Monthly Archives: November 2018

Delicious Teas for Holiday Entertaining

I don’t know about you, but this time of year I find there are so many opportunity to celebrate and entertain! One thing I like to do to make any event special is offer a delicious beverage instead of just lemon water or cans of soda or seltzer. An easy way to do that is with Tea Concentrates from HVA Ceylon. A representative of the company reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in sampling their product. I was definitely intrigued!

HVC Ceylon Tea Concentrates

As a tea drinker, I am used to making iced teas the traditional way — boiling water, steeping the tea, then cooling it. However, HVA Ceylon’s tea concentrates makes it faster and easier to create delicious beverages — perfect for parties! I was a bottle of Peach Tea Concentrate and Chai Tea Concentrate to sample. The bottles retail for $8.50 (at the time of writing this blog post) and each bottle makes 2 gallons of tea. Personally, I think you could even stretch that amount if prefer a tea that is less sweet.

HVC Ceylon Tea Concentrates

Both teas were delicious, but the Peach Tea Concentrate was hands-down my favorite! It had a very natural peach taste to it, and it was so refreshing! I tried it with both cold water and sparkling water. I’m not sure which I liked better! For a delicious cocktail, you might consider adding an ounce of sweet tea liquor. !

Chai tea is a yummy treat during the cold weather. Whether you like it hot or iced, that unique blend of spices makes you feel so cozy, doesn’t it? I love the chai teas I’ve had at Indian restaurants and the tea bags I have purchased have been good, but I’ve never been able to get that authentic flavor. HVA Ceylon’s Chai Tea concentrate makes the perfect iced chai! I tried it mixed with water, per the instructions, and also mixed directly into a glass of creamy milk. Both made great beverages! I also tried it blended with milk and ice to make a delicious frozen drink.

HVA Ceylon sources the tea for these concentrates from Sri Lanka — they are 100% Pure Ceylon tea. In addition to concentrates, the company offers a wide variety of organic and conventional Pure Ceylon tea and coconut products. I can only imagine how full-flavored their black teas, green teas, and herbal teas are! HVA Ceylon even offers a monthly tea club — talk about a great gift.

I can definitely speak to the quality of the tea concentrates. In addition to the peach and chai flavors, you can purchase strawberry and lemon. I would definitely consider giving the other flavors a try!

Getting Ready For Thanksgiving

Is it just me, or does Thanksgiving seem exceptionally early this year? No matter, it is happening in a matter of days! I have an extra day to prepare to prepare this week. Laura is home sick from school today, which means – of course – I am home with her instead of at work. I’ve been taking advantage of the time to get a few things done well in advance.

This year for the first time since Drew and I have been together, we will not be with relatives — it will just be the five of us! For many years we either went to my mother-in-law’s house or my parents’ house. Several years ago I took over cooking the meal and everyone usually comes here. But this year, my mother-in-law is spending the week in N. Carolina with Drew’s brother, wife, and her family. My dad had eye surgery today so they are staying put in Massachusetts. Dare I say I am kind of looking forward to a quiet day?

I do love me some Thanksgiving, so of course I will still be preparing a traditional dinner! Here’s what my menu looks like this year: 

Holiday cheeseball with crackers and salami
Crab rangoon
Sliced tomatoes with basil, fresh mozzarella, and balsamic drizzle
Stuffed mushrooms

Main & Sides:
Roast turkey with pan gravy
Sausage and cranberry stuffing
Mashed potatoes
Green beans, wax bean, and carrot medley
Cranberry sauce
Olive & rosemary bread

Apple pie with crumb topping
Magic pecan pie

This should be more than enough food for us. Unfortunately, the smallest turkey I was able to find at the sale price I wanted, was just under 14-lbs. I usually do a 12-lb turkey for seven of us, but that just means more leftovers! I’m switching up my timeline too. Usually we eat around 1 or so. But this year I think we will eat around 3:30-4:00 so we’re not totally full of appetizers.

I also fully intend to spend the entire day in my pyjamas. 

Today I made the stuffing and the cheeseball. (I’ve been meaning to share the recipe for this cheeseball for years… maybe its time has finally come!) I also cleaned out the fridge and organized it a bit. Tomorrow I will prepare the turkey with the dry brine/dry rub/whatever you choose to call it, and make the pecan pie. I am going to do the mashed potatoes in my Instant Pot (they come out perfect in there) so I may or may not do those early. And the bread I will make in my bread machine on Thanksgiving so it is super fresh and warm!

What’s on your menu this year? I hope you’ll share in the comments — I love reading about everyone’s family traditions!

Falling Back and Catching Up

It’s hard to believe we’re now in the last two months of the year! Most people seem to loathe the end of Daylight Savings Time, but I don’t mind it too much. Sure, sometimes I miss it staying light out well into the evening, but when it’s cold I’m actually quite happy to cozy up after dinner and not feel like I have to be outside doing anything. 

So, it’s been a pretty eventful month! I celebrated my 43rd birthday on October 26. Drew took me into the city for a fantastic surprise — we saw Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds perform at Barclays Center! We saw them in Sept. 1998 in Boston, and they just get better. Truly a fantastic experience and a perfect day! I’ll be writing more about that.


Of course we also celebrated Halloween. As the kids get older it becomes a bit less of a to-do. Jake went over to a friend’s house and a bunch of kids watched a movie and hung out. Noah met up with some of his friends in the village to go trick-or-treating, and that left me taking Laura from house to house. She still had fun and got loads of candy!



Last week Laura had the opportunity to meet Jeff Kinney (author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid book series) at one of his book tour stops nearby. She is a HUGE fan so she was over the moon to get her picture taken with him.

Meeting Jeff Kinney

And now we’re head-on into the holidays! I’m not one to rush into Christmas, so I’ve still got plenty of fall decorations up. Nope — no Christmas movies or music here yet. Sorry! I love Thanksgiving and I like to make sure it has time to shine, too. In fact, tonight I’m cooking a mini-Thanksgiving for dinner: roast turkey breast, Brussels sprouts, kale salad, mashed potatoes, and gravy. It’s rainy and chilly and I think it sounds like the perfect meal tonight.

I’m making a lot of progress on my River Rock Blanket. In fact, I’m hoping to finish it by the end of the month (possibly sooner, depending on how much free time I have to crochet). That will be one big project out of the way! It’s good TV crochet, though, because it’s such a simple, repetitive pattern.

Looking around the blog here I see that I need to do a fair bit of updating. Seems like quite of few things on my sidebar are missing, so I’ll have to investigate that. Then there’s what to do about my photos. Flickr just announced that they will be limiting free accounts to 1,000 photos. If you don’t upgrade to Pro or delete content on your own, starting in February Flickr will be deleting photos from oldest to newest. I may just suck it up and pay for a year of Pro (getting in on a discount they’re offering through the end of this month). I host my blog images on Flickr and there is no way I will find an alternative before January. With it being the holidays, that would just be crazy! Frustrating, but what can you do? I’d love the time to really revamp my blog, but it’s a lot of work. 

Well, I need to head out soon and get Laura off the bus! It hasn’t quite been a month, so I feel like I’m making a little progress with the blog updates, LOL. Have a lovely evening!