Blue Apron: Week 34

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Chicken Steam Buns with French Breakfast Radish & Cucumber Kimchi
These Chicken Steam Buns with French Breakfast Radish & Cucumber Kimchi from Blue Apron were pretty much as good as their beef counterparts from a few weeks ago. The steam buns are a nice touch, and plenty of flavor is mixed into the meat so the filling comes out really good on its own. Made about 2.5 Iris meals.

Spinach Pesto Gnocchi with Sautéed Asparagus & Brown Butter
Holy garlic, Batman! This Spinach Pesto Gnocchi with Sautéed Asparagus & Brown Butter was good, too, but maybe my garlic cloves were oversized as this dish had some serious garlic in it. The gnocchi is very filling and I was able to get about 2-3 Iris meals from this recipe.

Beef Tartines with Zucchini au Pistou
The Beef Tartines with Zucchini au Pistou were also very good. A pretty solid Blue Apron week! The pistou was used to cover up a bit of the greasiness of the shredded beef, and it worked well. This recipe made 2 Iris-meals.

Texas: Arlington on Independence Day

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Elvis Mini Wheelie Club
'Not sure exactly what I expected.

Well. That's not true. I totally expected the "American Heritage Girls", the Texas State Militia, and the Sons/Daughters of Confederates. Did I expect the slightly off color [to a yankee] announcers' jokes about the Civil War era bayonets and how Texas is "Open Carry"? Not quite. Nor did I really expect a troupe of Vietnamese bicyclists calling themselves the "Viet Riders", nor the Sikh community carrying posters outlining the tenets of their faith. The "Tex Annes" dance troupe? Sure. Unicyclists? Why not! 6 different area marching bands and associated alumni bands? Of course.

Being out of my usual environment for July 4th is always interesting. Different parts of the country express their pride for their country in different ways and participating in community events, such as Independence Day celebrations, is a quick way to get a feel for a community's outlook and beliefs.

[Edited to Add: It rained the morning of the parade, putting temperatures in the very enjoyable 70s.]

High School Marching Band
Miniature Horse and Buggies
Carrying a large flag
The Tex Annes
Fourth of July Festivities
Unicycle Club
Shiny Parade Float
Independence Day Fireworks Over Downtown Arlington
Independence Day Fireworks Over Downtown Arlington
Sno Cone Line!

I spent two weeks in Arlington for work, a town that simultaneously calls itself The American Dream City and is also the country's largest city without public transportation. Its university has recently been designated an "R1" university (i.e., top tier research institution), and so the town's identity is acclimating to being an intellectual hub...while also forcing the university to allow closed carry of firearms. It's an interesting place at an interesting time.

Downtown Arlington and Abram Street are really starting to pick up with trendy restaurants, murals, and little islands of landscaping. It's so very close to being a quite nice town. A grocery store walking distance from campus and a spot of public transportation to DFW airport and the Arlington Highlands shopping center would go a very looooong way. I mean, they've got a Torchy's Tacos, it's cruel and unusual punishment to not have any means of getting there.

Downtown Arlington Texas
Babe's Chicken Dinner Downtown Arlington Texas
Geometric Gate
Yellow Flower
Arlington: The American Dream City...with no public transit!!
Downtown Arlington Texas Lone Star American Dream City
Downtown Arlington Texas
Arlington's College Park
Flower Branch

The Last of the Black Tea Subscription

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Darjeeling Sungma Summer
I've been loving this Darjeeling Sungma Summer Tea from Adagio Teas.
A black tea with slightly darker fruit notes. As I drank more of this one, I enjoyed it more. It's not as naturally sweet as some, but it still has bits of sweetness on its own, and it plays with milk and sugar well if I'm in the mood for that. A lovely find from a tea subscription!

Adagio Assam Melody Tea
This Assam Melody Tea from Adagio carries quite the punch! It's very, very different from the Assam TGFOP from Margaret's. Even though the color is lighter than the Assam TGFOP, it's a much darker, deeper taste. I was expecting fruitier, but it's pretty good as is.

Adagio Irish Breakfast Tea
Adagio Irish Breakfast Tea is a pretty standard breakfast tea. Another non-fruity tea that's good for those who really enjoy black tea. It's even better with a spot of milk :)

Pretty Postage Post

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Fancy Stamps
Why buy ugly postage, when pretty postage costs the same?! I also work next to a post office, so that's just making matters worse...

In my defense, we've used up the ferns, all but the 4 display DC/Japan sakura, the coastal birds are all spoken for, and two of the floral books are meant for general usage. Really, only the songbirds and bonsai are part of the "permanent collection" ;)

Man do I enjoy putting pretty stamps on envelopes for the landlord, lol.

