29 December 2005


I never posted my UK pics....here are some from Pam's camera.

Twinings is one of the oldest standing shops in London. That's the real attraction; I can buy their tea in NY.

England Rocks! is memorabilia, touristy stuff, in Covent Garden

Here you see me standing in Covent Garden on Day One. I look silly but who cares.

Books! Books! Books! 2005

I love books. I'd eat them if I could. In a way, I do. I average 40 books completed in one year. My record is 63, but I was unemployed that year. If only one could be paid for reading what they liked!

Anyway, though I'm kicking myself for not having read any actual classics in their entirety this year (I did read a good portion of Pride and Prejudice for the second time, but not cover to cover,) here is a list of books I enjoyed in 2005, in no particular order:

Perdita by Paula Byrne: Biography of Mary Robinson, actress, writer and royal mistress. Extremely famous in her time (the late eighteenth century), but virtually forgotten after her death. Her life was so scandalous, she was practically the mother of English tabloids, and a fashion icon. Also a friend of Marie Antoinette (note to Anonymous: she was, not me.)

Facing the Lion by Simone Arnold Liebster: Proof of the power of faith, regardless of age. Also encouraging to see that even those who are strong spiritually can have negative feelings.

The Island at the Center of the World by Russell Shorto: New York during its Dutch years. Behind the scenes footage in the parent countries. History usually dismisses Dutch New York (New Amsterdam) as unimportant, but here is evidence that its effects are still existent today.

The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde: He never fails to delight.

Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran: Fictional story of three Iranian sisters living in Ireland and running a restaurant. It had a fairy-tale quality to it, and actual recipes!

Queen Isabella by Alison Weir: Biography of the wife of England's Edward II and story of the first successful invasion of England since the Norman conquest of 1066. Should have been titled "Desperate Times call for Desperate Measures". Also, evidence that Edward II may not have been savagely murdered via hot poker in orifice.

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi: Memoirs of a teacher in Iran from the late 1970's till the mid 1990's. Riveting (I always wanted to use that word) tale of living in dangerous times, maintaining a sense of self, and using fine literature to survive.

Q & A by Vikas Swarup: Novel of a boy orphan who wins a TV game show. He is suspected of cheating and arrested. His story is told as an explanation to his lawyer of how an uneducated kid from India could know the answers to all of the questions, even those designed to trick him. Riveting - (ha ha!) and thoroughly humorous. It felt like a Dickens/Mistry hybrid. Possibly my favorite book this year.

I know, I'm into history. What can I say? If I want to read about the present time, I pick up a newspaper.

You may have noticed no tea books on the list. That doesn't mean I did not indulge, but tea tomes call for a separate entry. Coming soon......

Moscow Cats? Theatre

I saw the Moscow Cats Theatre performance in the theatre at BMCC. Much as it is impressive to see cats actually doing what they are told to do (my cats won't even respond to their names most of the time), there was too much clowning around. We would see a pretty good trick, and then wait another 20 minutes for the next impressive feat. The best trick was the own shown in the photo. I suppose the greatest talent one can expect from a cat trainer is making sure the cats don't get freaked out by the applause.

Verdict: Okay, a few laughts, but not worth $40.

27 December 2005

Purple Reigns

It's rather limiting to claim a favorite color. After all, tastes change and so do moods. When I am asked the question, though, my answer is green. I suppose it has something to do with its calming effects, the reminder of fresh cut grass, and of course, green tea. In fact, the first thing I watched on TV the day my dad bought our first color TV (I grew up in the 80's; this was not so unusual back then) was a baseball game. The color of the field grass: unforgettable.

Still, I have leaned towards purple in many other ways. The majority of the clothes in my wardrobe are purple, have a kind of purple in them, or go with purple. There is no season for purple: violet, lavender, lilac, it's always fitting. Most colors go with purple: green (!), some blues, red, pink - purple is the new (and more cheerful) black. It's associated with royalty, but belongs to everyone. Purple hats are awesome!

Even better, there's no holiday (at least in the US) associated with purple. In this color, no one asks me, "Oh, is it St. Patrick's day already?" or any other banal comment like this.

Tea itself is not purple colored, but teapots and cups are often painted with violets...so it accompanies tea.

Nice thoughts to dwell on in the gray winter.

Sino likes my bag

I love the looks people give me when I carry my cat tote bag. Some mistake it for "Puss in Boots", but I think it's supposed to look like Henry VIII. Those who know me view the bag as evidence that I have truly lost my mind. (Better than losing my head, which would have been possible if it really was Henry VIII. After all, I am a Catherine, and he had three wives with that name, none of whom fared very well.)

21 December 2005

Something to Complain About

It seems the favorite pasttime of the average New Yorker is complaining about anything: living conditions, commute, weather, customer service, whatever. Now we actually have something substantial to whine over, it is not as fun. But here goes: I'm Tired, My Head Hurts, It's Cold Out, I Wanted To Go To The Met This Week But That's Out Of The Question Now, And The Strike Never Seems To Be Ending Even Though It's Only The Second Day!

Ah, I feel better now.

On a lighter note, Sino's kidney levels have improved. He's on a no-seafood diet, and he growled at Zenobia, which for him is a good sign.

20 December 2005

The Longest Commute Ever

Transit strike! Those words always left a chilled fear in my heart. And now, one of my worst nightmares has come true.

Thankfully, many of my co-workers are from Queens, and one of them has a van. So at the crack of dawn she set out. Over two hours later she arrived to pick three of us up at Astoria. That's how much traffic there was today. She'd already picked up 3 people and we were the last stop in Queens. Still, we crawled through LIC and though the 59th Street Bridge didn't take too long, we arrived in midtown after 10:00 A.M. That's 4 hours after our brave driver set out this morning! And remind me never to drink coffee before a long van ride. Not my brightest move.

Well, it's good to be here. Hope the strike ends soon - it's too cold out; otherwise I would walk to Manhattan.

19 December 2005


Their hot chocolate is one of the best I've ever had. A whole restaurant, in Bath.

Why don't we have this in New York? We're doing fine on tea shops, but chocolate, I don't know. If there are good places, they are have not become manifest to me. Any recommendations, NYers?

15 December 2005

Reasons I Like Elephants

They are not my favorite animals, but definitely in the top ten.

Elephants are big and bulky, but in some places respected as gods - so you can have it both ways.
They usually seem to be smiling. Except in this picture.

Nothing wrong with a little wrinkling, even in a young elephant.

They are thought of as intelligent creatures, but get disturbed if a mouse crosses their path. Good excuse for me to use each time I see a cockroach.

I rode on one once at the circus. It felt less dangerous than a motorbike and less frightening than the clowns.

Finally, my Dad cried while watching Dumbo. (Hope he never reads this one.) I think the tears were alcohol-induced, but it's still the only time he ever cried at a movie.

14 December 2005

My Sine

My poor boy has a hard time keeping his food down nowadays. He's almost 13, the age Duforth was when I lost her. I hope he can make it another year!

13 December 2005

Nothing Really Matters....

