Saturday, August 31, 2013

Reunion with FIG Friends

Outfit of the day: Roxy glasses, Guess purse, Heritage 1981 blouse (size S), Zara skirt (size S), and Bandolino heels (size 7).

That was fun, we went to Denny's for brunch and then a Korean bakery.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

First Day of Class

Outfit of the day: Roxy glasses, Cato blouse (size S), Tommy Hilfiger skirt (size 2), unknown belt, and Bandolino heels (size 7).

What I made for lunch today^^ Artichoke, sardines, and mushrooms with rice!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Gone to Natural Sciences 2013

Outfit of the day: Old Navy blouse (size XS), Abercrombie skirt (size S), Ecco sandals (size 6.5), and a Guess purse.

Went with my best friend A and made a new friend on the way :)

With an old high school underclassman, S, and my best friend A!

Monday, August 26, 2013

"The French Lieutenant's Woman" by John Fowles (1969)

In a feat of seductive storytelling, John Fowles immerses us in the emotionally charged world of a Victorian love triangle and, through a startling act of literary invention, reveals the image of modern man reflected in the past. The French Lieutenant's Woman is perhaps the most beloved of Fowles's internationally bestselling novels; it is universally regarded as a modern classic.

  • First thing I noticed was the beautiful language. The narrative is powerful and descriptive, and the author is obviously capable of bending language for an effective usage. This told me right off the bat that the book would be well-written.
  • The author makes many historical and literary allusions; if you have never heard of Thomas Hardy or Darwin vs. Lamarck (on the theory of evolution), you may not understand such references. But it is cleverly employed on defining the characters, their roles in the story, and thematic events, and I loved the quotes at the beginning of each chapter.
  • The dialogue is also witty, lively, and interesting, and somewhat reminiscent of Victorian classics, but with a modern twist.
  • Honestly, it got a little confusing for me: there are three alternate endings in this book, and it's up to the reader's interpretation what really happened (I had to read up on Wikipedia in order to understand). Once I got it, I thought it was absolutely brilliant and creative, a new take from anything I had ever read before.
  • The only problem I would have with this book is the fact that I simply didn't like one of the important characters, who was consistently shrouded in mystery throughout the book: Sarah. I couldn't understand how she was constantly giving "brief but intense" looks and had the appearance of "submission and dominance" at once. Personally, the love affair just seemed too sudden and based entirely on "fate" and a "love-at-first-sight" appearance, so I couldn't really feel much for the two of them.
  • To the author's credit, his contradictory statements added nice irony and more mystery to Sarah's character, and the build-up of suspense was well-done. I was determined to find out more about Sarah (despite my inability to relate to her).
  • The ending did not disappoint. There are unpredictable twists in all of the alternate endings, making this a fun and interesting story. There is also no rush or outpouring of feelings, which suited the story. Just a sort of settled calm and summation of a philosophy, and I thought that did nicely.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ramen Party

Outfit for today: J. Jill cardigan (size S), Banana Republic Heritage tank top (size S), Papaya shorts (size S), Sugar wedges (size 7), Roxy glasses, unknown belt.

So my best friend had this brilliant idea to throw a Ramen Party for us cheap college students before school starts. We brought our own ramen (with the exception of I, who wanted nothing but Hot Cheetos), and watched Mean Girls.

Friday, August 23, 2013

End of Summer

The end of summer is already near... Oh no;; now I have to start looking for a pharmacy tech job and apply for pharmacy schools and do coursework again... Bahaha, I suppose I don't have it too bad; this semester should be easier compared to last semester, and I'm actually excited to get my own apartment with two other friendly roomies, but I'm not ready yet :( Ready or not, I'm heading back to Austin tomorrow though.

First direction of thought: English Breakfast Tea

Well, my dad received a "Kate Middleton and Prince William wedding" tea, and we finally opened it up this morning to try it. Being the typical Chinese we are, we typically don't drink black tea with milk and sugar, but we decided to try it the British way, with some English breakfast items such as scones and pastries.

