Bigfoot

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Tea of the Day: Bigfoot: A blend by Ariel Taylor with Adagio Teas

Description: Wooly limbs among a thicket of berries–rooibos berry with Pu-erh hazelberry and rooibos almond.

Dry tea smells strongly of berries followed by a earthier, richer smell.

Liquor is a lovely deep red-brown in the cup

Steeped tea smells like berries and chocolate, with a nutty flavor to it.

Tea Tastes first of berries, followed by a richer, nuttier flavor. Sugar is not needed but does not hurt; it simply changes the dynamic of the flavors, making the berry flavor and nut flavors stronger and slightly more blended.

Tea Rating: 4.5/5


Book Review: Wicked deeds on a Winter’s Night by Kresley Cole

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Back of the book blurb: This seductive paranormal series continues with a brutal Highland werewolf and an exquisite young witch, adversaries with a blood vendetta between them.
Her breathless kiss haunts him…
Bowen MacRieve of the Lykae clan was nearly destroyed when he lost the one woman meant for him. The ruthless warrior grew even colder, never taking another to his bed—until a smoldering encounter with his enemy, Mariketa the Awaited, reawakens his darkest desires. When sinister forces unite against her, the Highlander finds himself using all his strength and skill to keep her alive.
His slow, hot touch is irresistible…
Temporarily stripped of her powers, Mari is forced to take refuge with her sworn adversary. It’s rumored that no one can tempt Bowen’s hardened heart, but soon passion burns between them. Though a future together is impossible, she fears he has no intention of letting her go.
No deed is too wicked for her seduction…
If they defeat the evil that surrounds them, can Mari deny Bowen when he demands her body and soul—or will she risk everything for her fierce protector?

The review: 

What I didn’t like: Not a whole lot, actually. Of course, I could complain about the somewhat formulaic nature of the book (the couple is thrown together, they have conflict, they resolve it, they’re in love) but there are two things that stay that particular complaint: the story isn’t quite that simple and the characters are just too interesting

What I did like: Everything. I feel like as the series goes on, the underlying story that ties everything together gets more and more interesting, and that lends a complexity to each book’s story that you wouldn’t expect from a romance series. Plus, as the story gets more complex the characters also seem to get more relatable. This novel had a slower burn on the romance aspect of the story, for very good reasons, and it was absolutely worth the wait. Plus, I accidentally read about half of it twice due to misplacing the book and its bookmark, but I found that having read it before took nothing away from it. So far in the series, this and the previous one are my favorites and I will very likely be reading them again.

Book Rating: 5/5. If you haven’t started this series yet (and you like romance), get on it!

Peppermint Choco-Latte

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Tea of the Day: Peppermint Choco-Late by the American Tea Room

Description: Our best-selling Choco-Latte tea. Caffeine free, blended with refreshing peppermint for a decadent treat

Dry tea smells oddly sharp and slightly minty

Liquor is a dark red-brown in the cup

Steeped tea smells mintier than the dry tea

Tea tastes a bit like coffee and chocolate, and more strongly of mint. The steeped tea is rather bland to me, surprising considering the intensity of the scent it gives off. Adding sugar does make a little richer in flavor but not by a whole heap of a lot.

Tea Rating: 2.5/5


Two days ago, I disconnected from Facebook.

I deactivated my account, albeit temporarily, because I was quite literally feeling poisoned by it, by all the hate and vitriol that is all over because of recent political events.

It was particularly saddening to me because some of my friends, whom I personally know aren’t that angry in person were getting sucked into the spiteful spiral, some sharing things that were completely antagonistic with no positive side. Those that weren’t were fighting their own similar battles.

I am ridiculously grateful to the people who shared cute and funny and positive things but there was just so much negative that I reached my limit and then some.

It’s been a quiet couple of days.

I’ll be disconnected for a week or so, and when I do come back I will be limiting the amount of time I spend on it, and unfollowing people or pages that are particularly negative.

This is probably something I should have done a long time ago, but better late than never, eh?

 

Tolstoy’s Samovar

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Tea of the Day: Tolstoy’s Samovar by the London Tea Room

Description: Our tribute to Russian tea, named after our favourite Russian author. Caravans would transport tea on the long journey from Russia to China, and the smoke from the nightly campfires would infuse into the tea, giving it a distinct smokey flavor reminiscent of a mild Lapsang Souchong.

The dry tea smells savory and smokey, something like lapsang souchong. There is a hint of green tea smell, and looking in the blend you can see tightly furled green leaves, like with gunpowder tea.

Liquor is a deep amber in the cup.

Steeped tea smells smokey like the dry, but slightly sweeter

Te tastes smokey with sharp-sweet aftertaste without sugar. Adding sugar makes it oddly astringent, but if you add milk the tea becomes much less harsh. It’s a savory interesting tea that does best either black or with milk and sugar, which is not something I see very often.

Tea Rating: 3.5/5


Today, helping out my lovely fellow blogger by doing a guest review.

