The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.
H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
With that holiday between Christmas chocolate and Easter chocolate over, it’s time to refocus on those New Year’s resolutions. Plus sweatshirt season won’t last forever.
I love sweatshirt season. Am I wearing a bra? Who knows! Am I wearing what I wore to bed under it? Maybe.
So what if a cup of tea could melt your fat away, boost your energy, make you look like a supermodel? Oh, if it were only that easy, I could wear anything I wanted…without causing a traffic accident or traumatizing the neighbourhood children.
It’s been marketed by different names: flat belly tea, slim tea, skinny tea, fit tea. They can be sold in kits, with one of more teas to be taken daily over a period of time. The marketers are geniuses, using celebrities and skinny “bunnies” with great abs wearing postage stamp yoga wear to sell promises: lose weight, burn calories, boost metabolism, suppress appetite, increase energy, cleanse and detoxify…like most things, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!
Most of these products allege that they can detoxify the body from toxins you accumulate through food, the environment, you name it! But our bodies were created with systems to deal with pollutants, and a healthy body simply doesn’t need more help.
The “quick-fix” mentality may also encourage bad eating habits, like fasting or shying away from nutrient-rich foods, which end up weakening the body.
While many of these teas contain natural ingredients, frequently there is not enough information to determine whether they are in fact effective. Others have been proven to make no difference. The tea component contains flavonoids, antioxidants, and some level of caffeine. All of these are conducive to weight loss, and may help reduce inflammation and digestive upsets, but let’s be honest, on their own, without proper diet and exercise (and sometimes even with), they aren’t miracle workers. Drinking any type of tea increases water intake, which flushes out excess salt and retained water, and fills you up so you snack less. It’s also a great option to high calorie beverages like soda or beer, but water is one of the best, easiest and least expensive ways to shed a few ounces. I like my water with tea leaves, please!
So if the promises aren’t true, why are they allowed to market this way? Skinny teas are considered dietary supplements and therefore are not subject to the same standards that require them to prove their claims.
Now do you feel cheated, used, and abused? Me too. I’ve always been skeptical of the whole “slim tea” bandwagon, but once again, as with most things, if it sounds too good to be true, it may not be true.
Look, I can’t make everyone happy. I’m not bacon! Live in the moment – drink tea!
It’s Valentine’s Day. That holiday between Christmas chocolate and Easter chocolate. A day for lovers to espouse the traits that bind them together for eternity…yadda-yadda-yadda!
If you can’t tell, I’m not a fan. I could say it’s because we should show our love and appreciation to our sweethearts, family and friends every day of the week, not just once a year. But that wouldn’t be the whole truth. There’s a reason I wear black, and certainly I’ve had enough tragic childhood tales of unrequited love and crappy happenstances to make this a dark day on the calendar. I acknowledge that it’s been far worse for others.
I don’t deny the “lovers” their foolishness. They can spend their hard-earned money on rocks and red roses, and gush over each other like I will over my pizza tonight. I’m a hopeless romantic at heart (or just hopeless), but I prefer to poke fun. In fact, had I known this song existed, it would have been my theme song in high school:
Go ahead and call me a curmudgeon, a wet blanket or a cranky old lady. I’ll just smile sweetly. I’m not heartless. In fact, I prayed for a lot of people today – people who have recently lost love and people who are longing for love – because I love them. Some of them love me back! Hubby even brought me flowers and O Henry (Oh Henry!). It must be love!
I’m not a lumberjack, and I’m not OK.
If stupidity is doing the same mistake over and over again, then I’m not stupid. But mistakes were made. A lot of them. Just not the same ones.
I wanted to bake a “lumberjack” cake for my lumberjack, who turned 30 on Sunday (Now who’s feeling “old”!) Simple, right?
Knowing that I wasn’t quite up to this masterpiece, I elected to do a simple checkered cake instead. Baked goods like these sunglasses cookies are the height of my sophistication.
Last Thursday, I purchased a red velvet cupcake mix – pretty standard. Just add water, oil and eggs. I wanted to wait until the middle of the day when hydro is less expensive, so I went on and measured my oil and water, and left it by the mixer. After lunch, I put it all together. I even added red food colouring, but the batter was all wrong! It was thin and soupy. I had no idea what I did wrong, or how to fix it. I popped it in the oven anyway.
It wasn’t until I was cleaning up that I solved the mystery. The box said 3/4 cup of water, but I had used a 2 cup measuring cup and had added 1-3/4 cups.
The cake didn’t rise very much. It was very dense and even though it was dry to the touch, it also felt like I could wring it out like a dish rag.
