Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My most important tea lesson

Now, I've been learning about tea for a while, but I'd say today I learned my most important lesson, which can basically be concluded as- learning to chill the fuck out. Being able to to relax, go with the flow and respond to the tea is key in making a good cup. Now, I have known this for a while, but today was the day that it really started to make sense- you could even say, it "clicked"z. I get so stressed out and panicked in life that I am anxious most of the time and it affects the way my tea tastes. Making tea is a practice in meditation and I hope to work harder in it when making tea, but also, to let it affect me in daily life.

Secondly (which again, I already knew, but it's starting to become more and more apparent)- water. Water is key. Tap water will make all your tea echo the same flavor- being from nyc, tap water is perfectly safe to drink and considered some of the best tap water in the US, however because of the pipes, it can still taste like copper. Now it seems that all my tea at home tastes like copper. Time to get a water filter...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


One of newest prints of The Virgin Mary and The Annunciation.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Lion King

My mom came to visit this weekend and yesterday we went to see The Lion King on Broadway. Now I know, I know, everyone in New York has seen this at some point in their lives but this was my first time and wow, it was amazing! The costume and set design was so amazingly astounding that, as pathetic as it may be, I began crying when I watched. The mechanics were perfect in every way and so creative in the way that they attached to the body and moved. I apologize for this not being the most useful of "reviews" but let's just say that I highly, highly recommend it.

We also canned tomatoes (which I have been looking forward to doing for a while) and this morning made Tropical Muffins. The muffins turned out wonderfully, nice and fluffy and moist!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Evil Eye Bra and Panties Set or Your New Superhero Costume

Ta daaa!! Kelsey is back in action! Here is a picture of one of my newest piece, entitled "Evil Eye Bra and Panties Set or Your New Superhero Costume". I don't want to say too much on it because it is part of a series to come, but enjoy~

Let today mark the day....

Let today mark the day that I FINALLY made my first set of perfect, unburnt, unbroken and un-distorted pancakes! I have always had trouble making pancakes and end up with a sloppy mess of charcoal pieces and batter- BUT NOT THIS TIME! I'm not sure how much of this is common knowledge (I may have just been missing out on general known facts, but I'll pass it on anyway, just in case there are other people like me that struggle when making pancakes) but first of all, I was out of butter today. Instead of butter, I used Pam Baking Spray on the pan, and instead of using a large pan, and trying to make several pancakes at once, I used a small one, only doing one at a time. And of course, I kept the stove at medium-low.

Good luck pancake makers!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fiber time!

Here is a picture of some fiber I spun up a few days ago. It was only around 4 oz or so, so it was a mini project between spinning other things but ta daaaa- here it is! I believe it was some sort of a wool/merino blend.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Spring 2011 Red Yunnan Kung, Fu Tea

Alas, it has been farrr to long since I have made a tea post!!

It's only halfway through the week and I must admit, it's been a little tough. I won't go into too much detail, but we can start with Labor Day. For all of you who live in New York, this probably won't be news to you, but for those who haven't heard, the West Indian Labor Day Parade in Crown Heights ended in tragedy with gunfire, leaving several people dead and injured. I happen to live 2 blocks from here and if I had made the earlier train, would have been walking out right when the shooting occurred. I have heard a few similar situations from others who live in the area.

And then there is the rain...and rain and rain. It's been raining nonstop since Tuesday (it rained a little on Monday as well). I look forward to fall I think mainly because I remember (probably falsely) fondly when I lived in California and Maryland and cheerful blustery winds (back when I didn't have to carry art supplies and pieces that would be ripped out my hands, causing me to hate wind with a severe passion) and falling leaves with clear blue skies. Right now, however, I have rain, and lots of it. Hopefully it will go away soon but I think it is supposed to continue for the rest of the week. (I'm so glad I bought new, hole-less rain boots right before the "hurricane").

And so, I decided, that a dreary day like this would be perfect for tea! And now, time for my analysis!!

This is a tea that I got from The Mandarin's Tea Room and since I have played with it before, I do have a slightly better idea about it than when I did the first time.

