Posts Tagged ‘tea drinker’

As I have mentioned in the past, my husband’s family are Gift Listers. Each year, we send around a list of gifts that we would be happy to receive. There is an understanding that we may deviate from the list, but it’s helpful to have ideas. Sometimes we’ll say something more general like “nail polish” or “fancy hand cream,” (two items which are often on my list) and in those cases, we might include a sample link, even if we don’t necessarily want/expect the exact item we linked to.

Here’s what was on my list this year. 

Subscription to NYT online and/or NYT games: I play Wordle and the free version of Spelling Bee every morning before I drag my tired rear out of bed, and I also do the mini crossword. Just think how much longer I could delay getting up if I had access to the full Spelling Bee game and the big crossword!

Tea Infuser Cup Insert: On my recent post about loving teaNicole (HI NICOLE!) mentioned that she has something like this, and I want one too now. Then I can stop buying individually wrapped tea bags! 

Uncle Gray Loose-Leaf Tea from Tea Squared: My favorite tea of all time.

Lightweight Bathrobe: I have had my current bathrobe since before I got married. It came with me into the delivery room when I had Carla. It has seen some things, is what I’m saying. It is pale pink and fuzzy and warm. Way too warm. I need a lightweight robe so that I don’t turn into a puddle of sweat immediately after I get clean. Also, I am not really a pale pink sort of gal, so I would prefer one in black.

Fun Dish Towels: You knowlove a good dish towel

Vegetable Chopper: This is such a boring gift, but it would be So Useful. 

A Bookmark: I specifically requested one with photo/s of Carla or our family.

A Dishwasher-Safe Smoothie Cup with a Non-Plastic Straw: Yes, I know this is very specific. But the heart wants what it wants, and my heart cannot stand hand washing things or a plastic straw.

Fun Necklace: I don’t have my ears pierced, to my mother-in-law’s eternal consternation, but I do love a pretty necklace.

Pom-Pom Beanie: I just really want a hat like this. 

Wild Aloof Rebel Shirt: I saw this on David in a rerun of Schitt’s Creek and covet it quite badly.

Anorak: I have been envisioning myself in an olive green anorak for awhile (not that I can wear it for several months in my region, but a girl can dream), and this one is cute and looks like it might even have some coverage in the buttular region.

Books: Books are always on my list. Get me nothing but books and I would be delighted. Here are a few I am specifically looking forward to owning:

The Twist of a Knife by Anthony Horowitz: I have the other books in this series and I cannot wait to read this one.

The Couple at the Table by Sophie Hannah: Sophie Hannah is one of my auto-buy authors and I am really eager to read her latest novel. My husband and I passed it in a bookstore the other day and it took ALL my willpower not to grab it off the shelf. 

Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro: This is a new-to-me author and I can’t remember why this book is on my list or anything about it, but I must have heard great things!

What’s on your holiday wishlist this year?

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I’m a reformed coffee drinker. Otherwise known as a tea fan.

Ally posted recently about her assortment of tea flavors, and it reminded me that I have… a lot of tea in my house. 

Since I cannot remember my origin story as a tea drinker, I will instead give you a tour of my tea. 

I have so much tea, it has to live in two places. This is the tea drawer in the red cabinet in the dining room.

It was so fun to read about how many of you have strong thoughts on herbal vs. black tea, and I will say that I have equally strong feelings about tea. The first feeling is that I don’t really understand what herbal tea is! Which is probably pretty understandable, considering that I drink black tea 95% of the time. 

My favorite is Earl Grey, and its variations. I love me some bergamot. The very best Earl Grey tea I have ever had was at a little brunch place in Montreal. I ordered a pot of Earl Grey and it was so floral and delicious that I wrote down the name of the tea they served and have asked for it for Christmas every year since. (It’s called Uncle Grey and its made by Tea Squared in Canada.) 

Extreme close up of my tea drawer! I have a bunch of Double Bergamot and then some regular Earl Grey as a backup. There’s also a lovely, fragrant lavender rooibos in here… but it makes my tongue feel funny when I drink it, so I stopped drinking it.

Because Uncle Grey is pricey, it’s not really reasonable to drink every single day. (That’s why it makes a great gift.) So I’ve had to come up with some acceptable alternatives. There is a lot of bad tea out there, folks. My favorite is Double Bergamot Earl Grey by Stash. I can often get it at a local grocery store, and if not I can order it by the 100-bags from amazon. 

My mugs are there on the right. The ones with cats. Also the one about being a writer; I will write about that later. I have a third giant mug, but it’s in the dishwasher.

I drink an enormous cup of tea every morning, and I use two tea bags to make it strong enough. I read somewhere that you do not strengthen tea by steeping it longer, you strengthen it by using more tea bags. (Steeping it longer can make it bitter.) If memory serves, I read this years ago in the first Cormoran Strike novel by Robert Galbraith/J. K. Rowling, so I’m not sure if you should take it as gospel; it is advice that has served me well, however. 

This hastily snapped photo does not quite adequately capture how enormous my mug is. I think the mug on the left holds 8 ounces; mine holds TWENTY.

