It's been awhile...

I've been tagged by Kathy at My Inside Voice and this is a fun one.

You have to list 5 songs you're ashamed to admit that you like. The timing was perfect on this because I was just on iTunes downloading some songs for a summer here goes.

1. The Jonas Brothers "When You Look Into My Eyes"
My daughter loves these guys...I don't, but I really like this song, it reminds me of being an infactuated teenager!

2. Anything by Barry Manilow (or "Barely Man Enough" as we used to call him.)
There's something about this guy that I love. Tonight I downloaded "Weekend in New England," "Ready to Take a Chance Again," and "Even Now." If my husband plays them, he just might get laid tomorrow night!

3. Flo Rida "Low"
I'm actually not ashamed to admit I like this one, although I'm sure his target audience isn't 40 plus housewives from Jersey. I just LOVE singing this one.."Apple Bottom with the fur...she turn around and give her big booty a slam..she hit the floor, she hit the floor next thing you know she got LOW, LOW, LOW, LOW!"
I'm crankin' it in the minivan tomorrow!

4. "Cha-Cha Slide" by DJ should have seen me at class parties when I was class mom...I rocked the elementary school when we turned on the Slide!

5. "Man! I Feel Like a Woman" Shania Twain This song makes me want to throw on a pair of Daisy Dukes and do some line dancin...maybe even ride a mechanical bull-YEE HA!
Bonus confession song: "My Humps" by The Blackeyed Peas...that song absolutely kills me.

Okay, Mrs. K...Life is Better with a Cute Outfit and have a little assignment...because I tag YOU!

2001 CNNP Yiwu Zhengshan

2001 CNNP Yiwu Zhengshan Old Tree Cake - dry leaf

Jim has a handful of adolescent young pu'er teas on offer, and this is one of them. Like the keyixing, whoever stored this tea kept the storage very dry. The leaves carry only the suggestion of brown. After 7 years, and the tea brews up the color of fresh tea.

The tea smells like the Tong Xing Hao cake I reviewed before, but more biscuity. It's not bitter unless overbrewed...prosaic the whole way round, really. Strong flavors, some sensation on the hard palate, some floral flavors.

2001 CNNP Yiwu Zhengshan Old Tree Cake - brew

I brewed the tea over the course of two days; it weathers multiple steeps very well, and doesn't seem to die. Admirable. Nice leaf quality, as pictured below, again with very few bud tips. I'm noticing this pattern amongst teas labeled "Yiwu"...

2001 CNNP Yiwu Zhengshan Old Tree Cake - leaves in gaiwan

A Caffeine Court Public Service Announcement

Do not, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, let your children wear Crocs on escalators.

Don't believe me? Google it.

'Nuff said.

Tennis Tuesday - The Art of Doubles

This post isn't just about's about life AND tennis.

It seems in the world of tennis, there are people who prefer singles and those who prefer doubles. I've always loved both, but lately I seem to be leaning towards singles.

Why? Well, it seems that finding the right partner is like finding the right husband or friend. In order for it to work, there are so many variables.

Personally, I like to talk to my doubles partner. I like to work strategy and I'm open to suggestions. (As long as they are constructive.)

Some people hate this style. They don't want to talk, or they see talking strategy as criticism. Some people like to blame their partner when they lose. Nothing turns me off more than hearing one doubles player publicly bash their partner when they lose. I think it's really bad form. Even if your partner DID royally screw up, you're a team, you win as a team and lose as a team. Which makes singles so much simpler. It's all on you. If you play well you can pat yourself on the back, if you screw up, you didn't let a partner down.

There are a few people who I absolutely love playing doubles with. We have complimentary styles, and we like each other, so we feel comfortable talking, or communicating to each other during and between points. (Which occasionally means shouting out "Let it bounce!" or "MINE!!") We can laugh together if we screw up and we don't blame each other if someone is having an off day.

In tennis, as in life, chemistry means so much.

My favorite book on the subject of doubles is "The Art of Doubles" by Pat Blaskower. This is my doubles bible, it covers everything you need to improve your game, including, choosing the right partner, proper court position and achieving mental toughness.

Here's a line from the book that applies not just to tennis, but to any close relationship..."Picking the right person to share your tennis life is no small matter....Your own version of 'the dream team' should take into consideration not only your strengths and weaknesses as a player, but your ability to compliment a potential partner's expertise."

Who knew tennis could be so deep!???

Gimme a P-A-P-E-R-W-O-R-K! What's that spell? A big pain in the ass!

My oldest daughter has decided that she wants to be a cheerleader this year. Quite frankly, I would much rather she double up on tennis lessons (duh), take swimming, or play soccer...but she chose cheerleading, so I'm going with it.

Anyway, I broke out the Pop Warner registration packet the other day, and I almost sh-t! I think a college application to Harvard would require less work than this!

In order for my daughter to start cheerleading they require 2 copies of her birth certificate, a photograph of her, her social security number, 2 copies of her latest report card, a physical form, and I need to sell at least $100 worth of ads for the Pop Warner ad journal. We also need to get measured for sneakers and uniforms, pay a $100 fee plus give a $150 deposit for the uniform.