The dry aroma smells almost like spiced roses and orange peels, while the wet aroma brings out more of an oily walnut scent. The tea takes heat well (near boiling doesn't seem to phase it), but is also good at being pushed, in fact, it doesn't seem to get overly astringent ever, really. I tried with extremely high heat, as well as a lower heat, for longer periods of time. I personally found the flavor to be fuller with the lower heat over a longer time (i.e. 5 minutes) It has a soothing effect, but the flavor is slightly tart/bitter, but only slightly. In some ways, while it is a young roasted tea, it reminds me of an un-roasted, aged pu-erh I had a while back...

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Hearty Raspberry Pancakes

I finally made this recipe this morning (I needed a bit of a break from all the waffles and pancakes I've been making as of late).

I wanted to follow the recipe exactly, but seeing as I didn't have all the specified ingredients, I improvised a little, and thankfully, the pancakes still turned out wonderfully!!

Without further adieu, here is my adapted version of Saavy Eats Hearty Raspberry Pancakes!

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup low-fat milk
1/2 cup crushed pecans
3/4 cup raspberries

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat germ, flax seed, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the almond extract, canola oil and milk, stirring until completely mixed together. Fold in the raspberries and pecans.

Heat a pan with salted butter and scoop out pancakes. Flip them when the edges begin to firm.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pancakes, Pies and Bears (I mean muffins)- Oh My!

Where to start...I almost feel like this has temporarily become a cooking blog. I've just had so much produce (so so so much) that is rapidly going bad all the time that now I feel like I have to bake and cook things as fast as I can just to keep up! Tomorrow is my local CSA pick up. Now, don't get me wrong, I love the days where I get to pick up my produce from the CSA and I look forward to it all week (getting a surprise of fresh produce is so exciting!), but I also get stressed. Have I mentioned I get stressed easily? Well yeah...I do. I get stressed out earlier in the week because I feel a need to purge the fridge and try to make use of as much as I possibly can so that I'll have room for the coming "shipment" of fruits and vegetables.

So what have I done this week to prepare and assist in "purging" the fridge? I've baked, and I've baked and I've baked...and cooked occasionally...

For those who are interested, I shall now go through my more successful expenditures...

Since last Wednesday, I've now made Blackberry/Raspberry Pie in a Jar three times. Yup, three times now (I made it again last night). They have been very popular...with this however, I have now worked through all of my raspberries and blackberries (with the exception of one raspberry package which I am saving for some pancakes tomorrow).

Earlier in the week I discussed a few of the other pancakes etc I've been baking, and yesterday I made Whole Wheat Brown Sugar Banana Bread Pancakes. I ended up using only two bananas (I didn't have a third) and added an extra 1/4 a cup of milk. They were still very thick, but overall turned out well. The only "criticism", (if it really is considered criticism) was that it was like eating a cake :) This recipe wasn't really used for the intention of using up produce, however I was able to finish off some bananas that I had.

(Here's a picture of them with butter and maple syrup. Sorry, they aren't very pretty looking- I'm not a good enough chef to be able to cook things to look pretty *and* tasty so right now I focus on tasty. Maybe once I become better at cooking, I'll learn how to make them look prettier too- and I'll be able to buy a better camera that can somewhat decent photos, as opposed to my Yesterday I also made Carrot Applesauce Muffins as well! Unfortunately I have misplaced where I got the recipe from, since it was saved as a word document on my computer, but here is my adapted version:

