Great Expectations...

It's that time again. The time of year that I make my list of resolutions to break in the upcoming year. Here goes nothing!!

1. Drink More Water Sounds like a no-brainer, so this is the resolution I'm most likely NOT to break. My sister has a book that says we should drink 2 gallons of water a day!!! That's alot of trips to the bathroom for the old Jillster, but I'm going to try to drink at least 8 glasses a day, and have better looking skin, less headaches, more energy and be in a better mood!!! My life is going to change, and it's all because I'll be drinking more water.

Okay...onto the next one.

2. Make some money. Both kids are in school, so the heat is on for momma to bring in some moola. As you know, my husband has me set up with a new business. We're still putting the finishing touches on it, but you WILL be getting details very soon. Will I break the resolution to bring in money? I certainly hope not, and I think my husband would love me so much more if I were bringing home the bacon AND frying it up it a pan.

3. Stop buying cheap crap I have a closet full of low budget purses that I picked up at Target and Old Navy. They give me a quick thrill because I love getting designer knock offs that I read about in Lucky Magazine, but the novelty ends quickly and the bags fall apart. Then I'm left with more clutter. I am going to make a concerted effort to buy good quality, classic pieces, that will last for years. This will be a toughie.

4. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones. I'll admit. I think bad things. Like when someone is driving 20 miles an hour in the fast lane, I'll size them up and think, "What the f-ck are you doing you ugly red neck??" Or, I'll wake up and think. "I have so much g-d damn laundry to do. I'm so buried." From now on, when I'm thinking hostile thoughts, I'll replace them with upbeat positive ones, such as; "That unfortunate fellow. He must have done poorly in Driver's Ed. What a pity. And I really like the mud flaps on his 1978 Camaro. What a stylish chap." Or, "How lucky I am that I am healthy and, able to clean toilets, wash and fold laundry, mop the floors and take out the trash! I'm a very fortunate woman."

If I can keep this resolution I will be a ray of sunshine, who will brighten the lives of all I meet.

And finally...

5. Hold my tongue. I am a reactor. When something sets me off, I respond...INSTANTLY. From now on, I'm going to count to five, THINK and then take action, if necessary. And I will remember the words of the Greek philosopher, Epictetus

"It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters."

Since I'm going to break them anyway, I might as go hog wild. Here addition to my list, I'm going to workout everyday and become a hard body. I'm going to work at a soup kitchen every Saturday and go to church every Sunday. I'm going to learn French. I'm going to keep my house spotless and make wild passionate love to my husband every night, AFTER I cook him a gourmet meal. I'm going to sew my own be continued...

HAPPY 2009!!!

It's hot hot hot!

Last time I checked it was 38 degrees outside. Yowsers! New Years Eve heatwave indeedy.

Saw the world's worst movie last night, Descent. It's totally not reccomended. Almost as bad as State Evidence. Terrible.

We're now watching Pineapple Express - much better. Hooray for the upcoming new year, yay.

2008 Mengku Banmu Bingdao Brick

The 2008 Mengku Banmu Bingdao brick sample was sent to me with the American Hao sample. The tea shows tight compression and flosses silver buds:

Mengku Banmu 2008 Bingdao Brick

The compression made the tea not open up until the third infusion. The first two infusions, sweet and bland, released little aroma and seemed more like extra rinses. It carried the sweetly herbal aroma of good older tree pu, similar to that first whiff of American Hao (amongst others), so I figured the tea would be good.

Mengku Banmu 2008 Bingdao Brick -

The qi was great. At the 4th infusion my body was burning up, and by the 5th both me and my guest were tea drunk. We noticed a fleeting minty freshness in the 3rd infusion, not quite camphor, and the usual green pu flavors of fresh cut plants, straw, and bitterness. My guest noted "green bell pepper." I couldn't place most of the flavors, but the long finish and good qi made me think highly of this tea. It lasted longer than we did. We gave up around the 15th infusion.

Mengku Banmu 2008 Bingdao Brick - brewed leaf

I wrote these notes not having checked the price of the tea. For zhuan cha, it's pricey at $22.75. But it's darn good, whether it is or isn't what it claims to be. Bingdao is the 2008 pu'er buzzword, and lots of vendors are claiming teas young and old come from that region.

Another tea I wish I could afford right now, but b-school application fees are piling up. Maybe in February...

Next reviews won't be Puerhshop teas. They'll be trades from ABx and teas from other vendors I have sitting around, hopefully oolong. Yum!

