Teaview: Spiced Apple Cider Rooibos– as Cozy as it Sounds

Spiced Apple Cider Rooibos Tea

Spiced Apple Cider Rooibos Tea

Last month, I tried Teavana’s Pumpkin Spice Brulee Oolong Tea, and I was not impressed. This month, I tried Teavana’s Spiced Apple Cider Rooibos Tea, and I kind of love it. This tea has cinnamon, red rooibos, chicory root, plum pieces, apple slices, carob pieces, hibiscus flowers, artificial flavoring (I know, I know), and orange peels.  The Spiced Apple Cider Rooibos tea is a perfect after-dinner dessert tea when tummies are stuffed with hearty meals that are so common during the chilly and overcast weather that settles in this time of year. Especially in Michigan– I hear it’s supposed to start snowing at 3PM today!

The number one ingredient in this tea is cinnamon, and it certainly packs a punch. It’s apologetically spicy, and that’s what I love most about this tea. If the physical temperature of the tea doesn’t warm you up, the cinnamon will melt the icicles right off of ya’. Although it is subtle, the next flavor to surface is apple, which is sweet with a slightly tart aftertaste. The Spiced Apple Cider Rooibos tea is already sweetened, so make sure you don’t add a single drop of honey or sugar to your cup. Compared to the Pumpkin Spice Brulee Oolong, which was too sweet for my taste, I do not feel overwhelmed by the sweetness in this tea. Perhaps the spice and the tartness balance this out. Admittedly, I’m not certain what’s lending to the sweetness. My mom seemed to think it was German Rock sugar, although I did not find that anywhere in the ingredients. Any ideas? As for the rooibos…well, I’ve not drank this type of tea enough to be able to comment on it. My experience with flavored Teavana teas though is that the rooibos is masked by all the other ingredients, but don’t let that discourage you from trying this out.

Overall, the Spiced Apple Cider Rooibos tea is aptly named. It’s spicy and sweet and tart, just like fresh apple cider from the mill. I would recommend this tea, which seems to warm the soul during these chilly months leading up to winter.

Batman: the Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller

Batman: the Dark Knight Returns graphic novel cover

Batman: the Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller

Batman: the Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson (illustrator), Lynn Varley (illustrator)

Released: November 2002 (first published 1986)
Publisher: DC Comics
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Speculative Fiction/Superhero Fiction
Pages: 197
Source: Borrowed from my boyfriend

In a near-future version of Gotham City, Bruce Wayne is in his 50s, and he has retired as Batman, but when crime rates begin to rise, Bruce Wayne can no longer resist the desire to don his bat suit once more. This time, he faces new enemies– a gang of morbid youngsters, who call themselves the Mutants– as well as old some old favorites; Harvey Dent (aka Two Face), who was thought to have been cured after a successful plastic surgery, holds the entire city hostage with a bomb, and the Joker, who awakes from a catatonic state, breaks out of his room in Arkham Asylum and goes on a killing spree because, well…that’s just what he does. Meanwhile, the retirement of Commissioner James Gordon ushers in a new police commissioner who seems to have a vendetta against our masked vigilante. The vendetta intensifies after Superman diverts a Russian nuclear warhead, which detonates in the U.S. desert, emitting an electromagnetic pulse causing even more chaos in Gotham City. Batman turns the once vile gang of Mutants into a non-lethal force to control crime during the blackout caused by the EMP, and for a while, Gotham City is one of the safest cities in America. Humiliated by Batman’s ability to control Gotham’s unruly citizens, the U.S. government orders Superman to destroy Batman. The two superheros meet in Crime Alley, Batman’s origin, for a fight to the death.

