Tag Archives: drinks

DIY #2: Holiday Gifts in a Jar


I can finally say: I have ALL my holiday shopping DONE! This is a huge deal. I’m usually the one scrambling around trying to figure out what to get everyone, while everyone else seems to have me pegged pretty well. Apparently the exact opposite is happening this year. I have gifts for everyone, and my sister and REB are having a hard time figuring out what to get me.

I made a list for them, but it was seriously things I wanted for the house, that I would prefer to buy myself.  I realize how lame that is, but what I honestly want are two things that are way out of any normal person’s price range and I would prefer to get them myself: upgrade my DSLR and buy a new Macbook Pro. There’s no way I expect anyone to get me these items. They’re on my list to do before I’m 30 ;)

However, for those of you who follow me on Instagram have probably seen the posts about what I’m doing for REB: the 12 days of Christmas! This is the first year in the 7 years we’ve been together that I finally can surprise him and not just get something he knows he wants or is getting. Usually when we play the “what do you want for Christmas” game, we say what we want, then we go out together and buy it for each other. It’s pretty lame. The element of surprise isn’t there, but it’s worked! But this year, I got him! I do plan to do a post about all 12 days when all is said and done!


So, the point of his post? If you’re like me, and want to include a homemade, personal gift in addition to a materialistic gift, then why not a gift of yummies in a jar? I don’t know about all of you, but I love hot chocolate, especially in the winter. I’m also on an incredible peppermint/candy cane kick, so I had to throw those in there too.

Bottom line: it’s quick, easy and face it, it looks cute.

Peppermint Hot Cocoa
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
All the ingredients needed for peppermint hot cocoa in the convenience of a jar. Perfect DIY gift for this holiday season. Recipe adapted from Tisano cacao, tea & chocolate.
Recipe type: DIY, Jar, drinks
Cuisine: drinks
Serves: 12
  • 1 cup Instant dry milk powder
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (or regular size)
  • ¼ cup white chocolate chips (optional)
  • ¼ crushed candy cane pieces
  1. Layer all items in a jar, starting with the dry milk, ending with candy canes.
  2. To prepare:
  3. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Measure ⅓ cup into a cup. Stir in 1 cup boiling water, and enjoy!
  4. Put remaining mix back in jar, seal tight and save for next time!
  5. Recipe adapted from Tisano cacao, tea & chocolate

Agile Alliance 2012


Hey everyone!

It’s been forever (or seems like it) since I’ve posted anything here. Sorry I’ve been MIA. I had good reason though. I was in Dallas last week for the Agile Alliance 2012 conference.

A group of us from the conference (6 in total) attended for a week long of sessions to learn new things with the agile manifesto, see what we could improve, network and have fun! It was a good way to get to know everyone in my group too. It was myself, another QA lead, a developer, head of development, UX lead and our scrum master. The company I work for, JSTOR, has been doing agile for well over three years, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn new things!

The conference took place at the Gaylord Texan Hotel and Convention Center in Dallas, right outside of the airport. It was a huge resort complete with four restaurants inside, an indoor atrium so it was like you were outside, huge (and I mean HUGE) fitness center and spa, a vineyard, Paradise Springs (a water park w/ lazy river and slides), and of course, the convention center where the conference took place each day. It was a beautiful hotel, I will say that. As soon as we checked in and dumped our bags in our rooms, we met up at the bar (one of the restaurants) for drinks, appetizers and watch the Tigers game. Hey, we had our priorities straight ;)

Starting Monday of the week, we were all in our respective sessions. I had decided to sit in session primarily focused around QA, testing, being a leader, coach and mentoring. I was pleased to see that a lot of the workshops I attended, were things my company is already doing. It was nice to exchange ideas with others in the class and answer questions.

I’m not even going to talk about food because I was in Texas aka land of fried food, aka vegetarians worst nightmare. They served us lunch most days and it was the banquet-hall-style buffet. That meant no vegetarian main dishes, but a whole lotta salads, side dishes and potato. Potatoes all. the. time. I even asked one of the workers one day if they had a vegetarian option. The lady looked at me and said “There’s salmon.”

So there you have it folks. In Texas, if it ain’t cow, it ain’t meat :P

We did leave the compound one night and went to PF Changs (thank my coworker who had a car!) and I had my fill of tofu and veggies. Needless to say, I was ready to go home for real food after that week.

So anyway, when we were done with sessions for the day, we took full advantage of the evening fun they had. One night they had two happy hours (oy vey) and another they had some mechanical bull riding, a butt portrait sketch person (REB was happy about that one LOL). Our last night there they had a huge dinner, live music (they were so good!), and dancing. It was a lot of fun!

Aside from the six of us (upper right), we networked and met some great people who have easily become friends for us! Hi Peggy! :)

There was of course, drink tickets. Lots and lots of drink tickets…

It is safe to say I’m officially on detox this week and don’t plan on drinking or eating like that for a very long time. I’m so glad I went though! I learned so much, got closer with my coworkers, made new friends and brought back ideas to use here at work with my team! I hope to attend more conferences like this in the future to help improve my skills!

Have you attended conferences for work?
Did you learn a lot? 

Tea time


Hi everyone!

I hope everyone is having a fabulous weekend! I had one of those weekends where I wanted drinks. And not just alcoholic! It started with chai. I’ve made chai before and I even have a recipe here on the blog about it, but I always try to find a way to make it differently.

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There are so many varieties of chai! But the one common ingredient with all of them is cardamom. It’s an incredibly smokey, warm spice that comes in a little pod. It’s a really great ingredient, but it also can be kind of expensive. The key is to buy it at your Indian grocery store because it will probably be cheaper to buy there (in a pretty good-sized bag too) than at your local grocery store Protip: get ALL Indian spices from an Indian store. Buying bags of turmeric, cumin, coriander, etc. is so much cheaper and runs about $2.99 a bag as opposed to $6.99 for a tiny jar in the world foods or spices aisle.

Anyway back to the chai! So this time I decided to try something different when making it.

I decided to roast the cardamom! It’s not anything new, I’m sure. it’s just something I haven’t done before. I figured, I dry roast all the spices for garam masala when I make it, so why not the cardamom for the chai?

It worked beautifully and added an extra warm taste…if that makes sense…? I’m glad I gave it a try. I have both cardamom in and out of the pod, but I find myself using the in-pod when I make the chai. Having the skin while you roast helps release the natural oils and it also intensifies the flavor of the cardamom. Roasting it only takes it up to that next level!

Chai for One

•1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
•1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (dry roasted)
•3 cardamom pods (dry roasted)
•1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
•1/2 teaspoon whole black cloves
•1 1/2 cups water
•Milk and sugar to taste
•1-2 teabags of Darjeeling or English black tea (you could also use loose tea leaves)


Start roasting the cardamom in a dry pan over low heat for 5-10 minutes. The cardamom is done when they’re lightly toasted and you can literally smell it. In the mean time heat up the water in a small pan and bring to bring to simmer. Add the tea bags and spice mixture and let it steep and mull for 10-15 minutes. When the water has turned to a beautiful dark color, take it off the heat and pour it through a strainer, into a cup. Add milk and sugar to taste and enjoy!

It’s so easy to make that you won’t need to spend the $4 at your local coffee shop. I find those to be too sweet for my tastes and it doesn’t taste like home, either! Give this a try – I know you’ll love it!

So tell me: do you like teas and coffee from other countries?
What’s your favorite?