Morrissey, Daisy Hill and strange aches.

Well, it's officially the second last day of 2008, and to use a cliche, my how time flies. It seems like only yesterday that Aido and I were hanging around Manly, doing k's in the sun, and exploiting our proximity to Bacino Bar and $10 Ivanhoe steaks. Yes, there are some things I will definately miss about Sydders.

Yes, the 35 degree days here in Brisbane certainley can be a bot wearing, especially when you're trying to ride bikes at a reasonable hour- it just can't be done! It's 4.30am or in blistering heat, they're the only two options available. But I hope that in a few weeks (maybe a month or so to be realistic) the weather will chill the fuck out and it will be a bit more pleasant.

So we're just chilling in the apartment now, after a mega epic day, though it seems like we haven't done very much at all...Bangin Morrissey, and playing on the always awesome facebook. We did go and ride 3 hours of trails today out at Daisy Hill, Donna, Aidoo and I. It was fun, found some new ones (though I still have no idea where I am at any point during riding through there). Donna made me do some TTM's which hurt like hell, but that's what they're supposed to do I suppose. Aido did them too, with a 2min handicap, and came in a minute behind me, and then we did another one and he started a minute behind me, and caught me 50m before the finish line. Eep! All fun and games though.

Now, I am suffering from yet another mystery ailment; a stomach ache treated with panadol. It's hard work keeping cool in Brisbane.

Merry Xmas Will!

Black basaltware body with foam glaze:
Black Foam Jar

I threw this piece with Will of the Tea Drunk Forum in mind. He, a few other teachatters, and I had discussed various lid designs and how easy or difficult they were to seal. Will had decided to seal away some oolong, and I thought this lid style might seal well. So, the jar is in his hands, waiting to be filled.

It's a very tight fit, and the lid has an irregular shape: to get the lid off, you have to twist it out. I will report any thoughts from Will should he seal away more oolong using this jar.

His efforts instill me with copycat desires, but first I need to find some ageworthy oolong, or at very least oolong that inspires curiosity about its future. At this point, I would only be experimenting.

Your comments on your experiences in aging oolong would be appreciated.

Black Foam Jar - foot

Just poppin' in...

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! I am in the little pocket of time after traveling to Maryland and before heading to Vermont, so I thought I'd share a high point and a low point of my holiday.

High point: Watching a commercial for "Marley and Me" with my niece and having her tell me, "You look like the lady in that movie." YES!!! Thank you so much sweetie! From this point forward you are officially my favorite niece!

Low point: Shopping at the J.Crew store and having a salesgirl ask if I was my friend's MOTHER!!! WTF??? My friend is 32!! Bitch!!! That's the last time I go to our area's snobbiest shopping center without makeup and wearing mom jeans. What a let down.

Okay, there were some other high points, like spending Christmas Eve baking cookies and pies, watching "It's a Wonderful Life" and spending quiet time with my family. Traveling to Maryland and having a blast with my sisters their families and my parents. Getting into some heavy duty family competition on the Wii Fit and bringing my niece and nephew home with us to hang at our house. But none of those compare to my niece telling me I remind her of Jennifer Aniston. As the MasterCard commercial says..."There are some things money can't buy.." and a boost to your 43 year old aunt's ego is certainly one of them.

Oh, and one more high point. My friend and I came in second in our Holiday Ladies Double Tournament at our tennis club. We got a lovely plaque and the pleasure of beating one of the biggest cheaters at our club in the semi-finals. It was sweet. I'll tell you about that later. My tennis playing readers will appreciate the story, the rest of you can click can jump on over to Clemsongirl. I'll save it for the New Year.

So, how was YOUR holiday? Any plans for New Year's Eve?

I'll answer that one for myself. I HATE New Year's Eve. Always have. I hate the fake merriment, kissing everyone at midnight and getting all loud and rowdy. It really annoys me. I love Thanksgiving, adore Christmas, but I hate New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day, which in my opinion, is another fake, phony, holiday. (Can you tell "The Catcher in the Rye" is my favorite book?)

So we plan on hanging out, maybe watch some movies or do Wii Fit. (Can you tell I'm obsessed?) The next day we head on up to the Great White North for a few days. WITHOUT a hangover. Can you imagine anything worse than driving 6 or 7 hours in a minivan with 2 kids AND a hangover. I can't. Seriously. I can't think of anything worse.

Okay, I'm done. Now it's your turn to speak.

It's over, thank god.

