I overheard this conversation:
-Do you think Latoya Jackson is Michael Jackson?
-She must be, they look so much alike.
Me yelling from the kitchen: Some people would argue they are the same person, google it. I don't believe it.

What was really said:
-Do you think Latoya Jackson is Michael Jackson's sister?

I guess sticking the q-tip that far into my ear isn't really helping matters.

FroKnowsPhoto Song - A photography Theme Song for all Photographers

I love that they shot this in the kitchen! Jared from Froknowsphotos is very informative!

Makeup Review Monday: CND Shellac and Harmony Gelish

I have been bursting at the seams to tell you all about what I am reviewing today!

I have an absolutely terrible habit of biting my nails. For as long as I can remember I have bit them, and for just as long I have been trying to stop. I have tried lots of different things to stop, and the one thing that I have discovered really helps is keeping my nails neatly manicured. The only problem, is that when the polish starts to chip, I continue to peel it off then bite my nails. I find that polish only looks good for a day, and by the second day I am chipping and biting. This means that I am polishing my nails three to four times a week. While it is fun, the fumes are getting to me.

Over the last six or seven months I have been reading about a lot of different products from Calgel Nails to CND's Shellac, all promising long wear color for two or more weeks. I was initially drawn toward Calgel, but came up short because I had a hard time finding a salon that offers it in Atlanta. The more I read about Shellac, Harmony Gelish, and OPI's Axxium, I was sure this was the way to go.

So on Friday February 19th, my friend, Stephanie, invited me to go and get our nails done that had these products. So I went, hopes high, excitement seeping out of me at the thought of long wear, no chip nail polish.

When I got there I found out they only had Harmony Gelish, which was fine, I wanted to try any of the three. I went with Gossip Girl which is a bright pink with a tiny bit of shimmer only visible in the bright sunlight. One thing I can say about the Gelish over the Shellac is that they have a much wider range of finishes. I went with a basic color knowing I would be wearing it a while, but there was a metallic gray and a gold glitter that caught my eye. Below are some day by day photos of the Gelish manicure. To be honest, they lasted well, not great, but I do partially blame that on my pre-damaged nails. I did not go in with perfect tips for a manicure and I did not expect them to be sheer perfection for the first round, so overall I am pleased with the wear. I had a few chips, but when they chipped a little, it stopped. Unlike with most nail polish, one chip means the manicure is shot. You can see significant chipping on my middle finger by day 4 in the photos below.

However; Friday, Feburary 26th tragedy struck, I was on a conference call and picked most of the polish off. When I start, I can't stop. I DO NOT recommend doing this because the top layer of your nail will come off. So if it comes time for you to remove it, please do this like a normal person and use some acetone remover.

So, after I chipped all of the polish off in my wrath, I started freaking out. It had been a week since I had gotten my nails done, that was a week of growth that I rarely ever see. So I quickly made an appointment for Saturday at a salon that was close to me in Atlanta that had the CND Shellac. I selected Tropix for the color of this manicure which is a neon coral. My camera did not quite capture the summery joy of this color, but believe me when I say it is bright!

The application process is generally the same for both Gelish and Shellac. Both are UV set and dry instantly, which may be my second favorite feature of these polishes. The drawback to the Shellac, is that it seems most of the colors are cremes, which I love them so this is not an issue for me, but if you are a lover of sheers or glitters, this may not be the best for you. That being said, since you'll be wearing it for about two weeks, glitters are not always appropriate.

My technician at this salon did a FANTASTIC job! The main reason for my praise is that she did not flood my cuticles. I feel like this is extremely rare to find a tech that understands this concept. The manicure itself is better than the first with the Gelish. Now, I have not gotten to wear this for more than 24 hours yet, but I will do an updated post in about two weeks telling you if this one lasts longer for me.

