Gotta catch ’em all

It’s a jungle in here already! But whenever I see plants that I don’t have, I want a cutting to propagate! Lately I’ve gathered a lot of cuttings. I don’t know where to put them all yet but I’m so excited. I now have plants to fill my empty pots. (I always have extra pots for just in case.)

Here’s the rundown of my new Pokemon:
Begonia of some sort
Begonia ("Tea Rose" maybe)
It’s different from the current begonia I have. The new one has thicker, fuzzy, almost succulent-like leaves with no variagation. It grows short and squatty. The one I have grows long and tall, has thin, smooth polka-dot patterned leaves. The leaves are smaller too on this new one. Maybe 5-6″ instead of 11″ or so on my old one. Maybe after if blooms I’ll be able to better identify this variety.

Philodendron Silver
Philodendron Silver
Beautiful variegation on the leaves.

Micans Philodendron
Micans Philodendron
Almost a purply dark green color with some velvety fuzz. I now have 4 varieties of philodendrons. The other two are Philodendron Scandens (Heartleaf) and Philodendron grazielae (brighter green leaves that are almost succulent-like with thicker firmer stems).

English Ivy
English Ivy?
At least I think it’s an English Ivy.

Purple Passion
Purple Passion
I’ve killed one of these before. I left it in water to just grow in a vase. It needs to be potted eventually.

Aglaonema (Chinese Evergreen) Silver Bay –
Aglaonema (Silver Bay?)
Again, I’m relying on Google pictures to help me identify this thing. I’m not totally sure it’s a Silver Bay but I’m quite sure it’s an aglaonema. And this is my third variety of Chinese Evergreen. I love the different leaf variegation on each one. They are beautiful plants and so easy to care for and propagate.

Update to the update on the mattress

A month or so ago I decided to flip the mattress. After writing this not-so-positive review on the Savvy Rest, I finally decided to try to fix the situation. The mattress was sort of a beast to flip. You definitely can’t do it alone because it is very pliable. After flipping it, we even had to open up the mattress and adjust the 2 side by side layers of latex because they were bunching up in the middle. After some wrangling, this mattress is finally what I want! Because the firm side doesn’t sink in as much, you don’t feel the crack in the middle. And it is so nice and supportive to sleep in. It’s perfect!! I am now loving this bed. LOVE!! The firm latex is supportive without the hard/harsh pressure points on your joints or bones. When before, I was kind of regretting not returning the bed (I really wanted to, but the thought of wrangling all these latex layers back into the box was not worth it to me), now I only wish I’d flipped this sooner. Still, we’ve got many more years left in this bed so better now than later. I take the last opinion back – I would get this bed (or one like it) again. I like it better than the standard innerspring, memory foam (the worst!), and air beds (like Sleep Number). The great thing about latex is, you only feel the first 2 or 3 inches of latex. Because they give you 3 different layers of latex, each about 3 inches thick what ever layer you’re directly on top of is the only one you feel. Now I see why the sales guy advised me to get one of each degree of firmness. That way, it’s totally customizable. Don’t worry about what are on the bottom 2 layers, as long as the one in direct contact with you is the firmness you like, you won’t really notice the other two. They’re just there for added thickness.

Another Fountain Pen-Friendly Journal

I ordered this journal with the teapot and the PaperBlanks. I’ve been wanting to try this notoriously-popular-amongst-the-fountain-pen-community Clairfontaine paper.

It’s 90 grams per square meter (gsm) which I believe is pretty standard for fountain pen paper; cloth binding, sewn with linen thread. For comparison, I believe standard notebook paper’s gsm is in the 60s. The lines are wide-ruled, like the Paperblanks. I write medium-sized so it suits me just fine.
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The cover is just a thicker paper, maybe card stock, and is soft. I’m perfectly fine with that. More than fine. As long as the paper in it is good, I don’t care too much about the covers because I use these books as journals that stay home.

