Mystery Blogger Award

Mystery, you say?

So the other day I was going through comments when I saw a ding from another blog, Audra’s Book BlabbingI clicked on it and saw that she nominated me for The Mystery Blogger Award!

You picked me!

Thank you! Thank you for thinking and choosing me!

So What is the Mystery Blogger Award?

“The Mystery Blogger is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.”

Aw, you think that about me?!!

I am so, so, so honored!

Again, thank you for picking me.

Rules:

  • Put the award logo/image on your blog ✔
  • List the rules. ✔
  • Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog. ✔
  • Mention the creator of the award (Okoto Enigma) ✔
  • List three facts about yourself and answer the questions given by the person who tagged you.
  • Nominate up to 20 people.
  • Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice.
  • Share a link to your best post(s)

Three Facts About Me:

Fact 1: I’m biracial

Fact 2: I’ve never broken a bone, had a bee sting, or the chicken pox

Fact 3: I can’t braid my hair unless my eyes are closed

Questions from Audra:

What’s one question you have never found an answer to?

Why don’t more people love Northanger Abbey? Why is is so ignored. It has a fun relatable main character, an amazingly awesome and unpretentious romantic hero, a mysterious abbey, great commentary on society, etc. It is so fun why isn’t it more loved?

Cold or hot? Why?

Cold. I love fall and winter, wearing sweaters, warm blankets, drinking hot tea, eating soup, etc. I hate the heat. If I could-I would hibernate all summer and awaken in the fall for my favorite season.

What is your favorite warm drink?

Tea! I LOVE tea, Earl Grey being my favorite. I drink it throughout the day-whether it is cold or hot I have to have my cup.

What is one book you will never read and why?

Probably Lolita. Why would I want to read a book about a pedophile abusing his stepdaughter?

How are you?

I’m doing relatively good. I have my job, family, I still see some friends-although I’m missing those who live farther away. Mostly I’m having cabin fever as I want to go other places, espechially when I see memories on Facebook of things I was doing years earlier. I may be ordered to shelter in place but:

I Nominate:

 

My Questions for You:

  1. What is something you’ve accomplished that you feel proud of (big or small)
  2. What is one of the best gifts you have ever received?
  3. Which Jane Austen character do you love, and why?
  4. What book turned movie do you love?
  5. If you could go anywhere (real or fictional) where would you travel to?

Hmmm…

My Best Posts:

It is really hard to choose the “best”, so I’m going to randomly pick some:

 

And again, thank you Audra for nominating me. I am deeply and truly honored!

For more from Audra’s Book Blabbing, go to Shame Book Tag

Lavender Earl Grey Tea Shortbread Cookies

So last month my friends and I were supposed to meet up for high tea, but then COVID-19 happened and screwed up all our plans.

So we decided to throw a virtual tea party.

We each set up a space with snacks and tea, I drank Earl Grey Tea and made Cucumber Sandwiches to snack on. When it came to the sweets, I was going to make one thing, but then decided now was the time to try and make something I have wanted to for a long time, Earl Grey Cookies. You all know how much I love Earl Grey Tea:

I have always wanted to make Earl Grey Cookies, I have a ton of pins of them on my pinterest board.

Thats me

The only issue is that you have to chill them for a while before baking and I just haven’t had the time to bake, let alone bake something that had to be chilled first. But with quarantine, I have both the time and the ingredients. This recipe originally comes from Let’s Eat Cake.

Ingredients:

  • 3.5 Cups of Flour
  • 3/4 Cup of Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp of Lavender Earl Grey Loose Leaf Tea
  • 1/2 Tsp of Salt
  • 2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1.5 Cups of Unsalted Butter

Directions:

  1. Pulse flour, sugar, tea, and salt together for one minute in a bowl or food processor.
  2. Add butter and vanilla extract.
  3. Pulse until shaggy dough is formed, about two mins.
  4. Remove blade and transfer dough to a working surface.
  5. Work dough until it comes together and shape it into two discs.
  6. Place each disc on parchment paper and transfer to refrigerator for 30 mins.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  8. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  9. Roll dough out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut out cookies using a 1 inch wide cookie cutter.
  10. Transfer cookies to baking sheet.
  11. Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are a light golden brown.

