Chai Tea Latte

6 09 2011

One of the great things about studying abroad is that you get the opportunity to experience the culture and food of different places.  Even when that culture is Starbucks coffee culture- it seems so exotic and special when you’ve seen it on television  but never tasted it yourself.  When I lived in Canada, I developed a small Starbucks addiction.  While my local indie coffee shop satiates my desire for lattes and iced coffee, their Chai Tea Latte left something to be desired.  So I decided to scour the internet for a recipe and make it myself.

I wanted to make it with skim milk that I bought specifically for cooking with, but as life goes, my family decided to drink my skim milk and leave the full-fat milk in the fridge.  The joys of moving back home with your family!  But this is still a relatively low-cal drink!

It should be a pretty quick recipe to make, but I was in the midst of a Jersey Shore marathon (I can’t believe I admitted that!) so I mixed it up in a few stages during commercial breaks.

Chai Tea Latte Recipe (roughly adapted from here)- Serves 1:

  • 3/4 cups water
  • 3/4 cups milk
  • 2 black tea bags
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp allspice

Note: The original recipe asked for cardamom which I didn’t have, so I added a few things and rejigged the recipe to my tastes.  Feel free to do the same until you enjoy the taste.

Directions:

  1.  Boil water and tea bags.  While this is boiling, mix up your spices.
  2. Add spices and milk, stir well and let simmer for a few minutes.
  3. Remove teabags and strain through mesh strainer (at this point, I was surprised how many dregs I had.  Don’t decide to push them through like me and have somewhat gritty tea.  Just clear it out and keep pouring!).
  4. Wait a bit for it to cool (or be impatient like me, and add some cold milk on top so you can slurp it down).

Getting all my spices in order.  The spice mixture could probably be enough to make 2 potent cups (doubling the water, milk and adding an extra tea bag).

Keep stirring.  I got distracted by Jersey Shore and had to run back and stir like crazy to make it normal again.  Safety first!

This strainer was almost full of spices after I’d strained.  Next time, I will do it in batches and remove some of the dregs between pouring.

My finished mug.  YUM!  It tasted just like a slightly less sweet version of Starbucks’ version (although that’s a good thing, in my opinion).  I slurped it down in just a few gulps.  Now, I’m off to do the dishes.  I’ll be sharing more recipes as time goes on, and next time, I promise the photos won’t be crappy cell phone captures!





Metafictional Wishlist: Victoria’s Secret Fall 2011

5 09 2011

I have neglected the hell out of this blog.  Life has been a whirlwind and a blur and all sorts of crazy.  I hope to talk more about myself, my life and where I’m going from here.  But all in due time, don’t need to overwhelm the world with all of my details straight off the bat!  Lately, I have been obsessed with all the amazing fashion, design and decorating inspirations that I find on various blogs.  I am hoping to channel a bit of this into my blog and use it as a vehicle to write more regularly and hopefully add more structure into my life.

Confession time:I am a chronic online window shopper.  I don’t always buy what I love, but use the styling as inspiration for the things I try to pick up at vintage stores or put together from my ill-organised closet.  Lots of the fashion roundups I see on other blogs include a variety of shops, but I’m the type that will browse the hell out of one store and then move on after I’ve found everything I like.  Having said that, here is my roundup of things I am loving from Victoria’s Secret.

Victoria's Secret Fall 2011 WishlistTop Row:
Sequin Miniskirt– $98
Tulip Skirt– $29.50
Embellished Drape Sleeve Blouse-$79.50
Cross-Front Bra Top– $24.50

Bottom Row:
The Miraculous Push-Up Bra Dress– On Sale for $88
The Corset Dress– On Sale for $49.50
The Miraculous Push-Up Bra Top in red- $59.50
The Miraculous Push-Up Bra Top in black lace- $69.50

I am loving the sassy, cleavage exposing tops that will be great with a pair of shorts for the last days of summer and under a cardigan with a flirty pencil skirt all winter.  The drape-sleeve blouse is a beautiful, bohemian top that looks great as styled with shorts but will transition well into the cool 70’s vibe that is going to be big this summer.  I won’t lie, my favourite season to dress for is summer, and that’s why this retro corset dress appeals to me, but I also included the extremely sexy push-up bra dress for the inevitable Christmas parties that aren’t that far away.  Luxe lace appeals to me during the winter, as does a little glamorous sequin.  Something about layered textures and mixed-media sexy screams winter party season to me.

