Monday, April 21, 2014

this is creative: fiep westendorp

i love the illustrations of the 60s. seriously. the whimsy and the "chicken scratch" aspect of the composition. LOVE IT.

one of my favorites is fiep westendorp, a dutch illustrator (1916-2004) who did a lot of work with annie m.g. schmidt.

speak dutch? (not the jump rope game double, of which i failed miserably, but the language...) here's a great fiep westendrop site.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

stuff of life: state plates

my mom's an expert thrift store shopper.

in her world, i'm the noobest of noobs and add in the fact that now i usually have four kids in tow, i'm a near nightmare when it comes to thrifting.

but i've been itching to poke through used stuff lately, so early on a thursday morning, we dropped off the fourth grader and zoomed up and down the aisles.

first things first.

is it just me or does it seem that whatever the color of the day special is (it was yellow tag day when i was there), there are NO items in that color on the shelves? are they messing with us?

i don't have the patience or the stomach to zip through the clothes. they usually smell like cigarettes and mothballs. or pee.

i'm always on the hunt for three things:

1. furniture that i can do gruesome mod podge experiments on
2. kitchenware (namely china cups and saucers, milk glass, and all sorts of pyrex)
3. art. i like frames mostly, but i've found a few winners this past year

what i was NOT in the market for, however, were those kitschy state souvenir plates from the 60s.  but i hit the motherlode this week and in a flish/flash/bang instant i was addicted.  i picked up six for a buck each and now i'm on the ebay/etsy hunt. i love these things and i've stopped to wonder more than once...where have they been all my life?

i also found a really, really ugly china cup and saucer that looks like its straight outta the 80s, but it makes the clink sound (as opposed to the clunk sound) when cup hits saucer and i bought it for a whopping 0.79 cents! a small investment for feeling fancy when you drink your tea, friends.

also in the haul were two 1973 commemorative glasses from a railroad station in new hampshire and some caverns in missouri. never been to either place, but i'll dream about them while sipping lemonade outta the glasses this summer.

...happy happy....

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

stuff of life: some tea with me

i didn't grow up around my grandparents too much, so i don't have many of those memories that start with "my grandmother always..." or "my grandfather loved to..."--i just don't have them. but if i were to guess, they were coffee fans. i'm almost sure of it.

my mom was the tea drinker and if memory serves me well, it was her grandmother who also was a tea drinker. it's all very murky in my mind because i never paid much attention to things like tea and traditions when i probably should have been.

 a big box of red rose tea sat in my aunt dee's pantry when i visited her this fall. i think she drinks tea when she's not drinking coffee. half her house is decorated with those adorable little collectable figurines red rose gives away. i took so many pictures of the funny places she displays them because it gave her house such a magical feel. aunt pam? i'm not sure. coffee? tea? i'm going to ask her next time i talk to her....maybe it's a genetic thing and all larsen descendents know their way around a tea pot.

my mom is funny about tea. it's always a black tea (even decaf if the hour was late) and always half and half. sugar was rare for her and more than once in my adult life, she's raised an eyebrow at me for sugaring up my own tea. we also disagree on earl grey. i love it. she loathes bergamot. she loves a good irish breakfast tea.

i didn't drink much tea in my 20s. as far as i'm concerned, done correctly, your 20s are best reserved for other types of beverages that we spend the rest of our lives healing from.

it wasn't until i moved to alaska in 2005 and i met my best friend fawn (if you're reading, hi fawn! i miss you!), that i rediscovered tea.

she's fearless with tea. herbal, blend, decaf, black, red, white, orange. there isn't a cup of tea that girl won't try and my favorite favorite memories of friendship (any type of friendship) involve her kitchen table, a house full of toddlers, and tea.

and her, obviously.

i also think about my alaska friend cindy when i wax poetic about tea. we started a random tea conversation back in the hdr office a few years ago and she gave me a bit of a chuckle when i asked her if she "drank tea." she slid open a desk drawer to reveal the sickest stash of loose leaf teas i've ever seen. to this day.


these days, tea is a constant. i love black tea with creamer AND sugar (sorry mom!).

 i dig the wacky blended Yogi teas that promise to detox my liver and enlighten my mind. i love love LOVE bags of chai tea something fierce. i'll drink a nice chamomile honey. i'll pour you a cup of raspberry zinger.

trust me, i've hoarded them all like gollum and that ring. they're my preciouses...

i never paid much attention to tea cups versus mugs. i'd microwave water in a crappy mug and toss a bag in, often forgetting it and having to repeat the process.

