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Tay Tea

We go upstate to the Catskills a few times a year. A couple of years ago my husband discovered an obscure brand of tea called Tay, at a coffee and tea festival (don't ask), and learned that its creator owns a shop in Andes (about ten minutes from the farm we visit). He bought a sampler pack (at the festival you're not asking about) and we really loved it. It came in a little bamboo box, and had a somewhat useless bamboo strainer, but the tea was fabulous. This spring we finally had the chance to visit the Tay Tea shop. What a beautiful place! I bought a few tins of loose tea (I've abandoned the bamboo strainer in favor of a regular metal one with a tiny bamboo handle), some caffeinated, some de-. Tea has kind of changed my life. I was never a coffee drinker (a rebellion I think, from when I was twelve and had to get up for school at like 5:30 and my mom would push a steaming mug of coffee under my nose and say 'come on, don't you need it?')--Coffee seemed boringly grown-up (so did bridge, and knitting, and once I hit college I realized I'd have felt a lot cooler had I been familiar with any of those things). Tea was just herbal for me, I'm not sure how that happened. I'd drink chamomile, or Red Zinger, and call myself a tea drinker. One afternoon about five years ago I was having trouble keeping my head up at a friend's house while our daughters played together. 'Let me make you some tea!' My pal offered. 'Umm, chamomile?' I suggested to which she said something like 'Pshaw! none of that, I'll show you a good cuppa tea.' She returned with PG Tips with milk and sugar (if offered, I'd have declined both). I sipped it and was in heaven. It woke me up (so this is the caffeine I've missed all these years) physically and it woke me up to the world of tea. I'm now the kind of person who fantasizes about my morning cup even before my head hits the pillow at night, and who dreams of the 4 o'clock cup, even as my morning's brewing. While I still keep PG Tips on hand, and enjoy a good basic up of Liptons when I'm at work, I'm proud to say that my kitchen shelf if a glorious display of loose teas in beautiful tins. Better than Sex is one of Tay Tea's non-caffeinated blends that has changed the lives of many of my girlfriends (a mix of chocolate and vanilla and peppermint), other names are Muse, Duchess's first Love, Marry Me Again (an Earl Grey with a lavender nod to Elizabeth Taylor), Tuk Tuk Chai and Dream. I cannot say enough about these beautiful teas. In the midst of all this mothering, these little teas are like mini-vacations, and if another mom's at my kitchen table enjoying it as well, then I'm all the more fulfilled. In searching for the Tay Tea website for the hyperlink above, I just noticed that the quote on the site is 'we drink tea to forget the noise of the world.' Kinda perfect for this mom of three.



Thieves Oil

I've always been a huge fan of the subway. I grew up in a small town and so any experience with a subway meant that I had travelled to some exciting place. We spent some time in London when I was twelve and everything about the Underground appealed to me. The crazy-colored map, the dark cool tunnels, the impossibly long escalator descents, the ads plastered on the walls, the whoosh of hot air that announced the train's arrival, the jostled crowds, and the blackish dusty smell. That experience must have lodged itself deep into my psyche in some Proustian way, because now whenever I pass a subway grate and get that same whoosh of hot air, and sometimes when I'm in the tunnels and I catch that same smell, I'm filled with that early sense of adventure and awe. Of course now I realize that that smell that I described as dusty and black is probably a wicked combination of human excrement, rat hair, and solidified exhaust, but once lodged in the pleasure center, always lodged in the pleasure center, so it remains to me a desired smell. A recent moment that filled me with pride was when my two older children were describing favorite smells and each, separately, confided that the smell you get as you pass over a subway grate when the train's running underneath is tops for them. I've also always preferred travelling by subway to travelling by bus, since the bus seems to be always full of people on their cell phones, and with very few exceptions in New York City, is NEVER faster than walking. So it was upsetting to me to return to work, and to my beloved subway (and all the reading I get to do down there), and to realize that something about the hour-long commute was sapping my strength. It wasn't the several bits of stair-climbing, or the one lengthy underground walk. I can handle that sort of activity. Rather, it seemed to be related to the fumes. It almost felt like I went down there with about a seven on a scale of one to ten, and came upground at about a four. Of course there's nothing scientific about this. Surely sitting and reading and bits of walking weren't exhausting me. So I mentioned this to a friend who happens to be into all sorts of essential oils. Thieves, is what she told me. I looked into it, intrigued by the name, and found out that it's a blend of oils developed by grave-robbers to avoid contracting the bubonic plague (or something like that). I guess if it was good enough for grave-robbers it could be good enough for me, so I invested in some, and have been known to dab it into my scarf, or just rub it onto my temples or something, if everything down there is getting too exhaust-y. It's a mix of clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary and it's only driven one stranger to relocate to another bench. Many people ask me what I'm wearing and I don't think they're expecting me to prattle on about grave robbers and the bubonic plague. A friend swears by theives toothpaste as well, but I think I'll stick with the oil for now.



I haven't yet heard from my friends that I overdid it, but I just found myself spending about forty-five minutes browsing and sending cards from this site. I find it hilarious, and there's always something so specific that I know exactly who to send it to. The name of the website is 'someecards [some e-cards]--when you care enough to hit send,' which, sadly, is about as motivated as I can get these days to keep up with friends and family. I'm not sure if it's the city-pace--am I trying to do too much?, or the three kids-situation--am I trying to do too much? likely it's some lethal combination of the two...but I do know that I'll be thinking of a pal, remembering a birthday, or whatever, and this site allows me to hit some kind of nail on some kind of head, even if my timing is way off. The cards, accompanied by Victorian-era-style illustrations of people looking as though a thought has just occured to them, are cheeky and spot-on and allow me to feel much more clever than I have the energy to be now that my brain has turned to mush. I used to dally in the 'happy birthday' and 'thankyou' categories, and lately I've branched out into the 'movies' and 'TV' sections (example: If I'm ever murdered, I hope it's interesting enough to be the inspiration for a Law & Order episode--not sure what the occasion is for sending that card, but it reminds me of the kinds of thoughts that cross my mind, and feels like a fun-enough nugget to pass along (especially to a friend who writes for that show)). I'd like to think I could have written some of these, and maybe back in my less-cluttered days I could have kept up with some of these contributors...but in the meantime, and in case that particular brand of sophistication never returns to me, I'm grateful that those kinds of people are creating these cards and that someecards allows me to pass them around.