I'm glad they aren't asking for DNA samples and copies of my tax records for the past 10 years! No wonder my friends with 4 kids are stressed out! Those of you with older children are used to this, but this is all new to me.

Anyway, I put the pedal to the medal and I'm halfway there with the paperwork. Tomorrow she gets her physical, and then I'm ready to turn in the 275 pages of documentation which will allow my child to attend cheerleading practice Monday night.

Yay mom!!!

Princeton, Pancakes and Poker

As I mentioned, Brad and I had a little 10th anniversary getaway Friday night. Originally we planned on going to New Hope, Pennsylvania. Our plans changed when Brad had to work late so we decided to go to Princeton, NJ.

If you are ever in Jersey, you HAVE to visit Princeton. What a great town! We ended up walking into an amazing restaurant called The Ferry House without reservations. I thought for sure we wouldn't get in, but we got really lucky and someone had just cancelled a reservation, so we were seated immediately and enjoyed a FABULOUS meal. (I started with the Roast Portobello Mushroom Bisque with Goat Cheese and Fried Leeks, Brad had the most adorable little crab taco appetizer with mandarin oranges and avocado. Our entrees consisted of, for me, Seared Tuna, rare with goat cheese mashed potatoes and steamed asparagus and for Brad, a Cajun blackened grouper with crab mashed potatoes and steamed mussels.) So yummy I didn't have room for dessert OR coffee. (And you KNOW I never turn down a cup of java!)

We stayed at a hotel about a mile out of town and in the morning we had pancakes at PJ's Pancake House...quite the institution in Princeton.

The town Princeton is chock full of great things to do, coffee houses, restaurants, bars, awesome shopping, and the university which made Brad and I wish we had studied harder in high school. We checked out Albert Einstein's house and did lots of walking. I can't wait to go back.

On Sunday we were stuck inside, so while the girls worked on their scrapbooks and played the Wii, we pulled out the Poker set had a really fun (and long) game of 5 card draw with my parents. Other than the tense moment, when my Dad told me I could get my fingers broken for trying to look at his hand after a bluff-a good time was had by all!

If you've never played Poker, you should learn! My nieces and nephews taught me last year at the beach, and now I'm hooked. Trust's a great game. (As long as you follow the rules, I promise no one will break your fingers!)

I want to have a Poker night at our house money involved, just chips. Whoever has the most chips at the end of the night will bring home a a nice bottle of wine. I like to do something a little different than a typical cocktail party every once in awhile.

So that was our weekend here in beautiful Central Jersey. Princeton, P.J.'s Pancakes and Poker. How about you?

Like Mother-Like Daughter....

Today was a rainy, stormy day in the great Garden State. The lightening and hail were brutal, so we opted to stay in. I was not in the mood to clean out closets, fold laundry, or reorganize the pantry (much to my husband's chagrin) so I decided we should do some "fun family activities."

I'll start with the kid's activity...

When my oldest daughter was a baby I was really into scrapbooking. A friend of mine had a business in her home and about twice a month I'd go over to her "scrapbooking studio" and work on my books. The result was four gorgeous scrapbooks documenting Meg's infancy and toddler years. When Catherine came along I was pretty much done with my scrapbooking phase...but the supplies remain.

Today I allowed my older daughter to break into my supply stash and start her own scrapbook. It was so cute watching her...she was really into it. At first I was having a hard time letting her dig into all my cherished paper, stickers, scissors and embellishments, but I forced myself to get over it, and I'm so glad I did...she put together the most adorable pages and she was so damn proud!!

How about you gals? Were any of you into the whole scrapbooking thing when it wast the hot hobby for mommys? Does anyone still do it? It seems all the scrapbook stores in my area went out of business...I guess when A.C. Moore and Michael's jumped on the bandwagon the little guys got blown out of the water.
Some day I'll write more about some of my other crafty phases including knitting (which I miss), needlepoint, jewelry making (so expensive) and rubber stamping cards. Since I started blogging my creative hobbies have been replaced by writing and home hair styling. Since I'm a failure at home hair styling, I'll stick with the writing.

Next romantic getaway with Brad and the adults play poker!!!

I just thought of something kind of funny...

In addition to my nephew, my parents are staying with us for 2 weeks. 

Yesterday my mom grounded me.

I'm sure I've mentioned that I'm a little challenged when it comes to laundry and organization. My husband has been freaking out because there are laundry baskets full of clothes in the corner of our room, and when he tries to get clothes for our girls their drawers are a mess.

So, Mom decided to take matters in her own hands and she FORCED me to help her sort through clothes, figure out what goes to Goodwill, what goes to the cousins and what gets tossed. It was brutal.  Since I have two young children, who both had friends over, there were lots of distractions, but the minute my mother caught me trying to do something else, WHAM, she'd call me on it, and back to the laundry piles I would go, dragging my feet the entire time.

We almost completed the task, but I outsmarted her and suggested we make a trip to Costco, which I know she can't resist.

