Category Archives: Life of a Tea Drinker

Life of a Tea Drinker, Chapter VIX

Chapter, the Ninth

In which the author relishes the change in season and body, the moisture in the air and her constant need for hydration…

It’s the first day of Autumn. What a wonderful season. Jackets, socks, cardigans, tummy panels. OK, that last one is not an annual addition to my Fall fashion. I have to say, the extra layer of support that sweated me over the summer is now a welcome shield between my stretched belly skin and the chill of the morning air.

I walked out the door and down the front steps into a cloud this morning. A soft fog had settled on the city. The early chill was a soothing contrast to my personal space heater strapped to my front. No, I can’t bend in the middle. Yes, my toes are no longer visible from a standing position. (I’m a little bigger than the last photo shared here.) But I know I won’t freeze in the coming months. Thanks, Oliver.

The extra moisture today is only helping my skin. I’ve been trying to moisturize myself into the prevention of stretch marks. So far, so good. I think the power of positive thinking is also on my side. (Hydration applies inside and out. Even though I’m looking forward to a hot cuppa, I can’t get enough water today!)

Autumn is a great time for tea drinkers. We’ve been guzzling iced tea all summer (sorry to offend, Republic of Tea, but sometimes “sip by sip” just doesn’t compare to thirst-quenching “gulp by gulp”). Now we’re ready for our spiced hot tea, our smoky toasted tea, our classic hot black varieties. We dig in the back of the pantry shelf for those beloved flavors that tingled our senses last year. It is the season of tea!

Although I’m at work today, I look forward to a steaming cup of English Breakfast to kick off the new season. Maybe tonight will reveal the first cinnamon-inspired cup of Autumn. So many endless possiblities, so much to celebrate.

Is there any better way to welcome autumn while at work?

Have a favorite Fall tea? Share in the comments!

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Life of a Tea Drinker, Chapter VIII

Chapter the Eighth

In which the author takes time to reflect on the busyness of life, the blessings of life, and the preoccupations of life…

If you follow this blog, you may have noticed the lack of tea reviews lately. The truth is I haven’t been drinking a lot of tea. (Gasp!)

Honestly, most of my days are spent at work, driving to and from work, going to the grocery store (300 extra calories/day translates to extra grocery runs), carrying grocery bags up our unfortunate flight of concrete steps out front, plopping myself down in front of the tube, spending time with my husband, researching baby registry lists, practicing my mothering instincts on the cat (giving him milk from my hand at breakfast–so spoiled), etc., etc.

6 months!

I have been drinking a LOT of water and lemonade. Water is being guzzled per my doctor’s instructions. My thirst has increased, so that helps me maintain my fluid intake. I’ve also noticed that certain things I’ve never cared for before have become completely delicious to me during pregnancy. Lemonade is one of these things.

If we’re eating out, I’ll order lemonade. If we’re staying in, I’ll buy lemonade at the store. When we were in Portland this Spring, we went to an outdoor market and tried the best orange lemonade I’ve ever had. Ever since then, Mike and I have been trying to recreate this delicacy with various mixtures of orange juice and lemonade. It never tasted like our rare find from the Portland market. Oh well. (If you have a nice orange lemonade recipe, please share it in the comments.)

Even though I’ve been telling myself not to indulge in expensive brands that ultimately increase the expectations of my standard of living, I am in love with Oberweis’ lemonade. At first, I thought this was an expensive, on-a-whim purchase that required a $1.50 deposit for the glass bottle. Now, on my second bottle, the extra charge has zeroed out and the price for good lemonade is more reasonable. Will I have the inclination (or the funds) to keep up this habit after Oliver is born? Maybe not. But right now, it’s deliciously fun.

There’s also the added environmental advantage of a glass, reusable bottle. It feels good to return the bottle and take home a “new” one that’s a little worn from use.

I’ve been tempted to sign up for their dairy delivery service (how amazing would that be!), but at $3 extra charge for delivery, I might as well drive to our very conveniently located grocery store for my milk and future (cheap) lemonade purchases with baby in tow.

Speaking of which, Mike and I recently tried on different types of baby carriers at a local store. And by “tried on” I mean fashion show. It was hilarious. I was surprised by how not silly Mike looked in these baby carriers. “Baby wearing” agrees with him.

Back to more focused ramblings…

When I’m not worrying about stuff that needs to get done, I’m too busy worrying about myself to write a tea review. Back pain has been creeping into this whole wonderful pregnancy experience. It hasn’t been too bad yet. Usually I just get a little pain in the evenings, so I take Tylenol and turn on the heating pad. This seems to help. However, some days (dark days), the pain starts early. Sunday, I started feeling back pain as soon as we got to church. This throws off the mood of the entire day. (Feel free to leave any back pain remedies in the comments as well.)