I took an online quiz that was to determine which Bohemian Rhapsody line I am. This was the result:

I'm 'Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me'!

08 December 2005

Bratty Cat

Come on, you know this is cute!

Lennon Reminiscence, or Blathering

25 years...what would he have thought of the world that we live in today? Would it have made a difference?

I've often wondered if I would have liked to have known him. Many sources claim he was a difficult, nasty person, hard to get along with (though certainly not one who deserved to be killed.) Still, he had a great sense of humor and was introspective enough to engage in lengthy, in-depth conversation. Perhaps five minutes of conversation would have worked for me and then the cigarette smoke would have diverted my attention (also why I could not have talked to Freddie Mercury for long.)

I met his son Sean a few years back. Not quite the same, is it?


I've been sick this week, to the point that I had to take Wednesday off. I wasn't happy about this, but I would have been useless at work. Tomorrow I have off anyway, so I will do a full day of convalescence - soup, sleep and sniffle. (And tea, duh.)

I never receive the "benefits" of sickness: weight loss and dramatic paleness. Only a deadly flu causes me to drop 5 pounds - not worth the effort, is it? And instead of the goth-white that some people take on, I become a drunken red blotchy color. Splendid.

Possibly the only interesting side effect are the wild dreams I get whilst sleeping in. It's the only time I feel like I dream in color. Don't worry, I won't get into the content of the dreams, it would not be fascinating to anyone else. At least I can derive some entertainment from being unconscious. Everyone loves a good horror movie now and then.

01 December 2005

London Lantern Article on Tea

I had to share!

Tea - Different Categories and How to Brew It
14/11/2005, By David McIntosh
Reader Rating: 4.5 from 2 votes

Now that we know the three major types of tea there are some other categories to consider. Black teas are graded using the term pekoe which comes from the Chinese word for ‘silver haired’ and pertains to the silvery down on young tea leaves. A well-known variety is ‘Orange Pekoe’ and the name most likely comes from the House of Orange, the royal family of the Netherlands. The first of the large tea trading firms in Europe was the Dutch East India Company.Orange pekoe was considered an especially fancy tea since it a beverage favoured by the Dutch royal family. The younger the leaves used the fancier it is considered. Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe is with is made with the tips of the leaf buds while Broken Pekoe has fewer leaf tips and Pekoe Fanning and Pekoe Dust have been crushed more during the processing. The last two are often used in tea bags since they release flavour as well as colour more rapidly into water.Gunpowder, Imperial and Hyson are all varieties of green tea. Young, high-grade leaves are rolled into small balls in gunpowder tea. They look like the small lead shot used in muskets thus giving this variety its name. Hyson is also rolled into balls but not as tightly and if leaves used are a bit older then the tea is Imperial.

Other types of tea have names that betray their geographical origins. Assam comes from a northeastern part of India wile Darjeeling comes from an in the Himalayas that is only about 200 miles from the spot where tea was first discovered growing wild. The high altitude results in a long growing season which, in turn, results a high quality harvest during the time of the year before the arrival of monsoon season. As for herbal tea, it contains no real tea but instead herbs so we will forgo any discussion of it.Now we come to the preparation of a good cup of tea but there is something you need to know; there is probably no better way to start a polite argument among tea afficionados than the way you go about making a good cup of tea. Do you add milk after pouring the tea or before? What is the correct amount to let the tea stand after adding water? Sugar or not? Things like that. Passions run strong and feelings run high when the subject is that of how best to brew a cup.No less a personage than George Orwell would weigh in on the subject with piece that is considered a classic much referenced when the talk turns to that of how to prepare the perfect cup of tea. Now, according to Orwell only Indian or Ceylonese teas should be used, the main virtue of Chinese tea only being its economical price since "one does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it." According to Orwell the phrase ‘a nice cup of tea’ means an Indian tea.

He also tells us that tea should always be made only in small quantities in a teapot "tea out of an urn is always tasteless" and that the pot should be warmed beforehand. Also, the tea should be strong and it should be put right into the pot without making use of strainers and the like. The water should be boiling and the tea should be poured into the cup before adding milk though he admits the milk-first proponents are able to muster strong argument in favour of their stand.Others, however, have stated that milk must be, upon ‘pain of eternal damnation’ be poured into the cup before pouring in the since that is the best way of determining the strength of the cup of tea; in other words by colour.Anyway, the truth is that it probably depends on the taste of the person making the cup of tea. Here are some basics. Warm the teapot with boiling water. Make your pot of tea with water that has been brought to a boil then allowed to cool just a bit. Put a spoonful of tea in the pot for each cup then pour the water into the pot. Stir gently to distribute the leaves then cover the teapot with a tea cosy and allow to stand for the correct amount of time which may differ among people though a good rule of thumb is about three minutes.As far as adding sugar, Orwell is against it, but others say it is okay as long as one uses sugar cubes or lumps. Again, let you taste determine whether to add sugar. This much is important, when stirring your tea, please try not to make too much noise, you will give yourself away as a novice at drinking tea.

30 November 2005

More from our Florida Weekend (and there will be yet more...)

A comfortable way to get in touch with the outside world...
Marie, Anthony and I had breakfast here, a Panera Bread right near their home in Florida. I've gone to the one in Long Island during with my sister and Grandma, so it was like a part of home right there in West Palm!

The bonus feature is free internet access (from your laptop). We were able to find out about tea rooms in the area, and check our emails, etc. Their blueberry bagels are phenomenal.

Little Tea House

I didn't take pictures of the inside, as it was nice but nothing to rave about. The food was satisfying, perhaps even healing as I felt so much better after the afternoon tea. These are just a few images of Marie and I in The Little Tea House's gardens; the Oriental Tea Room was pretty; maybe next time we will make reservations for there. It was amazing to be in such a peaceful green environment in November.

29 November 2005

Shopaholic Delight

One of my favorite stores, Anthropologie is located all over the US. I found this one whilst shopping in Palm Beach Gardens. Amazingly I walked out without buying anything. Two days later is another story. I mean, please! How can I resist gorgeous clothes, home decor, and even teatime paraphernalia? It's made for people like me...well, maybe not the price. Sale section!

In South Beach we also went to Urban Outfitters. I think they are related. They are slightly more affordable and made for a younger market. But I'll never be too old to shop in these places.


We had an intoxicating time in South Beach.
It's not always teatime with Gata!

28 November 2005

It's a hurricane! No, just a rainy portion of my lovely weekend in West Palm Beach. I'll have more pictures soon.

19 November 2005

15 November 2005


I was rather disturbed at the nasty comments I received over the weekend. Naturally, I deleted them all so no one else would have to be exposed to such bile.

Whoever wrote these comments obviously had nothing to do on a Friday night, and lacked the courage to at least leave a name. I guess his or her opinions were not worthy enough to own up to, even by their source(s). The speling left muc h to bee desyired as wel.

My blog is written mostly for my own benefit, and secondly for my friends or anyone who happens to enjoy what I write about. If it's not what you're into, you simply have to move on. I certainly don't force it on anyone. Besides, I could see receiving criticism if I were getting paid for writing, but since I'm not, back off already!