It's over for another year, perhaps the least hyped christmas in the history of the world. Of course, marrying a Jewish man also helps to diffuse any potential excitement that may have been held for that historic christian holiday.

Hooray, anyway, we didn't end up doing too much yesterday. We just hung out and took Mondo for a gallop through the mangroves, drank coffee, ate far too much fruity biscuits and the like, and mum just kept on ploughing us full with food. Yikes.

Yikes is my new word, it's on par with that other great word, Eep.

I have just finished writing a piece for ONE mag and Freewheel on a new Crumpler Bag, so I am pretty excited about that and hopefully it's okay. I want to write more stuff, but unfortunately the cycling mag section is already saturated with inadeuate publications, no doubt bing edited by people who failed HSC English and the like.

It's really hot here at Twin Waters, which is a little less than exciting. Aido has gone cycle riding and I will go this afternoon. And that's my story, there's no espresso coffee here and I am going mental. Eep.

A new year's resolution.

"Grown-ups like numbers. When you tell them about a new friend, they never ask questions about what really matters.
They never ask: 'What does his voice sound like?' 'What games does he like best?' 'Does he collect butterflies?'. 

They ask: 'How old is he?' 'How many brothers does he have?' 'How much does he weigh?' 'How much money does his father make?' Only then do they think they know him." 

-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
"The Little Prince"

Lately, I've felt as though I am much too serious.  When did I lose my childhood abandon?  My  love for simplicity?  My heart for quiet?

Indeed, I love the solitude of reading, the aloneness of running, and the simplicity of writing.  But, when did I become so over-committed that I lose my soul?  At times I feel pulled in so many directions that my breath feels heavy in my chest and my eyes blur.

For the coming year, I am making a single resolution: simplify.

I want to clean out belongings that I no longer use and only clutter my existence.  I hope to rid myself of being the "yes-man".  I yearn for time alone, time with Doug, time with my family, time to just be.

("We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realize." Thich Nhat Hanh is a genius.  Why didn't I think of that?)

The last 23 years have gone by so quickly and I have not been fully engaged.  I am often separate from the moment, lost in a world of necessaries.  How can I learn to exist in the now?

This year, I resolve to practice mindfulness, to meditate, to pray, to exist in complete fullness of the moment and love of the present.  I resolve to be fully engaged with my life.

Remembering what's important...and what's just plain AWESOME!

The bad news is my poor little blog has been neglected lately.

The good news is I've been spending lots of time with my family, at parties, baking, having friends over and enjoying our time together. Even though it's a cliche, remember how lucky you are this holiday. I've been working on being thankful for the all I have. My health, my amazing children and a loving husband. I take these blessings for granted all to0 often.

Yes, my new Coach Zoe bag under the tree will make me happy, I'll admit, I like getting stuff. But that really and truly is not what makes life complete. (Even though it's the most gorgeous chocolate brown and it smells soooo good.) No, new purses are not that important. (Even when they feel so soft, and buttery smooth...) Really, THEY'RE NOT!!!! (I'm still not convinced...) Anyway..

Here's a quote that sums it up quite nicely...

Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.

Calvin Coolidge
Merry Christmas to all my blog friends...your virtual friendships mean so much to me!!!

2008-0802 American Hao Nannuo "Ban Po Lao Zhai" Cake

This was a sample of the 200g and 400g cakes sourced in late summer / early fall by Puerhshop's Jim Liu. It comes from the same village on Nannuo Mountain where I sourced the maocha for my Bearsbearsbears cakes, Ban Po Old Village, but this cake is fall materials where mine was spring.

Intrigued, I wanted to dig into this sample as soon as I received it, but was waylayed by a cold. Mostly recovered, I shared the sample with friends.

The leaves are medium sized, and folks and experience have shown me Nannuo leaf is relatively small compared to arbor or old tree leaf from other regions.

2008-0802 American Hao Nannuo "Ban Po Lao Zhai" - dry leaf

The fragrance off the first rinse intoxicated me. I could tell from first whiff that I would enjoy this tea. It had the candy sweet herbal smell of Nannuo. The first infusion I unintentionally underbrewed, yielding a bland, herbal, sweet and thin character.

The subsequent 2-3 infusions had a smell like dry waxy chocolate bars or carob, which seemed odd for young tea. It tasted more "green", sweet and herbal, but finished like that waxy chocolate smell. A friend remarked it tasted like lemon leaf or lemon verbena, not sour but fragrant. It began to dry our mouths, but I think the water could be to blame.

