Forever Spring

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Tea of the Day: Forever Spring by the London Tea Room

Description: Exquisite fresh floral fragrance with an incomparably velvety mouth feel and creamy honey after taste. Beautiful with fresh dishes!

Dry tea smells sweet and grassy-earthy, and a little like roasted vegetables

Liquor is a gold-amber in the cup, bright but clear

Steeped tea has a more flowery scent than the dry. Doesn’t need any doctoring, it’s light and sweet and relaxing on its own. It’s floral with a vegetable aftertaste. Adding sugar is not needed but does make the tea taste more floral. Tea leaves start out tightly furled and expand hugely.

Tea Rating: 5/5


I recently finished reading a book called “The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A f*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach To living A Good Life” by Mark Manson.

This is a book review of sorts, but not like my others because it’s non-fiction, so there is no need to critique character or world development, or plot.

Because it’s a non-fiction self-improvement book, there are really only two questions of relevance that anyone who hasn’t read it needs to know.

Is it interesting?

Is it relevant?

Bonus question: is it well-written?

For me, for this book, the answer to all three of these questions is “Yes, yes and yes.”

Rather than being like so many other self-help books that teach strategies to avoid pain or negate it, this book is very honest. Essentially: life sucks, it’s going to suck on some level no matter what you do and avoiding things that suck only makes you more miserable. B

Essentially: life sucks, it’s going to suck on some level no matter what you do and avoiding things that suck only makes you more miserable. But, approach that suck in a different, less self-entitled way, you’ll actually live a good life.

This book is, to me, chock-full of good advice and thoughts, written in a surprisingly pleasant no-nonsense voice.

For your reading pleasure, my 3 of my favorite quotes from the book:

“We don’t always control what happens to us. But we always control how we interpret what happens to us, as well as how we respond.”

“If it feels like it’s you against the world, chances are it’s you against yourself.”

And finally, probably the biggest whammy statement of them all:

“You are great. Already. Whether you realize it or not. Whether anybody else realizes it or not. And it’s not because you launched an iPhone app, or finished school a year early, or bought yourself a sweet-ass boat. These things do not define greatness.

You are already great because in the face of endless confusion and death, you continue to choose what to give a fuck about and what not to. The mere fact, this simple optioning for you own values in life, already makes you beautiful, already makes you beautiful, makes you successful, and already makes you loved. Even if you don’t realize it. Even if you’re sleeping in a gutter and starving.

You too are going to die, and that’s because you are fortunate enough to have lived. ”

The author of the book also has a blog.Full disclosure before you click, some of the content is paid-subscriber only, but there are plenty of articles that are not for your reading pleasure.

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.

 

Hazelberry

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Tea of The Day: Pu Erh Hazelberry

Description: The earthy smoothness of Pu Erh creates a warm foundation for the rich flavor of hazelnut while playful, tangy-sweet strawberries peek through the nutty opulence. A hint of cream adds a soft, dreamy note to the blend.

Dry tea smells earthy, sweet and comforting, making me think of the earth right after it rains

Liquor is a dark auburn brown in the cup

Steeped tea has a stronger scent, but not in an unpleasant manner. Has an earthy-sweet flavor that starts out light and finishes dark and heavy. Adding sugar lightens up all the flavors, and leaves the whole tea with a lovely aftertaste that leaves you wanting more

Tea Rating: 4.5/5


I had to make an unwanted change recently, one that in the grand scheme of things is probably pretty small but still not exactly something I wanted to mess with.

My doc had me change the medication I’m on for a different type that does the same thing because my blood pressure has been slowly rising over the years and she feels that the medication would be causing too much extra stress on my system.

This causes mixed feelings; I feel a bit like there’s yet another thing wrong with me, and glad that it’s not a more serious change, and also completely unsurprised.

I mean of course my blood pressure is high…have you met me?

I am a worrier’s worrier. There’s always something to be concerned about, to mull over and pick at.

It’s for sure something I’m aware of. And I have made efforts to correct the issue, and even made progress! But it’s an ongoing thing that is written into me in a really big way…so once I find something that works with the relaxing and worry less thing if I stop doing it because I feel better, I spiral back down into worryville. It’s been this way for a while, but I just recently, as in within the last couple of days realized this.

It’s like I get to this place in my head that every direction hurts and all I am is anxious. It’s not fun.

I love all the advice that makes it sound so easy to not worry…I end up feeling both inspired and silly for still having this issue.

Straight up telling me to worry less just hurts because then it seems that I’m not being heard or understood.

Realistically, I can’t measure my progress by someone else’s scale. I have to look back at myself and realize that I’ve made great progress…I still have a long way to go, but the progress is there.

Oh, and keep doing yoga. And those other little things that are me taking care of me. Even if (maybe especially if) it feels tedious.

I deserve it, and if I’m going to live a long happy life, I need it.

Cream Earl Grey

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Tea of the Day: Cream Earl Grey by The London Tea Room

Description: Based off of the Earl Grey’s voyage to Prussia, where he frolicked in fields of cornflowers and discovered the joys of vanilla after tasting a dessert crafted by Otto von Bismarck’s renowned pastry chef.

Dry tea smells at first like fresh dirt and flowers, but when you breathe a little deeper you can smell a sweeter creamy scent. Steeped tea smells sweeter

Liquor is a dark caramel brown in the cup

Steeped tea without sugar does taste a little earthy, but with a pleasant aftertaste that is smooth and sweet. Adding sugar brings the creamy sweet taste to the forefront. Adding a little milk makes it even creamier in flavor. I really enjoy the layered complexity of this particular tea

Tea Rating: 4/5


I have a confession to make.

