Articles by " Athena Flint"
4 Jan
2015

Books to read if you want to eat healthy for some reason.

 

These books have some great things to say about REAL food for your REAL body. 

100DaysOfRealFoof_book_cover_NYT_best_seller_number_1_521x590

food rules

forks

OmnivoresDilemma_full

wildside

 

4 Jan
2015

CLEAN CUPS! It’s time to celebrate National Hot Tea Month!

You must have a cup of Tea!

It's Hot Tea Month, here in January 2015! New Year, New You, New Cup of Tea!
In honor of Tea everywhere, I've compiled this list of AMAZING facts (that you may already know) about Tea! It's so exciting!

Many Teas aren't really Tea at all!

The magical tea plant and its very pretty flower.

An actual tea drink is one that contains the leaves of the plant Camellia Sinensis. All those other teas are often just herbal infusions. Still very yummy, and hot to drink, but not actually tea! I mean, really, I don't care if you don't, but it's a fun fact, right?
Camellia Sinensis plants are native to North, East and Southeast Asia. So even though we all know that the English are the best tea drinkers in the world, (which I will actually negate in 2 paragraphs or so,) they were nowhere near the first to drink it.

Tea actually does have a happy drug in it!

It's called L-Theanine! While both tea and coffee drinks will give you a energy boost, tea actually gives you a boost with a side of calm. Instead of coffee jitters, you are more likely to be awake and attentive, but also relaxed. This is why tea is often combined with meditation. All those monks were like, man, I'm gonna fall asleep during meditation this afternoon. So they drank some tea.
Here's a link to some studies about it! Next time you're stressed at work, try tea instead of coffee. You might just be able to think more clearly and let go of some of the stress and panic.

Your handy guide to tea making!

Temperature Matters!

Okay, putting aside that there are teas that aren't actually tea, did you know (I'm sure some of you did) that different types of teas/herbals require different water temperatures and brewing times for optimal flavor? I know I used to just boil some water and throw in a tea bag, personally. But that is probably why I assumed that all black teas tasted slightly bitter. The problem was with my technique, not the tea.

If you don't really have time to triple check your water temperatures, there are some people on the internet that think that they have the skill down. Or you could just buy one of these really nice electric kettles. Or, even better, you could buy one for me as a Thank You for opening your eyes to the wonder of tea!!


The Best Tea Drinkers in the World Are.....

It's actually not the British, although they are in the top three. It's also not the Chinese or Japanese. Top countries with most tea drunk per capita are Turkey and Ireland! Then comes Britain, of course. Check it out here!

Now, I can't say much about tea drinking in Turkey.... But I can tell you that dorm rooms in Ireland come with an electric kettle. And when you visit any home, you aren't offered a cold drink, you're offered tea. In fact it's a well known rule (at least, it was when I was there) that every good Irish host will ask you at least three times if you want a cuppa, even when you firmly say no. And after the third time, they usually bring it to you anyway.

Tea can Bloom in your cup!
Okay, so that's stretching it for a subtitle. But the point is you can buy a thing called blooming tea, which are balls of tea that bloom into beautiful arrangements right in your glass/teapot! Look at these beautiful blooms!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here's a picture of what it looks like when you buy sub-par blooms and don't have a fancy camera!

Anyway, Happy Tea Month, guys!
If you don't have any tea to celebrate with, just stop on by! We have a pretty decent selection, and I'd be glad to give out recommendations!

3 Jan
2015

The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix

bothDo you have a set of books that you re-read every year? For me it's the Abhorsen Trilogy. Do you want to know how much I love these books?

-I literally read AND listen to them once a year. Like separately. I listen to them once on audio book and then later in the year I read the actual physical books. (The audio book is read by Tim Curry. JUST SAYING)
-I have read through at least 2 copies of the books. At Least. Like I mean that I read the books so much that they disintegrate.
-When I changed my name legally (for entirely unrelated reasons), I added Lirael into my name.

Why do I love these books so much? Well, I would not have made it through my young life without these books. I'm not just saying that because they 'helped me grow up' or because I 'learned valuable things' or blah. I'm saying it because literally I would be dead if I didn't have these books. sab

Okay, so we're going to get dark for a second here, but bear with me.

I read Lirael (the second book in the series) during a particularly bad bout of teenage depression. I'm talking slight hospitalization-style stuff. I had already read and loved the first book, but Lirael is even nearer and dearer to my heart. Why? Because the story of Lirael was one of overcoming deep-rooted life long depression. I was dealing with that in my real life, and following Lirael through her own journey to overcome self hatred and depression brought me slowly but surely out of my own.