Around the 5th infusion it began to lose complexity, becoming mostly fragrance and metallic flavor. Maybe this is the autumnal element coming through. While it lost complexity, it didn't lose in strength. We gave up before the tea did, after more than 10 infusions.

The qi was rather mild. Don't know what to make of that.

But for $20, this is pretty darn good tea. It's bitter in the right places and displays good Nannuo regionality in its fragrance. I'm considering a xiao bing purchase...

2008-0802 American Hao Nannuo "Ban Po Lao Zhai" -  brewed leaf

Holidays and way too much sun.

Queensland is good for sunstroke. It's perhaps the thing that Queensland does best, aside from pineapples, fourex and sourdough bread. The other day Glen, Aido and I went riding round Gap creek for 3.5h without suncream and it was a bad idea. Though not blisteringly hot, it was ninetheless guh-ross.

Last Christmas

I thought it would be appropriate to reminisce about last Christmas, since I am in the process of preparing for this year's celebration.  

(In the mad frenzy to consider, buy, wrap, and give presents, it's important to remember why we're doing all this preparation...)

So, here are photos from last year:



Happiest Christmas, ever.

I still get presents from Santa!

Weirdos from another planet.

More tasty goodness.

(I can't wait for this Christmas!)

I've lost that bloggin' feeling! (and I hope it comes back)

It seems that my attention has shifted a bit from my major leisure activities, blogging and tennis. For the past 6 weeks I've felt myself sucked into the puppy, Facebook, Christmas preparation vortex.

I haven't had a puppy since I was childless, so the degree of difficulty has quadrupled. Not only do I have two children, a cat and two other dogs to deal with, I also have tons of other people coming and going from my home, each of them leaving doors and gates open. Did I mention that my 10 year old Chocolate Lab was hit by a car last Saturday night? Yep, she sure was.

SOMEONE was bringing in the Christmas tree and forgot to shut the gate. Miraculously she's okay.

It's driving me nuts, trying to keep all the pets and children safe. I can't be in five places at one time.

I'm like a safety Nazi. Seriously, you should see me, blocking doors and bungee cording the gates shut all day. It's kind of pathetic. I want to get an Invisible Fence, but that idea was vetoed by the head of household. After all, I created this mess, so it's MY responsibility to secure the premises 24/7. I might just take my Christmas money and install a Home Depot generic Invisible Fence myself. I might have bought to many dogs, but I'm sure as hell not going to let one of them get killed if I can help it!!!

Okay, on to Facebook. I am loving it. I have reconnected with some awesome people who I haven't talked to in years. I get to see pictures of their children and keep up with their whereabouts through status updates! I'm sure the novelty will wear off, but having Facebook on my BlackBerry has become my newest addiction!

Finally, tennis. Ahh yes. It was once the love of my life. Then things got a bit ugly with my team last year, and I'm still feeling some bitterness. I've been burned and it will take time to heal. I'm still considering taking up a non-competitive sport like yoga. In the meantime, I'm playing in a doubles tournament on Monday, and hoping I can keep it in perspective. (Even though a nice shiny trophy would look FAB on my mantle!!!)

Wow, that was fun. Maybe I WILL get back into blogging.

Oh and have I mentioned that my husband is setting me up with a new business? He is bound and determined to have me bring in some cash, whether I like it or not. Details to follow.

Oh, what can I do, do, do?

I'm taking the GRE this Saturday, which has been looming over my head for several months.  

I knew this test was coming, but did I start studying? No.  
Did I even open the book that I purchased at Barnes and Nobles (a month ago) until last week? No.  
Did I review any math? No.  
Did I memorize vocabulary? No.

Oh, and I have a viral infection which should peak tomorrow.  

But, what can I do?  Nothing. Nothing and nothing and nothing.  But, that's okay.  I'm holding to the philosophy that what is supposed to happen, will.  If my score is too low to get into the colleges that I want, that's okay, right?  I just need to trust that it will all work out.

And, besides, it won't be so bad to enter the working world, right?  Right?

In the news...

There are a couple of stories in the news this week that really fired me up.

The first is the family in Western Jersey who were outraged that a local Shop rite supermarket would not decorate a cake for their son, named Adolf Hitler Campbell. Apparently this isn't the first time the Shop rite refused to make a cake for their son. Last year they requested a swastika be placed on the cake as decoration.

The child's father is LIVID that the supermarket refused to do the cake. After all, "it's just a name. He's not going to do what Hitler did."