Finally, I have been careful not to include political, religious, or even moral items in my posts. At best I've expressed disdain at bad etiquette. So why all the comparisons to leaders spanning from France to Cambodia? This is not the forum for such ideas anyway.

PS: Don't mess with my friends! They are not mousy or whatever else you like to call them; they are attractive, intelligent individuals who don't deserve your hypocritical musings.

That's all I'd like to say on that subject. We now return to my crazy cat/book/tea loving blog.

09 November 2005

Day Tripper

One of my favorite places in London, right off High Street Kensington. I've never been there in the summer...it looks like they have outdoor seating...they never had that in April!

Anyway, it's a lovely place to get cream tea (the best scones in the world!) and not break your budget. Then you can walk to nearby Kensington Church Street and browse the antique shops until you get to Notting Hill. Now that you have all the caffeinated energy and a satisfied belly, it's time to blow all the pounds in your wallet on Portobello Road!

07 November 2005

Regular? REGULAR?!!!!

I had breakfast at a coffee shop near my home. The waitress (server, to be PC, which I'm not) was really helpful and friendly. Sadly, like everyone who works in a non-tearoom, I did not get a satisfactory response when I asked for the tea choices. She read off a list of Celestial Seasonings herbal varieties, and then finished off with "regular tea". What does that mean? In diners it usually refers to Lipton Orange Pekoe, in the same old bag.

Sir Thomas Lipton, a pioneer in the tea industry and great businessman, would be appalled to hear such a title being conferred on his tea, especially as I believe his tea plantation was located in Ceylon, modern day Sri Lanka. Can't the restaurants at least call it Ceylon tea? If I were to order a bottle of wine, would I say "Regular Wine"?!! And what about green tea, which was much more common in the past than black tea (yes, and couldn't restaurants at least say black tea????) Would not green tea be more regular than black tea? Women spend long, hot hours picking tea leaves in many countries: for what? "What do you pluck?" "Just regular tea."

02 November 2005


I've been suffering from both insomnia and nostalgia.

The nostalgia results from my recent reminiscence of our old karaoke days in Chelsea Piers. I know how corny karaoke sounds, but it was so much fun! It's the best way to live out one's inner rock star. Of course, the reason most karaoke venues are bars is because most people need a bit of alcohol to exorcise their own personal Diana Ross, Freddie Mercury, or perhaps Frank Sinatra.

In the Chelsea Piers days, the karaoke room above the bowling alley was the best, and safest, place to go. It wasn't strictly a bar, as many of my friends were underage and had full access to the "stage", the little space in front of the dj's equipment. I rarely drank myself, unless you count the hot tea I predictably consumed to help out my voice (the cigarette smoke tended to be stifling, this is before recent smoking laws were enacted).

My first impression of the place was that the dj (Spencer) was a bit of a ham himself. He would walk around with the "good microphone", as opposed to the mediocre ones attached to the screen, and would sing "Always and Forever", "Maria Maria", or whatever, directing lyrics to the females in the audience. By time he was finished crooning, we'd all be in the mood to have a turn. We had slips to fill in our song choices (I'd usually fill out four of them - yes Marie I am the Karaoke Hog) with our names. I of course used Gata, mainly because I liked how it sounded being announced by Spencer ("give it up for La Gotta!").

It was fun when there was a good crowd to cheer you on, but not so large as to make it feel rowdy. One woman was so excited about being up there that at the end of a Mary J. Blige song she put in her own lyrics: "I'm singin', I'm singin', I'm singin" in Chelsea Piers!" What a great way to unwind on a Friday evening.

On recollection, I only made it there a handful of times. Marie was there the most, and maybe Erica. I brought my camcorder twice, and got some awesome blackmail footage (of myself, too...how did I think I could sing a Wham song?) But those were some of the best Fridays or Saturdays in recent years. Even preparing for it was fun, dressing up a little, planning which songs we'd like to try. This is what made it so sad the day we came all ready to go and found a pool table in place of Spencer. I still don't understand why Chelsea Piers stopped having karaoke: was it not cost-effective? Was the sight of two white boys singing "Baby Got Back" too traumatic for Spencer? Not that I'd blame him.

This was five years ago, and much has changed since then. But, cheesy as it sounds, I put a good Karaoke night up there with a great book, a fragrant Darjeeling, or a purring kitten.

Speaking of which, now that she's in heat, little Zenobia has kept me up the past few nights with her constant wailing and moaning. I think she's having her own karaoke nights. Make it stop!

21 October 2005


My life has been completely uneventful in the past few weeks. I've read some good books and complained about the weather, but nothing really momentous.

Well, I had my first root canal. It's something. So boring. They had Who Wants to be a Millionaire on the TV during some of the procedure, but trivia shows are so fun when you can't shout out the answer. In my case I did get some correct answers, but all I could say was "ahgl" which didn't make any sense. Then a soap opera came on, to my utmost horror. Why is it that every time I've been subjected to one of these shows they play the same restaurant scene? A middle-aged couple sits at a table - not that they ever eat anything. Sometimes they have a glass of wine, which they will peer over seductively. There is the same dull piano tune playing in the background, and the couple is never interrupted by a waiter. I exercised all my self-restraint to keep from gagging, between that and "Mr. Thirsty".

There has been a possible death in my cat family. Not Zeno or Sino, of course, but the gang that eats dry food from our kitchen window. A black cat we call Sweetie has not showed up in considerable time. She was the last of four kittens that started coming to our window in 1999. There were 2 black cats and 2 tiger cats. The female tiger, Peep, was the friendliest. Sweetie was the only one who never allowed us to touch her. Perhaps she was the smartest, as the rest of the gang got bumped off within 2 years' time. Now there are all new cat families out there. Though Sweetie peacefully co-existed with them (with the exception of a family of orange cats that didn't last long), she had one long-term companion: a black and white tom whom I still haven't named. They were spotted mating, cuddling, and sharing food. Now he comes to the window alone, which he hardly ever did when Sweetie was around. I think foul play was involved, though 6 years is a long life-span for an outdoor cat.

Well, life goes on, hopefully a little more lively in the upcoming weeks. Are you still awake?

10 October 2005

Under the Weather

Look at my babies. I stayed home most of the day on Saturday - it was pouring out, come on! The window was open, with a screen in it of course. Both Sino and Zeno started sniffing the air by the window, like it was the most wonderful thing. Actually, it was quite nice.

P.S. Love the new Barnes and Noble on 46th and 5th - right near my job! Though it was a little chilly inside, it was just what the area needed. Bon and I indulged...

06 October 2005

In Astoria?

I must say I was floored when I found out there would be an actual tea room in my own town. The only thing surpassing this pleasant surprise was the fact that they use loose tea in real teapots! Shock of all shocks! I don't have to walk to Woodside or Flushing anymore; even better, I don't have to jump on the 7 train.