Batman tv series (1966-1968)

Batman tv series (1966-1968)

I should preface this by saying, I rarely read graphic novels, and when I do read them, I certainly do not read superhero graphic novels (unless you count Sailor Moon manga). So as I read Batman: the Dark Knight Rises by Frank Miller, I was simultaneously underwhelmed and overwhelmed. This comic is lauded as one of the most (if not the most) influential Batman comic of all time. It was the comic that breathed life into characters that the 1960s nearly killed off with its campy shenanigans.  Once the comics returned to its gritty and pulp-inspired origins, popularity for the Batman series soared. Yet, just as the 1960s seemed cheesy to fans in the 1980s, the 1980s may seem slightly cheesy to fans today. Whenever I read the slang of the gang of Mutants, I couldn’t help but cringe. It would almost seem nit-picky if it didn’t occupy so many speech bubbles. “I’m a slicer-dicer, spud. A real slicer-dicer”. It’s supposed to be edgy and intimidating, but to me it just seemed silly– like, why are they calling people potatoes?

robin

I feel conflicted about the artwork. I can get over the obvious 1980’s influenced accessories and hairstyles, but I found myself disappointed by the inking. I was craving bold lines and vibrant colors, but most of the time I found soft and muted watercolors. That’s not to say that I disliked the artwork entirely. No. There are a number of images ingrained in my mind. Batman looming over a pig of a man, who is dangling upside-down off a Gotham City high-rise. The Joker laying limply in the Love Canal at a carnival, battarang lodged in his eye and slack-jawed. Superman’s body wasting away during the nuclear explosion. I stared at the grotesque images with grim fascination. These few images, juxtaposed against the soft water colors on the previous page, captured something far more sinister than I expected.

Then there was the plot, which was a little hit-and-miss for me as well, but I think this is one of those “it’s not you, it’s me” instances. I know very little about superheroes and the DC Universe, so I spent a lot of time on Wikipedia or asking my boyfriend a bunch of questions, and this sometimes distracted me from enjoying the comic. I was on board for the first half of the graphic novel, where Bruce Wayne becomes Batman again and fights crime. It was fast-paced and filled with villains I’m familiar with. It was simple enough for a Batman-newb like myself. But I found myself getting disoriented during the second half of the graphic novel. Like, why did the Police force dislike the Batman so much? And why is Superman trying to kill Batman– don’t they basically fight for the same team? Any why is Robin a girl? I mean, I loved it, but I thought Robin was a consistent character– I was wrong.

Batman Graphic Novels

Overall, I enjoyed Batman: the Dark Knight Returns. It was successful in making me more curious about the Batman series; I suppose it’s become a gateway. I mentioned in a recent Weekend Review that I have a tall stack of Batman comics to read, and I’ve already began working my way through. I recently finished Venom, and I just started Haunted Knight. I’ve even began perusing the graphic novel shelves at the book store, which was a section I generally stayed away from because really, I had no idea what to even pick up.

Read Batman: the Dark Knight Returns if you’re a fan of Batman comics– it’s a classic after all. If you’re a newcomer, you might want to start somewhere else because this graphic novel does seem dated, and it requires you to already have some knowledge about Batman and the DC Universe.

If you’ve read Batman: the Dark Knight Returns, what did you think of it? If you’re a fan of Batman comics, are there any titles you think I ought to check out?

Characters I’d Love to Dress Up as for Halloween

Halloween used to be one of my top favorite holidays. Dressing up and going door-to-door begging for candy with friends was the perfect way to spend a crisp, October evening. But, the excitement for this suger-infused holiday sort of fizzled out when I realized that as an adult, I had to buy my own candy (and worse, share it with all the kids in the neighborhood. Puh!). I haven’t really had an excuse to dress up since college (and even then I just alternated between a fairy and a zombie). If I had an excuse to dress up for Halloween this year, these would be my top five choices:

Zoey Left 4 Dead1. Zoey from Left 4 Dead

Finding a playable, strong female character (who is not sexualized) can be challenging to find in video games, so when I discovered Zoey in Left 4 Dead, I fell in love. She’s a horror film nerd, who wears comfy sneakers, jeans, a pink track jacket, and her hair tied back. She doesn’t have cleavage spilling out or a bare belly because that’s not really practical during a zombie apocalypse. Zoey just seems real. Aside from being able to assemble the costume out of clothes already in my closet, I would just need two cap guns and a bright red first aid pack!

shepherd2. Commander Shepherd from Mass Effect

Now, my Commander Shepherd had short black hair styled into a bob, but like the Commander Shepherd above, she totally kicked butt and saved the universe. Well…maybe. I never got to finish Mass Effect 3. Honestly, I try not to think about the Mass Effect series because I’m trying to save money. The more I think about how amazing the games are, the more likely I am to go out and buy an XBox 360 just so I can play these games.

