These are a few of my favorite teas

(You have to ‘hear’ that as a line from The Sound of Music’s “My Favorite Things.)

I started this post at 5 p.m. as I drank a 21-ounce mug of 2-parts Simply Balanced* Unwind Tea and 1-part Traditional Medicinals Nettle tea.

It’s 8 p.m. and I’m trying again.

Some favorite teas

When I was in Djibouti the first time, I ordered a cup of tea. The waitress said, “Le Lipton?” and I thought, “Really, I’ve flown half way around the world to the Horn of Africa and the best you can do is Lipton?”

If you have no idea where Djibouti is and want to learn more about my African travels, this is a good start: Sunday in Djibouti

So I thought I might tell you about some of my favorite teas. First off, know I do not add milk, sugar or honey to my tea. Black. I don’t even enjoy sweetened iced tea.

When we were on our road trip to Georgia, we stopped at Charleston Tea Plantation in South Carolina where I got some first flush. So good! I make it in the French press. That has a robust kick.

Staples in my home include some form of strong black tea. Currently my favorite is Tazo vanilla macaroon. I have a box of Tazo organic earl grey in my desk at work. I keep chai on hand for my friend Nancy and the teenager. The Tazo Caramel Vanilla Chai is my favorite, but the Bigelow Vanilla Chai is almost as good but much cheaper.

I love, love, love herbal teas. But I hate chamomile. Yogi has a lavender honey stress relief tea that is a favorite. Tazo has a juniper mint honey that might be my new afternoon go to.

Simply Balanced Voice Tamer is a great one for when you want something that is fairly strong but decaffeinated. It is actually a rooibos tea, which, according to our friends at the Charleston Tea Plantation isn’t a tea at all but a random plant from South Africa.

If you want to read my post about South Carolina, check this out: Memories of South Carolina

The teenager likes orange tea, Tazo Sweet Orange. I don’t do fruity tea often, and when I do I prefer Simply Balanced Raspberry Hibiscus. Tazo’s Glazed Lemon Loaf is a delightful treat.

Nettle tea is supposed to be high in iron, but the Traditional Medicinals one does not discuss that on the box so I wonder if they process it out. Good to fight anemia.

And lastly, I want to touch on matcha. I got into matcha before it was cool. Before it hit the Starbucks menu. I love Starbucks iced matcha latte with skim milk, but I won’t pay their prices. I also discovered why theirs tastes so good. They sweeten the matcha blend.

I really like the Tazo Matcha Mate Grapefruit. It has just the right amount of puckery, clean grapefruit flavor to make it an awesome breakfast tea.

But I’m not conniving to taste Dunkin Donuts new matcha.

But for bedtime, nothing relaxes the body like a strong glass of Traditional Medicinal Nighty Night Valerian.

And to store my teas, I use pencil trays from the dollar store: one for herbal, one for caffeinated, and one for medicinal.

* Target has recently rebranded what was their Simply Balanced line as Good & Gather. Some of these teas may have been relaunched in the new line, but some may have been discontinued.

Wednesday

Yeah, Wednesday. That’s what I got. I’m thirsty, I’m tired. I’ve written so many grants my eyeballs hurt.

But I’m surrounded by birds and kittens.

Fog

Fog was the kitten trapped last. You can’t manhandle her like a tame cat, but she’s sure starting to like cuddles.

I also just ordered a pizza.

The teenager is with her dad. I cleaned bird cages as that is a Wednesday ritual as we prep for garbage day. Nala seems to enjoy her pellets I got her— I mixed ZuPreem nut flavored pellets and Kaytee fruit flavored pellets in with her parrot mix which had a lot of nuts and seeds in it.

The dishwasher is doing its thing on all the pet dishes.

And I think I ate fairly decently today and I’m surviving my work week so I will get that pizza. Buffalo chicken pizza. And a cold beer.

For breakfast I had a bagel, half with hummus and half with butter. And half a cup of my favorite coffee with half and half. Morning snack was a protein matcha coconut milk drink. Lunch was spaghetti squash, chick peas, tomato sauce, kale and feta. And for my afternoon pick me up I had about ten really good gummy bears.

Okay so note to self: more fruits and veggies tomorrow.