Here are the overall Good things:
  • Lasts for a long time
  • Instant drying
  • If chips occur, they are minimal
  • Nice colors
  • Looks like regular polish - It is not thick like an acrylic nail
  • Pretty affordable - I have seen the manicures range from $18-$30 in Atlanta
Here are the overall Bad things:
  • Growth is apparent after about five days
  • Does not remove as easily as normal polish, but still not a huge deal
  • If you are one to get bored with colors easily, this might not be good for you
  • Range of colors and finishes are still small in comparison to regular polishes, but growing

If you are a chronic nail biter/destroyer or just hate having a manicure ruined after two days, I highly recommend trying this out. Have any of you had the opportunity to try any of these products? What were your results?

McQueen at the Met

It was announced this week that the Metropolitan Museum of Art will be hosting a retrospective collection of Alexander McQueen's work from May 4 to July 31st this year. I'm hoping I'll be able to take a day trip down to Manhattan to be able to see it myself. Here are some stunning photographs taken by Sølve Sundsbø of some of the works that will be featured in the exhibit.

[images via Caroline Meredith]


Mr Third Step

Despite my lacklustre ride at National Champs, Aiden had a ripper, proving once again that he is the fastest bloke on a mountain bike that works a forty-hour working week...and then comes home and runs our own business as well!

It's all focus at the start of the elite men's race.
From the start a searing pace was set in the Elite men's race, with JBlood setting the tempo as fast and furious, in true Blood form.

Drapac's Flash Norriavo, looking quite pleased with himself after tousling with
Chris Jongewaardd (aka: JBlood) for second.

The boys had a testing seven laps to race in the blistering 35 degree heat, and there were casualties galore. DNF's left right and centre, there were injuries and mechanicals and flats in numbers unparralelled to any other course I have seen!

The race strung out and it was Blood, followed by Drapac's Lachie Norriavo, then Sid Taberlay followed by Aido. In true Sid style, he flatted, and Aido stepped into third, where he managed to stay.

This is Aido's best result in Elite at a MTBA National Championships race, and pretty impressive at that, a minute up on Andy Blair in fourth, followed by Shaun Lewis (the not real one).

Glenn, Cyclinic's other race team member, ended up in about 13th.

Good work guys!

L-R: Andrew Blair (5th), Lachlan Norris (2nd), Chris Jongewaard (1st), Aiden Lefmann (3rd)
and shaun Lewis (5th). Good Work guys!

(Not so) Radelaide

2011 MTBA National Champs is now hereby done and dusted, and we're back home in sunny Brisvegas with mixed feelings about the whole affair.

National Champs is the race that everyone wants to win--it's more prestigious and carries the green and gold jersey, plus the fact that winning Nationals means that you can strut for a whole year saying that you're Australian National Champion. This is an honor that every competitve and aspiring mountainbiker would dream about.

I am not delusional, I knew going into champs that I would never be taking away that prized jersey. I was hoping for a solid ride, had my fingees crossed for a good ride and was hoping to finish around seventh. Considering some pretty good (for me) National Series finishes this year, this should have been achievable...but nationals has a way of 'making someone the hammer and someone the nail'. This weekend, I was nailed.

Spending four days in bed last week with a fevery flu thing wasn't, perhaps the best preparation. I managed a dirt crit on the Saturday prior, and could hammer myself fairly well for that short distance on a pretty flat course.

Down in Adelaide I had the sinking feeling that it wasn't going to be my year. I rode the course two days and again the day before race day, and had nothing. I was hoping that I would 'come good'.

I had a first-row start, and headed up the climb in about fifth, legs searing, feeling like death but I was hoping that it was the normal death-like shock your legs receive when starting out at an XC race and not the deadness from feeling like you have really heavy, empty sausages attached to your hips that you have to push in a circle for two hours.

Unfortunately, it was the latter, as I slipped further and fuurther back in the field. I usually like the opportunity to open it up a bit on the climbs, but I was spinning in granny ring, even on the flat. It was all wrong! My preparation hadn't accounted for this!