Come on buddy, don't bullshit us. You name your son Adolf Hitler, and your daughters JoyceLynn Aryan Nation and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie and you expect no one is going to be outraged. You're an asshole and a Nazi. 'Nuff said.

The second story is regarding New York State Governor David Patterson's new budget plan which includes a 15% obesity tax on non diet soft drinks. OBESITY TAX? WTF? Once again, the government is going a little too far with this one. Why stop at taxing soda? You might as well have daily weigh ins for the citizens of New York State. If you are over the healthy limit for your height, you have to give the state a dollar. Let's take it one step further, if you are underweight you pay an emaciation tax. A dollar a day until you get up to a healthy weight. Maybe an ugly tax. If you aren't deemed good looking enough, another dollar.

That should help solve the budget deficit. IDIOTS.

And finally, Caroline Kennedy is gunning for the Senate seat being vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Granted, she is from a great political family, she went to Harvard and has a law degree. But she is NOT experienced. She's a socialite and philanthropist, but she is not a politician. It's a nice idea to have another Kennedy in the Senate. But c'mon people...there are other people who deserve it far more than she does and who have years of experience working for the state of New York. If she gets handed the seat it's nepotism pure and simple.

In summary, Nazis, stupid taxes and preferential treatment annoy me. I know that they are all facts of life, but it doesn't make it right!!
What do YOU think?

Does this sound familiar?

Have you ever been talking to someone and they start wiping their nose? So then you start wiping YOUR nose because you think they see something hanging out of your nostil?

So you continue the conversation, the entire time taking turns wiping your noses? Then, when the conversation ends, you run to the nearest mirror to see if you have any "flyaways?"

Yeah, me neither.

Let's talk tipping!

It's the time of year to show our appreciation for a job well done in the form of COLD HARD CASH.

So let's share. Who do you tip, and how much?

I know there are guides for all this. We are supposed to tip our mailman, dry cleaning delivery man, garbage men, babysitters, tennis pros, hair dressers, babysitters...the list goes on and on.

Do you tip EVERYBODY? How much do you typically tip at Christmas?

How about people at work? I am responsible for buying gifts for a TON of people at my husband's job.

As a matter of fact I should be working on that right now!!!

My oh my, this time of year is so overwhelming!!!

The good news is, my husband asked me to get myself something nice, so I called my local Coach store and bought myself this sweet little bag!
It's the large Zoe in Chocolate brown leather. I can't wait to get my hot little hands on it!!!
All he has to do is swing by the Coach store and they'll have it wrapped and ready. Yippee.
How are you guys doing with Christmas?

Nothing says "I hate you" like a shoe to the face!!!

Did you see the footage of the Iraqi reporter throwing his shoes at President Bush? If you haven't Google's hilarious. Bush is laughing while the guy wings his wing tips at his head.

It's classic holiday entertainment.


In Taiwan, teachers sometimes invoke luck for their students at college entrance exams by serving them baozhong tea, because baozhong is homonymous with "guaranteed to win".

So, tonight, I'm drinking some 1970s baozhong for some of that island luck.

GMAT is tomorrow at quarter past noon. Send good vibes my way.

"I LIKE SAVING MONEY, I do, I really do!!" Repeat 1000 times until you actually believe it.

I was listening to the radio this morning and the announcer mentioned that many people who have not been affected by the recession (who's that???) are embarrassed to purchase luxury items such as jewelry, high end cars, or designer clothes.

This, in turn, is not good for the economy, because companies that produce these items are suffering. You know the story. So to those of you who are loaded...get out there and buy yourself that new diamond tennis bracelet and that Hermes Birkin you've been eyeing up!! Help the economy! Keep your housekeeper and your gardener...they need the work.

Okay, now I'm going to talk to the rest of you.

I am not a person who has alot of luxury goods, but I have been trying to be really careful. Knock wood, Brad my husband still has a job, but he who knows what tomorrow will bring.

In the spirit of saving money I've been trying to ENJOY spending less.

Take my car, for example. My minivan is five years old. Lately I've been eying up some cool SUVs. They look great, but I'm going to resist. My car is paid for, it runs great and as long as I keep it clean I'm cool. Yeah, I don't have a sweet Lexus LS 570 with rain sensing wipers and alloy wheels, but at least I won't have a fit if my girls spill ice cream in the back seat.

