Little Things That Make Me Happy

RosesThis is one of those weeks when I feel rather stressed, so instead of a text-heavy post, I just wanted to focus on a few things that make me happy. Like:

  • Roses. And flowers in general, if you don’t have allergies. At least, I like seeing things blooming everywhere in the spring.
  • A cup of tea
  • Getting more done than is actually on my “mandatory, must do” list. Even when I don’t get to everything on my supposedly-mandatory list, it’s nice to keep track of the other things I did, to remind myself that I actually did get things done.
  • Finding a pair of matching socks to wear

This is a lot like something I used to do to fight off depression: I used to draw up a list of highlights. I’m not saying that works for everyone, or every stage of depression, but I think it was a good exercise for me. Today, though, I’m putting a different spin on it, because there’s a lot in my life that makes me happy, and it’s easy to forget that when I’m overwhelmed by the chore list.

With that, back to my Monday. I hope yours is lovely, with at least a few happy things in it (more if possible, of course)!

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A Rainy Sunday Afternoon in Napa

Yesterday was one of those days when I just wanted to get out of town for a while. So I headed off to Napa for some food, some more food, and then, to mix things up, some more food.

The good news: I’m not much into wine, so the rain didn’t get in the way of any wine-tasting plans. Places where I stopped:

  • Oxbow Public Market
  • Bel Aire Plaza

Oxbow was surprisingly crowded for such a damp day, but I found myself enjoying it. The close-packed people, the rain falling outside: it was all wonderful. I snagged an ahi burger at Gott’s, and then, since finding seating at Oxbow is often a bit of a challenge, I ate in my car before heading off to Bel Aire Plaza, which was quieter.

Napa is pricey, so that’s something to keep in mind. (One reason why I can’t be going out there all the time.) But for yesterday, it was nice to have a treat. And both Oxbow and Bel Aire are relatively friendly stops for rainy weather. Oxbow is mostly indoors, except for places like Gott’s, so once you get to the main building, you could theoretically stay there for a while. Bel Aire you might want to bring an umbrella to, if you’re planning to walk to the different stores. But (unless you feel a need to seek out dirt) you’ll basically be walking on sidewalks and concrete when you’re outside. That’s great for me, because honestly, I’m not that fond of walking on dirt or grass or nature-stuff in sunny weather. In wet weather: sidewalks, please.

With that, I hope you all managed to stay dry this weekend! And, as ever, that you’re having a wonderful Monday.

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To Oregon and Back Again

Last week, my mom’s much-beloved cat passed away, so this weekend, looking for some different scenery, the two of us took a trip to Oregon. I’m not quite ready to talk about the cat on this blog, and honestly I’m not sure if I will be any time soon (or maybe ever), but Oregon was lovely. There’s just something about the forest, all those towering trees, and a beautiful sky overhead.

A few wonderful things about Oregon, on a very quick pass through (part of) the southern edge:

  • I hate to sound like a broken record, but the scenery really is gorgeous.
  • No sales tax!
  • They pump gas for you, which I’m sure is quite nice when it’s chilly or rainy outside. (Although the weather was pretty good this time through–very little rain, and not as cold as it could’ve been.)

Of course, there is something to be said for California, and the sun, as well. So wherever you live, I hope you’re all having a splendid Monday! And that if you can’t travel at the moment, you enjoy these pictures from a weekend on the road.

 

Resting

My hand got injured, so I’m taking it easy today. Hopefully it will be better soon, and I’ll be back to typing normally, but in the meantime… I don’t know. Here’s this picture of my stuffed cat, Duncan, reading a book.

Reading Scarlet

The book Duncan is reading, as you may have noticed, is Scarlet, by Marissa Meyer. Duncan has great taste in books. Because he’s a smallish cat, he’s using a “book chair,” which is also awesome. (Closest link here, if you’re curious–I’m not sure it’s the same company, since I got mine ages ago, but anyway.)

And with that bit of random silliness (about the cat, not the book–Scarlet really is a fun read/reread), happy Tuesday to you all! I hope life is treating you well!