All in all, the experience was pretty neat. First, I tried the black tea by itself - and honestly, I thought it was pretty gross. Somehow it's just very strong without that sweet, floral aroma that tea usually has. But after adding milk and honey, it was a lot better and easier to drink, especially accompanied with sweets.

I don't think I like British-style tea as much as traditional Chinese teas like Pu-erh or Oolong (the fact that the tea was in tea bags especially annoyed me too), but it was fun and new and interesting, and I'm glad to finally understand what British writers are describing when their characters are drinking tea.

Second direction of thought: Daan Sushi

Sushi sampler as an appetizer... So pretty.

Here is the Daan Special! Big eye tuna, fresh salmon, yellowtail, avocado and cucumber with smelt fish egg on top.

And now the Caterpillar Roll! Baked fresh water eel and cucumber topped with avocado with sweet sauce.

Third Direction of Thought: Selfies

Outfit of the day: Roxy glasses, Roots tank dress (size S), Ann Taylor cardigan (size M), Naturalizer heels, unknown belt, and Harajuku bag.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Davids Tea's Bai Hao Yin Zhen Review

Bai Hao Yin Zhen (Organic)
This is a true luxury, considered by many to be China’s most famous white tea. To create it, only the downy, silvery unopened buds of the tea plant are picked by hand during the April harvest. How does this influence the flavour and aroma? Connoisseurs rave about its sweet complexity, and about an underlying grassy taste that makes it uniquely perfect.

Price: $19.50 per 1.76 oz/$11.08 per oz... I got this as a free sample.
Preparations: 1.5 tsp, 201 degrees F, 4-5 min.

  • Unlike most white teas, this flavor is not at all weak. Though its flavor is distinctive from your typical green tea, it's similar in that you can rebrew the same leaves and they still taste great.
  • The texture is also really beautiful. If you look carefully, you can even see small hairs of the plant, which is pretty cool. Overall, it gives the impression of being very delicate and soft.
  • Drink it in the traditional hot tea style. The flavor is very hard to describe, but it's very simple and sweet in a very organic way, as if never handled by men (though that's not possible in this modern day world). I wouldn't describe it as "earthy"or "smoky", although it does have a slightly grassy taste reminiscent of nature.
  • It's very relaxing and tastes so good. I would highly recommend this to anyone.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Teavana's Samurai Chai Mate Tea Review$slge$
The way of the warrior is strength, skill, fairness, mercy, power, energy, and balance. Our chai embodies this spirit and is mysteriously more delicious with a caffeine-rich green mate & green rooibos blend. Cinnamon, anise, cardamom, and almond are fortified with papaya and pineapple, orange, and lemongrass- all combined to face every new day full of strength and energy. SUPERFRUIT ENHANCED. CONTAINS NUTS.
Sweet and spicy infusion of cinnamon and citrus undertones.

Price: $6.20 per 2 oz/$3.10 per oz
Preparations: 1.5 tsp, 208 degrees F, 5 min.

  • Pretty strong and full-bodied; not a lot of complex flavors going on, but I can definitely taste the spicy-sweet "chai" flavors as well as the mate leaves. Just a thought though, it doesn't imitate or embody all of the chai characteristics, so I would not get this just as a replacement for chai.
  • I love it! It's sort of an energizing brew, and the color is quite nice too. The leaves before and after steeping smell great.
  • It tastes even better with the comparatively weaker White Ayurvedic Chai combined, probably because this tea is a bit grassier and stronger; Teavana unfortunately no longer seems to be selling that blend, but mix it manually and you'll be fine.
  • Very reasonable price for an excellent tea. Smells nice, tastes nice, looks nice.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, August 15, 2013

"The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger (1951)

Rye catcher.jpg
The hero-narrator of THE CATCHER IN THE RYE is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children's voices, adult voices, underground voices - but Holden's voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

