Thursday, May 30, 2013

heat wave.

afternoon tea.
(dress: forever21, belt: etsy, glasses: ray-ban 5242 in havana)
This is the second day of the absurd heat wave our area is getting. It isn't even June (though it practically is at this point) and the thermostats hit 91°F. I'm infinitely grateful for the standing AC unit my mother gifted us. It has been on full-blast since I got home from work and it has made our apartment livable. Without it I am sure I'd be utterly miserable and soaked with sweat ... being the top floor is a little bit rough during the summer months. We were promised thunderstorms at one point, but not a single drop of cooling rain has fallen.

I feel almost guilty about not having the AC on when we're out of the house, as that leaves little Chai kitty home with the heat. When I came home from work I imagined her on the floor panting, looking at me and meowing something like ... "HOW COULD YOU DO THIS?!" Much to my relief she was happily chasing a bug around and seemed unaffected by the oppressively warm weather.

Also: I had my first package delivered to the apartment! Our building is mislabeled on GPS systems and as such, I got to watch the tracking for my parcel go from "out for delivery" to "destination scan" a few times. Luckily enough today my landlord spotted the UPS driver looking lost, and had the package walked up to our door. It contained my staple ... C.O. Bigelow Rose Salve, as well as a new treat: their rose perfume oil!

It is a classic rose-in-bloom scent: no other fragrances mixed in. At first it is pungent and almost overly cloying to the point of a headache for me, but then it fades into a perfectly demure true rose scent. I couldn't stop sniffing my wrists once it had dried onto my skin, as it was subtle but present enough to provide a very fresh and floral aura. I've always loved rose-scented things, but tend to get headaches from anything with overly floral fragrance. This works on my skin and doesn't make me feel ill after wearing it for an extended period of time. It comes in an adorable amber glass apothecary vial with a wand attached to the cap for easy application. For only $15 a bottle, their fragrance oils are definitely worth a try!

kitty assistant.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

harishpur estate TGFBOP1 assam from upton tea.

cream & sugar.

Yesterday was beautiful, sunny, and warm ... but today the weather is in a sour mood: chilly, rainy, and grey. I decided to brew up one of my stronger black teas, ones reserved for when I need an extra pick-me-up. Today it is Upton's Harishpur Estate TGFBOP1 Assam. It is one of the few teas in my cupboard that I find works better when cut with a bit of cream and sugar as it is rather strong.

It brews a rich amber-red cup and has a malty aroma. The flavor unaltered is dark and bitter but with a pleasant sweetness -- like a dark wildflower honey. I often say this is the tea that, when brewed strong, will make my face scrunch up as if I were drinking a cup of black coffee. I've found that a smidgen of dairy added helps prevent my stomach from getting unsettled.

With cream the bitterness is eradicated and you get the softer flavors of the assam coming out. I pick up the wildflower honey note once again, but now it is like it has been spread over a small sweet biscuit. You get a toasted pastry flavor from the cup that was masked by the astringency of the plain brew.

It looks like Upton Tea Imports is almost out of this particular blend of Assam, but they carry tons of  other excellent teas. I bought a tin of a certain first flush Darjeeling from them a while back, and I practically brewed it all within 2 weeks time! I love that their little tins have customizable labels so I can keep track of when the tea was packed, and how long I've had it since it shipped. Their service is excellent!

Now I've got the energy to get up and wash some dishes! The only downside to this apartment is that Ryan and I are the dishwasher -- we don't have one installed. Nor do we have a garbage disposal. I miss having that the most, I think. It was the best way to dispose of old tea leaves. Just rinse and flick a switch!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

settling in.

preparing tea for guests.

My little sister and father came to visit yesterday after Ryan and I finished getting our sofa set up in the living room. It was such a pleasant surprise! They brought my favorite gluten free pizzas over from Jules, and hung out for a little while. Bonus: The AC my mom ordered arrived as well! We endured two bizarrely hot days in May in the upstairs loft without anything but a ceiling fan, and it was pretty muggy. I felt like I was swimming through hot air! I am relieved we'll have some way of getting relief from many more summery days to come.

I prepared some handpicked Autumn Tieguanyin from Verdant Tea for my sister and father. My sister (not as much of a tea drinker as I am) commented on how it was like she was drinking flowers. The orchid aroma of this tea is INCREDIBLE and so refreshing, and the slight flavor of lychee makes it perfect for summer sipping.

Except when we went to Ikea it dropped to a ridiculous 46 degrees! We went from a sweltering 86 degree day to 46 and cold and windy the next. My abuela was (for once) caught unprepared. Normally she always makes sure everyone is appropriately bundled up, but while we waited for Ryan to pull up to the loading area I ended having to wrap a part of the sofa's slipcover around her shoulders! Northeastern weather needs to CALM DOWN and make up it's mind. At least we won't have to run the AC for another week and can save on some electricity!

Tonight is our first housewarming gathering! Can't wait for all of our friends to see our new place. :)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

welcome home.

window seat.

This past weekend Ryan and I moved into our very first apartment together! It's an old stone inn from the 1700s that has been refurbished into lovely rustic apartments (like something I'd see on a mori girl tumblr!) On our street are little historical plaques stating the date on which some of the buildings were defended during the Revolutionary War! It's very neat and gives you an idea of just how old these structures are!

