Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tea Time: My Favorite Blends

It's a rainy, dreary Tuesday here in Arkansas...aka, my favorite kind of day. It's nap time and the kids are resting/playing in their rooms and I've been cleaning the house with Pretty Little Liars on in the background (this is the only TV show I've ever been able to watch over and over!). And, as usual on a day like this, I've got a nice cup of hot tea that I've been carting all over the house.

I've been looking to my twitter conversations for some post inspiration and I've recently had a few about tea. A few weeks ago, some of us were talking about our favorite types of hot tea, so I thought I'd share mine here.

Years ago I discovered Twinings tea and I was instantly hooked. At the time, it wasn't sold anywhere near us, so I ordered it online. English Breakfast was the first type I purchased and I loved it. It's still one of my favorites.

English Afternoon is a new favorite of mine. It's still a black tea, just slightly different in flavor. 

I also really love Prince of Wales. When I first ordered it, I could only buy it in loose leaf, which was fine, but now it's available in teabags as well. Chris just surprised me with 6 boxes of it!

 Irish Breakfast is probably my very favorite of all the Twinings teas I've ever had. Its a bit sweeter than the above mentioned teas.
 Ceylon Orange Pekoe is also really great. Apparently I have a thing for black tea, since that's what I keep listing!

And for a non-Twinings mention, Sleepytime Sinus Soother from Celestial Seasonings is awesome! My sinuses have been crazy with all the changes in weather, and I drink this tea every night. It really makes me feel better!

What's your favorite tea?

Also, I'm sure you've all seen the devastation caused by the recent tornados in central Arkansas. Please keep those affected in your prayers! 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday Five: Books, Royals, Glasses, Tea & Music

I was looking back through some old posts on my blog and found a couple of Friday Five blogs from 2011 and 2012. I thought that might be a fun post inspiration for me today!

Edited to add: I just realized this is my 1400th blog post! I can't believe I've been at this for 6 years!

So, here are my Friday Five!

1.) I'm sad that the royal tour is over. I talked about this last week but I'm a HUGE fan of the royals, mainly Will, Kate, George and Harry. I'll admit that I'm not super fond of the Queen, Charles and Camilla though they have grown on me a bit in the past couple of years. I've been up late every night of the tour, watching he live feeds.

Image courtesy of ABC News in Australia: Taken via live stream

2.) Eh, I don't know about this one, but I decided to share it anyway. I got new glasses. I don't like myself in glasses, but my eyesight is terrible. Unfortunately, I can't wear contacts and because my stigmatism is really bad and I can't get corrective surgery, so I'm stuck with glasses. My friends tease me because I don't like wearing them, so I usually settle for just not seeing very well when we go out to dinner. Ha!

3.) Now this one, I love. My husband surprised me this morning with a box full of Prince of Wales tea from Twinings. I'm a huge tea drinker and I love this particular blend, but up until now I've been buying it in loose leaf, because I didn't know you could buy it in bags. He heard me talking about it once and remembered. Awww!

4.) Speaking of my husband, he likes country music. I've posted plenty of playlists on this blog and only very rarely will they include country music. I've just never been a huge fan. A bunch of my twitter friends are big fans of Luke Bryan and Chris was telling me about a song that perfectly described me to him. I listened to it and actually liked it! It's called Play It Again. I'm a big fan of music in general and when I've got a song I really, really like, I listen to it on repeat. ;-)

5.) Lastly, I'm excited to have reach my Goodreads goal of 50 books. It was my goal for the year, but I pulled it off in just 4 months. I'm wondering how many I'll end up reading before the year is up! PS: You can friend me on Goodreads if you'd like but clicking here.

Two of my favorite books from the last week or so are Anna and the French Kiss (bad title, really good book) and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (which I heard is being turned into a movie).

Images via Goodreads

So, those are five fun things from me this Friday...what have you been up to this week?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter! 

We've had a long day with family, but I just uploaded a few pictures I took after church and had to share!

 My sweet little boys!

I shared this on twitter earlier but I had to share here too... I am SO thankful for the promise of heaven. Our pastor preached an amazing service today all about heaven; I have never been so excited for the day that I will get there!

"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will COME BACK and take you to be WITH ME!"
John 14:3

I hope you had a wonderful day celebrating the resurrection of Christ!

Monday, April 14, 2014

My heart rate monitor, T25 & a healthy side dish recipe

This might seem like an odd purchase, but I've been wanting to get a heart rate monitor for awhile. I have a heart condition that's not a big deal, but I do like to keep an eye on my heart rate when I'm doing vigorous exercise. Also, I love knowing how many calories I'm burning. I used to use Spark People and My Fitness Pal's estimations, but it's nice to really know what my body is burning. 

