Monday, July 26, 2010

Bergamot Summer

Call me crazy, but despite muggy 80 degree weather I still crave a cup of hot tea. Specifically, a cup of Earl Grey. Even more specifically, the Numi Aged Earl Grey I got from Giant Eagle the other day but have yet to try.

This is the problem with summer. You sweat too much; you can't take hot showers; and you can't drink a cup of tea or cocoa without your insides melting and seeping out through your pores. Last summer when I lived in my parent's air conditioning I had an evening cocoa habit, and during the day drank tea in the chilly finished basement.

My apartment--designed like an oven to keep the internal temperature five degrees hotter inside than out--is another story. I've gone without a cup of Earl Grey for too long.

My first encounter with this tea was accidental: a box of Twinings abandoned by a friend in my cupboard. To this day Twinings is still my favorite (I mean, it's not for nothing that it's approved by the Queen), though I also have a fondness for Stash's double-bergamot version--not their regular Earl Grey, which also has lavender.

My cousin--a former Starbucks employee--had never tasted it, so I introduced her to it. She remarked after one sip that it tasted like citrus.

I was taken aback. Her taste buds are more finely tuned than mine. Citrus, to me, meant lemons, limes, grapefruit. I don't know what I thought bergamot was; I wasn't expecting it to be something like an orange. And I still can't think of it as citrus; it's light, yes, but also rich. It's like a dance between sunshine and cool, shaded places.

This is how my obsession has grown, you see. I browse bergamot scented perfumes, lotions, and body washes on Etsy. It smells the way it tastes. I haven't bought any--yet. I think if I used bergamot scented perfume I would never stop smelling my wrists.

Since my first box of Twinings, I've made Earl Grey shortbread, Earl Grey brownies, and one of my life goals is to make Earl Grey ice cream. And then Earl Grey Chocolate ice cream. (I'm of the opinion that Earl Grey + dark chocolate is one of the best combinations in existence. Perfect for watching British television.) And of course there are bergamot curd, bergamot dreams, and Earl Grey cheesecake to try also.

But I have no ice cream maker, and it's too hot to bake, so I did the only thing I could: I made Earl Grey iced tea. It was a spur of the moment experiment, but it turned out pretty well.

Granted, the scent of bergamot is hard to get out of the pitcher--and it will flavor the next tea you make. (I used to make Earl Grey in my thermos, and my coffee had a definite citrus flavor afterward.) As the last four pitchers I've made have been Earl Grey, this isn't a problem for me.

This is my pact with summer. And I suppose there aren't many things more summery than citrus.

How I make Earl Grey Iced Tea:

Pour approximately six cups of boiling water over eight bags of Earl Grey. Steep for about five minutes. Add 1/4-1/3c sugar (maybe even 1/2c, if you like sweet tea). Add 1-2c cool or lukewarm water to moderate the tea's strength.

This makes a strong tea--the kind I like. If you prefer a lighter flavor, try using Twinings Lady Grey instead.

Monday, July 19, 2010

TPing the Apartment

My roommate is getting married in a few weeks (!!), which means that the furniture situation here will be changing. All I own is a kitchen table and four rickety chairs painted a pretty shade of indigo. The rest--couch, chair, television, etc--is hers.

I did buy an armchair at an estate auction (a story unto itself), and I may even be able to keep the couch for the next year. She and her husband-to-be aren't moving very far away, and they don't have room for it. Or, I can take one of my boyfriend's couches for the time being, neither of which fit into his new place.

Either way, I will have the place to myself for a month before the new roomie moves in, and I find that I'm in re-decorating mode. I've been wasting inordinate amounts of time on sites like Apartment Therapy and Design*Sponge, keeping my eyes peeled for local estate sales, looking for bookshelves on Craig's list, and saving toilet paper rolls.

Well, one toilet paper roll. My roommate threw the last one out, so I have to keep an eye on the tp and make sure that I'm the one to use the last square; I am not in favor of digging things out of the bathroom trash. But ever since stumbling across the Design*Sponge tutorial for making toilet paper roll wall art, I've been excited about this project.

I can sense your skepticism. Keith was doubtful too, until I showed him Cool Pictures From The Internet.

The fact that you can paint it all sorts of lovely colors as opposed to leaving it a weird shade of cardboard made him admit it wasn't a completely ridiculous idea, although I think he still has his doubts. Perhaps calling it wall art is a bit overblown.

But I did find some real art while googling for inspiration pictures. Check out these trees from artist Yuken Teruya. Or the scenes crafted by Anastassia Elias.

I'll need to use more toilet paper before I can attempt this, but when the time comes I'll share my own success (or failure) here.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Brief History of Blogging

Part one: Blogger

In April of 2005 I wrote my first blog post on a very basic, very pink blogspot. I posted there pretty faithfully until it petered out and eventually stopped completely in 2007. I also started two group blogs, both with members of The Inkspiller: a NaNoWriMo blog, and one for writing in general.

This was my first blogging experience. It was fun, light-hearted, profound, and typical of my late teens. Nostalgia-worthy, long over.

Part Two: Xanga

Yes, I created a Xanga account. This happened mostly because all my internet friends were over there. For a while I posted mostly the same things to blogger and xanga, and then xanga took prominence.

It was on xanga that I learned--the hard way--my first lesson about protecting posts. I overreacted, I think, putting the whole blog on a friends only lock; but if I recall, xanga didn't offer many privacy options.

Xanga died a quick and merciful death.

Part Three: Livejournal

I was attracted to Livejournal in part because of the myriad of privacy options, and in part because of the fact that (again) many of my internet friends were posting there. Those friends no longer read it, but I still keep it up for the few that do. It is my most personal blog. Not intimate per se--I keep my secrets off the internet--but personal things, the sort of sometimes-lighthearted, sometimes-serious chit chat you'd exchange with a friend on the phone.

Part Four: Wordpress

I can't remember when I got a Wordpress account. I registered, but didn't start a blog, and forgot about it. Then in early 2009 a friend wanted to start an independent film production company called Dos Lados, and invited me to be a part of the attendant blog. I tried to register a Wordpress account, and it told me my email was already in use, and I remembered that account existed.

Not much happened with that blog--or Dos Lados--but last fall in a fit of procrastination and admiration for blogging writers I started a Real Blog called Rosemary Writes. As the tagline proclaims, this blog is for "matters more bookish than not"--reading, writing, teaching, etc.

But I wanted to participate in more light-hearted blogging, something less personal than Livejournal but less focused than Wordpress. A place where I could blog about whatever strikes my fancy.

And so here you have it--my return to blogger, and to the sort of blogging which took place there. I hope you enjoy.