Thursday, April 30, 2015

two more weeks.

Crunch-time at school has truly begun! These past few weeks have been rather hectic: my big thesis paper on Henry James's The Turn of the Screw has proven to be quite a task. It's surreal to watch the days fly by as the work piles up; I'm having a hard time believing tomorrow is May 1st!

I squeeze in some time for reading books of my own choosing here and there, but my thesis is apparently a rather convoluted one and eats up so much time. It's kinda neat to read about how William James (Henry's brother) was involved in "The Society for Psychical Research" and performed paranormal investigations. Many scholars make a connection to his brother's involvement in the supernatural to this story in particular. It's fun and all, but rereading the same Gothic novella over and over is starting to feel like pulling teeth.

Thankfully this is what the campus looks like nowadays! I can take all my books into the vast garden attached to the manor -- the original home of the woman who bequeathed the land to the parent university. It's an incredible building with her sculptures all throughout the garden. In fact, you can see one in this very photo! It's the perfect place to sit with a cup of tea, books, and music.

I can't believe my first semester back after a long time away is finally coming to a close! It's been more fun than I could have possibly imagined. I'll be back once finals are done! ❤

Thursday, April 16, 2015

currently reading: "the first law" trilogy.

I should be working on a thesis paper or something, but I have the day off and I decided to toss my work on Henry James aside and enjoy some brutal fantasy instead. Joe Abercrombie's trilogy, The First Law, has proven to be an exceptionally enjoyable read. My friend recommended it and has yet again proven that we are on the same book wavelength. I finished The Blade Itself last night. The most dangerous thing about owning a Kindle is that I instantaneously bought the next book and was up reading well past 1 in the morning.

It seriously took me forever to finish The Blade Itself because my one class requires so much reading and writing that I had to dedicate my full attention to my assignments instead. I'm so happy I tackled all my work earlier this week so I could sit down and do some reading of my own accord!

Much like George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire these novels have chapters which shift between the main characters and their points of view. The characters are all written differently and the writing in the chapters reflect their personality traits clearly. There's a wizard, berserker, vengeful warrior woman, hoity-toity knight, burdened knight, tortured torturer, and so on. It has the basic fantasy tropes, but it stands out from other novels. There is a light-heartedness and simultaneous dark humor to the books that made me chuckle numerous times while reading. None of these characters are perfect and their personal conflicts develop through their individual chapters, and are embellished as the main characters all begin to interact with eachother. Also, holy crap, Joe Abercrombie writes extremely visceral battles. The violence is brutal and the fights rarely end without casualties. My only gripe was that the story moved very slowly for a while, but it seems that the majority of the first novel was truly establishing the characters and the main conflict. The first book in this trilogy was a great read!

Now I just need to make time for the next book: Before They Are Hanged.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

2013 raw pu'er mao cha from misty peak teas.

2013 raw pu'er mao cha.

Hello, friends! Long time no see! School has been an absolute whirlwind and demanded almost all of my attention for a while. It might be my first year back at college, but I am not in first year classes. The school accepted all of my old credits and so I came back to classes that didn't exactly offer a gentle transition back into the system. Stress levels have been high and energy levels at a severe low. When I was contacted by Nicolas of Misty Peak Teas I was sick, stressed out, and sleep deprived. I was sent a sample of their 2013 raw pu'er Mao Cha loose leaf tea. It wasn't until I opened the bag and literally dusted off my gaiwan that I realized how long it had been since I made tea properly. Since I started this semester my tea time has consisted of me flinging a tea bag into a travel mug and running out the door before sunrise. Not good!

This pu'er sample was not only wonderful in quality but wonderful in it's timing. During a period of high stress it prompted me to sit down, relax, and enjoy my tea. It had been a while since my mind wasn't focused on numerous due dates. I opened the bag and was delighted by the large and slim rolled leaves. The scent I got from them was surprisingly sweet! My first thought was, "Oh, this smells like fruit leather!" I freakin' love fruit leather, by the way. Best snack ever!

2013 raw pu'er mao cha.

The brewed leaves provided a beautiful light gold liquor. The scent of fruit leather diminished but the steam coming off my cup still smelled light and sweet. The flavor of the tea is bright and strong. It has a great deal of flavor but it is isn't heavy at all. The first sip was tart, then I got a note similar to apricot, and a sharp sweetness topped it off. Stone fruits and soft mineral notes permeated my senses. I am still a pu'er novice so I found myself comparing this pu'er to a quality Darjeeling. Yes, those two teas are quite different from one another, but comparing them helped me enjoy and understand this tea more! I was able to brew the leaves multiple times and the quality of the cup never diminished. I enjoyed the rest of my tea with the springtime sun shining on my face, and not a worry in the world.

Misty Peak Teas sources their tea directly from one family in Yunnan province. They are closely involved with the family, offer fair trade, and provide their customers with high quality tea direct from the source! This tea was a complete delight to brew and provided me with a moment of peacefulness in the midst of college madness. Thank you Nicholas for sending this sample my way!