On Friday, I popped into the grocery store early in the morning to purchase a white and a chocolate cake mix. I baked the chocolate one first, measuring multiple times before adding anything. Success! I then baked the white cake, which was now hot pink after adding a whole jar of red food colouring to the mix. So it’s a little weird – just go with it! I started humming “I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay….”
Saturday morning, I set about making shortbread moose cookies, but I used 2 different brands of butter, and the dough was behaving more like puffed pastry. I finally managed to cut out 4 moose with spindly legs intact. It required 2 people and an odd assortment of kitchen utensils to transfer them from the counter to the baking tray. I watched them like a hawk. Sadly, while 4 made it safely from the oven, only 2 made it to cake decorating day.
Saturday night, I poured a tiny glass of wine and went about cutting the cakes to form the checkerboard pattern. I’d love to blame the wine, but I can’t. I’m responsible for cutting the cake wrong. I cut it into tiny cubes and tried to layer them. After an hour, and mucking up 4 cutting boards, I realized that even though I got the pattern right, it would fall apart the moment we cut into it.
I was also starting to fall apart. I would have to start again.
Sunday morning, I hit the showers early and drove bleary-eyed to the grocery store for a chocolate cake mix and a red velvet cupcake mix. I didn’t have any red food colouring left in the house. I carefully laid everything out and memorized my instructions. I also warned my family that as soon as the church service was over, I was leaving! If they wanted a ride home, they’d best be on my heels. Big Guy was due to arrive in the afternoon and we were only going to have a very short time with him before he went out with his friends. My birthday boy was going to have cake!
I didn’t even take time to change my clothes, but jumped right to my task. I was an athlete running a race and the clock stopped for no one. My family fended for themselves…I ate a half-cooked hot dog over the stove, vigilantly guarding my precious cakes.
While they cooled, I tried to temper chocolate. Tempering chocolate gives it a snap and glossy sheen. It’s accomplished by heating, cooling and reheating to specific temperatures, dependent on the type of chocolate you have. Normally it’s done over a double-boiler. I do not have a double boiler. I have a pot, a bowl and a very thick oven mitt, which made it awkward to hold the candy thermometer…which I later discovered, only starts measuring at 200F, a full 95 degrees higher than I needed. I think I successfully melted and smeared chocolate to make shards in an overly-complicated way, but I got it done and without injury. Just in time for Big Guy to arrive.
He was here 15 minutes. Long enough to open gifts, question the assorted piles of cake littering the counter, and give his mama a big hug.
After he left, slightly discouraged and incredibly weary, I poured a hot cup of tea and sat down to watch a video on how to cut this pointless cake.
They should have been round.
So I watched a video on how to make a minecraft checkered cake. At least it’s square. Defeated, I asked Hubby to help cut it. He was “happy” to help. We didn’t have toothpicks, so we had to use bamboo skewers. We managed to use them only on the cake, not each other. I ended up with something resembling finished product in the video, just fewer layers and wider borders. Who was I to complain? My kitchen was covered in red, pink and brown crumbs, and my kids’ birthday was over. I tossed the cake in the freezer and curled up in the fetal position on the couch.
A day late.
I slathered homemade chocolate icing on my frozen brick and did my best to decorate it.
I NEVER want to look at cake again.
It’s hard to believe, but WordPress just notified me that I’ve been blogging for 8 years. Who knew that a quiet small town girl could have so much to say? I certainly didn’t imagine still being here, with growing aspirations to write more. But here I am!
And ready to try something a little different for Fridays. Music has always been a huge part of my life. I started playing the piano when I was young, and I have been singing longer than that. Just ask my brother! He spent many happy summer afternoons shooting pine cones at me with the lawn mower, while I belted our “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and the theme song from Star Trek. I have piles of cassette tapes and cds, all of whom are old friends. They remind me of difficult times I have traversed, sometimes not so graciously. Lyrics wove their way into me, encouraging me to hope for better days when I despaired I would ever see sunshine again. Music still stirs my soul.
In the last year, I have had the joy of marrying scripture and quotes with images for our church’s Instagram account. So I thought I would start to collect the lyrics and tunes that inspire me, and marry them to images, and share them here. I may write or may not write at all.
My word for this year is “Finish Line”. I know it’s 2 words, but it’s one concept. 1 Corinthians 9:24 says “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” It seemed only appropriate to start a new idea, with a new song…with my new “word”. I heard it on my new cd (from Little Guy). I was running errands in the car with Big Guy, and when the song started, we just looked at each other and grinned stupidly. Then he reached over and turned it up. It’s been pounding in my head ever since.