Despite liking my tea strong, I don’t like it black. When I make Earl Grey or Chai, I always add sweetener and half-and-half. I use about two tablespoons of half-and-half, so my tea is a lovely tan.

My second-favorite tea is matcha. But the way to make matcha good, in my opinion, is to make it with milk rather than with water, and that is sometimes usually more of an effort than I care to make. You will note that my matcha is encased in a resealable bag inside a Zip-loc bag, because I have learned from bitter experience that it is a bitch to clean up matcha powder that has spilled all over my pantry. 

My third-place tea drink of choice is probably a tie between Chai and green tea. If I order tea from Starbucks, for instance, I almost always order a Chai latte. But if I am having a second cup of tea during the day, I will make green tea. I like the grassy taste, although I sometimes add a little plop of honey. I enjoy jasmine green tea quite a bit; I guess I like flowery tea in general.

My tea collection includes a wide variety of teas other than Earl Grey, matcha, chai, and green tea. Sometimes I browse the shelves and shelves of teas at the store and think, “Hmm, perhaps I am a rooibos person!” (I am not.) or “What I need is a tea with winter spices!” (I do not.) Then I buy them and try a cup and hate it and go back to drinking my same old, same old. 

My husband enjoys some of the winter-spice teas, but contrary to my original assumption, which was that the winter-spiced teas I am posting here are his, he actually has all “his” tea in the same drawer where he keeps his coffee. So this is all tea I have purchased in hopes that I will magically become a different person.

I requested these for Christmas one year, and got them. They were fun to try, but I did not enjoy them. I think I got them two, maybe even three years ago and I only had two of them before deciding they weren’t worth it. I threw them out after taking this photo. The little box is cute though. Carla rescued it from the trash and has Big Plans for transforming it into something.

The chamomile is a different thing, though: I have chamomile because my mom used to make it when we weren’t feeling well. It was part of the Sore Throat Regimen (which also involved gargling with hot salt water). Even though I’m not a huge fan of the taste, it is comforting because it reminds me of my mother, and how tenderly she took care of me when I was sick. 

I much prefer a tea bag to a loose-leaf tea. This is something I continually try to revisit with myself, because the tea bags produce a lot of waste. I have the matcha, I have some micro ground tea, I have some loose leaf tea. I have a little tea brewer apparatus, into which you can pour your tea leaves and your hot water; once the tea is done steeping, you balance the little apparatus on top of your mug and it drains the brewed tea into your mug, leaving the leaves inside. It’s ingenious, really. But it’s difficult to clean (and you aren’t supposed to put tea leaves down your drain) and it doesn’t fit on my mug because it’s too giant. I will continue trying to train myself away from the tea bags though; it’s a terrible, wasteful habit.

Once, I went to a friend’s house for dinner. After dinner, she brought out this beautiful teak box with a hinged lid, inside of which were a dozen different teas I could choose from. It struck me as so fancy, and so hospitable. I, on the other hand, have a plastic bin filled with teas of all sorts that sits in my panty next to boxes and boxes of other tea. If I ever become a fancy person who enjoys having people in my house, I will certainly be getting myself a lidded box in which to offer my guests tea. (In the meantime, maybe it would make a good hostess gift?)

It seems as though I am doing NaBloPoMo this month, which is 30 blog posts in 30 days. (Will I make it??? Only time will tell.) Details at San’s blog here.

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I am sitting in my living room with a lovely view of the Christmas tree, lights glowing softly in the morning dim, and I am still feeling distinctly grinchy. What is my DEAL. We could easily blame my lack of spirit on the fact that I have to go to Costco today, the week before Christmas, because I have somehow allowed our toilet paper and paper towel supplies to dwindle to dangerous levels. Or perhaps we could point to the fact that my daughter’s school just informed us that winter vacation will begin a day early, so agitated are they about rising numbers of Covid cases in the system. And, worse, that the kids will be coming home with devices just in case we cannot return in January as planned, and need to remain remote for a while. Cue wailing and rending of garments. Of course of course I am glad that Carla’s school continues to take this pandemic so seriously. Of course I would rather keep her home than expose her unnecessarily. Of course I want to be a good community member. Of course we will be fine if we need to do a few days or weeks of remote learning. But. Anguished scream.  

However, even before this very unwelcome announcement from the school administration, I had been feeling distinctly dispirited.  Christmas music irritates me, unless it is a very specific and somehow highly elusive style of old-fashioned instrumental Christmas carols. I have wrapped maybe a dozen presents and am already SICK OF IT. I tried to read two separate Christmas books, both which came highly recommended by people I trust, and neither of them were a good fit for my reading style/current mood. We have NO SNOW, just wind, wind, and more wind. We finally put up the tree and the Christmas decorations, and somehow even they seem lackluster, even though they are the exact same decorations I put out every year.