The Himalaya Teahouse is on 31st Avenue, which is a bit risky since it's the avenue least likely to be called a restaurant strip in Astoria. Still, it makes for a more peaceful experience. The inside is painted in dark blue and yellow. Usually the lighting is rather dim, but the staff occasionally adjust the lighting so one can actually read the menu. Generally I prefer a light situation I could read a good book with, instead of giving me the feeling that I may have stumbled into an opium den.

As for the menu...I love love love, and maybe I love, the fact that there is a wide variety of tea. Black, green, oolong, rooibos, flavored, herbal, iced, they got it all. Hot tea is served in Yixing teapots, which stay hot for quite a long time. As for iced tea, I recommend the matcha lemonade. It makes Starbucks' version taste like cod liver oil in comparison! Starbucks is no match-a for this place (wow that was corny), except when it comes to the food department. The dumplings are just fine, probably the best food on the menu. I haven't tried the soup yet, but I'm not usually up for soup when I'm already drinking hot tea. The soy beans in their pods with sea salt sprinkled on top....not really. Overpriced and incredibly boring. Finally, the dessert. It's some kind of flat pastry crust thing, perhaps reminiscent of what comes of baking in the high altitudes of the Himalayas. It tastes fine, but when it comes to tea treats, I feel an Oliver Twist line coming on.

The staff is friendly, no complaints there. The server, I should find out his name, told me they may have butter tea available soon. Sounds gross, but I must try it once.

Overall, I really like the Himalaya Teahouse, and hope it stays open! A few finger sandwiches might help, though.

27 September 2005


I was discussing past trips I've taken with a co-worker of mine, and I noticed a pattern. Besides London and a couple of days trips (or the times in my childhood when I spent weeks upstate,) everywhere I've been to I've spent just about four days there. Really. PR, Jamaica, Montreal (if you add the two weekend trips,) Ireland, Scotland, Toulon....there's probably more than that but off the top of my head, that pretty much covers it. And it's all been 4 days/3 nights, or 3 days/4 nights. So odd. Actually I don't really like admitting 4 days to some of these places. For instance, I tell someone I've been to Peru. First they look slightly impressed, but then they ask me for how long. Then it's "oh, you really can't get the real feeling of a place that way, etc." How deflating. Maybe I should re-visit these places, gain some street cred or something.

OK, I was in Florida 5 days, but who's counting?

22 September 2005

In My Head

For over a week I've had the same song in my head, no matter what else I listen to in order to cram it out. The song is "White Queen" from, you guessed it, Queen, in 1974. It's a pretty song, kind of airy-fairy, but it's like a formerly welcomed guest that now refuses to leave! A few nights ago I was rudely awakened by a pathetic moan-inducing upset stomach that kept me close to the bathroom for a few hours (you don't need to visualize this, please). When I'm in this predicament, I get all Peter Pan, saying to myself "think happy thoughts!" whilst trying to avoid anything in the subject of food. Instead, White Queen pounded insistently in my nauseous mind. So sad...

I'm feeling better now, for the most part, but the White Queen continues her procession in my head. So I thought I'd share a picture of its singer convalescing with his kitties, sort of the way I was a few hours after my ordeal. Except Sino and Zeno are not quite that close yet.

15 September 2005

Zeno and Sino

It's been interesting to watch my two cats of differing ages try to live in the same apartment. The whole scene is almost the opposite of what happened ten years ago when I brought Duforth home. She was already past the kitten age, and was used to having her own life, a rhinestone studded collar, and her own very private litterbox. Next thing she knew she was living with a flashlight beam-chasing, food-hogging, active litterbox user who was pretty happy being the only one of his species in his world. They clashed straightaway. Then they slowly learned to get along, in their own cautious way. He even seemed to miss her after she was gone.

Now Zenobia, though resembling Duforth, is the flying puffball at home. They have separate litterboxes but are not afraid of exploring. Sino must be cut off from the kitten dry food because his stomach is so sensitive now. Zeno, however, is not afraid of sampling his delicacies. His only revenge is to drink her water, which doesn't seem to faze her at all. He sees her bat things around and run back and forth all day but doesn't join in. Instead, he watches in a hunched stance, like a feline Walter Matthau.

Occasionally he takes a swipe at her, but she usually runs away. Someday she may fight back, the way Duforth did, causing him to squint and cringe whenever he saw her. Till then, she seems to be the cautious one, trying not to get in his path. Why can't everyone just get along?

08 September 2005

Just Ducky

I went to the New York Botanical Gardens last week, sans my Rebel 2000. I had to make do with my camera phone. It took me a while to make friends with the first duck, who sunned himself as I tried to call to him. It's worse than getting a cat to look at you! Then I remembered I had bread. As soon as I started unwrapping it, he made a beeline for my hand. Next thing I knew his girlfriend was getting in on the action. I took the second picture right as she tried to eat my shoe! Such a peaceful way to spend an afternoon.

01 September 2005


I've been sick this week. Compared to January, it wasn't so bad, just bronchitis. Still, I had to go on antibiotics which I dislike and I had some migraine prescriptions to fill. By the time I was able to drop everything off at Eckerd, I had 5 prescriptions! What am I loading into my system? I'm surprised I'm able to walk down the street with all the crazy chemicals in my body. And people wonder why I rarely wear heels.....

As a result (I think) I had some odd vivid dreams last night. Apparently my Book Study group took a road trip to New Orleans and we stayed at the home of someone I knew many years ago from out west. Huh?

26 August 2005

A Cup of Disappointment

A few days ago I went to Cup near the movie theatre and was surprised by their new menu. While there are some improvements, I was not happy. It turns out that my major reason for going there, the awesome Big Cup of hot cocoa, is no longer. It was replaced by what must have been Swiss Miss.

On the bright side, I had Godiva Hot Cocoa and it was not bad at all. What I really miss is the Cadbury version that I had in Bath. It was so good I almost gave up tea right then and there. Oh not quite, an hour later I was partaking of afternoon tea in the Pump Room.

24 August 2005

Beautiful Day

While Sino cuddles at home (this is actually an older pic of him when he was much heavier) I have to spend my day at work. I don't mind, it's such a gorgeous day that even the hour or so I spent outdoors was an absolute pleasure.

I had a Matcha Green Tea Blast at Jamba Juice. Dare I say it - I liked it better than the Frappuccino! I think it was the sorbet that made it special. Perfect for sipping in a park on a splendid August day.

Also, I finished The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde. This guy writes some of the most imaginative and hilarious books of our time. Since around 2002 he has been writing a book or so every year, and I always look forward to the next one. Everyone I know who reads his novels is an avid addict. Some day I would like to meet Fforde.

17 August 2005

Bin it!

Compared to most apartments in NYC, mine is quite roomy. I only share it with one person, which makes the bathroom situation ideal For some reason, though, my home is always a mess. Always! Every room is filled with papers, books, clothes, stuff! We have many closets, which is little consolation as they are all full. I've learned to walk gracefully simply to be able to navigate around the apartment without stubbing a toe.

