Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tasty Tuesday's - Tea Sparrow

It's time for another Tasty Tuesday!  I'm writing about Tea Sparrow today. Tea Sparrow is a monthly subscription box that sends you 4 different teas every month.  A cousin gave me a 3 month subscription as a Christmas gift and I have to say that I loved the first month! This was a phenomenal gift :)

Here is some information about the company from their website.  "From tea growers to blenders to world-leading sommeliers, our community includes people at every step of the process. We taste dozens of teas each month, with no affiliation to blenders, and chose the blends that inspire us most to share with you. We do this by having our team of tea connoisseurs and sommeliers sample and score the teas for look, region, aroma and of course, taste. We take pride in delivering a variety of world-class blends to your door every month – we feel we deserve it, and so do you!"

The package ships on the 17th of the month and the packaging is pretty simple, which I like.  I didn't feel like there was a lot of extraneous shipping material to just make it take up a bigger space.  It just comes in the below compact package, which is small enough to fit in our mailbox.

When you open it up, there is a small note from the company and the four separate brown bags of loose leaf tea.

Each bag of tea has the name of the tea, whether it's caffeinated or not, the category of tea (black, green, herbal, rooibos, etc.) and a complete list of ingredients.  It also has detailed brewing instructions which include how much tea per cup to use, how long to brew and the ideal temperature of the water.

I followed the instructions exactly (except the water temperature, I just boiled the water in my kettle) and all of the tea turned out delicious. Here is a photo of the various teas I got in my first box.  Starting on the left, Buddha Bamboo is an herbal tea. Then on the top is a chocolate Pu-erh.  On the right is the White Wedding tea. At the bottom is a Blood Orange Rooibos.

As you can see, it's an interesting variety.  From their website, it looks like every month includes 2 caffeinated versions and 2 without caffeine.  Three of the teas were absolutely amazing.  The Blood Orange Rooibos was only ok for me, but I'm also not a big fan of rooibos in general.  The White Wedding was my favorite of the bunch.  I would go so far as to say this is the best tea I have ever tried.  Here is the description from the Tea Sparrow website.

"White Wedding Tea is a celebration of fresh white tea leaves & caramel notes of roasted chestnut. A sweet bouquet & tiny white flowers adorn this full leaf white tea. These Bai Yun tea leaves impart a great body & flavor which lasts over multiple infusions."

One of the interesting things about Tea Sparrow is that they don't provide tea independent of the boxes.  So if there is a tea that you really like (such as the White Wedding) and you want more, you have to contact the manufacturer directly.  You cannot get more through Tea Sparrow.  But I kind of appreciate that the company is just focusing on curating the monthly boxes and not necessarily selling you more of a certain tea. 

 I also have to comment on their customer service.  They had some delivery issues with their January box in the US (they're based in Canada) and they proactively sent out an email to let people know the box would be late.  They were very transparent.  In addition, I had some questions and they responded very promptly with the information I needed. The customer service seems wonderful.

I just received the February box last week and can't wait to start trying the teas! This box was a wonderful present and I'm planning to continue my subscription once my three month introduction runs out.  If you enjoy teas and trying new ones instead of sticking with your tried and true favorites, I strongly recommend this box. The cost is $20 per month and the subscription can be paused and re-started as needed.

I'm linking up with Lean Lena for Tasty Tuesday and will be linking up with Deborah and Tina for Meatless Mondays.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Weekly Review RnR DC - Week 11

Well, it's another Monday with icy streets and a delay for the office. This Winter has really overstayed its welcome.  Monday also means time for another review of my workouts this week.  The week started out slow due to jet lag and recovery from my trip. I was exhausted and had some stomach difficulties. But I think I was back to normal by mid week.

Monday - rest
Tuesday - rest
Wednesday - rest
Thursday - treadmill run after work (I had to cut it a bit short because a guy got on the treadmill next to me and his cologne was so strong I had trouble breathing after a couple of minutes.  Who does that!?!)

Friday - elliptical machine for 40 minutes

Saturday - my first aerial yoga class.  I'll write more about it later but for now, Mike and I both really enjoyed it and I still feel it in my abs today.

Sunday - I wimped out on the St. Patrick's Double Dare races (5k and 10k) due to the snow and freezing rain :( Pacers stated that if we felt it was unsafe to come out, we could email them and have our registration moved to 2016. I'll talk about this more later too but in the end, I think it was the right decision for me.  I did 9.7 miles on the treadmill instead. I watched 3 episodes of Parenthood and reset the treadmill between episodes as well as refilled my water.

I hope everyone had a good weekend!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Five - trip to India

Wow, this week has flown by and it's been pretty busy catching up at work after being out of the office for more than 2 weeks.  I am so happy that it's Friday and am definitely looking forward to the weekend.  But first, it's time for the Friday Five link up with Cynthia, Mar and Courtney.

 Since I haven't had a chance to write about my trip yet, I thought I'd take the Friday Five to do just that.  So here are 5 things that stand out about my trip.

1.  Time hanging out with family - I have a lot of family in India and since this trip was for a wedding, it was a great opportunity to have time to catch up with everyone.  Almost all my cousins were in one place at one time, which is a rare thing.  I also got the chance to meet some spouses and fiancees that I hadn't met before.  Lots of fun ensured including multiple late nights staying up talking and playing games.

And of course, lot of selfies being taken :)

2. Bonding with kids - I also had the opportunity to spend time with several of my cousins' kids.  I really enjoyed this time bonding with the next generation!

3.  Great food - So much amazing food everywhere!  At one point my brother mentioned that he felt like we were eating every hour and he wasn't necessarily wrong.  There was a lot of amazing food associated with the wedding but then we also went out to a lot of really great restaurants.  And the food at the hotel in Goa on the beach was amazing!  The executive chef introduced himself to us the first evening and sent out special vegetarian food made for us every evening.