Carrot Applesauce Muffins

- scant 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda + 1 tbsp lemon juice to activate
- 1 tsp ground orange zest
- 2 large eggs, separated
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/2 cup apple sauce
- scant 1 cup sugar
- scant 1 cup roughly chopped dried apricots
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
- scant 1 cup roughly grated carrot (if anyone has a juicer, I often save save bits that are leftover after juicing some carrots and stick it in a ziplock bag in the freezer for instances such as this!)
- pinch salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease 16 muffin tins or line with cupcake baking cups.
2. Separate the eggs and lightly whisk together the two yolks. Add the oil, sugar and apple sauce and beat together with an electric mixer for about 1 minute until well combined.
3. In a small bowl pour lemon juice over baking soda and mix well, until only bubbles are left. Pour the bubbly liquid into the batter. Add the flour, the baking soda and the orange zest to the batter and mix until just combined. Add the carrots, the walnuts and the dried apricots and mix lightly. Be careful not to over mix.
4. In a separate dry bowl beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form firm peaks.
5. Next, gently fold the egg whites into the carrot mixture. Again, be careful not to over mix; it is fine to have streaks of white remaining in the mixture.
6. Using a large ice cream scoop, pour the mixture into the prepared muffin tins and bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
7. Let the muffins cool completely, then remove from the tins.

I really liked this recipe and the dried apricots tasted amazing in the muffins!

In preparation for the CSA tomorrow I am making...another pie. This one is a Peach-Pear Pie since I had a lot guessed it- peaches and pears that were about to go bad. The pie is in the oven now and smells amazing - I just hope it turns out as well as it smells!

Update: The pie turned out AMAZINGGGGG WOW!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Welcoming Fall

With the beginning of fall I have decided to do a pancake bonanza!

After all, what goes better with fall, beautiful weather, a clean apartment, sunlight than pancakes?

As we know, Saturday I made Almond Oat Pancakes but Sunday, I made Sweet Potato Waffles from a recipe I found in The Sugar Mill Caribbean Cookbook.

Sweet-Potato Waffles with Orange Butter
Adapted from The Sugar Mill Caribbean Cookbook by Jinx and Jefferson Morgan

Orange Butter:
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 T curacao liquor
1 T grated orange zest

(I'll add here that I didn't make the orange butter- I just put my own homemade jam on)

Sweet-Potato Waffles:
2 Cups flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
3 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups cooked, pureed sweet potatoes
1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup melted butter
2 T grated orange zest (I also didn't use this- basically I didn't have oranges)

Whip together ingredients for orange butter in a small bowl until mixture is fluffy and put aside.

Sift first first 3 ingredients and set bowl aside. In another bowl, combine egg yolks, sweet potatoes, milk, sugar and butter and add to flour mixture. Beat egg whites until they are light and fluffy and fold into mixture.

Cook away in a hot waffle iron!

The recipe recommends that you serve it with orange butter, maple syrup and garnish with orange slices (I just used salted butter and jam).


Later this week I plan on making Whole Wheat Brown Sugar Banana Bread Pancakes and Hearty Raspberry Pancakes! Can't wait!!

Sunday, August 28, 2011


So here in Brooklyn, Hurricane Irene was scheduled to tear through the city and cause MASS CHAOS AND THE APOCALYPSE! Or, at least that's what I had been expecting based on how people were reacting to the potential storm. Friday afternoon I went to the grocery store to pick up some ingredients for dinner to find it the busiest I had ever seen, and significantly lacking in milk. Apparently when a huge storm is scheduled to come and all hell breaks loose, and the electricity may be cut, people believe it is good to stock up on milk. Which of course doesn't go bad when the fridge is out or anything like that...also, in preparation for the storm, the MTA decided to cut service yesterday (saturday) at 12 until Monday afternoon or so. So no one can go anywhere.

I'd like to point out now that nothing really happened. It rained heavily for a bit, and lightly a lot, and has been windy, but that's about it. A few trees and branches have also fallen but nothing too major, however I have been spending most of the time in the apartment. Nothing much is going on with work because no one can travel, so I've been keeping busy at home, taking advantage of my "vacation". I've been doing a lot of baking, cooking, canning and spinning. Just made a lovely Blushing Peach Jam Instead of adding pectin, however, I boiled it for 25 minutes, stirring continuously to get it to a nice gelatinous texture.

I also made Almond Oat Pancakes Saturday morning which I definitely plan on making again. My only recommendation would be to add a little more milk or water because the batter was very thick, making it difficult to cook all the way through.

