Tag Archives: tea

An Alternative Guide to London

2 Jul

In just a few weeks I’m going on an exciting European vacation with my family, so as I do before almost every trip, I wanted to do my research so we all get the most out of the trip. Up first on the itinerary of our 7-city, 18-day adventure is London!

Instead of going to the Olympics, watch them in Hyde Park, Victoria Park, or Trafalgar Square: Yes, the Summer Olympics inspired our trip to London, actually it was the inspiration behind our entire European vacation. We are headed off to watch Academy Award winning director and British native, Danny Boyle transform the Olympic stadium into “a picture of ourselves as a nation” for the opening ceremony. Boyle’s heart-wrenching Slumdog Millionaire, visceral Trainspotting, and riveting 28 Days Later are all evidence that he will make the opening ceremony something memorable. He is rumored to be spending over $40 million on the Tempest-inspired ceremony to make the stadium into a traditional English meadow with farm animals and national landmarks. I’m more excited to see what Boyle comes up with for the grand opening than I am for the Olympic games themselves! Watch the olympic games at one of the three BT London Live festival sites where large outdoor screens will be set up for crowds to picnic and socialize while watching some of the most eagerly anticipated races and contests in the games.

Instead of going to a traditional tea at Harrods, enjoy the fashionable Pre-a-Portea at the Berkley: This fashion-inspired afternoon tea changes every six months so that the sumptuous tea goodies mimic the latest fashions by leading designers such as Dolce & Gabbana, Jason Wu, and Valentino. It includes a selection from the extensive tea menu, mini skewers, taster spoons, elegant canapés, tea sandwiches, and for the grande finale a collection of fashion-forward cakes and fancies. I cannot recommend this highly enough for anyone who wants a modern take on traditional British tea! My family and I did it when we were in London a few years ago, and it is by far the most delicious and beautiful high tea I’ve ever had. Current selections include a Jason Wu romantic cherry bavarois and coconut cream topped with playful pink skirt and biscuit heel and a Miu Miu 1950’s inspired vanilla bikini biscuit with red hot icing and playful white bow.

Our Spring 2010 runway tea

Instead of spending all of your money on Liberty London’s beautiful but expensive clothes and home wares, find one-of-a-kind treasures at Portobello Road MarketVisit this 2-mile long weekly market on Saturday mornings if you’re set on seeing the famous market, or just about any other day of the week to avoid touristy crowds. The market contains antiques, produce, new goods, clothing, and second-hand goods. Check out Decadent Vintage for affordable treasures curated by a mother-daughter duo with a passion for fashions of the past or Portwine Arcade for quirky old-fashioned goods.Yes it’s often packed with tourists but it’s one of London’s largest and most diverse markets. This is an amazing place to experience the eclectic side of London at its finest and to find rare items for incredible prices if you’re daring enough to wade through the crowds. Plus it’s only a mile and a half away from Holland Park, which is a great place to peacefully relax after the marketplace hustle. For something even less touristy check out Golborne Road MarketNumerous stalls offer everything from antiques to fruit and bread to posters, clothes, ceramics and music.It’s best to visit Friday or Saturday when the most vendors come out to display their eclectic mix of  second-hand and vintage wares, architectural antiques, niche designer and vintage fashion boutiques, and inventive food. It stretches past the iconic Trellick Tower, which itself overlooks the Grand Union Canal leading to Regents Park, Camden and beyond. It joins with classic Portobello Road and shows the best of Notting Hill’s trendy wares.

Instead of dining in expensive, 5-star hotel restaurants, check out less common eateries at Borough Market: London’s most renowned food market dates back to the 13th Century and is a mecca of artisanal bites and hard-to-find ingredients. It’s best to visit Thursday or Friday, but you’ll be fine going early Saturday morning too. Nosh on fresh and sustainably caught seafood from Shellseekers, try goat’s milk ice cream in flavors like Hokey Pokey or Lemon Cheesecake from Greedy Goat, or pick up super fresh and nutrition-packed vegetarian fare from The Veggie Table. P.S. Check out this wonderful British Berry Tart Recipe from the market’s website!