I give that woman alot of credit. It's not easy to get me to budge, but since she gave birth to me, she figures she can boss me around a little.  

She's staying for a few more days, so if she tries to get me to clean out closets again I'm going to entice her with a trip to Tuesday Morning, or the Dollar Tree.  It's going to take alot to outwit the "master of distraction."  I hope she's up to the task.

Hangin' with the boys...

Nothing exciting or funny has happened to me in awhile, so bear with me.

I don't think I've mentioned that my 17 year old nephew has been staying with us this week. He wants to go into advertising and he's been doing a mini-internship at an ad agency all week.

I have to say that I've enjoyed having him around. The other night the two of us stayed up late telling stupid jokes and watching TV. It reminded me of college, just hanging out and being goofy. Since I have the mentality of a 17 year old, we got along quite well!

Last night my Dad, my husband, my nephew and myself saw "The Dark Knight." It wasn't exactly my type of flick, but I enjoyed it. Heath Ledger was incredible. I've always loved him and his performance in this movie was really intense, funny and creepy all at the same time.He was an amazing talent.

Aaron Eckhart who plays Harvey Dent in the movie was a standout too!

My father commented on Maggie Gyllenhall and how in his opinion, she isn't that attractive, but I liked that she is pretty in a regular way and that she had two handsome, successful men chasing after her.

Footnote: This is not a movie for the kids...very violent and dark.

Tonight my mom is watching the girls and Brad and I are going to spend the night in New Hope, PA wining and dining...

Right now I'm sitting covered in sweat after 1 1/2 hours of singles at my perfect friend Marybeth's house. (Some day I'll write about her. She's the kind of person you could hate, because her life is so awesome, but I can't bring myself to it because she's so damn nice!!)

I always feel so much better after a game of tennis-but you knew that about me already!

Have a fun weekend.

On a happier note...

Have you heard about the New Jersey dolphins? 15-20 bottleneck dolphins have found their way into the river near my house. (About 2 miles from the ocean.) There's been alot of media coverage, my friend's husband even got interviewed on "The Today Show" while he was looking at the dolphins with his daughters.

It's so cool. We see them every day as we drive back and forth on the Oceanic Bridge. They are really beautiful. They look like they are having a great time...sometimes they leap out of the water like they're in a show at Sea World. I hope they can find their way back to the ocean before it gets cold again...
I absolutely love living near the beach, but this has made the summer all the more special for our family and all the families in our area.
As you can see, my Midol has kicked in and all is right with the world again...until next month.

It's very early.

It's 5.30am. I originally got up to ride the bunch, but it turns out the road is kinda wet and greasy, and the bunch tends to be sketchy at the best of times. So there you go. I shall venture off to do some hills shortly.

It's so cold at the moment, I cannot feel my feet (and most of the time my hands) on the bike. I get to work to have a shower, and I look at my toes and they're blue/grey. Can one get frostbite while cycling?

Maybe that idea's a bit superflous coming from Sydney, but I'll tell you, it's freaking cold at the moment. Not just nippy, but bone chilling. For those of us who didn't grow up in Europe, Canada or any other country where temperatures stays at below zero for extended periods of time, it's like a snowstorm at the moment. Add that to weird fog and haze action and Sydney's like a bad, cold, horror movie from the eighties.

On a lighter note, buddies A n K are back in town, from an apparently lovely month in K's hometown of Canada. Of course, it is not the heinouslu cold Canada I mentioned earlier at the moment, but a nice warm Canadian summer. Damn them! Oh well, they did invite us (funds were unavailable for comment at the time of going to press).

Meanwhile, netween cycling, eating, working, cycling, eating, sleeping, cleaning, walking dog, cycling, watching tour...where am I supposed to be able to fit wedding planning in? There's only one option now - delegation.

Watch Out


Just a thought...a very HORRIBLE thought.

Can you imagine if every woman in the world was PMSing on PRECISELY THE SAME DAY?

Try not to have nightmares.

Oh and by the way...I know this post is sexist...get over it.

Bonus question: Which one of your blogging friends is PMSing today?

Answer: You've got's Jill from Caffeine happy you don't live with me today.

Oh and one more thing..."HAVE A NICE DAY!" (insert fake smile...)

Tennis Tuesday-Get a Life! aka: Coach Caffeine

Each day, as drive around town running errands, or chauffeuring my children to various activities, I pass tennis courts. You would think summer would be prime tennis time for me...unfortunately, the opposite is true. Summer is the time of year when I suffer from tennis withdrawal. I feel like I'm on a diet and I'm in the food court at the mall. So damn tempting, but I have to practice self control.

As I drive by the courts, I see my favorite tennis pro, feeding people balls and shouting out directions. I see doubles teams chatting between games. I receive e-mails and phone calls asking me to play...and most of the time, I have to decline. After all, how selfish would it be to deny my daughters a swim meet, or a play date, or blow countless wads of cash hiring a babysitter at 12 bucks an hour.