I feel a certain level of frustration (with myself) over this lack of holiday spirit. Also, woe. I LOVE Christmastime, and I feel it slipping away from me, and I’m concerned that this is the last Christmas that will be Magical for Carla, which makes me want to swaddle myself in Holiday Joy that is on a high, dark shelf somewhere I cannot reach. Fretting about it does not help, of course; I cannot GUILT-TRIP Christmas spirit upon myself. I thought I could coax it to me with gentleness and patience, like getting a skittish cat to come up from under the couch, but so far that hasn’t worked either.  

The only Coping Thought that is working for me (currently) is that Christmas Spirit isn’t MANDATORY. There’s no law. I have done my best to do the things that will make Christmas happy for my loved ones and I can finish the last tasks I need to do but there is no law that I have to be cheery or feel awed by the season or cherish every moment. It’s disappointing, but trying to FORCE spirit upon myself is not working, so I am trying to let go. Maybe it will find me if I stop looking so hard.

In the meantime, here are a few utterly mundane updates on a variety of things. 

Christmas Tree Skirt: I ordered the Christmas tree skirt I loved from my recent post and it has since arrived. I like it even more in person than online. The fabric is kind of stiff and heavier than I anticipated, which I quite like; I don’t think presents are going to crumple it or displace it. (It did get some stubborn folds in it during shipping, but I think time and gift gravity will smooth those out.) I LOVE the red version, but I kind of wish I had the burlap one, too. Maybe someday I will be the type of person with two trees and I can get the burlap one as well.

Holiday To-Do List: Just two weeks ago, I was in a bit of a panic over all I had yet to complete. Here is a list of what I had yet to do:

I can make a nice tidy list of things we have yet to complete:

Address and mail holiday cards

Finalize purchases for Carla’s “rilly big box full of all craft stuf”

Wrap and mail gifts for sister-in-law and niece

Mail caramels to my brother and sister-in-law whenever they get here

Buy the final gift for my mother

Buy the final gift for my father

Buy all gifts for my mother-in-law

Buy all gifts for my father-in-law (including birthday gifts)

Buy all gifts for my aunt-in-law

And now, I have completed every single item on that list. Plus, I have wraps all the gifts and packed them in boxes and put them in the mail. All that’s left is to wrap gifts for my family (and on behalf of Santa). A good reminder that there is usually plenty of time to do what needs to be done. Also that panicking publicly on one’s blog is quite useful for stimulating action.

Box Office Breakdown: When last I showed you a photo of my office, it was cram-jammed with boxes. I was saving the boxes so that I had The Perfect Size for the gifts I needed to send to relatives. This was kind of ridiculous, considering I only needed four boxes. But they are gone now! Broken down (by my husband!!!) and recycled! 

My office is usable once again. Hooray!

Coffee Experiment: I ended my experimentation with drinking coffee after two days of drinking coffee. Coffee is not for me. Instead, I have been making matcha lattes with occasional forays into Christmas tea, which is a very gentle, fragrant way to enable the Christmas spirit to enter my soul should it choose to. 

I just ordered a box of Stash Christmas in Paris tea to try in addition to the Twinings. “Luxurious chocolatey flavor paired with lavender and mint”? Yes, please!

Anniversary Dinner: My husband and I decided that we just weren’t comfortable eating in a restaurant quite yet, so we got “fancy takeout” (this means I ordered short ribs and my husband ordered chicken Milanese and we also each got an appetizer, instead of getting our usual pizza/Indian food/Thai food takeout) and took it back to our house where we watched football while Carla was at a birthday party. It was a surprisingly fun, lovely way to spend our anniversary. Plus, we got (“got”) to wait in the lobby of the restaurant for a few minutes while the kitchen prepared our order, and observed all the unmasked people coming in to dine there, and listened to how snarky and unpleasant the three (three!) hostesses were, and witnessed a disgruntled diner gripe to one of the hostesses about how he’d been waiting at a table for fifteen minutes and no one had come to serve him yet, even though someone had waited on a table that was just seated. It gave me just enough taste of Being In A Restaurant to realize that I have no desire to be in a restaurant perhaps ever again. 

Also, I got flowers!!! (And chocolates. They are both from my mother-in-law, but that doesn’t dampen their beauty.)

Dog Gifting: Carla would like to make special holiday treats for all her neighborhood dog friends. I have googled “homemade dog treats” several times, which turns up lots of recipes, many of which include peanut butter. But then some websites say that dogs can be allergic to peanut butter. Or gluten. I feel like we would KNOW if any of the dogs on our gift list had special needs. That seems like the kind of information that comes up, when you are a dog person. Right? But maybe not? I don’t know. My best guess is that we should just pick a recipe, make it, distribute the dog treats, and then the owners will decide if they want to feed it to their dogs or throw them away. It definitely seems like the perfect “It’s the thought that counts” kind of situation. But I don’t know! I’m not a dog owner!

If you are a dog owner/expert, would you allow your dog to eat a treat containing peanut butter? Perhaps I should stick to a different “flavoring.” But the other flavors include things like banana and sweet potato. Do dogs like bananas and sweet potatoes? Am I overthinking this? I am overthinking this. 

