Tibetan Rapberry

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Tea of the Day: Tibetan Raspberry by Xanadu Tea

Description: Highlighted with real raspberry for additional color and flavor, this tea is a real treat from the secret garden.

Dry tea smells like warm raspberries with a stronger smell behind it, something like you might expect having just picked berries in your own garden.

Steeped tea smells very similar to the dry, but with a touch more depth and bite

Liquor is a chestnut brown in the cup.

You can absolutely taste the raspberry, which is great because often flavored teas that do not have pieces of the source of the flavoring do not match their smell. It’s very drinkable without sugar but adding sugar does not detract from the flavor or diminish the pleasantly smoky finish. It also tastes like it would take milk well, although I did not try it.

Tea Rating: 4/5


I live a life where I know that dreams can come true.

I know this because some of them have.

I day dreamt about the perfect place for my fiance and best friend could live together without too much wanting to kill each other (even in my dreams I know that relationships are never exactly perfect). And, a year ago, we found it and secured it.

I’ve spent many hours of my teen and adult life dreaming about a truly good romantic relationship, one that will last through good times and rough patches alike; I’ve recently celebrated two years with the man I’m going to marry next year.

Because of these, and many other smaller dreams and goals I’ve met or achieved, I find that my dreams are expanding.

I dream about the wedding itself, and the honeymoon, and at least one awesome vacation I’d like to go on with my future husband.

But, and I think more importantly, I dream of the bigger things I’ve never before considered could be a reality.

Some of them are a little more grounded, like the one about becoming a counselor a bit later in life and helping people work through life’s pains and hopefully come out stronger people. Because of where I work getting the degrees required for that dream is a very possible thing.

Others a little more outlandish, like traveling the world pulled by my camera to take pictures of all the beautiful things, even the ones that are a little sad as well.

Who knows, though? Maybe both of those things will someday come true. And in the meantime, it’s fun to dream

 


Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.”Ashley Smith

Ti Kuan Yin

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Ti Kuan Yin by Adagio Teas

Description: Our fine version of Ti Kuan Yin produces a cup that is warm, soft, and soothingly mineral in texture. It has notes of toasted walnut and tender collard greens with an intriguing lingering floral aroma. In flavor it is lightly orchid with gentle astringency; a meditative cup

Dry tea smells floral and grassy but also slightly sharp/peppery

Liquor is a golden green color in the cup.

Steeped tea smells floral, more so than the dry.

The tea itself has a light floral flavor, like lavender or jasmine, and needs nothing added to be sweet. It is a palate cleanser, leaving you feeling calm and refreshed

Tea Rating: 4.5/5


This post is along the same vein of the one from the beginning of the year, about how I felt when I checked out of Facebook for a while, and was partially inspired by my roommate.

As a group, we usually all (myself, my fiance and my roommate) sit down to dinner to together. Often, we watch a movie or an episode of a T.V. show at the same time.

[There are some things to say about this practice, but in another post]

The other night, my fiance and I were unenthusiastically talking about watching a particular show that we are a few episodes behind on because we’re not exactly pleased with the turn it has taken.

Our roommate looked at us with a bit of a raised eyebrow and said “If you’re not pleased with it why are you watching it?”

We looked at each other, and shrugged. We had no real answer.

This got me thinking.

We are very much in control of the media we consume; the shows we watch, the post we share, the articles we read. We are even in control of how we get that input or information.

Yet, so often, we act as though we’re not.

We act as if watching a T.V. show means we’re obligated to watch it until the very end. Or that having a Facebook account means that we need to check it constantly, or that it must be how we get our news.

None of this is true.

I’m put in mind of the KonMari method if de-cluttering: if it brings you joy, keep it. If not, let it go.

Obviously not all the media I take in during a given day is going to be joyful. As an adult member of society I feel that it is important to be informed about what is going on in the world.

But that does not mean I have to get it from a source that inundates me with negativity as social media often does. I can subscribe to the local paper and e-mail newsletters from various sources just as easily as I can scroll Facebook. And, more importantly, those things would be potentially more meaningful and varied than my News Feed.