My plan now is to get the birds their water bowls, wait for my pizza, and hopefully work out a new budget. My tax refund came, but I owe more than that on my medical bills so it didn’t offer me as much breathing room as I hoped. I’m still in the hole, as they say.

But that’s where clever budgeting comes in. And I hope to share with you some of my budgeting tricks. Stay tuned!

The Art of Self-Soothing

I haven’t made it a secret that I’ve been struggling. Fitness, stress and work have been heavy on my mind.

And I don’t know about you—but when I’m stressed the habits I need most seem to be the ones that fall first.

First to go is cooking. I love to cook. I love to enjoy a meal. But as soon as I am stressed, I start eating processed foods and pizza, because I like those foods and they are easy. But they take a toll. Even though my weight is healthy, I can still feel the impact of those foods on my body, my stamina, my energy, and my moods.

I’ve worked really hard lately to balance stress eating with healthy eating. I actually brought a frozen dinner to work to eat for lunch earlier this week. I actually crept into my office to eat it in secret because I was embarrassed. I didn’t even enjoy it. I was just lazy.

So I went home and made this casserole:

Now this was a delight: spaghetti squash roasted by the teenager, then I mixed it with tomato sauce, kale, chick peas, feta and Italian cheese blend. I sprinkled in some nutritional yeast for extra vitamins.

Speaking of vitamins, when I’m stressed I stop taking mine. I don’t eat as much at meals when stressed so I don’t have a full enough stomach to take my vitamins. On top of that, then I end up snacking and binge eating chips or Doritos.

Another bad habit when I’m stressed is over-cleaning. In a desperate attempt to control something in my environment, I clean until I exhaust and/or hurt myself.

And if you see me skip a blog entry, that could also signify I’m tapped out.

So how can I self-soothe?

  • Text friends and make arrangements to go out. Today I texted my husband and asked if he could visit me at lunch time. I cried and told him my fears and my struggles. Despite the fact that I asked him to move out in June, and we’ve lived apart with minimal contact for eight months, he hugged me and held me and that made my cry more. I think that was the best hug he ever gave me. He made me feel protected. So I thank him for that.
  • Play with the kittens, cuddle with Nala (my Goffins cockatoo), manhandle one of my older cats or listen to the budgies sing.
  • Watch stand-up comedy. I love stand-up.
  • Shave and moisturize. Something about soft, smooth skin is reassuring.
  • If I’m not going to the gym, I at least need to do physical therapy exercises for my S1 joint in my back and my balance.
  • Write more.
  • Does budgeting count? I hope to do a blog entry on budgeting. I don’t mean paying bills, I mean planning the future use of anticipated income. It also makes me feel in control.
  • Occasionally splurge on a fancy coffee or a treat. But not often enough to qualify as stress eating.

Okay, I’ve shared what I had to share. I’m going to watch some Gordon Ramsay now. Another relaxation technique. Eventually I want to blog about his different shows. He is very prolific.

Nala leads a jail break

Nala, my four-year-old Goffins Cockatoo, has had a free range day. She hasn’t plucked in more than a week so that is very exciting.

Her nails have gotten dreadfully long and my neck is now covered with scratches from her sitting on my shoulder.

Yesterday I went to Petco and I bought nail clippers for her. This morning I trimmed most of her nails all by myself. So she can sit on my shoulder again without drawing blood.

(That little stinker has taken to yelling and getting me out of bed in the morning, see the video here: “GET UP!”)

I went about my chores, leaving her sitting on her cage in my bedroom. I checked on her periodically and hung out in my room between other tasks.

My neighbor invited me for coffee and then we decided to go to Target. Since Nala can’t fly, I thought it would be better to leave her out then run into my room just to shove her into her cage and leave.

We were gone about an hour. I came back to my room and she was sitting there like an angel. I reached for her and she stepped up. And at that moment, several budgies swooped my head.

They were in their cage when I left.

The door was closed and it wasn’t open.

How the heck did my budgies get out of the cage?

I looked at Nala as she stood on my wrist.

I gazed to the cage again.

The side food door on the budgie cage was open. The side closest to Nala’s cage. Several items from on top of the budgie cage were on the floor.

That big strong beak had to figure out how to get that door open.

The budgies couldn’t possibly stage a jail break on their own.

Tartuffe at DeSales

Last night, I attended the audio-described performance of Tartuffe at DeSales University last night. The teenager and my blind friend, Nancy, accompanied me.

