Love, Lydia - Notes from a geeky, plus sized artist.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Crazy Times are When I Drink Tea and Make Origami Turkeys

Hello friends,

Crazy Times

Sorry for the absences in the past week.  Things have been a bit rough as my husband lost his job a little over a week ago, went on a job search, found a new job, and is now waiting to start that job on Monday.  He's back to working in Raleigh again, though this time the commute is a tolerable half hour rather than something more crazy.  We thought he'd be working in Durham for a long time when we decided to move here, but we at least moved to an area that's close to the research triangle and not too bad for getting to north Raleigh, where his new job is at.

We've been through the wringer emotionally this past week and in some ways are glad he'll have some time off.  But we're using a lot of the time to take care of doctor's visits and things before we have to figure out what we'll do for health care next year since we'll have to buy our own plan under the contract position Bryan has landed.  But I won't bore you with the details, on to the fun!

Matcha Green Tea

Culinary Grade

So I tried cooking with matcha green tea powder for the first time about a month ago.  I'd had pastries and other great green tea items at restaurants, but hadn't really found a great green tea to enjoy at home until then.  I used a recipe for making a matcha glaze, which was intended for use on brownies, but I used on cinnamon rolls instead.  The results were a bit ugly, but tasted wonderful.

Drinking Matcha

The logical next step after using culinary grade matcha powder in cooking was to try the better ceremonial grade varieties that are the type made for drinking.  I got a little help from Midori Spring and Kenko brands (affiliate link) who let me try some of their products for free in exchange for an honest review.  I even bought a little whisk and scoop set made for making the matcha with.  Here's what I did:

I heated up a mixture of milk and water knowing the tea might be a little bitter at first, but the milk would help with that.  While I had the liquid heating up in the microwave I took one scoop of the powder and added it to my little tea bowl.  Once the water and milk was hot I added a teacup amount, with a touch of space for the whisk to move.  Here are photographs of both brands:

The Midori Spring was more finely sifted, but they both performed about as well as the other.  I really enjoyed them both.  I think I ended up with a slight preference for the Kenko tea, but they were both fantastic.

A peek at the powder inside the tins.

The Kenko looks a bit darker, but it's really not, between the photo's exposure and the slight difference in heat since my first cup was probably not as hot as it needed to be I had to stir it a little more after the picture was taken.  The trick is you pour the for water over the scoop of powder and whisk it until it froths.  I found that with the milk added in I didn't even need to add sugar.  But if you're more sensitive to bitter tastes you might want to try that too.  Overall I find tea is one of my favorite things about cooler weather.  I'm really glad to add green tea as a new option.   At this point I have a whole drawer dedicated to tea, plus a bunch more looseleaf teas I keep in a section of the cupboards.  Here's a shot of my tea drawer, just because.

As you can see I really enjoy Stash brand teas too.  If you'd like to try them out they make a really great herbal sampler box you can find here, which has the Cinnamon Apple Chamomile Tea or their Breakfast in Paris blend if you'd like a more traditional black tea that's similar to earl grey with a hint of lavender (both links are affiliates).


Another fun thing I was given to try by a company was this origami paper by Orchid.  With a value pack this size I don't think I'm going to run out anytime soon.  There are 10 fun colors, which work well for most projects.  You can buy a pack here (affiliate link).  I found it to be a pretty great deal for a 500 pack, and the paper itself it pretty good quality, holding up well to what I put it through for each of the three projects I tried.

I had fun creating some fun seasonal things, and plan to work on some more to make things festive.  I might even make some Christmas ornaments!

I tried my hand at a pumpkin, turkey, and Christmas tree.  The links go to instructions for each so you can try making them too.  I think the pumpkin is actually a really versatile shape.  You could turn it into an apple or a beach ball easily for various occasions.  It was really fun to make because once all the folds were done you have to blow into the hole on top to inflate it!  None of these were too hard, though the turkey and perhaps the pumpkin could be frustrating for younger kids.  The tree is a really easy one that it would be simple to make a large set of for decorating.
Well, here's hoping I'll be around more this week than last week.  Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

October Beauty and Swap Unboxings!

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Hi folks,

So today I've got a big October unboxing post because I just got behind and haven't gotten around to posting what I got last month yet.  Unboxings are the term a lot of bloggers and YouTubers use for giving folks a peek at what they get inside a subscription box they like.  I subscribe to a couple myself and love trying new boxes in a lot of categories.  Since I know it's not everyone's thing I'll be condensing the beauty centered boxes into one post from now on.  Which is rather nice because it's easier to compare them that way.  So let's get started!

