Friday, December 18, 2009

Of Local "Grace"

In my first post, I promised to talk about books and food. Since I have covered the latter, I'd best deliver on the former. (latter and former, I always get them mixed up. I think got it right this time.)

I have the tendency to buy books with the intention of reading them soon while knowing that the pile of books to be read "soon" is steadily growing. Though fully aware of this habit, I buy books anyway. Today was no exception. After work today I headed down to Harvard Square to finish my Christmas shopping. I'm proud to say that I did finish my shopping and only bought one (okay, two if you count that pot of tea) thing for myself:
Graceling by Kristin Cashore.

Kristin Cashore was on of the many generous authors who agreed to write a rousing pep talk for this year's NaNoWriMo. I enjoyed her pep talk enough to venture onto her website to see what books she has written. To my great joy, her first book is a YA fantasy, the very genera of my own novel! I'm always on the look out for promising YA fantasy (and welcome recommendations) so I mentally took note of her book for future purchase. It didn't hurt that she is a local author; I'm a sucker for my own Bostonian pride.

I never expected to get her book so soon, but I happened to be in the Curious George Bookstore for old time's sake and saw it on the shelf. Remembering my promise to myself and wanting to support my favorite children's bookstore, I purchased
Graceling right then and there. I also wanted to get Shannon Hale's Princess Academy but they did not have it. Sadness!

Even though I'm in the middle of reading
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (which I feel bad about not paying more attention to), I stared Graceling while drinking my tea at Tealuxe. Several hours later, I'm almost 100 pages in and wanting to read more. I haven't been this compelled by a book in a long time, so I'm very pleased. I'm loving the world and the characters, even though some parts are, dare I say, disappointingly cliche. Gracelings having mismatching eye colors? Really? I do like that it's a gradual change that parents watch for wearily, but it's very middle grade. But I guess that's the primary audience, isn't it? My little nit picks aside, it's an enjoyable read so far and I will likely finish it within the week. It'll be a welcomed distraction from the internet.

One more thing I'd like to chatter about, dear reader, is why I name drop the stores I visit so much. Have you ever heard the phrase "think globally, act locally"? (apparently it has a wikipedia page) I first started thinking about this concept in terms of food and supporting local growers because I liked the quality and comfort of knowing where (some) of my food comes from. I have since begun thinking about this phrase in terms of economy. Where does the money go when I buy books from Amazon? To wherever it is Amazon is located. Does this help my local economy? Not really. This is not to say that I don't shop at national chains. I like to buy books and food from local businesses when I can. Though this means I sometimes pay more than I might at a large chain store, I think of it as my silent vote about what sort of shops should continue to do business. I'm not trying to sell you on these places, I just want you to know that they exist. If they interest you, please visit their website, or even better, go into the store and take a look at what they have to offer.

This is all.
Formally yours,
Darth Formal

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mad About Tea

I have a confession to make: I'm addicted to tea. Ever since NaNoWriMo, I have betrayed my Bostonian roots and have been drinking tea like a colonial loyalist: frequently and without a care. If the tea tax was still in place, I would probably pay it just to get my tea fix.

To make matters worse, not just any tea will do. Like a British loyal, only hoity toity teas will do. No Celestial Seasonings or Lipton teas for me! I used to love the scent of Celestial Seasonings' peach tea, but the taste...uhg. All acid; I was very disappointed.

Anyway, since the revitalization of my tea obsession (to clarify, I have been drinking tea since I was a kid, but my obsession with it seems to come and go. My love of high tea will have to wait for another post.) I have been looking for local tea suppliers that boast quality teas. Yeah, I could get my tea from the local Teavana, but the trendy, fruity varieties don't interest me. Plus, I enjoy supporting local businesses when I can. Luckily, in a city like Boston, I have some options.

Tealuxe is a local tea cafe and restaurant that serves up a good atmosphere and a nice pot of tea. Though their bubble tea is, in my humble opinion, over priced, I splurged and got their caramel creme brulee bubble tea. I was pleasantly surprised. The roasted tea flavor supplied the "brulee" while the caramel flavor (doubt it's natural) blended well with the tea. I also like their Irish Breakfast for a morning pick-me-up.

However, it looks like Tealuxe's Irish Breakfast might be knocked down to second place after I tried the Scottish Breakfast blend from Upton Tea Imports. What a nice, malty and smokey breakfast tea. I'm looking forward to opening the gen mai cha (brown rice tea) I ordered. The real toasted rice in the tea should add lovely toasty, nutty notes to the green tea. I haven't had gen mai cha since leaving school (a scant seven months ago) and I'm totally craving a non floral green tea to balance out all the black tea I've been drinking lately.

I'm off to go drool over some tea blogs and websites. Ooh, I should make scones! Mmmm, lemon curd...

Formally yours,
Darth Formal

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dear Reader

Welcome to my fist ever stab at blogging. I've drafted this first post at least three times now, going back to edit it at least once after publishing it. I know I shouldn't be so nervous, but I can't help it!

I think what I have struggled with the most even before this first post is what this blog is going to be about. My favorite blogs all focus on one particular topic and a large part of me wants to follow this format. However, I've come to realize that anything you do or write on the internet should be for yourself. There's no guarantee that anyone will ever read anything that I write here, so I'd best write for myself first. If I happen to pick up a few readers, which I very much hope to do, then great! I'm happy and grateful to have you here!

Now, a bit on what I'm about. Out of everything that I'm interested in, I have only two constants: books and food. The majority of my other interests - writing, cooking, comic books, etc. - all starts with these two things. I don't even need to be reading and eating to enjoy books and food. Just looking at or talking about these things makes me happy. The scent of deteriorating pages and fading ink is as blissful to me as the aroma of fresh baked bread and chocolate. I can guarantee that the majority of my posts will be on these topics. I'd have a title reflecting this, but wanted to keep my posting options open.

Thanks for sticking around and come back soon!
Formally yours,
Darth Formal