My Love for Life-Like Inanimate Objects

I’ve done a few “Look Like a Princess But Don’t Act Like One” segments now. And this month, I’ve concluded that I would be Belle from Beauty and the Beast if I had to choose a “Disney princess” to be. I admittedly do a good number of my postings on book reviews too. And who doesn’t want a sexy beast?

Click here to read the film review I wrote on Beauty and the Beast in April

I’ve been raving to my friends about my recent purchase of forks and knives after I realized that I was down to just one fork (I only started out with two when I moved into my current apartment to start a new life two and a half years ago). And the one and only fork left had a bent tip. Voila, the fork and knives I got from Paris at Pylones (where I stumbled upon during my Paris trip in 2015):

The knives are male and the forks are female. If you take a closer look they all have faces (and booties when you flip them over on the back!) And the knives have a slight bulge for a package. Gosh, it all made me laugh so much!

As some of you also may recall, from that first visit to Pylones I also fell in love with the 58Products Tassen collection and have their tea set and bowls. I mentioned in my book that I would like to eventually collect all of them! This is a portion of my growing collection:

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As you can see from the photo above, I’m also a big fan of having silicone lids for my tea cups. Pylones does usually have a number of choices in stock but I’ve also been fortunate enough to stumble upon on them in other places now too:

Click here to buy the Bumble Bee, the Kitty Cat, or the Bunny Rabbit ones I found!

Eating and tea time should be a joyous time and it certainly has become so for me. As cliché as it sounds, sometimes it’s the small things that make all the difference.

-M

Book Review: Three Souls by Janie Chang

For this month’s book club meeting the ladies honored my book suggestion by reading this novel that was originally gifted to me by another lovely lady and I had been wanting to read it for a while now (when people find out you love to read you become that woman everyone loves to gift books to and you end up with so many that you no longer have to seek new books on your own).

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(For the purpose of privacy, I have blurred out the faces of the other book club members)

And to nourish our own souls, we indulged on high tea. Per tradition, the book club documents the books we read every month with a photo of my gloved hands holding up the book we read so I hand modeled in juxtaposition to beautiful tea cups:

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(Click here to purchase the gloves I am wearing)

The ladies of the book club are in agreement that the novel illustrates the enduring strength women had to go through in being married into families during the time period (the 1920s and 30s) and making the most of their situation or the hardships and consequence they endured when they chose other paths. It does also explore the concept of “what if” in how different each character’s lives would have turned out to be had the protagonist Leiyin not interfered.

Though the story has tragedy (ie. the novel does start off at the funeral of Leiyin so death is a constant overshadowing presence throughout the whole book) I was pleasantly surprised at how the women treated other women and their children with respect and kindness since mother-in-laws are traditionally very mean to their daughter-in-laws in the Chinese culture and even in modern times (regardless of the culture) stepmothers aren’t always nice to their stepchildren either. And while a majority of the prominent male characters turn out to be horrible, Leiyin’s husband Baizhen was thankfully an exceptional spouse (and student) to her and a father to their daughter. In a way, it all balanced out with the dark sides of the story about all the passion, secrets and betrayal.

The book pokes at the age old question about whether it’s better to lead a peaceful but long, dull life or risk a short-lived life of passion and hardships. Though I think it’s fair to say that a lot of people end up having a mix of both to a certain extent. And while some situations are beyond our control we must all live (or die) with the choices we make.

Overall, the book did end up having a good amount of twists and turns even if you know from the very beginning that the main character is dead. And as I was progressing through the book I did keep wanting to know what happens next. In a way, a lot of the book club ladies agreed that we all still felt that way when we reached the end of the book since there were questions hanging around of what ended up happening to this character or that character or how things were going to ultimately happen (like movie endings when it’s ended before you really get a chance to see what actually happens so you are left to imagine what you think would have happened).

I would give the book a letter grade A-

M

St. Patrick Day ~Green Tea Chocolate Chip Cookies~

In honor of St. Patricks Day, I decided to play around with some matcha powder and put them in chocolate chip cookies. The aftermath:

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If you have a favorite chocolate chip cookies recipe, I would just simply add the matcha powder in there, though I would use all white sugar instead of brown sugar to keep the vibrancy of the green color.

Trader Joe’s did start selling match powder recently. I emptied 4 packs into my batter of a 1 egg recipe batch. At Trader Joe’s you do have the option of purchasing chocolate chunks instead of chips but the chips would work better for the same reason I mentioned with using white sugar (to have the green color of the batter stand out instead of having a whole bunch of micro-sized chocolate crumbs blending in).

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So to sum, here’s the gist of what I did:

~Ingredients~

  • About 1 1/2 c flour blend (coconut flour, almond flour, regular flour)
  • 8 oz blend of butter and cream cheese
  • About 3/4 c sugar
  • Drizzle of almond extract
  • About 1/2 bag of chocolate chips (6oz.)
  • About 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 4 packets  (approximately 6 grams) of match powder

Cream the butter/cream cheese mixture with the sugar, matcha powder and almond extract. Add in the egg and chocolate chips to blend. Fold in the dry ingredients. Refrigerate overnight before forming into balls and baking on a sheet for approximately 8~9 minutes in a preheated oven (350 degrees F).