As far as my recreational media goes, if it feels pointless or predictable or disappointing to me, then I can let it go. No one is holding me hostage forcing me to continue.

I feel that a good story (no matter how I view or read it) will make me feel things other than joy, because the point of a good story or art at all is to shine a light on things you’ve never thought of, or hold up a mirror that’s not edited by your own mind, to make you think, and to inspire you to question. But if all I’m feeling is disappointment or dread when I think of a show I’ve been watching, then that is just a one-dimensional as a constantly-happy sitcom (not that all sitcoms are this way) and I don’t have to keep it in my life.

I have the option of watching or not; being plugged in or not.

We all do; we just have to actually make the choice.

 

Science Bros

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Tea of the Day: Science Bros, created by Cat L with Adagio Teas

Description: A perfect scientific concoction of the ultimate genius superhero duo. Chocolate chai, Irish breakfast, and blueberry accented with cocoa nibs

Liquor is a dark red-brown in the cup

Dry tea smells like berry and sweetness, with a little bit of a sharp bite

Steeped tea smells very similar to the dry, but with more body and depth

The tea tastes sweet and cinnamony with a richness like a piece of berry-flavored chocolate. Sugar heightens the chocolatey flavor.

Tea Rating: 3.75/5


I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.

I suppose that’s not news.

Mostly, it’s been about good things.

I did the TUT love your life in 30 days project and documented the thoughts in my personal journal. Even with the interruptions–there were a few days that I just couldn’t write much of anything except what was essentially written panicked screaming–I found the project to be helpful and uplifting. It really helped me be aware of where I am and how far I’ve come and how attainable my goals really are.

I haven’t written a lot here in the last couple of weeks because I’ve been trying to decide if I want to share the whole project, or just curate the parts I find most relevant to a wider audience, or use those 30 days of activities to give me a jumping off point to write on. More than likely the result will be a combination of the second and third options.

I’ve also been thinking about our wedding. We’ve gone and set up a joint wedding bank account, and sent out save the date cards, and made some adjustments to the plan of who is going to do our wedding pies. We’ve also started talking about what we actually want to do for our first dance as couple, and my father and I have settled on a Father-Daughter dance song.

For my artistic self, aside from the writing, I got myself a book called “104 Things to Photograph” and have started prompts from that, which I’ll likely share at some point as well.

But for all the good, there also have been some sobering thoughts.

For how far I’ve come, in some ways I still have a long way to go.

There’s a lot I don’t know (this is good as well as bad).

As I prepare for an event that will mark a permanent change in my life, I find myself thinking of other events that have equal weight.

Aside from marriage, the other events that will likely happen in my life that will be so permanent will be the birth of my child or children, and the death of my parents.

At this point there is still I chance I may not have children of my own that I carry inside me for nine months and give birth to. We may choose to just be us an our pets, or to adopt.

But my parents will die.

His too.

I don’t know how I’m going to deal with it.

Gran was like another parent to me, so I have maybe a rough idea. But I can also recognize that losing a grandparent, no matter how close we were, is not the same as losing a parent.

It’s not something that brings me joy to think about, but it’s a fact of life, one that I cannot avoid.

 

 

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.

 

 

Squishy

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No teas today, just sappy post time, because I am squishy and very very loved.

And tomorrow is Thanksgiving, so why not?

Last week, I had a moment with my fiance that I consider to be a significant indicator of the strength of our relationship, a “defining moment” if you will.

We had a spat over something that wasn’t particularly significant but my crazy brain got a hold of the situation and off I went.

Later, once I had calmed down, I felt really bad about it, like I do.

In a fit of misguided sorrow, I turned to my fiance and said: “Wouldn’t you be happier with someone less broken?”

He laughed.

The concept of being happier with someone else was so absurd to him that he just laughed.

This would seem like a no-brainer, because we’re getting married so of course he would not be happier elsewhere. But it is one thing to know it and another entirely to have it confirmed so blatantly.

I feel very loved, and very grateful, and I’ll probably be telling this story for years to come.