November 18- Dear Diary, Another gloomy weekend, or maybe that was just in the kitchen. When Handyman was installing the tile, which looks so nice, he had to pull the plug out and accidentally pulled off 2 wires. I don’t know when Dad will be able to get here to fix it. So with no light and no plug, it made cooking and baking a dismal task.
Last Friday morning, I made an emergency call to the pastor to see if he could pop over to help install our microwave. Fortunately, he was available only for the 40 minutes it would take, including driving. The installation went well but the microwave moves every time you push a button. It’s super annoying and more than a little scary!
Since Handy man took some doors home with him, I got some of the trim painting done, but it required some creativity to reach all the nooks and crannies! Handyman has started installing the new built-in cupboards and counter. So excited to see it finally coming together!
November 19 – Dear Diary, I sent my pa some snaps of the plug and hanging wires, which required standing on angles. I was not built to be in the circus, and yet I share a house with a number of strange characters. Me included. Daddy you’re my only hope!
On the plus side, the grout is going in. I haven’t been this excited about mud since Mud Hero. On the downside, it doubled my clean up at the end of the day just so I could cook dinner. Mud in the sink, all over the counters…even the floor.
We had yet another issue with door knobs & handles. Despite our careful consideration and adding up the numbers, more than once I might add, we ended up with 6 knobs too many…and 6 pulls too few. This required another trip to home depot. I was in too big a hurry to even change out of my yoga pants. I knew right where to go (after the return counter) – aisle 21! But to my dismay, they only had 4 pulls left. I raced to customer service where 2 ladies stood waiting, to wait on some guy, who had gone looking for something. Apparently this guy was “hotter” than me in yoga pants, and I had to wait for 2 of them to finish waiting on 1 of him! They were less than friendly when they did get to me, and they couldn’t help me any way!
So I had to drive to the other Home Depot farther away. I burst through the doors like a woman on a mission, heading straight to aisle 21. But hardware was not in aisle 21. Fortunately I wasn’t far off, and there were oodles. I skipped to the car with my newfound bounty…this time, only an hour and a half of my life gone forever!
November 19 – Dear Diary, Hallelujah! A new day has done and a bright light shines in the darkness. It is the light over my sink. The broken plug is repaired. The microwave is shimmied. The grout is complete. The doors and knobs and pulls are all installed. Handyman is done! I have cupboards to clean and some painting to touch up. Simple. But the hard part now…is finding “homes” for all. this. stuff.
Old vs. New
PLUS… all new breakfast/baking bar!
The day after the snow fell, the leaves gave up their will to live and dropped in one collective clump all over the neighbourhood. And even though we received WAY more snow than usual, it melted, leaving the landscape a brown and barren place. The only sign of life outside my window has become my muse…
Being natural is simply a pose, and the most irritating pose I know. – Oscar Wilde
Easy, Breezy, Beautiful…Cover Squirrel!
November 11 – Dear Diary, the weatherman promised us another messy, snowy day, but his timing was off, which gave me an advantage. Once I dropped Little Guy at school, I went to Home Depot to purchase cupboard door handles. I got lots of steps walking between kitchen cabinetry at back of the store and aisle 21 (hardware), trying to choose the best option to go with white cupboards. I finally decided on simple polished nickle pulls…which came in a pack. Good for the budget!
Handyman started installing the cupboard doors in the afternoon but…they aren’t white! They are a natural blonde wood. And my heart sank. I didn’t say anything and felt ok about it, until Hubby came home. And then again in the middle of the night. Until I had a little epiphany.
November 12 – Dear Diary, I talked to Handyman and it really was just a miscommunication. But rather than re-doing the doors, I slid over the Home Depot in the slush to reassess handles. The brushed nickle bars don’t provide enough contrast with the light wood. I got in more steps between kitchen cabinetry and aisle 21, as well as plenty of weird looks from the staff. I finally chose an antique brushed nickle knob. I took one home to show Hubby. I wonder if I could convince Hubby to let me paint the kitchen ceiling charcoal gray?
November 13 – Dear Diary, I have decided to use knobs on the cupboard doors and cup pulls for the drawers (Plan B). After doing the math with Handyman, I knew exactly how many I needed. Today I took my friend with me to pick up knobs. My opinionated friend. Who doesn’t always listen. Add in a hot flash or two, and the fact that they don’t make a cup pull to match that knob, and you’ve got a recipe for a headache. The first staff person I spoke to was really no help. The second person was helpful once I explained my question for the fifth time. He helped us look online to see if there was a match or something close that we could order, but with no luck. In between searches, I made a few trips between kitchens and aisle 21. Now I know I was getting strange looks from other staff members. This was my 4th trip to aisle 21 in a week. Over an hour later, hungry and exhausted, I went with Plan C…I found a simple bar that matched the knob.