When days like this hit, it’s definitely important to remember that I have an excellent husband who is trying very hard to take care of his pregnant, sometimes irrational, wife. We had a lazy Saturday (by lazy I mean he slept in, I lounged around, and he ended up doing yard work outside–my increasing lack of bending ability and the uncomfortable heat kept me inside). It was the follow-up to a date night Friday, in which we looked around for a restaurant we hadn’t been to since we were dating, but couldn’t remember the name. When we found it, we realized the food wasn’t that great and the bill was expensive, but it was fun to get out, regardless. Spending time with my husband makes me appreciate the struggles of our ever-changing life for what they are: opportunities to grow our marriage, and preparation for this bundle of joy I can’t wait to meet.

A fun tidbit I’ve noticed in Mike through the pregnancy so far: My extra calories is throwing him off. He recently informed me that he usually eats about 20% more than I do, but now that I’m eating for two, an extra 20% on top of that is overeating for him. It could be the calorie confusion, or it could be seeing his wife blow up like a balloon, but he’s decided he needs to cut back and exercise more. I’m right there with him on that one! I even ordered a pregnancy workout video with my Amazon points. Maybe I’ll blog about this later…

I planned to post an iced tea blind taste test with several volunteers, perfect for summer. I also have some nice herbal tea on the shelf that I haven’t had a chance to blog about. With September upon us, hopefully you’ll see one or both of those in the coming weeks, but don’t hold your breath. As my circumference expands, I find myself more inclined to dream up blog posts than actually write them.

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Life of a Tea Drinker, Chapter VII

Chapter the Seventh
*Special Edition*

Image from babytidings.com

We had an ultrasound on Friday. (When I say we, I mean Mike and I. I’m not referring to me and the baby in the plural yet.) After they asked us 3 different times if we really wanted to know the sex, and after waiting two-thirds of the way through the ultrasound (measurements, etc.), they finally told us “It’s definitely a baby boy!”

We are both thrilled at the news. Mike is especially thrilled because he’s the one who was hoping for a boy. I would have been fine with either, though I had an inkling it was a boy.

My morning started off with all kinds of silly superstition. The underwear on top was blue, the next one was pink. What did that mean? Should I have shared my suspicions that it was a boy with Mike? Would it have made a difference? Seriously spinning myself in circles until my 1:30 appointment.

What now? A name. I had been making lists (and weeding out the ones that would really be better as future pet names–is this weird??). We had narrowed down the list further to indicate our favorites. There was really one girl name and one boy name that we had settled on. The night before, I asked Mike if we were ready to unveil the name after we found out. It was strange because the boy name was all ready, first and middle chosen and confirmed. The girl name had yet to receive a middle name we both agreed on. Another sign? (Seriously, I was taking the vibes too far.)

We chose the name Oliver Michael. His middle name is for his dad, and we both just really like the first name, and we figured it’s not as common as Michael. (We moved past Mike’s first choice a few months ago, which was Michael Ray Walker III. Sorry honey. I just don’t like duplicate names.)

I would have scanned and posted a new ultrasound picture, but they were so much better last time. Of course, they’re hanging on the fridge, but Oliver kept moving his arm in front of his face in the cool 3D shots. And I realize the “boy shot” would have been a little inappropriate for the World Wide Web.

That’s our news. Stay tuned as we decide on nursery decorations, registry options, and more!

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Life of a Tea Drinker, Chapter VI

Chapter, the Sixth

In which the author grieves for her senses and explores the woes of caffeine withdrawal…

I didn’t think I’d really miss caffeine that much. I wasn’t a coffee drinker (I’ve heard this is a nightmare withdrawal for pregnant women in love with these beans). I drank enough herbal tea that I knew I’d still drink tea. Decaf black tea was starting to grow on me.

Let me give you a picture of how my day has progressed.

I wake up, get ready for work, run some laundry upstairs, iron Mike’s shirt, eat breakfast, feed Words, pack a lunch, and run out the door. Everything’s fine and dandy, I don’t think twice about it when I’m bombarded with e-mails about changes and the need for details, the work stacking up on my desk, the meetings. Then 3:00 rolls around. Uh oh. CRASH! My eyes are heavy. I find myself dozing, red pen mid-air.  To prevent an alcohol rubbing, ink removal ceremony later this evening (already went through that a few weeks ago), I run to the break room to make myself a cup of decaf black tea.

Suddenly, decaf is a poor man’s Assam. Adding sugar is like adding a tiny drop of syrup to a dry stack of pancakes. Has anyone noticed how unsatisfying decaf black tea is when you’re tasting the caffeinated version in your imagination? There is actually a taste difference. Nothing satisfies!