L.L. Bean Haul

Next stop on my shopping rampage – L.L. Bean. I have been eyeing their Boat and Tote bags for a few years at least. I never got one before this because I always had a current work tote I was using. Even now, I have a perfectly functioning tote that’s been very easy to use and sturdy. So I have no reason to get a Boat & Tote. Except remember the thing about the Kraken? Yeah. I got me 2 totes. One is the medium sized Casco Bay Boat and Tote, in Moonlight Blue, which has pockets and compartments built in it, but is open-top.
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The other is a large sized, long handled Zip-Top Boat and Tote in Peony.
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To give you a sense of how they fit, size-wise:

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In deciding whether to go with the large or medium, I found a YouTube video of a lady who ordered a large to use as a commuter bag, like me. She said it was too big and she exchanged it for the medium. So I went with the medium and it’s perfect. This Casco Bay Boat & Tote didn’t have the option to have longer handles but this is the length I’d go with anyway. I can wear it on the shoulder or straight down holding the handle in my hand and it won’t drag.

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The large is quite big. Too big as a daily commuter bag. However, it’s very handy as a weekender bag or even just to haul more items to and from work if I have more stuff to carry on certain days. The long handle makes it very comfortable to wear because it makes the bag come right at my elbow. On the other hand, if I just carry it in my hand at the handle, the bag touches the ground, by a pretty big margin.

I also got a pair of kids’ capri pants that I figure I can wear to the gym. (I haven’t seen as many good workout pants at the Goodwill store.) They’re cotton and look perfect for yoga without the premium that yoga pants garner.
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The bags are American made. Yay, L.L. Bean! The pants however, China.

So is this it? Maybe now I can put away the Kraken.

More shopping

So shopping is one of those things for me where once I start, I keep on going. It’s a bit problematic for my goal to cut back on shopping. Since my satisfying trips to the Goodwill store, I’ve been on an online shopping rampage of sorts perpetuating my hunger to shop.

I got me a little teapot – short, stout, and pretty small but effective.
Hario Teapot
I wanted something I could brew loose leaf teas in and this is what I got. The wire mesh strainer of this teapot is made in China. I think all tea brewing contraptions are made in China, from what I could find. The entire set however is from Japan. I’ve already been using this multiple times a week, but I can see myself using it even more during the winter. It makes individual (for me) portions of tea.

Then I got me some new journals. I’m down to one that I’m currently writing in so I wanted to get some backups and I wanted them to be fountain pen friendly. My current journal isn’t made with a known fountain pen friendly paper but it’s actually pretty good. No bleed through, ghosting, or feathering. I found out about Paperblanks from some fountain pen website or YouTube video and I want to try it. So I got 4.
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These are midi sized (7×5″) which I find to be on the small side. I wouldn’t get them again. I also got a Clairefontaine journal with a soft cover and fabric binding (8×6″).

This is just the beginning. I’ve released the Kraken!

A little addicted

When I decided to curtail my shopping, I got a little hoardy with the last-clothes-I-was-ever-going-to-own! If this is it, then I’m keeping everything – even if there’s a big gaping hole where the sun shouldn’t shine. But then, after I discovered the wonders of the Thrift/Goodwill Store, things have eased up a bit. Well, I haven’t tossed my holey pants yet because they’re still good house pants, but now I feel like I don’t have to put my second tier clothing into my work lineup anymore. Y’know, stuff that is work appropriate, but it’s a little more worn out looking and faded than I’d like to look at work. I wear it anyway because of the last-clothes-I’ll-ever-have mentality, but now, I can finally retire them to weekend lounge wear or even donate it.

This is my haul from the third Goodwill store. Don’t go to a Goodwill store looking for anything specific. Just go in with an open mind and you get what you find. Although one thing they generally always seem to have aside from clothes are nice plates, mugs, and glasses. I should also mention that every store I’ve visited seems to have different pricing, but all within a dollar or so. Today, there was a 25% off everything sale at the location I shopped. I found some really nice work pants with lining (not from China)! I took a day off work in the middle of the week to shop here and surprisingly, there were other people shopping there too in the middle of the day. Granted, most were retirees but some were middle aged.
Goodwill Finds
This entire haul was $44. It’s my biggest purchase at a Goodwill store yet.
4 pairs of work pants, 1 cardigan, 2 tops, 3 pairs of gym/yoga pants.

Since I had the entire day off work and I was on my own, I spent a good 2 or 3 hours there. Itch scratched. Monster fed and wide awake.