Instead of taking countless photos of Big Ben and the parliament building, go see St. Paul’s Cathedral to get your dose of British architecture. Admire Christopher Wren’s 18th century masterpiece. Although the building has roots back to 604 AD, it is Wren’s building that visitors have been seeing ever since the Great Fire of London. It has been used for weddings, WW II peace services, Jubilee celebrations, and funerals.

What are your favorite places to visit in London? Any good tips from locals or ardent travelers?

Miscelaneous May

29 May

After five months of blogging, I’ve come to realize the importance of editing. That’s why many of my photos and ideas for blog posts didn’t actually make it onto ModernAlice. Even still, I wanted to share with you some of the exciting things that I’ve been up to this month. So here’s a compilation of random photos from the past month.

My adorable pooch, Cassie, blending in with the stuffed animals

Making a rainbow at Prom

A recycled owl…how’s that for nature

Architectural paintings at the art show

More recycling with bottle cap furniture

Fun with the Wizard of Oz

Satirical art at its best

Having a blast with my friends at Grad Night where we, the graduating seniors, got to have Disneyland all to ourselves until the wee hours of the morning

My youngest sister having the time of her life climbing the pile of bean bags at my other sister’s outdoor movie party

The perfect tutu that would make any little girl’s dreams come true

Adorable vintage shop on Abbot Kinney filled with vintage treasures

Playful architecture on Abbot Kinney

Awesome cork chair…I want one of these in my home one day

ChakWave juices that blend herbs, spices, fruits, and vegetables to appeal to the seven main chakra energy points

Nobuhiro Sato’s concrete mansion planter that experiments with the ideas of architecture to create lifestyle design accessories

Incredible brick and mortar street art on Abbot Kinney

Unique DIY succulent arrangements and terrariums at The Juicy Leaf

Adorable puppy bowls that would make any spoonful of soup or ice cream even better

Cute wooden bears with absolutely no purpose other than to make you smile

Draw Me A House: A Book of Colouring in, Ideas and Architectural Inspiration

Traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony with my mom for Mother’s Day

 So lovely readers, what exciting things have you done this month? What do you have planned for next month’s summer fun?

Mother’s Day Loving From a True Momma’s Girl

12 May

For years I’ve been told by countless teachers, friends, and family members just haw much I look like my mom. Unlike most teens, I think that there is no greater compliment than being told of my resemblance to this incredible super woman. She has a speech pathology degree, a model-esque body, and endless charm, yet she chose to dedicate her life to raising my three sisters and me. If that kind of pure selflessness doesn’t count as a super power, I don’t know what does.

I owe much of my academic success to my mom’s tireless dedication to doing everything in her power to help me. From dropping me off and picking me up at Habitat for Humanity sights that are almost an hour’s car-ride away to running back and forth among all of the art and building supply stores in town to help get me all of the obscure materials that I needed for my architectural models, my mom has never once refused to help me in any way possible.

Not only has my mom been my biggest cheerleader over the years, she also has been my best friend. She is my closet confidant, my shopping buddy, my kitchen companion, and the person whom I can always rely on to try new things with me. While my mom always tries to encourage me to catch up on my zzz’s, when I end up staying up to the wee hours of teh morning, it’s usually because she’s by my side chit chatting with me all night over a shared orange and a few cups of green tea.

I feel so incredibly blessed to have this amazing woman to enstill a sense of endless possibility and to guide me throughout my life. Without her support and daily readership, this blog would not be possible, so thank you Mom!

If any of you lovely readers want to show your apprecaition for your mommas out there too, check out this quick and easy craft as a great last minute Mother’s Day gift or an idea to tuck away for the future. These sweet little tea cup candles are the perfect way to add a touch of vintage chic to any house or office. The great scents of these decorative gems are an extra bonus!