San Francisco Tea Weekend

Lately I’ve been wondering if it would be a good idea to switch to loose-leaf tea. It seems like it might be a more ethical way of drinking tea, and it’s also arguably a small thing that’s quite doable for me–most days, I only drink one cup of tea (maybe two), and I technically have enough time to make that cup a good one. So this weekend, I decided to investigate some tea shops in San Francisco and Berkeley, along with my friend Grace. (Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube! There might even be some pictures of me somewhere on one of those accounts, thus proving that I am a real person.)

The city was lovely, and the tea shops were a lot of fun. Here are the ones we visited, in order:

Red Blossom was definitely my favorite, in terms of both the particular teas that I like, and the price (not all their teas worked with my budget, but there were some good ones that did). I also really liked that you could open up the canisters and smell the tea without having to ask someone behind a counter to get things down. (Smelling teas: both fun and surprising.) That having been said, though, I didn’t have bad experiences at any of the tea shops. Unless you count not being able to make up my mind, and not having infinite money to spend on every tea that interested me.

We ended up buying teas from two of the places. From Red Blossom Tea Company, we bought keemun, genmaicha, and lychee black tea. And from Asha Tea House, I got the House Blend Assam. Then, the next evening, Grace and I tried brewing these teas for ourselves. (By which I mean that Grace brewed the teas, really. It worked out great for me.) The teas were still lovely, and we’re not loose-leaf experts or anything, so that bodes well for the future. I even managed to make some tea myself this morning, despite my complete lack of an infuser. And it was delicious.

All in all, I’d definitely like to try some more loose-leaf teas and tea shops. But the next step, for now: to try drinking only loose-leaf for a few days, and see if my taste buds notice the difference when confronted with bagged tea again. (My taste buds are not generally very picky about tea, so all bets are off there.)

Other notes:

  • Thanks to this article for helping start this particular adventure!
  • Loose-leaf tea is not as hard as I thought. You can tell because I made it, and enjoyed it. (Thanks to another article for helping clarify some things.) Supplies I used (aside from tea and water, of course): water heating device, spoon (for scooping out tea), measuring cup (for steeping the leaves–great because it pours really well), a sieve (for catching the tea leaves), and a mug.
  • Loose-leaf tea also does seem to taste subtler than bagged tea, but this might be partially because I expect it to. It also smells wonderful–not just in those splendid canisters, but the actual cup of tea. I don’t know if I’ve ever noticed that about bagged tea before.
  • I don’t mean for the book/reading/maybe-sometimes-writing posts to go away! I’ve just been enjoying life-type things recently.

As ever, happy Monday to you all! And now off to make another cup of tea work. Definitely work.

Random Breakfast Burrito

It’s Wednesday! I’m actually posting on a Wednesday!

And I’m cooking. Today is just all kinds of special.

So anyway, I was at the supermarket last night, looking for pre-made meals (as you do), when I thought, “There are probably a lot of things in that breakfast burrito that I don’t like. I could eat around them. Or I could make my own breakfast burrito. I’ve made scrambled eggs before. It can’t be that hard.”

And so it began.

Milling randomly through the supermarket, here are the things I ended up with:

  • Tortillas. Because that’s kind of important.
  • Cheese. I got the Mexican 4-cheese kind, because I wasn’t planning on adding a lot of spices, so I figured I could use the extra kick.
  • Sliced baby bella mushrooms. Because come on, like I was going to slice those things myself.
  • A red potato. After some hasty research on my phone, this seemed to be the right kind.
  • Chives. To be completely honest with you here, I’m not 100% sure what chives are, or what they’re supposed to do. But I’ve heard/read them mentioned in restaurants before, and I’m pretty sure they have to do with omelet-type things (sometimes, at least), and I’m also pretty sure I like them. Also sour cream and chives, right? That’s a thing.