Another thing I made this weekend was Blackberry Pie in a Jar. This was actually the second time I made it and I think the first time I made it I liked it better...the first time, I used half blackberries and half raspberries so it was less tart. I also omitted the extra butter and just sprinkled a little bit of cinnamon sugar on top of the crust (after poking some holes). These were really fun to make because they were perfect little individual sized pies! Much more exciting than messy slices! Along the note of messy, however, a piece of advice- put the filled jars on a cookie sheet when baking because despite poking holes, it always ended up leaking overboard out of the jar!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


In New York real estate, August is the busiest month of the year. So it comes as no surprise then, that I have been incredibly busy. Everyday there's new apartments to see, new ads to make, advertising to do, apartments to show (and of course, haggling to be done to try to get people to rent said apartments). In some ways however, it has been relaxing too. Because I work near my apartment, between doing all of these things, I often have some time to go back to and eat a homemade meal, or organize for a little bit at a time before rushing back to apartment showings.

Tonight was one of the first times in a while now that I've had time to sit down and "play" with some tea (currently, I'm still experimenting with a Taiwanese tea I received- I think I'm getting a better handle on it now). After spending a lot of time organizing this evening, it was very relaxing. Having a clean and calm environment really does make such a difference in drinking tea and I've really been enjoying the new furniture I got recently. It seems to make everything else seem more, "homey".

I wish I could say there was more of a purpose to this post, but really I just wanted to express my own contentment.

I can't wait to go to The Tea Gallery/Mandarin's Tea Room tomorrow! (well, today, technically)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

New Furniture!

One of the tenants that I've been working with offered to sell me some of their furniture because they didn't want to deal with moving it. I gladly took it off their hands and yesterday happily moved it into my apartment.

This is the first piece- it's a beautiful handmade Mexican chest. Each side opens up for storage (and I was able to store away a lot of things because it's so big!)

Glowing dogs!

And I also got a china hutch which has worked well to store all of my teapots, cups, saucers and other such things. Unfortunately the door broke when moving it, so I have it sitting off to the side and will have to repair it later with some wood glue :(

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Raw Vegan Almond Milk!

A few months ago, I cut out drinking milk almost entirely, so since then, I've been drinking soy and almond milk. While store bought almond milk is healthier than soy milk, I don't like the fact that there are so many "other" ingredients and it's much more processed (I like to try to stick to foods where I understand what most of the ingredients are). Earlier this week, I came across this interesting recipe for Raw Vegan Almond Milk

It's surprisingly simple, so I figured, why not try it? I soaked about half a dozen almonds in water overnight, and threw them in the blender with about 22-ish oz (I really didn't measure it) of water along with a pinch of salt and about a teaspoon of agave nectar and blended away! To strain it, I used a large mesh tea strainer. Overall, I think it turned out pretty well, I think mine probably came out as "skim" so next time I'll try adding more almonds but I'm definitely planning on doing it again. After all, it's cheap, easy and healthy- what's not to like?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sketches 2!

And here are some sketches from Florence.


Yes, I came back from Istanbul over a month ago, but I finally realized I should have uploaded some of my sketches from the trip...Here are some selections from my sketch book in Istanbul.

Monday, June 20, 2011

2008 Phoenix Mt. ShuiXian Dancong

Last night I began brewing a phoenix tea for the first time. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't ideal- instead it was the ideal day to go to the beach (as I did end up doing)- hot and dry.

I found the dry leaf aroma to be rather young and green with fruity tones. The wet leaf aroma, on the other hand had a very strong raspberry scent but almost had some sour undertones, along with notes of oats (sorry, couldn't resist rhyming).

Now for the flavor!...but not.

I'm actually going to wait, and re-record ideas about the flavor because in all honesty, I really messed up steeping the tea. Last night, I realized that I have a tendency to wait too long when steeping. Instead of starting lightly, seeing how the flavor is and adjusting from there, I go straight into steeping for a while (you know, a "macho" steep) before tasting and by that time, it's usually been steeped too long and it's impossible to "repair" the next steep.

That being said, an important lesson has been learned and I am planning on trying again and experimenting once more tonight, this time hopefully with more interesting results.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Just a brief message because I have a lot of things to finish....

This afternoon I will be leaving on a flight to Istanbul, Turkey. I will be staying there until June 2nd and then will be going to Florence, Italy until the 11th.