Awkwardness: Thank you for your support and kindness in response to my post about being the most awkward human on the planet. I am mostly over it. I have since spoken to several of the moms involved in my big foot-in-mouth incident the other day, and they seemed friendly and normal and the subject never even came up. 

What are you up to, this last weekend before Christmas? If you also have to brave Costco, you have my solidarity and sympathy.

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The grocery store was a madhouse this morning. Not unexpected, I suppose, considering it is the week of Thanksgiving here in the U.S. But still… I guess I hoped that it wouldn’t be too wild at 8:00 am. Oh well. I emerged unscathed (except for my checking account; hot turkey leg food is EXPENSIVE).

Iceberg lettuce, I am sure you will be relieved to hear, was on sale for $2.50 a head. (Sarcasm font.) Pancakes, of any size, are still completely absent from the frozen section – I need to see an in-depth investigative report on WHY frozen pancakes are a) so much hotter a commodity these days than in The Time Before, and b) so difficult to replenish/keep on the shelves. I read somewhere – oh yes; I googled what in the sizzling griddle is going on with pancakes, and found a tweet by some other miffed mother wanting some pancake clarity. The Eggo twitter account responded, which is kind of cool… but their response was both vague and unsatisfying:

Seriously. WHAT IS GOING ON WITH FROZEN PANCAKES. My grocery store doesn’t even have space for pancakes anymore. It’s not like there is a big gaping pancake hole indicating where the few boxes of pancakes had been before they were snatched immediately off the shelves by lucky pancake hunters… Instead, the waffle selection has swollen to disproportionate sizes, making it seem as though there were never any pancakes at all. When things like lunchables and pasta and flour were hard to come by, there was still space for them on the shelves. So I feel like there just are no pancakes. (I suppose my grocery store could just have gotten really adept at filling shelf gaps, to create the illusion of well-stocked shelves… but there was NO MAPLE SYRUP today, and where they should have been on the shelf was just a gaping nothingness, so…) I am assuming, based on absolutely no data at all, that pancake machinery is being used to support some other in-demand food stuff… but I can’t for the life of me think what it is. Or maybe Big Waffle is trying to eradicate pancakes from the planet. Whatever is going on, the pancake supply chain seems to have completely collapsed, at least in my area.

You may have surmised, based on the frenetic tone of the above, that I am still in the midst of my coffee experiment. Even though I am a regular drinker of both black tea and caffeinated soda, and even though I never notice an appreciable difference in personal caffeination (although if I skip my tea, I do get a headache, so obviously the caffeine is doing something), I feel like coffee is different. It’s like an injection of liquid energy, except not the kind of energy I can direct toward productive things like exercise or work; it’s more like squirrel energy, where my movements become rapid and jerky and I get easily distracted by acorns.

My husband, a legit coffee connoisseur, made me some of his good coffee this morning. He did so yesterday as well. (Saturday, and there is no reason for me to tell you this, but, squirrel, he slept in because he was coming off 12 straight days of work plus he was recovering from his Covid booster, so I drank my regular tea.) He grinds his own beans and has some sort of special drip coffee maker and I am supposed to believe that these things make the coffee much smoother. It is certainly much less bitter/nauseating than the pre-ground pumpkin coffee I drank last week when I began this experiment, but I am still suspicious. Coffee is coffee, right? I do find that I absolutely need to eat something before/during the coffee drinking, otherwise I feel very queasy indeed. This morning, I had a slice of apple cider donut blondie that my husband and daughter made yesterday. It is very tasty, but I have to warn you: it tastes NOTHING of apple cider. Which is deeply disappointing, because my husband had to reduce the apple cider by half and it took close to an hour to do so. Apple cider appearance or no, these blondies are soft and crumbly on the inside and crunchy around the edges and go very nicely with coffee. However, this may prove to be too much sugar for my stomach to handle in tandem with the squirrel surge of caffeine.

I apparently drink coffee much darker than I do tea.

Hey! This week is Thanksgiving, at least at my house, and I am looking forward to a very low-key day with just the three of us. I am making a turkey breast (America’s Test Kitchen recipe) (although I bought a couple of wing pieces to help enhance the drippings for the gravy), and my mother’s goat-cheese-garlic-mashed potatoes, and mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows for my daughter, and cranberry sauce, and apple crisp. It still sounds like a lot of food and cooking, but I don’t have to make dressing (my husband agreed to let me buy it, pre-made, from Whole Foods, where we are getting our turkey breast), and we can sit around in our pajamas all day if we want and I feel like this is going to be a nice break before the crush of the Christmas holiday.

(By the way, in searching for my Thanksgiving recipes, I came across last year’s post about Thanksgiving. And I have ZERO RECOLLECTION OF ANY OF IT. Apparently we didn’t do cranberry sauce or dressing last year, either? Apparently we did a family Zoom? Apparently we made something called an apple sharlotka? NO MEMORY OF ANY OF IT.)

Hanukkah begins the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I am dithering over whether to make sufganiyot again. I really liked them, and it was fun to share them with our neighbor. But they really are best when fresh out of the fryer, so I don’t know if it’s worth doing again. Carla expressed interest in making some cookies, so maybe I will look into that. And maybe we will save a Hanukkah baking project for the end of Hanukkah instead of the beginning.