Lilith as "the Siren" from Borderlands3. Lilith as “the Siren” from Borderlands

The only games I could possibly love more than the Mass Effect games are the Borderlands games. I love both Siren characters– Lilith from Borderlands and Maya from Borderlands 2. But, I was unstoppable as Lilith wielding a Maliwan Hellfire (we don’t need no water…). How could she not make this list? Actually, I’m pretty sure dressing up as Lilith for Halloween won’t be satisfactory– can I just be her?

Hermione4. Hermione Granger from Harry Potter

Not everyone on this list wields guns. Hermione relies on her smarts, her books, and her wand to fend of evil. She’s been my hero since I was ten years old, so it’s no surprise she would make it on this list.

Eowyn from the Lord of the Rings5. Éowyn from the Lord of the Rings

Éowyn– she casts aside her nobility and becomes a shieldmaiden. And then. AND THEN! She killed what no man could.

This post is so full of girl power. I feel like starting a riot.

What characters would you like to dress up as for Halloween?

 

The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick host Five Fandom Friday. I totally didn’t know it was a thing until today, which is why I’m posting this on a Sunday.

Weekend Review: Fall Festivities

fall festivitiesOne More Time for Autumn

Autumn is definitely upon us in Michigan. The leaves are taking their sweet time changing colors, but the weather is lovely. The sun is warm, but the breezes are cool, and the windows are begging to be propped open in the afternoons. Last weekend, the boyfriend (that handsome fella’ in the flannel jacket) and I and two other couples took advantage of the perfect weather and spent the afternoon at a cider mill.  When we arrived, we made a beeline for beverages…along with everyone else that was there. The line of eager cider-sippers wrapped around and around, but it didn’t take too long to get ourselves a cuppa and some donuts for dipping. I don’t believe I’ve ever tasted apple cider so good before. The apple flavor really shined since it didn’t have to compete with all the sugar and spices that are present in most grocery store ciders. Afterward, we rode out to the pumpkin patch and meandered amongst the vines until we found a pumpkin that called our names.

jack-o-lantern-1Then, this weekend, we had another get together. We chowed down on chili and carved our pumpkins while listening to spooky soundtracks. Mine is the kitty with a bow tie. He’s so dapper.


 

Batman Graphic NovelsGraphic Novels part II

I mentioned two weeks ago that I was in the process of writing up my review of Frank Miller’s Batman: the Dark Knight Returns. It’s taking me a lot longer than I expected. I find that reviewing graphic novels, especially superhero graphic novels, is challenging because I have no other personal reading experience to compare it to. Luckily, the boyfriend read my mind without evening realizing it; he just let me borrow the rest of his Batman graphic novels. There are so many to choose from!


Books On My Radar

I cannot lie. I’m not bothering with books this weekend because Amazon just delivered the video games I ordered. I’m not even looking forward to work this week because it’s only going to get in the way of me playing Final Fantasy 9 for hours on end.

playstation gamesStar Ocean Til the End of Time ♥ Final Fantasy 12 ♥ Final Fantasy 9

 

Do you like reading graphic novels, and do you have any you can recommend? Or, do you have a favorite superhero?

My Top 5 Gateway Fandoms

I am a geek. I’m pretty sure I’ve always been a geek. And, my mom is still getting over it. These are my top 5 gateway fandoms that made me the gal I am today.

SNES-USA

Super Nintendo

The first time I saw one of these, I was about four years old. My brother came for a visit, and he brought his console. I watched as he and my dad played Super Mario. I was too afraid to ask for a turn, but I wanted to play video games too, so I grabbed my Aladdin handheld from my room and played along beside them. A year or two later, I begged my mom for a Super Nintendo, and one day it was waiting for me under the Christmas tree. Of course I had Super Mario and the Donkey Kong games, but I was (and still am) terrible at platform games. I loved Super Mario Kart, and I used to rush down to the basement before everyone woke up to play the game and narrate the race like the sportscasters on TV. The game that was my absolute favorite though? Mario’s Time Machine!