Friday, May 20, 2011


Charlie apparently likes pu-erh tea a lot...
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Sunday, May 15, 2011

White Peony

Late last night, I began brewing it some of the White Peony tea that I now have, this time being careful to remember to heat the gaiwan and the cup first (I forget a lot). After the rinse, the leaves had a very strong scent. Vegetal, but also with some notes of flowers (orchids or roses?) The water used had recently been boiled, but had been given a few minutes to cool.

With the first steep, it began to smell of oats. I didn't reheat the kettle, so the water has been continuously cooling. With the second steep, it began to smell nuttier and was steeped with even cooler water, for 5-7 seconds. The 3rd steep I let the water become even cooler, but steeped it for less time, so it came out a little weak.

After that, I filled the gaiwan and let it sit overnight. This morning, the tea still has a surprisingly strong scent and while the flavor is oat-y, it does still retain floral undertones.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sheep and Wool Festival

This past weekend was the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival and as luck would have it, it was also Mother's Day weekend! Consequently, early Saturday morning, I took the bus back to Maryland. My mom picked me up and we went to the festival. As always, it was a lot of fun and this year we managed to not buy out the entire festival's selection of fiber. I spent more time looking at pottery this year, than fiber, but I did still manage to buy some natural wool which was in the grease from a buyer that I've purchased from before.

I also went a little crazy with buying jams and preserves...Jams, jellies and preserves are a bit of a weakness of mine. I love buying homemade (or, artisanal, as I like to call it) specialty jams. I ended up taking home 12 cans...keep in mind however, that 3 were jams my mom had made a while back (I'm helping her to take them off her hands) and 3 were some we made this weekend (Strawberry Jalepeno Jam). That being said, however, I did buy 3 from The Lion Potter- Old Timey Apple Butter, Hot Pepper Jelly and Raspberry Amaretto Jam (so far I've only tried the Raspberry, which is amazing). I also ended up buying a Juice Sweetened Peach Jam at a stand at the side of the road along with a Honey French Salad Dressing.

As mentioned previously, we made Strawberry Jalepeno Jam this weekend. I've never done canning before and figured it would be best to attempt it with my mom first. While my mom isn't so hot on the jalepenos, I think it's awesome- just the right amount of kick for a sweet strawberry jam. The canning went well without any issues and it turned out outstanding (in my opinion).

After lugging a huge, heavy piece of luggage home (after a bus that was supposed to arrive at 9pm showed up at 9:55), all jars arrived safely, and now it's just a matter of finding places to store them! Time to do some apartment cleaning/reorganizing...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Portfolio Review and a recipe!

Last Friday was my portfolio review for the semester.  Now, my last review didn't go so well, so I really tried to "up the anny" on this one and it went so well!!  I was very happy with the response and feedback I got on my work for the semester.  Here are some pictures of my setup:

Real estate classes have been going swimmingly, and work has been going fairly well.  Tea time, however, has been lacking.  Right now is still an adjustment period to my new schedule and I'm starting to get it figured out thankfully.  Once real estate classes end I'm hoping to start going to the tea gallery in the morning so that I can work at my job in the afternoon/evening.

I also wanted to post another meal recipe.  I just made it tonight and it is an adaptation of a recipe from a blog entitled "Food for Todd" (Sorry, I don't have the link anymore)

Please keep in mind that these are not exact measurements and you should adjust according to taste.

Creamy Pesto Fettucine with Asparagus, Peas, and Tuna
Serves 2
(Adapted from Pink of Perfection)

3-4 asparagus spears cut into 1-inch segments
1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas
1/4 cup pesto
2 heaping tablespoons Greek yogurt
2 cups egg fettucine
1/4-1/2 can of tuna (drained)
1-2 TBSP Roasted Pepper Tapenade 
Pinch salt/pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta, and cook until al dente.  Dump in asparagus, and steam for three minutes. Lower heat and stir in peas, until heated through and then drain.  Return pasta and veggies to its cooking pot, and toss with pesto and Greek yogurt.  Stir in tuna, roasted red pepper tapenade and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mix and match-chose your perfect body!