So these cookies were good, but after they had been chilled they were so difficult to scoop out, like they were a rock. I had to use a spoon and chisel the dough, making the cookies extremely tiny. Tiny cookies weren’t all that bad as it let me eat more of them.

I ended up overdoing it though. I drank like 16 cups of tea and I don’t know how many cookies and had a hard time falling asleep.

For more recipes, go to Cucumber Sandwiches

For more tea posts, go to NovelTea Tins’ Romance Sampler

For more cookies, go to Ginger Cardamom Meyer Lemon Crinkle Cookies

For more shortbread cookie recipes, go to Basic Shortbread

For more Earl Grey Tea, go to Iced Blackberry Infused Earl Grey Tea

In other news, this week I am going on vacation.

I know, crazy right? A whole week? I had all these plans to spend the time with my niece doing all kinds of things but now it sounds like it will be a staycation. Oh well.

I’ll be on instagram still but I won’t be doing any posting on my blog.

GOOD!

Cucumber Sandwiches

So last month my friends and I were supposed to meet up for high tea, as this is something we have been trying to do about every three months to stay connected as it is seems to get harder the older you get.

We had the date and reservations at this amazing historic tea place, but then COVID-19 happened.

So we decided to do our own tea party, a virtual tea party.

We each set up a space with snacks and tea, I drank Earl Grey Tea of course.

I decided to make a new type of Cucumber Sandwiches and Earl Grey Tea Cookies. Both of which were extremely delicious, and I decided to share them with you here, starting with the cucumber sandwiches, which originally come from Spend With Pennies.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz Cream Cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons of Mayonnaise
  • 2 Teaspoons of Chopped Fresh Dill
  • 1 Teaspoon of Chopped Fresh Chives
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Garlic Powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 Long English Cucumber, Thinly Sliced
  • 1 Loaf of Bread, Crusts Removed

Directions:

  1. Mix cream cheese and mayonnaise in a small bowl with a hand mixer, until smooth.
  2. Stir in herbs, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  3. Cut crusts off bread slices.
  4. Spread bread slices with cream cheese mixture.
  5. Thinly slice cucumbers, layer over half of the bread slices.
  6. Top with additional herbs, if desired.
  7. Top with remaining bread slice and cut each sandwich into three pieces.

These were delicious! I’m glad I was the only one eating them as I wanted to eat them all!

 

For more recipes, go to Lemon Curd

For more tea sandwich recipes, go to Basic Chicken Salad

For more tea party recipes, go to Scottish Oat Scones

NovelTea Tins’ Romance Sampler

So my church is doing a “secret sister”. You get matched up with another woman in the church for three months, praying for them and sending them notes or giving them gifts.

With COVID-19 having us shelter in place and not being able to meet at church, if we want to give our secret sisters gifts we have to come up with different ways. My secret sister ended up mailing me $20 to buy myself something nice for Easter.

Hmm…

What to buy? I knew I wanted to support a small business as they are hurting, and searched through Instagram to see which one.

Hmmm…

So a while back I found this company NovelTea Tins and instantly loved how cute it was. They are book tea tins and each have a punny title off of classic literature. You all know how I love classic literature.

War and Peach (Peach Tea + War and Peace), The Picture of Earl Grey (Earl Grey + The Picture of Earl Grey), Matcha Do About Nothing (Matcha Green Tea + Much Ado About Nothing), Pride & Peppermint (Peppermint Tea + Pride and Prejudice), Anne of Green Gables Tea (Green Raspberry Tea + Anne of Green Gables), Sense and Senchability (Green Sencha Tea + Sense and Sensibility), Don Quixote: Man of La Manchai (Chai Tea + Don Quixote: Man of La Mancha), and more. You know me, I love:

So I was excited to try these out. I agonized over which to buy as there were so many that sounded good…but I finally decided on the Romance Sampler, as it had The Picture of Earl Grey, being my favorite type of tea-Earl Grey.