Powdered caffeine. Looks a lot like an illegal substance, doesn't it? Appropriately so. (Image from en.wikipedia.org)

I’ve heard that caffeine in small doses is fine for the average pregnant woman. Coffee has a lot, but tea isn’t bad. Chocolate is minimal in moderate (what’s that?) doses. The people who spout this information obviously have no idea how much caffeine I drank in a day, pre-pregnancy. And even if I had one cup, it would be a gateway cup. I would have to have more. Withdrawal would start all over again with pangs and cravings. Am I being too dramatic? I’ve been told I have the urge to overdramatize in my gestational state. (Deal with it.)

Besides, if I use up my caffeine quota on black tea, do you really want to be the one to stand between me and my chocolate fix later? I also heard that one of the pharmacists at my company was known to chug 5 sodas (pop, Coke–for those with dialects, read a book) every day while she was pregnant. It was one of those high-caffeine brands. I’m sorry, but that can’t be right. I know several doctors (and pharmacists) who pour out their knowledge of nutrition, and then cram Twinkies down their throats after clinical hours. No offense to nutritionists and doctors who at least try.

So I’ve decided that a nap after work (even if dinner is waiting) is necessary for my sanity, the health of those around me, and the well-being of the world, in that order.

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Life of a Tea Drinker, Chapter V

Chapter, the Fifth
*Special Edition*

In which the author divulges her secret and makes excuses for her lack of blog material…

If there are any readers out there, you may or may not have been disappointed by my recent lapse in posting. (Can I call a 3-month gap a lapse?) OK, it’s more of a hiatus.

I’m pregnant!

Now you know the reason I’ve been cutting back on caffeine and not feeling up to writing new blog posts. Whether you deem this a good enough reason for a hiatus or decide to stop following a blog author this flaky is entirely up to you. However, if you’d like to continue on this tea journey with me, I’d love to start blogging again!

I’m due December 13th, so I’m offically in my second trimester.

I don't care what your baby looks like, this is the cutest profile I've ever seen!

When we discovered our pregnancy, Mike and I were already planning our trip to the Oregon coast, so we decided to keep our reservations, despite the nausea. We considered it an early babymoon.

Oregon is beautiful, and hotels love their Stash tea. Our hotel in Portland (not technically on the coast, that was in the days following) had complimentary continental breakfasts and afternoon tea and cookies. I knew this was the place for me.

I tried to cut out as much caffeine as possible during my first trimester, just to be safe, so I stuck to herbal teas during the trip. Stash, of course, has some delightful herbals, including Lemon Ginger, Peppermint, Orange Spice, and Wild Raspberry. Stash is famous for their variety packs, so check them out if you’re interested in a flavor extravaganza!

We spent the rest of our trip exploring the Oregon coast, spending a few nights each in Newport and Cannon Beach. Our stay in Newport took us to the Sylvia Beach Hotel (seriously recommended for book lovers!), which offered Stash tea at breakfast every morning as well.

Overall, I felt really good during our trip, so I’m thankful I didn’t spend the whole time curled up with nausea. The excercise was also helpful. We walked everywhere in Portland, so it was a nice change from driving half an hour to and from work every morning, as per our usual St. Louis routine.

So I’m back in the blogosphere and I have some great teas lined up: summer iced tea, an iced tea blind tasting test, hot tea that’s good for the tummy, and some great decaf. Look for my next review soon, and keep brewing!

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Life of a Tea Drinker, Chapter IV

Chapter, the Fourth

In which the author explores the myriad of hobbies she will not be participating in this summer, after desire has fizzled and laziness takes over…

Remember that herb and potato garden I planned to cultivate? Get real. My loving husband bought me a seed starter kit and herb seeds for my birthday years ago and I have yet to start them. He knew I wanted an herb garden. I knew I wanted an herb garden. Alas, my fear of failure prevents me from doing something productive.

A few years ago, I entertained the idea of going back to school to get a second degree in biology, with the hope that this would lead me to new career in marine life studies. As per usual, the best laid plans…

Why do people never finish that? It’s from a Robert Burns poem, which  is often mistakenly credited to Steinbeck in his novel Of Mice and Men. Is it because the following words are Scottish and people don’t want to mispronounce them? Because really, they just sound like they’re trailing off and don’t care enough to finish their statement that is often, ironically, meant to provoke thoughtfulness and motivation. Here’s what should be said, as Burns wrote it in “To a Mouse”: The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley. One could even quote an English translation: Go often askew. Either would be fine, but please, finish it (even if paraphrasing).

Robert Burns (image from poets.org)

It isn’t often that one can take a Robert Burns tangent, but back to the blog (To the Blog!).

The more I thought about this plan to become a marine biologist, the more I feared failure. It had been a while since I had taken college classes. Did I remember anything? How well did I really do in biology? What kind of time committment would it take to get such a degree and a subsequent career? These are the kinds of things that make hobbies out of old dreams and mere thoughts out of old hobbies.

