traumatizing any children or other innocent bystanders. I rewarded myself with a chocolate chip cookie! So maybe, just maybe, I will try it again some time. Or I’ll go straight for the cookie.

Dear diary – Someone posted this on Facebook and it amused me…

Apparently I slay each day like a bedazzled boss lady! Sounds about right? How about you?

What’s In My Cup: Canadian Breakfast

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English, Irish, Scottish, or Canadian. Regardless of which country has it’s name in the title, “Breakfast teas” are a robust blend of tea with a higher caffeine level meant to help you kick-start your day. Breakfast teas are usually a blend made with Assam tea, which is from where the high caffeine content comes.

Canadian Breakfast tea is made by Nourish Tea Co., a company that believes in providing organic (as much as possible) and supports estates that are sustainable, ethical and abide by fair labour practices. In this case, it is an orange pekoe Canadian Breakfast tea is more like an orange pekoe tea but it’s Kosher, Organic, and Fair Trade Certified. The tea leaves come from a single estate in from Sri Lanka. I couldn’t find it on their website, oddly enough, but it is available on Well.ca.

It had the robustness expected of a “breakfast” tea, with it’s own unique warming, malty flavour. Plus the caffeine kick I need on a Monday morning.

Warning: Going to sleep on Sunday night will cause Monday morning. Please note that staying awake all night Sunday night does not prevent Monday. There is no cure!

Happy Monday!

Dear Quarantine Diary #31

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Dear Diary – When was the last time I played in the leaves? Last Saturday!

With exceptionally beautiful weather and all my guys home, it was the perfect time to tackle the annual Autumnal Yard Clean-Up! While Hubby cleaned up the last of the tools from his carport project, the boys & I raked and bagged leaves.

I should have been more alert when I heard conspiratorial whispering, because Big Guy grabbed me and dumped me in a huge pile of leaves. They were dry and crispy, and sunny yellow as they closed over my face. I lay there for a moment, laughing and letting their earthy smell bring back memories of running and tumbling into piles of leaves, first with school mates, and later with my own little boys. Both boys tower over me now. We ran around tossing bunches of leaves in each others’ faces. I couldn’t fend them off as they shoved leaves down the back of my shirt. I was picking leaves and sticks out of my hair for the remainder of the day.

Once we had dealt with the leaves in the front yard, Hubby and Big Guy worked on trimming the hedge. It had received a haircut a few weeks earlier, but a “mohawk” ran down the centre, waving mockingly at me when I relaxed on the couch. The haircut required a ladder and climbing into the top of the hedge, but the job is done! My father also needs a hair cut in the beardal area, but he won’t let us get near him. I bet our hedge clippers could do the job!

Dear Diary – After a beautiful warm Saturday, we were hit with brutal winds and snow Sunday evening. By Monday morning, the trees were stripped bare, the yard was covered in snow, and the roads were covered in ice. My friend was frozen solid.

On Monday, I ran away from home. Why? Because…
Girls just wanna have fun, oh girls just wanna have fun

Dad was away hunting (again) this week so I spent some time with my Mama. This was the first year that Dad has hunted for two weeks, for moose and deer. He rarely even sees any deer. One year, when he called Mom mid-week from a pay phone, he asked us to “stop praying for the deer”.

Mom usually visits me and we’d go Christmas shopping, but with my tiny home housing a school and office, and my spare room in a mess, it wasn’t practical. And even I don’t want to shop in my area!

Despite sliding my luggage (and business supplies) to the car, my trip was uneventful for a change. It wasn’t uneventful for the folks whose RV was on fire on the other side of the highway.

How do 2 ladies pass the time during a pandemic? First, we went grocery shopping, and we binged on HGTV!

I also picked up some much needed socks!

On Tuesday morning, we shared one screen for our online Bible study. I had to keep us muted because we sometimes got a little rowdy! Who said studying the kings and prophets would be boring? We hit the “city” for the afternoon: Fabricland (nothing says adventure like 100% cotton Christmas prints), Michael’s (to look at shiny things) and then….we really threw caution to the wind…we went to the Mall. We barely ventured in the door, but still, I bought a dress and we people-watched in the food court with a cup of Tim’s. We even shared a doughnut! We spent the evening cutting patterns and flipping between the American election and a Jane Austen movie.

Wednesday morning, I made crostoli della nonna, and I didn’t burn the house down! Dad showed up unexpectedly at dinnertime and joined us for our “girls’ dinner in” which included my aunt, and we played card games.

He never saw a creature bigger than a breadbox, unless you count the hunter who asked for directions. Half an hour after that, he had 2 more hunters wander by…looking for their lost friend! Oh dear! Dad also tracked a deer to the edge of a cliff… I’m pretty that deer was a decoy. They’re smarter than the hunters!

This morning, the plan is to make salvation doughnuts, and I’m seriously considering going AWOL today and not heading home until Friday. I have to restock the fridge; I don’t want my guys to starve!

Keep calm and be crazy, laugh, love and live it up because this is the oldest you’ve been and the youngest you will ever be again. American Hippie

Happy Monday!

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It was snowing when I went to bed last night, and a frosty wind is blowing over the snow-covered ground this morning. Only two days ago, we were peeling off our sweaters and rolling in the leaves.

What a way to start a Monday…Yuck!

