stoopJanuarywoodsJanuarydogsJanuary20WaysJanuarymushroomsJanuarybranchesJanuaryrosesJanuaryP1060977A local car dealer has what they call “Vanuary”–when they have a, supposedly, big van sale in January.  I think that’s clever.  I wish I had an old VW bus; then I’d call every month Vanuary.  But I don’t.  Hey, my space-bar is sticking.  Wonder if I dropped oatmeal on it this morning.

Do I need to tell you at this point that things are a bit dull round here?

Things are a bit dull round…what was I saying?

It’s been snowing an unfair amount, I think, for East Tennesseans who didn’t sign up for this much snow.

Before Christmas I saw a drawing book at Jo-Ann’s that I really liked the looks of.  My daughter was with me.  She stood there all boooooooooored as I thumbed through it, and was all seriously? with her expression when I fawned over it.  I didn’t get it.

So my daughter got it as a Christmas gift from my dad and mom.  When I saw her unwrap it I was like, “No way!  I want that book!”

My mom said she just got it because she told all her grandkids to write down what they wanted the most for Christmas, and my daughter wrote down that book.

She wrote it down because she knew I wanted it, and if she got it, it would be like she was getting it for me.  My daughter is pretty sweet like that, and pretty frustrating like that.  She played her Christmas card for me!

So naturally I’m drawing things from it every day.  Who will be the lucky duck who gets a mushroom valentine?  Hmmm.

I have exactly a week now to paint tree branches for a church Valentine’s Day dinner.  For centerpieces.  I’m going to dangle wee hearts from them.  It looked good on Pinterest.  Famous.  Last.  Words.

STINKING       SPACE-BAR       YOU     WILL            SUBMIT

Oh, and I made Loch Ness Monster plushies, as per this lovely pattern.  Nessie and Nesette they’re called.  I’m giving them to my 3-year old niece.  (Also made one for my 14 yr old son.  Because he asked me for one.  I find this hilarious.)  If my niece doesn’t like them, then I’m going to instruct my sister to play with them herself.  Do some role-playing or something.  I mean, I’m not giving away LOCH NESS MONSTERS and them not be played with, cause that’s just wrong.



The Best Tea (According to Me)

For many years of my life I thought that tea was something you did to your water to make it taste bad.  Now I drink tea every day, have a bread box stuffed with different teas on my counter, and feel compelled to write about tea.  Because good tea is awesome.

The Best Teas

We had the standard wee flat tea bags at home when I was a kid, and occasionally one of my parents would pour hot water over one of them and then ingest the liquid.  And most restaurants stocked those same flat tea bags, and occasionally I’d be with someone who would order some hot tea and they’d ingest it.  I tried it; it was nasty.  I decided I didn’t like hot tea.

Then several years ago a friend of mine got me a solitary white tea cup and a tin of Harney & Sons Palace Gardens Chamomile, and my life changed forever.  I made myself a cup of tea, because it was my duty, because I loved my friend, and I took a cautious sip, and, well, it was just wonderful.  It was divine.  It tasted fresh and complex and kind of sweet and it made my throat feel good and my stomach feel settled.

I decided I ought to give tea in general another shot.  That was about seven years ago, I guess?  Since then I’ve been on a little journey to seek out the best-tasting teas, and although there are so many left to try (yay!!!)–I’ve certainly found some keepers.  I’d like to share with you my favorites, in hopes that you’ll try them and they’ll bring you joy.

As I’ve mentioned before, Harney & Sons Palace Gardens Chamomile is wonderful, and it is still my absolute favorite chamomile.  It truly has made every other chamomile I’ve ever tried taste like alfalfa.  I love it just plain, or with the slightest bit of local honey when I’m sick.  Another great herbal tea is Yogi’s Kava Stress Relief.  It has a wonderful taste (carob, sarsaparilla, Kava root, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom…) and scent.  I love to drink this about an hour before bed, as the Kava truly does relax me and kind of bring me down a notch when I’m feeling anxious or overly energetic.  A lot of local grocery stores stock this.

In the mornings, however, I reach for one of three different caffeinated teas: PG tips (along with, like, half the world–it’s just the best go-to!), Upton Tea Import’s China Lychee (if you’re unacquainted with lychee, it’s an unusual sweet fruit, that, I think, tastes kind of grapefruit-ey), and New Mexico Tea Company’s Cream Earl Grey (A lot of bang for your buck here, too!  Bergamot, vanilla…yum!)

I have to say, though, if I had unlimited funds, I’d probably drink Harney & Sons Tower of London nearly every morning and afternoon.  It’s that good.  But I really can’t keep it in my house, because I tell myself I’ll just pull it out for special occasions, but then I start making up special occasions, like Tuesdays, and, well, it just doesn’t work.

My husband and I have recently discovered Butiki Tea’s guayusa offerings, too, for a great caffeinated cup.  Guayusa?  Here’s what Butiki says about it:

Organic Guayusa is sourced from holly trees in Ecuador. Containing approximately 90mg of caffeine per cup, guayusa is more caffeinated than tea and Yerba Mate, yet it will not cause jitters or a caffeine crash. This plant also contains more antioxidants than most tea. Guayusa is sourced from local indigenous family farms and is sustainable. Brewed, guayusa is smooth with a sweet earthy molasses flavor.

I really like Butiki’s The Killer’s Vanilla, and my husband, who is a hard sell for tea over coffee, and who likes hot and spicy stuff, loves their Winter Fire (cinnamon, chiles, cayenne…)

And finally, for a superb dessert tea, I prefer Zhi Tea’s Sweet Desert Delight.  It’s a heavenly concoction of rooibus, coconut, cacao, anise, cinnamon, safflower, and stevia.  Perfection.  I’ve been trying to incorporate more coconut oil into my diet, and I love making a cup of this tea and sneaking in a teaspoon or so of oil.  The coconut flavors complement each other wonderfully, the smell is addictive, and it’s healthy.

So, there’s my little tea roundup.  Would love to hear what your favorite teas are.  I’d like to try some new ones this year.  I’d love to find a superb strawberry-flavored tea.

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A few weeks ago I sat in front of my Christmas tree in the late afternoon hours and talked to my brother on the phone.  He’s in cold Illinois.  I’m in not quite as cold Tennessee. I missed him.  Another holiday apart.  Another day not seeing each others’ kids grow and experience joy.


Christmas has been packed up. 

Now it’s just cold.


Blinds are at half-mast, or up.  We choose heat over light.  I don’t like that choice.


In the gray early hours my husband walked over the crest of this foothill where we live.  So cold, the dogs stayed behind–no walk was worth it.  The road was slick and dangerous and he came back inside and came back to bed and I curled into his back.  I was praying he wouldn’t attempt the drive.

We slept in. 


In hunkering down, trying to not feel as though I am weighted, being pressed down, but rather just still and waiting and growing and ready for warmer days.

My friend has primroses that will be up in a matter of weeks.  Oh, how I love her primroses! I’ve told her such, but she doesn’t understand completely how much I love moving up her front walk and seeing those gorgeous little blooms and how hopeful they make me.  Every year. 

If I had primroses they’d die, no doubt.