Homemade chai tea

I have been waiting to post this, because I didn’t want to ruin the Christmas surprise! We went with mostly homemade gifts this year, one of my favorite being chai spices in a little mason with the recipe attached. This recipe makes the house smell delicious & tastes amazing. As a warm little snack in the afternoon, it can’t be beat. (Can you tell I have a thing about warm drinks in the winter? We won’t even talk about my 4 cups of mint tea a day habit!)

Homemade Chai
from Yogi Tea’s homemade chai recipe

To 3 quarts of water, add 20 cloves, 20 whole green cardamom pods crushed, 20 whole black peppercorns, 5 whole sticks of cinnamon, and 3 to 5 slices of fresh ginger root.

Bring to a boil and simmer for an hour.  Dip one black tea bag in for 1 to 2 minutes and then remove tea bag and let sit for 2-3 hours or overnight, depending on how strong you like the taste.  Strain the tea and discard the used spices.

When ready to drink, mix ¼ cup of milk (almond, soy, or regular) to every ¾ cup of chai; add honey or maple syrup to sweeten to taste. Store the tea in a glass container in the refrigerator for a week to 10 days.

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rePERpoSING from Lifehacker

image from lifehacker.com

I really like lifehacker.com for all of it’s tips & tricks. Especially their advice on why & how you should create secure passwords; make that the ONE thing you do in 2011 if you don’t have a good password system already. And no one has better explained why hacking & reperposing things is so much fun. Their Best of Repersposing Tricks of 2010 is something to check out. My favorite? closing a plastic baggie with a water bottle top. Genius!

Festive drinks

There is nothing I like more than festive drinks. Eggnog, wassail, spiced cider, ahhhh….bliss on a cold winter night. Let’s go backwards in time from my last festive drink.

This morning for family brunch I took a stab at homemade eggnog. Being a public health grad, I couldn’t ignore the raw egg situation, so I substituted pasteurized eggs–both whites & whole eggs. Since I am a lactard to boot, I used whole milk lactaid & had to do without the cream. But, leaps & bounds more delicious than store-bought nog. Then our wonderful neighbors brought mimosas, made with pomegranate & grapefruit juice.  Yum! ‘Tis the season!!

Last night, we attended a great birthday party with loads of friends & had spiced cider. The best thing about cider is that it’s warm.  And it was cold last night.  But on top of that, once you warm it up, you can add lots to it to make it more  “festive.”  With a bold red wine, it turns into wassail. With a little rum or Jameson’s, it’s spiked cider. What’s not to love about the versatility?

And now to travel to the future… tomorrow morning. The best thing about December is eggnog in my coffee. This year I decided that I prefer to avoid the extra 5-pounds that comes along with full fat nog every morning for over a month. So I whipped up some vegan nog, using vanilla almond milk instead of soy. Coffee without the extra serving of thighs in January!

Further into the future, my sister mentioned this minty chocolate mug of yum I am waiting to try & my mom is a fan of gingerbread martinis (recipe to come!). Ahh, the impending holiday break… full of festiveness!

Now, if that doesn’t do it for you, there is always this whole page of Christmas cheer!

Nic-Whole-ness #5 Talking to the ones I love

Image from poundingheartbeat.com

I bet you were wondering what happened to #5. Yeah, me too.

I didn’t ask anyone how they communicate with friends & family, so I could call “FAIL” on #5. But you know me… I refuse.  Once I really started thinking about talking to people, I started running into all sorts of new ideas.

I thought about how I like to communicate best & what I want to tell people.  I also thought a lot about what I wanted to get out of my communications with the ones I love. I want to feel close to them. I don’t want to be left out of or miss big (or small) life events, which happens when you are spread all over the globe. I want to support the people I love & show them I care about them. I want to know what they think & use their thoughts, opinions, and knowledge to help me make decisions or incorporate new, cool things into my life. I want to be there for them. I want to be a part of their lives & have them be a part of mine.

I know that the phone is not the best option for me. A lot of people prefer to chat with loved ones on their commute. My commute is a 3/4 mile walk & I need to be aware of my surroundings, so talking on the phone is a no-go. However, I have gotten better about tidying up around the house & chatting on the phone. If I need to take the sheets off the bed or wipe down the bathroom mirrors, why not hear all about how someone else’s day is going at the same time?

Email is my preferred form of communication. I am much more eloquent & open as a writer than a speaker, and asynchonous communication works in my favor because I can think about my words & respond in the bits of free time that spring up during the day.

With this in mind, a few things started percolating. My brother-in-law sent me a great Mark Bittman recipe, and I shared it with my dinner co-op (more on the dinner co-op later). I shared my love of all foods smittenkitchen with the BIL, & was thrilled that he enjoyed it as much as I do. My love of Deb has finally found the right Persing!

I asked for help. As one small example, I am in the process of getting comfortable in myself & updating my wardrobe (& my life) to reflect me now & the me I want to be. I emailed quite a few ladies about what their favorite wardrobe items are & what I should not even consider living without. Their responses have been as varied and interesting as they are, and their support has been unequivocal. Plus, their advice is invaluable & much faster than me trying to figure out how to dress myself on my own.

I read an article on one woman’s month living The Love Experiment & on asking the question, “Please tell me how I can love you better.” While I haven’t asked anyone but my husband, I think about it often.

I started telling people about this blog, since better communication is one of the primary goals here. I know it’s weird to not tell people, but I felt weird about what would happen after I told them. I don’t know what I thought the worst case scenario was, but it stopped me from telling people that they should swing by & take a peek at my new secret side project. I overcame the weirdness…kind of…. and nothing bad happened. phew.

In fact, good things started happening. People started reaching out to me. My two-way street got a lot bigger, wider, more open, & there is now a lot more traffic. And isn’t that the whole point?

rePERpoSING Hanukkah

Happy Hannukah everyone! To help you celebrate in true rePERpoSING style, here are a few things to spice up your 8 nights of lights.

The best Hanukkah song Eli has ever heard.

Some apple latkes to warm your belly (after you flip them in the air sometimes, of course).

And our DIY hanukiah! Which by the way, we realize now after almost starting a fire, why you don’t see more wood hanukiot. Candles + wood = smoke, then fire. That just means we’ll have to DIY something even cooler next year.

Happy Festival of Lights! May your lights & loved ones keep you warm! Baby, it got really cold outside and fast! (And yes I went there with rePERpoSING that song too. I love me some great singing voices.)