The Book: High Summons by Eli Celata

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Back of the book blurb: “Jon Blythe is sick of waiting for his Yoda. After years of hiding his magic, he’s ready to retire from his mortal life, drop out of college, and jump into the world of demon hunters. He just didn’t really expect a bleach blond bookstore clerk with light up toys for weapons. Unfortunately, Jordan is Jon’s only hope. When rogue magic users come to Rochester with a malicious plan, the odd couple strikes out to save the day. Jordan might not be what Jon expected, but between demons and Econ homework, the demons win every time. Wild nights drag Jon further from normal into the world where his father vanished. Maybe he’s becoming an addict. Maybe magic just comes with a price. Either way, he’s hooked.”

The Review:

What I didn’t like: First off, this is not a stand-alone novel. This is not usually a problem for me as I often enjoy reading about the same characters or the same world for several books, but certain aspects of how High Summons was written made it a little off-putting. The novel felt a bit rushed like we’re asked to care about the main character (also the narrator) before we really get a chance to know him. I also felt that a couple of the supporting characters did not get developed until near the end of the book, which is a bit of a disservice to some interesting characters. These two things make it so I was left with a feeling like if I want to get a good sense of the people I kinda have to immediately jump into the next book.
What I did like: Though the book jumps somewhat jarringly right into the nitty-gritty of things, I did like the pace of the book. The author was quite descriptive but wove those descriptions into the story so that things flowed pretty smoothly. I would also like to go visit Rochester (where the story is set) just to see if I could identify any of the places from the book. This was also a take on magic and demons that I have not read before, which immediately makes this novel stand out and it was explained in such a way that made it clear but not dull. The supporting characters are interesting, even for the small amount of time spent on them.My favorite character who is not the narrator gets introduced near the end of the story but his introduction makes him really stand out. I also appreciate the setting being very modern, with his mentor even doing most things (such as getting around town) in a very normal way.  I am inclined to keep reading the series to find out more about the narrator’s friends at least as much as I’m interested in his story!
Final verdict: 3.5, rounded up to 4, because I really feel like this was a good series start but the story would have benefited from being a bit longer if only to give full justice to all the characters.

 

Grand Jasmine

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Tea of the Day: Grand Jasmine by American Tea Room

Description: An elegant jasmine-scented tea comprised of waif-like leaves in colors ranging from green-black to dark French Grey to shimmering silver. Grand Jasmine is a liquid bouquet for those who love all that jasmine has to offer

Dry tea smells of flowers with a hint of honeydew melon

Liquor is a light honey gold in the cup

Steeped tea smells similar to the way the dry tea smells but stronger. The flavor is interesting; floral and musky, almost like seaweed. The tea is pleasant, with a smooth mouthfeel and lightly sweet on its own, making sugar unneccsary. If you do add sugar, it enhances the floral flavor.

Tea Rating. 4.5/5


The week before last was a stressful week; so much so that I had a hard time writing anything at all last week, which some of you may have noticed.

I don’t feel that re-hashing it here would serve me or anyone who reads the blog.

The good news is that I made the decision that I am done being angry and scared, and I spoke this truth out loud to my two closest confidants and supporters. Lo and behold, the next week (last week) I found myself calmer and steadier, even as I was recovering from the stresses of the previous week.

I also found a post I had written two years before that resonated remarkably well with the situation I found myself in, like a repeating theme never not relevant.

It read like this:

“I am human. I am, like everyone else, capable of many things. I can be insightful, dumb, humble, conceited, caring, selfish, funny, boring, cheerful, grumpy, calm, excited, optimistic, afraid of the future, vain, self-deprecating and many other good and not so good things–sometimes all in the same day! Amazingly, this is the same for everyone else I will speak to or meet today. We are all capable of many things, and as I deserve to treat myself with respect and be treated respectfully by others, so too do the people I will see today deserve the same. I cannot like everyone or make everyone happy, but I can remember that they are as human as I am and thus deserve at least some measure of respect and consideration”

It resonated with me again when I encountered it a few days ago, so I thought my readers might appreciate a reminder that they are human and that’s ok, and also that everyone else you may encounter.

We are more alike than we are different.

Brioche

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Tea of the Day: Brioche by American Tea Room

Description: As aromatic as a French patisserie, this black tea with almonds, cinnamon, and safflower blossoms is a new classic

Dry tea smells like a cookie, rather like fig newtons, sweet and nutty

Liquor is a slightly cloudy reddish brown in the cup

Steeped tea smells similar to the dry but more smoky. Tastes a lot like it smells, sweet, nutty, and smoky with a hint of astringency. Adding sugar cuts the astringency. Very soothing and smooth tea.

Tea Rating: 4/5


As part of my efforts to be a happier and healthier person, not just for the new year but for the long-term (I’m getting married in a year and a half I have a lot to look forward to!) I’ve been participating in something called The 30 day Love Your Life Project.  It’s been interesting so far and has helped me put to paper some actual goals and steps to achieve them.

Day 7 was to play detective: observe my thoughts, words, and actions, and when they are not serving me to deliberately craft a counter-message to put to use immediately.

