Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Getting in the spirit!

JS will roll his eyes at me when he sees that I'm thinking about Christmas already. In his mind, nobody should be allowed to even think about Christmas until December 1st. Christmas carols in November? Not a chance at our house! But an early gift to ourselves is an exception to his way of thinking I guess, and so, we bought a camera. 
As it turns out,  JS was not too happy with the D60, and so we went back to the store last night after work and upgraded to the D80. We just got the kit lens, which is an 18-55, but it will do for now. We'd like to get some better lenses eventually. The D80 just has better features and is quite a bit faster, so it will take us farther than the D60. The cookie to the left is one of my first photographic attempts with the new camera.

After fooling around with the camera, it was time to get into the kitchen! Today was the day I set aside to start my Christmas baking. First on the list was shortbread. I decided to be a purist this time and not get into lavender and crystallized ginger. At Christmastime, I think tradition always wins. So scalloped round, buttery shortbread biscuits with sparkling coloured sugar were in order. Also on the agenda was gingerbread, the dough is hanging out in the fridge while the shortbread continue to hog the oven. Hopefully I'll have time to bake them today.
Usually I send some cookies to all our "gosses" in France. I've done shortbread, sugar cookies and gingerbread. Surprisingly, J, who was 2 at the time, loved the spicy gingerbread, even though the French don't usually seem to be fans. So this year I'm going to go with gingerbread again. Maybe in the shape of sapins de noel....

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Point and Shoot

I am really excited to tell you that I got a brand new Nikon today! It's a pretty entry level D-SLR, a D-60, but it's so much better than what we have now and I hope it will take my photography to the next level. The battery is charging as we speak in anticipation of tomorrow's daylight when I will begin playing. Now, 4:42 pm, the sun is setting (boo to winter!) and there's no chance of taking any pictures tonight since I don't have a flash. Until then, I will dream of what I'm going to photograph tomorrow.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Adventures in tea!

You may or may not know that I am a tea lover, there are few times in the day that I would say no to a good cup of tea. I'm not talking about Tetley with milk (sorry Grandma!), but more interesting varieties from China, Japan, Korea, South Africa and South America. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't mind a cup of black tea with cream if I'm having scones and jam on a Sunday afternoon, but on a day to day basis I like to experiment with different varieties. To me it's a little like traveling the world in my kitchen, a daily adventure!
This past weekend my Mom and I went to visit friends and family in Ontario. We spent most of the weekend visiting, and made a few outings to some really great tea shops where I racked up my credit cards and came home with (some would say) ridiculous amounts of roiboos, oolong and mate. Luckily for me security didn't tear open my bags, it may have looked a bit suspicious, all those little clear bags with green and brown dried up herbs inside!
J and I had lots of fun smelling, tasting and choosing our teas. 
Among my favourites from this trip are: Milk Oolong Guanzhou which brews up pale yellow in the cup and tastes of evaporated milk with an aftertaste of orchid and mangoes; Morrocan Mint made with gunpowder and refreshing peppermint; Chocolate Mint Roiboos made with real chocolate and mint leaves, this tea could replace dessert for me some nights; Honeybush Orange with real orange zest and natural flavour but no acidity.
D got back from Beijing this week and brought me back some amazing Jasmine Pearls from his usual tea shop. This time he also brought a few different qualities of Jasmine tea, so I could do a tasting. There are the pearls, then two lesser quality teas that are not rolled into pearls, but still smell amazing. Can't wait to try them side by side. Just wish J was here to share.