Wishing you all a festive St. Patricks Day,

M

Whole Foods Market vs Sprouts Farmers Market

Up until recently I was primarily a Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s gal when it came to grocery shopping for items that I did not get at the farmers market. However, I had begun to go to Sprouts Farmers Market in the last few months ever since I started making my own protein bars as I was told that the ingredient I was interested in purchasing was sold at that store. It turns out that Whole Foods sells the item too for the same price.

However, I started looking at and comparing price tags between Whole Foods and Sprouts and here were my findings:

1.) Water  refill

Winner: Sprouts (hands down)

I used to go to Whole Foods so frequently because I would go there to go refill my water jugs at the refilling station. Consequently, this is now the reason why I go to Sprouts so often now. Sprouts costs only $0.25/gallon vs Whole Foods is nearly twice as much at $0.49 per gallon

2.) Laundry detergent

Winner: Whole Foods

The laundry detergent I use was on sale at both stores the same week. And even with the sale price Whole Foods beat out Sprouts by $2 (the non-sale price difference was $3).

3.) Oatmeal (in bulk)

Winner: Sprouts

This is another item I used to get primarily at Whole Foods but have now switched over to getting at Sprouts. Like Whole Foods, Sprouts does carry all 3 varieties of oats (steel cut, regular, quick) and even with sale prices, the price tag at Whole Foods is over $1 vs the regular non-sales price at Sprouts is $0.99 per pound.

4.) Facial care products

Winner: Sprouts

I’ve been using the brand Andalou for my facial care. Again, they were on sale the same week at both stores and the sales price tag at Sprouts was slightly lower than Whole Foods. And I did also find that at Sprouts the store clerks were less particular about which coupon you were using for applying towards getting a discount on the product.

5.) Alternative fat spreads

Winner: It’s a tie

At both stores, the regular price for these Earth Balance coconut butter spreads is at $4.99 and was on sale for $4.49.

6.) Paper Products

Winner: It depends

I do a lot of baking so this is a section I would go to for aluminum foil, parchment paper and cupcake tin liner paper.

With the cupcake tin liner paper, Whole Foods wins for the same exact brand I get as their non-sale prices are at $1.79 vs the $1.99 at Sprouts (note: in the photo taken below Whole Foods has it on sale for $1.39.

Sprouts won for better aluminum foil price and parchment paper for the same brand with the If You Care brand of parchment paper priced at $5.49 vs $5.99 at Whole Foods. BUT Sprouts did not carry the parchment paper in the brand Paper Chef, which I tried for the first time today after seeing it on sale at Whole Foods and the quality was superior to what I’ve been using.

7.) Tea

Winner: Whole Foods 

Again, both stores had a sale on the Yogi Tea brand. If you were to compare the prices of the sale prices of this particular popular brand, then Whole Foods won as each box was $3 compared to the sale price $4.49 at Sprouts.

However, both stores have tea brands that the other store does not carry. So in that situation, you can’t really compare. I previously did a blog entry on chocolate rooibos tea and at Whole Foods they have it in the Numi brand whereas at Sprouts they have it in Zhena’s Gypsytea brand.

With the exception of the water refilling stations and the oats in the bulk stations, these comparisons are juxtapositions of prices on the same brand items. So when it comes to other items such as deli, bakery, meat or produce items the quality can obviously differ. In terms of quality and variety, I would say that Whole Foods definitely ranks superior when it comes to their bakery, hot food bar, and selection of cheeses.

It might seem exhausting to some to go to different stores for different items. Luckily, I’ve become better about decreasing the frequency in which I go to all the stores with better planning. And when it comes to clothing and I am still primarily an online shopper. If you do go to either of these stores and shop for these items, I hope I was able to provide some helpful insight.

One thing I will note is that depending on the store location, things vary and I am basing my comparison notes on stores that were local to me.

-M

My Favorite New Alternative to Chocolate

I’ve always been more of a dessert gal rather than a candy gal. Halloween is nearing again this year and I am reminded of my childhood of trick-or-treating but never being too keen on consuming Halloween candy. I would usually collect the candy and give my candy away to my younger sister or other friends I would go trick-or-treating with.

As an adult, I do prefer dark chocolate over milk chocolate and have come to appreciate good quality dark chocolate over the years.

I do have weekly cheat meals and do occasionally enjoy small doses of dark chocolate here and there. However, I never acquired drinking coffee or alcohol. And when I am prepping for a photo shoot I usually cut down on even the cheat meals temporarily.

So as a tea lover, I was delighted to have my girlfriends bring me back chocolate rooibos tea they thoughtfully got for me on their trip to Europe. I then noticed that Numi also had a chocolate rooibos tea while I was glancing through the tea section at a local Whole Foods.

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Rooibos is an herbal tea, sometimes referred to as red tea. It tends to be my favorite choice for an everyday occasion. And even my special occasion tea is actually my favorite red tea I purchased in Paris by Marriage Frère. In my opinion, Rooibos tends to taste more full-bodied than other herbal teas but doesn’t have the diuretic effect of caffeinated teas.