Dinners for the Week of November 22-November 28

What are you most looking forward to eating this week? If you celebrate Thanksgiving, what will your celebration look like this year? And do YOU remember last year’s Thanksgiving? Why has it been erased so thoroughly from my brain? Is there some sort of insidious black hole that is devouring pancakes and memories?

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It snowed last night! Our first Real Snow of the season! Woo hoo! So I’m feeling chatty.

I suppose this is just a regular old Friday randomosity, dressed up in slightly different clothes.

Being a Parent Sometimes Means Forcing Your Kid to Go to School Crying

Hoo boy we had a rough start to the day. Poor Carla woke up on the WRONG side of the bed. And, oh, how I empathize. That feeling of dozens of little angry crabs, skittering all over your skin and clamping their tiny sharp claws into your brain, is so familiar to me, and I have dealt with it hundreds of times over the years and STILL don’t know how to get through it without snapping at my husband and/or feeling wounded by any tiny slight and/or wanting nothing more than to climb back into bed and start over. But for Carla, it’s still a new experience. She just doesn’t GET cranky, and so it’s been a long time since she’s felt this way and she hasn’t yet figured out how to cope.

I tried to be empathetic – validating her feelings, lots of hugs, keeping my own frustration in check (we left the house TWENTY MINUTES LATE) – but matter-of-fact. Being cranky happens, and it feels rotten, and nonetheless we all have to go on with life and do the things we have to do. I tried to suggest some strategies for getting past the yucky feelings. (I tried not to sigh too loudly when she rejected them all.) And then I dropped her off at school, even though she was tearful and upset, and I am hoping hoping hoping that her day only goes up from here.

Okay, despite my anxiety about being That Mom, I sent an email to her teacher just to check on her. (Not sure what I will DO, if her teacher says she is still crying… go get her? That seems like both the Wrong Lesson and the Right Thing to Do.)

Cleaning Before the Cleaner Arrives, Helpful or Ridiculous?

One of the reasons Carla was cranky (I think) is because I gave her a Hard Choice this morning. She was supposed to tidy her bedroom and her bathroom last night, in preparation for the housecleaner. I reminded her twice. I asked her whether she’d done it, and she said yes. But then, well after she was asleep for the night, I had to go into her bathroom for something and discovered that she had NOT tidied the bathroom. The opposite, in fact: sodden Barbies lying facedown on the bath mat, a full Barbie swimming pool in the tub, toy catalog on the counter, hair ties and rocks (yes, rocks) on the floor, pajamas wadded up in the corner. I know that some people who have housecleaners believe that the housecleaner can handle stuff like this. And I’m sure our very capable housecleaner could. But it is my view that time spent tidying – especially tidying away toys and things whose homes you may not be aware of – takes precious time away from the CLEANING. For me, the value of the housecleaning is in the scrubbing of the toilet and the scouring of the bathtub and the mopping of the floor. Some people in our house may disagree but I FIRMLY AGREE with myself on this point. So Carla’s bathroom door has been shut tight and the housecleaner has been instructed to stay out, and Carla will be getting some hands-on experience with what I mean by TIDYING vs CLEANING because she will be doing both.

Okay, so I also gave the microwave a quick swipe (there was a Ham Incident the other day, which I mostly took care of at the time, but exploded ham bits are surprisingly evasive) and wiped down the stove top (I haven’t even MADE anything on the stove lately, WHY was it so FILTHY?) before our housecleaner arrived because I don’t want her to think we are total pigs.

Stepping Out on Your True Love: Will It Rekindle the Fire, or Cause the Relationship to Implode?

The thing I REALLY wanted to discuss with you, before all the morning’s crankiness and associated anxieties derailed me, is that I have had a Startling Revelation. I think I am growing weary of my one true love: tea.

I hope you took that paragraph break to allow the magnitude of this revelation to sink in. Because it has taken me a few weeks to come around to this understanding. Historically, I LOVE tea. Double Bergamot Earl Grey has been my faithful and delicious companion every weekday since I discovered it, with splurge days on the weekends when I drink my fancy Uncle Grey imported from Canada. Before that, I drank regular Earl Grey or English Breakfast. I can’t remember exactly when I started drinking tea, but I know that it has at LEAST been for eight years (one of my fondest memories from Carla’s first year of life is that my husband made me tea every single morning and brought it to me while I pumped), and probably for several years before that.

But these past few weeks, I’ve had waning enthusiasm for my tea. It doesn’t taste quite as good, I find myself dragging when I need to prepare it, I end up gulping it down to get it over with instead of savoring it. It’s just not giving me the joy that a warm morning cuppa should give a person.

I don’t think I can switch to other teas. I don’t really like most teas – the fruity kinds, no thank you. Rooibos and Chai are okay on occasion but not every day. I like green tea, but it doesn’t have the same comfort factor that Earl Grey does. Matcha is wonderful, but it requires so much milk and frothing and so on to make it the way I like it.


