Tuesday, January 29, 2008

January is National Hot Tea Month

As January and National Hot Tea Month come to a close, I thought I'd share my favorite tea essentials.

(above l to r) Princess Flowered Teapot, vintage. PersonaliTEA Teapot available from Adagio Teas. Teapot Warmer from Republic of Tea. Pink Manhattan Depression Glass Sugar and Creamer, vintage. Madrid Faux Depression Glass Cake Plate, vintage. Porcelain Tea Strainer from Abbey Gardens Tea Parlour. Cream Cheese Cake from Midwestern Meat Market and Bakery.

(left photo) Savories, scones and sweets from Abbey Garden's "Ceremony of Loveliness" afternoon tea.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

One Small Step Towards Lean and Green

I learned about Sigg bottles in September 2007, when Melissa posted about her Siggs. These alternatives to "throw away" plastic water bottles are environmentally friendly and built to last, but they are still beautiful. Each one is a portable work of art.

I thought about how many plastic water bottles I throw away in a year and I decided to make the switch to Sigg. In 2008 DH and I decided we're going to try watching the waste as well as the waist, so I was able to combine the two with my Sigg purchase. The Sigg Azure Circles bottle was my reward for losing my first 15lbs. My next step is to knit a fabulous cover for it!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Riverview Park

Rain is in the forecast for the remainder of the weekend but today was beautiful. DH and I decided to enjoy the great outdoors and get in some much needed exercise at Riverview Park on 8th St and Dobson. We walked around the water a few times and spent some time feeding the ducks and geese. It was a lovely day, with perfect weather for the bride and groom getting married there today.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Note To Martha

The February 2008 issue of Martha Stewart Living just arrived and doesn't disappoint. The Homekeeping item this month is a list of Tools Of the Trade (page 90). Author Kimberly Fusaro lists all my "must haves", such as Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, micro-fiber cloths and vinegar. However - she missed my favorite tool of all - my Shh-Mop from The Clean Team.

The Shh-Mop consists of a padded handle attached to an 8x15" pivoting base with a washable terry cloth cover. Simply wet the cover, stretch it over the base and start cleaning. When you're done, the cover can be washed with your towels or jeans.

I love my Shh-Mop and it's also great on walls, ceilings and windows. Our guest room window is behind a very large and thorny bougainvillea. The Shh-Mop is the only way to clean that window without looking like you got into a fight with one of the cats.

The Shh-Mop is well made and built to last. And best of all, unlike with a Swiffer, you're not throwing away wipes or empty bottles of chemical cleaning solutions. What could be better? (OK, yeah, a housekeeper.)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Fresh & Easy

Fresh & Easy finally opened in the East Valley and exceded my expectations on nearly all counts. Tesco, Fresh & Easy's parent company, polled Valley residents and asked them what they wanted in a market. The answer - fresh, easy and healthy food choices. Tesco certainly delivered everything that we wanted. The food is tasty (and yes - Fresh!) the prices are reasonable, the employees are wonderful and you can be in and out the door a just a few minutes.

Fresh & Easy's prepared meals are the stars of this new concept chain market and they are nothing like you've seen before. All meals are packaged so you see exactly what you're getting. The ingredient list on each package is chock full of real food- not unpronouncable chemicals and preservatives. The meals include an exparation date in big, bold type and cooking instructions are printed on the package when needed.

We've eaten the pasta with vegetables, chicken fettucine alfredo, pasta putanesca and dim sum dumplings. Everything was delicious and restaurant quality, but for much less $$$. I tried the tuna sandwich and the chicken salad sandwich for lunch and they were much better than any prepared sandwich from a supermarket. No soggy bread and the lettuce was crunchy. Try the house brand of fresh juices, pomegranate blueberry is my favorite.
If you're just doing your regular weekly grocery shopping, Fresh & Easy has it's own brand of common supermarket items, from tea to jar sauces. Pricing is on target and in most cases the store is less expensive than where I normally shop. Butter was $2.08 per pound over the holidays so I stocked up.

Fresh produce is available and is pre-weighed and wrapped to cut down on the damage you get when everything is piled in a bin and sold by the pound. However, this is where Fresh & Easy falls short. They wax nearly all their produce. Have you ever seen a waxed plum? I hadn't until I purchased one at their store and I won't make that mistake again. Superstition Ranch Market has nothing to fear.

The employees at Fresh & Easy are among the new chain's biggest cheerleaders. A far cry from the apathetic staff at Basha's or the fake overly familiar people at Safeway, the staff here are well trained and seem genuinely excited to work for such a cutting edge company. Although self checkout lanes are the norm here - if you look befuddled for more than 2 seconds an employee will jump to your rescue to check and bag your groceries. I have been told on every trip to the store that I don't ever have to touch my groceries, just ask and they will be happy to handle everything for me. I love this place!

Tesco should think about holding customer service seminars for other companies - they do it right.

While Fresh & Easy doesn't carry every item you'd see on a regular supermarket shelf, they know their customer and serve them well. I hope they'll be around for a long time.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


After a few days of nice winter weather -baby it's cold outside! Oh to be sitting at Coffee Talk in March or October - sipping an iced tea and knitting. Today I think I'll settle for a hot chai from Starbucks.