Along with Pride & Peppermint (Peppermint Tea) and Sense and Senchability (Green Sencha Tea). I also love both of those teas and couldn’t resist them being Jane Austen. You know me…

The sampler cost about $24 with shipping and handling and it came extremely fast. I ordered it afternoon on Sunday and it arrived on Tuesday.

Tea #1: The Picture of Earl Grey

This tea is inspired by The Picture of Dorian Gray, one of my favorite Gothic novels where a young, gorgeous, rich man gets seduced by the Hedonist lifestyle and wishes that he would never grow old but his beautiful picture would instead. It does, but also with it growing older instead of Dorian-every selfish, cruel, rude, horrible acts he commits-gets transferred onto the painting as well.

It is a great book, and I highly recommend reading it.

The tea actually has the picture of Earl Grey-Charles Grey 2nd Earl Grey, the namesake of the delicious tea, the one that the tea was presented to and comes with a bookmark with his face on it as well.

This tea is made of Jasmine Green Tea, Black Tea, Rose Petals, Natural Flavor; and has moderate caffeine.

So I LOVE Earl Grey, but I did not love this one. It wasn’t bad, but I felt the Jasmine Green Tea in it was too strong. I tasted that over everything else and I prefer my Earl Grey with black tea, lavender, and bergamot oil. 

What I ended up doing was mixing it with my Tiesta Tea and enjoying it. My mom loved it, so please don’t think I’m saying the tea is bad, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

For more on The Picture of Dorian Gray, go to If Only It Was the Picture Who was to Grow Old, and I Remain Young: The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)

Tea #2: Pride and Peppermint

This tea is inspired by Pride and Prejudice and I’m sure most of you know how much I love this book.

Pride and Prejudice is the story of a mother wanting to marry off her daughters, as with their father’s death they will have very little-but the story is MORE than that. It deals with the concepts of pride and prejudice, first impressions, whether you should be overt in how you feel or play it close to the heart, etc. It has amazing wit and characters.

This peppermint tea has Elizabeth Bennet on it and comes with two bookmarks, one with Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.

Peppermint tea was my first love, when I just started drinking tea. It is made of organic rooibos, organic peppermint, and organic chamomile; it is also caffeine-free.

I thought this tea to smell absolutely divine and it was so delicious. I absolutely loved it, and immediately drank three cups.

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Pride & Prejudice: A New Musical

Tea #3: Sense and Senchability

This tea is inspired by Sense and Sensibility, and like Pride and Prejudice I love Sense and Sensibility.

Sense and Sensibility follows two sisters, Elinor and Marianne, as their world is drastically changed when their father dies and they older half brother moves them out of the house and basically forgets they even exist. Elinor is the elder sister-logical, sensible, and in command of herself. Marianne is the middle daughter-passionate, outspoken, and emotional. Elinor falls for a man, but finds him promised to another. Marianne meets a man right out of her romantic dreams, but is he all that he seems to be? Each sister goes through a journey and discovers depths to them they never realized.

This tea has both sisters on it and comes with a bookmark that has a Dashwood sister on either side. This has green Sencha tea and “sensible levels of caffeine.” Haha, I love that.

This tea was fantastic. It probably is the best Sencha tea I’ve ever had.

For more Sense and Sensibility, go to Rational Creatures: Elinor & Marianne Dashwood

So these teas were so cute and good, even though the first one was not my cup of tea-but I had  wonderful time drinking them.

For more tea posts, go to I Won the Cederberg Tea Giveaway + Book Club Picks: The Insanity of God

 

Iced Blackberry Infused Earl Grey Tea

So I was on Pinterest and I spotted this recipe, and you all know how much I love Earl Grey tea.

