Friday, December 9, 2011


On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, seven swans a swimming.

There's an aphorism that came to mind this week. I know I'm paraphrasing it here. "Be like the duck. Calm on top but paddling like the dickens underneath." It's kind of how I've been feeling. Lots of busy work to do. You know that kind of work. It's little things that HAVE to be done in order to accomplish the big thing. It's frustrating when you want to finish the big project, the one that says, "Look what I did", but you have to pay bills or do wash or clean the bathroom sink. Blogging has taken a back seat to other things that have needed to be done. It's now the ninth day of Christmas and I'm three days behind. Time for some catch up. I have certainly felt like the duck in the aphorism, all calm and collected but paddling like the dickens to keep afloat.

The seventh day of Christmas is the last one with birds. Beginning on day seven and continuing to day twelve, you'll need 35 swans for this particular line. Swans are expensive. The PNC list says they cost $6,300. I assume this is because swans are, for the most part, endangered or threatened. They aren't just something you can run to a farm and purchase. For five days of swans, you'll need to fork out a hefty $31,500 which, of course, doesn't account for something in which they can "swim", a home or food.

These 35 swans join the 12 partridges, 22 doves, 30 French hens, 36 calling birds and 36 geese in your true love's back yard. That's 171 birds. I'm pretty sure I don't have that many wild ones in my yard, even when the grackles show up in flocks.

So what would be a good substitute for swimming swans? I thought about 36 days at a beach-side resort but that would probably set you back more than the PNC 12 Days cost, but water gave me another idea. What about things that go into water?

Ah hot cocoa. This tin of organic coca costs $4.99 at Dominicks. Godiva has a set of 3 canisters, 1 dark and 2 milk chocolate, for $45.00. You also can't pass up Ghirardelli chocolate. They have a 4-pack which includes one each of white mocha, double chocolate, chocolate mocha and chocolate hazelnet, for $27.80. They also have a peppermint hot cocoa for $11.95. If your true love prefers coffee, send them a bag or two or 35 of their whole bean coffee. That will cost $18.00 for one bag.

I adore Cocoa Amore. It's kind of hard to find. I used to be able to get a sampler pack with 8 different flavors. Now, I can only find a 6 pack from C&C Creations for $37.75 with the following flavors; chocolate caramel, french vanilla, chocolate raspberry, chocolate supreme and white chocolate. That's okay because one of the 8 pack flavors was chocolate mint and I don't care for mint in my chocolate.

Unfortunately, chocolate is one of the world's most slave driven commodities. Some of the major chocolate producing countries count on the income they get from chocolate to oppress their citizens. Occasionally, an online petition shows up asking M&M's or Hershey's or Godiva or chocolate makers in Belgium and elsewhere to not buy cocoa beans from places such as the Ivory Coast. For a chocolate lover with a conscience, it can be really difficult to satisfy the craving and feel you have done right by those who do the manual labor. Equal Exchange has a lovely organic hot cocoa for $7.75 that is grown on small plantations where people are paid living wages and where they don't live in deplorable conditions. It can be hard to find but it's good cocoa.

That gives you 6 ideas for hot cocoa and one idea for coffee, but let's go farther. Dunkin Donuts has, I'm told, some of the best coffee on the planet. A bag of their standard coffee is $8.99. Standing in the coffee aisle at the supermarket can be daunting. So, just head over to Caribou Coffee for a bag of their Reindeer Blend, the seasonal coffee. A pound of that is $15.00. Or wander by Starbucks and get a pound of their Holiday Blend for $14.95.

We're done with coffee. I don't drink it so I have no idea what is or is not a great tasting coffee. What I do know is tea and there are a wealth of tea sites on the Internet where you can get great tea. My favorite is Blue Moon Tea Company. You'll want to get one of each of these: Assam (box $7.95), Scottish Blend (box $8.95), Ceylon (bag $7.95), Huckleberry (box $5.95), Brodies Famous Edinburgh's (box $10.95), Scottish Breakfast (Tin $8.95), Chocolate Cream Truffle (loose bag $7.95), Yorkshire Gold (box $11.95), Barry's Irish Breakfast (box $8.50) and Apple Pear Green (loose bag $10.95).

The next place to go is Celestial Seasonings. Most of these you can find on your grocer's shelf. Celestial Seasonings is famous for their naturally decaffeinated and herbal teas. These can be just right for a late night watching of "It's a Wonderful Life". Now is the time they have their holiday flavors out. Each box is $2.99, a veritable steal compared to other beverage costs. Pick up a box of gingerbread spice, sugar plum, candy cane, sugar cookie, nutcracker sweet, caffeine free herbal, cranberry apple, mandarin orange spice, sleepytime and a box of their fruit tea sampler.

Lastly, visit the Bigelow Tea web site. Bigelow is another brand that is ubiquitous on the grocery shelf, but they make very good tea. Plus, their teas usually come in a regular and decaffeinated version. You'll need a box of Constant Comment, English Breakfast, Darjeeling, Earl Grey, Chinese Oolong and Cinnamon Stick. If I am reading their web site correctly, you buy a selection that contains 6 boxes of the variety. That costs $17.75. The teas retail for $4.99. As long as you don't mind 6 boxes of one kind, the pack is the way to go.

That's 36 different drinks that mix with water. Totaling up the cost, you've spent $135.24 on cocoa; $56.94 on coffee; and $149.94 for tea by buying the individual Bigelow teas at the grocery. Total cost for swimming in beverages, $342.12.

Just a hint, if you're sending your true love 36 cheesecakes, adding something to drink with them is a good idea.

Beverage:  Gingerbread Spice tea


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