Ta-da-! I finally finished my book today!  I still need to put in the end papers, but it's very exciting to see it in this state considering this what I've envisioned for months and now I finally have the product- just as I had imagined it :)
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Monday, April 25, 2011

Finished print

I was able to finish the print from the sketch last night. It has been a successful birthday indeed!
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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bit of a different post...

So first and foremost, Happy (belated) Easter and along those lines, happy birthday to me.  Alas, I am one year older.  Officially.

That being said, this day (this week, this month) is not the time for birthdays.  In fact, having a birthday party is extremely inconvenient and I'd really rather skip it for about 2 weeks.

I am currently in the last week of classes (read: finals) and have my final review for the semester on Friday.  Tomorrow morning, at 9am however, I am starting to take my real estate classes to get my real estate license.  After the class I will start a new print for my portfolio/independent study.  Here are the sketches:

I plan on building up translucent/transparent colors on top of each other and probably won't use outlines.

Just one more more week and I can focus on my internship, tea, real estate class and work...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Book progress...

So I have finally started cutting out the pages for my book with each figure being a separate page. I still need to cut each figure into 3 segments but we're making progress...

I also (12+ hours later) came back to my morning tea.  While I think I was too harsh on the leaves this morning, I have had better luck this evening in getting a proper taste.  Very sweet aftertaste!
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Roasted Golden Buddha Hand

Morning, 7:30 am.  It appears sunny outside and is apparently in the 50's.

I remembered to warm the cup and do the rinse (I sometimes forget to do one or the other at my makeshift tea station at home)

1st steep: near boiling water around 10 sec.

Oops, steeped it too long...very bitter in flavor.

2nd steep: 4-5 sec.

Tea is nicely scented.  Flavor still unbalanced.  Now it may be my inability to steep tea properly for the time being, but I'm wondering if this is really the Roasted Golden Buddha Hand...the first scent of the dry leaves seemed slightly off and while it is extremely bitter (due to my errors), it does taste slightly different overall..but then again, I may just be overly paranoid that Tim is trying to trick me with giving me the wrong information.  I'm also wondering if maybe the fact that a lot of the (for lack of a better term) dregs were in this cup, it's affecting the flavor.  A lot of the broken pieces that had been at the bottom of the bag, when poured into my bag to carry home, ended up on top, and into this first cup.  I'm thinking that it is having a greater effect on my tea than I had anticipated.

3rd steep: 1-2 sec.  Water is cooling down.  I've decided to leave the lid off the gaiwan to prevent the tea from cooking more.

4th steep: I waited before steeping this one (went and cooked some eggs and came back, so the water has cooled significantly).  I steeped it for only a second or two with the cooled water.  The tea seems to be getting closer to the right point but certainly isn't there yet.

5th steep: since the water has cooled even further, I tried steeping for 4-5 seconds.  Better, I think.

Anyway, time to rush to get my lunch together before heading to class!  I didn't listen to the leaves as much this morning because of being slightly rushed and I think I've seen the effect of it in the tea...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Updated Works and CSA!

Along with posting updated works, I wanted to mention happily that I joined a local CSA (Central Brooklyn CSA).  While I have only purchased a veggies half share, I look forward to getting later getting a fruit and egg share for the summer.  I had been meaning to join one for a while now so I look forward to picking up my farm fresh veggies weekly this summer!

At last, I am finally finished with the piece!! least for this year, anyway...maybe I'll come back to it after I haven't looked at it for a year or so.

While this isn't finished, it is "finished" enough for now...

Golden Buddha Hand

I've been meaning to post about this for a while but being the last 2 weeks of classes, times have been very busy.  I was asked to record a more "scientific" (as I define it) description of what I do when I pour tea.  This should be good since I am doubtlessly making endless mistakes when I pour tea for myself at home...all starting with the heat of the water and length of steeping time.

Something I am concerned about is burning, or bruising the teas.  I worry about using water that is too hot that will negatively affect the leaves, but more specifically, I am worried that I won't be able to tell the difference....alas, I suppose it is something that, like with anything, takes time to learn.

