Welcome, 2017!


Happy New Year, everyone! I don’t know about you, but I am very glad that 2016 is behind us. I’m sure there will be plenty of challenges in the months ahead, don’t get me wrong, but there is something about flipping that calendar page that seems to bring hope and a little bit of positivity.

So, I hope everyone enjoyed fabulous holidays. Ours were very good, though I rang in 2017 feeling unwell. Saturday morning I woke up feeling under the weather, but rallied for work. I got home afterwards and pretty much crashed. Fell asleep watching TV around 9:00 or so and around 10:15 I just went to bed. All day yesterday I felt horrible — aching body, aching head. It should go without saying that I didn’t do much at all. Thankfully today I am feeling a bit better.

Since it’s the first Monday of the year, I think it’s a good time to jump back into posting Sandra’s Happy Homemaker Mondays. I always enjoy hopping around to other blogs and reading everyone’s entries. So let’s have at it, shall we?

The weather:::
It’s cold and gray out there this afternoon, and there’s a warning for freezing rain overnight. The kids go back to school tomorrow, but now I wonder if there will be a delay due to ice. We will see!

On my reading pile:::
One thing I did manage to do yesterday was spend some time with Overdrive on my tablet. One of the great things about living in New York is that anyone in the state can get a library card to the New York Public Library. Their collection, as you can imagine, is much bigger than my library system! It’s fantastic for audio books and e-books. I downloaded a bunch of new cookbooks to look at and also The Dinner by Herman Koch. I thought it sounded interesting!

On my TV:::
Netflix has a bunch of new shows that are right up my alley, but so far today I haven’t watched anything. The kids want to watch “Weird Science” so I guess that’s what we will do this afternoon!

On the menu for this week:::
Looks like I need to sit down and figure out my meal plan!
Monday – Chicken Fajitas
Tuesday – Pork chops, broccoli rice, salad
Wednesday – Rotisserie chicken, potatoes, green beans
Thursday – 
Friday – 
Saturday – 
Sunday –

On my to do list:::
Do we even wan to go there? Good grief I feel like it’s endless… update my holiday notebook, clothing donation, reorganize my crafting area, clear out old paperwork… I could go on and on.

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
I’m working on some new dishcloths. I like to start the year with a fresh supply, and they’re quick and easy projects. I also have to make another Messy Bun Hat. I sold quite a few during the holidays, and I love making them!

Looking around the house:::
Lots to put away. With the kids home on vacation, things have gotten a little out of control!

From the camera:::
Nothing to share this week, but I’ll get back into it. I miss taking photos with my real camera (not just my phone).

Something fun to share:::
Hmm… not sure I have any ideas today.

What I’m wearing today:::
Just a long sleeve t-shirt and flannel pants. Saw no reason to get dressed today, LOL!

One of my simple pleasures:::
Eating fresh berries. Oh, they are so good and Aldi had blackberries on sale last week so I just devoured them. 

Well, Laura is asking me to make some popcorn, so I think I will do that, make myself a cup of tea and then pick up my crochet for the afternoon. Wishing you all a healthy, happy, and prosperous year ahead!

Review | Art of Tea

Art of Tea

I love drinking tea all year long, but it is especially comforting at this time of year. There’s nothing like the way a mug of tea warms your hands as the delicious scent fills the air. I was recently offered the chance to sample a few of the offerings from Art of Tea, a tea importer and wholesaler based in Los Angeles.

Art of Tea

Art of Tea sells a huge variety of teas and tea-related goods. They even have a monthly subscription box! (Talk about the perfect gift for a tea lover.) Their website even has a Tea Wizard to help you decide what flavors you might enjoy. It’s definitely fun to play with and in fact, one of the samples the folks at Art of Tea sent me was on my recommended list (White Coconut Crème).

Let’s start there.

White Coconut Crème
Art of Tea

Ingredients: Organic White Tea, Organic Safflower, Organic Cornflower, Organic Coconut, Natural and Artificial Flavors

The first thing that struck me when I looked at the tea was the amount of coconut flakes. I couldn’t get a photo that accurately showed how nice they were: big, thick flakes of yummy coconut. They definitely don’t skimp on the ingredients! The flavor was nice and light. I added a bit of sweetener to my cup to bring out the flavors a little more. It was a great mid-afternoon treat.