Fall and Spring are my golden times. The girls are in school, the weather is perfect and I can easily sneak in an hour or two of court time.

I cherish the days of summer spent with my daughters, but I do look longingly at those courts and yearn for the days I can get back out there and play the game I love.

So here's my plan...I'm going to dedicate as much time as my daughters will allow me to working on THEIR tennis games. We'll spend some "quality time" in the great outdoors, and the payoff will be, in a few short years I'll have two live-in tennis partners/opponents.

It's pure genius.

Footnote: As I wrote this, my oldest daughter sat next to me, and started whining that she wants to use my computer, she wouldn't let up....I can't wait to make her stand on the court tomorrow, feeding her balls and working on her backhand. I can see it now, she'll complain she's bored, or it's too hot out, or she'd rather be with her friends. I'll get annoyed and we'll probably leave the courts in 15 minutes. (There's a reason pros make $50 an hour.) But hey...the fantasy was fun while it lasted.

Blogging for Bucks...

My husband is almost home from work, so I have to make this a quickie! (Ohhh, that sounded dirty!)

Anyway...I was in Barnes and Noble last night and I saw this book. "Problogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income."

Did I buy it? No. I got Chelsea Handler's book "Are you there vodka? It's me, Chelsea." But that's the subject of another post.

Anyway, it got me thinking. Do any of you actually make money off your blog? Do you aspire to it? Do you know anyone who does???

Okay, that's it for now. Thanks for the quickie...I just hear a car door slam and a key turning in my front door. Catch you tomorrow.

I need coffee...


Well, that went over like a lead balloon!

I promised a "normal" post today, so here it is. I had a feeling I didn't have too many Howard Stern fans reading my blog. I just had to share my encounter with Beetlejuice. It cracked me up. (At least one person thought it was funny!)

Anyway, today is my 10 year wedding anniversary. You think I'd be out at a fancy French bistro sipping wine and listening to romantic music. Not exactly. We have tons of company in from out of town. (My sister, her children and my parents.) They are all at the beach, I took my 4 year old home with severe stomach pains. She's laying on the couch watching a movie!

Don't feel too sorry for me...Brad and I are planning a 10th anniversary getaway for September. I think we're going to hit the California Wine Country.

In my previous post I mentioned that I harassed James Gandolfini (aka Tony Soprano) at a Christmas Tree Lighting in Red Bank, NJ. He was about as friendly as Beetlejuice, only not as scary. Here's the photo...

He's actually way better looking in person than in the picture or on TV.

Oh, and my tennis team is currently in 2nd place. We had to win all 5 courts last match to move into first. Court 1 lost. I hate to say it, but I'm glad it wasn't me.

Have a great weekend! (And if you live in the Northeast, stay cool, it's gonna be a scorcher!)

Early morning adventures.

I undertook my fiancee duties this morning with gusto.

The alarm goes off, I hop out of bed and run to get into my kit (okay, maybe "run" was a bit of an overstatement). I start banging some toast into the toaster, pulling on socks, and tamping down a coffee- all at once. (What can I say i am multitalented!)


No reply. I'll try the stern approach.



"Sweeet SAID you would come riding this morning".

I hear a muffled rolling over, a groan, and eventually some getting out of bed noises.

It was worth it. Though we only went up McCarrs and to mosman, I got to show Aidoozle the Gunners' Barracks at mosman. A potential wedding ceremony candidate?

I am running early for work, though Aido is running late, we still somehow manage to squeeze in a coffee at the Penny Royal. (See

But what do we stumble across on our adventures? But the rock, in all his sneering glory.

Please note Rock, if you ever happen to read this: It's not that I hate you because you're mean. You're just so damn....mean (and surly).

Anyway, double macchiato and off to another day of unanswered phone calls due to the pilgrim overruning the city and making a good deal of people job days in the office. The Joy!

A very disturbing encounter...

Before I start this story, I have to tell you that I used to be a big fan of the Howard Stern radio show. I haven't listened to him since he switched to satellite.

I'm not sure if I'd still like the show now that I'm a "mature adult," but I do know the cast of characters who make appearances on his program.

If you never listened to the show, or watched it on E, you might want skip this post. Perez Hilton always has some interesting celebrity gossip, you might prefer it over there!

Today I took my daughter and niece to Wendy's for lunch. As we stood at the counter, a very peculiar man joined the line behind us. I thought to myself, "That guy looks just like Beetlejuice from Howard Stern." I glanced over again and on the back of his shirt, emblazoned in huge letters was BEETLEJUICE.
At this point I figured it was safe to say something to him. Now I have to tell you, I NEVER approach celebrities when I see them. (In this instance, I use the term celebrity very loosely!)
Occasionally, however, I can't resist. Five years ago I saw James Gandolfini at a Christmas tree lighting. Since I live in Jersey I had to have a picture with him. He was so pissed.

