Hot Drinks for Cool Nights

I’ve been talking for the last few weeks about my love of tea. While I find tea to be very relaxing, there are two other hot drinks that I really enjoy in the fall and winter. And I love them in their innocent forms as well as adult versions.

The first is hot apple cider. I love a good hot spiced cider in the fall, but it’s something I have never made on my own before (I think I’m going to need to try it out this year). I usually pick up hot cider while I am out at events. If you ever see me with a hot drink from Starbucks, it’s their Caramel Apple Spice.

Generally I enjoy hot cider with a dash of cinnamon, or a cinnamon stick. I’ve had it with caramel flavoring added (like at Starbucks) and I’ve had it just plain. But to really kick it up a notch, I enjoy an adult version with a little spiced rum added!

My other favorite hot drink is probably pretty obvious… of course it’s hot chocolate! Because so many things go great with chocolate, there is a lot of versatility with this one. I have never made hot chocolate from scratch, though that’s something else to try, but I do doctor up the mixes a bit. While I generally make my hot chocolate with water, I like to add a little milk to the mix before I add the water, not a lot, maybe a tablespoon or so. I’ve only done this with regular cow’s milk, but I think almond milk (especially a vanilla flavor) would also work well.

Sometimes I’ll drink my cocoa just like that. Other times I’ll give it a twist with vanilla, peppermint or raspberry extracts. I might just add a candy cane to the cup, or sometimes drink it with just a topping of whipped cream. The only way you really won’t see me drink hot chocolate is with marshmallows… I am not a fan of marshmallows, unless they are roasted over a campfire.

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To really add some fun to hot chocolate, I take it to the adult level and add either a peppermint liqueur or a flavored vodka. One of my favorite combinations is hot chocolate with raspberry vodka, though the vanilla and whipped cream flavors work well too. You could do a lot of other things with hot chocolate as well… maybe some Fireball or an orange liqueur? I just think the flavor of chocolate really lends itself to some great pairings.

What drinks to you enjoy on a cold evening? Do you keep to the innocent side or spice things up a bit and drink adult versions?

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Productivity, Planning Ahead and Losing a Day

My titles are getting more and more random for these Thinking Out Loud posts, but since these posts can be pretty random at times, I guess that’s ok! As always, head on over to Amanda’s blog and check out some of the other great reads this week!

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~ I pretty much lost all of Wednesday. It was really as if the day didn’t even happen. Of course it did, I just pretty much slept through all of it (or at least most of it). I got home from work about 6 am, did a few things on the computer (read played Diner Life and Klondike on Facebook), then was in bed and asleep somewhere around 8:30 am. I woke up around 3:30 pm, did a few things around the house, played on the computer a bit more, realized I was completely exhausted, and went back to bed about 6:30 pm. I woke up about 11 pm and have been awake ever since (it’s about 7:30 am as I type this).

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~ Because of this, and my extremely unproductive night ( a couple of episodes of Chopped, some reading and more game time), I decided that I was going to focus on 24 hours of productivity. I put together some plans and kicked off my official start time at 5 am this morning. Because I like to give things catchy names, I am calling this “24 Highly Productive Hours.”

~ So far this morning I have changed the filter in my water pitcher, unclogged the drain in the shower, washed dishes, folded laundry, updated my plug-ins, updated my GoFundMe page, put together a new study schedule and read 20 of the 608 posts in my Bloglovin’ feed.

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~ I always get inspired to cook after I watch Chopped, so I have some really yummy meals planned for this 24 hour period. I plan to document them for next Wednesday’s post. I also plan to write a week’s worth of posts today if possible since I’m having such a hard time posting during the week. And yes, I realize that for most people, Thursday is considered part of the “week,” but it’s actually my Sunday, therefore part of my “weekend.”

~ One of the reasons I was so tired yesterday is that I think I’m coming down with something. The weather has taken a dramatic change over the last week or so and this usually brings on a cold for me. So far it’s just a lot of tiredness and some minor throat congestion, but the extra sleep was certainly welcome!

~ I just realized that it is almost November and I am in a minor panic. My least is up at the end of January, which is when I was planning to move to Oregon. That’s only 3 months away! I have to find a job, a place to live, save up some money, coordinate moving, and all that stuff. One my list of projects today includes some detailed planning to get myself prepared.

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~ And this weekend is the time-change. I have always loved “fall back” because it meant an extra hour of sleep. I realized that this year it means an extra hour of work… I’m not so sure how I feel about that.

