Rose-Tinted Living: Marron Cream

Rose-Tinted Living: Marron Cream

I sometimes forget that Sanrio has created more than the handful of characters that I see most frequently. This shouldn’t really be something that surprises me, considering that my all-time favourite character is obscure. (I love Shinkansen–he’s my man! …Or maybe they’re my men?)

I was very recently at the Sanrio store looking for a new wallet. I love character goods for their cuteness, particularly if they’re useful items rather than merely decorative. While looking around, a particular pattern caught my eye–pink flowers on a sky blue background. I am quite fond of floral designs, but the wallet in question was very large–a checkbook-style wallet–and thus didn’t meet my “fitting in the coat pocket” criteria. It caught my best friend’s attention, too. She doesn’t necessarily share my love of pink and flowers, but she adores almost anything blue–particularly pastel shades of it.

The company describes this little brown bunny as “a bright and cheerful girl with good fashion sense.”

This item that caught our attention was not a Hello Kitty product, but actually a design for a lesser-known character called “Marron Cream.” According to the company’s description of her, she’s a girlish French bunny with a penchant for crafting who wears a signature red polka-dot dress. Marron is French for “chestnut,” and she is a chestnut colour~ I think her name might also be a nod to the Mont Blanc dessert–puréed and sweetened chestnuts topped with whipped cream.

All of the “50th Anniversary” Maroon Cream items have this pattern. I particularly like that it’s coated fabric, so it doesn’t get soaked from snow or rain.

Marron Cream’s character goods are delightfully floral and sweet~ I feel like they have an “idyllic countryside” feeling. She’s often featured on stationery, lunch accessories, handkerchiefs, and tote bags. I wish she was more popular–there’s a certain style to her products that I don’t often see from Hello Kitty or the other prominent characters.

Now that I have the totebag, which has quickly become my new favourite, I find myself wanting other cute Marron Cream goods~ The totebag is perfect for carrying my knitting. It has one small pocket on the inside, which I use to keep lip balm or other small items from falling into the bottom. The lining is a matching blue with cute little white ribbon bows printed onto it~ I like the depth of the bag–I don’t have to worry about balls of yarn flying across the L car if I give them a sharp tug while working on a project. (I seem to do most of my knitting on the bus or on the L, so this is very important~)

I did also manage to find a new wallet~ (Along with a number of other items I wasn’t necessarily looking for… that’s just how Sanrio gets me.) The new wallet is much larger than my old one, but still fits into my pocket.

Sugarbunnies Hard at Work
These little cutouts of Shirousa and Kurousa are perfect for my desk~

The store that I frequent usually attaches little “extras” to the outside of the shopping bag, secured with a sticker. This time the extras were stand-ups of Shirousa and Kurousa, the Sugarbunnies~ ♥ I didn’t know what to do with them when I first assembled them, but I realized they’d be perfect decorations for my desk at work. They sit ontop of my tower and make me smile even when it hasn’t been the best day~

The illustration of Marron Cream was taken from the Sanrio character website.

Reading Corner: The Mystery of the Yellow Room

Reading Corner: The Mystery of the Yellow Room

As a child, one of my favourite stories was The Phantom of the Opera, but I only knew it from the musical and a 1990 television miniseries that my mother taped on VHS. I adored the miniseries and would watch it whenever I was home sick from school. I always wondered about the plot differences between the musical and the miniseries, so one day I set out to find the novel and see which was closer to the author’s original intentions. The version that I purchased contained notes about the author, and the one that I always remembered was a sentence mentioning that Gaston Leroux had also written The Mystery of the Yellow Room, considered to be one of the best locked-room mysteries of all time.

Normally, I do not tend towards mysteries, but I enjoyed Leroux’s writing so much that I always intended to find a copy of The Mystery of the Yellow Room. When searching through my local library’s catalog, I typed in the title and was very excited to see that they had it!

The Yellow Room
This was truly the kind of book best described as “can’t put it down.” It was very suspenseful!

A locked-room mystery is one in which a crime occurs under seemingly impossible circumstances–such as a location where no perpetrator could have entered or exited (like a locked room). The Mystery of the Yellow Room was one of the first, featuring Leroux’s young but incredibly talented reporter-turned-investigator, Joseph Rouletabille. He is prominently featured in several of Leroux’s later novels. (The sequel to this novel is The Perfume of the Lady in Black, which I am very interested in!)

This book was originally released as a serial, and new selections included diagrams and maps to assist the reader in trying to unravel the crime. I was happy to see that my edition included these same notes~ (Although I was very much unable to discover the criminal! The ending really surprised me~)

The story centers around an isolated forest estate where a young lady has been brutally attacked–despite the room having been locked from the inside, with a door that opened only to the laboratory her father was still performing research after she had gone to sleep. A young journalist, who has come seeking the full story, gradually unravels the truth. I don’t want to spoil any of the story, so I will just say that Leroux’s writing style is fast-paced–providing full explanations while still moving forward. I found it very enjoyable!

