Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade

I used to be adamant about my distaste for Romance novels. I knew them as the Harlequin Romance novels my mom used to devour alongside Junior Mints on a quiet Sunday afternoon or the bodice rippers one of my friends used to have her nose buried in during high school lunches. I thought they were an inferior literary genre– simple, formulaic, and full of smut, which I did not want to read; in hindsight, I think that perspective was deeply rooted in internalized misogyny. Then a few years back, I read the Flat Share by Beth O’Leary, and my appreciation for Romance literature started to blossom. I’m still learning my preferences when it comes to the genre, so my experience is hit and miss, and unfortunately, my most recent venture into the genre with Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade was a big miss.

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Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick

Like many folks, or at least like the folks in my liberal echo chamber of the internet, I spent a fair amount of 2020 in lockdown unlearning everything I was taught in U.S. History class. Then I was, at some point, struck with the desire to take a somewhat-chronological deep dive into U.S. History and read nonfiction books from an array of perspectives. So, I started my journey with Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick. It’s a nonfiction novel that explores the national myth of the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock and the first Thanksgiving, the relationship between Native Americans and English colonists that degraded over time, and inevitably the deadly wars such as the Pequot War and King Philip’s War.

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Finding Balance in a Cup of Phoenix Oolong from DAVIDsTEA

Somehow, 2021 has been a more challenging year than 2020. I feel guilty for saying that for obvious reasons, but 2021 has left me feeling languished and stretched too thin (“like butter scraped over too much bread” as Bilbo Baggins might say). However, amid Oliver’s recent recess from school, I finally found relief. Granted, I cried mercy two days into the workweek and finally gave myself permission to take time off instead of trying to work with a toddler at home. But, now here I am, finding peace in a cup of Phoenix Oolong from DAVIDsTEA.

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The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

Ever since I read My Best Friend’s Exorcism a few years back, Grady Hendrix has topped a very short list of Authors Whose Books I Instantly Buy Hardcover Copies of Upon Their Release, While Simultaneously Reading Their Backlist Books. The list of authors is shorter than the title… So, when the Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires was released, I told multiple people I wanted it for Christmas. It was the only thing I asked for, last year. Thankfully at least one person listened to me, and the book didn’t disappoint!

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Five March Favorites

I always seem to start these posts by writing something along the lines of, “I can’t believe [insert month here] is already over. How did another one slip through my fingers?” But alas…here I am…wondering how another month flew by. This is absolutely a reflection of how present I am each day. I’m always looking forward– forward to better weather, forward to when we can feel safe in public again, forward to when my tea budget resets again… Perhaps April should be an exercise in intention and being present. Until then, let’s take a look back at some of my March Favorites.

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Blooming Tea on an Almost-Spring Day

One of my unofficial New Year’s Resolutions was to enjoy at least one cup of tea outdoors each day. So far, I’ve neglected this practice, but in my defense, I always forget how bitter cold February can be in Michigan. I’m not sure any amount of cabin fever can drive me outdoors in ten-degree weather just for a ten-minute cup of tea. But, March is here now. The sun is shining, the snow is melting, the ground is thawing, and warmer temperatures are finally luring me outdoors again. As springtime creeps in again, I find myself reaching for blooming teas, and most recently I enjoyed the Black Gold Blooming Tea from California Tea House.

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Sampling Sweet Treats from Dessert by Deb

Dessert by Deb blends have been on my wishlist since the beginning of 2020, but steep shipping costs to the US have usually deterred me from placing an order. The temptation is becoming harder to resist though, especially after Deb recently released her Winter Brunch collection featuring blends like Banana French Toast, Cereal Milk, Orange Cinnamon Rolls, and Salted Caramel Pancake. Plus, she added a few pieces of teaware to her site, including the most charming Lemon Yellow Teacup that I cannot stop looking at with heart-eyes. In the meantime, I’ve been sipping some samples so graciously sent to me from tea friend, @briannadrinkstea.

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Word of Intent: Joy

The last memory I have of 2020 is Oliver kicking me in the back as he tried to keep himself from falling asleep. I don’t know who dozed off first– him or me– but when I woke up, it was 2:30 AM in 2021. I missed the opportunity to say “so long, sucker!” to 2020 and usher in the New Year with a strange sense of optimism.

Normally, I have a long list of resolutions that I post this time of year, and ultimately all are abandoned by the end of January, so this year I decided to forego that and instead adopt a word of intent. I tried to do this last year, but ironically, the word I chose for 2020 was “explore”.

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Five November Favorites

Did November actually happen? I’m not entirely convinced it did. But, that sort of happens at the end of the year, doesn’t it? February drags on for 100 weeks, but October, November, and December slip by as we scramble to welcome the holidays. I actually struggled to come up with this month’s list of five favorites. That’s not to say November was a crummy month; I just can’t seem to recall much happening! After digging around in my memories, I came up with these Five November Favorites.

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This is Not a Glamorous Post About Tea or Motherhood

I may have romanticized my gongfucha sessions– written about how it’s a meditative practice that lets me decompress while exploring tea more intimately. And some days, my gongfucha sessions are exactly that. But, most days it is just a tea brewing method no different than brewing tea western-style with a cup infuser. Most days, it just keeps my hands busy and my mind focused on work when I would rather be lounging on the couch, playing video games. Some days, it is a fleeting refuge between my toddler’s tantrums. On days like that, I like to steep familiar teas, like the Yunnan Golden Buds (Dian Hong) from California Tea House, which was most recently sipped while hiding beside the refrigerator and out of my toddler’s line of vision. (Surely I’m not the only mother that does this? On second thought…don’t answer that).

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