4.  Wedding festivities - weddings in India are multi-day events and it was so much fun to be a part of that.  I haven't been to a wedding in India since I was a kid so it was fun taking part as an adult.  Here are some photos of wedding fun.

Me and my brother waiting for the wedding to start
The groom in his horse drawn carriage, with a glimpse of me across from him

My mom and I showing off our henna

Pre-wedding dancing

Male cousins posing during the wedding
My cousin, my brother and I at the reception
The bride and groom walking into the reception

And I even had 15 seconds of fame with my photo ending up in the newspaper! That's me in the pink and green.

5.  Relaxing at the beach - As fun as the wedding was, it was really hectic.  It was a lot of late nights and early mornings.  So it was great to go with some cousins to Goa after the wedding.  Goa is mostly known for the beach and this was a relaxing vacation.  Carnival was going on while we were there so we also took some time to go see the carnival parade but other than that, it was mostly hanging out at the pool, the beach, and the spa.  There was a lot of drinking local wine, local beer, and indulging in the aforementioned food.

So that's a glimpse into my time away.  I'm excited for this weekend coming up since I'm trying aerial yoga for the first time tomorrow (!) and doing my first double race on Sunday, a 5k and 10k themed for St. Patrick's Day. Hopefully both will be fun.  I hope all of you have a great weekend too!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Weekly Review RnR DC - Week 10

I'm back from India!  I flew back to DC Saturday afternoon and it was an interesting experience since we landed in a snow storm.

Coming from this

To this was a bit of a shock!

The pilot was great and the landing was surprisingly smooth.  Unfortunately, they had a difficult time getting the bags to the terminal so that process took an extra couple hours. And it took Mike 4 hours to get to the airport when it should have taken an hour at the most. We ended up deciding to get a hotel room near the airport instead of dealing with the drive home during the storm.

I'll do a review of my trip later but here's a summary of my training while I was gone.  Sadly, I didn't get any long runs in but I did ok given how hectic the trip was.

The first week we stayed at a place that was similar to a country club so it had both an outdoor track and a gym.  I managed to get in a short track run, a gym session where I did 20 minutes each on the treadmill, elliptical and bike, and a Jillian Michael's yoga session in my room.

The second week was at a resort on the beach.  I got in two treadmill runs, swam laps in the pool one day, and got in another Jillian Michael's yoga work out.

Surprisingly, the pool was often empty so it was easy to swim laps in it.

Sunday was supposed to be back to my training group for a long run.  But they ended up cancelling it due to the weather.  And I probably wouldn't have been able to make it anyway since we had stayed at a hotel by the airport.  So it was another short run on the treadmill instead.

I hope everyone had a great couple weeks!  I'm looking forward to getting back to my routine and catching up with everyone's blogs.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tasty Tuesday - Indian Spiced Cashews

Last week I talked about the healthy dips we made for a party.  One of the other things I made was some spiced cashews.  This was super easy and tasted amazing.  And the best part is that you really can tailor it to your choice of spices based on your tastes and what you have on hand.

A spice blend I always have on hand is garam masala.  It's an Indian spice blend which contains things like cinnamon, cloves, and peppercorns.

I mixed together 2 cups of cashew with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon of garam masala, 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika.  I also added about a teaspoon of salt.  Mix together until the cashews are well coated and spread on a baking pan.

Bake in 325 degree oven for 30 minutes, taking the pan out to mix every 10 minutes.

We also had a cheese plate and a fruit plate out to round out our party offerings.

I'm linking up with Lean Lena for Tasty Tuesday and will be linking up with Deborah and Tina for Meatless Mondays.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tasty Tuesday - healthy party dips

We had a party a couple weeks ago and while it wasn't a dinner party, we wanted to have some nosh-y foods available, with plenty of healthy options. When I think of party foods, dips come to mind.  So I found some recipes for healthy dips from Cooking Light and altered them a bit.

whole garlic head
1/4 cup water
Sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
(15.8-ounce) can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained

The first step is to roast the garlic.  Pre-heat the oven to 375. I cut off the top of the head of garlic, leaving the whole thing together. Then I wrapped it in foil and put it in the oven for 45 minutes. When I took it out, the garlic was soft so we could squeeze the cloves directly into the food processor bowl.

While the garlic was roasting, I rinsed and drained the beans and put them in the food processor bowl.

Then I took out the sun dried tomatoes from the oil and put them in the food processor bowl along with 2 tablespoons of the oil left in the jar.

Put in all the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Add water as needed to get to the consistency you want.

And voila, the end product!

The other dip was a green goddess dip.   

2 cups spinach
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup canola mayonnaise
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Sriracha sauce to taste

This one is super easy.  Just toss everything into the food processor and blend until smooth.

Both of these are best if they're made at least a couple hours in advance and chilled so the flavors can meld. I served them with raw veggies and chips.  And don't worry, we didn't limit our guests to just healthy foods :) Mike baked cookies and brownies as well.

I'm linking up with Lean Lena for Tasty Tuesday and will be linking up with Deborah and Tina for Meatless Mondays.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Flying out

Today's the day I'm flying to India!  I'm spending the day at work and going straight to the airport so hopefully I'll be tired enough to get some sleep on the plane.  I've scheduled some posts for while I'm gone but I might not be around much online until I'm back in the country.  I look forward to catching up with everyone then :)

Here's a photo of Mike and I on our last trip to India.  Mike's staying at home with the kitties this time.  I'll miss them but I'm also looking forward to the trip.  I hope you all have a great couple weeks!