Victoria’s Secret has a pretty fair price point for the quality, and I find myself using the pieces I order for years.  I know that ultimate fashionista and blogger extraordinaire …Love Maegan is also a fan of their versatile layering pieces and on-trend, affordable separates.  I often spot her wearing cardigans and various other pieces in her outfit shots.

In the spirit of revamping this blog, I am going to start taking outfit shots and hopefully introduce the blog to my concept of style.





Spring Awakening

20 02 2011

Last week, I got a sneaky midday message from one of my friends who also recently started working.  She was hoping desperately that the winter weather eased up for the weekend so we could go outside, lounge in the sun and maybe plan an impromptu fishing trip.  Immediately, I was distracted from my work and was daydreaming of summers gone by with sun so blazing you couldn’t imagine it ever getting to be cold on the island.

This is a snap I took a few years ago while at lunch at Ariel Sands Hotel, which sadly no longer exists.  But ahhh, doesn’t it feel warm and relaxing and tropical?  Unfortunately, this weekend brought rain and wind and more rain.  So much so that the electricity in my house went out for a few hours, leaving me sitting on the floor in the middle of my mess grumbling and pretending to reorganise when all I really wanted to do was curl up and get back into bed.

So just a warning, folks.  I’m channelling my inner-mother nature to ensure that this Spring business starts happening soon.  And yes, that is Halloween rather than me being a lunatic on a regular day… although it’s been known to happen.  Apologies for the older photos but the camera is being wonky.  Working on fixing it up to ensure that you see the world I’m living in clearly.  Even when there’s torrential rain and clutter.  Back to the piles I go!





I’m a liar baby, but I’m back…

20 02 2011

Well, so much for my new years resolutions for 2010.  Somehow as it got a bit colder, my blog got a little lonelier and then summer gushed in and I had no time to do anything but dissertate and sunbathe.  I feel worlds away, and in many ways, I am.  I have finished  my masters degree, which means I have a whole pile of fancy letters behind my name and a shitty-paying job to show for it (MSc Media & Communications & BA Specialised Honours English, natch).  I have moved back in with my parents, which generally has been fine but it is odd readjusting to my old life at home that I haven’t lived since I was 16.  Some days, I feel just as young.

A lot of the working world are things I just wasn’t ready to face.  I’m used to being the best version of me, and there is no grading rubric to understand what went wrong when a boss tells you what you’re doing isn’t good enough.  I have weird dilemmas from what to wear to the office to how to date when being a 20-something living with my parents.

I am also finding new and interesting ways to entertain myself, since my life doesn’t revolve around school anymore.  First, I am trying to reorganise my life- mentally, physically, spiritually- the whole shebang.  I’m tackling this in a rather literal sense with a room revamp.  I’m not 16 anymore, but my decor has stayed the same for many years.  It’s time for my more mature sensibilities to be reflected in my design.  I will post some absolutely cringey before photos soon, and eventually… some zen-like, crisp after shots.  It’s hard living here because everything is much more expensive and there’s no Ikea or the likes to turn to.  Only designer or second-hand… but I have my eyes open and I am fixing my creative sights on a kind of vague vision.  I’ll be sharing that vision here.