Teacup Candles

What You’ll Need:

  • small sauce pan or pot
  • teacup, with a saucer if you so desire
  • meltable wax (find this at craft stores like Michaels or melt down existing candle stubs)
  • candle wicks with holder, at leas an inch or two taller than your cup
  • dye and essential oil (skip these if you bought pre dyed and scented wax like me)
  • thermometer
Directions:
  1. First scour your local vintage shops, flea market, or grandmother’s china cabinet for a cute teacup.
  2. Generously measure out the amount of wax that you will need to fill your teacup.
  3. Melt the wax in your pot and place the thermoneter in it to monitor the temperature.
  4. While waiting for the wax to melt, tie the top of your wick around a pencil or popsicle stick.
  5. Once the wax reaches 185 degrees, gently dip the wick into the wax, then place the base of the wick into the teacup and let it set.
  6. Balance the pencil or stick on the teacup’s rim, and place the teacup in the sink.
  7. Gently pour the melted wax into the teacup, making sure to stop 1/2 inch below the rim of the cup.
  8. Let the wax cool for at least an hour, then untie the wick from the pencil or stick and cut it to 1/2 inch above the wax line.
  9. Wrap it up cutely and give it as a gift. Punny tea references encouraged.

Life is like a box of chocolates….or in my case a box of tea

13 Feb

Since my dad is the ultimate movie buff, he made sure to show me all the classics early on. As an 8-year-old, my favorite line from Forest Gump was of course “My momma always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.'” At the time I didn’t really understand what that advice meant, but as I’ve grown up, I realize that this idea has power beyond its salivating reference to chocolate. What Gump was saying is that life is full of variety and unexpected surprises. I try to embrace spontaneity, but not to force myself to live spontaneously simply for the sake of doing so. The trick to spontaneity, is not waiting until the last possible moment to make a decision, but rather being open to all possibilities and being willing to go a little out of your comfort zone and take a risk in hopes that it will make you happier, or t least expand your range of experiences.

The advice that my mom gave me a few days ago could also be linked to a box of chocolate, but is of a very different nature. She told me not to expect any single person to fulfill all your needs because you will end up being disappointed. This is my mom’s secret to always seeing the good in people. By viewing your friends like an assorted box of chocolates, and not getting hung up on the idea of having a single best friend/spouse to fulfill all your needs, you will ultimately be happier. By opening yourself up to a variety of people, instead of narrow-mindedly rejecting any people who aren’t perfect, you will make it so that even if one friend cancels on you, you will have a phonebook full of people that you can call for a reassuring chat or an spontaneous day out.

Even if you haven’t actively tried to categorize your friends, think through them now and see what different niches they fill. Do you have a foodie friend who takes you to hip new restaurants, a therapist friend who is happy to listen to you talk then give your his/her two cents, an outdoorsy friend who encourages you to leave your technologic life for a hike very once in a while, an exciting friend who always knows how to distract you from life’s burdens, or a childhood friend who is always happy to go on walks down memory lane with you? Maybe you are even lucky enough to have a best friend who will always be there for you when you need him/her. This person could be your sibling, your boyfriend, your parent, or anyone who you can always count on to have your best interest in mind. Use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to show all of your best friends how much you care or as a reminded to make plans with one of your best friends whom you haven’t seen in a while.

Tea-filled chocolate box with a homemade teacup candle (tutorial for the teacup candle to come in a future post)

Now back to the tea…I’m lucky that my Mom is one of my best friends. Not only does she always have my best interests at heart, she also shares my love of tea. Every afternoon after our hectic lives calm down for at least a bit, we discuss our lives over tea. This is when she gives me wonderful advice, like the bit about friends being like an assorted box of chocolate. To show her how much I love her this Valentine’s Day, I updated a box of chocolates to give it a personalized twist.

Neither bouquets of flowers nor boxes of chocolates can addequately express my love, so I’m combing the two most quintessential valentine’s day gifts to make this one!