What are you thinking about today? Have you ever “lost” a day.

Posted in Thinking Out Loud | 2 Comments

For the Love of Tea Part III~ Ritual

I have always felt that tea is one of those things that deserves a ritual surrounding it, even if it is very simple. Maybe this comes from the traditions of tea which include Japanese Tea Ceremonies and British High Teas. For whatever reason, I’ve always felt that tea was a little more elevated than many other drinks.

Yes you can grab a cup of tea at coffee houses with very little fanfare, but I love places that give tea that little something extra and don’t just hand you a cup of hot water and a tea bag. Personally, I have a little routine, or ritual if you will, when I make a cup of tea at home. It’s very simple and not a huge production, it’s just how I make tea and how I enjoy it.

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My tea ritual starts with heating the water. I used to use a traditional tea kettle on the stove but have switched to an electric kettle in recent years. The electric kettle is so much faster and doesn’t involve the annoying steam whistle when it’s done. While the water is heating I prepare my cup, which usually means just putting the bag in (or strainer ball if I’m using loose tea). There are a few flavors that I like sweetened, so I will put sugar or honey in the bottom of the cup for those. For special occasions, I will add a cinnamon stick or peppermint stick as well.

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When the water is ready, I pour the water into the cup and let it steep while I grab a boot and a throw or pillow to curl up and read. Sometimes I will grab a sweet treat to accompany my tea, but this doesn’t always happen. If I am enjoying a treat, I really like lemon or shortbread cookies with tea. I rarely eat them at any other time, just while enjoying a cup of tea.

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Once my tea is done steeping, I’ll squeeze the bag and remove it, the give it a quick stir (especially if sweetened, but I stir even when it’s not), the curl up with my designated book. I’ll let the tea cool for maybe a minute, then sip it slowly. Because I don’t like the flavor of cold teas (no iced tea for me), I will generally finish my tea in about 10-15 minutes. I usually remain in my little reading cocoon for a while longer, nice and relaxed once I finish my tea.

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This concludes my little ode to tea series, though I’ll be talking about two of my other favorite hot drinks next week…

Do you have any rituals you enjoy while drinking tea? Or any other drink?

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Thoughts on Sleep, Hormones and Vitamin D

While my crazy schedule has made it difficult to get posts written, at least I am able to join up with Amanda and get my Thinking Out Loud ramblings out to all of you!

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~ I feel like I haven’t been able to get anything accomplished this past week. Seriously, I feel like my biggest accomplishments have been making a giant salad and washing some dishes. I feel like I am either working, waiting for the bus or sleeping right now. I’m playing with a few things to try to help get things sorted out. But 4 out of 5 mornings I have to kill at least a half hour (sometimes up to 90 minutes) at work before I even leave for the earliest bus of the day. Right now I’m just kind of piddling around during that time, reading or checking social media on my phone, but I need to figure out at way to be more productive during that time as well.

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~ I have stocked up on some quick, easy breakfast options so that I’m able to eat breakfast as soon as I get home from work now and I think this is helping my sleep a lot. I think one of the reasons that I kept waking up so much was that I was hungry. The cooler weather and rainy afternoons aren’t hurting things either. I’ve always slept much better when it rains.

~ I’ve been contemplating writing a post about everything that is happening with my crazy hormonal shifts, but am concerned that it might be a little TMI. There’s nothing gross involved, some people just don’t like hearing about all of that womanly stuff. But I feel like it is a major component involved in my journey to a healthier lifestyle right now, so I think it should be included. I am going back and forth about it right now. Any thoughts?

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 ~Sometimes I think I’ve forgotten what the sun looks like. I leave for work when it’s dark, get off work when it’s dark, go to sleep when it’s dark and when I wake up the sun is already low in the sky. It’s been really overcast and rainy lately, so that means even my “daylight” hours haven’t been sunny. It’s time to up my Vitamin D intake!

What are you thinking about today?