  •  Firstly: after reading this, I definitely understand why this novel is so famous. It's well-written, fairly straight-forward, and yet chock full of petty observations, popular jargon, and convoluted emotions. This is the very epitome of teenage angst and drama. Holden's voice carries the very spirit of rebellion and growing up.
  • I have to admit, I didn't understand some of the slang used at first. For instance, Holden often says "it killed me", which I later understood to mean that something is really funny. I loved how the author incorporated that sort of lingo in.
  • Not to mention that the world is a bunch of phonies and Holden just hates on everyone. I couldn't help but laugh when I read his thoughts and observations on some parts, because they reminded me so much of myself a few years back, but now they just seemed absurd. My personal philosophy at the moment completely clashes with his, which just made the book's point so much more interesting to contemplate.
  • I absolutely loved Phoebe. No further comments, but I loved the interaction between brother and sister, and it brings some more of that human connection that Holden had been lacking earlier in the story, like his cold and distant relationship with his roommate and flatmate or with his history professor, or even with the prostitute.
  • Honestly, however, I was left a little bemused by the ending, which probably means very little, because my humble opinion as a Health Science student doesn't really count for anything in the literature world. But it seemed to me that at the end, Holden is simply coming to his terms with the world (he hates people, and yet he misses them once he's told their stories and they're gone), and he's going back to school (where he'll probably drop out again), and he's talking to a psychoanalyst and... that's it..? Of course, that's just how I saw it, and I'm probably missing some details. It was a fairly satisfying conclusion, given the style of the book anyway.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

"The Blue Lagoon" by Henry De Vere Stacpoole (1908)

Stacpoole's often-filmed 1908 romance is a classic of lyrical beauty, as two children are castaway on a beautiful island and grow up there, innocent of the real world.

I had this on my Kindle for a while, and had never gone past the second chapter, just because of various distractions. Finally, I sat myself down and finished reading it to the end, and here are my thoughts on the book.
  •  This book is interesting and great for reading on a rainy day with a cup of tea (which was how I read it). Paddy's accent in the beginning made it sort of hard to understand, but that was a challenge I enjoyed and it added on to the language in the story.
  • The narration altogether is a little detached, which is not surprising for a third-person, but the author tells the story clearly. I enjoyed it.
  • The beginning was a little slow (before they get shipwrecked), but I think that most adventure or survival books start out at a slower pace than the latter parts because they're trying to establish the backgrounds of the characters.
  • Honestly, the only reason why I'm not giving this full points is because I wasn't quite sure how to sum up the plot - and then I realize there wasn't really much of a plot. Which is fine, since not all books have to have a plot, but thinking back on it, the story is just weaving a tale of how two children survive on their own and discover the simple joys and frustrations of life. It's realistic and very interesting, but there's not a lot of depth and emotions in it.
  • I loved the ending. If you continue reading on to its sequels, then I suppose you'll find out whether or not the characters are still alive; and if you don't, then... well, it's your interpretation. Personally, I probably will not continue to its sequel, so I'm free to imagine. The whole juxtaposition between sleeping and death is beautifully incorporated.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Davids Tea's Pink Passionfruit Tea Review

 Pink Passionfruit
Passion fruits are pretty aptly named: all it takes is one taste to fall completely head over heels. Take this juicy, fruit-packed tisane. From its seductively tropical aroma to its blushing pink colour,it’s guaranteed to get your heart racing right from the get go. And once you finish your first glass, you’ll know you’ve found The One. Sweet, tangy and addictively refreshing, it has all the makings of the perfect summer fling.

Price: $6.50 per 1.76 oz/$3.69 per oz... I got this as a free sample.
Preparations: 1.25 tsp, 205 degrees F, 4-5 min.