The worst of it is, I've thrown out or given away so many items in recent months. Somehow, though, I keep accumulating - even when I do lay off the shopping, Bonnie. I can't get it together. Is this an indication of some kind of mental issue, or am I just making excuses? Is there some kind of therapy program for the chronically disorganized? Packrats Anonymous? I don't want to end up on one of those home makeover shows, crying over complete strangers throwing out my things ("Catherine, do you really need all those teapots?" "But I'm the Tea Queen of Astoria!" "No, you're the Rubbish Queen and we're gonna auction off all your teapots." "Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!" )

On the positive side, I just cleaned up my desk at work. It is possible....

11 August 2005


The Tea Queen pays a royal visit to Teany.

"We are charmed by this pristine tearoom," she says, "it is not at all quaint."

10 August 2005

Picture Show

From Top:
1: Sino in action
2: Bon and Bubuck in a relaxed moment (after a tea party)
3: Beautiful boy
4: View from kitchen window in January. Birds are not afraid of the backyard cats, because we feed them well. Spoiled brats!
5: Me with my "niece" Sheba, the day she wore a sweater.

Zenobia Pic!

My new fluffy kitty! On the nasty ratty floor of my "library." She doesn't seem to mind.

09 August 2005

Zenobia Violet Dufifth

The thing that keeps me up all night. It's a good thing my kitten is utterly adorable, because she Insomnia personified (or catified?). During the day she hides under the furniture and dashes past whoever wants to get close to her. Then at night she comes alive. Just when I sink into my first few minutes of sleep, she leaps onto the bed and starts kneading me. With her crazy sharp claws. All night long. First I groan and tell her to stop, and try to pet her so she'll feel appreciated. Then I moan and say mommy needs to sleep, and gently push her off. Next I put a barricade of pillows around me, which she somehow surmounts. After a few hours of constantly being walked on and needled, I hear myself screaming: "gabaraawaramaaaa," which in sleep talk means "expletive!", and I hear her scamper away and mew somewhere in a corner. Then I start feeling guilty, and look at the time and realize it's time to get up for work. So I get out of bed and see her making a fun for it under the dresser. That's why I'm so sleepy. I still think she's fabulous.

04 August 2005

My New Baby

I'm the proud owner of a 5 month old Persian kitten. Her name is Zenobia and she is truly regal looking. Well, she will be when she stops looking frightened of her new surroundings. I guess I'd look like that too if I saw my apartment for the first time.

I first saw her two weeks ago in Sunnyside. She was on display in the front of the petshop and I was startled. She had a remarkable resemblance to my dearly deceased Duforth, although not the same breed and not as vacant looking. But the selling price was far too steep, so I walked on. Two weeks later she was still there, and a hundred dollars cheaper! This was irresistible.

Last night Marie took me over to the pet shop. I was a bit alarmed when I saw Zenobia get freaked when taken out of her cage. I took her home anyway.

She is still in her hiding and don't-pick-me-up phase, but I think she'll work out eventually that she's home. Meanwhile, I'm wondering how we are going to introduce her to Sino, but they are being kept at opposite ends of the house for the time being.

I'll post a picture as soon as I possibly can.

01 August 2005

Fall Fashion Preview

This year I'm a little too excited about fall fashion. Part of it is, I believe, comparing this fall to the last one. I remember poring through two of those massive September fashion mags in one evening. It was in the waiting room of the Elmhurst Hospital, where my sister was getting an appendectomy. I had to get my mind off what was going on down the hall, so I looked at every page diligently. It was so disappointing - tweed overload, boring boring boring! I like what I see for Fall 2005 - not that I can actually buy anything featured in the glossy ads. Still, I find fall colors reassuring. Everything is deep and rich, velvety and soft. Much more conducive to tea drinking and pastry gorging than sleeveless summer dresses, and not as stifling as husky January overcoats. Plus I prefer boots to sandals - and one has the choice of wearing both from September thru November. There is only one problem. In autumn the fabrics and colors fall prey to pet hair. I have to refrain from cuddling my Cinnamon in the morning. I don't think he'll mind.

29 July 2005

What can I say?

It's been a while since I last blogged. I was feeling a little off for the past two weeks. Between a migraine, the usual female complaint, and the horrifyingly hot weather, I had nothing positive on my mind. So I'll stick to a brief rundown today.

1- I went to the Buttercup Bake Shop for the first time this week. On entering, one must pass through a thick red curtain, which looks a lot like the red velvet cupcake I ate. It was a real treat. Pure sweet heaven. And it was the perfect size - you don't overindulge if you have just one. The icing was a little too much, but not in a blorg way. Next time I will try the lemon cupcake, perhaps with some Darjeeling tea.

2- A brief comment on the weather. Today we enjoyed mild summer temperatures in New York. Warmth is never a bad thing, but extreme heat (90 plus degrees) and humidity does not a happy Gata make. Besides the fact that my favorite exercise regiment, walking, is severely curtailed, the whole sweat factory is extremely unsavory. All of a sudden my wardrobe shrinks to maybe five garments I could comfortably wear. I am happy today, though. I feel breezy even in a long sleeved wrap dress. Wish it could stay this way.

3- Target stores are selling cosmetic items from Boots. I'm suddenly liking Target.


14 July 2005

The Empire Strikes Back

Starbucks, the undisputed World Emperor of Coffee, is now embracing the joys of Green Tea. Now on offer is a green tea Frappucino (don't know if spelling is correct) and it is not bad. Even my younger sister who is not a big fan of green tea was taken by it. Of course, it is super sweet and highly caffeinated. I had one right before leaving work yesterday evening and practically flew home. Even better, I didn't have a queasy stomach like I usually do from most items at Starbucks. So I guess I recommend it. It will be especially fun to have when I'm hanging out at Barnes and Noble (I am an unabashed book nerd, but I also love perusing the magazines.) So far it is called Limited Edition, but so was the J Crew jacket my sister bought last year (also green), and it was in the stores for over 6 months. It's really cute on her, so it was worth it.

13 July 2005

What's my stand?

I love animals, but I'm not a vegetarian. I wear leather shoes and bags, but I don't eat beef (usually). I hate cruelty to animals, but force whoever is nearby to kill any waterbug or cockroach that crosses my path. Hunting for anything other than necessary food I consider a nasty pastime, but I congratulate my cat when he catches a mouse or insect. I won't touch him until he cleans up, though - blood! ew!

I guess this makes me pretty normal.

07 July 2005

Terrible Morning

Today's morning news was in such stark contrast to yesterday's. Wednesday morning I awoke to find, to no disappointment at all, that New York lost their Olympic bid and London would be the host in 2012. Since I'm not into the Olympics or nationalism at all, I just thought it was nice to see the celebration at Trafalgar Square: it is one of my favorite spots in London.

This morning I turn on the TV and see absolute horror. Somehow my sadness was intensified when I realized that I'd been to all the underground stations that were attacked - it was some kind of personal attachment I guess. But besides my own renewed fear of commuting to Manhattan daily, I really feel bad that London has to go through all this - WWII was bad enough! But this is the world we are living in right now.