Golden Buddha Hand Notes:

Morning, 8am.  Sunny outside-upper 40's, low 50's (I forget the specific day, but I believe this was on Tuesday, April 12th)

Warmed gaiwan and cup with near boiling water.

Warmed dry leaves: fresh, very green and young

Rinse: waited a bit before rinsing but only let the water sit for a few seconds

1st steep:
             - 10 sec (water very hot)
             - leaves already opening
             - flavor weak but young, eggy

2nd steep:
             - cooler water
             - 15-20 sec
             - stronger flavor- eggier, astringent
             - flavor affects upper palate

3rd steep:
             - still cooler water- longer steep

4th steep:
             - reboiled water
             - steeped for 10 sec

Appears to be more flavor with cooler water and longer steep.  This would make sense however, since this is a younger leaf, and thus, is more gentle...

Since then, I have been steeping the leaves overnight and drinking the cool tea in the morning.  Refreshing!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

New Work

I finished silkscreening the pages for my new book today. Each body is going to be a different page and each is going to be cut into 3 segments (chest, belly, legs) so the viewer can flip to different parts.
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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

New Painting for a Rainy Day

I am, sadly, not a fan of doing landscapes or city scenes however I have an assignment due tomorrow requiring that I make one.  And so, this is what I see out of my back window (after we get Charlie out of the way).  It's done with acrylic and watercolor pencils.  I have a picture that I took further into it, but for whatever reason I can't get it to upload at this point in time. (I did like this picture though)

In other news, I've been craving tea all day.  Yes, I had some of Michael's TiKwanYin Classic Roast this morning but all day I kept imagining scents and tastes (and finishes) of certain teas...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Eagles Live!

This morning with my tea and oatmeal, I watched a live video feed from an Eagle's nest.  While enjoying the sounds and ambiance of a wooded environment, I was able to watch a mommy eagle feed her babies and adjust her nest!

To watch as well, go here:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tea, Clams and Other Such Things

Today I sampled the classic roast.  Not being a coffee drinker, I would say it has a strong coffee flavor.  It is also nicely spiced- sometimes chocolate, sometimes cinnamon.  I've never been one to particularly be affected by caffeine, but this tea makes me jittery in a way so I can't help but wonder if it's caffeine...

In other news, this weekend was another delicious clams weekend.  Today I sauteed them and then added them to a tomato basil sauce.  Before adding them to the sauce, I used this recipe:

Finally,  Here's an update of my work:

Friday, April 8, 2011

Eggplant for Breakfast!

This morning, to cut down on carbs but still get a healthy, filling breakfast I decided to make a recipe that I was given from a friend a few weeks ago. It's called Eggplant French Toast.

Eggplant French Toast

1 small eggplant
2 eggs (I used egg whites)
1 T cinnamon
1/8 t nutmeg
1/16 t Stevia

I cut the eggplant into 1/4-1/2 in disks (since it was just for myself however, I only cut 3 pieces). Combine the eggs (again, I only used egg whites), cinnamon, nutmeg and stevia into a large dish and soak the eggplant on both sides for a few minutes. Then throw them into a pan at medium heat and flip until golden brown on each side.

For a topping, I used a tablespoon of pure agave nectar and on tablespoon of natural peanut butter.

I highly recommend trying this- it's a healthier, fun take on a traditional breakfast and it tastes great!

Thursday, April 7, 2011


I decided to begin comparing the more roasted Golden Buddha Hand with the "original" Golden Buddha Hand.  Because I sadly only have one gaiwan (I'm hoping to get another on Friday, which I desperately need) I can only sample one tea at a time, so I returned to the "original".

It's interesting to see how my taste  appears to be changing.  Several weeks ago I probably would have preferred the original and disliked the "bitterness" (as I like to call it) of the roasted tea.  Now however, I miss the added nuances and subtleties as well as the robustness of the roasted tea.

Anyway, back to getting ready for class...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sadly, I was wrong.

Sadly I was wrong in my tea guess.  While it was at least an Anxi varietal, it was actually a roasted Golden Buddha Hand.