All I could do was just keep pedalling as hard as I could, which yeilded very little speed, and get around the nasty course six times. I was secretly wishing that I had gotten pulled in lap five and didn't have to endure another, but I finished on the same lap, in a disappointing tenth.

Katherine O'Shea had a fabulous win, riding away from the competition to a solid victory in her final lap. Heather Logie came through in second, followed by Jenni King in third.

It was a great course, and would have just been so much fun if you were on a good day. Even as it was, I was loving the rocky descents, chutes and little jumps which made my time on course a little bit enjoyable when I was going downhill!

Oh well, there's always Oceanias in three weeks to aim for. A few days off, and a couple of solid weeks should hopefully have me back to tip top shape. Overnout.
Keeping it real!
More pics to come soon!

Dayi 2009 69th Anniversary Cake

Dayi 2009 69th Anniversary Cake - sample

After some discussion with MarshalN and his recent blog post ("It’s not about the flavours"), I remembered with humorous self-deprecation the days when my tea reviews focused almost entirely on flavors. At the time, pu'er was new to me and its flavors unlike any I had drunk before: complex and dynamic, changing across infusions, its strange flavors colonizing regions all over the mouth.

Now, as my sensory appreciation of the tea I drink continues hours past when I've finished drinking it, the same question that hung over my hunt for pu'er tea in 2005 continues to haunt me when drinking pu'er in 2011: which teas will make great, ageable pu'er?

Today's contender for the label of "great, ageable pu'er" is Dayi's 69th Anniversary cake, of which I purchased a sample at Yunnan Sourcing. The leaves pictured above and below show some rather broken, probably machine-harvested, low elevation, plantation leaf: pretty typical for the factory (I digress to note that, despite the fact that many Dayi cakes share this same appearance, no two cakes taste exactly alike).

It brewed up yellow and clear, without smokiness, and with a fertile, stemmy fragrance. Flavor-wise, Dayi celebrated their 69th anniversary with buttered biscuits, green olives, and root vegetables. So much time has passed since I last drank a Dayi tea, I'd nearly forgotten what they can taste like. The olive note reminded me of many Lincang teas I've had, and the vendor's description of the cake indicates the blend contains some Bada mountain leaf, which is on the border with Lincang. Coincidence?

Dayi 2009 69th Anniversary Cake - liquor

Beyond flavor and fragrance, the texture of the brewed tea struck me as neither thick nor thin, though water temperature has an effect, with rapidly boiling water thickening the tea somewhat, and below boiling water thinning it. It sometimes hit the roof of my mouth and soft palate, and at its thickest hovered its flavors and fragrance by the root of my tongue. On the whole, though, it felt weak in the mouth.

Between infusions my tongue felt like a sponge soaked with the aftertaste of this tea: ashen, mildly sour, and bready or yeasty. Writing this blog some 45 minutes after drinking the tea, I still have some olive and ash drifting out of my tongue.

Dayi 2009 69th Anniversary Cake - brewed leaf

The verdict? It's another Dayi factory tea, solid but unremarkable, not too pricey but not cheap. "Middling" describes most of its qualities, the exception being the aftertaste, which was appreciably lengthy. Ageable? Probably. I should revisit some of my earlier purchases of tea in this style and check up on their aging to get a better answer.

One final note: the tea's sticker says something about how Menghai is located on a volcanic/seismic belt that produces a soil rich in volcanic nutrients and a magnetic field. Not sure what all that means for your tea, but thought it interesting they included the information to market the tea.

Throw Back

I think it is rare to find new jewelry that encompasses multiple trends and eras in jewelry, and if the pieces do swing through the years, to do it well is a whole other feat.

Just the other day as I was playing on Gilt Groupe, I was clicking through random boutiques and I discovered M.C.L. By Matthew Campbell Laurenza.

More often than not I find that designers try and use Art Nouveau or Art Deco exclusively, but the more I looked at the different pieces, I realized that this was the perfect harmony of both trends. I also really love the use of enamel and color that was used in the jewelry. Here are some of my favorite pieces.