Anyway, back to the hot celeb, Beetlejuice. I knew this was an opportunity for a funny story, so I said hello to him. "Hi there," I said with a friendly tone..."You're a celebrity aren't you? " (Damn I'm clever) His reply, "YOU'VE GOT THE WRONG GUY!" (At this point all the employees in the Wendy's as well as everyone in line was watching our interaction. I wasn't backing down. "Well it says Beetlejuice on the back of your shirt." His ANGRY reply,, "IT'S MY BOWLING SHIRT!!!"

I could see he was getting agitated, and I had an 8 year old and a 10 year old girl with me, both of which looked a little freaked out. I knew I had my camera with me, and I was dying to get a picture with him...but he looked like he might hit me if I said another word to him. Soooo, when he was getting ketchup and straws I snapped a few shots. He didn't see me, thank god, and he promptly left the Wendy's, climbed into a BMW with a driver and drove out of sight.

I think he was coming back from a cage wrestling match at the Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City. (I checked out his website, and they have a list of all his appearances.) If you and your family are interested in seeing him, there are lots of opportunities, he's a pretty busy guy.

I do have to warn you, he's not real warm and fuzzy. Meeting him in person really shattered the image I had of him. He's not as nice as he seems on TV!!! :) Now I have to go take a long, hot shower, and wash that Beetlejuice right out of my hair!!!

P.S. My niece and daughter got a big kick out of the whole event. This guy is on radio and tv for a reason. (Not just his unusual appearence.) He is very funny. I promise a normal post tomorrow!

A red spotty mini

I really want a red, spotty, mini. Specifically the Mini Clubman Chilli. It's so awesome, can have several bikes on top, and room for wayward doggies.

We're lucky to finally have Mon-Doggie back in Syd-Vegas, after her extended holiday in Brizbin. She's loving the 5am starts and laps of Akuna am sure she is having a lot of fun sleeping at home while I go out in the wee hours.

The Noosa Enduro was the other day. I think I had the crappiest race of my career. I won't go into details, but it consisted of mud, numerous mechanical failures, and a burst hydropack. The joys.

Oh well, one day I will win one of these things, but until then, heres to weekdays wines and le Tour.

Just pretend you care!!!

<<< Not me...not even close.

I know you've been waiting for the results of my tennis match with baited breath, and you'll be thrilled to know that my partner and I won. We did it in three hours and 15 minutes - and in three sets, but we did manage to triumph. I am so f-in sunburned. Stupid me. Didn't feel like putting on sunblock.

I'm not sure if we're in first place yet. Since I know you are sooo interested in my tennis team status, I'll be sure to tell you the minute I find out.

In the meantime, I am preparing to drive to the end of the New Jersey Turnpike, pick up my niece from my sister and head back. I won't be back until midnight. Think of me, cruising the highways of Jersey, while you sit on your nice cozy couch reading your blogs.

P.S. The match we played was at an AWESOME yacht club. Talk about WASPY. You preppy gals would have loved it...hell I loved it. Gorgeous clay courts, hydrangea, everyone in white. So gentile. Usually my team plays at a local high school. I love it when the fancy clubs let the riff raff in.

Tennis Tuesday

We're back from Vermont. Lovely trip, kayaking, roasting marshmallows, fishing and even a night out without the kids.

Brad and I took the girls to the church where we got married 10 years ago. (July 18, 1998 to be exact). It's so beautiful there. Mead Chapel at Middlebury College. What does this have to do with tennis? Plenty. Middlebury College has TONS of tennis courts, really nice ones. (See how I tied that in???)

Anyway. I've got a big doubles match in the morning. No pressure, but we're tied for first, so hopefully we'll win every court. But like I said. NO PRESSURE.

I'll leave you with this quote that I like from my favorite husband stealer (check out the National Enquirer for the Greg Norman/Chris Evert story).

"To be a top tennis player you have to have a tough streak in you. I was ruthless and determined because I really wanted to win. It's good for women to have a tough streak, just like it's important for a guy to be sensitive." Chris Evert

Whaddya think? Talk amongst yourselves.

"3 Forms One Tea" Shuangjiang Mengku Old County Tea Co. 2007 tea

This Lincang-area tea is offered in three compressions by Puerhshop: 250g zhuan, 357g bing, and 1kg calabash. I'm not sure where my sample came from, but with its slight curvature, I figure Jim pulled the samples from either the cake or the calabash.

2007 Mengku Old County QZ Tea Co - "Three Forms One Tea" - dry leaf

The leaves have an unremarkable appearance, with some tips, few twigs, and very few huang pian. After brewing, a pinch of the leaves reveal their youth and tenderness. I would guess they harvested these leaves in spring.

2007 Mengku Old County QZ Tea Co - "Three Forms One Tea" - spent leaf

The aroma was sweet and carmelly, like young pu'er mixed with cola. Thick, round, soft, the flavor lingers, but not too long. Slightly bitter, not smoky at all, it had an odd energy that made me sleepy. For a young sheng lover like me, this tea really is a pleasure to drink now.