I asked my friends on Twitter for recommendations and you all had some great ones! I ended up with the Polar FT4. Below is the watch, which tracks your heart rate, calories and time. The actual monitor is attached to a stretchy band that you wear right below your heart. It's not uncomfortable - in fact, I don't even notice it (but that could be because Shaun T is kicking my booty and I can't concentrate on anything besides trying to stay alive). 

Edited to add: Several of you asked me where I bought my HRM...I ordered it from Amazon, but in retrospect I probably could've save more by ordering it via Ebates. I've had an account for years and just forgot to use it!

Speaking of vigorous exercise, Chris and I started T25 a week and a half ago.

Oh.My.Word. That Shaun T is something else. If you haven't heard of T25, it's from the same people who made Insanity and P90X (and tons of other workout videos). I know several people who have completed the 8 week program and they look insane when they're finished. It's only 25 minutes a day and what I LOVE about it is that you aren't doing one video over and over and over...There are several videos (like Cardio, Total Body, Lower Focus, Abs etc) and a calendar that tells you which video to do on what day. I've already lost several inches and am toning up, which was my goal.

I'm eating healthy too, which I generally do anyway, but I've cut back on my dessert intake. I have a gigantic sweet tooth and a weakness for anything chocolate.

Good thing fruit is sweet!

And this is one of my favorite snacks or side dishes with dinner. I slice a zucchini, brush on a teensy bit of EVOO, salt and pepper, and bake them into chips. Serve them up with warm marinara and you've got yourself a really yummy snack.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Keeping up with the Cambridges

Anglophile (noun): A person who admires all things related to England and its people. 

This pretty much sums me up. I love all things English. I'm secretly planning our 15th wedding anniversary out in my head, and it revolves around a trip to London. We will have to wait and see if Chris goes for that. ;-)

So, it comes as no surprise to those who know me well that I have been anxiously awaiting the We Three (aka Will, Kate and George) tour of New Zealand and Australia which started a couple of days ago. (If you follow me on Twitter, I'm busy tweeting pics like the ones you'll find below and RTing some other great accounts as well!).

I've stayed up (occasionally waaay too late) watching live feeds of the official royal engagements online at night, starting with the royal arrival to NZ. These are screen caps I took from the live feeds I was watching on my iPad:

(This, and all images in this post are from Reuters)

The royal watching community has taken to calling George "Cheeks" for obvious reasons!

 I stayed up the other night watching George's first official engagement: a playdate with 10 other babies. It was adorable, but I wasn't able to get any screen caps because my live feed connection was awful, but one of my twitter friends, What Would Kate Do, posted lots of awesome pics on her blog, which you can find here.

Yesterday, the Cambridges had three official engagements, one of which was a wreath laying ceremony at Seymour Square.

After they laid the wreath, Kate began mingling with the waiting crowd. She just seems like such a sweet person, who always takes time to interact and really talk with the people who've waited hours to catch a glimpse of her.

While I was watching, I grabbed this screen shot...someone brought Kate a Princess Di beanie baby. I will admit this made me cry, it was such a sweet moment. You'll notice the bracelet Kate is wearing - it's a friendship bracelet one of the kids in the crowd made. Both she and William received one and they both promptly put them on, which is just another reason to love them.

Are you an anglophile? Do you adore Will and Kate as much as I do?

If you're looking to keep up with the Cambridges, you should follow these twitter accounts:

What Would Kate Do
British Royals
HRH Kate Blog
Duchess Kate Blog
Cambridge Watch
and of course, me!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Artichoke and White Wine Pasta

Artichoke and White Wine Pasta
Source: JennaBlogs.com
Serves: 6

2 cans quartered artichokes packed in water, drained

1/2 cup dry white wine
3 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon EVOO
4 Tablespoons butter (not margarine); Divided
3 Tablespoons flour
Salt and Pepper
1 box of pasta (I used Rotini this time) prepared as package directs.

Drain artichokes and roll them up in paper towel to dry them. I usually do this about 15 minutes before I'm going to make the sauce so they can get nice and dry.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, add 1T butter and EVOO. Sauté artichokes until browned, seasoning them with salt and pepper. Add garlic and let cook one minute. Remove from pan, add white wine and scrape up the brown bits off the pan. Let it reduce by half and then remove it from the pan (I put it in a bowl with my artichokes).  

Add 3T butter and 3T flour to pan over medium heat to make a roux. Let the flour cook with the butter for about a minute then add your chicken stock, whisking to combine. Cook until thickened about 5-8 minutes. Reduce heat to a simmer, add your cream, cook for 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then add your artichoke and wine mixture back in. Simmer for 3-5 minutes. Serve over cooked pasta.

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