30 March 2016

Magnolia Planation

Everything is beautiful and built upon slave labor.

There were no magnolias blooming at this time, nor camellias either (how did it take this long to make the connection that tea is also camellia?).

29 March 2016

angels in the marble

Ugh I don't like falling behind posting trip photos, but was having a good chat with housemates last night & simply too lazy tonight.

So here's the Gateway Walk photos instead, tis definitely my favourite alley:

It leads into a cemetery and the mood was perfect with the steady falling rain. 

27 March 2016


Every alley south of Broad St. is perfect. Worth getting shoes and lower pant legs absolutely soaked by the rain for.

Also took the wide-angle lens into Gateway Walk, will post separately.


In case you haven't found out yet, additional photos on facebook. For now, subject-centric photos go on fb, and style-centric photos go on blog. Trying to not clutter both places up as I figure out a more permanent solution for my photos. Gotta overhaul how they're stored locally too, ugh.

26 March 2016


So far my film emulation choices is as follows:
  • velvia for travel
  • classic chrome for when lighting is good (and controllable) 
  • provia for food 
Day 2 in Charleston has been with intermittent thunderstorms. Also ate too much sugared goods, now seriously craving some vinegar-y bbq. Actually change that to vinegar-y slaw, but so far only 1 bbq joint has actually had good slaw and not shreds of cabbage soaked in mayo.

Because of the rain, I also didn't take much photos and painstakingly hid my camera under my jacket since by body isn't weather-proofed. But here's the Aikens-Rhett house, one of the house museums. This one is preserved rather than restored. 

The first is so far my favourite photo of the trip. The slaves quarter has much more interesting lighting than the tightly controlled main house. But the view from the main house's porches (piazzas) are wonderful though.

25 March 2016


Today has not been the greatest in terms of physical well-being, but it was absolutely fantastic in terms of houses & gardens. Historic Charleston is a fine example of people being good at flaunting their wealth.

20 March 2016


Okay I concede, sheng pu er is a different league than shou. While I'll forever love my yancha, sheng is such an exciting unexplored territory. I'm immensely looking forward to being in Yunnan this summer.

Today's tea is 云普之巅, it took several tries to figure out the corresponding Chinese characters.

In short, I've already found the cake on Taobao and briefly considered buying multiples of it to age further. Although the one on Taobao is dry stored whereas this one from CLT is wet stored, but I'm not certain that my palatte is able to differentiate the difference in storage yet. Also spent some time considering what my options are for pu er storage, since the climate in Toronto is abysmally dry (in pu er metrics) so that would entail the investment in a pumidor. Or I can leave some cakes in Chengdu? This is waaay getting ahead of myself.

Anyways, I probably used more leaf than recommended and steeped longer than recommended, but am enjoying the slight bitterness. Also strong huigan with a hint of sweetness and not drying at all, I almost prefer it to the actual taste of the tea. It's taking a lot of self control not buying a full cake of this.

19 March 2016


Today was the first day for the farmer's market at Piedmont Park, came home with some garlic greens and farm eggs. I do think that I'll upgrade to buying farm eggs because the yolks are actually that much more orange and they're not that much more expensive. Well depends on how you think about it, $0.50/egg is quite reasonable but it is twice the cost of Publix organic eggs. Don't think I'll miss $1.50 per week though, and am glad that I can afford this kind of lifestyle.

Whipped up a quick lunch with today's bounty:

French-ish omelette with garlic shoots filling, and a side of 凉拌芹菜. Is celery slaw the most accurate English translation? After a week of finely slicing celery for cold noodles and now this, I can say that my knife skills have visibly improved heh :D

Anyways the omelette. I fully intended making it French style with butter and cream, but somehow totally forgot that the key was to frequently stir it over a very low heat. Instead the butter ended up browning in the cast iron skillet while I was whisking the eggs, and I poured the egg in then proceeded onto chopping the garlic shoots without any stirring. No complaints about the final product though, in fact I love the crispy egg bits.


While at the farmer's market, I also picked up a bar of local artisan chocolate.

Atlanta's answer to Mast Brothers, although the wrapping paper isn't quite their level. But with the possible scandal over Mast Bros, I'm happy with supporting a local business. Nice crunch with bits of cacao nibs, and a nice coconutty aftertaste.

Speaking of relative sense of pricing, I read a yelp review of this business that complained about how Godiva bars are larger at the same price point (~$10 ea). Usually I'm pretty immune to the stupidity (or perhaps just a difference in value) over the internet, but these two operations aren't exactly comparable. The scale that they operate at, ignoring the fair trade and organic premium, is a world apart. smh.

The girl at the stand did tell me that every bar is produced in their Krog St. Market store and that they give tours if you just ask. Will definitely make a visit.