I think that if more mysteries were this intriguing and detailed, I would read them more often~

Sweet Treats: Wintery Teas

Sweet Treats: Wintery Teas

In preparation for my holiday gingerbread party, I bought more tea. I love drinking tea, but more than simply drinking tea I like to drink the right tea.

What is the right tea?

It’s a tea that seems perfect for the occasion at hand! Tea that compliments the flavor of any food being served alongside it, tea that appeals to the palette of those partaking of it, and tea that provides a nice aroma and atmosphere. In the wintertime, I particularly like spicy dark teas that smell like the holidays. When I went to my favourite tea shop, Tea Gschwendner, and I picked out a few teas that I hoped would satisfy my hopes of “winter” coziness.

Baked Apple Tea
A warm cup of tea is even better when the weather is chilly and wintry–or at least, I think so!

No. 908 Gwendalina’s Baked Apple Tea
Apple Flavoured Black and Green Tea

This is a truly fantastic fall and winter tea. I buy this in fairly large quantities as soon as the weather starts to cool. This is like having apple pie in a cup, but is most certainly a tea and not a cider.

The use of both black and green teas in the blend creates a rich tea that has somewhat sharper notes (from the green tea) and a full body. Pieces of dried apple add a distinct apple flavour. You can smell the apple very strongly when the tea is brewing or sitting in the cup, and the apple hint is very distinguishable as an aftertaste with each sip. Almonds add a pleasant nuttiness, and cinnamon accents the apples superbly. This tea is good served black, but becomes even more dessert-like when served with sugar and cream.

White Christmas Tea
White tea is much less dense and less heavy than black or green tea, so the same weight of white tea fills a much larger package!

No. 998 White Christmas
Vanilla-Almond Flavoured White Tea

This white tea has a fresh hint of lemon, paired with vanilla and almond. The package states that it is reminiscent of sugar cookies, and I agree. As this is a white tea, the much less intense flavours of lemon, vanilla, and almond can really stand out. The tea itself lends a pleasant backdrop to the other flavours. It’s a very nice tea for when you want something that isn’t very heavy~

Winter Magic & Banana-Choco
I originally wanted to brew each of the teas, to show them in the cup, but that’s a much more time-consuming project~

No. 1320 Winter Magic
Cinnamon and Cardamom Flavoured Rooibos

This tea has an intense blend of spices that seems to be amplified by the rooibos. Although rooibos is not technically a tea, I still very much enjoy it. It has a rich, earthy flavor that is already fragrant and aromatic. I always think of this red “tea” as spicy. When cinnamon, cardamom, and sandalwood are added, it becomes a blend that is filled with spices without having any of the “heat” traditionally associated with spicy things. I think it feels very warming~ The sandalwood is one of the more interesting tastes in the tea, because it’s very woodsy and smooth.

No. 1588 Banana Chocolate Crêpe
Choco-Banana Flavoured Black and Green Tea

This tea isn’t really holiday-ish, but it’s pretty amazing–so I wanted to mention it anyway. I bought this tea because it sounded like a neat concept; I do very much like the banana and chocolate flavour combination. The tea contains dried banana–not “banana flavouring”–and bits of actual cocoa, so the smell is heavenly. It doesn’t have any of those odd smells that tend to accompany artificial flavourings. (I think that most of the time those don’t taste anything like the real thing, anyway.) The blend of black and green teas is a very enjoyable one–not so strong as to overwhelm the banana, but strong enough to support the cocoa.

With a little bit of sugar added, this becomes even more amazing. Everyone who tried it at the party was very surprised to find that it did really taste as good as it sounded like it would taste. I consider that a success!

When loose leaf tea isn’t practical, for whatever reason, there are a few inexpensive bagged teas that I’ve really been enjoying–those sold by Trader Joe’s. I normally drink their Duchess Earl Grey, a lemon-accented Earl Grey, as my bagged tea of choice, so I was interested in trying their new winter teas when I spotted them in the store. At an incredibly affordable price–roughly $2 per box–I’m not heartbroken if they don’t meet my expectations.

2 Winter Teas
I think these have some of the cutest box designs that I’ve ever seen. I particularly adore the polar bear~ ♥

Vanilla and Cinnamon Black Tea
This is a warm, spicy black tea with a hint of sweetness. The “sweetness” is actually vanilla, and thus it isn’t truly sweet, but it adds a nice high note to the tea. The black tea is laced very heavily with cinnamon; it leaves a “warming” sensation with each sip, but the tea itself is strong enough to avoid being overwhelmed by the spice. The combination of flavours is exactly the sort of thing I hope for in a winter tea.