2007 Mengku Old County QZ Tea Co - "Three Forms One Tea" - liquor

Most interestingly, it shows a mild lincang flavor profile. Lincang has a bit of a funky taste to it, a little danker than Xishuangbanna and Simao teas. The regionality of the flavor is there, but not strong. Still, Lincang flavor intensifies during the first 10 years of aging or so, so I wonder how more apparent the regionality of this tea will become. I plan to finish the sample, though, and more cakes aren't in my budget until at least after I finish off all my remaining samples from this shop and others.

Fir Stump Tea Bowl

Enough with the hair already!

I promise I will stop posting pictures of my hair.  This is the last one.  

I'm sharing with you because I've been kind of busy the last week.  I went to a walk in place again last week, and this time I didn't walk out.  I let an old woman who used to cut hair at a retirement home ATTEMPT to fix the hatchet job I did on my head.  Needless to say, this woman, who cuts hair for $12 a pop was not exactly Vidal Sassoon.  I walked out of the joint looking like Doris Day.  Friends and neighbors commented "Oh, you got your hair cut!!!" And then there would be uncomfortable silence, because most people were incapable of saying it looked good.  It was BAAAD.

So today, I took both my kids to a reputable salon full of chic women and I shelled out the dough for a good cut!  Thank goodness I did.  Six months of growing out my short hair  down the drain, but at least I look like it's 2008 instead of 1958.  

The good news is, I look like my "Design-Her Girl" again!  (See sidebar.)

I won't be around until next week, we're heading to Vermont to visit with my husband's family.

Have a great weekend...and remember-never EVER cut your own hair.

P.S. Notice my eyebrows-I went to the Arch Angelz for my first eyebrow session-they did an awesome job with rehabilitating my over plucked brows.  I am in the process of growing them in, and in two weeks I return to get my arch refined.  This girl is turning it around!!!

Footnote:  For those who are asking-there will be no photos of the Doris Day hair posted for your entertainment.  I want to forget it ever happened.

Caffeine Court Newsflash

The Bronx Zoo Cable Car Ride "Skyfari" has malfuctioned, with an impending lightening storm!!!
Over 40 people were stranded for over 2 hours and rescuers had to go up on cranes to get them down.
Why do I mention this? Because I was on this ride on Father's Day, with my husband and 2 daughters...and let me tell you, those cars are WAY up high. 150 feet to be exact.
I would be sh-tting bricks, literally if this happened to me. Scary stuff.

Tennis Tuesday or is it Wednesday? Breaking Up Is Hard To Do...

First of all, I have to tell you, I am so glad Wimbledon is over!!! What a distraction that was! Five hours of televised top notch tennis everyday is too much for me to resist.

Today was a heartbreaking day for me on the doubles court. I played a three and a half hour match for my summer team and lost 6-8 in a third set tie-breaker. I'm trying really hard to avoid replaying some of my less than stellar shots that could have won the match for us. What's done is done, and I must move on!!! ("If I had only attacked my opponents second serve at 6-6"..."How did I BLOW that easy overhead?"..."I should have been more aggressive at net...") STOP IT!!! It's over!!! I swear I'm not schizophrenic.

In more tennis news, a rival team captain from USTA has been "courting" me. (Pun intended!)

She asked me to play doubles on Monday with some of her team mates. (Which I did.) And after we played they surrounded me in the parking lot and asked me to join their team this year.

I played on her team for two years and "broke up" with her last year to join our club's other team. I told her I wasn't ready to commit again. She accepted my decision graciously and we decided to continue our dating relationship for now, and play doubles again next week.

Soon I'll tell you all about the drama between my club's two 3.5 ladies teams, and you'll understand a little better all the angling and alliances that are formed off the court.

It bears a striking resemblance to "Survivor."

Such is life. My husband deals with it at work, I deal with it with my children, my tennis and the PTA!

So, what's up with you??

An Experiment with Pu'er Flowers, Part Two: 2006 7562 Zhuan (Yunnan Sourcing)

7562 with and without pu'er flower - setupDavin invited me over to join him and a friend to smoke a brisket, grill some chicken, and watch Auntie Mame. I brought the tasting sets and decided to finish our look at tea flowers and pu'er as the food was cooking. Thankfully, barbeque and smoking cooks with little attention, so we could pay attention to the tea.

We had already decided our opinions of tea flower with adolescent pu'er: I couldn't decide which I liked better, and Davin preferred the tea unadulterated. I wondered if shu pu'er might benefit from the addition of tea flowers the way it can benefit from the inclusion of chrysanthemum buds.
7562 with and without pu'er flower - dry comparison
Parameters: 5.3g of tea in each cup, 1.2g of tea flower in one. We used mineralized filtered water (with bamboo charcoal and meifan stones) boiled with bamboo charcoal in a glazed clay kettle. Brewed each infusion for 10 seconds after a 10 second wash, the final infusion 30 seconds.

Davin made the poetic observation: "With the flowers, it smells like the forest floor in Spring. Without, like the forest floor in winter." I found hot cream in the smell of the leaves without pu'er flowers, and honey in the aroma of the tea with flowers. Davin found honey not as a flavor in the fleured pu'er, but in the viscosity of its brew.