With the help of my parents (my husband Mike was studying for an exam, if I remember correctly), I dug a flower bed in the front of our house. I filled it with flowers that bloomed beautifully and doubled in size the rest of the season (it’s an old house with very mature soil). Then fall came, and winter, and spring again. The annuals that once graced our soil were dead and gone. The perennials were coming back, but they didn’t adequately fill the space alloted in the flower bed.

It’s been 3 years.

So did I start my seeds for my herb garden in the backyard? No. Did I go out and buy potato seeds and mark off a place for them by the patio? No. Next year? Let’s just keep telling ourselves that.

Beading. I loved beading. I would make all kinds of jewelry for my friends and family (whether they wanted it or liked it is another matter). There were a few pieces that I was proud of (now in my mom’s collection), but for some reason I stopped. I got as far as acquiring the necessary tools and materials for metal working, but it never came to fruition. Is it because I don’t think I’ll be any good at metal jewelry? What do you think?

Sometimes I leave work and think, “I’m going to go home and read more on that novel.” Or “I’m going to look up something in my ocean reference books.” What actually happens is I push open the door and my eyes land on the TV (why do we keep it in the front room?). Wouldn’t it be nice to just take a load off for a while and watch some tube? Maybe some snacks to tide me over until dinner? What starts out as a half hour of transition from work to home turns into hours of vegging and no reading.

I’d like someone else to plant me an herb garden. I’m so jealous when Giada pulls out a fresh bundle of basil she’s harvested from her abundant garden in Southern California. I want to cook with my own fresh herbs! Someone build me an herb garden–and throw in some potatoes!

Basil (image from viable-herbal.com)

Maybe I’m a dreamer–a designer–not a doer. I can dream it up, but I can’t dish it out. Just ask Mike how motivated I was to get off the couch and help with the kitchen rehab I was so excited about. Or my novel that’s gathering dust because I’m not working on it. I have amazing, entertaining plot ideas, but I want someone else to write it. What if I can’t get my ideas out there in a clear and engaging manner? What if I ruin the story? Fear is a de-motivator.

Reader, wherever you are, I wish you accomplished goals and realized dreams.

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Life of a Tea Drinker, Chapter III

Chapter, the Third

In which the author, being of sound mind, explores the monotony of waiting for eaglets to hatch, and the joy of watching a newborn eaglet stumble around its nest…

I started my morning by sleeping in, waking up to the noises of my neighbor moving everything he had in his backyard. I went downstairs in search of a glass of OJ and a little light reading.

Breakfast with Tina

Were you expecting the New York Times? Please. Who doesn’t love this photo of Tina Fey. I became a fan of InStyle in college when I needed something light and a little superficial to break up my steady influx of Charles Dickens and Samuel Johnson. I hadn’t bought an issue in years, but the featured Tina Fey and Spring wardrobe tips forced me to spend the $4.99.

I also had to tune in to…the Decorah eagles!

 

Mama eagle

They’re all the rage on the Internet, but don’t be upset if you haven’t heard of them. The Raptor Resource Project is monitoring via live video a mother waiting for her eggs to hatch in Decorah, Iowa. The nest is 80 feet high and 5 to 6 feet across. You can get an idea of the size of the eagle and each of her eggs.

A coworker introduced me to the site on Friday and I haven’t stopped watching since 4 PM that afternoon. I’ve become obsessive about the mother and how she keeps her eggs warm, rotating them like sausages in a skillet (sorry, but that’s a pretty good analogy). It may seem monotonous to watch a mother sit on her eggs, feathers blowing in the wind, and wait for her to get up and turn them. Well, it is. At 2 AM last night, she was till sleeping (beak tucked under her wing), so I went to sleep.

How could I have slept in?! First hatch 4/2/11, the site reads. What?! Serves me right for sleeping in. The first eaglet was hatched early this morning and is truly adorable, even if you don’t generally like birds.

 

First eaglet

How adorable is that? He/she is so fluffy and curious about his/her new world! OK, so if that doesn’t excite you, we would never understand each other. Cute things are infinitely entertaining. My husband had to put up with my watching a Hershey’s Kiss Easter commercial at least 5 times in a row. He reminded me that the DVR was not invented so that I could watch cute commercials over and over again. Umm…then why was it invented?

It must be bizarre to be a newborn eaglet, trying to figure out how your wings and talons work, while trying to keep your balance and not trip over your unhatched brothers and sisters. I guess it must just be bizarre to be a bird of any kind.

We were babysitting my 1-year-old nephew last night, and I had the live feed on my laptop the whole time. Anytime he would point to the screen, I would say “eagle.” I’m sure I succeeded in teaching him that a computer is called an eagle.

Second hatch shouldn’t be long! Tune in and join the eaglet excitement!

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