Just a few of the dresses I need to sort through in this re-organisation of life

The second part of the life revamp is embracing my creativity.  From home DIY to sewing to interior design… I am becoming all sorts of handy.  I have this very stubborn demeanour where I am *convinced* that I will be AWESOME at dress reconstruction or painting furniture or baking a rhubarb white chocolate cake.  And while, thus far, these experiments have been more dreams and plans than actual execution… I am finally doing something about that and want to change the tenor of this blog as a documentation process of the different undertakings.  I want to tell the world about the books I’m reading, the shoes I think are drool-worthy and the changes I’m making to my life.  I know it’s pretty narcissistic to believe anyone out in the blogosphere actually would care about what I’m putting up here, but it’s theraputic and a great way to reflect back on my experiences.  With that said, I’m back, bitches!





Morning Music: Glee

19 01 2010

I will start with a disclaimer: I absolutely love musical theatre.  I love camp, cheesy costumes, over exaggerated dance moves and, yes, even jazz fingers hold a special place in my heart.  So perhaps my bias towards absolutely loving this television show has more to do with a love of song and dance, ridiculous plotlines and jazzy ways to work in dance routines than it has to do with quality.

The premise is simple: a high school teacher starts a glee club, which is unabashedly uncool.  He convinces the star football player to join and somehow a quirky cast of characters assembles to form the glee club.  The female lead, played by Lea Michelle, has two dads and a holier-than-thou attitude.  But somehow, characters like hers are totally likable.  I don’t want to spoil any of the plot by revealing what happens, but there are showmances, show-pregnancies and all sorts of scheming, backstabbing and musical pizzaz.

Over Christmas, I got the Glee: The Music, Volume 1.  And I have been listening to it like an obsessive fangirl.  It manages to mix classic showtunes (Don’t Rain on My Parade from musical Funny Girl), classics (John Lennon’s Imagine), 80s rap (Young MC’s Bust a Move), 90s pop (Jennifer Paige’s ever-infectious Crush) and contemporary (Kanye West’s Gold Digger).  The entire album is novel, but not in the way that you discard it after a primary listen.  I admit listening to nearly two hours of choir-styled remixes can be a bit daunting, but adding this in a shuffled playmix makes for a music-gasm every time it pops back up.

My favourite tune on the album?  Hands down, the innovative vocal arrangement of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’. I found this sneaky YouTube copy of that portion of the episode.  Just gorgeous.  Colour me a gleek, I am in love.

They are currently on hiatus until April 13, so you have until then to catch up.  If you’re in the UK, they’ve just begun airing on E4.  You can thank me later.





New Years Resolutions

17 01 2010
Writing little notes

Alcohol, book, evil smirk... definitely up to no good.

I don’t tend to make New Years Resolutions.  This is mainly because by mid-January I am off the bandwagon and by the time we hit that month of evil known as February, I am too busy substituting love for chocolate.  But I made a few this year, mainly about personal growth.  One of them is about writing, and I plan to be doing a lot of it.  Hopefully, a lot of it happens here and gives me a decent writing portfolio that I can bandy about, claiming to be an experienced blogger.  The problem with my blogging stamina is that I am really good for a few days and then it sort of peters out.  I think it is pretty boring to talk about what you did every day or the things you saw, so I am drafting up a list of topics to talk about that will hopefully cover me until inspiration and habit force me into posting daily.  (I love blogging, I swear).

People garner up a whole host of excitement for New Years Eve.  They buy new dresses and shoes, dole out a ton of money on party tickets and champagne and end up losing their friends, not having any one to kiss at midnight and heading home with deflated hair, shoes in hand and tears running down their cheeks about ruined nights and wastes of money.  And that was just NYE of 2006, I have a whole host of similar stories.  The best time I have ever had was when I headed to the beach with a big group of friends, ignoring the rain, and made a big bonfire.  We sat around, listened to music, greeted other like-minded party-goers and went swimming at midnight wearing only a magnum of champagne and the surf that covered up our exposure.

An Island New Year Celebration

This is what holidays look like on an island.