7562 is a recipe I came to love at Scott's (Yunnan Sourcing) recommendation. It's a blend of different fermentations, from light to very dark, giving it a more complex aroma and flavor than other more fermented blends. It's not as rich as most, but it's very forgiving with brewing errors. The leaves offer notes that vary from coffee, earth, bark, and butter, with most flavors centered on the tongue. Decent energy, but little aftertaste. Already liking it so much, I should have predicted that I would prefer it plain before I thought of doctoring it with flowers.

7562 with and without pu'er flower - dry leaf with flower

Coffee vs. caramel, drying vs. thirst-quenching, woody vs. earthy, the plain 7562 and the 7562 with flowers different greatly. The flowers lended texture and a different aroma and flavor to the tea, but Davin and I didn't prefer it. Our third, a friend of Davin's, seemed to prefer the pu'er-plus-flowers.

7562 with and without pu'er flower - liquor comparison
Without flowers on left, with flowers on right

The flowers did not alter the aftertaste of the tea, as they had with the 1999 cake, nor did they stretch the flavors or make the tea more tenacious. In fact, at the final infusion the unadulterated tea ended better.

7562 with and without pu'er flower - without flower, wet
Without flowers

7562 with and without pu'er flower - with flower, wet
With flowers

I still reserve judgment about the inclusion of flowers. I'd like to play around with them more, using less of them, and with different teas. On a related note, I brought the sample to work and tried them with some Yunnan green tea with coworkers, and all of us preferred the tea with the addition of a few flowers.

Ali Shan Anti-Fake Labels

An interesting news story in the Taipei Times indicates tea growers will use a new system to indicate real Ali Shan oolong. Inside each tea package will be a cotton swap and liquid. When the emblem on the exterior of the package is wiped with the liquid, the emblem would change color. Created by a biotechnology firm, the local Ali Shan tea and tourist industries hope this will protect consumers and secure profits for the farmers.

Like so many things in Asia that are faked, could this new measure be faked as well, or simply be stolen? Forgers may discover the specific biotechnology impossible to duplicate, but I imagine that a simpler, cheaper, already extant chemical color changing system could be substituted by tea forgers. It'll be interesting to see how well these new anti-fake measures work in practice.

Hard day at the office...

5am: Wake up, stumble from bed, get into lycra, stuff honey coated toast in gob, attach light from charge to my bar. (tyre pressure?)

5.20am: Roll out, down the road to Bike Addiction.

5.25am: Roll out from Bike Addiction for snotty-pain-fest bunch ride.

6.50am: Roll back through Brooky, en route to work.

7.20am: Arrive to work. Our office level is locked. Drat. Lock Bike up. Lisa has arrived and unlocks the office.

7.40am: Begin work early, with Fruity Bix and double macchiato.

7.42am: Spill coffee all over floor.

So much done, and the office isn't officially at work yet. In fact...I was the only one there.

Am tired and don't want to commute home. Drat.

You go girl!!!

41 year old Dara Torres is on the road to the Olympics-again! I get winded just swimming a lap!

Mini-epic with lots of mud.

Today I had a pretty sweet ride! After getting up at the late hour of 7am, I rolled out of bed, made a bowl of porridge, and generally antagonised about going out riding bikes. It seems that since I have begun my new office job, riding is done at 5am or not at all- a far cry from what my prior habits were when working in the bike industry!

Anyway, after packing hydrapack, gathering food for several hours, going to garage and attempting to clean inch-thick caked on mud from by bike with a piece of card from a tube packet (don't ask), forgetting to check my tyre pressure, riding down the road, riding back when I realised that I had forgotten to check my tyre pressure, relocking the garage, and finally hitting the road to meet Donna and Susan at the Dam, I guess I was already late. Oops.

But even though I was struggling pretty badly this morning, I am so happy to have actually gotten out! We rode up Manly Dam, to the Bantry Bay trails (which are now all bricked up and illegal) but then went straight to Cascades, climbed up Heath track, to Oxford Falls, Up and over and across Wakehurst Parkway to Red Hill, sloshed around there for a bit and then back via the desccent of the dam.

One bone to pick: Illegal Trails. Us lucky folk on the northern beaches now only have one MTB trail that is legal. WHAT THE? And it's a vicious cycle, as Manly Dam, hubbard capital of Australia, gains higher use because of the closure of trails due to potential erosion, it too becomes a superhighway of massive 2m wide lines, where there was a rocky gnarly section.

What was once a rip-roaring, technical, fun descent, is now just like riding downhill on smooth grass. And the increase in useage has only really been for a couple of months. What's it going to be like after a year? Two years? The trail has already been completely rubbished by chopping down all trees on the descent, and now because of high-volume usage and hubbardage, evil track-widening means that the dam is not challenging any more.

In a nutshell, Sydney's going to the dogs. You're a criminal if you want to ride your bike now days. When rangers and conservationists see what a dogged mess the only designated trail in Northern Sydney is, it is justification for the closure of all the others, when in reality, it's the closure of the other trails that's ruining the fun parts of Manly Dam.

