Wednesday, June 19, 2013

keeping myself balanced.

the balance.

In the midst of moving I wasn't able to keep up with one of my favorite ways to meditate and relax: belly dance. I found myself getting more stressed and agitated at stupid small things in recent weeks since the move was finished, and couldn't figure out why. I was tired, cranky, and seriously mopey.

Then I remembered: I haven't given myself time to dance.

I love putting on music, maybe pulling out my scimitar, and dancing to my heart's content. I had found dance in 2009 while at a local hookah lounge (that I was later employed at) and never stopped. I went to one class, having no prior dance experience, and fell in love. I've been doing it constantly since.

Unfortunately I found myself somewhat embittered with students undermining the professionals, people thinking they were ready to teach without the training they truly needed beforehand, and so on. I had to distance myself from the community at times, because it felt sincerely less zen and wonderful for me with drama unfolding. I took my dancing home, and it became more like a dedicated yoga-like practice for me. Dance, clear the mind, release stress, let thoughts slip away, and just move blissfully.

wuyi oolong.

After dance I always reward myself with a good cup of tea. I take that lovely serene buzz and put it into tea making. I like to use my gaiwan or yixing set to brew cup by cup, and appreciate each steeping.

I'm so glad I took the time to relax and dance today. I brewed up some of Verdant Tea's Shui Xian Wuyi Oolong, opened up the windows, and let the fresh air in. Another wonderful thing about our new apartment is that the backyard is lined with honeysuckle plants, as well as TONS of tigerlilies. When the cool air flowed in it carried a distinctly wonderful and floral fragrance that freshened the place up!

I think tomorrow, on my day off, I'll take my yixing set and tea tray out by the lilies and honeysuckle plants.

shui xian wuyi oolong.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

a day of baking failure and success.

summer rose.

Today I decided to make scones, but wanted to do something a little bit different than my usual Earl Grey or peach recipes. I was also working with limited ingredients and had to improvise, but I finally came up with things to use: lemon, honey, and oats!

My grandmother bought me a hand mixer for our new apartment. The first time I had used one was in high school, and the last time I used one was in high school ... after the teacher grabbed the appliance from my hands and told me I wasn't allowed to use one again. I had overly blended a rudimentary pizza dough and splattered it all over the student kitchen. Now, I am certain that same teacher was getting a chill up her spine and I lifted the mixer out of the packaging. I plugged it into an outlet and tested the motor speeds, still wary of my high school experiences, and felt that the motor was gentle enough for me to use. I was so very, very, very wrong.

I went over the big mixing bowl and poured the wet ingredients in, and lowered the mixer. I put it on the lowest setting and everything was perfectly fine ... until I repositioned. In doing so, I managed to flick the mixing speed from low to EXTRAORDINARILY HIGH. Scone batter slapped me in the face, peppered Chai-kitty (who was quietly watching from across the sink), splattered on the roof, scattered on the floor, and was everywhere other than the bowl. In a panic I also managed to knock over my brand new bottle of vanilla extract, and coated the countertops with that too. It was explosive, glorious, and incredibly messy.

summer rose and lemon scones.

Thankfully, after cleaning up the explosive mess, I was delighted to realize I had JUST enough ingredients to make a second batch. I measured everything out all over again, and this time mixed everything by hand. I put the scones into the oven, and the apartment was filled with an incredible vanilla lemon fragrance. I was so happy when I pulled them out and found they were perfectly baked.

I paired these scones with Adagio's Summer Rose black tea with a little bit of Lemon Soleil mixed in. The sweet floral of the rose and went perfectly with the almost candy-like lemon flavors of the scone!

honey oat scones.

Have you had any baking [mis]adventures lately? Do share! 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

old cameras.


Not 2 weeks after I moved out of my parents' house their hot water heater hose burst and flooded the whole downstairs. While they were cleaning stuff up and tearing up carpet they found a box that I had been looking for. When my great grandfather passed away he left me all of his cameras. They were sent up for me from Miami and when I opened the box a few years ago it was like Christmas all over again.

He gave me a few 35mm cameras, two of which were a Pentax and Minolta. There was a darling old lightmeter that still works (I triple checked!) and extra lenses for several of the cameras. There is this one camera though ... the one I can't wait to get repaired ... a BEAUTIFUL Rolleicord from the 1950s.

It seems as though the shutter is stuck. I'm not sure if it needs a little bit of greasing in a certain spot, a screw loosened, or something else. I am hoping I can find someplace nearby that will do the work for me. In the meantime, I find great enjoyment in looking through the viewfinder and imagining the photos I'll take with it!

I'm so happy to be reunited with my box of old cameras!

through the viewfinder.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

mrs. li's shi feng dragonwell from verdant tea.

the last drop.

Today I am drinking Mrs. Li's Shi Feng Dragonwell from Verdant Tea! I opted to pick up an ounce when I placed an order for  my favorite handpicked Autumn Tieguanyin -- I had heard many wonderful things about this tea. Now I wish I had bought even more! It's absolutely fantastic, and lives up to all the positive reviews!

mrs. li's shi feng dragonwell.

The leaves are a pale green and are flat. The size of the pressed leaves is deceiving, as they bloom open wonderfully in my gaiwan. I opted to do my "when in doubt" gaiwan method and filled the lid with leaves. It turned out to be the perfect amount! I followed the instructions on Verdant's website. 175 degree water with a 3 second steeping. The color of the tea is a lovely pale yellow -- it absolutely glows in the teacup Ryan gave me!

pale tea.

The aroma is sweet and nutty ... to me it almost smells like a roasted chestnut. The initial sip is sweet and vegetal, like a blanched bok choy leaf. The taste of the back of my tongue is tangy and lightly citrusy. It makes me think of a very ripe but not tart kiwi flavor. It is enjoyable and refreshing (I am writing this review in a 90 degree heatwave.) The aftertaste is slightly floral -- almost like I sipped on a bit of orange blossom water, or added some orange blossom honey to the cup. Absolutely delightful!


This is the first time I've gotten the chance to sip on a very fine quality Dragonwell, and my experience was perfect. I even went on a limb, let a cup cool, and added an icecube. It translates perfectly into iced tea, and the coolness allows more of the kiwi and orange blossom notes I enjoyed to come out!

I enjoyed 7 steepings of this tea, and am so glad the integrity of the tea remained strong with multiple infusions. I thought I could steep it once more, but I had my fill of tea at that point. It was such a treat!