I don't quite remember when I fell in love with tea but I do remember the most special moments of me drinking tea. I was eighteen years old and I went to live with my biological mother for four months. I had just met her months earlier and it was awkward for both of us. She and her ex-husband lived a very quiet life in Boulder, Colorado. He was a professor at one of the universities and she was a housewife. After years of drug addiction and being in and out of jail, she deserved the break. I was homeless so she and her husband agreed to let me come live with them. Each evening my mother and I would find a spot in the living room with a cup of tea and a book.

Now, years later, I'm a self proclaimed tea expert. I start each day with a wonderful English Breakfast tea to get me going. As the day progresses, who knows what wonderful tea I will crown queen. But for sure, I have at least three cups of tea a day. And yes, when I can, I have tea everyday at about 3:00 P. M. I love to invite my friends over for tea and cupcakes and so far everyone thinks it’s a delightful experience. I am always in search of the best blend of tea. Yes, I’m a tea snob, I prefer loose tea but I do like some bags also. I have learned not to judge a book by it’s cover. Some bags can be quite nice. And yes again, any Diva knows, what you drink your tea out of is very important.

Tea for me is a way of life. It's wellness for the mind body and spirit. Here, I will explore every expect of tea possible, with a high concentration on wellness. I will review the best teas, the best places to have tea, the best ways to brew tea, the best tea accessories, what tea goes best with what foods, and the list goes on and on. I plan to share my passion for tea with you. And I've been told, nothing I do is ever boring so be prepared to go on this tea journey with me.

RLT Collection Tea Ball Frosted Clear Beads!

Mint Medley by The Persimmon Tree Tea Company

About This Tea:

Until recently I had never drank Peppermint Tea made with loose leaves. And Honestly, I will probably never go back. The freshness of loose Peppermint Tea cannot be denied. When I open the can of Mint Medley, From The Persimmon Tree Tea Company, I feel as if I stepped into a garden of peppermint leaves. It is a perfect blend of organic peppermint and spearmint leaves grown in the US.

Mint Medley has become a favorite and I find myself reaching for this tea tin almost everyday. It is great for on-going nausea. The health benefits and endless. It relieves muscle aches, headaches, migraines, stress. And now that it feels like someone is sitting on my chest and I have a mean cough, I'm sure it will help to relieve some of this congestion in my chest. Mint Medley has been in my tea cup more than any tea as of late. It has really helped with my winter cough, congestion related to this bout of pneumonia. You can read my full review on The Persimmon Tree Tea Company Mint Teas.

RLT Collection AIDS Awareness Tea Ball!

Welcome to my world of books! As an pre-teen books changed my world. I fell in love with the writers of the Harlem Renaissance period and the more I read the more I wanted to read. The fiction of this period was powerful and empowering all at the same time. It spoke to my own degradation and gave me hope for a better tomorrow. It gave me purpose for my own life and the courage to fight the good fight and never surrender.

I love to read! Inside a book I escape into someone else's life. There is something wonderful about turning to the next page of a wonderful story. Something intoxicating about the smell of the book and the story it brings to life. Reading brings me joy, and these days with my health in the balance, I find solace in my books.

I spent hours in my bedroom sequestered with the door closed reading the classics from the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes, Larsen, Hurston, Wright and Baldwin. Books became my escape and my salvation. The fiction of this period was powerful and empowering all at the same time. It gave me purpose for my own life and the courage to fight the good fight and never surrender.

Reading is the one thing that the pain of my life could never take away from me. It was the thing that helped to make it better. And even today, living with AIDS, books continue to be the safest place for me. It’s the one thing that belongs to me that AIDS cannot take away from me.The RLTReads book club will be books that I choose. It’s me sharing a part of me with you that has nothing to do with AIDS. It’s actually in spite of AIDS.

The RLTReads book club will be books that I choose. It’s me sharing a part of me with you that has nothing to do with AIDS. It’s actually in spite of AIDS. I have read hundreds of books from many different genres and I will pick the best of my reads over the years. I warn you, it will not be exclusively white or black, male or female, fiction or non fiction, it will be all of them.