Mario's Time MachineOf course it would be a game that’s nerdy. Mario’s Time Machine is an educational video game, where Mario goes back in time to return artifacts stolen by Bowser.

timemachineamericaMarios_Time_Machine_SNES_ScreenShot4

You walked around towns in different time periods (This is Philadelphia during the American Revolution), and you talked to different people from history. Then there was a page from a history book that required you to fill in the blanks in order to get the stolen artifact back. Now that you know this, number two on my list should come as no surprise.

250px-Carmen_Sandiego

Carmen Sandiego

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego was on TV when I was really, really young. I was terrible at the game show because I was four, but I still watched it, and I still knew all the words to the theme song. Then my mom bought  me Carmen Sandiego Junior Detective, which looking back, that computer game had really lame gameplay. My all time favorite was Carmen Sandiego’s Great Chase Through Time. I was introduced to so many important historical people for the first time, like Queen Hatshepsut and Murasaki Shikibu. If I still had this game, there is no doubt in my mind that I would be playing it right now instead of typing up this post.

TSA-ChinaSetI was such a good Super Sleuth that my mom bought a subscription to Highlight’s Top Secret Adventures. Every month, I would received a portfolio that told me all about the stolen artifact, cards of all the suspected villains, a fact-filled guide to the country that needed my help, and an activity book that, once completed, revealed the real criminal. THIS IS STILL A THING!

Both Carmen Sandiego and Mario’s Time Machine fueled my love for human history. It was my favorite subject in school, and I still spend hours reading up on different people and subjects. Earlier this year I was briefly obsessed with the stone age, and I read article after article and watched documentary after documentary about the evolution of our early ancestors. I just sort of kept going and now I’m in the Early Bronze Age– Ancient Sumer, and I recently read Hammurabi’s Code and The Epic of Gilgamesh.

Final_Fantasy_VIII_LogoFinal Fantasy VIII

Let’s get back to video games for a second. My interest in video games didn’t cease after SNES even though my mom thought it would be a good idea to sell the console and all my cartridges for $50 at a garage sale when I was nine. I know. I still cry on the inside whenever I think about it. But, I got over it because I had the PC and all of my educational games (sup’ Carmen Sandiego and Purple Moon games?). Somehow, I ended up with a Playstation One, and I don’t think I even had to beg for it. I was 13-ish, and I was only familiar with racing games and platform games. (For the longest time, I was obsessed with the Spyro games. I would play them and replay them.) And then in high school, my friend introduced me to Final Fantasy VIII– my first RPG. It was such a new experience that I couldn’t figure out how to get past the first disk, so my friend gave me a handy (100+ page) guide to help me out. The storyline. The music. The side quests. The battle system and leveling up. I played it during spring break my junior year of high school. I took breaks only to go to the bathroom and to make quesadillas. I stayed up until 3:00 in the morning. I got so pissed during one of the boss battles that I chucked my controller at the console, and then I panicked because I thought I broke the game. I spent 80+ hours trying to beat the game. It was like a nuclear bomb exploded in my brain completely changing the world of video games for me. I needed more. I bought Final Fantasy VII (which I still haven’t beat). I BEGGED for Playstation 2 when it came out, and then I rushed to Gamestop to buy Final Fantasy X and even X-2. I was introduced to Elder Scrolls: Oblivion for the PC. And then the XBox 360 happened along with the Fallout games and Skyrim and BORDERLANDS. OHMYGAAAAAAAAH!

To this day though, Final Fantasy VIII is still my favorite. The graphics are terrible and the outcome of the story never changes, but I replay it all the time.

The Lord of the Rings movie trilogyThe Lord of the Rings

Or more lovingly, “LOTR”. When I saw the trailer for the Fellowship of the Ring in theaters, I knew I had to see it– Elijah Wood was going to be in it, and I LOVED Flipper. So, I dragged my parents to see the film on Christmas day. Then they ended up falling asleep during the film. I ended up dragging each of my (two) friends to the theater after that so I could watch it just one more time. I asked for a DVD player for my birthday just so I could buy the extended version, and I ended up watching the Fellowship of the Ring 15 more times the first year it was released on video.