Posted in Thinking Out Loud | 4 Comments

Now Read This… 10/18/14

This week was a bit of a challenge and I struggled with sleep and keeping up on my blog reading, but I still managed to find some great posts for you this week…

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Is Lack of Sleep Making You Fat? from Blogilates

FTC Rules and Guidelines for Sponsored Blog Content and Social Shares Made Simple from SITS

20 Kitchen Tips and Tricks from The Lean Green Bean

Quick Tips to Hydrate Right from FitFluential

Running Evan In from Katy Widrick

How to Start Meal Planning from Britt’s Blurbs

Be Passionate About Your Blog from Blog Ambitions

Planning to Give Back With Your Small Business from AllynLewis.com

 

Posted in Reading | 2 Comments

For the Love of Tea Part II~ Favorites

I mentioned last week how much I really love tea and that I really wanted to get a morning routine together where I have a cup of tea and read and relax before going to bed in the morning. This week I wanted to share with you some of my favorite teas.

{Note: This is not a sponsored post and I am receiving no compensation for mentioning these brands, they are simply my favorite teas. The links listed are not affiliate links and I receive nothing if you click them… all opinions on this blog are always my own}

Organic India Tulsi Sweet Rose~

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This is a mild, floral flavored tea that is great for me in the morning since it is caffeine-free. In addition to the rose petal, this tea also contains chamomile, lemon myrtle and holy basil so it is overall very calming. It is also organic. This is currently my hands-down favorite flavor. I also enjoy the peppermint tea from this line.

Traditional Medicinals Gypsy Cold Care~

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I drink a ton of this when I’m sick and I don’t know if it is curative, but it definitely helps to soothe congestion. This is another caffeine-free tea containing elder flower, yarrow, peppermint, hyssop and a blend of cinnamon, rose hip, ginger, clove and licorice. For those of you who don’t like licorice (like me), you can’t even taste it. This is another organic tea as well. I also enjoy the chamomile tea in this line.

Triple Leaf Relaxing~

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This is probably one of the best to drink before bed. It’s a blend of chamomile, peppermint, catnip, blackberry, licorice (again cannot taste it), passionflower, skullcap and valerian. It is caffeine-free and not organic.

Triple Leaf Jasmine Green Tea~

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This one is more of a pick me up, and something I drink during the day or while at work. The ingredients are simple- green tea and jasmine flower. I like the jasmine green tea because it’s a little milder than traditional green tea so I don’t have to sweeten it at all. I also enjoy the oolong and green teas in this line.

Honorable mentions:

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Twinings English Breakfast Tea and Stash Wintermint

 

What are your favorite tea flavors?

Posted in All The Other Stuff | 2 Comments

Sleep, Groceries and Life

So let’s just dive right in this week…

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~ I thought that I had transitioned so well to my new schedule, then the last couple of days my sleep cycle has just gone crazy. I’m super tired when I get home in the morning, so I am usually in bed within an hour of getting home. Tuesday morning I tossed an turned for about an hour before I finally fell asleep, only to continuously wake up time and again, until I finally got 3 solid hours that had me waking up at 4:30 pm… with just 2 hours before I had to leave for work again. Wednesday morning was the same thing again, though luckily it was one of my nights off. I ended up sleeping during the night last night just because my body really needed it. I’m hoping to take a decent nap this afternoon so I can stay up tonight and get back on track before I return to work Friday night.

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~ And really, how terrible is it that Friday is my Monday?

~ My cupboards had gotten pretty bare over the last couple of weeks (read I’ve been eating just pasta for the last week), but pay-day means a full re-stocking of the fridge, freezer and pantry. It is pure nirvana to have fresh veggies at home again (we have fresh fruit available at work, but no veggies). The cats are happy too, because it means their food stash and treats have been refilled as well.

~ Days when I need to do big grocery shopping are when I really miss having a car. I was doing a car share for a while, but I just couldn’t justify the expense so I had to cancel it. I seriously considered just renting a car for the day to take care of all of my errands in one shot… but again, why spent the extra money when I have an unlimited bus pass. Of course this generally means multiple trips to the grocery store because I can only carry so much at one time. I used to stop on my way home from work, but now the store isn’t open yet when I come home, so I have to work it into the hours between sleep work. Since I was up during the day today (a rare occurrence now), I just made multiple trips today (3 to the grocery store, 1 to Target).

~ Next on my to do list to tackle is laundry… and we all know how I hate laundry. I have gotten to the point where I am wearing Christmas socks and am down to the “only if nothing else is clean” underwear. But I stocked up on laundry detergent and I put money on my laundry card (is Washington the only place where you use a card instead of quarters to do laundry?) and have tackled the arduous chore of getting everything sorted. Now I’ll focus on doing one or two loads per day until everything is clean… it might take me a couple of weeks (just kidding, sort of).