I am not, in fact, a very motivated person.

My internal conversation semi-regularly sounds something like “I can’t wait to get home so I can just not do anything anymore,” or “It’s only __ and I already want to go back to bed”

And then I get home after work and I do stuff anyway. Or I try to.

Sometimes, though, I feel like I’m maybe misrepresenting myself. I strive to put a lot of positive out there, to put the daily trials in a more positive light, but I fall short just as often as I succeed.

I feel like, as someone who blogs about life, I need to be honest about it. It’s not always pretty. It’s a struggle, possibly more often than I want to think about.

There are days where it literally takes me all day to come up with anything to say that isn’t just whining.

I enjoy working out, but I have to force myself to go, almost literally take me by the ear and go “you will get a workout in today, missy!” If I don’t continuously push myself to go, I’ll get lazy and not go, and I’ll come up with plenty of valid reasons why it’s ok. Some of them are valid…some are not.  I’ve even been so totally unmotivated that I cried.

I like my job, love where I work, but I still want to put my forehead through my desk at times.

I look in the mirror and want to pick apart what I see, but seem to have a hard time remembering to simple things every day like remember to take my vitamins. It’s like when it comes time to make good changes I space out on it 60-70% of the time

I can’t imagine my life without my fiance and my best friends, and yet there are moments where I don’t want anyone to effing talk to me for like, 5 minutes. I feel horrible for having that thought ever cross my mind, but it still comes back.

So, if you read what I write  beyond the tea review, please know that I’m not trying to be fake. I write about the positive things I see and feel and  think about because there is way too much negative in the world…but that doesn’t change the fact that there is negative inside of me, too.

And if you feel like you struggle with your negatives, from once struggler to another, let me say this: you can do it. You can get to the gym, or stick to your eating plan, or read more books, or whatever it is you want to do but seem to have trouble with. I promise


“This is life. It is hard and it is painful and it is everyday, but we fight.” Angela, from the TV series Bones.

 

English Breakfast

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Tea of the Day: English Breakfast by Red Rose

Description: This hearty blend, sourced from some of the greatest tea estates in the lush green mountains of Ceylon and the African Rift Valley, captures the centuries-old tradition of English Breakfast tea.

Dry tea smells a bit sweet but also somewhat like fried food

Liquor is a light caramel brown in the cup

Steeped tea is sweet with an earthy tone to the flavor . A touch of sugar smooths out the flavor a touch, but also makes it more astringent. All in all, a decent cup of tea.

Tea Rating: 2.5/5


Somewhat in the vein of yesterday’s post, I found myself reading things that have been said to graduates in the past, things meant to re-assure, and inspire, and maybe to make uncomfortable, too.

At my sister’s graduation, one of the school officials (I think the principle?) advised that the words “I love you” are the most powerful words we can say to our parents, and we never know how much it might be needed.

Adam Savage, in a speech to the graduates at Saint Lawrence College in 2012 said:

” Raymond Chandler didn’t write a single word of any consequence until his 40s. Julia Child learned to cook at 40! Clint Eastwood directed his first film at 41. Don’t be afraid to be a late bloomer. Repeatedly.

Remember that you have time to figure out what you want to do. Who you need to be. Where you want to go. You have time to fail. You have time to mess up. You have time to try again. And when you mess that up, you still have time. Just so long as you’re willing to work hard.

I found his words to hit home for me simply because it often feels like there isn’t time to figure it out, that we just have to get on with it, yesterday. Also, because I realize now that what I actually want to do is to eventually go into counseling, which (of course) requires a different bachelor’s degree than what I have and very likely a master’s as well. I’ve decided that I don’t need to rush, but it’s hard at times to allow myself to feel settled.

Mindy Kaling said in 2014 to the Harvard Law School graduates:

What advice could I give you guys? Celebrities give too much advice and people listen to it too much. … Most of us have no education whatsoever. … Who should be giving advice and the answer is people like you. You are better educated and you are going to go out into the world and people are going to listen to what you say, whether you are good or evil, and that probably scares you because some of you look really young. And I’m afraid a couple of you probably are evil. That’s just the odds.

Her words are a combination of hope and fear, what I imagine most adults feel as they see us youngsters grow up and graduate and move into the world. And I identify with her feelings, because I am one among many and some of those many may end up in positions to do bad things, or great things.

In 2004, Bono said the following about changing the future:

Sing the melody line you hear in your own head, remember, you don’t owe anybody any explanations, you don’t owe your parents any explanations, you don’t owe your professors any explanations. You know I used to think the future was solid or fixed, something you inherited like an old building that you move into when the previous generation moves out or gets chased out.

But it’s not. The future is not fixed, it’s fluid. You can build your own building, or hut or condo, whatever; this is the metaphor part of the speech by the way.

But my point is that the world is more malleable than you think and it’s waiting for you to hammer it into shape. Now if I were a folksinger I’d immediately launch into “If I Had a Hammer” right now get you all singing and swaying. But as I say I come from punk rock, so I’d rather have the bloody hammer right here in my fist.

That’s what this degree of yours is, a blunt instrument. So go forth and build something with it. Remember what John Adams said about Ben Franklin, “He does not hesitate at our boldest Measures but rather seems to think us too irresolute.“”

This one makes me feel fired up, and a little defiant, like my heart is saying “hey, watch what I can do, watch me make something that you never dared imagine”

And finally, a poem by Kahlil Gibran that my father wrote out for me (and my sister) in my graduation card :

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

These are words, thoughts and lights in the dark that give me hope and make me feel as though my life has purpose that I may not yet know, and meaning that hopefully my children or those who follow after will see.