Nice Cream

I’ve known about using frozen bananas to make (n)ice cream for a long long time, even before I stopped eating dairy. The first time I heard about it was on a TV show where Jerry Seinfeld’s wife said this is how she makes healthy treats for their kids. I filed it away in my brain but never made it because I’m not a big fan of ice cream anyway. And why have frozen bananas when I could just get store bought?

People, this is not your average ice cream. It’s better.

First, I recommend using organic bananas.
Ripe bananas
Let them ripen until they have spots.

Freeze the bananas: Wash and remove the stem and end, leaving the rest of the banana peel on.
Frozen bananas
Cut into quarters, then freeze them.

In a blender, add almond or some other dairy-free milk, the frozen bananas, and an avocado if you want it extra creamy and rich.
Frozen bananas and plant milk

For flavoring, I’ve had good luck with cocoa powder (use a lot! Then add more), cinnamon (a little), and liqueur (optional) and peanut butter.
Nice Cream
The cocoa powder and peanut butter are essential in my opinion.

Blend it up then put it in a bowl and freeze it again.
Nice Cream
Now you have nice cream. It reminds me of Chunky Monkey.

C-ville

Spent a weekend in Charlottesville, VA. Yes. The Deep South. Confederate flags and all!

We stayed at the Econo Lodge.  It was $70 a night and felt like it.  The package came with squeaky beds and audible upstairs neighbors having a lovely evening which immediately bumped up my rating of the place.  I don’t mute Keeping Up with the Kardishians for just anything.  Live entertainment is always better then TV.

Charlottesville doesn’t seem like much of a food destination.  It’s not bad, but it’s nothing memorable either.  We ate at Bodo’s Bagels, Firefly, Mellow Mushroom, and Mellow Mushroom again.  Granted, that’s not much of a sample size.

We also visited a brewery bar – Three Notch’d Brewery.
Three Notch'd Brewery
Good beers.  I learned that I’m not a fan of very very hoppy beers. Of the ones we tasted, Jazz Fest (sugar cane and pecan ale) was our favorite. You can definitely taste the pecans. Hydraulion Red was number 2. It was just a very balanced beer that was a little bit caramelly sweet. And number 3 was Jack’s Java Espresso Stout. It definitely tasted of coffee. Probably our least fave was Ghost of the 43rd American Pale Ale. It tasted of hops, hops, and more hops.

Our two main attractions while visiting Charlottesville were the McCormick Observatory and the Paramount Theater’s children’s musical, Alice in Wonderland.  

The Observatory was a long line where each person got to take a peek through the giant telescope to see Jupiter and 3 of its moons – Io, Callisto, and Europa.  
McCormick Observatory
It was mostly for historical purposes, just to get an idea of how people in the late 19th century studied the stars. Nowadays there are more advanced telescopes (Kepler/Hubble) that sit in outer space. The experience included a good bit of waiting in line while a staff member gave each person a few quick seconds of a look.  I love looking at outer space things.  They’re kind of magical and beautiful.

The Paramount Theater is in “downtown” Charlottesville.  The performance of Alice in Wonderland was given by the Missoula Children’s Theatre by local children in the area.  The company brings the props, a director and other staff and they audition local children and rehearse for about a week and put on the low budget show.  It was pretty cute to watch kids (I’m guessing they were K-12) running and dancing around the stage in costumes. It was as cute as one can imagine. Little kids dressed as lobsters and singing flowers. They waved to their moms, forgot their lines, tripped and stumbled, mumbled their lines and missed some cues. Pretty adorable stuff! Still, even though it was all rather sweet it felt more like something the family or friend of a performer would enjoy more.

And what is a trip without some shopping? I started out at the conventional shops. Ann Taylor. Banana Republic. I didn’t find anything I liked that much. Then while we were at the Paramount Theater, I overheard a mom raving about their local Goodwill stores. She said the best time to shop is when all the university students leave for the summer. I mentally smacked my head, duh! Of course the Goodwill store. So after the play and lunch we went to a Goodwill store.
Thrift Store finds
I got these 4 items for $16! One still had the tag attached and one was a pink cashmere sweater that appeared unworn.