Today, I asked my husband to make a little extra coffee and so I am drinking that. It is… not good. It is too bitter, even with two packets of Sweet’n Low and my normal glug of half-and-half. When I am not drinking it, the inside of my mouth tastes metallic and sour, and I’m sure my breath is a delight. I made sure to eat a high-protein breakfast before I drank it, but I still feel like it’s making me jittery and a little queasy. How do people drink this every day?

I used to drink coffee. When I was eight, my mom brought home these beautiful bowls from France and she would make me café-au-lait for breakfast. When I went to her office after school, I would help myself to coffee and powdered creamer and many, many packets of sugar in the break room. During my first summer job during college, I would live for the few minutes when I could step away from filing and pour scalding coffee into a paper cup and doctor it until it was creamy and sweet. At some point in my life, I was a fan of Pumpkin Spice Lattes. So I have gone through multiple coffee drinking periods in the course of my life.

But I can’t say I ever really liked coffee. When I left it behind a decade or so ago, I intended never to return. Still, I don’t really want to get back into it, now. It would require too much sugar, for one thing. Too much half-and-half. Too much… amped-up quease. (I feel like the non-word “quease” evokes the feeling much better than the word-word “queasiness.”)

But what else IS there? I need a warm cup of something in the mornings! (PLEASE don’t say warm milk. Hork.)

Maybe I will drink coffee for a few days and then see if I have a newfound appreciation for tea. Or maybe I will find myself sucked into the coffee cult that has thoroughly brainwashed my husband and Lorelai Gilmore and so many others (maybe even you?).

Edited to add: It took me many hours to finish this post; distractions abound! So this is Future Me reporting back to you on today’s coffee sitch: I have still not finished my cup of coffee; my mug is still one-third full and the liquid is cold and my head feels powered by hummingbird wings and my stomach is a-sail on choppy seas. This is not a promising beginning.

A Strange and Unfamiliar Dilemma Arises!

This is not an actual problem.

We ordered our holiday cards on Sunday and they arrived ON WEDNESDAY. People, it is STILL NOVEMBER. This has NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. I am absolutely delighted. (We ordered through Mpix.com – it was a great experience, through and through. The cards look great, even if adding a photo to a card and printing it didn’t make the awkward way I am holding my arm in said photo look any less awkward.)

But now I am facing a quandary: when do I send the cards? Part of me wants to send them NOW, get them off my desk (my office has become Holiday Storage Central, and is full of boxes that I can’t bear myself to throw away and gifts for people), and perhaps achieve the ever-elusive status of being someone’s First Holiday Card of the Season. (Our First Holiday Card of the Season usually arrives from one of the few high school friends I continue to talk to as an adult. I am anticipating it any day now.)

But the other part of me is resisting this. I don’t know why. Maybe because I am a firmly Wait Until After Thanksgiving holiday celebrant? Maybe because I don’t want to be first? Perhaps people will toss the card because it’s so early, or perhaps I am uncomfortable with the idea of MY awkwardly posed arm being on someone’s wall or mantel all alone for days or weeks? I don’t know. It seems too early!

Then again, Hanukkah is early this year, and begins the weekend after Thanksgiving. Part of the reason we send holiday cards instead of Christmas cards is because so many of our card recipients are Jewish. It would be nice for the holiday card to arrive DURING the holidays, rather than after them. (Although I doubt that any of our Jewish card recipients care all that much; Hanukkah isn’t really that big a deal, and they are likely inured to the tradition of getting “holiday” cards during Christmastime.)

All this to say: I am sort of leaning toward sending them out on December first. That puts them arriving solidly in December, and hopefully before Hanukkah ends.

You Can Bet I Filled Out the Customer Survey, and I Filled It Out GOOD

Yesterday saw me flitting about from store to store, running errands. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve done something so carefree. I was looking for three specific things: 1. Candles for the menorah, which I did not find. 2. Ideas for a “giant crate filled with crafting supplies,” which was the top item on Carla’s letter to Santa. 3. A tiny, not-terribly-expensive salt and pepper shaker set that I can use when my parents are here; I did not find this, either. I did manage to spend a lot more money than my lack of success would imply.

Oh! Brief deviation from the topic, which I haven’t even GOTTEN to yet: I thought it was so fascinating to see how differently stores are handling the pandemic. Many stores had signs on their entrances, but I don’t think any of them were the same. “Masks required” said one, with a sentence below in smaller print citing CDC recommendations. “Masks recommended for unvaccinated individuals” said another. “Masks optional” said a third, which is similar to the second, but conveys a very different vibe.

One of the stores I visited was Target. I haven’t been in Target in a long while, partly because I haven’t needed anything from Target in a long time and partly because I love, with my whole heart, the option to order my items online and have someone deliver them to my car. CURBSIDE 4EVA.

It was sort of pleasant and nostalgic to wander around Target for awhile. It wasn’t terribly busy, and I could see with my own eyes that they were, in fact, completely out of Carla’s size in fleece-lined leggings. (I don’t know why I keep buying them, because holes sprout in the knees practically immediately.) (I do know why: they are cheap.)