Anyway, that's my rant.

Back to the mini-epic. It was heaps of fun. Next time I will take a camera to document. We were at Red Hill, and riding down a set of rock stairs in line, Donna, Myself, then Susan. Donna hits the bottom drop first, and screams. The whole ride she's been freaking out about getting her feet weet. Though it was hard to see, the last rock drop landed in probably near two feet of crystal clear water. Stunned, Donna stops, just as I am careering towards her. AHH! A near miss. We all end up in this water, so close to having a massic, wet, pileup of bikes and girls. It was quite hilarious.

It was a great day, and I "whoo-hoo"-ed a lot.

Top top it all off, after finishing the mini epic, we had big salads at the best cafe for big salads ever, and double macchiato's- Emporio! It was awesome, however now leads me to be a bit jaded about doing housework...oh well, till later,


Check it out...

If you haven't already seen this website, you have to take a look.
"In the Motherhood" is a series of skits based on real Mom stories and performed by Chelsea Handler, Jenny McCarthy and Leah Remini. I especially love the camping sketch with Leah Remini. Funny stuff.

Happy 4th of July! We had a party last was so much fun. (Too much fun.) Our town has AMAZING fireworks on the 3rd. The people who do the Macy's fireworks in Manhattan do our show on the river. It's the best fireworks I've ever seen. Since we live in walking distance to the beach, everyone comes to our house. We chow down, get liquored up and then walk down to the park at dusk.

Lots of HIGH CALORIE Margaritas...(I should have pulled out my low-cal recipe.) I spent all day yesterday cleaning, shopping, cooking and trying to keep the girls entertained while I prepared my house for the revelry.

At 6:30 our guests and their children descended upon our house...after the fireworks we all came back here to finish up all the food and wine.

I'm a tired little camper today. I wish I could say the same for my kids...

Enjoy your day-stay safe!!


Welcome to the world of caffeine fuelled cyclemania.

Stay tuned for updates. About coffee. And cycling.


Amateur Roasting...

I roasted a mediocre Zhejiang tie guan yin or TGY analog in my new yixing gourd roaster. Before the roast, the tea was unpalatable: slightly sour and metallic. It had a long finish and a thickness to it, positive traits that I wanted to highlight with a more savory flavor. I roasted the tea in a yixing pot on low heat for about 20 minutes, then let it quench for a few days, then roasted it again over a flame in a gourd roaster, pictured below.

Yixing Roaster

Yesterday I drank the roasted version. Today, I drank the unroasted version after a five minute "refresh" roast. My notes for each are below.

The Twice-Roasted

Tie Guan Yin Roasting Experiment - heavier roast - leaf Tie Guan Yin Roasting Experiment - heavier roast - liquor Tie Guan Yin Roasting Experiment - heavier roast - spent leaf

Dry leaf in the heated gaiwan smells burnt, but once wet, the leaf smells like roasted oolong, as well it should, sweet and toasty. The first infusion was remarkably fruity, like raisins, and finished toasty. The second infusion, displaying mostly roasted sweetness, had an oily texture and faded to a little citrus note on side of tongue. The raisin flavor disappeared in the infusions that followed, and the citrus did, too. I expected the tea to taste less roasted with time, but it remained consistently toasty, getting a little bitter, the finish lengthening. Well balanced at the 5th infusion, the flavor faded to sweet wateriness, and at the last infusion it hit me that the tea had a neutral mouthfeel--it didn't seem to have an affect at all. Or, I just didn't pay attention.

The Refresh Roasted

Tie Guan Yin Roasting Experiment - freshening roast - leaf Tie Guan Yin Roasting Experiment - freshening roast - liquor Tie Guan Yin Roasting Experiment - freshening roast - spent leaf

Dry leaf in hot gaiwan smells a little sweet. Wet leaf in gaiwan smells vegetal and a bit fruity. The first infusion is meek, sweet, and finishes buttery. This buttery finish I've come to associate with mainland fist oolong. The toasted-ness of the refresh roast is in the aroma and just a bit in the center of the tongue. It does hit sour if overbrewed, but with shorter steep times, under 15 seconds, the sourness doesn't appear. It also gets bitter in the middle brews, like the more heavily roasted tea. It's sharper, like the unroasted tea, and tastes less roasted over time.


The roasted and reroasted oolong shared many traits, from the obvious (roasted aroma and flavor) to the more subtle (fruitiness, tongue-centered bitterness, grain sweetness at finish). My guess is the quicker, higher temperature roast I did to both teas takes the lion's share of the responsibility for changing their flavors, while the longer roast seemed to prevent the roasted tea from tasting unroasted or less roasted in later infusions. Only more roasting experimentation will tell for sure.

Both teas tasted better than the staled tea, of course.

Tennis Tuesday-Question for you...

How in the world does Serena Williams play tennis with those ginormous earrings?!
I would be so focused on my stretching earlobes I wouldn't be able to hit the ball. I guess to be a true champion AND a fashionista, you have to have lobes of steel!