October Birchbox

When I first opened this I was a little disappointed in it and expected to like my Glossybox a lot better since they were making a big deal about their Parisian themed boxes.  I ended up liking the Birchbox better overall than the Glossybox once I really looked at what was inside each box.  I think part of what made me feel less enthused about this one was the size of everything.  The bottles just seemed smaller than usual.  Overall it was an okay box for October, but not the best I've had from them.  If you'd like to try out Birchbox please follow my link here to find out more.

I got:

Acure Cell Stimulating Facial Mask - I almost never use this kind of product, it gets a no

Well People Mascara - I like mascara and this one is all natural, it gets a yes

Dr Jart + Ceramidin - more skin treatment type stuff and even the description is kind of vague as to what it's supposed to do, no

Exo All Natural Nail Polish Remover - I always have my nails done, yes (I tested it yesterday and it feels more oily and doesn't absorb into skin or dry up as easily while you're using it.  One wipe was just barely enough to take of my Tardis blue nail polish left from Halloween.  I think it's better for lighter colors.  It takes a little getting used to the difference in feel, but I'd consider using this in the future since normally it comes from a bottle like most nail polish removers.

amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo - Sometimes these dry shampoos help my super oily second day hair, though I've yet to find one I love I'm happy to try this one, yes

October Glossybox

This box has beautiful artistic designs on every side of its surface and I'd been seeing its excellence touted everywhere between emails and Instagram.  I was pretty excited about it, and at first I thought it might live up to the hype.  But it too had a couple things I just wasn't interested in.  I think a lot of people loved this box though.  It's great for people who like a balanced variety of products, which can be tougher for me to find pleasing.  If you'd like to find out more just go here to visit Glossybox's site.

And here's a second shot of the products that had a bit of packaging obscuring what they really look like.

I got:

De Bruyere Paris Red lipgloss - I love lip products and this is a pretty good color, yes

Lollipops nail polish - I love nail polish, but I hardly ever wear red and as such have plenty of it already, no

Phyto Phytokeratine Repairing Thermal Protectant (hair) spray - I thought this was another skin product until I went to look at the survey regarding how I liked my items.  It was there I found out it was a hair spray.  I don't use hair spray much, but I'm up for trying it, so tentatively, yes

Sabe Masson Le Soft Perfume - I don't like most perfumes, though the title for this scent excited me until I smelled it since it's Artist.  Unfortunately it was way too strong for me, and smells very spicy/musky, no

Vichy Idealia Skin Sleep moisturizer - I never use anything like this so, no

Sweater Weather Swap

I'm part of a fabulous group called Geeks & Beauties (Join here!) that allows bloggers and YouTubers to network and encourage each other as they learn and grow in what they do.  One of the more fun things we get to do is hold swaps.  This swap was fall themed and had us pair off and send a partner a box of goodies that includes some of your favorites!  This is my box, sent to me by Cassandra Morgan.  She's a fantastic Youtuber who immediately welcomed me to the group when I joined back in September.

She sent:

Iced Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes from Tastykake - these things are great and I don't think I could have found them easily here in the south!

A set of 3 Whish Body Butters - As soon as it starts getting cooler my hand and feet get dry, so this is perfect for me!   The scents that came in this pack are Pomegranate, Lavender, and Coconut, all of which I really enjoy!

The next logical item Socks! - And not just any socks the two pairs have moisturizer in them.  There's the zebra print pair, plus a black pair too.  My feet are the first part of me to get cold, so these will be excellent for keeping me toasty.

Pocky - If you've never tried it Pocky is a wonderful Japanese snack that consisted of a cracker stick dipped in some kind of flavoring.  These are chocolate ones, which is the most common.  There are so many great kinds to try though, I think my all time favorite was a seasonal one with chocolate dipped in cocoa powder.

Speaking of Cocoa that was the last item in my box, Land O Lakes Mint Cocoa - I've never tried this flavor before, but I'm excited to curl up with a nice warm cup before bed some night this week.

I didn't bother rating these because it should be pretty obvious that they would all be yeses.  Yeses....what a strange form of the word.

If you're curious what I sent to Cassandra stay tuned and I'll post a link here soon!

Thanks for reading.  If there's a box you think I should try let me know in the comments.  I'd love to try some new ones!