Foodwise – I’m not sure I need to bother talking about Bodo’s Bagels or Firefly. They were both decent but nothing stand-out. The best place we ate was Mellow Mushroom which is why we went there twice. The first time was better than the second though. My first impression was, hey, this is comparable to Lost Dog Pizza here. I got a mushroom hoagie.
Hoagie @ Mellow Mushroom
It was mostly bread, but with a good dollop of marinara sauce, it was decent. Some red onions would have made it even better. On the plus side, it came out very hot and the bread was nicely toasted.
The second time we went, I wanted to try their pizza. So I got a veggie pizza with no cheese.
Vegan pizza @ Mellow Mushroom
Here’s what I got. Looked and smelled good but tasted bland and dry. This is a vegan pizza made by non-vegans. They don’t consider that without cheese, it needs something more to add flavor or moisture. This thing needed oil or a lot more marinara sauce to help improve the lack of cheese situation. This just isn’t a pizza. I realize this isn’t fair to Mellow Mushroom. They sell traditional pizza and I turned it into this monstrosity by choice. So when I opine that it’s sub-par to Lost Dog, I took those particular dings out of the equation. What makes Lost Dog better is the crust, which is thinner and lighter (less dense doughy-ness), the marinara sauce, and more even distribution and generous portions of toppings. To boot, LD on a busy day churns out their food a lot faster than MM on a quiet day. Mellow Mushroom can hack it in Charlottesville but I’m not rushing to go to any of the locations here.

The one place that showed a lot of promise that we didn’t get to was Bluegrass Bar & Grill. The waiting time for lunch was an hour!! After no breakfast, and an hour of hot yoga, we decided to head back to Mellow Mushroom instead of waiting.

The surprising highlight of our weekend turned out to be attending 2 yoga classes. I planned them as time fillers. These were heated vinyasa flow classes and I came out of there totally soaked through with sweat and feeling calm and energized.

And what is a trip to C-ville without a visit to TJ’s UVA?
The Rotunda
Yes, this is The Rotunda. It’s under repair.

Why I would not get another Savvy Rest mattress

I’ve had a Savvy Rest mattress for a little over 2 years. The idea is, it’s a 3-layer latex rubber mattress that you have to put together in a cotton mattress cover. Because we got a queen size, it’s 6 pieces of latex and you lay them 3 layers thick on each side.

The good:

  • It’s organic.  No toxins, no fire retardants.  No pesticides on the cotton or latex.
  • There are no metal spring coils.
  • No off-gassing.  No smell at all.

The not-so-good (reasons why I would not repurchase):

  • There’s a crack in the middle.  Because it’s two sides of latex layers, you feel a crack in the middle.  That bothered me for a while.  It doesn’t as much now but I still notice it and don’t like it.
  • They advertise that you can restack the latex layers to the firmness of your liking.  So I chose Firm, Medium, and Soft for the 3 layers.  But honestly, these latex layers are so flimsy – tear easily, heavy, and bulky that after we got the bed together, there was no way I was about to take the thing apart to restack.
  • The flimsiness of the latex means I can’t even flip the mattress over and fitted sheets are also harder to put on.  And it also means I have a hard time vacuuming under the bed.  It’s just a blob of mattress basically.  Rather inconvenient.
  • It’s too soft.  I chose the firmer latex – Dunlop.  Have it stacked firm on bottom, soft in the middle, and medium on top.  It’s still too soft.  For a while I had back pain from the softness.  I think I got used to the bed eventually and the pain went away.
  • It was on the pricey side: $2300 thereabouts.  I wouldn’t mind if it were a better product, but it’s only so-so.

So what would I get instead?  I don’t know yet.  I’m hoping this mattress lasts us a little while.  I know I won’t go back to conventional mattresses though.  And I would look for a firmer mattress next time.

Lent Update

I guess it’s a bit late to be updating about Lent seeing how it ended in March. But this year has gone by pretty quickly hasn’t it? We’re more than halfway through 2016! Some years feel faster than others. This is one of those faster than usual years.

I studied the Japanese alphabet (hiragana). I memorized (and then promptly forgot) the alphabet. So now I know nothing. I never even got to the talking part or grammar or anything. Just dropped off at the very fundamental alphabet. So yeah, that was a bust. I didn’t even study it for 40 days straight. It was maybe for 3 weeks.

Hajimemashite – Nice to meet you.

Yup. That’s what I have left.