16 March 2016

mouth moves but no sounds

Music to fall asleep to

15 March 2016

Everlane modern loafer

Yeah I did concede to the moc-toe of Everlane loafer. The fit is really good though, and surprisingly fully lined with a suede portion around the heel. It definitely fulfills the can-walk-for-a-full-day criteria. Unfortunately the leather feels not that great, though I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume it's an intentional finish...but the creasing isn't supporting that assumption. To put it in prespective, it's not like...Aldo level crappy leather, but Everlane chooses to make its leather a point of advertisement and this is not much to brag about. Then again for the price I can't complain too much. Somewhere between pas terrible, and pas mal. We'll see how it ages.

This is what I get for spoiling myself with nice shoes too early.

13 March 2016


Another sunday well spent, aka drinking tea and reading books.

trying a Nilgiri tea for the first time, delicious

I constantly flip flop between thinking the above is the perfect meal, or that a scrumptious feast is the perfect meal (a la the Indian feasts that I'm reading about in A Taste of India). Similarly I flip flop between wanting to open as many boxes as possible, and wanting to be the king of my own nutshell. Supposedly that's life?

12 March 2016

2012 bulang shou

This post is a lot more about how nice the dark liquor of ripe pu er looks in my cups than the tea itself, which I find weirdly devoid of taste. I don't mean that the tea is bland, it taste of nothing. Like even water has its own taste, but somehow the first couple steeps of this tea did not have a taste at all, and barely even had a texture. The later steeps did develop the pretty characteristic ripe pu er taste.

Super weird... will need to drink again. Though Atlanta has transitioned fully into summer (what?) which is decreasing my desire to drink darker teas.


The crackle glaze is beautiful :'D even if I cheated a little with a high pass filter.


Bonus: milk tea and corn bread has been my breakfast for the past week.

11 March 2016

Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

Subtitle: digging pure holes

And I am finished with my Murakami backlog, took almost 2 month. I purposely saved this book for the last because judging solely from the various titles alone, this should be my favourite. Well, yet another piece of evidence for how little I know myself. Not to say that I didn't like this book, but it's closer in ranking to 1Q84 than South of the Border.

But it is full of good one liners! Or at least the good quotations come in shorter lengths.

On precision:
For only through assiduous repetition is it possible to redistribute skewed tendencies.

Because more often than not I've observed that convenient approximations bring you closest to comprehending the true nature of things.

Everyone may be ordinary, but they're not normal.
On uncertainty:
The skull is enveloped in a profound silence that seems nothingness itself. The silence does not reside on the surface, but is held like smoke within. It is unfathomable, eternal, a disembodied vision cast upon a point in the void.
There is a sadness about it, an inherent pathos. I have no word for it.

Is this a fragment of s real memory or has time folded back on itself? I cannot tell.

Thinking about time was torment. Time is too conceptual. Not that it stops us from filling it in. So much so, we can't even tell whether our experiences belong to time or to the world of physical things.
On navigation:
Once, when I was younger, I thought I could be someone else. [...] But like a boat with a twisted rudder, I kept coming back to the same place. I wasn't going anywhere. I was myself, waiting on the shore for me to return. 
I gaze up at the sky. I was in a tiny boat, on a vast ocean. No wind, no waves, just me floating there. Adrift on the open sea. [...]
The sky was deep and brilliant, a fixed idea beyond human doubt. From my position in the ground, the sky seemed the logical culmination of all existence. The same with the sea. If you look at the sea for days, the sea is all there is. Worth Joseph Conrad. A tiny boat cut loose from the fiction of the ship. Aimless, inescapable, inevitable.
On positioning:
There was a place, and you were there.
She stares at me. No, she stares into the space I occupy.

T'was a fun exercise coming up with vague groupings for these quotations.

A couple more thoughts on this book.

Discounting A Wild Sheep Chase which I've yet to read, this is clearly much more in the sci-fi genre than the other "adventure" books which are more surreal. I do feel that it suffers a little from over-explaining the made-up technicalities, such as how shuffling works, but its a common problem I find in sci-fi (with my samples mostly consisting of anime).

This book also has a more obvious symbolic level to dissect compared to the rest of his works. It's left unexplained why his End of the World is designed as much, and what each particular characteristic of it is suppose to represent. I somehow managed to avoid drowning my thoughts in such speculation, but did get caught up on whether the two PoVs were happening simultaneously or sequentially. Settled on simultaneously in the end because it leaves things a bit tidier.

08 March 2016

Spring/Summer '16

I've reached a point where every new clothing acquisition is an exasperated search because I want very specific features. Will probably order loafers...and card case from Everlane because I'm not ready to jump to St.C yet, thus "my resignation was a silent rain falling over a vast sea". Though I'm not unhappy that I've settled for a green coat, but of course still keeping my eyes out for *the one*.