Candy Cane Green Tea
When I first went to the store to pick up new teas, I passed up this one. The flavour combination seemed strange and perhaps unpalatable. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized I wanted to try it. Green tea, when brewed correctly at a lower temperature than boiling point, has a very refreshing taste that sometimes seems to have notes that remind me of freshly-cut grass. Peppermint is also refreshing. Thus the two would have that in common. Additionally, green tea doesn’t have the same tendency towards astringency that black teas can have, so there would be less chance for a sourness to compete with the peppermint.

I went back and bought a box, and I’m very glad that I did. This a very cooling, soothing tea. It’s the sort of thing I want to drink when I have a headache or an upset stomach. The peppermint is strong, but not too much so. It blends nicely with the leafiness of the green tea.

I do so love tea! ♥

On the Needles: Thermal Mittens and a Cowl

On the Needles: Thermal Mittens and a Cowl

I’ve decided to add a knitting-related category~ (I contemplated starting a different blog, but that seems both excessive and something I’m unlikely to keep up with.) I’m so excited to have found a craft that I’m passably decent at. Plus, it’s so simple to bring my projects with me. (I suppose I would feel differently if I were knitting giant sweaters or blankets, but the projects I’ve been choosing are quite portable.) I carry my knitting in a totebag and knit when I’m commuting, waiting in line, or any time that I have a few minutes with nothing else to do.

For this year’s Christmas I knit several gifts–wrist warmers for my two sisters-in-law, a scarf for my mother-in-law, a scarf for my mother, a scarf for my Nana, wrist warmers for my stepmother, and mittens for my stepsister. That looks like a lot of scarves, but each one used very different yarns and patterns, so it wasn’t boring in the least. The mittens were a major challenge for me, and I’m quite proud of how they turned out~ ♥ I had never knit using a circular needle before. (And honestly, my only previous experience knitting in the round was for a bonnet that I didn’t really follow a pattern for. I plan on sharing pictures and notes about the bonnet–it felt like a very “lolita fashion-ish” project!)

Red Cabled Mittens
Cabled mittens, knit for my stepsister in beautiful “tart” Tosh Vintage from Madelinetosh.

A lot of time and heartache went into these mittens. I must have unraveled and restarted them at least five times; I kept making small mistakes that I didn’t notice at first but that would have been unbearably obvious on the finished item. The bought the yarn on a whim, because the colour was pretty. (I tried asking my stepsister for her favourite colour. She sent me a list that included virtually every colour in existence, so I just picked one.)

I am ~so~ happy that I decided to try this yarn. It is possibly my favourite yarn ever. The colours are gorgeous, the yarn is soooooooooo soft, the stitch definition is very clean, and it was a dream to knit with. Even though I kept pulling it out and restarting, the yarn survived and wasn’t much worse for the wear. The twist started to look a bit odd, but when it was knit again there was no difference. I could wax poetic about this yarn. It’s taking a lot of self-control to not spend the little Christmas money I have on yarn.

I didn’t trust the amount of yarn needled that was written on the mitten pattern (a free pattern inspired by mittens worn in the movie Twilight), so I bought much more yarn that I would up using. I’ve decided to use the rest to make my stepsister a matching cowl with the honey cowl pattern.

One of my Christmas presents from my father was a trip to the local bookstore and any book that I wanted. I decided that I wanted a book of knitting patterns. Free patterns are very nice, and there are so many available online, but there are some really lovely patterns that need to be purchased, and I don’t mind paying people for their time and effort. After all, I don’t think I have what it takes to be a designer~ A few days later my mother and I went to the craft store, and she bought me some yarn (taking advantage of the after-Christmas sale). I chose some yarn in unusual hues to try out one of the new patterns.

Honeycomb Mittens-in-Progress
Thermal-patterned mittens, destined for some mysterious recipient, knit in “gold” Wool-Ease by Lion Brand Yarn.

This kind of mustard yellow isn’t a colour I normally like, but I thought it was interesting enough to try out. I’ve seen some really nice examples of other people’s knitting in this kind of hue. Even though it seems very “retro” to me, I’m sure there must be someone I know who likes this colour~ I also have a soft spot for Wool-Ease, mostly because it’s easy to find, not terribly expensive, and comes in many colours.

These mittens are a great “take everywhere” project. It’s very easy to tuck everything into a bag, and the pattern doesn’t need a lot of consulting. (This means I don’t have to try to read patterns on the bus.) I was actually able to count the rows by counting the “bumps,” because they formed every two rows.

I like that knitting enables me to make things I wouldn’t normally wear but might find interesting, at least in some passing degree, because I can give the finished object to someone else who will appreciate it. I do plan to make a few things for me, but it’s so much fun to knit for others~ ♥

Is anyone else working on anything interesting~? I hope this type of post isn’t too boring!