Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Today's tea post

Yesterday was a really bad day. The kind of day where everything that could possibly go wrong did, and left me feeling rather overwhelmed. And I could have either posted about tea, or gone to bed. I decided to go to bed because I had to wake up insanely early for today's day of fun.

Last night I went to bed feeling really low and forced myself to count my blessings. Today, I feel so blessed. I'm sitting at a beautiful hotel with a group of amazing friends after having a long drive with conversation that blessed my socks off. None of the hard circumstances from yesterday have changed. But I am so blessed that I am dealing with those circumstances surrounded by some wonderful people. I was thinking about how amazing it is because I didn't have enough room on my Twitter to list every single person here. Which is sooo cool and so wonderful.

So I'm not at a fancy tea place today. Not blogging about a cool place to go get tea, even though the Broadmoor is a very cool place to be. It's just me, with a mug from home and bag of the first tea I could grab, and really cool people. Because sometimes, the enjoyment of tea isn't about what kind of tea you're drinking, or where you're drinking it, but WHO you're drinking it with.

And I love that I can drink it with these friends.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Because I apparently have too much time on my hands...

Look what I found!! An online tea community where I can track the tea I drink, have, and want... Steepster. This could either be a really good thing or a really bad thing. I think keeping track of my tea just may be as dangerous as trying to keep track of my books.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

Or join me. ;)

My profile on Steepster.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Vegan(ish)?

While at RWA, one of my friends was telling me about her decision to go mostly vegan. Which I found quite fascinating, because you tend to think of vegans as um, well, weirdos. Sorry to all you vegans. Anyway, my friend said that the idea came from a book she read, and I can't remember the name, but she said that the book claimed that if every family went vegan only for the meals they had at home, we would end world hunger. They could eat whatever they wanted eating out, but at home, they had to be vegan.

Now, if you know my family, you know that would never work. What am I saying? That would never work for me. I LIKE meat- sometimes.

But I can't stop thinking about this idea, because I am concerned about world hunger. And I readily admit that just changing my family's food habits isn't going to be enough to change the world. But it's something, right?

So now I'm thinking that maybe we'll do vegan one night a week. We can handle that, right?

But here's my issue: I hate tofu. It's completely a texture issue for me, and I don't care how many times I've tried it, I hate it. And my family doesn't like it, either. I'm also not fond of Indian food, which seems to be the majority of vegan recipes. I've been looking at different vegan recipes, and so far, I'm not finding anything my family will eat.

Should I just hang up the towel my great vegan idea? Or is there hope for a girl who wants to try it?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday Tea Time: Harney & Sons

Me, Camy, Emily
On the Sunday we were in New York, Camy and I got to go to TWO tea places. Our afternoon stop was at Harney & Sons. Yes, it was a tea heaven kind of day. And let me tell you, a day at Harney & Sons is definitely tea heaven. One of my all-time favorite teas is their Hot Cinnamon Spice tea. So I was excited to find out from Emily Rodmell that they have a store in SoHo.

Since Emily is the one who told us about this wonderful place, we invited her to join us. Due to our earlier mishap in finding the church and needing to get poor Fiona back to the hotel safely with our confused directions, we ended up getting to the shop late, but fortunately in time to catch Emily. Note to future tea travelers: if you're meeting someone in a strange city, make sure you have a way to get in touch with them if you have navigational issues.

The Menu. All tea.
So... the most important thing you need to know about this wonderful place is the tea selection. WOW!! I was in love and had a really hard time trying to decide which one to get. I finally settled on the Lapsang Souchong. I'd heard from Deanna Raybourn that it's a great tea (not specifically Harney's, but just in general), and I'd never tried it. I decided that since I'd gone with an old faithful earlier, I tried it.

I learned that I'm not a fan of Lapsang Souchong. I personally don't like the smoky flavor, so I don't think I will do that one again. It's a flavor thing, not the fault of my good friend Mr. Harney. (Okay, so I don't know him. But I'd love to be his BFF.)


LOVED this cup. I want it!
I did buy some other tea to bring home. First, because you know I had to, I bought my favorite, Hot Cinnamon Spice, and then, since I am trying new things, I bought two others: Tower of London Blend, which is AMAZING and I am so sad that I didn't buy more; and Green Tea with Coconut & Ginger, which is also amazing and I highly recommend it iced. I have made several pitchers of the iced Green Tea with Coconut & Ginger- I even served it to company and they loved it.



Stop by in SoHo

As for the experience at the tea shop itself- the staff was lovely, and it was such a pleasant experience for us. Emily said that she goes there often with a friend, and you could tell it was one of those places where they know the regulars. Very friendly, and if I lived nearby, I would spend a lot of time there. It's definitely on my list of places to return to when I go back.

The best news about this tea review is that you can enjoy these teas without having to go to New York. (Though I highly recommend taking the trip.) Their teas are available on the website (Thank God, because I am already running low. My vulture children have been drinking it all. This is what happens when you teach your children to like good tea. They drink all of yours!)