This year, I decided I wanted something similar.  I went to a free street concert promoting “Unity in the Community”.  I had my first drink at midnight and realised that I am growing out of this party-hardy phase, that I am ready for the next big steps that require me to grow up, wear higher heels and network my ass off.  I think I am finally ready to stop being a student and start being an adult.  Because of that, I am here, writing.  Let’s hope I can keep it up this year.





On Moms

27 12 2009

Hilary Duff

My mom is rad.  I feel I’m so much like her.  I don’t know if it’s wrong to drop an F-bomb in the same sentence as your mother, but I’m so fucking lucky to have my mom.  She’s just taught me so much and given me so much, and she has such an open heart.”   Hilary Duff in Nylon Magazine December 2009.

I kind of love Hilary Duff, she is awesome on Gossip Girl.  But more than that, I love that in an interview situation where she could prattle on mindlessly about clothes and men and the stresses of her career, she chooses to praise her mother.  And not only that, she talks about her mom being her friend.  So many people thank their parents as an obligation, as if the words don’t mean much.  Or so that it keeps their parents out of their hair.  A lot of people have a love-hate relationship with their parents.  But mine is all love.

You see, my mom is fucking awesome.  I know it, my friends know it, the people she encounters know it, my co-workers knew it, everyone knows it.  In many ways, she is the quintessential “mom” type.  Very caring, nurturing and kind- my lifelong coach and cheerleader with something positive to say about any situation.  She is always taking care of people, baking cakes and banana breads to give away and generally making sure the people in her life are happy.  But in a lot of ways, she is more friend than overbearing mother figure.  I can honestly talk to her about anything and it would be fine.

When I was younger, I hated when people told me I looked just like her and I used to fire back that I had no wrinkles.  But as an adult, I couldn’t be happier to look like such a wonderful person… and hopefully my skincare regimen postpones the inevitable wrinkling.  Every day I hope to become a bit more like her, because she is my best friend.

[Photo and Quote via Nylon Magazine]





Train Time

4 12 2009

As I write this, I am currently sitting on a dank London tube surrounded by bags and trying not to stare at the older gentleman across from me wearing a blue pinstriped suit with red tie. I am fascinated by his chunky gold pinky ring which reflects his scowl every time he catches me sneaking glances. Because here’s the deal: I love people watching. I love to get on a train with no headphones, no book and with no agenda and just observe my fellow commuters. People are fascinating. Some are afraid of other passengers and try to fill up the seating area while others appear to be so perilously lonely that if nobody sits down they will just sink back and be engulfed by the stale, sweaty seats.

Different tube lines have different scents. None of them are pleasant. The metropolitan line always smells like manure but a woman behind me is eating an orange. The zest has wafted throughout the carriage and even Mr. Pinky Ring seems grateful for it.

Some people get on the train and continue loud, raucous, inappropriate conversations. I like these folk better than those that drop to a stage whisper and look around as if the carriage is conspiring to spread their secrets. These are still better than those that believe public transport is their bathroom and apply lashes of makeup, clipping their fingernails and occasionally painting them for good measure. And the few that know people watching is happening grab an intelligible newspaper and wait to be scoped doing heavy reading.

I’ve switched onto a train now and am zooming North towards Manchester. I see rolling hills, horses, sheep and every other cliche of the British countryside. Thatched roofs and slightly browning, wispy grass that stretches dormant as far as I can see. Horses and cows grazing peacefully in shared pastures. Why can’t humans get along so well?

The wet slick of a puddling field winked up through the bales of hay. This is how I see this country. I think the majestic foliage is lost on those napping around me. Back to people watching I go.