White Winter Chai

Art of Tea

Ingredients: Organic White Tea, Organic Black Peppercorns, Organic Cinnamon, Organic Fennel, Organic Cloves, Organic Cardamom, Star Anise, Natural Flavors 

The White Winter Chai is available only during the fall and winter, and that makes sense to me because that seems to be the time to drink this warm, spicy blend. I enjoy a chai latte instead of coffee sometimes, and this tea was just delicious! The white tea makes for a more gentle beverage and the star anise flavor really came out, which I happened to love.


French Lemon Ginger

Art of Tea

Ingredients: Organic Rooibos, Organic Honeybush, Organic Lemongrass, Organic Ginger, Organic Lemon Verbena

Typically I don’t choose lemon teas, but I was intrigued by the addition of ginger to this blend. The other day I wasn’t feeling well and had a sore throat so I decided it was the perfect opportunity to finally try this tea. The smell of the tea leaves was wonderful and made me excited for them to finish steeping.

Art of Tea

The scent of lemon and ginger was as soothing as the tea itself. I added a few spoonfuls of the lemon-ginger honey I make every year to get us through cold season. All of the flavors worked so well together and I loved that I could really taste the lemon. I think that’s why I’ve tended to stay away from other lemon teas — even when I’ve added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, the flavor I wanted just wasn’t there. Not the case here! The ginger added a nice kick.

Art of Tea

I was really impressed with these samples and browsing through Art of Tea’s online catalog, I see so many other flavors I want to try, like Butterscotch, Cran Marnier, and London. If you want to treat yourself, or are looking for a last-minute gift for a tea lover, I recommend checking them out!

NEW!!! Erin Condren Surprise Boxes!


A photo posted by Carol Bancroft (@planwithcarol) on

You guys!!! Did you see this today? Erin Condren sent an email to their VIP list and let everyone know that they have seasonal surprise boxes starting in January! According to the website, it will contain $80 worth of goodies, but it only costs $35, which includes shipping. I think that is quite a deal, so I jumped on it. Supplies are limited, so once it’s gone… it’s gone. If you want to get a code for $10 off your first order, sign up using my referral link! And be patient. First you’ll get a code for 10% off, but after you finish your registration you will get an email with a code for $10 off. If you’ve been wanting to check out EC’s products, this would be a fantastic way to get a variety for a good price. And who doesn’t want a little pick-me-up in the middle of January?

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

thanksgivingdinnerCan you believe that Thanksgiving is in just two days? Time just flies this time of year. Normally, I consider Thanksgiving my favorite holiday but due to the nature of this year I’m not quite as into it as I usually am. Nevertheless, I’m doing my best to make it a good holiday.

As usual, we will be hosting at our house. I don’t find the cooking to be a chore, and honestly we really like not having to drive anywhere on Thanksgiving. (Plus, I can have an extra glass of wine — ha!) Drew’s mom and aunt will be coming up, but that’s all so it will just be seven people.

My Thanksgiving menu doesn’t change much from year to year. I keep it pretty traditional, though I’ll try a new recipe or two sometimes. Usually one of the appetizers or desserts will be something new.

Here’s my list…

Cheese ball and crackers
Devilled eggs

Roast Turkey with sausage-cranberry stuffing
Mashed potatoes
Roasted sweet potatoes
Asparagus (it happens to be on sale this week and Drew requested it)
Cornbread with cranberry honey butter (new recipe)
Tossed salad
Cranberry sauce

Sugar-free blueberry pie
Pecan pie or sugared pecan topped cheesecake

For wines I have a riesling, a vino verde, and a petit syrah. I also found a non-alcoholic black currant cordial that I thought might be nice either mixed with seltzer or kicked up with vodka. So we will try that, too! 

A couple weeks ago I made a 9-lb. chicken, so this 12.5-lb. turkey won’t be too far off! Of course, I will also have my Crock Pot ready with onions, celery, and carrots to make an overnight turkey stock. I look forward to the soup as much as the roast bird! And of course I also love a turkey sandwich on Thanksgiving night. I always like to have it on white bread with American cheese and lots of mayo. It’s one of those things from my childhood that still just makes me feel all happy and at home!

Today I also started a cranberry fluff, which we will be taking to the “feast” in my daughter’s class tomorrow. If it comes out good I’ll be sure to write about it.

What about you? Are you hosting Thanksgiving or travelling somewhere? Anything new and exciting on your menu or do you also keep things fairly simple and traditional?