And, if I may share the worst news, it is about the career I should have had, and wish somehow I could still have. Becoming a tea buyer. Wow!! You've got to check out the Harney travel blog. I seriously need that job. I have no idea how to do it, because at least in this case, your last name needs to be Harney, but wow, oh wow. I would sell my soul, er, well, how about my second born? to do this! Seriously, I now have on my travel goal list to go on some kind of tea tour and get up close and personal with tea like this. Super cool!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Giving myself a break

I spent the weekend being incredibly self-indulgent. I wrote. And I wrote. And I wrote.

I did not do chores. I did not weed my garden. I did not work on my book cataloging project.

I wrote.

Which doesn't seem like a break, except that for me, writing tends to be something I do in snippets of stolen time, and I spend a lot of my other time wishing I could do it. And this weekend, I said, "phooey. Everything else can wait. I'm writing."

So I did. When I wanted to take a break from writing, I caught up on work, I watched TV, I played a few games. But mostly, I wrote.

Sunday evening, I had a mini crisis in character, because I thought that with all of my self-indulgence, I should really take the time off and have a Sabbath. But then I felt guilty, because even though some people would see writing as work, for me, it was my rest, my relaxation, and I'd been doing it all weekend. So I fired up my hyper drive, and got madly productive, catching up on projects that needed to be caught up on, and at 10pm on Sunday, I started looking for more things to do.

Which is when I smacked myself and said, "wait a second. I'm okay on all the have-tos. Yes, there are more, but there will always be more. They never end."

I could have gone to bed, but I wasn't really tired. Instead, I grabbed a book I've been wanting to read for a while now. Not a have-to book, not market research, not something for work. I usually want to read those too, but this time, I deliberately chose a book that I wanted to read only for the fact that I wanted to read it.

It was a great book, and today, I am feeling more refreshed than ever. Sometimes we feel guilty for ignoring the have-tos in favor of the want-tos, but my time of indulging my want-tos has made today's have-tos get done more quickly and more efficiently than ever.

So today, give yourself a break. Find a want-to and do it. Not because you have to, but because you want to. What's on your want-to list?

Friday, July 15, 2011

The almost not quite but still scary day

We went to Water World yesterday. There are no pictures, something you should all be thankful for. No one wants to see me in a bathing suit. Except maybe hubby.

Hubby's cousin invited us to go with her- she doesn't have small children anymore, but she loves riding water slides. So she called me up and asked to take us. And of course, I said yes. A decision I regretted the moment she started talking about the crazy rides she planned on taking us on. *gulp* I am not the adventurous sort. At least in terms of going on scary rides, heights, things that spin, and pretty much anything you'd find at an amusement park. Let's put it this way- "It's a small world" is my favorite ride- EVER.

However, God gifted us with two little daredevils. An important rite of passage in our family has been when our girls are tall enough to ride rollercoasters. Me, I'm clinging to the fact that my littlest is still not tall enough (barely) to ride. Because she's my excuse not to go. You know, "sorry, I couldn't possibly, I need to stay with the little one." However, she's inching taller and each year, is able to ride scarier and scarier rides.

So I find myself doing more daring things, riding scary(ish) rides, and trying to encourage my girls to be brave where I am not.

Back to the water park. The kids wanted to start off with a scary, wedgie-inducing ride that I knew would have me completely freaking out, but I'd have to do it or else the little one couldn't go. Fortunately, our cousin decided that she wanted to see how well the kids did on less scary rides because she'd never seen them swim before. PHEW! That bullet dodged.

We rode a number of rides, all the while planning on when we'd do the scary ones. They laughed at my love for the lazy river, but after lunch, went on anyway. Which really meant I owed it to them to do the scary ones, right? We passed one I'd rode at another park about a year ago. Another ride I'd prefer not to do, but have done multiple times because the little one needed me with her. So even though I HATE this slide, I'd resigned myself to doing it and all the other scary slides. The kids talked about riding it, but then they saw THE BIG ONE. I'm talking death-defying, scary, I don't know why they have this stupid slide, and why millions of people haven't DIED on it, but I'm sure I will be the first. So we headed toward it.

Which was when the skies got dark, the clouds rolled in, and little raindrops began falling. We decided to let the little one ride a kiddie slide to see if the storm would blow over. We discovered that the kiddie pool is thousands of degrees warmer than the other pools, which made me and the little one want to stay there because it had gotten a lot colder all of a sudden. Our cousin and older daughter were still plotting about riding THE BIG ONE.

And then we saw it. Lightning streaking across the sky, which caused the lifeguard whistles to shriek the blessed sound- everyone out of the water.

We went back to our covered area to wait out the storm. An hour later, the storm had not subsided, they closed the park, and we went home bearing rain checks for another day of fun.

Bullet dodged.

I had a great day, despite being nervous about all the scary rides to come, and I didn't have to go on a single ride I didn't want to. That said, we have in our possession passes to go on another day. And knowing my kids, I'm not sure I'm going to get so lucky next time.

