Tuesday, December 2, 2014

'tis the season.

My long-time friends, The Revere, released this cover of "O Holy Night" and I'm loving it! If you like it you can download it for free on bandcamp. Tell me, friends, what are some of your favorite holiday songs? :)

Better yet ... tell me your favorite holiday songs & wintry teas to go with them! ❤

Apologies for the radio silence on my end! Juggling two jobs and enrolling in full-time classes after a long time away can make time slip by quicker than you can imagine. I'm thankful that I'll be quitting my primary job just before Christmas so I can take time to enjoy the holidays with friends & family before diving headfirst into neuroscience!

I promise once I have one less job I won't be so neglectful of my little spot in the blogosphere!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

hosen sencha from ippodo tea co.

hosen sencha.

Today is one of those rainy grey November days that reminds you autumn is coming to a close. I trudged through the parking lot at work, got splashed by a car driving by, and was chilled to the core afterward. I got home and decided to tackle some of the tea reviews I have pending! The folks at Ippodo Tea Co. were kind enough to reach out and send me two of their sencha offerings in a beautiful gift box! I received the Hosen and Unro teas.

Today I am brewing their Hosen tea. A cup of this was bright enough to combat the chill I got outside! On the website it states this is the sencha they recommend to newcomers. It is bright, palatable, and complex without being overwhelming!


The dry leaves are shiny and a beautiful emerald green. The aroma is very light and sweet -- almost sugary! Ippodo recommends you brew 2 tbsp of this tea in a kyusu teapot at 80° C / 175° F for one minute.

ippodo tea.

The color of the cup is a pale yellowish green. The sweet scent of the dry leaves remains after brewing and is very aromatic and pleasant when sipping. Upon first taste the tongue is hit with a mellow vegetal flavor that lightens up on the palate into a high citrus note. The aftertaste that remains is reminiscent of asparagus -- green and snappy. I accidentally oversteeped mine and found that the tea is exceptionally forgiving. It didn't become unbearably astringent or undrinkable. I found that in a subsequent proper steeping the aftertaste is lighter and more floral if you don't oversteep. It was almost reminiscent of orange blossom as opposed to asparagus. They were still both very enjoyable brews!

This is the tea I'm going to save for rainy days. It is bright, refreshing, and a great way to escape the autumnal blues! ❤

Thursday, September 25, 2014

rainy day diy: nourishing face oil.

All my life I've had combination skin, hormonal acne, and persistent dry patches that made it nigh impossible for foundation to look good. It's been a major point of self consciousness, and the condition of my skin really prevented me from feeling good about myself without makeup. After doing research I realized I was using an intense cleanser that was sapping my skin dry and the moisturizer I was using was super strong to combat that. The combination of harsh dryness and excessive moisturizing was leaving my skin in an absolute state of disarray.

It is really easy to go overboard on products -- especially those that can do more harm than good.

I switched to an extremely gentle cleanser (Philosophy's 'Purity Made Simple') with a silicone exfoliating brush and started using gentle oils to moisturize afterward. Today it's been rainy and I'm stuck inside so I figured I'd share with you guys what oils I use in case you were interested!

You'll need: a base oil, a nourishing oil targeted to your issues, and a glass bottle with a dropper to pour into. I use jojoba oil as a base because it closely matches the sebum your skin produces. It is NOT noncomedogenic, many people claim it is, but it is widely known to play nice with acne prone skin. While it is sold as an oil it is technically a liquid plant wax. This makes it very stable and less likely to go rancid than other oils. Yes, these things can go rancid. Never had it happen personally!

The nourishing oil I chose is tamanu oil (aka: beauty leaf oil -- seriously) and it is known for it's skin healing properties. It is reported as antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and high in antioxidants. Common uses for it include treatment in reducing scarring, stretch marks, rashes, and eczema. This is perfect for me because even when my skin is without acne I still have scars from years and years of being an anxious skin picker. It's a terrible bad habit and I've only recently kicked it.

An amber glass bottle with a dropper is my favorite way of storing the mixture. The dark color keeps the oil protected from light, and the dropper allows you to measure out how much you want to use easily.

You'll want to fill your bottle 2/3 of the way with your carrier oil. Make sure you have paper towels handy in case you spill anything -- oil can be a little bit of a pain to wipe off of surfaces!

Fill the remainder of the bottle with your nourishing oil. Tamanu oil is really fun to look at when you pour it out: it's BRIGHT GREEN! Whenever I make my oil concoction I feel a little bit like a potions master or alchemist. You can, at this point, add a few drops (~4) of skin-friendly essential oils. I left this out of mine because I find that the two on their own does the job for me, but you can always explore options such as lavender, rosemary, or lemongrass.

Separation between the two oils is normal. Shake your bottle gently before use and keep in a cool dark place. There you have it ... your own homemade face oil! This isn't some miracle that makes breakouts go away completely, but I've found that if my skin decides to be a bit of a jerk it makes the bad days come and go quickly. The blemishes are smaller, less inflamed, and they heal much faster than they used to. My pores are clearer and my skin produces less oil in general throughout the day. The redness from my scarring appears to be reduced after extended use. My skin is an even texture throughout and my dry patches are now smooth and soft like the rest of my face!