November 14 – Dear Diary, I emptied my drawers today. What a lot of occasionally used kitchen crap I own! I found kitchen linens that were wedding gifts buried in the back. Maybe it’s time for something new? Showed Hubby some photos of Corelle dishes I took at Wal-Mart. He had the decency not to laugh…out loud.
I painted the wall behind the fridge so we can move it back. The paint was leftover from 2013 and reminded me of creamy marshmallow fluff. But I made it work because I wasn’t going to Home Depot again.
I decided to bake lemon squares, which was a challenge when all the kitchen tools are in the dining room, and the drawers and cupboards have no knobs or pulls. I must have opened the cutlery drawer a dozen times. The lemon squares did not suffer. Also, they did not last long.
November 15 – Dear Diary, I finally finished painting the stairs with little guy’s punishment, I mean, help.
BUT it was not a good sign when Handyman asked when my Dad was coming up to finish the electrical work. The electrical work that he finished weeks ago…?
November 2 – Dear Diary: Hubby and I went shopping to buy a microwave. I thought it would be a simple job: drive to Home Depot, pick one in our price range, and bring it home. How hard could it be?
First, a long discussion ensued whether to choose black or stainless steel. Since nothing else in the kitchen is stainless steel, and expecting it to be less popular and therefore cheaper, we chose black. Every microwave in Home Depot was stainless steel.
A Home Depot employee looked on the website for us, and could order one in black. It was more expensive than stainless, and came with a $69 delivery fee. Ouch! It couldn’t be delivered to the store and picked up…so another discussion ensued, and we decided to buy a stainless steel one. Did you know, dear diary, that the only microwaves in the store are the models? It would take at least a week for it to come in. We didn’t know if Handyman needed it on Monday. We politely declined, much to the annoyance of the employee, and headed to the hardware aisle, where we proceeded to discuss and fondle all the knobs and pulls, from simple to ostentatious. We got ridiculously giddy. The prices, however, were a shock. I cannot justify spending $300 on hardware alone, no matter how ridiculously good-looking they are. So I settled on a simple white ceramic knob to go with the simple white doors. I purchased one for the whopping price of $1.99.
We went to Canadian Tire. They only had stainless steel, and none of them were over-the-stove models. BUT while we were there, I took Hubby to look at dishes. Our everyday Corelle set was given to us in 1995. While every mug and saucer is intact, we only have 5 dinner plates. Which means if we everyone is home, we have to do dishes. Which means if we have guests, we have to flip a coin to see who doesn’t get to eat. Unless we eat in shifts.
There was a great assortment of colours and patterns. I was particularly attracted to a pale blue stoneware set. The only ones Hubby liked were white. Just white. Our plate-flipping-coin will have to stay in the kitchen a little longer. Discouraged, we set out for store #3…
I hate shopping at The Brick. As soon as we set foot in the store, a salesperson started stalking us. It was creepy. He stalked us to the microwave department, pointed to a couple of models but didn’t explain anything, then wandered off in search of better prey. We could get him if we needed help.
We wandered around, scrutinizing the varied features of these stainless steel models (no black). The deciding factor (apart from price) was very high-tech: how comfortable the handle feels when we open it. Then we started wandering to see find Mr. Salesperson. Mrs. Salesperson saw us searching and offered to help. She showed us a few models and checked on a sales one that we liked.
We had made our selection when Mr. Salesperson showed up, and started mouthing off to Mrs. Salesperson about “stealing his sale”. It was incredibly uncomfortable. We didn’t know if we should interject or just walk away. Before we decided, she walked away and Mr. Salesperson rang it up. We could pick it up 3 days. I paid. Mr. Salesperson couldn’t get the receipt to print, so he disappeared…for nearly 5 minutes. I was beginning to wonder if he’d split town with my payment and I was to end up with no microwave. Just a gaping hole over the stove. Eventually we left with a receipt, a small migraine, and a parting scowl from Mrs. Salesperson.
November 4 – Handyman said he was coming to apply the second coat of plaster, but he didn’t show up. Guess he forgot and he’s away the rest of the week. I got bored waiting, so went shopping for clothes for Little Guy. He’s now taller than me but I’m still 4 lbs heavier. I’m not sure I could take him in a fight, but I’m going to pretend I didn’t say that!
November 11 – Everyone has been sharing their kitchen renovation horror stories. I was thinking I was getting off pretty easy. Famous. Last. Words….
"Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing." —Laurie Buchanan
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