How do you deal with having kids who need you to do things that scare you?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuesday Tea Time: Tea & Sympathy

I love tea! And in honor of my good friend Allie Pleiter, who has an amazing knitting blog called Destiknitions, featuring all of the cool knitting places she visits on her trips, I'm going to celebrate and highlight all the great tea shops I visit.

Tea & Sympathy
During my New York trip, I had an amazing time visiting all sorts of wonderful tea places. Today's tea place is a wonderful spot called Tea & Sympathy. Now, I'd be remiss if I didn't tell the story of how we actually found this little gem.
Danica, Fiona, Camy




I was with my dear friend, Camy Tang, another tea aficionado, and Fiona Harper, on our way to attend a friend's church. Yes, sometimes we go to church during writing conferences. Anyway, Camy had put the address into her iPhone wrong, so we ended up in the wrong part of town, and had to adjust. Our adjusted directions took us right past this tea shop and both Camy and I gushed over how cute it was. Since we were already late to church, it was tempting to stop, but I was determined to get to church because we had set that goal, and I do not miss goals. We made a vow to stop on the way back from church. And we did.

What was so great about going to this tea place is that Fiona is from England. She was so excited to be able to have a real taste of home- something she wasn't anticipating. I should add that she gave her thumbs up. :)

Note the bacon behind the sausage
As for me... all I have to say is how have I lived my life without eating the exquisite concoction known as bacon? Not the bacon we get here in the States, but real English bacon. I had a wonderful time in church, but man, oh man, the truly spiritual experience came from eating that bacon.

TEA!
The tea- I had the Earl Grey. Earl is one of the few boyfriends hubby approves of my having. In fact, he quite insists upon it. Earl is my standby whenever I don't know what to order or I'm overwhelmed, or I just need some comfort. In this case, I was absolutely parched and starving, and I didn't want to try anything new. Now, they say it's their special blend. Personally, I thought it was a little weak. I don't know if it was the blend or if they brew weaker tea. I like mine the way I like my men, burly, strong, and memorable. At least when I'm talking about my boyfriend the Earl. Camy and Fiona had the English Breakfast, and they enjoyed it.

Super tiny but cute!
That said, the food more than made up for it, and when I head back to the Big Apple, it's on my list of places to visit. I'll try a different blend of tea, because what I had wasn't bad, but I'm always eager to explore other varieties.

The decor was absolutely incredible, very quaint and tiny. Definitely a tight fit. But well worth it.


 
The outside of the church
Inside- photos don't do it justice
So if you're in the area, go! And, if you're there on a Sunday, visit Christ Church, which holds services only a few blocks away. They meet in a Seventh Day Adventist church, which is absolutely beautiful and has quite the history. I wish we could have spent more time just exploring the church building. Aside from the building, the teaching was wonderful, and the people were very friendly. Definitely the kind of church home I'd want if I lived in New York. Even if you don't live there, it's still a wonderful environment for visit.

I'm not sure which experience you'll find more spiritual, because both were quite excellent.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Peaceful patio day

I'm working, really I am... But I'm so thoroughly enjoying myself that it doesn't feel like work.

Since the arrival of spring, I've been eagerly anticipating working on my back patio. The problem is that it's been a total mess. Over the winter, if hubby didn't know where to put something and needed to keep it dry, he stashed it on the patio. Which led to a very big mess. For whatever reason, I don't work well in a messy environment. So I've looked longingly at the patio, given hubby lots of not-so-subtle hints about wanting it cleaned off, and... waited.

Last week, I was talking with my FIL about having a family barbecue, which he wanted to do, but with all of his travel and his house being under construction, couldn't host. And so... I volunteered. Which meant, of course, that I had the perfect excuse reason for getting hubby to clean off our patio.

And so... here I am. Yesterday's barbecue was a success, and I am sitting at our patio table, listening to the fountain (that had been broken, but hubby fixed during the great patio cleanup), and am now happily working. I'm not bothered by the roll of thunder in the distance because it's a covered patio and we weathered the storm nicely yesterday. In fact, I'm looking forward to the soothing sound of the rain as I work in the fresh air. I'm so inspired that I know I'm going to get a lot done today.

What about you? What kind of working conditions do you need to feel productive?

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Dude... where'd my month go

Well, okay, I've never actually seen the whole movie, "Dude, where's my car," but I seriously feel as close to that way as I can about June. So here's the quick recap, then we'll be happily into July, and life will be good, yes?

I got a really bad summer cold, during which time I was very high on cold medicine. I didn't want to be sick for RWA, so I took EVERYTHING. But that left me floundering to do much more than work and sleep. The great thing about working from home is that I'd work for an hour, nap for an hour, work for an hour, and so on. But that left me unable to do half of what I'd hoped to accomplish before my trip, and now that I'm home, I have soooo much to do.

I got well just in time to go to RWA. I was really nervous about flying with a cold, but fortunately, I woke up the morning of my flight feeling great, and I haven't felt sick since. Yay me!

RWA... well, that is way too much for this blog post, so once I am caught up elsewhere, I will tell you all about it!

How do you prioritize? Tips would be greatly appreciated!