29 June 2005

I've got nothing to say...except:

1- Ito En makes some fabulous iced teas! I was taking a mini-trip with some friends to South Street Seaport on the weekend and discovered a shop nearby called Pica Pica (which apparently means Sparkle). It was kind of like an upgraded version of Samurai - all kinds of low-priced Japanese/Chinese items as well as tea accessories. I was pleased to note they had a whole line of Ito En iced teas for $2 or less. I tried the apple flavored black tea. Amazing. It tasted like apple cider with a kick. The best thing was that it wasn't too sweet - just enough so it wasn't blah. I've had Ito En's green iced tea before. It's good to me but as it's unsweetened only purists would go for it.

2- Sunday was the perfect day for the beach. I was at Robert Moses, which isn't too crowded. My only issue was the lack of fresh air. While trying to take one of those perfect beach blanket naps, my lungs were rudely interrupted by second-hand smoke. I wanted to confront the smokers but did not know the policy of the beach. After all, it was outdoors, and there are few places left for smokers to indulge my habit. But I like to breathe sometimes. Isn't it enough that I inhale city air nearly every day of the year?

3- Three weeks without eBay. Does that make me clean and sober?

23 June 2005


Since I have Fridays off, Thursday is it for me! That's probably a good thing, because I've reached my cranky breaking point. I had one of those days when everything I wore seemed to have issues. It was cold in the office, so all my rings were falling off my fingers (I have tiny fingers, unlike the rest of me; well, my wrists are small too.) Also due to the jacked-up AC, I had to wear a dumpy sweater over my otherwise pretty outfit. My skirt is a knee-length wrap, so any breeze hitting me on the street gave the general public a slight peep show. It also gives one knee a disproportionate draft in the office. My shoes are nice, but a little big, especially in-
you guessed it - my cold office!!!!!!! They also dug in in spots, which I remedied with some band-aids. Finally, I have a bad hair day. Maybe it's time for a cup of tea! On a day like today, though, I'll probably spill the tea on my skirt, which, I neglected to mention is a wrinkly linen. Smile!!

21 June 2005

Mini-trip #2

I haven't been able to go away since April since I'm absolutely broke, but I had at least one "mini-trip" that was enjoyable. On Friday I went with a friend to Long Beach, Long Island. We took the train (LIRR) and the journey was approximately 40 minutes long. The train was full of teens that looked like they wanted to pose for a beach feature in Seventeen magazine, as well as a group of what looked like Bolivian soccer enthusiasts.

The weather was a bit mild for swimming, so we basically relaxed and drank in the sea air. I tried to read, but the sun was rather bright. Note to self: wear contact lenses and shades next time. My hat wasn't shady enough. When I got some energy, I took a sprint along the coastline. There is something about that mushy sand by the coastline that is conducive to running. Once that was out of my system we sat around for a while till we were hungry.

The beach was not so crowded, as it was technically a weekday, so it was all the more pleasant. The train ride home was not as pleasant as a rather portly man nearly sat down on me. My friend couldn't look at me or she would have burst out laughing, and I lost all claims to elbow space. I guess rudeness is not confined to subway trains.

Still, it was all in all a fantastic day, comparable to a beach vacation in many ways excluding the drinks perhaps.

16 June 2005

The Latest

Nothing really new or special actually went on this midweek. Then again nothing horrendous happened to me, so who can complain? Here's my Thursday rundown:

  • I saw Batman Begins last night. It was pretty good. Christian Bale is a believable Bruce Wayne, and a raspy Batman. Morgan Freeman was a tour de force! I just like saying tour de force: I forgot to ask someone in France what that means!
  • I've been off eBay for a week. Shopaholics around the world know what a great accomplishment that is.
  • Haagen Dazs now has a little item called the brownie bar. Chocoholics around the world know I couldn't turn it down. It's decadent and quite ungraceful to eat at a reception desk. I recommend it, but I'm sure in a few hours my tune will change.
  • Speaking of chocolate, I saw the trailer for the new Willy Wonka movie. Normally I look forward to Johnny Depp movies, but this looks downright creepy! He looks and acts so bizarre; kind of like a nightmare I would have after indulging in Haagen Dazs brownies late at night. If Batman wants to put fear in the hearts of men, he should tote Mr. Wonka around in his utility belt.

Nothing more to say...at this moment anyway.

13 June 2005

Perfect Match-a

The highly expensive Matcha tea I purchased over a week ago is also highly difficult to make. I followed the directions in my green tea book, but found I had to improvise as time went on. First of all, the water has to be a specific temperature, so I had to watch the pot for the right size bubbles. Next, I realized I did not measure properly - Matcha is so concentrated that the average spoonful creates a sludge that screams radioactivity. Or at least food coloring. Plus, I used the whisking implement that is supposed to make the tea come out frothy on top. It was a sad display at best.

After numerous tasting and tweaking, it finally came close to what I'd hoped for. At that point, though, I was past my caffeine limit of the day. In the evening I was under the constant impression that New York was experiencing an earthquake. The things we do for perfection...

I think next time I will buy the next highest priced Matcha, and probably it will go to making the shakes and drink blends that looked so pretty in my book. I'm not hosting a Japanese tea ceremony anytime soon, so there is plenty of time to practice for authenticity.

08 June 2005


I received a comment on one of previous posts that pointed out an error. Apparently I wrote "costed" instead of "cost". How embarrassing. I am such a stickler when it comes to spelling and word usage, "but now I've gone and thrown it all away," as the song says. I don't care, I'm still going to correct other people's errors. You can do the same to me; I don't mind.

By the way, check out my picture on Marie's "brattyblog." I'm the blonde chick with the hat on. In this picture it looks like I'm the Ginger Ale Queen of Astoria. Usually I'm critical of my pics but this time I was quite pleased with my posture. How regal!

07 June 2005

These are a few of my favorite things....

Since most of my posts have been complaints, I thought I'd write a few things that I actually do like:

1-Jelly beans - I never buy these because if they are near me I will eat an entire bag. I especially like the gourmet ones with the crazy flavors.

2-Devon/clotted cream - This is of course tea related. Nothing makes a scone like some of this stuff smeared on top of it. I don't care about the calories!

3-Overweight cats - Something you can really hold on to.

4-A really good entrance - In a theatre or concert, when a performer comes on stage at just the right moment, with a crescendo of music playing hopefully by live musicians. Of course this only works if the audience is with it.

5-Lush - The best shop in the world, all over the world. A feast for your nasal passages!

6- The New Book Smell - Crack!

7- Karaoke - I should devote a whole post to this. The only thing Karaoke bars are missing is a means to make a really good entrance.

This is not an exclusive list; I have other favorites. More to come in another of my good mood days...

06 June 2005

Come On Already!

Here's more things that annoy me, and they are both subway related:

1- I hate when people near me on the train decide to yawn without covering their mouth. Everyone does it, but I'm referring to the ones who continue doing it after the first one escapes their mouth. It's just wrong! Most people have at least one free hand they can use to cover their mouth.