I have indeed agreed to do another photo shoot in the near future, so I will most likely cut back on my cheat meals (including dark chocolate). But as a tea enthusiast,  I will definitely be sipping away photo shoot or not!

Cheers,

– M

On Dating Myself

Date Example #1: Earlier this year, I went to go watch the film How to Be Single. Appropriately enough, I went to go watch the film solo. Prior to arriving at the movie theater, I stopped by Whole Foods to grab a little bit of pulled pork shoulder at the hot food bar. And then I made my next stop at the grilled cheese sandwich chain restaurant The Melt so that I could concoct myself a pulled pork grilled cheese sandwich, which I snuck in my movie theater purse to devour while watching the film. It was a perfect afternoon.

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Date Example #2: The year before that, I went to Paris by myself where I spent hours upon hours smelling tea leave samples in tea shops before deciding which ones to purchase and bring back with me to the states. Unless I was on the trip with another tea enthusiast it would have probably been torturous to have a travel companion! I would read a novel in a café sipping on such delicious tea all over Paris on this trip. Note: While Paris was not listed, I did come across an interesting article on Refinery29 of places recommended for solo female travelers.

Date Example #3: Fast forward to my current day — I am spending a relaxing weekend of having the placeIMG_0759 to myself during my roommate’s absence during the holiday weekend. Reading the book Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel, I suddenly get into a sensual mood and realize that I am free to pleasure myself as I please without having to feel discreet. It may seem odd because the book is about maintaining physical intimacy and desire with a long-term spouse/partner. But I am without that partner so I decide I would appreciate my own sexiness. I then promise myself that I would continue to occasionally do so even if I were to ever be coupled up again.


It goes without saying as I mention in my own book that I would like to fall in love again and be in that “ultimate romantic relationship” at some point if I may be so fortunate enough to meet someone. However, like a photo album full of fun memories shared with that special someone, I pride in the fact that I have these fun memories of dating myself. Whether you are dating someone else or yourself, I figured why not enjoy it?

I also strongly believe that in order for me to be a fun, loving and sexy partner to another person, I need to be so in my own company. It’s what I would think would naturally be attractive for someone else to see in me in the first place. As cliché as it sounds, it’s true that in order to love someone else you need to love yourself first.

Here’s to falling in love with myself all over again,

-M

 

My Travel Adventures in Canada

I recently attended a martial arts seminar/tournament in Banff, Canada. Banff is about a 90 minute drive from the city of Calgary, where we arrived at the airport. My spotting of cool vintage fashion started from the very beginning at the San Francisco Airport where I departed from. There was an extensive vintage flight attendant outfit showcase:

IMG_0537I was sporting my very own vintage vest that day! It really helped to break up the polka dots pattern I had going on with the shorts and the top. And the pink trim of the vest also made for a great accent to match the pink gloves and shoes (which are unfortunately not visible in this shot). There were definitely some colorful examples of flight attendant outfits that were showcased there too:

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Once in Canada, I also came across vintage fashion when I visited the Cave & Basin (the historical site that became part of the very first national park site in Canada). The cave site is by mineral springs and and the cave itself also contains a body of the spring water. There was an exhibition of vintage style swimsuits women wore in order to bathe in the hot springs and pool back in the day:

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The charming town of Banff is surrounded by spectacular mountains and you can’t help but occasionally pause to admire the beauty of it all.

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IMG_0540Being the tea enthusiast I am, I prefer to always purchase some ice wine tea whenever I am in Canada to take home as souvenirs. This time, I also decided to get some blueberry tea as well as maple tea (both of which sounded very Canadian too). They all have great aromas (something I take into a lot of consideration when choosing teas).

Another cool souvenir I spotted were these maple leaves that were turned into beautiful works of art such as ornaments and jewelry. They were real maple leaves that were coated with metal to preserve the original form of the leaf. They were on display at the souvenir shop in the Calgary Tower.

The tower was the final stop before I boarded the plane from the Calgary Airport. The view from atop was also scenic and thrilling with the skywalk effect you are able to experience with the glass floors.

However, my favorite part of the trip was definitely enjoying the scenic outdoors. Before driving back out to Calgary that last day, I went horseback riding in Banff and also got to stop by the Cascade Gardens the day before. The gardens are free of parking or entrance fees (a great bonus).

IMG_0482 You do occasionally spot wooden structures that have this gnarly looking knobs throughout the length of the columns in Banff. There were bridges that had that characteristic in the garden too, so I decided to have a shot taken with one of them. I’m a tree hugging Californian after all. IMG_0541

The other wood element I actually got to take home with me were one of these canoe paddles that were rewarded to some of us en lieu of medals (we did get medals too) at the tournament.  It was definitely a bit of a challenge trying to figure out how to take home 4ft. long paddles at the airport customs…. But the good news is, I did indeed take first place in every category I was entered into the tournament, which means I qualify for the world tournament next year.

Overall, it was a wonderful trip and I got to experience fireworks twice this year due to Canada’s independence day (Canada Day) being so close to America’s. I was able to see the American fireworks on the drive back from the airport that night I returned.

Happy birthday to Canada and America!

-M