I was so excited to make it as it sounded really good. So without further ado, let’s get right into this (by the way this recipe originally comes from ONE armed MAMA). 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Pint of Blackberries (~2 Cups)
  • 1/2 Cup of Granulated Sugar (or any other alternative sweetener)
  • 8 Bags of Earl Grey Tea (4 Tablespoons Loose Leaf Tea)
  • 1/2 Cup of Cream or any dairy substitute

Directions:

  1. Bring 5 cups of water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, place berries in a large bowl with sugar.
  3. Crush the berries into a thick jam-like liquid.
  4. Sprinkle in tea or add tea bags.
  5. Pour hot water over the fruit and tea and steep for 5 mins.
  6. Place 5 cups of ice in a large pitcher and strain berry infused concentrate over ice.
  7. The ice will immediately melt, diluting the concentrate and cooling the tea,
  8. Serve in a tall glass with ice, and drizzle in a tablespoon, or more, of cream.

So I eagerly drank it…but this was horrible.

I don’t know what happened, but I ended up dropping it all down the drain. What a waste of blackberries.

It was so awful!

I will not be making this ever again.

For more recipes, go to Skinny Chai Tea Latte

For more tea posts, go to Blueberry Matcha Smoothie

Amish Baked Oatmeal

Or scones!

So I love tea

And I am always on the lookout for new recipes to go with my teatime. This one my sister blog, Mysterious Eats, posted and it looked so good, I decided I needed to try it out with my tea time.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup of Light Brown Sugar
  • 1.5 Tsp of Baking Powder
  • 1 Tsp of Cinnamon
  • 1.5 Tsp of Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 Tsp of Salt
  • 1 1/4 Cup of Milk
  • 1/4 Cup of Butter, Melted
  • 3 Cups of Rolled Oats (Quick Oats work too)
  • Cinnamon Sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Butter an 8×8 inch baking dish, set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs.
  4. Add in brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt. Whisk until there are no lumps.
  5. Stir in milk and melted butter.
  6. Add oats and mix well.
  7. Pour into prepared baking dish and spread evenly. (At this point you can refrigerate overnight or bake immediately.)
  8. Bake in oven 30-40 mins until it is set.
  9. Top with cinnamon and sugar.
  10. Cut into squares and serve warm with fresh nuts, milk, a little cream, half and half, maple syrup, or honey of desired.

Unlike my sister blog I took a couple tablespoons of my hot Earl Grey tea and poured them over the top of the square and I thought it tasted fantastic! I would recommend this for you tea time.

For more goodies to make with your tea, go to Cheese Round

For more recipes, go to Green Tea Frappuccino

Literary Tea Parties

So I few years ago I did a post on a tea party that we had at my church. Of course, you know how I love books…I just had to tie them in together!

To read the whole post, click here. So every year at my church we do a Christmas Tea Party, and the past three years my friend and I had a table that I’ve been in charge of decorating. And if you think I just had to feature a book each year, than you are right! I love books!

In 2016, the theme was “Our Journey”, and shoes were the center as it was about “the paths we take”. Of course shoes made me think of one thing:

As Dorothy and all her friends go on a journey, along with having a magical pair of shoes,  it was PERFECT! We did a:

  • Yellow Brick Road Runner: Canvas that we painted with three different shades of yellow
  • Poppy Magnets as our favors: I used this one from Hometalk and did button centers and glued magnets on the back.
  • Mason jar water glasses with gingham ribbons and red mugs for coffee or tea.
  • Wicked Witch of the East candy straws: I got the straws from Wal-Mart and made the shoes from Swedish Fish.
  • We painted our own Emerald City on glasses.
  • And I sewed a sock monkey king of the flying monkeys, out of black and white socks (just like the ones the Wicked Witch of the East wears). Yes, I sewed it-help from Madsen Creations and my mom.
  • We made our own Dorothy’s magic red shoes, but they weren’t ready when I took the picture, so I put my own red shoes in there.
  • And of course, a copy of the book.

The next year the theme was “Friendship”

So my friend and I choose to do:

Last Christmas the theme was Holy Ghost…hmmm ghosts. Which book? 🙂

  • We used a holly and cranberry patterned runner on the table.
  • Sheets of music as place mats, with red chargers over them.
  • The centerpiece was a Christmas Tree, as those became popular in the Victorian era with Prince Albert, that I strung with popcorn.
  • I also placed a basket with the Christmas gifts/favors as that was how Victorian tables were set up. Each package was a different copy of A Christmas Carol. I got them all by swapping on PaperBackSwap.com I wrapped them up in brown paper and red yarn.
  • We had chestnuts on the table and each place setting got on orange, as they were very popular gifts, but I didn’t put cloves in it as you can’t eat them when you do that.
  • We had Earl Grey Tea, Hot Chocolate, and candy canes.
  • Each person received a homemade Christmas Card (made by me), and each had a little token in it, my version of the Christmas pudding.