What do you think?

No Perspective - Judy Albietz

I walked beside you as you were rolled down the hall by the two blue-gowned orderlies. Their expressions were very task-oriented. No one was talking and I couldn’t think of what to say. I wondered what you were thinking. You had all these neat expressions about how you gotta go sometime, about numbers being up, about next best alternatives. I wondered what kind of pep talk you were giving yourself—like all the good advice you’d given us over the years.

This was follow-up surgery, the kind they talk about when the stories are told about the first one not going so well. The doctor gave you pretty bad odds for this go around. Still, you were optimistic. Or something. The family will talk about the one good day you had—with all that new oxygenated blood your semi-fixed heart was pumping. You got on the phone and gave everyone advice. Get married. Have a family. Get a job. Get a new job.

I knew I couldn’t go any further than the double doors looming ahead. You lifted your arm, the one without the needle taped to the inside of your elbow. Then you raised your head and turned toward me. “There’s a dress in my closet,” you said. “A dress. What are you talking about?” I asked. “It has tags on it, you’ll find it. Return it and get the money back. It hasn’t been 30 days,” you said.

No Perspective - Francisco Mora

Jake needed to get off his feet. He and his dad, Dr. Frank Sylvester, moved from the kitchen counter to the circular banquette and table where their breakfast was set. They had just been talking softly to not be overheard. Jake had just revealed that he was contemplating suicide again. After more than a year his condition did not improve.

The three lumbar vertebrae broken in the football accident by the impact of a helmet, that cracked the tensile strength of his spine, had not healed. The functional limitations of Jake’s body were many. At twenty-one, Jake was disabled. Treatment by some of the best doctors in the field wasn’t working on the chronic pain.

Every twenty seconds Jake suffered attacks by misfiring nerves that behaved as if they were still being crushed. Every few minutes his legs jerked like he had inserted wet toes in an electric socket equipped with maximum voltage.

His dad sat at his feet. Jake lay down. He lifted the torso and ate a piece of Canadian bacon with his fingers. He set back down.

“It’s different, dad. It’s different today.”

“I hear you, son.”

“In the bathtub a little while ago I wondered more than ever what it’d be like to die. What if my consciousness,” he stopped, lifted his head to look at his dad. “I became so dark. I have no perspective any more. I got out and crawled to the toilet to throw up. My stomach was empty. Just upchucked empty air.”

“We haven’t tried everything. There are still many options, medications, and interventions to nerve paths.”

“Dad, please don’t be my doctor.”

“I know. I’m not. But it’s time to round up your doctors. Is it okay if I pull your team together at the hospital and figure out next steps? You know, as we’ve talked about before, with long term pain you have to regular reassess the team, and it takes a team.”

Jake’s just tightened his closed lips. His dad said, “you should be there, though. We’ll make it short so it’s not too much. Your mom can bring you. Or do you want me to send a car?”

“No hospital today, please. Not today.”

Dad put his hands on Jake’s legs. Jake jolted and pulled away.

“It’s the nerves, dad.”

Dad nodded once.

No Perspective - Maria Robinson

You want to remember what discovering your life was like, but all you can think of is how many things you haven't seen. When you wander barefoot into your kitchen in the morning, your feet on the cold concrete, the promise of steamy black coffee seems the only goal in life. You tug on the white roman shades, there's a tiny sliced off view of Central Park, a feather of green leaves waving in the wind. Your nubbly Italian jacket and thin pencil skirt are laid out, flat, albeit chic scarecrows. The silky silicone makeup base, the wine red lipstick, a spritz of the Parisian cologne that smells like the wood. And where are you going with the briefcase and skyscraper heels?

No Perspective - Bonnie Smetts

“Ma’am, may I help you? Is there something you are looking for?” Marjorie looked at the young woman wearing the pink apron of Von’s Sweet Shop standing in front of her. “Ma’am?”