Other ingredients I turned out to have at home, which was probably for the best:

  • Eggs. I already knew I had these, but it was still good that I was right.
  • Olives
  • Rosemary olive oil

And here’s how my cooking procedure went:

  • Take picture for blog. (Ok, that may not be a mandatory cooking step.)
  • Wash things, and then chop everything up. (See, I did end up slicing things!)
  • Lightly oil the skillet (pan?), probably for no reason since it was already non-stick.
  • Put some olive oil in the skillet/pan, and briefly cook the mushrooms in it. But forget about the potatoes until later, because who needs cooked potatoes?
  • Throw two eggs in. Realize you don’t have a spatula.
  • Improvise until you can find a spatula.
  • Throw in the rest of the ingredients, except for the chives. The container says to save those for the end.
  • Realize that you don’t have enough eggs. Add another egg. (I may have done that slightly earlier. I can’t remember.)
  • Realize that the potatoes are going to be undercooked. And also that your egg-to-other-stuff ratio is still off. And also that you probably need a bigger pan.
  • Debate fixing these things. Decide to just fix it next time. Add the chives as a sign that you’re committing to being done.
  • Realize you didn’t add the cheese. Sprinkle that on the tortilla before adding the omelet-type mix.
  • Eat!

All in all, this probably took me about 30-45 minutes. I wash my hands a lot when I cook, so that was part of it. And also, as you may be able to tell, I had no plan, so I just kind of pinwheeled my way through things. That having been said, the burrito wasn’t bad. A little bland, but I was going for something kind of basic, so it worked. The only real problem was that I ate it too fast, and the potatoes were (as noted) rather undercooked (hardly cooked at all, really), so I felt a little unwell right after eating it. But if it makes sense, it wasn’t an unclean, oily kind of unwell. It was a “you probably ate too fast and also undercooked your potatoes” kind of unwell.

I have 9 more tortillas, so I’m probably going to try this again, but I don’t know that I’ll document it. I suspect that all breakfast burritos look very similar, and the cooking process can’t be that different, either. Maybe more streamlined, and hopefully more competent, but not fundamentally different. Mishaps aside, though, I’m pretty pleased with how this turned out–it wasn’t bad for a first attempt. And I definitely learned some things (chives smell wonderful; also I probably need more spices; also, as I may have mentioned, I need to cook those potatoes better).

So anyway, this was my Wednesday morning. Hope yours is going well!

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Marker Case Mock-Up

I tend to have trouble finishing things. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise, given some of my past blog topics. (Like last year’s NaNoWriMo goal, or my return to blogging that lasted for 3 posts. So at least I’ve beaten that, this time.) Lately, getting things done has been harder than ever, it seems. But on Saturday, I decided it would be cool to make a case for my Tombows (the plastic shipping bag I was keeping them in was starting to get annoying), and on Sunday, I actually finished the mock-up.

Granted, it wasn’t the way I’d imagined it would be, starting out. But there are a lot of things I like about the final product. Honestly, there’s every chance that I’ll use this thing until it breaks, mock-up or not, because if it works, it works.

All things considered, then: I’m calling this project a win. If you’d like to make one of your own, here’s what I used:

  • Fabric and buttons: Joann’s. (Fabric Quarters–lots of nice patterns there, and there was a sale. Might still be, depending on when you’re reading this.) The button brand is also available here, apparently. And of course you’ll also need thread and a needle and stuff. And a tiny piece of ribbon, if you want to make it the same way I did.
  • Instructions: I more or less followed this video, with some small alterations.

It’s actually pretty easy. And I say this as someone who doesn’t usually sew. The hardest part was getting the corners of the bag. And those are really kind of optional, for my version.

Panel Next Monday! (Hopefully.)

Close Up Panel 2See? I’m working on it! But I got kind of distracted by yesterday’s eclipse.

Obviously this panel is going to be about books? Reading? Crying? (Eep… well, maybe not that surprising. Books. Love them, love to cry over them.) Hopefully I’ll finish it, so you can see next week. Provided I actually, you know, stick with it instead of changing it out for something else.

In any event, next Monday! And maybe sometime during this week. We’ll see.

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Time to Choose a New Notebook (Again)

“Tricky customer, eh? Not to worry, we’ll find the perfect match here somewhere . . .” (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone)

I’ve talked about choosing a notebook before. As I’m (re)reading the Harry Potter series now, I can’t help thinking it’s a lot like choosing a wand. Maybe that’s why I always like knowing what the wands are made of.

Right now: black cover with chalk-like writing and designs (slightly flexible but also offers some support); lined, off-white pages, roughly 8 x 5.5 inches, with design at top left corner.