Now, this was very stressful for me, and Ryan took my fear and attitude like a champ. I moved a lot during my childhood and my most recent home was where I had been given the opportunity to stay a while and make friends, and truly get to know an area. Moving away from that made my gut clench, tears well, and a whole new level of anxiety spring up. I snapped without meaning to, I was a little ball of negativity, and I was scared as hell. Ryan smiled at me when I was frowning, did lots of heavy lifting, and took care of me when I couldn't really contribute to the move with my mindset. My family helped pick up my slack as well!

Despite my sour attitude, we made it! This is my first day off since we moved all our boxes in, and it's my first chance to truly relax in our new home. Now without stress and homesickness fogging my vision, I've been able to truly appreciate the place we were lucky enough to find.

It's beautiful. The walls were originally covered with stucco and the owner stripped it all and exposed the amazing stonework that laid beneath. The floorboards upstairs are the original planks, and are wide and from very old growth trees. They're gorgeous, dark, and glossy. I'm not sure if the floorboards downstairs are original, but they are also very old and beautiful. The upstairs has cathedral ceilings with the original wood beams exposed. It sounds amazing during rain, and feels incredible to walk around in.

The apartment even came with a hutch that I assume was too much of a pain to move. It has lead glass windows and currently houses the teacups I was able to fit in the move, and my teapots. It will soon be filled when I head back home with boxes and bring the rest of my teaware over.

My family helped so much along the way, and even thinking about it is enough to make me very sniffly. I've moved a whole 20 minutes from my old house, but somehow it feels so far away from where I grew up. Especially when I don't see my family every evening chattering in the kitchen. :(



kitchen view.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Ryan and I put a deposit down on our first ever apartment together! I haven't even started packing, but the move-in date is projected to occur before the month's end. The owner of the building is refinishing the original hardwood floors, painting, resealing some of the stone by the window, and making sure everything is in tip-top shape for us. Ryan and I were in love the moment we saw the exposed stone walls & wood floors & windows.

I can't wait to take photos of my tea in all the natural lighting. I will be posting more photos once the landlord has finished sprucing the place up -- it seemed silly to photograph everything when it would look much better a week later. It even came with the hutch in the above photo -- perfect home for my teaware!

The most fun and unique part is that it is a 2 floor apartment! We have a full dining area, living area, kitchen and bathroom, and the bedroom is an upstairs loft! Of course we got a loft like that just before summertime hits, but the windows will accommodate an AC unit for us (as I cannot stand extremes of either temperature.)

Ryan brought home boxes from work and I'm sitting here telling myself, "Oh I don't have that much to pack..." but I am ABSOLUTELY LYING TO MYSELF. I am so grateful I have the next few days off so I can start packing all my little knick-knacks. I am also so grateful that I won a lot of teacups from eBay and the seller was utterly excessive with the protective packaging. The surplus of bubble wrap is very much a blessing for all the fragile things I've had for ages sitting in my room.


We will have an apartment like the cottage-style ones I always am envious of on tumblr. We will have breakfast together, tea and coffee in the sunshine with our Chai-kitty, and a lovely abode to call our own.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

DIY: teacup candles.

craft time.

This little craft project is a great way to spend an afternoon, and a great way to repurpose teacups that might be cracked/chipped, or could be used as a charming gift idea with an undamaged teacup!

You will need the following:
- microwavable soy wax flakes
- microwave safe container
- candle-safe fragrance oil
- cotton wick
- a teacup

If you are making a single candle at a time be sure to measure out 2 teacup-fulls of the flakes. Every teacup has a slightly different capacity so I had better luck just scooping soy wax flakes into them, transferring to microwave-safe container, and melting from there. Didn't waste a drop of wax! The microwavable wax melts down. If you measure out 1 cup of the dry wax flakes, you'll be left with a 1/2 cup of melted wax for pouring. Keep that in mind when buying wax as well -- you'll likely need twice as much as you think!

I found a shop on Etsy that sold wicks with the little metal attachment at the base along with the fragrance oil I was seeking, but you can find similar supplies at your local craft shop! 

I microwaved the wax flakes for 30 seconds at a time. You don't want to overheat the wax, and risk breaking the microwave-safe container or potentially causing terrible burns upon removing container from microwave. I stirred the wax every 30 seconds, and when it appeared mostly liquid with a few bits of floating unmelted wax, I carefully removed the container from the microwave with oven mitts. It will be hot, proceed with caution.

Add a few drops of your fragrance oil. Stir thoroughly, and then pour slowly into your teacup. Add the wick, and use a chopstick to ensure that it will not fall. In the top photo my wick was a bit long, and caused it to lean a great deal, but I trimmed it down and let it lean on the chopstick until the wax cooled.

I let mine cool for 8 hours until lighting one up and seeing how it burned.

These make great gifts. Not only are you providing a cute decoration with pleasant perfume, once the wax melts down, the recipient will have a lovely little teacup to use! Soy wax washes out fairly easily from these teacups with soap, hot water, and [delicate] elbow grease.


Disclaimer: It goes without saying to practice standard fire safety procedures with these lit candles. They are open and exposed, unlike candles in jars, and as such are easier to accidentally brush, or knock over. Do not leave your candles unattended. Be mindful of pets or children that might come into contact with a decoration like this.