I've also been working on little things like skipping the McDonald's Diet Cokes and Starbucks Cinnamon Dulce Lattes. (God help me)

Some things I haven't cut back on. My husband would love it if I let go of our cleaning lady who comes every two weeks, but I'm not ready for that. I need her, DESPERATELY. Plus, she needs the work and she's been with us for 8 years. I can't do it to her.

My 9 year old has Ugg boots and a North Face fleece. These are the normal uniform for kids in our town. Throw in gymnastics, tennis, swim lessons and a beach club and things REALLY add up fast. I hate to admit it, but around here, these things are the BASICS. Even when you're "being careful" normal life is EXPENSIVE.

I really hate being panicked and tight on money. It stresses me out and it REALLY stresses out my hubby. So, as part of my quest for self improvement, I have to THINK before I spend. I have to be aware of what's coming in, and what's going out. About college savings, retirement and a safety fund in case, god forbid, my husband loses his job.

Scary stuff.

My strategy is to try to enjoy the feeling of not spending. Yesterday I didn't spend one dime. I made my own coffee, ate at home and didn't shop for anything, not a magazine, not a candy bar...nothing. Sure it's hurting the economy, but I'll let the rich people spend their cash.

If I'm good now, I can spend my golden years hitting tennis balls and looking out at the ocean from my awesome retirement home on the beaches of North Carolina.

And you're all invited to visit me.

Perspective and Balance

You may have noticed that I haven't blogged much about tennis lately. There is a good reason for it.

#1 I haven't been playing as much due to my mini bike accident. My sister is calling me a sissy but it still hurts like a bitch when I do certain things. LIKE SLEEP!!!

#2 When I have been playing I've been trying my damnedest to avoid the drama. When there IS drama, I have been channeling the Buddha and trying to remain unaffected by it. Not easy.

As you know, tennis is a competitive sport. Therefore, unless I'm drilling I either win or lose every time I play. I prefer winning. If I lose I can handle it, but when I lose to someone who is PSYCHED openly to win it kind of pisses me off.

Last week I was drilling with a Pro along with some psychos from my USTA team. They hit HARD and they were having a love fest with each other. "BEAUTIFUL SHOT!!!" "Yeah, and Shane are definitely playing're going to kick ass!" Whatever.

These ladies would rather BASH the ball into the net or three feet out than hit a "meatball", as they call it, over the net and in.

And then suddenly, as if God channeled my thoughts into the Pro's brain and out of his mouth
he said to the she-males...

"I'm really not sure what you ladies have to prove, but you really need to control your aggression on the court. If you bash the ball and it goes into the net, it does you no good." Then he turned to me, "If you play these ladies, play smart. They can only play when someone gives them speed. Take it easy, and you'll win."

Oooh, they didn't like that one bit. Man, that guy has NERVES!!!!

He had a great point. The problem is, if and when I've beat them by hitting it back consistently and with medium pace, they bitch..."that wasn't REAL tennis, that's old lady tennis."

So yeah, I like to win, but I have discovered you can't really win with some people. EVER.

My solution:

1. Continue to try not to give a shit when I get stuck on the court with these testosterone fueled ball bashing Neanderthals.

2. Look on the bright side when I deal with them, they give me GREAT blog material.

3. Move on to a new team, which I have. I received an invite to join a team of fabulous, mentally stable ladies who know how to behave. (More about that later.)

And finally, put it all in perspective. After all, it's just tennis.

(Do you know how hard that was to say???)

Oh, and one more thing...

To those of you who aren't on Facebook, yet...get with the program!

We are having tons of fun over there, and you KNOW you need another time sucker in your life!

Go sign up-now.

After you do, e-mail me: and we can become "Facebook friends."

Yeah, I know, I'm bossy. Trust me, it's even worse in real life. ;)

It's time to make your voice heard!!!

I'd like to draw your attention to a nifty new feature here at Caffeine Court.

It's my Snapvine audio comment voice player. Check it out - do you see it? It's on the far right of your screen!! There you that you've found it-use it!!!

Instead of leaving me a little note, pick up the phone and CALL MY BLOG!!!

I left a little message on it so you can here my voice, and now it's YOUR turn.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you

Thanks to all of you who left comments on my last post. You're kind words meant alot to me.

Joe's funeral was today. So heartbreaking.

His brother told some great stories that really summed up the essence of who Joe was.

As many of you said, all I can do now is help his wife Michele and her children. She looked so frail and vulnerable, but I can tell you this, she is a VERY strong woman.

