Articles by " Athena Flint"
4 Feb
2015

Books to read if you think girls should be taken more seriously

These books feature strong women, young and not young, who change the world in a big way even though people thing they're 'just a girl'.

Hero-and-the-Crown

dragon

Hungergames_poster

blue sword

yesplease

LionWardrobe13

bossypants

sab

10 Jan
2015

National Letter Writing Day: A (Sappy) Letter For You All

To my Beloved Reader,

I once went to a rather strange play. It was about a young man who traveled to Paris in search of his past, taking with him a bundle of love letters. The letters were old and faded; they had been written by his grandfather to his grandmother long, long ago.
As he read through the letters in a small apartment in Paris, he encountered the all-engulfing , romantic, fiery love that his grandparents had shared. But the letters only told half the story, as his grandfather had saved none written to him.
This young man in continually inspired by the words of love put on paper. Finally, he reads one last letter. This one spoke of deep sorrow. His grandfather had outlived his beautiful wife, and dearly regretted not saving the letters she wrote to him. She had saved every word he ever wrote to her in a beautiful box so that she could remember his love at any moment. But he did not and, once she was gone, wished that he had something to hold in his hand and read with his heart.

As I walked out of the theater at the end of the play, I thought through all the keepsakes I have: playbills from shows I loved, pictures of friends, movie ticket stubs and dried flowers. The ones that are most precious to me are the letters that were written to me. They are there when I need them to reread and remember that I am loved and full of potential.

Today is National Letter Writing day, which is why I have written this letter to you, dear Reader. The month of love is just around the corner. The world will tell you that you should be buying chocolates, flowers, shiney gifts, but sometime the best most precious gift you can give is a heartfelt letter full of the reasons that your special someone is just so special.

Write well, dear Reader.

With Love,
A. Lirael Flint

 

 

 

8 Jan
2015

Bubbles

Today we celebrate the great wonderful world of Bubble Baths! (Yeah, I know that song is about champagne, but I don't care)

I have always been a huge fan of a good relaxing bubble bath. (Usually paired with a dangerous habit of placing my laptop entirely too close to the tub so that I can stream Netflix....)

the all magical bubble machine.

My love of bubble baths started very young. One of my favorite reasons for visiting my Aunt's house was that she had this very strange and loud device that made ALL THE BUBBLES. See that thing on the right there? Yeah, it looked kind of like that except bigger and with more 80's production values. Like really cheap yellowing plastic. You stuck it in the bottom of the tub, and then there were bubbles EVERYWHERE! It was magical.

Now, I'm sure a lot of you have your perfect set up for a bubble bath already, but just in case it's been far too long since you've had a bubble bath and you want a very detailed how-to guide, here it is!

 

 

How to take a Bubble Bath for the person who needs all the tips:

Step 1:
Clean your tub ahead of time.
Look, this is the hardest step, but you're getting it over with first. It's also well worth the hard work, so just go ahead and do it. Cleaning your tub will make you feel much more relaxed and happy. No one wants to be mid bath and then start thinking about the slime and grime that is possibly encrusting your tub. But make sure you do this a day or so ahead of time!! Don't clean your tub and then just jump right it! there is bound to be some residue cleaning solution in your tub, and that stuff is killer on your skin!
*While you're cleaning your tub, make sure your tub actually has a drain stop! Some tubs sadly lack this feature. If your tub doesn't have a plug, you can always buy one!

awwwwwwwwww. kitty bathtime.

Step 2:
Collect the following supplies:
-Bubble bath solution! Choose a scent that makes you all warm and fuzzy inside! In a pinch a few dollops of shampoo or soap will work just fine, but to really get all the bubble action, you want to stick with actual bubble bath!
- A nice bottle of wine (optional, but you don't know relaxation until you mix hot water and an alcohol buzz)
-Some candles! If you want a scented candle, make sure you choose a smell that will mix nicely in the air with your bubble bath smell. You want something light and fresh, not a heavy thing that will give you a heachache after 30 minute of being in an enclosed room with it.
-A good book. Stop on by for recommendations!
-Music. You want something relaxing and meditative. Seriously. Don't be like, mannnn I just really like metal, I'm going to just listen to that. No. That's music for cleaning your house and boosting your pulse. You want to do the opposite of that.
- Toys! (also optional.) (also..... I'll let you decide if I mean kid toys or.... adult toys.) Just make sure they're water safe! Obvi, don't stick anything with batteries or chords in the water with you unless it's actually supposed to do that.
-A Very Fluffy Towel!
- Possibly one of those bath tub pillow things. sometimes the ceramic can be a little hard on your neck, and you can get a nice bath pillow for relatively cheap.
- Have roommates? You might need to print this out to hang on the door.

pop that bubble, gurl.

Step 3:
Create the perfect setting!
It's time to bubble bath! You have all your supplies ready, and your tub is clean! Now to start creating the spa-like scene for your epic bath.
-Start filling your tub. This can take a while, so it's nice to start this while you're prepping. Make sure to add the bubble bath in early, and occasionally give it a good stir to create an even amount of bubbles. Also, make sure to keep the bathroom door closed so that all that warm lovely steam fills the room.
-Light those candles! Just make sure they are not close enough to accidentally set your hair on fire.
-Put on some low soft music. (You're going to want to be able to adjust the volume AFTER the water stops flowing. Just keep that in mind.)
-Make sure the bathmat is there for when you get out. (I know that sounds like common sense, but I can't even tell you the numbers I have almost died because my bathmat was not where it should have been when I got out of the tub with my super wet, very clean feet.)

Step 4:
Fill an easy to reach table or surface with all the things you need during your bath:  fluffy towel, book and a small hand towel to keep it dry,  wine (Seriously consider using a plastic cup, because broken glass in water is like a literal death trap.) and toys of course.  Once everything is within reach, it's time to....

Step 5: 
HAVE A BATH. And enjoy the hell out of it.

Have fun bathing, guys!

P.S. Don't like bubbles? Use Bath Tea or Bath Bombs instead! ( We might have some in store, but they're going quick!)

 

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.