A list of things I hope to serendipitous come across for S/S:
  • linen tapered trousers in the lightest warm grey, wearable to the office yet can also manage as the sole pair of pants for warm weather travels (packing for cold weather is so much easier...)
  • tapered chinos in a color between army green and olive 
  • lightweight (cotton linen blend perhaps?) cream cardigan that's in-between pants and skirt length
  • should replace my khaki shorts... this should be an easy item to find! mid rise & pleated
  • a replacement for that teal high-low skirt would be nice too, though it's really only the elasticized waistband that's bothering me
I realize that once I start working full-time, I would need exceedingly little casual clothing, especially since I tend to dress biz-cas casually anyways. Which means it would be unwise to purchase a pair of lightwash boyfriend jeans and high waisted denim shorts. It's a battle between temptation and aversion to high cost-per-wear items. Though requiring that my clothing to double duty has cut back on my desire to buy a million summer dresses. We'll see if this statement still holds true when I'm in Asia haha.


and then I look over at Oak+Fort, my gosh their pant selection is amazing. Must head to their Eaton store asap when I'm back. 

06 March 2016


I planned on heading to the World of Coke & the Aquarium today to finally finish being a tourist in Atlanta, but alas that didn't pan out. Perhaps for the better since an idle Sunday afternoon is to be cherished, and that I could take a personal day and go when it's less crowded. Though the thought of fried chicken will taunt me till then.

Instead of fishes, here's a food recap as I've put more effort into my meals this week:

 Perhaps the most effort I've put into plating since ATL.

Cheesy gochujang pasta is to pasta what african peanut stew is to soup. I've finally given in and bought a microplane, and gosh so worth it. Now I can pile on the parmesan with next to no effort, I added much more after the photo was taken since my normal amount would've left barely any pasta to show.

When I first started cooking for myself, raw meat made me really squirmish, and even now the extra effort handling meat is enough to make me eat a largely vegetarian diet. But I did buy a bunch of chicken thighs on sale at Sprouts and was craving a good ol' 川菜 dish. So to Wechat I go to consult my dad, and man he is a much better cook "orz Mom too. As much as I like my own cooking usually, it doesn't even compare to when I go home and eat theirs. 2 more month!!

Anyways, his instructions are below in case anyone is interested:
  1. Heat oil until reeeeally hot, add dried chili (broken up into small pieces) and 花椒. 
  2. Cook until fragrant, as in you're coughing from breathing in the chili, and that the chilis begin to char to a black color. Add in small pieces of chicken that has been marinated in a generous amount of salt and soy sauce. I also coated the chicken pieces in corn starch. 
  3. Along with the chicken, add in garlic, ginger, and green onion. 
  4. When chicken is cooked, toss with some toasted peanuts and you're done. 
My version includes a bunch of vegetables, celery and carrots, which I cook until almost done before starting on the chicken. Also subbed cashews for peanuts, and left out the green onion because I forgot to buy them. Also got to use my Thermapop for the first time to check the temperature of the chicken pieces, which meant no more overcooking to err on the side of safety, and hence reeeally tender chicken (thigh instead of breast meat helps too).

 ta-da! The most photogenic dish out in this batch. I've switched to using Provia for food shots.

It is great, and I am looking forward to Monday because this is lunch (also for Tower of God and Trump ofc).

Weekends are when I stray from my daily breakfast of oatmeal, this one hints that the warmer weather to come. And there lies in the problem, I always tell myself that I won't buy produce out of the season, and fail every time berries go on sale outside of summer. Despite countless disappointments of the lackluster taste, I never learn. At least I macerated the strawberries, but should've also cooked it with some spices.
This bares repeating: Fage is the best brand of greek yogurt.

The final entry is the results of 2 hours of cooking on a Monday night, not sure what possessed me to do so:
Based off of Smitten Kitchen's tortilla de patatas 

My modifications were adding ham, a ton of smoked salt, not quite deep frying the potato slices (but probably still ended up using a full cup of oil) and baking the pie in the oven. What took so long was definitely cooking all the ingredients before assembling the pie. Took out my mandolin for the first time after a long struggle of whether I wanted to practice my knife skills, but alas it was a Monday night. The mandolin was fantastic, I did not lose a finger and had beautiful thin slices of potato...too many beautiful thin slices. I ended up baking a whole bunch into chips along with the pie. Next time I'll just toss in the potato slices raw and lower the oven temperature so hopefully it can just cook with the entire pie.
But mm it was worth all the effort.


I also made a pot of hot and sour soup but clearly I have no sense of how much stuff my pot fits and over-crowded the pot again. Needless to say it did not turn out that well. Also surprised that the Sprouts tofu didn't take well to freezing, which is contrary to all the frozen tofu my mom makes for hotpot.

05 March 2016


Trying an aged sheng this time to see how it compares with last week's young one.
In short, yeah more palatable. If the young sheng is like rough choppy waves, then this one is waves causes by a gentle breeze.

Typical session set up, with tea journal in front and camera around my neck. Wishing I had a second pair of arms so I can pour and take photos at the same time, or I can buy a fancy tripod set up with sliding arms *u*

This muji cup looks the best filled with golden liquor and the greenwood studio cup looks the best with dark liquors of ripe pu er.


I am definitely not opposed to sampling more aged teas. Thankfull yancha has set my price expectations that pu er prices look tame in comparison.

02 March 2016


Spring, the season for flower viewing and getting sick.