I narrowly avoided buying any of the cute Christmassy appetizer plates they had for $3 apiece. I am beginning to think that was a mistake.

I was not able to resist the miniature office supplies set, which will make its way into Carla’s stocking.

image from target.com

But when I checked out, I reconnected with one of my biggest peeves about Target. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve complained about it before. But my peeve has been so inflamed that I am going to complain about it again.

When you checkout, there is almost NO WAY to see whether you are being charged appropriately for each item. Long, long ago, so long ago that I am willing to admit it may be a figment of my wildest dreams, you could go up to the credit card reader, and it would show you what you were buying in real time, as the checker scanned your items. No more. Now, if you have even a small hope of glimpsing what the computer says you owe, you have to stand back at the conveyor belt – which makes it very awkward to fill your cart as the checker bags your items – and squint at the computer screen facing the checker. Facing the checker, not facing YOU. And the type is so small that you have very little hope of seeing the price of each item anyway. In larger type is the total of your purchase, but that requires instantaneous math, and I am not good at that in the best of times, less so when I am in public.

We all know that Target makes errors. It is OFTEN that an item will scan at a different price than is displayed on the shelf. And the placement of the computer makes it nearly impossible to know that this is happening.

Also, the only way to know the total you are about to pay is to listen carefully to the checker, who has to say it out loud to you. It does not even give a total on the card reader! This is madness!


I did get a customer survey in my email later that day, which I took great pleasure in filling out. Not that it will do a lick of good.

Suspected Shipping Snafu Turned Sweet Surprise!

A box from amazon arrived the other day, as is an all-too-frequent occurrence in these days leading up to the holidays. (I am trying to wean myself off of amazon, I AM, but it is difficult.)

The box was addressed to me; I was expecting some fleece-lined leggings I’d ordered for Carla, to replace her hole-y Target ones. So I opened it.

Inside was a smaller box, with a label that said “lidded casserole.”

This was something I had JUST THE DAY BEFORE put on a list of Christmas wishes that I had shared with my husband. My guess what that he had accidentally sent it to me because I am the intended recipient. So I sighed and put it back in the box, resolving to be So! Surprised! when it appeared under the tree on Christmas Day.

But when he came home, he swore he hadn’t ordered one for me.

Turns out it was a thank-you gift from his parents! When they were here, I’d mentioned that I was constantly on the lookout for a medium sized casserole dish… and my mother-in-law remembered and sent me TWO!

What a fun and thoughtful surprise!

That’s the note I’ll end on. Well, and this additional note, from Carla’s teacher, that she arrived to class her cheerful, happy self. PHEW.

Hope you have a lovely weekend, Internet!

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This was one of those mornings in which I woke up promptly at 5:00 am and then couldn’t fall back to sleep, even if I had Zero Reason to be awake at that time; it’s the last week of summer for sleep’s sake! I should be enjoying every second of sleeping until 7:00 while I can. 

As usual, I kept pretending that reading things on my phone would lull me back to sleep (what? it works sometimes, often enough to convince me, lab-rat style, that it WILL work again), instead of using those two extra hours as the precious resource they were. They never SEEM precious, when I’m not planning to wake up early. Especially when I stayed up past eleven the night before watching Bachelor in Paradise

I only fell asleep again once my husband’s alarm went off. You know. To taunt him. 

He hit the snooze button and I snuggled into his warm body and sank immediately into a horrible nightmare: I was at a party, which my supervisor from my prior job was attending, and he told me gravely that someone from my prior job was making terrible accusations of sexual impropriety about me. Not harassment, I don’t think. Just, like, hooking up with this colleague who was not in my chain of command. In the dream, my supervisor never outlined what these accusations were, or how they would affect me besides making me out to be an adulterer, but I was alarmed and outraged and got very yelly and sailor mouthed (apologies to sailors) and indignant because it seemed like my supervisor didn’t believe me, even though he claimed he did. I couldn’t even remember meeting the person who was accusing me – his name was Noah Centineo, which is apparently the name of a real live actor person, a fact I discovered when I googled the familiar-sounding moniker after waking up – and I was shaky and angry and wanted more details so I could call my mom and sue the husk out of Noah for slander. (My mother is a retired lawyer and I don’t know if slander applies in this case, or really what the issue was; I think I was afraid that I would lose the only recommendation from the only job I ever had, even though that is NOT the only job I’ve ever had.) While I was waiting for my supervisor to go get details, I was angrily chewing an enormous piece of purple gum and it got very sticky and I tried to spit it out and it got stuck to my teeth, and I had to pry it out of my mouth long stringy strand by long stringy strand and it got spiderwebbed all over my hands and face and hair. 

The only reason I woke up from this awful dream was because I got a text message. It was from a person with whom Carla and I are having a playdate I am dreading. The mother has many good qualities but she is also an Extreme Extrovert and I am even more of an Introvert since the pandemic began than I was to begin with. (This mother had, at one point, suggested TWO playdates this week but fortunately stopped pressing when I told her one playdate was stressful enough that I couldn’t even FATHOM two playdates without breaking out in hives.) (I am not yet at the comfort level of leaving Carla alone at someone’s house for a playdate.) It wasn’t the best text message to wake up to, is what I’m telling you. Out of the gum-web and into the fire of forced interaction.