Marrakesh Mint

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Tea of the Day: Marrakesh Mint Green Tea by Mighty Leaf

Description: Smooth green tea leaves and refreshing mint come together for one decidedly cool cup of bright, invigorating brew.

Dry tea smells like spearmint candy, sweet and sharp

Liquor is a clear golden brown in the cup

Steeped tea without sugar does not taste as strong as it smells, it may benefit from a longer steeping time than the recommended time (3 minutes) but be careful not to have water that is too hot in that case. The tea is simply minty and is certainly a pallet cleanser, a good follow up to strong tea or coffee.

Tea Rating: 3/5


Warning: This post is going to be slightly less uplifting than the last one.

After the results of the Presidential election, I have felt (and am feeling a lot of things). I’m worried, and saddened, angry and determined. Bear with me.


To my fellow citizens of the United States of America:

We’re better than this. I don’t just mean who was elected to be president, I mean better than the darkness that caused this election in the first place.

It’s human nature to fear what we don’t know or understand. And when we’re afraid, it’s easier to lash out than to seek to learn or adapt to what we see. I get it.

It’s also incredibly frustrating to feel like you’re not being heard or considered. Trust me, I get that, too.

But here’s the thing: you’re not being heard because of the government we live under, not because of the minorities who are finally seeing steps towards truly having equal rights.

This applies across the board; our bureaucracy favors the rich, favors those in power staying in power.

Things need to change. In some ways, electing a non-politician was the right way to go, since it’s well past time to shake things up a bit. The problem is with the particular      non-politician that was chosen. Or, more specifically, with his words. Even if his campaign trail was a ploy to get votes, to get people riled up, he still made it ok to be hateful.

But I stand by what I’ve said: we’re better than this. We don’t have to do what the media tells us to do. We can choose to treat each other better. We can choose to pause when our first thought is to treat someone else like a stereotype  and then move forward with understanding rather than becoming a stereotype ourselves.

We can choose and we must. If we don’t, this country will fall apart sooner or later. And with the amount of anger flying around, that falling apart will very likely mean war.

No matter who you voted for we can all treat each other better. We can stop with the hate and the anger and learn from each other. We can heal this country before it comes to Civil War II. It will take time, and work, but it will be worth it.

I hope that we can all moved forward from these dark days.

Bombay Chai

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Tea of the Day: Bombay Chai by Mighty Leaf Tea

Description: A melange of spicy notes conjures the steamy, aromatic delights of an Indian street market. Black leaves with subtle hints of orange, cinnamon, cardamom, pepper and cloves

Dry tea smells like you might expect from the description, sweet and spicy. To me, the orange and pepper smells stand out the most

Liquor is an orangey brown in the cup.

Steeped tea smells more peppery, but not unpleasantly so.  The tea is lightly sweet on its own, with a spicy aftertaste

Adding sugar makes it a little less spicy, but does not take away from the overall vigor of the flavor.

Tea Rating: 4/5


For some reason, every November I find myself feeling sentimental.

Maybe it’s because it’s usually getting pretty cold by then and cold days make me want to snuggle with blankets and loved ones.

Maybe it’s because it’s my birth month and looking back on the last year makes me squishy.

Maybe it’s just because Thanksgiving is coming up.

Certainly, brainstorming my wedding vows and fleshing out some of the wedding plans does not help with that. Although, if I’m honest, I don’t mind be squishy and sentimental in the least.

But whatever the causes of or contributing factors to my sentimental thoughts, they are here to stay, and I’m cheerfully embracing them.

Being grateful isn’t just good for me (or me) , it’s also good for people around me (or you).

So, throughout the rest of this month, and maybe even as a theme from here forward in this blog, I’ll spend at least one post a week talking about things to be grateful for. Some things will be personal anecdote type things, others will be a bit more broadly applicable. I have this easy-to-use platform, and readers who follow what I post, so why not make it a positive thing for myself and my readers (and maybe the Internet as a whole)?

Today, I’ll leave you with an article I found on this very same subject, written for the New York Times last year.


 

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.“–Marcel Proust