2- A girl sat next to me this morning on the train and commenced eating a breakfast sandwich. The smell was revolting, especially first thing in the morning! Come on, guys. If you really have no time to eat anywhere else, bring something unscented. One of these days, the smell may induce me to be sick on the floor of the train, and then you will know what it's like to be thoroughly grossed out first thing in the morning.

03 June 2005

Book Review #1

Since I read soooo much, I thought it would be good to write about some of my favorite books. Or if it wasn't worth it I'll mention that too.

What better way to start than with a tea book? Here's just one I've read recently: New Tastes in Green Tea by Mutsuko Tokunaga. As you may have deduced by the author's name, this book mostly covers Japanese green tea and its history, practices, rituals, etc.

Of course there are plenty of books regarding this subject, but this one was quite helpful. I learned about different types of green tea and the best way to make it in order to achieve its ultimate flavor, what times of day to have them and with what kinds of food, and health benefits. My favorite part of the book was the recipes. There are new ways to drink iced green teas, including cocktails. One recipe combined Sencha, one of my favorite green teas,with vodka - my favorite liquor! New ways to get jittery and toasted at the same time! There are also different kind of dishes and pastries that can be made with green tea, and this is also included in New Tastes.

After reading this book I went out to Ito En on Madison Avenue and bought one of their finest Matcha teas. It is also one of the most pricey kinds of tea, but I think it will be worth it.

02 June 2005


Here's one thing (among many) that really annoys me:

Sometimes when I go to purchase an item in a shop I like to give exact change. I don't want to keep the line waiting, but if I know it'll only be a few seconds, I give it a try. Or maybe I'm pulling out a credit card. I really don't take that long, honest! For some reason, though, cashiers are increasingly impatient creatures. I can't help but notice when the tapping begins. Their index finger, or sometimes a few of their fingers, tap, tap, tap on the counter until I procure my payment. I find this to be the most irritating habit, worse than anything my cat does while waiting to be fed. In fact, when the tapping begins, I have started a habit of my own. I slow it down. This explains why I don't drive. Can you imagine what would happen if people honked at me?

26 May 2005

Hands-on Tea

Though I usually prefer teas like Darjeeling, Sencha, Oolong which require no flavoring, sometimes it's fun to try the fruit-flavored or scented teas. It just brightens up a rainy day really.

I tried my Whittard Green Jamaican Mango for the first time recently. This one I purchased in the Whittard T-Zone in Covent Garden. It was my final activity in London, not counting the airport shopping.

I love the Whittard T-Zone. There aren't too many of them - the only ones I know of are in Covent Garden and Carnaby Street. In these shops, you are able to blend your own flavored teas. I did this the first time in 2003. Basically there is a large table with a selection of loose teas like Sencha, Keemun, Ceylon - the ones that blend well with flavoring. Then there are dried fruits, loose herbs, and oils. There is a wheel of blending recipes. You pick one and go step by step. I suppose you could try your own creation, but you should at least check out the measurements - too much oil might prove overwhelming. Everything is mixed in what looks like a cocktail shaker. The end result is carefully poured into a 4 oz. bag. The instructions say you can design your own label, but time was running out so I didn't look into that. The tea costed a little more than the other flavored blends, but not in a tremendous way.

About a week after I got home, I tried my creation for the first time. It was magnificent! I really have to get my own ingredients and make blends more often! It may also be fun to try herbal concoctions.

Speaking of Whittard, my sister bought a strawberry fruit infusion there. She shared with us at a recent tea party, and everyone was impressed. Tea is good - even if it's not technically "tea".

25 May 2005

Thank You For The Music....

It was really nice to go to a live concert on Sunday night. It's been a long time.

Only problem was, I saw signs of aging creeping up into my attitude. First of all, most of the people in my age range attending the show (which was, by the way, the radio station-sponsored "Zootopia") were either parents or somehow escorting the younger fans. Some of the performers were older than me, but I don't think any of them were over forty. And most of the singers, or bands, certainly catered to a young audience. This was confirmed by the high-decibel screeching that ensued when they entered the stage. The music sounded fine once I stuck my fingers in my ears.

So I'm thinking, am I past it now? Do I go hobbling back to the White Album? Therein lies the answer. I tell everyone how I'd loved to have been there when the Beatles used to perform live. Yet, I've seen their mid 60's concert footage. Seen it. You could barely hear the music above the prepubescent hysteria. So maybe I'm not old. Maybe I'm mature. I don't know which sounds more frightening.

19 May 2005

Irritable Mind Syndrome

One of the things that annoys me, especially in the morning, is getting a once-over from the women I pass in the street and in the subway. It's almost worse than stupid comments from men on the street. I get more upset when they stare at my shoes. The worst is when they are new shoes, and I'm struggling to get used to walking in them. It's stupid, I know, but I immediately feel defensive; maybe I've lived in NY too long. If it is a quick glance, I barely notice - I'm sure I do the same thing. Outfit-watching is a fun pastime. It's the critical look I hate, or the long, drawn out stare.

On the other hand, if someone smiles, or compliments what I'm wearing, it can make my day. I'm probably meant to live in a cave.

18 May 2005

Wild Thing!

I took my cat Cinnamon (nicknamed Sino) to the vet this weekend. He was getting sick all over the house, even on some of my books! Not only was it annoying, but I was concerned. Sino is 12 years old and our other cat Baby (Duforth) died last year at 13 years, so I wanted to be more vigilant about his health.

Although my dearly departed Duforth never enjoyed her trips to the vet, her vocal complaints were kept to a minimum and she was a very good patient. Not my Sino. His file at the Astoria Veterinary Group labels him a "Caution Cat". The minute he's carried into their waiting room, the trouble begins. His pupils become large and dark, and the growling starts low, like an evil purr.

Nothing can prepare a viewer for his actions on the examination table. He makes noises which can only be called demonic, while he thrashes at the oven-mitted vet techs. Since he is a big cat like most orange shorthairs he is doubly hard to control. At this visit 2 techs had to use towels to restrain him while they gave him tranquilizers. Soon he grew limp and relieved himself on the table. I found myself making apologies for his behavior, but that's pretty dumb. It's all him. Besides, at home he is affectionate and cuddly. Only at the vet's office does he decide to be the Hulk.

After only a few minutes into his sedation, his strength begins to return to him and he swats drunkenly at the techs as they clean his teeth and cut his nails. Finally the veternarian advises me his condition looks to be Inflammatory Bowel Disorder. Somehow he has inherited a disease common to my family! This is besides the fact that he sort of resembles my dad. Sino is prescribed 2 kinds of pills to be administered daily, preferably by the mouth. Right. I'm gonna try to pry his fangs open and throw pills down there. My sister, a former vet tech, can't do it!

So now we have a month of sneaking meds into my cat's food. Of course, he is discerning and tries to eat around it, but he must be getting some of it into his system. He hasn't made a mess since Sunday.

17 May 2005


That's an expression I like to use for spending a day, or even a few hours, the way I would if I were truly on vacation. Since I really don't get to go away that often, but live in the most diverse area in the world, this works out really well.