When I saw her at the viewing she was wiping my tears, which is a typical Michele thing to do. She is always taking care of others.

I hope we can all help her get some rest and care for her for a while. She has had to be strong for so long, I can't even imagine how exhausted she must be.

The mass cards we received had the Serenity Prayer on them:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. -Amen

The prayer is all about acceptance, courage, and wisdom. It's about recognizing that we usually don’t have any real control over the world or the actions of others. It reminds us to live one day at a time, enjoying each moment.

Tomorrow it's back to the every day routine for me. For Michele and her children they begin a whole new chapter of their lives.


I wasn't sure whether or not this is appropriate to post, but I thought I'd share some sad news.

My husband and I lost a friend of ours this week. It was very sudden and tragic.

He had an amazing wife and three children ages 9, 7, and 5. We will be attending his viewing on Sunday and the funeral mass on Monday.

He was only 42 years old.

Our friend struggled with alcohol and had been in and out of rehab. We feel guilt because we pulled away from our friendship with him in the last year of his life. He was very unpredictable and very hard to be with sometimes, but he had a huge heart and was alot of fun. Unfortunately he was unable to conquer his demons.

In the early years of our friendship we shared many great times and got to see the best of him.

His wife loved him so much and was so devoted to him, even when he was at his worst.

It's so sad that his story had to end this way. We hoped he could turn things around and he and his family would live happily ever after.

At least now, he is at peace.

Tonight, before you go to sleep, hold the ones you love close, because life is precious and everything can change in an instant. Be kind to each other and remember that some of the people who look the toughest on the outside can be very fragile.

If you know someone who is going through a tough time, call them. I didn't call Joe and I regret it, and now it's too late.

Menghai 2007 Dayi "Yin Xiang" Shu Bing

A gift sample from Puerhshop, I brewed this tea once and thought it forgettable. Appropriately enough, I forgot I had it. Upon rediscovery, my opinion has changed.

Menghai 2007 Dayi "Yin Xiang" Shu Pu - leaf


1 Malty, stronger on sides of tongue. Clean, simple. Aroma is walnuts and soil. Guest co-reviewer Davin remarks it reminds him of dried bamboo.
2 More complex: grains, the flavor of black pepper without the bite, still not as earthy as it smells.
3 Davin, not knowing anything about the tea, had to ask if it was shu or sheng--a good sign! Mellow but not weak. Soil creeps in.
4 More soil and earth, but still clean. Oddly enough, no aroma in the empty cup or pitcher!
5 Best infusion. Sweet like a gourd (winter squash?), leaves a tingly feeling on my tongue.
6 Consistent flavor as 4 & 5 despite slight decline in strength. What a friend calls "rocky" flavor. This infusion drinks cold with no awkward acidity or aftertaste.

Menghai 2007 Dayi "Yin Xiang" Shu Pu - infusion 5

Verdict first: this shu impresses. A great buy for someone who's only had bad, fishy shu pu'er, Dayi's Yin Xiang cake redeems the name of shu. And for any doubters, this tea's traits define why I love Menghai Factory shu pu above all others. Pricier, but worth it I think. When I'm in the market again for cooked tea, this cake is on my list.

Menghai 2007 Dayi "Yin Xiang" Shu Pu - spent leaf

Treats and Trinkets

Since my daughters got a new puppy for Christmas, Santa will be bringing small gifts this year.

I want the girls to be excited Christmas morning, so I need to get creative with my stocking stuffers.

Here are some things I got:

Smencils These are really cool scented pencils made from recycled newspaper. They come in delicious scents like Cotton Candy, Tropical Blast and Cinnamon all the kids in my town love them.

Chopstick Kids These are soft washable foodsafe little hinges to help you tame your chopsticks. You stick the chopsticks in the leg slots and're eating your sushi like a champ!!! They come in boy or girl style. I got mine at Borders.

Surfer's St. Christopher Medal: St. Christopher is the protector of travel. In the sixties, surfers wore this medal as a good luck piece to protect them while surfing. I got mine at a local surf shop, but you land locked folks can find them online. They come in all different fun colors and you can get a necklace or a bracelet. Only $14.

Mr. Bacon-Pig Racing Toys I have no idea why, but all the girls in my town want these. They come in tons of colors. And their only $12.95. I got mine from Wacky Planet.

I have girls, so I can't really help you out with the boy swag.

I need to get more stuff, any suggestions??