This year the theme is gifts and I have to admit, I’m a bit at a loss. Any ideas of a book that gifts plays a role?

Please help me!

For more on The Wizard of Oz, go to Bookish Thank You

For more on A Christmas Carol, go to Book Club Picks: A Christmas Carol

For more tea posts, go to I Ran Out of Milk So I Put Buttermilk in My Tea

For more book-filled posts, go to Stranded at the Bookstore

I Ran Out of Milk So I Put Buttermilk in My Tea

So buttermilk…I have never really drank it or used it except when making Irish Soda Bread for Saint Patrick’s Day.

Next year I promise to do a post on it, for now if you want to make it yourself, head over to my sister blog MysteriousEats.wordpress.comAnyways, every year I am leftover with buttermilk and have no clue what to do with it.

I know most of you are thinking: pancakes.

I’m not really a big pancake fan, so I’m not into that.

Meh.

The other day I ran out of milk, and I LOVE milk in my tea. I don’t like to drink my tea without it.

Now normally I would just go to the store and buy more but its been raining.

Actually, that’s not an accurate description. It has been storming-windy, sheets of water, etc. The type of weather that makes you want to just stay home in pajamas with a good book or movie…

 

And tea!

But I had no milk!!!!!

So then the idea came to me…what about buttermilk?

I had never even drank buttermilk before, I mean I know you can make a substitute using vinegar so I’m pretty sure it isn’t sweet. And I know in the one Ramona book they call it “sour”

“How else am I supposed to reach things?” Ramona successfully broke the egg and tossed the shell onto the counter. “Now I need buttermilk.” Beezus broke the news. There was no buttermilk in the refrigerator. “What’ll I do?” whispered Ramona in a panic. “Here. Use this.” Beezus thrust the carton of banana yoghurt at her sister. “Yoghurt is sort of sour, so it might work.” The kitchen door opened a crack.“What’s going on in there?” inquired Mr. Quimby.” Ramona Quimby, Age 8

But then in Westerns they always have the men drinking it when they come back from working the fields and such.

So I tried it and…

It is so sour! It’s like drinking plain greek yogurt.

I can’t imagine drinking a whole glass of it. But I thought maybe a few drops…?

It came out…okay. I only did a tiny bit and put in quite  lot of sugar. I don’t recommend it for everyday use, but only in a tight squeeze and only a little bit.

Well in the end it worked out, and I got my tea.

For more tea posts, go to I Tried Tea & Me’s Tea Infused Facial Cubes

For a recipe that uses buttermilk (which I had completely forgot about), go to Harlem Tea Room Cheddar-Thyme Scones

For more rainy days, go to A Water-Logged White Christmas

For more C.S. Lewis’ quotes, go to Book Club Picks: A Wrinkle in Time

I Tried Tea & Me’s Tea Infused Facial Cubes

So last month Tea & Me did a post on freezing tea, and then placing these cubes on your face. (You can read about her experiences here.) When I read that I was like:

But hey, I’m down for trying it out, at least once.

My skin and I do not get along. As I have said before it is dry and oily-making it so hard to try to figure out what skin care/products to use.

Besides that I have very sensitive skin. It is so sensitive I don’t even know half the things I am allergic to. Sometimes I am just going about my life and my skin gets irritated, hives break out, and next thing you know I’m scratching and breaking the skin.

It burns

Like my post on a Tea Hair Rinse, I waited so long to do this review, because I wanted to try out at least three different teas.