Here's how it works: preferably on a day off, in decent weather, I decide on a neighborhood or street, depending on which borough I plan to visit. I try to choose a country that I'd like to see but may never get a chance to. Then I go to an area where the restaurants and shops specialize in my particular choice.

For instance, yesterday was my day off. It was warm in the afternoon, so I walked to Jackson Heights. I shopped for bangles in Butala Emporium. I was not the only one on a mini-trip: lots of non-Indian woman were in the shop buying incense and hair products. One woman asked the man behind the counter if he had any CD's of morning chants. I told him my morning consisted of more groans than chants and he smiled indulgently. I'm glad they removed their "No Joking" sign a while back. In the end a lady working in the shop showed me how to check what size bangles to go for: I am 2-6 (at least my wrists are thin!)

From there I visited a "Bollywood" music and movie shop, which was reasonably priced. They were helpful in this shop too, but it was good to know a little bit about what I was looking for (Veer Zaara!) And for all you Hindi film lovers, I even found some Karaoke music!

Normally my mini-trip would consist of a nice lunch (in this case maybe Jackson Diner for their buffet), but I wasn't too hungry and (gasp!) didn't even feel like chai. Instead, I opted for mango kulfi. This is similar to ice cream, served on a stick, with a slightly different consistency. It is magnificent on a warm day, and only $1! I ate this on my walk home.

So this was a mini-mini trip, only 2 hours perhaps. But it gave me that feeling that I'd been somewhere that day. I think it helps to stick to the theme for even that short time period. It's not as easy to try this if you live in a one-or two-culture place, but it's worth a try. Just remember to keep your mobile communications to a minimum during this time, or it won't be fun at all!

More on my mini-trips to come.....

10 May 2005

Clone Attack!

Since nothing of serious note has happened since I returned to NY, I'll rant a little on my observations of my recent visit to London.

I guess my powers of observance were lax on my previous trips to London, but this time I noticed something quite disturbing. Not counting my friends in Clapham/Balham, who have their own minds, the ladies in London had one thing in common. They were dressed in uniform. I mean, nearly every female that walked the streets of West End, Chelsea, Kensington, Portobello Road, etc. were wearing the exact same thing...the boho/hippie/prairie look, whether it suited them or not. My sister and I particularly remarked on the long white skirts, everywhere!

Don't get me wrong. This is one of the looks I've worn myself for many years, particularly in the warmer months. And if I feel like wearing a tiered skirt or a funky belt, I go for it. What bothered me is everyone and their mother looking like this, with no thought to what works for them or what they actually like. They are dictated to by magazines which they must follow religiously. It's sad!

That being said, it's not terrible to look at the latest something or other in the shops and trying it out. I've done that before, but be true to yourself or you won't enjoy it at all!

Finally, there is one person getting all the credit, or is it blame, for this style - Sienna Miller. I have nothing against her personally. I think she's pretty and looks good next to her fiancee as well, which can't be easy. But what I don't understand is the media making her the inventor of the latest style. Hello! People have rocked this look since the 60's (and some people should have left it there.) All of a sudden it is "new" and apparently only one person in this world ever dressed this way. Come on, people! Get real!

I've said my piece, and I'll wear whatever I like to wear, whether everyone else likes it or not. (Of course, I won't wear a mini-skirt, that would not work.) And if anyone starts to credit tea-drinking popularity to Sienna or any other chick, they will have the Queen to answer to!!!!!

06 May 2005

Living up to my name

I haven't done anything tea-related since I started this blog. Bad Tea Queen! So I'll dedicate this post to my tea experiences in London.

First of all, I can't say the tea is better over there - it's tea, which is good anywhere. That being said, I do like the little things, like the fact that many eateries serve tea in pots, whether bagged or loose. This is a rare thing for New York, where you have to go to a tea-themed restaurant to even see a teapot. Still, every once in a while I ordered tea and got the bag with nowhere to put it but the saucer. Why would anyone do this to their customers? Don't they know what happens when you put a spent teabag on a saucer? The minute you raise the cup to your lips, little drops flicker off the bottom onto your lovely new white top, and you lose any teatime decorum you may have acquired in past years. But I digress.....

Second, though I know that London has been infected with chain store-itis, I have absolutely no problem with one particular shop scattered all over the high streets: Whittard. Sometimes they call it Whittard of Chelsea. Anyway, this is a shop that sells all kinds of loose teas in tins and bags, however you like it. There are flavored teas and estate teas, even first-flush Darjeeling. For those that like it fast and sweet, they sell instant teas in cans that last forever. You can usually sample a few of these in the shops. Then there are teapots, cups, strainers, tea towels, gift sets, tourist items...anythinga tea lover would go for, it's there at reasonable prices. My sister Pam bought a book there written by one of Whittard's tea blenders. I must read it sometime. A few of the Whittard shops, one in Covent Garden and one in Carnaby Street, also have a T-Zone. In this section you can blend your own flavored teas! I managed to do this on my last day there, though I spilled some of the dried fruits.

Of notable mention is the Haagen Dazs Cafe in Leicester Square. They have Ice Cream Tea on the menu. For a rather exhorbitant price, you get a scoop of ice cream, a mediocre scone with cream and jam, and a pot of tea. I secured my position as Clumsy Tourist of Astoria by knocking over our table when leaving the cafe. I watched in slow motion as the teapot careened to the floor. Thankfully it didn't shatter.

But my favorite tea experience in London is, and always will be, The Muffin Man. It's located near Kensington High Street tube station. Here, for a decent price, you get the best tasting scones in the world. Once in a while a few of them get slightly burned. Otherwise, they are perfect. The atomosphere is cozy and feminine, but I saw a number of men enjoying lunch here. Their sandwiches are also to die for. Their cakes are okay too. If you ever make it to London, make time to visit the Muffin Man, even if it's not on Drury Lane.

05 May 2005


While away in UK and France, I didn't check my email once, nor did I have a cell phone (mobile). Occasionally I felt uneasy about this. I guess I experienced technological cold turkey. When I heard a ringtone, I'd reach for my phone and then stop short out of habit. I phoned home a few times, and that was the only time I had contact with NY.

In the long run, the only thing I truly missed was text messaging, but even this I survived.

Now I recommend that everyone try taking a holiday from being totally reachable. It's hard to do in while vacationing somewhere in the US perhaps. Still, try even for one day turning off your cellphone, your pager, your laptop, whatever. Take a long walk or drive away from your hometown and listen to silence for once. Reach out and touch...the off button.

20 April 2005

Better than Caffeine!

You know when you have something really exciting coming up, like a trip and you wake up earlier than expected? That happened to me today, because I have a flight to London today. It's such an unusual feeling for me, because I don't usually haul myself out of bed till the bitter end. I wonder why I'm always in a rush in the morning? Today I felt perfectly alert, without a trace of grogginess. Now this could be adrenaline, I'm not sure. But someone in the medical fields should find a way to convert that excitement into a pill, because it is the perfect pick-me-up. It's like an alert tranquilizer.