lately, though, i've been paying more attention.

giving the process more respect.

i pull out a small teapot and warm it with plain hot water while the awesome electric kettle my mom got me (thank you , mom!) warms the tea water. i use two or three tea bags in the pot and i let it steep like i'm supposed to. i pour the brewed tea into a cup with a saucer and i take my time to sit at the table and drink it. nothing more. no computer browsing, no clearing the dishwasher. just sitting. and drinking. magic.

a few years back, i came across a couple recipes for hong kong milk tea.

 it's also called pantyhose tea, but i don't call it that because i don't want to imagine drinking tea that was passed through somebody's pantyhose.

it's a simple recipe. i drink it when i'm writing. it's a ritual of mine now.

my simplified version goes something like this: boil black tea leaves. add evaporated milk and sugar.

voila.  hk milk tea.

albert yang explains it better in his video: how to make hong kong milk tea.

you should watch it and let me know how much you love it.

here's a tangential tea story for you...

my favorite youtuber recently passed away. sad. have you ever heard of the internet grandad? shame if you haven't.

i always loved watching peter's videos.

whether he was talking about geriatric cooking (his microwave bangers and mash looks fantastic), the loneliness of being a widower, or serving in the british army during wwii, he was such a charming, lovely man.

he passed away march 23 and i'm so sad.

silly, isn't it?

a man thousands of miles away who wouldn't know me from anyone else on the street and he'd made such an impression on me that the news of his death last week left me a little bit empty.

anyway, his was the first youtube video about making the perfect cup of english tea that i ever watched.

you really should watch it, too: making an english cup of tea. raise a tea cup in his honor if you happen to drink some today. lovely man.

etsy fan? you should search "tea" and see what freaking cool wallet zappers you find. a few examples:

from the sweet little tea things i love, above:

1. Dachsund & Gnome Tea Towel (VivaSweetLove)
2. Tea Pot Shaped Pink Sugar Cubes (WishingWellArts)
3. Some Like It Hot Hand-Stamped Spoon (Milk and Honey Luxuries)
4. Loose Leaf Thai Tea 2 Ounces (BlueLadyTeaShop)

i wish we closer, you and i.

i'd totally have you over for tea. and biscuits...which are really cookies. did you know they were the same thing?

peter taught me that.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

boxes piled high

in one room at least. if anybody is going to have their stuff when we get there, it'll be the girls and all 4,356 of their broken, mismatched doodads and thing-a-mah-bobs.

we leave in about 22 days for virginia to find our sweet spot. texas has been great, but we're so far from my folks it's almost like, what's the point? the hardest part for me was telling my mom and dad. silly, right? 35 years old and afraid that i'm hurting their feelings by making a decision that's such a good thing for my kids. but still. it was hard. i'm definitely leaving a part of my heart behind in texas. again.

that said, this time around texas hasn't been quite right for me.

houston is isolating. but at the same time, it's crowded. we don't have shiny new cars and we don't have a zero lot line in cinco ranch, so it's hard to feel like we fit in. never really found our groove in a church. never pushed ourselves to get out and get social and do things. for two years, i've been a bit of a house mouse keeping the kids indoors because the apartment complex outside is changing so, so much.  break ins. a couple domestic spats right outside our windows in broad daylight. junk like that.

katy is gorgeous, but we didn't give it the old college try and i don't think it was on accident. it's just not us.

virginia is his stomping ground. his mom and sisters and nieces and nephews live there and while i'm pretty scared they're going to think i'm weird (they probably already do) and a little eccentric (guilty), it means our kids have cousins and cousins and cousins to play with and room to run and ride bikes and get muddy and act like hooligans.

that's the hope anyway.

with all these moves (we moved alaska to texas two years ago. two years before that, we moved to anchorage from eagle river), it's hard to feel solid. hard to know exactly who you are and what you want.

but maybe that's the idea. new scenery. new life. new interests. new jobs. new memories.

and hopefully, this time, the right fit. roots, ya'll. we're putting them down...
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Sunday, April 6, 2014

amc's turn: episode 1

i'm covering amc's new revolutionary war thriller "turn" at flickering myth. first episode write up here: pilot.
are you watching? what did you think?
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Thursday, April 3, 2014

vikings season 2, episode 6

jarl borg realizes that ragnar's not as magnanimous as he know, after killing ragnar's village while he was away and chasing his family into the wilderness. what's not to forgive? read about unforgiven over at flickering myth.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

sunshine shots

Just a few snapshots from last week around Katy. Sunshine and 70s.  Doing my best to wear them out before bed!

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