Beyond the girl’s sweet blue eyes, Marjorie saw the shop’s candy cane trademark and the candy-filled jars, but she couldn’t put names to any of it. She struggled to think in English.

“Ah. Yes, yes,” Marjorie said, the words finally coming forth. “I’m looking for the tins of the little white mints, I can’t remember their names…” They were the mints from her childhood and since she returned to London they were some kind of balm to her spirits.

“They were right here. These are what you are looking for, right? Woodbridge’ Delectable Mints.” Woodbridge, such a calm sound.

“Oh, yes. Ten tins today.” Marjorie could see the girl was surprised at the number. “Do you like these? You’ve tried them, of course?”

“No, actually, I haven’t, ma’am. You know there are so many sweets here and we’re only allowed so much each month. We have days when we have to taste new things, but otherwise we’ve got an allowance. I always take the chocolate wavers.” The girl pointed to mint green boxes stacked near the cash register.

Of course, thought Marjorie, this girl grew up with chocolates mints, not the plain white mint lozenges of Marjorie’s youth. Charlotte wouldn’t know the Woodbridges either.

Marjorie paid for her package and stepped outside. On the street the feeling of falling started again. She leaned against the shop’s window to steady herself, her back reflected in the window of red Valentine’s Day sweets. If people would just top speaking English, for just one minute. She knew she was being irrational. But the sounds, she couldn’t get used to it. Her doctor said it was just an adjustment, maybe it would take a year, but she couldn’t bear this upside down feeling for a year.

Singing Alone - E. D. James

Sai couldn’t tell if she had connected with the girl. The questions ran out and then they sat in silence for a moment. The gentle murmurs of the house seemed to become louder to fill the space between them. Finally the girl looked up, “Would you like to come to a performance at my school next week?”

Sai hardly knew what to say. Confronted with the notion of appearing in public, of people potentially knowing that Sai was the one who had abandoned the day old child, Sai felt vulnerable. But then her heart began to grasp onto the vision of seeing her daughter on stage and getting a chance to see a bit of her life overcame her fears, “I would love that.”

Every morning for the next week Sai woke thinking she would call and tell the girls parents that she couldn’t come to the performance. Each day as she headed down to the streetcar stop she would plan the day and schedule a time to make the call. But then, when the lighted windows of the streetcar would come into view down the tracks, Sai would think back to her days of scanning the faces and how desperately she had wanted to find this girl. Now she knew the girl. Now she even had a chance to be a part of her life. The day would pass and Sai wouldn’t make the call.

The scene outside the high school auditorium was bright and loud with the energy of teenagers and parents. Sai walked up towards the crowd feeling anonymous and exposed at the same time. She could see the girls parents standing with a group of other parents chatting and laughing. At the last minute, Sai felt overwhelmed and veered off down a long dark hallway. She found a spot where she could stand and just see the edge of the crowd. She felt safer at the edge of the light. As the crowd began to filter into the auditorium Sai moved closer and followed the last people into the auditorium.

By the time she got through the doors all of the seats had been taken. Sai stood with the other late comers at the back. Fortunately the people around her were occupied with their friends and family so they seemed to pay no attention to Sai standing quietly alone trying to fade into the paneling. She relaxed only when the lights went down.

The faces and the energy of the teens on the stage took her breath away. Chinese high schools had none of the happy intensity that these children exuded. College had been all work for Sai as she struggled to learn English and excel in her classes at the same time. She thought about how different the girls life was turning out.

The house lights dimmed and the stage lights came up on a red velvet curtain. A female voice came over the speakers as the curtains began to slowly open. Sai felt herself drawn in by the voice. She could feel the emotion in the moment. As the stage was revealed Sai saw the girl standing at the center of the stage surrounded by the rest of the chorus but singing alone. Almost in spite of herself, Sai felt her eyes well up and a lump catch in her throat.