I tend to use ~3 drops after thoroughly washing my face both in the morning and the evening. The reason why I use a bottle with a dropper is because you can EASILY get too much oil on your hands and then you turn into a greaseball. Use in moderation: a little goes a very long way. I massage it into my skin for around 1 minute. In the mornings I remove excess oil with blotting sheets, but in the evening I let the rest sink in overnight to nourish my skin while I sleep.

You may feel oily at first, and you may get an extra zit here and there, but that's usually the case whenever you change something in your skincare regimen. Give your skin time to adjust. It goes without saying, though, if the oils really don't work for you simply discontinue use and go back to your favorite products!

Jojoba Oil from Desert Essence (available in health food stores)

DISCLAIMER: None of the information in this post has been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Remember to spot test anything you use on your skin to test for allergic reactions. Know your skin, know your ingredients, and do your own independent research beforehand. Don't use anything you don't feel comfortable with.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

pax prime 2014.


ALRIGHT GUYS! This is one heck of an image-heavy post. I apologize but I can't help but share all my photos from another phenomenal trip out to Seattle to visit my sweetie. I flew out just after my birthday because Dan got us tickets to PAX! PAX is a super-massive videogame expo that occurs annually in Seattle. It is actually so incredibly successful that there are additional expos in Boston, San Antonio, and even Melbourne! My flight out from Philadelphia was delayed for an hour and I quickly realized how many people present were flying out for PAX. We all had our 3DSes out and were playing Mario Kart & Animal Crossing to pass the time. On the plane I was even seated next to a dev who was traveling to promote his game!


I was warned ahead of time by people at the airport (and later again by Dan) that PAX is all about lining up to see certain panels and shows. I had no idea just how many lines I would be in over the 4-day expo. Dan and I waited for a lot of great panels including Hironobu Sakaguchi (the creator of Final Fantasy), the team working on remastering Grim Fandango, and my personal favorite: Pat Rothfuss. During those queues I was constantly getting streetpassed on my 3DS. It was amazing!


Also occurring within PAX was the League of Legends LCS tournament. I don't personally play LoL but I do enjoy watching competitive gaming. I was really impressed by the huge setup Riot had and the enthusiasm of the crowds. I wanted to sit in on a few matches but seeing as I don't really play the game I opted to relinquish my seat to someone who was far more enthusiastic about it than I was. How could I not poke my head in for a little bit, though? I mean ... LOOK AT ALL THE FLASHING COLORFUL LIGHTS. I was drawn to the area like a darn moth!

pat rothfuss.

The Patrick Rothfuss panel by and far was my favorite part of the expo. He's one of my favorite authors (The Name of the Wind / The Wise Man's Fear) and he read us some excerpts of his work and entertained us with his absolutely excessive use of the word 'fuck.' I mean ... he actually used it with such frequency that a mother escorted her child from the auditorium while covering her ears. After the laughter, the great readings, and mildly disturbing storytime he closed the panel by leading all 3,000 people present in singing "You Are My Sunshine." Admittedly, I got a little bit misty eyed and had chills all over. It also put a huge smile on my face for the rest of the day. It prompted me and Dan to grab coffee & donuts sit in line first thing the next morning to get all his releases signed by him. 100% worth it!

It was also made more worthwhile cause by the time we got out of the signing they had free delicious turkey legs waiting outside to advertise the new Gauntlet game. Breakfast AND lunch taken care of!

oculus rift.

Another really cool thing that happened on this trip was that I FINALLY GOT TO TRY THE OCULUS RIFT!!!! This is a piece of technology I am so excited for. Dan's friend ran the Tuscan Villa simulator for me and I got to explore a cute little house on the sea while being completely immersed in the environment. I hope I one day get to try many other games on this, and I can't wait to see what is eventually released specifically for the Oculus.

omegathon 2014.

The weekend concluded with Omegathon which is a tournament that occurs throughout the expo and is the grand finale for the convention. This year the final game they played was competetive Pac-Man. I never thought I would witness so many people screaming and cheering over the game, but that's exactly what happened. The positive energy in the crowd was absolutely contagious! When we made it back to the house I was a little bit sad it was over -- although my legs were relieved!

PAX felt like a safe haven. Where I could be myself and not feel judged for liking videogames and fantasy novels. It was an extremely positive experience for me. I normally have debilitating anxiety in crowds of people but when I found myself among everyone I only had genuinely pleasant interactions. If you knew me personally you'd know that a lot of my experiences with strangers as of late have been unpleasant and upsetting. PAX restored my faith in humanity. Shoutout to the girl working at Geek Chic who showered me with a lot of really lovely compliments and made me feel super pretty!

Now you guys officially know how much I like videogames. ❤

strawberry crepe.

Also, on my last day out I FINALLY TRIED CREPES FOR THE FIRST TIME!!! That was the icing on my happy cake. :D