This was the first time I ever became ridiculously obsessed with something. My friends and I came up with elven aliases and back stories, and we all fought over Legolas in the notes we would pass to each other during 8th grade English class. We wrote reaaaaaaaally bad fanfictions and role played adventures in Middle Earth in AIM chat rooms.

Harry Potter

Harry Potter

I’m not sure I even need to go farther with this one.

 

What are your gateway fandoms?

The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick host Five Fandom Friday. I totally didn’t know it was a thing until today, which is why I’m posting this on a Sunday.

Weekend Review: Pig-a-palooza

Foggy Morning n Michigan

When the seasons change, Michigan mornings become foggy. The drive into work is never fun, but this street lamp that created a halo behind a tree at 6:00 in the morning was worth a few moments of admiration.

Autumn is Here!

And I celebrated by going to a pig roast with the boyfriend (he has a friend that  hosts one every year). The friend sent the invite out about a month ago declaring September 27th was going to be the perfect day for the pig-a-palooza, and boy! was it perfect. The weather was warm for late September– about 80 degrees– and even though there wasn’t a cloud in the sky to provide shade, the temperature was actually quite nice (warm but breezy). The location was perfect too. We drove out to a beautiful house in the country and admired the Halloween decorations in the yard, the miniature horses cantering around in the fence behind the barn, and the trees lining the property that were just starting to turn orange, yellow, and red. A wonderful porky and bacon-y aroma wafted from the smoker situated near the barn, and pig-a-palooza goers huddled nearby, waiting for a treat with watering mouths. As the cook started carving the pig (because it really was a whole pig), people sneaked up behind him and pulled tender, juicy meat from the belly and scampered away before they got caught. I waited patiently, and it was worth it. Later, the boyfriend and I headed back in to town, and we watched the sun settle behind a cornfield. (Where must he live if “in town” includes sprawling cornfields?)

batman

Reading Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson (illustrator), and Lynn Varley (illustrator)

Graphic Novels

Even after discussing my reading habits last week, I cracked open yet ANOTHER book– Batman: the Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller. This is outside of my comfort zone because 1. I don’t often read graphic novels (I read some Sailor Moon manga back in high school, but that was it) and 2. I wasn’t sure if I would like it because I’m not really knowledgeable about the world of superheroes (especially DC). Color me surprised though– I actually enjoyed it! So much so that I snagged the boyfriend’s copy of Final Crises. Thoughts to come soon!

On the Radar

I blame it on Stephen Hawking; I have my eye on these books that tell the stories of young adults turning to physics in order to make sense of the tumultuous world around them.

On My Radar - PhysicsEvidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane ♥ Falling into Place by Amy Zhang ♥ The Theory of Everything by Kari Luna

How is Autumn treating you so far (or if you’re in the Southern hemisphere, Spring)? Do you have any traditions for this time of year?

Just My Cup of Tea: The Lover’s Tea Cup

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

I tried to channel all of my goofy lovey-dovey feelings for this collection of mugs to sip from while reading The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan (review), but as it turns out caffeine fiends are salty until they down at least two cups of joe. I saw more coffee cups saying things like, “I love you more than coffee, but not always before I’ve had coffee” than a simple “I love you, k?” (or some such variation). Still, the cups I managed to find are quite charming.


 

etsy_piecesofporcelain_heartsmugI’ve featured a coffee mug from Pieces of Porcelain before, and I can’t resist sharing another. I just love the simplicity and the subtlety in this textured heart mug. (from PiecesofPorcelain – etsy)

 

etsy_chocolateboxcottage_heartscoffesetOn the other end of the spectrum is this bold and red coffee set (9 pieces) (chocolateboxcottage – etsy)

 

etsy_heartcozy_valknittingshopIf you can’t decide if you’re feeling loving, why not chose this classy heart-print coffee cozy instead? (valknittingshop – etsy)

 

etsy_secondchanceceramics_lovesucksOr, if you’re totally over love, there is this clever “love sucks” cup. Get it?! It’s a vacuum cleaner, which sucks up dirt. And love sucks. And it’s a pun!  (secondchanceceramics – etsy)

 

 

Which mug is your favorite?

I find myself most drawn to the heart-print cozy. I always thought a cozy for a cup was a bit silly, but I keep seeing them, and I find I’m growing quite partial to them.