Act I Productions always does a fantastic job and at this point, I know the staff almost as well as Nancy. (I wrote more about this yesterday, Tartuffe tonight.)

I was technically an English Literature and Language major in college for my first bachelors degree, but probably three-quarters of my degree was actually theatre classes as “Doc” Jack Ramsey was my favorite professor and I was active in the theatre company. I was also technically a French minor, but I was only one class shy of a double major. About a decade after I graduated, I did take an additional French class at my alma mater (Moravian College) and several more at Lafayette College when I earned my second bachelors in International Affairs.

That’s a long-winded way to say I’m a huge nerd who has studied Moliere.

DeSales University has a great theatre department offering majors in various forms of performing arts, so their shows are always top notch.

They offer one performance of every major production as an audio described show for the visually impaired. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, this is a great way to include everyone in theatre.

I also provided my companions with a mini-lesson in farce versus comedy, where farce is quicker paced, has more characters entering and exit, and includes more physical humor than mere comedy.

Additionally we discussed Moliere and 17th Century Drama in general. This particular play is almost 400-years-old. It tackles heavy themes, philosophizing about religion and God (or perhaps religion versus pure spiritual intentions), gullibility, and how to change someone’s mind when they can’t see the truth.

Moliere is only slightly more modern than Shakespeare and, and this is totally my opinion, I find the French drama more accessible, funnier and more sexually-charged than Shakespeare’s canon.

The basic premise, and one that angered the Roman Catholic Church, is that a wealthy man invites a beggar into his home. The beggar, Tartuffe, has demonstrated piety that has impressed the master of the house. Tartuffe then tries to win over the master’s goods and family, and almost succeeds. The family would have been left in ruins, if not for a convenient intervention of the king, which of course, was Moliere’s way of keeping in the good graces of the crown.

The production at DeSales included a brilliant set, the paint hues of the set walls shifted colors based at the lighting. They created the illusion of a huge estate house on a small stage with an amazing display of perspective. They designed a set with six doors, about twelve stairs and three levels in a comparatively small space.

I only noticed maybe two line mix-ups. Acting was solid. I’m starting to recognize some of the actors. I think the daughter and the stepmother might have been my favorite.

I thoroughly liked the translation. It maintained much of the original rhyme without sounding forced in English. And some of the word choice was very rich. I very much enjoyed the vocabulary.

The costumes deliberately code the characters. The daughter and her suitor, as young and naive lovers, wear pink and pale blue. The stepmother wears an elaborate gown of pale blue and a light turquoise. The father wears various shades of blue and purple, but the hot-headed son wears vivid orange.

The religious themes, and the theme of being suckered in and acting stupid, still hold true today. I feel like the American political climate also seems like a “Tartuffe” story.

To purchase tickets: DeSales Calendar: Tartuffe. Show runs next weekend as well.

Tartuffe tonight

Lots of Sunshine

I’m very excited about going to see Tartuffe at DeSales University tonight. They have a strong college theatre program. They offer a program for visually and hearing impaired theatre-goers so my teenager and I attend with our blind friend, Nancy.

The program is a great way to expand my daughter’s horizons as they select great plays and adapt the presentation for other-abled patrons.

For the blind attendees, the cast comes out to introduce themselves. The staff pass out props and discuss how the stage is set.

As someone with a theatre background, it’s an exciting way to connect the experience of the viewer with the technical and magical side of how theatre works.

Some of the shows we’ve seen there:

  • Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
  • Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard
  • Tennessee William’s The Glass Menagerie
  • Evita

This morning, the teenager is with her dad and I’m doing some household chores. I took down my bedroom curtains and washed the windows. In a few minutes, I’ll be retrieving the curtains from the laundry and hanging them up to dry.

Today’s big adventure might be trimming Nala’s nails.

Grateful

This week has been awful but beautiful.

When things get harder, I have to see the magic in the world.

A coworker brought muffins and French butter from Wegmans.

Another coworker came over for a grapefruit margarita.

My daughter and I didn’t see eye-to-eye, but I know she knows I love her and I’m proud of her.

The kittens…

Fog and Mist(ofelees)

And Nala has played with all her toys, she hasn’t plucked recently and went to sleep without someone in the room with her.

Thank you to everyone who supports me.