Yesterday, as I drove to the pharmacy, I couldn’t help but notice the contrast of Halloween decorations and Christmas decorations littering people’s front yards. I wonder if people’s minds are also in the midst of making the shift from pumpkin-spiced whatevers to peppermint whatevers.

Not this old girl… Why rush into Christmas? Why not savour the shift in the seasons? My friend and I, we will be hanging on to our pumpkin-spiced chai and munching on mini chocolate bars…for a few more weeks…even if we have to dig out our winter woolies!

Happy Monday everyone! Go put on your kettle, and may your tea be stronger than whatever Mondays throws at you!

Dear Quarantine Diary #30

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Dear diary – This past weekend, the sun wasn’t shining on the glorious leaves, and the nip in air was just plain nippy! The perfect season for Holly Homemaker to fill my head with visions of yummy, hearty home cooking. And I fell for it…again!

I made ginger carrot butternut squash soup for lunch on Sunday. And to appease my growing men (the direction they’re growing depends on the age), I cheated and made bisquick biscuits. Normally I make them from scratch…and I should have! The biscuits were raw, deformed, pasty rocks even after double the time they were supposed to cook. Microwaving them didn’t help! They tasted awful! Was it my oven temperature? Had the milk spoiled? Nope! Hubby solved the mystery … the bisquick mix had expired in 2011!

I also made homemade lasagna filled with hearty vegetables, ground beef and lots of cheese. Except I didn’t quite have enough noodles left in the box. (Yes, I checked the expiry date)! So I decided to be creative. The bottom layer was lasagna and the second layer was macaroni.

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– Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Finally,  I wanted to use the pastry shell I baked a few days before, so I made a lemon meringue pie, from scratch. It turned out beautifully before. I even squeezed my own lemons! What I ended up with was a tart, lemony soup with a perfect meringue crust. I didn’t have quite enough cornstarch…

If Holly Homemaker is smart, she’ll run for her life!

Dear diary – On Saturday, I tackled the piddly job of edging along the ceiling in my spare room/craft room/sanctuary. Not only do I have to hold my breath and concentrate so I don’t splooch paint on the ceiling, I have to climb up and down to inch the ladder around the room. I had one foot to go when I ran into a second obstacle (the first being the paint can lid!). The bed! Fortunately I had a big strong “man child” to roll his eyes at me and shove it out of the way, with one foot.

On Tuesday, my friend came over to roll in the room while I was in my Zoom Bible study meeting. As it turns out, she is not only a “live large” kinda gal, but a forceful painter. She slopped away with the force of a hurricane. After carefully, tediously edgining the room and around the doors and windows, watching my friend made me cringe. There was paint dripping down the walls, smudges on the floor, and brush boops on the ceiling. Why can’t I look a gift horse in the mouth, and what does that mean?!?!?

In the end, it looks great (except for the ceiling boops). She slathered the paint on so thick, it only needed one coat. Which is good, because the paint can is nearly empty and I fear I may never get it open again! Aunt M’s trick with rubbing alcohol worked like a charm and the floor smudges are history. I’m almost feeling hopeful that I’ll be moved in before Christmas!

Dear diary – The website, unsplash.com, is hosting it’s annual photo contest. It’s a website for photographers to share, for free, their exquisite photos. I might use the term loosely though since they let me create an account and add photos too.

I perused this years categories. Architecture, film, and fashion aren’t really my strong suits. Interiors are a bad idea. Since there’s no risk of someone stopping in for tea, I confess I have let some of the housekeeping duties slide.

My house isn’t dirty – it’s lived in!

There’s also street photography, people and health & wellness. All require leaving the house. Next!

Current events? Who wants to look at Covid-related photos? As for other world news, it requires leaving the house…I’m not sure my cooking and baking sessions would count as Experimental! So I submitted some photos for Nature. There are over 4.8K entries. Wish me luck!

There are no bad pictures; that’s just how your face looks sometimes.

– Abraham Lincoln

Dear diary – Today I got to be a working girl. Not that kind of working girl! I got a call from my former boss asking if I would be willing to help with a small project. I am!

Today I fixed my hair and put on make-up. I left the house in “dressy” clothes as opposed to jeans, leggings and flannel shirts. I took a travel mug with tea for travel farther than the grocery store. Sitting behind my desk felt like coming “home”. I have mourned leaving this job terribly, and even though this project will only take a few hours, some of which can be done in my living, it felt good to contribute again. I mean, in a way apart from beautifying the world with my fabulous face masks! 🙂

Dear diary – Last night, minutes after putting the clothes in the dryer to fluff them (I hung them out to dry), we heard a horrendous crash downstairs. Little Guy was in the bathroom upstairs so I couldn’t blame him.

Half an hour later, when I went to get the clothes, I discovered shattered glass in front of the dryer and scattered across the floor in the clothes waiting to be washed. In fact, whatever had broken had flown across the whole room! Thankfully I noticed before I ventured too far in my bare feet.

Several hours after I cleaned it all up, scratching my head as to what had broken, it dawned on me. I had carried the freshly washed glass pie plate down in the laundry basket and I must have set it on the dryer. The dryer shook it off…and the boys won’t be eating lemon meringue soup any time soon. I wonder if they’re disappointed?

Hubby asserts that it’s called a pie dish because plate comes from a French word that means flat, and it has sides on it, so it can’t be a plate. What do you call the container in which you bake a pie – plate or dish? Curious minds want to know!