Love Christmas is All Around

2 12 2009
Frozen

Model- Julia, Photo taken January 19, 2005

My last post was all magic and splendour and Christmas loving.  And I still feel that way.  But, there is something about this season that has always bothered me.  And that is, I think, all tied into the weather.  Summer, and to a certain extent, autumn, belong to the singles.  Summer is the time for reckless abandon, where the skirts get shorter, the drinks get stronger and the parties last until the sun rises.  Autumn sees a bit less spontaneity, but up until Halloween, it belongs to those who make the most of the last warm days.  I do not mean to say that couples do not enjoy summer, but what they can and do get up to is limited by their commitment (and if it isn’t limited, then often they end up single).

When the temperatures drop in November, people pack on sweaters and head indoors to curl up with a good book, a glass of wine or a movie with a loved one.  They opt in for nights in with their sweetie.  As a single girl not particularly looking to settle down right now, this throws me through the loop.  I can deal with hating Valentine’s Day like every other single person, but being unable to see my coupled-up friends from November onwards (because they are busy doing absolutely nothing and too lazy to put on a sweater) really gets me.

But then, out of nowhere, I feel like a hypocrite.  I want to stay in, I want to cuddle, I want someone to buy presents for.  Am I bitter?  Lonely?  Hardly.  I am suffering from the Mariah effect (which I touched on before).  Every time she warbles that she wants him and nothing else for Christmas, it slowly ingrains itself into our brains.  We begin thinking that Christmas, which is a lovely time for family and friends to show each other that they care, is a time for people to make grand gestures and pronounce their lifelong love and devotion.

One of my favourite romantic comedy films is Love, Actually.  The eight storylines all end in different ways and as much as we all want that Hugh Grant prime minister or the author played by Colin Firth to realise that they love us, that we should love them… it doesn’t always turn out so spectacularly.  Take Emma Thompson’s character, who realises that her husband is somehow involved with his secretary.  She has a moment of tears, then plasters a smile on and tells her kids that they were fabulous in the school play.  Or another sad moment, but a favourite of mine is when Mark confesses to his best friend’s wife that he has always loved her.  Without ruining the whole film for everyone, what is spectacular about it is that it celebrates the highs, the lows, the clichés and the conundrums that real people face during the holiday season.

A Christmas song I’ve had stuck on repeat lately because of its realism and beauty is by Heather Nova, a native to my homeland.  She sings that although she and her partner have a long way to go, she feels the Christmas magic.  Which I won’t bah humbug about at all.  Hope you enjoy it.





December Magic

1 12 2009
Oxford Street Lights

Umbrellas, presents and double deckers on Oxford Street

There is something intangible and magical about December.  Maybe it is the memories of years past staying up all night waiting for Santa only to fall asleep just when you are sure he will be on his way.  Maybe it is waking up the entire house at 6 AM to let them know that Santa came, even though you were positive that you hadn’t been bad that year.  Perhaps the joy of Christmas is the simple act of families coming together, exchanging gifts and eating incredible food.  Whatever it is, it has finally started humming in the air.

It is refreshing to feel connected to the Christmas Spirit.  Most years, I dread hearing the cheesy tunes blaring out of every shop and my love of Mariah Carey wanes after the 20th rendition of All I Want for Christmas Is You.  I think experiencing new Christmas traditions and festivities are making me nostalgic.  This year, I am loving the season!

Piratey Good Time

Piratey fun at the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park

London is a playground for people looking to explore rich history and culture.  But what is somewhat more exciting is how they have imported and incorporated foreign traditions as their own.  Yesterday I visited the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, which is styled as a German Christmas Market.  I ate pizza from the Italian stall, I drank Gluhwein (German mulled wine for the uinitiated) and posed with a pirate.  Yeah, I have no idea what the pirate was doing there, either.  But what was so incredible was families coming together and exploring, having fun, playing games.   I went with an old friend and spent the day catching up, laughing and stuffing our faces with all the different treats and sweets.

Eggnog

It allegedly tasted like, "Hot and sour devil semen".

She termed the eggnog as “hot and sour devil semen”, a far cry from the cold, smooth and sweet   stuff from home.  But then again, isn’t that what living abroad is all about?