Things that are awesome:
Strawberry Jam with whole chunks of strawberries
Mondo and baby Mondo's
That adrenalin satisfaction after a ride
The sun, appreciated from the shade of a leafy tree
My sweet pea
Date and orange scones, Fruit boule toasted
My nephews
Good movies of the art- house nature
Nanna Naps

My constant quest for self-improvement...

Last month I tried to focus on getting my house organized. I accomplished quite a bit, but I realize that like so many other things, eliminating clutter and keeping things tidy will be a constant battle for me. It always has been and always will be.

Kind of like finances and diet. It's amazing how when you let little things go, it snowballs and BOOM!!! Your house is a mess, you're fat and broke. DAMN!

Here's some other things I'm working on:

My BlackBerry addiction. They don't call it the CrackBerrry for nothin'. I love it so much...too much. I walk around with it all the time and if I don't know where it is I feel a little SHAKY.

I've been taking baby steps to ween myself of this compulsive need to check my CrackBerry every 2 minutes. Now that I'm alerted every time I get a blog comment or some action on Face Book it's hard to keep away.

Here are some of my recent efforts:

I don't sleep with it in my bed anymore. I put it in the bathroom so I am unable to reach over for it every time I see that I have a new message.

When I go to the grocery store or to the post office. I leave it in the car.

This week's goal? To try not to pick it up every time I see the little blinking red light. It's never anything urgent-and it's a total time sucker to pick it up every time another spam message arrives in my in-box.

I'm also trying not taking the bait when someone tries to pick a fight with me, avoiding playing into the psycho head games of the hyper competitive women I encounter at tennis, and cursing less.

Check out this website: Zen Habits

It's a great resource for improving your life with tips on achieving goals, productivity, being organized, motivation, eliminating debt, saving, getting a flat stomach, eating healthy, simplifying, living frugal, parenting, happiness, and successfully implementing good habits.

I'll be writing more about this in coming weeks. This is the time of year when everyone is running in twenty different directions and it helps to stay centered and not let all the craziness get you down.

Maybe if I'm a little more centered I'll curse less. After all, have YOU ever heard the Dalai Lama drop the f-bomb? I think not!!!

Good pots

Click photos to enlarge.

I'm rather proud of these!

Stepped cup in red clay:

Grogged red clay, layered glazes, wax-resist decoration

Stepped cup in red clayStepped cup in red clay - alt. viewStepped cup in red clay - interiorStepped cup in red clay - foot

Stoneware Whisky Cups with Snow Glaze:

Thrown & carved/altered brown stoneware with varied surface decoration.

Stoneware Whisky Cups with Snow Glaze, 1st pairStoneware Whisky Cups with Snow Glaze, 1st pair foot detailStoneware Whisky Cups with Snow Glaze, 2nd pairStoneware Whisky Cups with Snow Glaze, 2nd pair foot detail

Carved tea bowl with Snow Glaze:

Carved winter tea bowl in buff-colored stoneware, snow glaze, wax resist "windows" and carved texture.

Carved tea bowl with Snow GlazeCarved tea bowl with Snow Glaze - window closeupCarved tea bowl with Snow Glaze - interiorCarved tea bowl with Snow Glaze - interior detailCarved tea bowl with Snow Glaze - foot detail

Black pitcher, "Bled Foam":

Black basaltware pitcher, thrown & altered, foam glaze with iron bleeding.

Black pitcher, "Bled Foam"Black pitcher, "Bled Foam" detail

The judges have made their final decision!!!

Sorry for the delay. I was so impressed with my finalists in the "Get Your Shit Together Challenge" that I had to call in some judges.

Up until 9:30 EST we had a three way tie between Tara at If Mom Says OK, Andrea at Mommy's Martini and Maureen at Mom Times Two.

I was at a loss, so I called in a final impartial judge to declare a winner.

She made her choice...and the winner is...

Andrea at Mommy's Martini!!!!

Here are some examples of her amazing accomplishments...

The Office...

The Dining Room

The Walk In Closet

Congratulations to all our participants, you have been such an inspiration for me. I am still working on my projects in between cleaning up puppy poop and pee and I will post results as I complete them. (Don't hold your breath.)

It's nice to know that I helped motivate others to do what I could not.

Andrea...send me your address so I can send your Southern Living at HOME catalog and $75 gift certificate.

Stay tuned for more contests including Best Road Rage Fight, Hottest Encounter at the Supermarket and Largest Collection of Domestic too can be a Caffeine Court Award Winner!!!!

Good night and God bless.