I know that not everyone is going to love this series as much as I do. I have a serious personal connection. But let me just tell you that it is worth at least one read. It is full of fantasy and survival and magic and a cat that talks. Seriously. Read these books. lirael

1 Dec
2014

Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’

Guess What! It's National Cookie Cutter Week!

coooookiechrcookie

Now, if you're like Adam's family, you actually probably started making your Christmas cookies just after Halloween. But if you're a normal everyday, non-cookie-holic type person, the first week of December is a perfect time to make your first batch of beautiful roll out cookies.

Roll out sugar cookies are my favorite to make (aside from Welsh tea cakes, but that's a whole different story.) My family had a fantastic recipe that was handed down generations that made the most tasty, puffy and slightly spiced sugar cookies. Every year we would break out our medium to large sized collection of cookie cutters and have a rollin' party.

Now a days, I'm more likely to make Halloween sugar cookies than christmas ones. There's just something great about eating the heads off of little ghosts. But National Cookie Cutter Week isn't in October, it's NOW!!! All hail the Cookie Cutter.

Unfortunately for you all, my mother dearest threw away our family recipe for sugar cookies. Apparently they were so tasty and addictive to her that she had to keep herself from ever binging on them again.

So, instead of my heirloom sugar cookie recipe, I'm going to give you something a little different.

This is a whole wheat cookie recipe! The resulting cookies are chewy and sweet with a hint of a lemon. When I made these cookies, I used a cream cheese icing, which, for me, was perfect because it wasn't too sweet but still amazingly creamy. However for those of you with a super sweet tooth.here's a link to Betty Crocker's Vanilla Buttercream  Frosting, which is totally bomb. (Betty is my hero, yo.)

Before you start rollin' though, you should probably take stock of your cookie cutter collection. I mean, that is the whole point of Cookie Cutter Week, isn't it? The cookie cutters? Personally, I like the weird shape ones. Here at Kards, we have this awesome thing called a Crustache, which is technically supposed to cut your sandwich up into three mustaches, but it also makes one hell of a cookie cutter. AND it's like three cookie cutters at once, which can just really streamline the whole process. Also, what is better than disguise cookies??? Oh no! Susie's headed my way, I'll just pick up this cookie, and suddenly I'm DISGUISED!

crustache3     crustache2     20141029_215831

We also have a great selection of holiday appropriate cookie cutters, so in a pinch, stop by to start your cookie cutter collection! Happy Rolling!

Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 10 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 cup + 4 tablespoons of unrefined or white sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cup of whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prep your rolling station! (do yourself a favor and get some waxed paper to roll on....)
  2. With an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs and lemon extract and beat until well combined.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and mix it all up! You may need to use your hands for the last bit, since the dough will get pretty stiff.
  5. Knead that dough!
  6. Ready to roll?? Roll out some of the dough to about 1/4 inch height.
  7. Cut those cookies with some really CUTE COOKIE CUTTERS!
  8. Bake for 5 1/2 to 7 minutes or until them appear cooked. Don't let them brown at all!
  9. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes and them move them onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons of butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. Beat together the cream cheese and butter
  2. Slowly add in powdered sugar and vanilla
  3. Get a whole bunch of gel food dyes and color that shit!!! colors are fun.
  4. Also, that's totally it. Super easy, huh?
30 Nov
2014

Happy Anticipation Sunday #1! or Advent! Whatever!

So there are people who study how to be happy. Like, academically. Like studying how to cure cancer. Did you know that?

One particular scientist, Dr. Fred Bryant of Loyola University, has studied how savoring the moment, past, present and future, can make people more happy, optimistic and just generally satisfied by life. I mean, it makes sense. There are gurus right and left that are like, make sure to live in the now, be in the present moment. But the thing that I want really focus on is savoring the future.

Savoring the future is the phrase that Dr. Bryant uses to describe that wonderful moment of anticipation, excitement and joy you feel when you're thinking about that piece of perfect pecan pie that's waiting for you in the fridge at home. Or that space of time when you're totally zoning out at work because you're busy daydreaming about seeing that pretty lady you're taking out on a well planned night of romance later.

Classically, Advent is the season of waiting. Christians celebrate each Sunday that brings them closer to the (second) most important holiday of their calendar. They light a candle in church, sing some songs, and then it's one week closer to Christmas.

Sure, Advent is a religious holiday. But the idea behind the holiday is anticipation. It's excitement, and hope and joy and savoring the future. And this, apparently is one of the keys to living a happier life.

I know that when I was little, Christmas lasted ages and ages. It was like all year long. But that's not because I was listening to my two favorite christmas LPs on my giant portable record player with the volume up to 11 all year long. (Just from Halloween until Valentines Day, clearly.) It was because I would have these moments of excitement, hope and joy when I would think about Mr. Santa Clause bringing me (insert favorite toy of the moment) for Christmas. Sure, it was July or whatever, but I was alllll about savoring the future arrival of my Betty Doll that could Pee, Cry and Poop.

