Bubble Tea for Maria

Boba tea or bubble tea

Do you know what ‘bubble tea’ is?

Maria decided that, for her birthday, some boba balls (the ‘bubbles’ in the bubble tea) would be the perfect birthday gift!

Maria with her homemade bubble tea.

We discussed the merits of popping boba versus the large tapioca pearl boba. I prefer the popping boba, especially after having been served a drink (once only, thankfully) where the tapioca boba weren’t properly cooked and the consistency was off.

I did some research. Popping boba come in small expensive tubs that don’t last for more than a few drinks, but I could buy the ingredients to make them (this is a fairly time intensive project), or I could buy the tapioca boba.

I decided to put the popping boba project off till fall, and buy tapioca boba now.

After reading the customer reviews, I discovered that not all tapioca pearls are created equal. Some have a better success-rate at plumping up into boba balls. I also discovered that the ‘rainbow’ boba are rainbow-colored thanks to dyes. I wasn’t able to find any plain white boba. Apparently that isn’t a thing?

Because of the chemical sensitivities, I wish it was…

I ordered a bag of black boba and a packet of bubble tea straws. I wanted fewer straws, but I couldn’t find the translucent straws in a smaller package, and–for that number, they were fairly cheap, so–150 fat bubble tea straws later…

They arrived on Thursday. On Friday we had time to play, so we experimented!

I wanted to see if we could cook the boba in apple juice instead of water, or water with added syrup.

Here’s our recipe:

  • 1 cup tapioca boba
  • 3 cups apple juice

boil on high for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn temp down/off for last 5 minutes, put on lid. Don’t forget to stir! (this is not a project you can walk away from the stove and ignore).

Allow to sit/rest off the burner for about 5-10 minutes more.

Drain/rinse using cool filtered water, then drop the plumped balls into more cool water, swish around, and rinse again. Drain thoroughly, add to the tumbler of your choice, add ice, tea (sweet tea concentrate works best), and milk or coconut milk, add a straw and serve.

A few notes: this package of boba balls has a hint of a smoky fragrance about it that reminds me somehow of molasses. Maybe that was the caramel flavoring?

Boiling in the apple juice didn’t diminish this odor or the flavor as much as I’d hoped. I want to try again with a conventional recipe, boil in water, and store in the fridge overnight in water and alternatively, a much stronger flavored syrup to see if either one makes a difference.

On the plus side, these boba were, however, as fresh and soft as guaranteed coming out of the vacuum pack, and they plumped up very quickly in the boiling juice.

You may not notice the flavor as much as I do, because I’m hyper-sensitized to flavors as well as everything else, but I do need to mention that I also had a very unfortunate reaction following drinking that glass of tea, and I’m not sure I want another one any time soon.

And these are Maria’s boba… I think I need to purchase more for me, and see if I can’t find some without that smoky flavor to them, even if I do have to boil them for longer.

Epilogue: last night the cats had a party in my cupboard! They found the straws, trashed the opened pack (72 remaining in it), and strewed them across my kitchen floor! I’ve had to hide the rest in a high cupboard they can’t get into…

Ah well… everyone’s had their fun now!

Turn off your ad blocker to view the Amazon links below for the tapioca boba and straws I bought, if you’d like to try them:

Large tapioca pearls (boba) for Bubble Tea

Large tapioca pearls (boba) for Bubble Tea

150 fat bubble tea straws

150 fat bubble tea straws

What Dad Means To Me

Since Father’s Day is coming up, I thought I would talk about what Dad means to me!

Dad is a good provider. He has kept a roof over my head since my divorce.

Being a man of peace, he has also sought on countless occasions to calm those troubled waters. I’m very grateful to him for his efforts, even when they haven’t met with success.

Dad is a man of prayer. Every morning, he and Mom can be found having devotions and praying together. When things in my life have sailed beyond my control, he has been there to pray with me and hold my hand as I walked through the greatest trials and challenges that life has thrown at me.

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Dad is very handy. Our home is a beautiful testimony to Dad’s handiness with everything from hammer and nails to the beautiful grass, trees, and raised garden beds he put in so that Mom and I wouldn’t have to bend down as much to weed.

Dad loves sports! But…everyone who knows me well knows that I am completely and happily clueless when it comes to sports. I can still listen to Dad talk about sports and his favorite teams for hours! He comes totally alive. I love watching him be that alive!

Dad is very quiet. It is hard to get him talking sometimes unless it’s about sports or about God (another instance where he becomes totally alive).

Dad also has a great sense of humor. It’s very dry and quiet, but every once in a while he’ll come out with something unexpected that puts us all into stitches!

Dad to me means all of these things: provision, peace, prayer, handiness, sports, humor.

I love these aspects of Dad’s character. What do you love about your Dad? What does Dad mean to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Physical Therapy – To Be Or Not To Be

yellow tulip Lately I’ve been feeling a bit like this frazzled yellow tulip! Pain does that.

I went to see the doctor last week, and we talked about where I was with putting my health back together again. The thyroid situation seems to have stabilized, other mysterious things continue to go wrong, but–I seem to be doing a bit better at handling them.

Now I need exercise and to lose weight.

This tulip kind of looks like it's exercising, doesn't it?

This tulip looks like it’s exercising-doesn’t it?

But even though I’m doing better at keeping my S/I joint “in” (the physical therapist says this is not the right term for it, but won’t give me a better one), I’m having a lot of issues with pain that seem to be related to lack of adequate muscle support for my back.