Singing Alone - Kent Wright

The coat was new; fleece in a green color that was bound to stand out. It was sure the only one like it on anybody in school when we went back after Christmas vacation. Most of the other winter coats had been worn and worn down by older brothers or sisters. And they were practical plaids or hardy browns that didn’t show barn dust and cow shit much. My coat was a coat that said style, that said up-to-date, that almost said one of a kind. That wasn’t the message that I sought really. That green coat was simply irresistible to me from the first time I saw it in the department store because something about the combination of that particular green and the fleece just melted me. Maybe in other material like the rugged work coats worn by my Dad it would have just been another practical jacket that would have taken three years to wear down, and even then would still have been good for riding the tractor on long spring days of ploughing. A coat like that would hang right along side its identical, dark replacement for several more years good enough to be put on for pouring cement for the new side porch or painting in the morning before the sun warmed up the side of the house. My green coast lasted too. It lasted longer that I could still fit into it, and then it was hung upstairs in a closet with other clothes I had outgrown. Somehow my Mother was never able to give my outgrown clothes away. They were the younger brother or sister I didn’t have. Their stretched out elbows and scuffed cuffs were the days I played in the sandbox my Dad made and sat at an angle to both the back of the house and first row of the garden where the zinnias were planted. In that closet a thick red knit tie became friends with the coat and undoubtedly told it countless times about the grey stripped sports coat and scratchy wool pants that it accompanied to church on all those special Sundays when I recited long poems for the congregation. The green coat of the only child outlasted all the other clothes in that closet. It was discovered, its green still magically unchanged, when the house was emptied. I found it alone, safe from the dust zippered into its original plastic bag.

Hate - Melody Cryns

“I hate you David Hirrell!” I shouted, and then I ran as fast as I could because I knew, I just knew he’d chase me and try to beat me up. He was, after all, the biggest and meanest kid of the neighborhood. David and me had this love/hate relationship. Sometimes we were best friends and sometimes he’d pick on me and I’d get mad – and he infuriated me. Yet even as I yelled that to David and ran for my life, I couldn’t help but think of those ceramic kittens in a tiny basket David had brought back with him from Ireland when he’d spent the summer there with his parents and his brother, Barry. And no matter what, those ceramic kitties had a special spot on my dresser right next to my beloved Beatles dolls…

It was another one of those cool, summer days when I ran down Second Avenue, past the tiny trees all of us kids in the neighborhood had planted just the year before, across Lincoln Way to that special corner of Golden Gate Park that belonged to us kids – the Greens. Or so we thought. it was actually a part of the park that was used for all sorts of things – free concerts, festivals, peace marches – but usually it was “our” place filled with trees and bushes and grass, and even a pile of sawdust and dirt in the middle – the best trees one could find to climb were mixed with those tall eucalyptus trees that no one could climb at all, but the eucalyptus smell permeated the air – I ran towards an area of the Greens we called The Big Bush because the bushes formed a sort of house, and right next to it stood my favorite tree, an oak tree of some kind that was easy to climb. I loved to climb deep within the tree and look out because up there I could see the world, but the world couldn’t see me.

And David knew where that tree was, and he knew where I’d be. But he wouldn’t climb the tree. He’d just look up at me with those beady eyes that were sometimes hard and sometimes soft and that red face. “I’m going to wait down here ‘til you come down, even if it takes all day!”

But he’d never stay there all day and eventually I’d come down.

By the next day, I usually didn’t hate David anymore, and he usually didn’t hate me. And even though one of the Solis boys who lived up the street and hung out with my brother interested me, along with that kid who with the red jersey shirt who was a year older than me – the new kid in the neighborhood who threw a football up in the air all the time and was David Hirrell’s friend – there was always a special place for David. But I could never let on – not ever. I’d be dead meat.

After all, I’d promised that one day – that I’d be sworn to secrecy for the rest of my life – and that I mustn’t tell anyone about that day David Hirrell and me were hiking in Sutro Forest and he carved “David & Mary were here” in a tree. I’ll bet somewhere, amid that dense forest of eucalyptus trees, that carving still exists even after all these years.