These days, despite the radios turning on the holiday mixes on November 27th and stores dragging out their pre-lit christmas trees as they're throwing away their halloween candy. I feel like christmas has this habit of coming out of nowhere for one day and then melting away like Frosty in a sauna. And I'm pretty sure it's because I don't really anticipate Christmas as much as I used to.  Christmas is just a day that I (luckily. thanks favorite boss ever) don't have to work and get to eat lots of chocolate.

I'm sure that some of you reading this are not particularly religious. You might not actually care about Advent, wreathes with only 5 candles that have to be certain colors, or rehashing the christmas story one verse at a time every week.
That's fine. Totally fine. But the IDEA of Advent, the idea of anticipation, is just something that can only make your winter a littler more warm and fluffy. Sure, maybe you're not anticipating the birth of Christ, or Santa leaving you a puppy in your stocking. But I'm sure this holiday season there is at least one thing that you can savor in the future.

So this is my holiday challenge to you. (and myself, because I want the holiday to be full of magic, and Dr. Bryant says this will make me like satisfied or something), is to find something that you can anticipate with hunger in your soul.

Maybe it's seeing your folks for the first time in 3 years.
Maybe it's finally having your son come home from basic training.
Maybe it's the super radicalawesomefantasmic game system that is being released at the end of the month.
Maybe it's the first day of the winter that starts getting longer instead of shorter,
Or maybe it's just that 3 day weekend when you've planned a stay at home spa event for you and your five bottles of wine. ahem. I mean five best friends.

I'm sure that there's something that you JUST CAN'T WAIT for. Whatever it is, try and spend some time gleefully anticipating it. Bring some non-religious Advent into your lives and get really excited about the things that have yet to come.

Hopefully, if we take some time to savor the future, no matter what religion we do or do not claim to follow, we will have an even warmer and brighter winter.

10 Nov
2014

Neil Gaiman owns my soul.

A few years ago I joined the Twitter for one very simple reason. I wanted Neil Gaiman's tweets to go right to my phone.
Not too long after that I quit the Twitter because Neil Gaiman spent a lot of time talking about his True Love, of whom I am incredibly jealous. (And also in love with. *sigh* Amanda F-ing Palmer.)

<side note, did you know that we ALL still have a chance with the Gaiman/Palmer household? They are in a very solid but Open relationship, guys. They have told us this on the internet>

This was meant to prove to you that I may have quite an obsession with Neil Gaiman. Although in retrospect the Twitter thing probably didn't say that as loudly as that side note right there.....

Anywhoo....

Here are some amazing facts about Neil Gaiman that prove that he is a stellar human being, along with some pictures of Neil Gaiman so that you can look at his super awesome face.

true love and fall leaves. awwwww

 

- Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer collectively wrote a very nice letter to their fellow authors, asking them to pretty please support small local booksellers. Want to read it? It's here.

that sure is a face.

- Mr. Gaiman's latest endeavor is a children's book called "The Sleeper and the Spindle", which pretty clearly is about Sleeping Beauty. (If you couldn't figure that out, ....we can help you.) This particular version of the story features Sleeping Beauty being awoken from her sleep by a kiss from Queen Snow White! You know how we were all really excited when we finally got to the end of Frozen and True love saved the day?? Yeah. It's like that. Gosh I'm so warm and fuzzy right now.

He wants you to read books. He doesn't care which books, just read them!

-When Mr Gaiman was asked to speak by The Reading Agency, he gave a very long speech about the importance of story, books, fiction and libraries. You can read it here. But just in case you don't want to read it all, here is my favorite quote:

"I don't think there is such a thing as a bad book for children. Every now and again it becomes fashionable among some adults to point at a subset of children's books, a genre, perhaps, or an author, and to declare them bad books, books that children should be stopped from reading........ It's tosh. It's snobbery and it's foolishness. There are no bad authors for children, that children like and want to read and seek out, because every child is different. They can find the stories they need to, and they bring themselves to stories. A hackneyed, worn-out idea isn't hackneyed and worn out to them. This is the first time the child has encountered it. Do not discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing." YAY BOOKS!

Seriously. Look at his hair.

 

 

-Neil Gaiman has ridiculously out of control hair. So he wrote a children's' book about it. Crazy Hair. It's so great. In fact all of his kids books are great. It's possible that this particular 27 year-old owns all of them .

 

 

 

 

Ahhhh, right. So the whole point of this is that it's Neil Gaiman's Birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GOOD SIR!
If you also love Neil Gaiman and want to do something lovely for his birthday, I can tell you just what he'd like you to do. Read. A. Book. Any book. Preferably that you picked up from the library of from that little dusty bookshop down the street. (heyyyyy look at that! We're a little bookshop sometimes! Although we are NOT dusty. We clean the heck out of this place.) Yeah. That's all he wants for his birthday. And you wouldn't want to disappoint him, would you? His hair might eat you.

He's written two Dr. Who episodes, you know. They were both AMAZING.