The nightmare clung to me, much as the dream-gum was clinging to my teeth and hands, but I managed to awaken Carla and strip the bed. (Let’s blame the sheets for my sleeplessness. I mean, clean sheets can’t hurt.) I did not manage to put the detergent in the right place; there is a little drawer with specific compartments for detergent and fabric softener and bleach, and instead I threw a cup full of detergent directly onto the sheets in the drum of the washer, which is surely some sort of terrible laundry faux pas, and I am fully expecting a tsunami of bubbles to erupt from the washer and onto the floor at any moment. 

Carla had requested sour toast and ants on a log for breakfast, but first the dirt (??? what is the role of peanut butter in this concoction???) wouldn’t stick to the log; the halves of the banana seemed wet somehow, though it was a nice fresh banana, and the peanut butter wouldn’t spread properly, and I had to kind of drape it in unappealing plops across the banana, which continued to glisten wetly. I eat neither bananas nor peanut butter, so I don’t know if any of this is acceptable or not. Carla didn’t comment, so we’ll assume it is fine.

Worse, though: I couldn’t find any ants. In this case, chocolate chips. I dug around in the pantry for a while before giving up and offering dried cranberries (pass) and fresh blueberries (keep) as insect alternatives. Then I discovered that I had been carrying around an unopened bag of tortilla chips, on my hip like it was a baby. 

That was when I decided I needed to sit down and allow the fog to clear a bit before I attempted anything else. Which is why you are getting sentences like the first one of this post, in which the phrase “in which” sounds completely hatpin crazy to me, but I cannot for the life of me figure out how to rephrase the sentence. Hmm. I suppose I could just take it out and make it into two sentences, but I will leave it as an illustration of the state of my mind.

This is one of those rare occasions where I find myself wishing I drank coffee. I love my morning cup of tea, but it doesn’t provide that jolt of clarity that supposedly comes from a cup of hot black coffee. Perhaps I will have to chug a Mountain Dew instead. 

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Swistle did a post today on her favorite mugs. A post I found fascinating, and so I have followed suit and am posting about MY favorite mugs.

(Sidebar: I was JUST THINKING about writing a post about my favorite mug this morning! Because of a different Swistle post, about using the good stuff. Because I keep worrying that my favorite mug is nearing the end of its life, and yet I keep using it because I love it. NOT using it would keep it safe, but I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it.)

Back to the NEW Swistle-based topic.

My favorites are “favorites” based on two criteria: 1. Sentimentality and 2. Size.

Here is the line up, with “most favorite” on the far left and “regular mug for comparison” on the far right.


Mug 1: This is my all-time favorite mug. Every time it is dirty, I feel a little pang of wishing I could use it. (The pang isn’t painful enough to prompt me to hand wash it, though.) It is my husband’s, if we’re being technical; everyone in his major at college got a mug like this. All of his classmates’ names appear on the back side of the mug. It’s fun to point out my husband’s name to my daughter. The mug holds about 2 and 1/8 cups of tea-with-milk. I like it because it reminds me of college and my husband, and meeting my husband. And plus there are the names of several old college friends on it, too. But I also like it because it holds AMPLE tea for beginning my day, and because it’s well-proportioned: the handle is a good size, the mug is nice and tall. Love it.

Mug 2: This is my next favorite mug because it has pictures of my daughter on it. When she was not even six months old. So tiny! Plus, my husband “made” the mug for me (via one of those upload-your-photos websites; he’s not a secret potter), which makes it additionally special. It holds only about 1 and 3/4 cups of tea-with-milk, but that’s adequate. The enamel? paint? glaze? of the mug is wearing away from the interior, which makes me a little concerned that I’m ingesting dangerous compounds each morning, but not concerned enough to retire the mug.

Mug 3: This is my next favorite mug because my husband got it for me for Christmas one year, and also because it’s HUGE. It holds nearly 2 and 1/2 cups of tea-with-milk. My one criticism is that it’s a little unweidly: the body of the mug is so big and squat and round that I feel slightly in danger of dropping it. And in fact I slosh tea out of this mug at a far greater rate than I do out of any other.

Mug 4: This is my backup mug. It holds about 1 and 3/4 cups of tea-with-milk, which is fine but not great. It’s a good proportion. But there’s nothing terribly sentimental about it for me. Once again, it technically belongs to my husband; it was his souvenir from Zurich. But he doesn’t use it so I do.

Mug 5: This is one of the mugs that goes with our everyday china. It holds about 1 and 1/4 cups of liquid. I NEVER use these mugs. My husband does, and so do guests when we (rarely) have them. But it’s a little ridiculous that we have TWELVE of them. Oh well.

I will be CRUSHED when Mug 1 and Mug 2 break or disintegrate. I love them more than seems natural, really.

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