I can’t exercise effectively without correcting this lack.

We agreed that I should try physical therapy once more.

Today I had my second physical therapy visit. I’ve been doing the exercises (YAY! I can do them now!), and I really want to work with her, but–there’s a hitch. Now we’re waiting on approval for the physical therapy.

purple and white tulipsSo I don’t know when I’ll get to go back. Please pray for me, that I can stick with the physical therapy exercises, and that approval will come through quickly. I can’t tell you how badly that S/I joint hurts some days, but–I can assure that it’s really really awful at times!

And hey, thanks so much for praying! I really appreciate it.

A Life Well-Lived Despite The Pain

Lilacs from the UNL ArboretumI’m currently coming off another round with the mother of all headaches. I don’t get one of these too often, but when I do…YOWZA! I feel like one of those MOAB bombs exploded in the back on my head and took everything with it!

Do you know what that feels like? Does it ever happen to you?

I know I inflicted this pain on myself too, but I’m not entirely sure how. Was it caused or contributed to by the all the exercise I did over the weekend, cleaning for company and planting lots of spring flowers? Did I trigger it by going to the Arboretum and taking photos of the (very) fragrant lilacs on what proved to be a somewhat windy day? Was something I ate responsible for this?

Lil' Stinker kitty enjoying the fresh air and the new flowers in the window boxes

I planted 3 window boxes, 3 or 4 pots, and one raised bed after we cleaned house Saturday. Here’s Lil’ Stinker enjoying the fresh air and flowers in the window boxes.

Or was it caused by some combination of the above or by all of the above getting together and having a wild thumping party in my skull?

I’m not sure. I only know that by yesterday morning, extreme fatigue had set in, and eventually my skull started split…

I’m not sorry for doing any of these things I’ve mentioned, you understand: a girl’s gotta eat and exercise, after all–and even though I do try to be very careful most of the time, when there’s company I let my guard down and do things I usually don’t, just because.

I’m especially not sorry I got all that exercise! Not even when my back was screaming blue murder at me was I sorry–

more lilacsAnd I’m most especially NOT sorry I took photos of lilacs!

I love flowers, and I love spending time with family at the Arboretum. It’s one of my favorite places.

Pain is a part of life. Paying for living by spending a day in bed every so often with the mother of all headaches, while miserable and nasty, and so not what I ever want to do with my day, seems to occasionally be a necessity–if I want to actually live and enjoy life.

I’d love to draw a spiritual truth into this from the Bible. I’m sure you could think of a few! Unfortunately, being on the tail end of this kind of headache makes it hard to connect certain types of dots. Maybe I’ll remember tomorrow and add to this post? And maybe I won’t!

And I wonder–because I doubt that I’m alone in this–what makes your life well-lived even when you pay for that living with pain?

Adventures In Sewing A Prom Dress

Lil' Stinker 'helping' me sew

Lil’ Stinker ‘helping’ me sew

Back in January, my daughter messaged me with a link to a most incredible dress–and said that was the dress she wanted for prom!

We both knew that there wasn’t any way that we’d be able to afford the dress in the store, and there were issues with the design that we agreed needed to be addressed if she was going to wear it. She wanted a different styling to the back and neckline, and she didn’t want quite so very many rhinestones!

AND…we decided to make this dress! Oh, what an adventure we have embarked on!

Four layers of the skirt so far

Four layers of the skirt so far

First, we had difficulty acquiring the fabric we wanted in the width and color we needed. We finally settled on a pale lavender organza and matching satin. We may add in a layer of pink organza too, but only if it looks good when we start assembling the layers…

There are a LOT of layers! At least six or seven just for the skirt, and at least three, possibly four for the bodice! (crazy, right?)

See that panel of styrofoam on the wall behind me in the picture below?

I had to find a space large enough to lay out the pieces, and a way to cut them out without dislocating my S/I joint. So–we secured two panels of styrofoam insulation on the wall using Command Strips.

Me, happy to be sewing

Me, happy to be sewing

And THEN came the real kicker: how to keep Lil’ Stinker from using the styrofoam to sharpen his claws and from chomping on it! (he likes the sound it makes)

We’ve pinned large fabric pieces to it, and piled heavy stuff along the bottom to keep him from pulling them off. We aren’t sure that we’re done cutting fabric…yet, or we’d just throw the styrofoam panels away.

Oh, and see that toilet paper? Organza is impossible to sew without some kind of stabilizer. And with so very much organza to sew, I would have broken my piggy bank on just the stabilizer! On the advice of a good friend who’s great at sewing, I bought a small package of cheap toilet paper instead. It’s working very well!

Organza hem stabilized with toilet paper

Organza hem stabilized with toilet paper

Maria has been very involved with this project too! She’s spent hours ironing the fabric pieces and helping me pin.

Steps left to complete:

  • Sewing the last couple of individual layers for the skirt, plus the layers of the bodice
  • Soaking the layers to remove what’s left of our cheap version of stabilizer (and drying)
  • Adding the rhinestones to the top layer of the bodice
  • Assembling the dress
  • Adding the zipper
  • Soaking one more time to remove any last bits of stabilizer
  • A final pressing

We’ve still got a lot to do, but it sounds like more than it really is at this point. We’ve got a little over a month until she needs to wear it. We’ll get ‘er done!

I had to buy at least twice as much lavender organza (I was bargain shopping) to acquire enough to make the dress. If you’re in the market for fifteen yards, let me know! (We’ve got a lot to spare now)