Materials

Heartfelt Box of  Tea

You Will Need:

  • An empty heart-shaped chocolate box
  • Mini cupcake/candy liners
  • Blossoming tea buds
  • 2 1/2 inch slips of paper
  • Red or pink pen
  • A heartfelt card

Box with tea and cupcake liners

Directions:

1. Brainstorm reasons why you love the person and write them down (you want one or two reasons per tea bulb), then cut the reasons into strips

2. Fill your empty chocolate box with the mini cupcake liners

3. Place a blossoming tea bulb and one (or two) of the little notes into each cupcake liner

4. Place the lid on the box, wrap it up, and top off your present with a sweet card

Happy Valentine’s Day my lovely readers! What gifts did you make/buy to show the important people in your life how much you love them?

 

 

 

Final Valentine’s Day Round-Up: Crafts

11 Feb

Over the past few weeks I have been getting excited for Valentine’s Day by sharing cute cards and tasty treats from around the web, and now it is time for my last round up of Valentine’s Day inspiration: sweet crafts that you can make to decorate for Valentine’s Day or give as last-minute gifts. I compiled these lists to show off some of the incredible talents of some of my favorite bloggers, and to hopefully inspire you to take advantage of this amazing holiday to share your love with whomever you want (your boyfriend, your family, your girlfriends, your dog and most importantly yourself.)

Sure you can dread the approaching holiday like an impending plague, or you can seize the moment to unleash your creativity and brighten someone’s day. Here is a round up of crafts that you can make for anyone anyone in your life. The great thing about this holiday is that there is no pressure to give anyone (except maybe your significant other) anything, but you have the ability to give to anyone you so desire. I have been making various crafts for the people in my life, but I can’t share them yet because the people who I made them for are some of my most loyal followers, so you will just have to wait to see those!

For yourself: Dress up a plain wall with a heart-shaped photo collage of people and things that make you smile

From I Heart Living Small Tumblr (no diy explanation...just use your own photos and glue)

For your nature-loving sister: Heart Terrarium for her house to remind her that even if you don’t talk to each other daily, you still love her

From Love + Cupcakes

For your daughters or nieces: Cute as a Button Earrings that they can show off to their friends at school

From The Anderson Crew

For your sentimental boyfriend: Love Card Deck to show him all the reasons you love him

From DIYIYD

For your favorite coworker: Rainbow Hearts Garland to brighten up her cubicle

From Momtastic

For your travel-loving Dad: make your own Hand Painted Globe by decorating a thrift store globe

From Sow Kinness. Gather Love Tumblr (no diy explanation...just use your own photos and glue)

For your tea-loving Mom: Heart-Shaped Tea Bags that you can fill with her favorite tea blend

From Funkytime

Bohemian Rhapsody in Culver City

4 Jan

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I had lunch with my mom and two of my sisters, checked out an eccentric art exhibition, shopped in a few quirky boutiques, and loaded up on produce at the farmer’s market… and I did all this within a ten-block section of Culver City.

First we had lunch at Royal T, a zany cafe/store/gallery where elegant furnishings contrasted with the utilitarian space.

I ordered a delicious Tuna Tataki salad and a pot of yuzu green tea.

After lunch we walked around the art space where the current display showed a mishmash of recycled objects used in unconventional ways.

Before leaving Royal T, we looked around the store that is continually restocked by various curators. The various unnecessary, but wonderful nicknacks made me chuckle.

As we walked through Culver City, we passed a variety of beautiful, historic buildings including the Culver Hotel, the Citizen Publishing and Printing Company, and Ashaka Restaurant.

Next we shopped around a great gift boutique called Lundeen’s where they had a great assortment of cards, toys, and house wares.

Last, but certainly not least, we shopped around Culver City’s weekly farmer’s market that happens every Tuesday from 3-7. There were about two dozen vendors selling everything from crafts to prepared food to organic produce. I bought a hand carved “Namaste” sign, korean kimchee, winter citrus, and a variety of vegetables to make homemade vegetable broth later this week. 

I had a wonderful adventure in Culver City yesterday afternoon and I highly recommend that any of my readers who live near LA make sure to check out the many shops, restaurants, and markets that the city has to offer!