That was probably my very first “valentine.” I guess I really didn’t hate David Hirrell after all.

Love - Kate Bueler

Love. The longest and greatest journey is 18 inches from your mind to your heart. As I lean down to bow, my hands upon my third eye, now sandwiched between my head and the ground. Connection of the mind and heart. Is love. Is going at this world with both the armor of the mind, the action of the brain but the heart feeler of more than one and warming you to do more than stand alone.

Love. Lasting or temporary seems to find a permanent home in both our mind and heart. In our thoughts and words and memories and the feelings from the aftermath of love lost and found. I can't help but think I might have been wrong about love. I thought love could solve all things the couple relationship love. I believed in the fairy tale and disneyfied and hallmarked holidays that love will conquer all. But it isn't just one type of love that can do that. It is just purely love. Love for family, friends, for neighbor, for stranger. The more you can travel between the heart and mind and create a frequent flier program you will love more and be loved so much that you find a smile upon your face as you stroll. Home.

It is not a rose colored existence but a human existence not pushed and conformed into me only me. Think of only me. But us. My last experience with love. Was with a room full of strangers. Scratch that many strangers. Some colleagues. But mostly people I had never met before. We all came together in this lecture hall. To stand up. Together. In unison. For others. For ourselves. In this world. We forget, how easily we forget how important this truly is. And as I feet pushes against the ground of this linoleum with my fellow standers. And listen. I am moved not by just the words of trying to find solution and stories of how this program to be forgotten changed a life. I am moved for the greatest journey is happening before my eyes as it happens inside of me.

Connecting the mind and heart. To stand up and say. No. Please listen. In different tones. In different pitches. In different colors. I feel my heart beat and rattle against my ribs and chest. Traveling up to my mind as I raise my hand. I just hope. The words are coming. From the right place. That the two my heart and mind can come together for this moment. Words are now coming out of mouth into ears and skins and minds and hearts of others. The greatest journey of all might be the connecting of your heart with others. The distance is far and great but the journey. The journey. My journey with love. Has surprises along the way.

My system of breaking pu'er cakes

I wanted to post a photo of a cake I recently broke into for drinking, the 2008 Lancang 0081 shu blend. I thought this might be useful to people who love the fascinating beauty of pu'er tea wrappers as much as I do, and want to preserve them. I have also updated my tasting notes at the original post.

When I remove a chunk of tea from a pu'er cake, I begin at the center dimple of the cake and work my way around it and outwards, a sort of spiral from the center. I have several reasons for breaking the tea this way:
  1. It slices off half the thickness of the cake, making the cake easier to break later with fewer broken leaves.
  2. It gets the hardest chunks to break off out of the way first, leading to more whole leaves later.
  3. It keeps the face whole. This has two benefits, one purely cosmetic and one practical. Aesthetically, the face of a cake looks better than the back. The practical reason is it that it avoid the neifei (the inner label), which I get to last. By the day I get to the chunk of tea around and under the neifei, the tea around the neifei has had time to breathe and the neifei comes off with less damage to it.
  4. Most importantly, it keeps the cake round. When a cake is rewrapped, the most taught areas of paper are on the edge and face, jagged tea leaves and stems left sticking out when breaking tea off the edges and faces of cakes can cause the cakes' wrappers to tear, which has several drawbacks. Torn wrappers look sloppy, and the holes in the paper often spill dust out onto the tea table, floor, etc.
After I have completely removed the back, I take tea off the edges of cakes in a reverse spiral, moving from the outside inward to keep the cake round. I rewrap the cakes very loosely to avoid tears in the wrapper.

There is one drawback to this method, which is that for cakes with "pretty faces, ugly butts", where the face of the cake has different material from the back of the cake, taking leaves only from the back (or, later, only from the front) does not yield a 100% representation of the blend. In my experience, those prettier face leaves are not very important to the overall taste of the pu'er cake at hand, so I don't suffer the loss. But, your mileage may vary, and the information may prove useful.