  • First thing I noticed: it smelled so nice. Very fruity and sweet, there are tangy bits of hibiscus and apples, and its presentation in the form of tea leaves is just too cute. Did I mention that it smelled super good?
  • After steeping it, it smells even better. Yum. And its hue is a nice pale pink color, probably because of the hibiscus.
  • It works good as an iced tea - so long as you double the amount given above (at least 2 tsp). Very refreshing and light.
  • Maybe it's just because I prefer warm drinks, but I liked it better when it's in the form of a hot tea. The flavors seem to come out more.
  • On that note, there is a tinge of something bubblegum-y and almost a little saccharine on the tongue, which I didn't really appreciate, but it's not so noticeable that it ruins the taste of the tea. It seems to be just there as a fleeting aftertaste. I think it's because (according to the ingredients) of the artificial flavoring.
  • Still, I would definitely buy it! If you like sweet and fruity teas, then you will most likely love it.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Davids Tea's Salted Caramel Review

 Salted Caramel
There’s no better treat than a salted caramel. You won’t find this in your history books, but we’ve heard that Romeo seduced Juliet with a salt-sprinkled toffee. Rich, buttery and sweet with a kiss of salt – who can resist? So it goes without saying that it makes for a seriously delicious tea. This is a rich black tea blend, strewn with pieces of English toffee, coconut, caramel and a touch of French sea salt. It’s guaranteed to seduce your taste buds.

Price: $6.75 per 1.76 oz; $3.84 per oz... I got it as a free sample however.
Preparations: 1.25 tsp, 208 degrees F, 4-7 min

  •  I sniffed it as it came out of the bag... No noticeable fragrance then, and there were no visible pieces of caramel or toffee in the sample I received, only black tea leaves. But after brewing it and steeping for about 5 min, I could definitely smell the caramel-chocolatey fragrance, which was not particularly artificial but soothingly sweet and dessert-like.
  • Tastes nice with milk and honey/sugar! By itself, it tastes alright - a lot of that rich "black tea" flavor, a very slight hint of sweetness. Not sure if I would describe it as "buttery"; it's a very nice hue though, and with milk it's a creamy indulgence.
  • I was a little disappointed, however, because I couldn't taste the salt. Nor could I smell it, for that matter. There was only a very faint tinge in the aftermath.
  • I may be a little biased because I do not like black teas in general... And this is such a typical example of black tea. Strong flavor even with just one teaspoon. So I'm going to try to be a little more lenient with the rating, because all-in-all, it's really not a bad tea at all.
  • Would recommend for those who like sweet chocolate-flavored teas or just a touch of dessert decadence. Unfortunately, I am not a particular fan of black tea nor do I particularly like chocolate, so I would probably not purchase this.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"Cold Sassy Tree" by Olive Ann Burns (1984)

If the preacher's wife petticoat showed, the ladies would make the talk last a week. But on July 5, 1906, things took a scandalous turn. That was the day E. Rucker Blakeslee, proprietor of the general store and barely three weeks a widower, eloped with Miss Love Simpson - a woman half his age and, worse yet, a Yankee! On that day, fourteen-year-old Will Tweedy's adventures began and an unimpeachably pious, deliciously irreverent town came to life.

Not since To Kill a Mockingbird has a novel so deftly captured the subtle crosscurrents of small-town Southern life. Olive Ann Burns's classic bestseller brings to vivid life an era that will never exist again, exploring timeless issues of love, death, coming of age, and the ties that bind families and generations.

  • Very well-written book. It took me a while to get accustomed to the dialogue since it's so "southern," but it was a lot of fun and allowed the voice of the characters to develop well.
  • There are just so many surprises and twists in this book that keeps things lively and intriguing - the strange circumstances surrounding Blakeslee's second marriage so soon after his first wife dies, Lightfoot and Will's relationship change, how "Papa" gets his revenge on the grandfather when his wife is upset over an unfulfilled trip to New York, etc. Makes for an amusing read.
  • The grandfather of the family, Blakeslee, is a very interesting character. He is constantly causing turbulence in the waves of this small-town society, whether it's by preaching in his own house or hiring a "mill" boy, and his practicality (which other folks may also call "stinginess") and surprising insight makes you question what you once thought you knew to be right or wrong.
  • I was reading the book with the full intention of not liking Miss Love Simpson... The conservative part of me was also asking, with the other gossipy leaders, "What type of lady would marry a widow only three weeks after his wife's death??" But she has such personality and "sass" that I couldn't help liking her, and even feeling sorry for her whenever the opportunity presented itself.
  • Will Tweedy himself is also a great narrator, in the way he projects his views from what he has just witnessed or the way he interacts with others. I especially enjoyed reading about his interactions with his Aunt Loma or his beloved Lightfoot.
  • All of the characters are just so interesting, and this book is a great novel about growing up.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Davids Tea's Lychee Bloom Review

