Barking Bird Art: Hello! My name is Rebecca and I live in Portland, Oregon with a baby, a teenager, a husband, two nice cats and a REALLY stubborn dog. I like illustration, cute things, and a strong cup of tea.
Matou en Peluche: I have been drawing and making things enthusiastically since before I can remember.My favourite thing is to spend the day drawing – preferably lovely looking girls – drinking cups of tea and listening to music. I think I am a closet hermit!
Over the years I’ve cartooned and illustrated for a number of Sydney magazines and newspapers and have had exhibitions of my drawings and paintings. I have even been known to do a bit of performance art.
It’s summer, time for lots of parties that will put your kitchen into overdrive! It’s easy to keep your kitchen pretty and well-stocked with a supply of handmade goodies.
First up are these yellow damask tea towels from Fancy Boutique. The yellow color screams summer while the damask pattern adds a hint of sophistication. Also, check out the Fancy Boutique etsy shop for aprons to pretty yourself up while you’re working in the kitchen.
The time has come for me to restock a few beauty supply items, face moisturizer and body cream. Which means I get to try out something new.
I liked Dress Green’s body creams so much, that I decided to try a new fragrance, White Tea and Ginger. White tea, made from immature tea leaves, is reputed to have a high quantity of anti-oxidants, and the ability to boost the immune system.
Ginger is one of those spa ingredients that I think of as food. But I think of it also as warm, tingly and fresh smelling. And that seems to work well in my mind with the idea that it is healthful. Though in this case I believe the ginger and white tea are more about fragrance than an active contributor to skin rejuvenation. And that’s okay with me. I think it smells fantastic. And the cream is fluffy and smooth.
I was therefore not surprised when it was hijacked by my five year old, and appeared on the floor and several pieces of furniture. She appeared with blobs of it on her skin announcing, don’t I smell good Mommy and thanking me so much for sharing. Her father did not agree and asked what is that odor. He couldn’t quite put together white tea and ginger being a fragrance in body cream and not being part of the meal. I’m a bit sorry for men who do have daughters and don’t have sisters. They have no idea how many bath and spa smells are going to be involved in their lives.
Also of interest is Dress Green’s face moisturizer and nourishing butter. It’s made with and smells like cocoa butter. And it is fragrance free – it just smells like the cocoa butter because that is one of the main ingredients. Cocoa butter smells like coffee. So if you don’t like coffee, this is not the cream for you. I love coffee. But I only put this moisturizer on in the morning. I think coffee is a morning smell.
Smell aside, the face moisturizer and nourishing butter is very, very rich and for dry to normal skin only. I would probably go so far as to say dry skin only, which is what I have in the Winter months. It’s a semi-solid and melts on the fingertips. Like the olive oil and beeswax cream that I previously reviewed (and use in the evening) this cream took a bit of practice to put on in order to avoid an overabundance. It looks greasy for just a moment, then absorbs into the skin.
One word of caution, don’t put it too close to anything warm. It will melt and look quite uninviting. But that doesn’t seem to affect its performance.
I also received a free lip lush with my order, which was a nice surprise. Unfortunately, it contains avocado oil, to which I am wildly allergic. So I immediately gave it away – first asking about any avocado allergies. I hear it’s great.
A recent tweet on Urbanite Jewelry‘s Twitter feed reads: “Time to catch up on tour de tea…I’m behind like a mo fo! Life is crazy busy right now!” For Krista Leben, jewelry designer/event organizer/business owner/world traveler, “crazy busy” is an understatement. In the time that I have known Krista, she has never had just one thing on the go, and yet always seems to find the time to get everything done with style and grace. Keeping up with so many projects and still managing to make time for herself must be no easy feat, so you know that if anything gets added to Krista’s already-packed schedule, it must be very important.
Lovely repurposed vintage teacup bracelets by Stay Gold Mary Rose.
That is exactly the case with Krista’s “Tour de Tea”. A passionate foodie, Krista is on a personal quest to sample the 70 varieties and flavours of tea in her collection. To that end, she is drinking one per day and blogging about it. As she can’t share the taste experience with us, she provides dreamy Polaroid-style photos of each tea with a brief description of each. It’s almost as good as being there to taste for ourselves.
As I write this, Krista has sampled and logged 58 teas from her collection. Her favourites so far have been a stand-out Swedish tea called Soderblanding (a complex blend of black tea with floral, citrus and vanilla notes), which Krista picked up on a trip to Stockholm, and the Raspberry Ginger Zinger green tea from Edmonton’s Steeps. They haven’t all been winners, though; an intriguing blend from My Tea Mix turned out to be better in theory than in practice. With ingredients like Chinese Wolfberry, ginsing blossoms and rock sugar, it turned out to be more of a treat for the eyes than the tastebuds.
Upcycled vintage teacup pendant light by Mostaza Seed. Such a bright idea!
I asked Krista about her preferred method for brewing tea and she was gracious enough to share these tips with us:
Don’t Use Boiling Water: While this seems totally counter-intuitive, it’s actually bad to steep your tea in boiling water because it can burn the tea. Boil your water, then take it off the stove (or out of the microwave) and let it sit for a minute or two. Then add the tea to it after it’s cooled. You’ll have sweeter, more flavorful tea that’s less likely to get bitter.
Don’t Over-Steep Your Tea: Most tea only needs a few minutes to steep in water. If you’re brewing your tea more than 5 minutes, you’re likely to end up with bitter tea. Different types of tea need less steeping, too. In general, white tea needs the least amount of time to steep, with green tea needing a bit more and black tea needing the most. But even black tea doesn’t typically need more than 5 minutes, so don’t leave your tea in the water too long!
Do Use Loose Leaf!: While the quality of bagged tea has improved greatly in the past couple of years, the flavor and complexity of loose leaf tea can’t be beat. Loose leaf tea is more expensive than tea bags, but is still super affordable and is easy to prepare. Just buy yourself a tea ball or spoon from a kitchen store, put about a teaspoon per cup (250 ml/8 oz) in the ball/spoon and brew just like you would a tea bag!
Keep your tea hot to the bottom of the pot with this modern wool felt tea cozy by Argyle Street.
Krista also mentioned that it’s important to be aware of the shelf-life of your tea. Just like herbs, it’s best to buy your teas in smaller quantities, store them in airtight containers and, for maximum flavour, use them as soon as possible. While drinking “expired” tea won’t be harmful to you, it will taste stale and lack some of its original flavour profile, as Krista found out with some of the older teas in her stash.
One-of-a-kind vintage teacup ring holder by W.Ho Made It.
You can keep up with Krista’s “Tour de Tea” on her blog and via her Twitter feed. To see her stunning line of handmade jewelry online, visit the Urbanite shop. I am personally looking forward to the day when I can venture out to Ottawa to meet my dear friend in the flesh. Over a pot of tea, of course.
“York, England” earrings by Urbanite Jewelry.