  1. Boil water.
  2. Make a cup of tea.
  3. Steep until tea has cooled
  4. Once tea has cooled pour in clean ice trays.
  5. Freeze for two hours or until completely frozen.
  6. Try and open pores by putting a warm clean washcloth on or using steam from shower.
  7. Wash face.
  8. Using a washcloth, grab an ice cube and rub all over face.
  9. Rinse face with warm water.

So first I tried the Kukicha Green Tea.

“Green Tea [contains] antioxidant and disinfects.”

The second time I did the lavender tea.

“Lavender Tea soothes irritated skin and disinfects.”

The last one I did was Earl Grey, my favorite to drink.

“Black Tea disinfects.”

So I’m not sure I did it right, but I just used the cube around my face until I couldn’t stand the cold, after rinsing my face with warm water. I loved doing it in the morning as I have to get up 5-5:30 and that really woke me up as it was freezing cold!

The first one I did, Green Tea, I felt was the best. Like I said in a previous post, Green Tea is great for soothing irritated or dry skin, which I had been struggling with-more than usual. You know this weather.

Ugh!

The lavender and black tea I didn’t see an immediate response like the green tea, however, the other day my period came and was awful.

Yep, that pretty much sums it up.

And I got this giant zit on my chin, that ended up popping. It hurt so bad and when I bleed, I bleed a lot. I put the Earl Grey iced cube on it, which not only numbed, but disinfected and helped stop the bleeding.

For more on Tea & Me, go to I Tried Tea & Me’s Tea Hair Rinse

For more tea posts, go to Use Tea to Soothe Dry or Irritated Skin

I Tried Tea & Me’s Tea Hair Rinse

So a couple weeks ago Tea & Me did a post on things to do with your tea bags and loose leaf tea, after you make your cup.

Something that has always bothered me about making tea is throwing the leaves away after you use them. Even though you can’t make endless cups with them (that would be SUPER weak tea), if only there was something you can do with them.

A MYSTERY!!!

She gave out a list of things you can try to do with tea, and one was to do a hair rinse.

Hmm…

My hair and I have a “special” relationship. Basically it does whatever it wants and I hope that I can do something with it.

Even my hairdresser has said she has never seen such contradictory hair. If I want it to be dry-it stays wet. If I want it wet-it dries instantly.

When I get it a way I want it-DONT MESS WITH IT!

Lately my scalp has been driving me crazy. I have been switching from product to product-trying to find something that would help-but to no avail.

Ugh!!

So I was psyched about the tea rinse. I waited so long to do this review, because I wanted to try out at least three different teas.

  1. Make a cup of tea-as you usually do.
  2. When you finish steeping your tea, put them in another cup and steep in hot water for about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Allow the tea to cool completely before using.
  4. Detangle your hair before you step into the shower to avoid knots and breakage.
  5. Wash and clean your hair well with your usual shampoo.
  6. Proceed to condition your hair. …
  7. Rinse the conditioner out of your hair.
  8. Pour your hair rinse through your hair and squeeze out the excess liquid.
  9. Do not rinse hair any further.

So first I tried black tea, Earl Grey, my favorite!

“Black Tea [is supposed to] strengthen hair roots [and] darken hair.”

The second time I did the green tea, Kukicha Green Tea.

“Green Tea prevents early grey hairs, [along with] strengthen[ing] and shin[ing] hair.”

The last one I did was this calming Lavender tea that my friend bought me.

“Lavender Tea moisturizes and conditions hair.”

So after the black tea I didn’t feel any different. I’m sure this is something you would have to do over time to see a difference. I’m not sure I will as I do not want to darken my hair.

With the green tea-I don’t have a grey issue, I think the strengthening would take time, and my hair is always shiny looking-so I couldn’t really tell a difference.

Hmm…?

I did see an improvement with the lavender tea as I needed my hair to be moisturized and conditioned.

Above all, I really enjoyed this as I loved using the tea bags and leaves. It was great not just throwing them away-it definitely felt less wasteful and that I was recycling.

For other things to do with your tea bags and leaves, check out Tea & Me’s post, I Made Tea…Now What?

For more tea posts, go to Use Tea to Soothe Dry or Irritated Skin

For more hair posts, go to Why the Princess Leia Crown Hairdo is Awesome