So, a question to you: do you have a preferred method for breaking up cakes, bricks, tuo, etc.? Please share!


I am not a hat person. I just have never been interested in them. However, I have recently become very interested in tiny hats or head pieces more commonly known as Fasinators!

They can be tiny simple flowers, or insane with giant bows, veils, and feathers. I think they're a very nice way to dress up what would normally be classified as a plain outfit. They also range in levels of fancy, some can be formal enough for your wedding day while others are just the right amount of bold for work.

The most exciting part about them in my opinion? They are pretty easy to make! I will be making one or a few soon and I will feature that on my other blog, CrafTay!

In the meantime, here are some that I found on Etsy! What are your thoughts on these little hair gems?

Red felt Flower from lilyladyblue

Hair Flowers by BellaMiaDesign
You can find out more about BellaMiaDesign on their Facebook page as well!

Shanghai by tiedandfeathered

Fuchsia bow by alicehartcouture

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Fiddling Around

I have been wanting to make fabric flowers for awhile. 
I used my Stampin' Up fabric that I have been hoarding. Is it really hoarding if I only bought it in December? 

 Baby Bear is modelling the fabric flowers, which are on clips.
 I thought I'd try my hand at making rolled fabric flowers. It's harder than it looks and there are many things I am good at and using the glue gun is not one of them. I used more hoarded fabric, this stuff has been around longer than December. Since taking the picture, I have added tulle and am going to find some headbands to attach them too.
 I found an older magazine while I was purging my magazines, and it had a cute framed heart thing. I had this cupboard door already painted so I stamped a bunch of loves, hand cut the heart, and stuck this together.
I've had a very productive day making things that really have no purpose.  Pretty good if I do say so myself. 

Pink & Green Thursday: Roadtrip

[photos via Chris Craymer]

From Linus

Mom's been working on her Project Life album. I'm too short to see what is happening on the table but I can tell you that anything that hangs over the edge of the table is fair game. I've had some tasty treats from that table. I really like the taste and chewiness of the Stampin' Up cardstock. The assorted colours do taste different. The paper that mom uses to cover the table tastes good too. I trim the overhang down for her so that it looks nice and neat. I ate an origami flower the other day, mom wasn't happy but she said it would pass. I'm not checking to see if it did, but when it does, I bet it won't be as pretty.
 Mom's friend, Heather, left a pile of paper doilies behind. And this month's challenge was Glitter(Y), mom has terrible handwriting so no one knows why there was a Y at the end of glitter.  Mom decided to M Boss the doilies. I don't know what that means but I think it has something to do with dust, and heat. She was very happy when she was done so I think she got to eat some dust too.
 Mom held the Project Life album up for me to see. It's not very bright. She's using "New Tralls" and adding some bits of colour here and there. Not sure I like that.
 The most exciting part was when she lifted the Monthly Divider. She said she stamped the hearts using some Stazon ink. I looked pretty neat to me but what do I know? It didn't have dog hair on it, so it was only okay.
 Mom said her favourite part of the album would be the assorted page protectors. Meh...pockets for pictures, whatever.
 None of it makes up for the fact the humans made me walk to Grandpa's house. And then he wasn't even home. So I peed in his back yard. Here's some pictures of when we got home. Geez, I wish mom would wait till I open my eyes. Look, you can see my breath, it's that cold.
 I like this one, I'm such a handsome fellow. Mom says the sun flare is a nice touch. All I know is the sun is warming my back side, my bum is frozen to the ground.
 Then I told mom to get closer so everyone could see the snot!
 After the long, forever walk, I had a nap but my sister, Sally, kept bugging me. She decided she needed the sun spot more than I did.
I'm scared here. Very scared. She's touching me. Can you see the fear in my eyes? I'm thinking if I just lay still, she might get bored and leave.
Overall, mom says I had a good weekend. I know I got fed, not enough, and had a bunch of naps. I even watched some motocross and Daytona car racing with dad so I guess it was a good weekend.