Sounds easy. And it really should be. But it was at that moment, sitting there at my desk with my pen in hand that I came face-to-face with the reality that my mind is rarely ever still. There is a lot going on up there! The task seemed daunting…and then I clued in. That thought of being overwhelmed and unable to move forward was, in fact, one of those unhelpful thoughts that I’d like to correct.

This morning, I came across an article that talked about the same kind of thing that the project did, but focused on how to make exercising easier, specifically.

I’m sharing an excerpt of the article here, because I think it will help with my own motivation when it comes to the gym, and might help some of my lovely readers, as well!

 

Nine of the cyclists then took two weeks to train as normal. The other nine received sessions in motivational skills training, a kind of self-talk that involves “reframing” negative feelings—like how hot it is—into positive ones. Instead of thinking “My legs are burning” or “I’m sweating like crazy,” they were taught to come up with more positive, empowering phrases like “I’m doing well” or “I can handle this.”

At the end of two weeks, everyone came back to do the hot-exercise test again. The first group saw no change in their performance. But the experimental group “improved a huge amount,” Cheung says. They were able to pedal for 25% longer than they were initially, and they could sustain high levels of discomfort for a lot longer than their peers. Their body temperatures were also hotter than those of their peers, suggesting that the brain has a lot of power in determining how far the body is able to push itself.

This is pretty cool to me, further evidence that I (and you) can do whatever you want as long as you get your mind in the right place.

 

 

Darjeeling TGBOP

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Tea of the Day: Darjeeling TGBOP by Xanadu Tea

Description:  The world’s finest black tea grows in the hauntingly beautiful mountains of Darjeeling, India. Growth at this elevation is slow, with the leaves developing unrivaled flavor intensity, moderately bodied yet bright and crisp in the cup.

Dry tea smells strong and slightly sweet with a lightness to it

Liquor is a light chestnut brown in the cup.

This particular tea is very picky about temperature and steep times. If the water is at boiling, which is standard for most black tea, it is bitter. Same if it gets steeped longer than 3 minutes. At 3 minutes steep time and 200 degree (F) water temperature, the tea has a smoky smell and flavor, with a hint of sweetness.

Tea Rating: 3/5


Yesterday was beautiful day. Sun and clear skies as far as the eye could see.

Because of the fact it is winter how far north I am, it was also about 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) below zero.

But, because we only get a few hours of daylight during the winter, and because I have a need to stay active, during my lunch break I went for a walk anyway.

While out walking, I saw a group of 3 people bundled up and huddled around a grill that they were working on getting going outside of their building. As I walked by I said “that’s some dedication right there,” and kept walking.

About ten minutes later it occurred to me that the same could be said about me. I am dedicated to the concept of being healthier and happier to the point that before I stuff my face just about every work day, unless I have errands or it’s  windy (I’m a wuss when it comes to wind), I go for a walk. I don’t mean a stroll, I mean I walk as fast as I can go without running.

I’m determined to foster improvements in my life, but I don’t always see it as dedication, or something worth noting. It’s a necessary thing, which my brain slots into a different category, as it were.

I’m starting to realize that necessity or no, my determination to do the thing is still something valuable, something that I should appreciate.

 

Howard Stark

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Tea of the Day: Howard Stark Tea: a blend by Susanne Sholander at Adagio Tea

Description: Rich and decadent, Howard Stark charms with smooth notes of caramel and cream mixed with the subtle spice of gingerbread. Add in the irresistible sweetness of chocolate and cocoa nibs, and this genius blend will be sure to steal your heart, as well as anyone’s in a skirt.

Dry tea smells sweet and a little spicy.

Liquor is a clear red-brown in the cup.

Steeped tea smells very similar to the dry, just a bit darker and richer.

This tea is amazing. It’s sweet and a little spicy but bold as well. It can be drunk black, with sugar, with sugar and milk, and all that happens is that the flavor changes. But each stage is equally good and I could literally drink this all day. It is a black tea, so in some cases it’s not going to be the best choice, but those cases would be very few.

Tea Rating: A strong 5/5, meaning: GO GET YOU SOME!


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This may be my last post for this year as I’m going to be with my family (sadly minus my fiance) and away from my computer and tea for about a week.

So, I wanted to leave 2016 with some positive thoughts starting with the one above. Changing those little apologies into something more positive is not only an easy change to make but a useful one. An apology for something you can’t change falls flat a lot of the time. As my father used to say when I was a child: “I’m sorry doesn’t fix it.” Neither does thanking the person, but there is a better feeling left behind if you acknowledge the issue by being grateful to the person that has to deal with it.

Additionally, I’m leaving this year with a realization: I spend way too much time wallowing in stress and negative feelings, and I for some reason cut myself off from my primary outlet for tough feelings. I use to journal almost daily, as you might be able to tell from the frequency of my blog posts in the beginning of this blog and then at some point since I moved into my new place, I just stopped. I could probably write a long list of all the reasons, large and small, but the point would not change. Writing what’s on my mind, whether I talk or blog about it or not, lets me be more in touch with my own mind and the ebb and flow of my feelings. This allows me to actually move forward or maintain progress I’ve made towards being a calmer, happier person.Shocker, I know.

It’s time to pick that back up.

See you in 2017!