Pretty Stamps
6 Apply theme-appropriate postcard stamps
USPS Botanical Art Stamps
New Envelope Seals!
And then there's personalized envelope sticker-seals to match your return address labels...

Blue Apron: Week 33

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Soy-Glazed Meatballs with Swiss Chard, Jasmine Rice & Marinated Radish
These Soy-Glazed Meatballs with Swiss Chard, Jasmine Rice & Marinated Radish from Blue Apron won the top award this week, despite only producing two Iris-meals. The soy glaze and the flavor added to the ground beef really brought the taste to the next level. Fantastic.

Seared Chicken & Verjus Pan Sauce with Mashed Potatoes, Mushrooms & Kale
The skin-on chicken in this Seared Chicken & Verjus Pan Sauce with Mashed Potatoes, Mushrooms & Kale really made the dish. The potatoes were good, too, although I always add an off-recipe splash of milk. 2.5 Iris-meals.

Green Shakshuka with Eight Ball Squash & Spiced Pita Chips
I love za'atar, and the spice really works in this Green Shakshuka with Eight Ball Squash & Spiced Pita Chips. The dish made two Iris-meals, which is surprising because usually the veggie meals produce more. Nonetheless, it was good, and now I know what shakshuka is!

Jamberry Nails

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Jamberry Damask Over an Old Manicure

As a grand distraction to the grande finale of my PhD tenure, I got a bit into Jamberry Nail Wraps which are essentially vinyl nail-shaped stickers that adhere to your fingernails for 10+ days. eBay has pretty affordable rates, and lets you avoid the bulk of all the multi-level marketing schemes that come into play with such products. Sure, $15 for 2 manicures and pedicures is a good deal but not when you can save a couple bucks via eBay and also buy half sheets (1 manicure + 1 pedicure). More variety, less money.

If you're a bit self-conscious about people knowing you're wearing nail stickers, then you can always just go for solids and glitters. Or maybe just the tinted French tips. Keepin' it classy. These tend to look better than when I hand paint my nails, especially for my dominant hand, as the stickers can't get slopped all over your cuticles and nail bed. The outcome is definitely much nicer than what I can do by hand. I also like using the transparent Jamberry to save an old polish manicure. In the above photo I had a two week old manicure that was chipping, so I pushed down my cuticles, painted similar color onto the exposed nail, put on a layer of topcoat, trimmed my nails (I like 'em short), waited three hours, and added the Jamberry in Damask on top.

For my first application I used the 'reverse warming method' and two weeks later, I removed them with nail polish remover, a flossing stick, and a Q-tip. And I had no issues at all, maybe my nails are just shaped the right way for this? No bubbles or wrinkles! I trimmed the bottom edge of the thumb wraps to be flatter and that worked out pretty well. I did choose a size that was too small for my index fingers, but mistakes like that are not really noticeable by strangers. The metallics and tints are different thicknesses, so it might be best to start with a solid or print, as they seem to be easy to apply with a nice long life.

During the two weeks, if an edge started to come up or snag, I'd either trim the nail a bit, or I'd reapply heat and press down. The first week, these looked great although, near the end of the week I repotted some plants and so a bit of dirt tended to stick to the edges. Throughout the second week the bottom of my nail became excessively exposed. Supposedly you can fix that by reheating the wrap, pulling it down, and then trimming the nail. Eh, whatever. Near the end of the second week, the tips of my nails started appearing above the wraps, too. My Jamberrys were starting to wear out, but it is important to do a proper removal. If you just peel them off, the adhesive will likely damage the nail bed (another reason to put a clear topcoat on underneath).

Fun fact: whereas Minecraft videos are all narrated by teenage boys, all Jamberry videos appear to be hosted by middle-aged housewives. It's likely due to the at-home MLM sales model Jamberry employs (think: Tupperware parties or P90X/BeachBody). I'm always a bit leery of products where the saleswoman's income is dependent upon how many people she gets to sign/pay up as a saleswoman, but in this case I like the product enough and the price isn't insane (I'm looking at you, P90X).

Jamberry Nails - First Day
Day 1
Jamberry Nails - Two Weeks Jamberry Nails - Removed
2 weeks + removal
Jamberry Nails - Free Half Sheet of Smitten and Rose Gold Glitter

My second attempt was with Rose gold glitter and Reminisce for our thesis-moon in Las Vegas. A metallic-backed one and another white-backed one. I've found the Rose gold glitter to be more jagged on the tips of the nails, requiring a bit more upkeep with a nail file but nothing serious. They once again held up quite well for the week and a half that I wore them. In hindsight, black Jamberry will reveal the tip of the white nail more than other lighter colored Jamberries, so for a real aesthetic longevity it might be best to stick with the lighter colors.

Jamberry Nails - first day
First day
Jamberry Nails - 10 days
10 days (removal day)

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