Fruity Blooming Teas (lychee)
These hand-crafted blooms taste just as lovely as they look. Each little wonder contains a beautiful blossom of lily and jasmine flowers. Just drop a ball into your glass teapot, watch it unfold, and meditate over the fresh aroma of sophisticated lychee. But the real surprise comes in your cup, as these particular blooms come loaded with a big fruity burst of flavour. Could life be more zen? Each bag contains one bloom.

Price: $2.50 per bloom... Because of a 40% discount, I paid $1.50 per bloom instead.
Preparations: 1 bloom, 208 degrees F, 7-10 min

  • I questioned at first whether or not a bloom would be worth it... But I assure you, it's well worth the price, especially if you have guests or family members who enjoy drinking tea together. It's beautiful watching the ball bloom into a flower as it soaks up the hot water (if you have a glass teapot), and it lasts quite a few steeps so that one bloom is enough to sustain an entire afternoon with company.
  • Mm... you can practically taste the caffeine. Haha. What I mean is that: it tastes just like a black tea... just the way it should.
  • I thought that the "artificial lychee flavor" added in would be a little off-putting, but it really wasn't. In fact, it was quite refreshing because you could smell lychee as the tea was made, but the taste was very subtle and not at all distracting. I could taste more jasmine than lychee, and the fragrance was really nice, didn't smell or taste artificial.
  • Recommended for tea connoisseurs! I absolutely loved it. But I think it's one of those rare things to savor and enjoy while it lasts, so I probably won't splurge on these blooms. It's a nice thing to try once in a while though.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Teavana's "Mango Mate Pu-erh Punch Tea" Review$slge$ 
For a taste of something sweet, spicy, and wonderfully exotic, breathe in the rich flavors of India in this sweet curry, chai, mango, passionfruit, mate, and pu-erh tea blend. Steeped with rich ripe guava, double citrus, and a touch of ginger, this invigorating and refreshing combination enlightens the senses, conjuring up the bustling markets of Agra near the Taj Mahal.
Sweet mango well balanced with spice and pu-erh.

Price: $8 per 2 oz/$4 per oz... I got this at a half-price sale however.
Preparations: 1.5 tsp, 208 degrees F, 5-6 min.

  •  My first thought when I tried this out was that I wasn't sure whether or not I liked it. The tea was very different from anything I'd ever tried before; I've never drank a flavored pu-erh drink before, and the mango-curry combination made the tea more spicy than sweet. But it was potable, and like the conservative Chinese I am, I drank it all.
  • The color is gorgeous; it's an orange-ish hue reminiscent of tropical fruits like mango or passionfruit. The aroma is nice too, with a hint of spice, but nothing overpowering.
  • After a few weeks of drinking, I have been enjoying the flavor more and more. It's definitely not one of my absolute favorites, but it's a nice go-to for the lazy afternoons. I have not tried it iced, and I'm not sure if I want to since the flavor seems more appropriate as a hot tea.
  • Honestly, I would only buy this again if it was on sale. While I liked it, I didn't feel as if it was worth $8/two oz (and if you've been to Teavana in-stores, you know that the cashiers generally tend to force you into accepting and paying more than you really want).
  • I'm not sure what type of people I'd recommend this to. If you like sweet, tangy teas, you might be disappointed, unless you appreciate a different approach every once in a while.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.