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~ And the nap happened, so this post is going up pretty late tonight! But hopefully this will help get my sleep back on track.

~ Is anyone else having issues with Google Chrome crashing? It’s my preferred browser, but lately my Facebook and Bloglovin’ keep crashing, and since these are the two pages I use most often (aside from my own site), it’s pretty frustrating. I might have to switch over to Firefox or (gasp) go back to IE.

~ I have seriously been craving waffles lately. Since I don’t own a waffle iron I had to resort to picking up some Eggo waffles at the grocery store. Hopefully that will soothe the craving for now, but I’m thinking a waffle iron may need to go on my wish list. (Ok who am I fooling, my Amazon wish list is ginormous and of course a waffle iron is listed).

Well, I think I’ve rambled enough for today… I’m linking up with Amanda as usual… please go check out her page and visit some of the other posts linked there as well!!

 

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That One Question Everyone Asks…

I feel like there has been a giant baby boom in the blogging world of late… at least in my sphere of the world. So many of the bloggers I follow either just had babies, are about to give birth or have recently announced that they are expecting. Lately I’ve been reflecting on this and how I feel about knowing that I won’t have children of my own…

There are usually two questions people ask when they meet me… “are you married” and “do you have kids”. No one ever reacts when I say no to the first one, maybe they think I’m divorced, I don’t know, but most people don’t know how to respond when I say no to the second. I mean, really, what woman in their mid-forties doesn’t have kids right? At least that still seems to be the general mindset.

I never made a conscious decision to not have kids (or to not get married for that matter), it’s just the way things worked out in my life. When I was really young, I planned to have a large family… we’re talking 6 kids, crazy right? Then in my early 20’s, after a lot of difficulties with my cycle, I was told that I would probably need help getting pregnant when the time came. I was still really young, so I just figured that I’d deal with it when the time came.

Unfortunately, the time never came. As I got older, I realized that there was a good possibility I would never become a mom. I went through a lot of emotions about this at different times in my life. The true defining moment was when my cousin, who I had watched grow up, had her daughter almost 2 years ago. When my mom called to give me the news, I hung up the phone and cried. I was so happy for her, but it was the point where I finally accepted that motherhood just wasn’t going to happen for me. That was the moment when I truly made peace with it.

Yes, I know some of you are thinking that I’m still young, it’s still possible to have children, there are other options, etc. But the truth is my hormones are already shifting towards menopause and have been for a couple of years. And there is no one in my life currently that I would want to have a child with. So the honest truth is that I will never have a child of my own. And I am at peace with that. Life has other things planned for me.

The only part of the whole equation that is still difficult for me is that my parents may never have grandchildren, since my brother and his wife don’t have children either. My sister-in-law is several years younger, so they still might someday. And I really hope they so because my parents would be awesome as grandparents!

For me, I spoil my friends’ kids and have my kitties. I have my dreams and my goals. I have a completely full life and I am happy. I have no regrets about the course that my life has taken, because it has brought some pretty wonderful things into my life. So when someone asks me, “do you have kids” I just tell them no… and that’s ok.

Posted in Reflections | 8 Comments

Life Without Words 10/12/14

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Now Read This… 10/11/14

Time for my favorite posts from this week…

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This is Why You’re a Success from Passion for Live, Love and Health
Ashleigh is one of my favorite bloggers and one of my best blog friends. She has an honesty and integrity that I admire and her voice comes through with every post. Don’t be surprised if you see a lot of Ashleigh’s posts featured here.

You Are Not a Tree from Lindsay Weighs In
Another of my blogging friends (who I would love to meet in person), Lindsay really got me thinking – and taking action – with this post. While I can’t quit my job right now, I can take steps to change things in my life. After reading this post I have gotten information from 3 schools on 3 different programs that I am interested in (all 3 will ultimately be needed for my goals) and started a Go Fund Me page for tuition assistance.

5 Tips to Beat the Writer’s Block Funk from The Secret is in the Sauce (aka SITS)

Waiting for Monday from The Cookie ChRUNicles
Great message!

#AskFF: What Do You Need To Know As A Beginner Runner? from Fitfluential
Great tips for people like me who are very beginning runners… and it was written by Lindsay at Lindsay Weighs In!

Food Prep Checklist from Slim Sanity
Great checklist for food prepping, and I am planning some major food prepping this week!

 

Posted in Link ups | 6 Comments