Continuing on the Anxi road however, this week I was given a TiKwanYin Classic to sample.  Hopefully I shall have notes and observations to give soon... 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mystery Tea!

Last week I received an unlabeled "mystery tea" from Tim and Dae (from The Mandarin Tea Room and The Tea Gallery, respectively) to sample and "play with".  Sadly, it's been a very busy week and as I am going to The Tea Gallery tomorrow, I am forced to finally sample it now, last minute.

As soon as I opened it, I was very excited.  The leaves are wonderfully rolled and slightly browned (bruising?).  Upon sniffing the warmed, dry leaves I knew immediately that I had tasted it before.  It is particularly pungent with a nutty, roasted smell but also a certain unidentified floral scent.

The tea itself yields a beautifully deep rustic orange color.  The flavor is a strong whirlwind of flavors but bitter (and not in a bad way).  Slightly citric?

It leaves a sweet impression on the tip of my tongue.

And finally, my guess is that it is an Anxi tea, specifically the High Fired TikwanYin.

(Lastly, I took a picture of my dismal, tea tasting area of the table to show what sort of an environment I was working in and realized that the picture was just too embarrassingly bad to show.  I must attempt to reclaim the apartment...again)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Somen Noodle Clam Soup!

I realize I have been posting a lot recently, but recently in Chopsticks magazine, I found a delicious recipe for Japanese clam soup.  Yesterday, at the Grand Army Plaza Green Market, I bought fresh clams and a few other Japanese ingredients I was missing from Sunrise Mart.  I made the soup today and I would say it was a success!  I haven't had clams in so long (in fact, it's the first time I've ever cooked them myself) so it was really a treat!  Yum!

Flavored Water

A while ago I bought some Jasmine Pearl Tea from what I had been told was a reputable store and sadly found it to be an incredibly poor quality with no flavor whatsoever.  When I was at The Tea Gallery with said tea, saddened at the money I had wasted, it was recommended that I try putting some of the leaves in water and leave it in the refrigerator overnight.  Last night I finally put some leaves in a water bottle in the refrigerator and this morning was pleasantly surprised to find a refreshing, lightly flavored jasmine water!

It's a great way to make use of (poor quality) loose leaf tea and make an inexpensive, sweet and refreshing calorie free drink!

Thanks for the recommendation!

Friday, March 25, 2011


Last night I went to the gym quite early due to a hard workout at the gym so around 7am this morning I woke up bright and early- nice and awake.  I enjoy when I can have some quiet time to myself (if I ignore the hyper morning dog) so with my personal time, I began another attempt at exploring the Iron Buddha Hand tea I had received from Tim at the Mandarin Tea Room.

First of all, it is an oolong tea which I believe is the fall harvest (and if I recall correctly, I believe they recently received the spring harvest as well- it would be interesting to compare the two sometime later).

To me, upon first impressions, it smells rather vegetal, but in a citrus-y way with floral undertones.  The flavor is rather light, but alluring and secretive.  I quickly found that I needed to brew it longer for a stronger cup which I found more enjoyable. The scent quickly gave way to more of an astringent tone, but cleaner and lighter than lemons.  Less sweet and more fresh.

In my attempt to get as much quiet time before things got livelier, I chose to wait to eat breakfast (since I wasn't hungry before I started) which was a mistake.  I had to take a break to eat some food and will have to come back to experiencing my tea later.

As a final note, however, I did find that the tea definitely warmed me up and left my mouth surprisingly dry with a lingering sweetness.

(As I am proofreading this post, said hyper morning dog is trying to hop around on my back and going into play mode every time I shoot him a look)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

New Prints!

I've been making a lot of silkscreen prints recently (none of which are editions, sadly) and today I began spreading them all out to look at them in total and organize them.  Doing this has also helped me to figure out where to go next in my work and what is missing.


(Keep in mind though, that this is a rough setup- once I have more work, I may reorganize the groups)

(I like to call these "The Golden Girls")

(Sorry, I couldn't get a shot of all five pictures in a row so I had to take a few in various segments)