I’m so excited and I’m grateful to everyone who wants to be a part of this venture. We already have 110 Book Club Members. You can email me @ RLTReads@raelewisthornton.com. The Twitter hashtag is #RLTReads. We can make this book club as wonderful as we want to make it. Who says that Oprah has to have the only ownership to a wonderful book club?

This Month We are Reading In My Fathers House by E Lynn Harris

Read along and join our discussion July 19th at 7 pm CST

For more Tea with Rae "Vlogs" Click here to visit her youtube channel

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fashion/Beauty Friday: Back of the Closet

I was one of those people who had to have something new for every event, especially speaking engagements. I had it bad! And to make matters worse, I always had some stupid ass rationalization of why I just had to have something new. But that reality has changed for me.

As of late, buying an ensemble may mean that a bill will not get paid. In recent weeks, I have well documented my financial crises here on my blog and in the April issue of Ebony. I'm struggling like most of America is!  While I understand this, I have a reality that must be addressed, I still have this urge to shop. Maybe this demon is wrapped in childhood drama.  Mama was complex. While she beat and cuss me, she always bought me new clothes absolutely every pay period. So the more she bought, the more clothes I asked for. I think somewhere along the way, I equated these new things with love. So here I am at 47 years old, fighting this demon. And believe me it's a struggle. Like last week, when I went to speak at Florida A&M University, I had to talk myself out of buying a new ensemble that I really couldn't afford.

I debated and debated and after after much consideration, it was settled! Something new was out of the question. Then that little fashion demon started talking to me. It went something like this, "Well Rae, you at least need some new red pumps." She had a point and I was listening.  So I made my way down the Mag Mile as the fashion demon whispered to me, "See, its like this, you have an image to keep up Diva." She was right again. LOL! And I kept on walking and she kept on talking. "This event is a Red Pump Bruncheon and your red pumps have been seen on Facebook, Twitter and your blog A LOT in the last 4 weeks. "Come Onnnnnnn Diva," the fashion demon whispered, "You know you got to come with it."

I made my way down the Mag Mile straight to the door of Neiman Marcus. But as I entered reality set in. Rae, you CANNOT afford anything new!  That was a reality that shook me out of what was about to be my stupidity.

Yes, I love to look good and people except it from me. But the truth of the matter is, you don't always have to buy something new to look fabulous. Often times we have the  perfect ensemble in our closets, we just have to take the time and thought to pull it all together.  So I went home, opened my closet and pulled together a great outfit.

When coordinating an ensemble, you need a starting point. Red pumps were mine and I worked from there. Second, I knew I wanted to go with a light color and a light weight because I was going to the sunshine state.

This Ann Taylor silk pant suit was perfect! It's five years old and I have only worn it maybe three times. In the past, I paired it with a brown and beige shell and brown and beige spectator sling backs. But this time around, I gave it a fresh look to work with my red pumps.

I paired it with a  lace shirt that added  a little texture to the ensemble. This v-neck, cap sleeve shell is from Banana Republic and it is eight years old.  I originally wore this shell with a cream satin skirt suit to a black  tie affair.

Accessories are key!  My 10 year old  beige Gucci belt was added to draw my waist line in and give my boxy body a shape. Because this was a women's brunch I wanted to add femininity. I love pearls and they are perfect to achieve that goal.  On a side note, I LOVE pearls and own them in every price range.  My 10-12mm South Sea pearl post earrings are some of the best you can own because of their incredible luster.  I paired them with a 100 inch strand of freshwater pearls that I doubled and knotted at the bottom and added a 24 inch strand of cultured pearls for that layering effect.

And of course I followed a Diva Rule, an ensemble is NEVER complete without a bracelet. I am almost never "matchy-matchy," but after trying twenty different bracelets with this ensemble, these were the perfect match. It helped to bring the entire ensemble together best.

The red coral stackable bracelet is from my Celebrate America Collection 2009. The pearl bracelet is fabulous. It is designed with tiny pearls that have been weaved together to make each individual ball. I then took twenty-two balls to craft this bracelet. It's a one-of-a-kind in my personal collection. To sell this bracelet the cost would be no less than $300 because of the weaving.

While I use real pearls, you can achieve the same look with faux pearls. However, I do believe that every woman should invest in at least one pearl necklace, earrings and bracelet.  It will become an heirloom that you can pass from generation to generation. And just so you know, there are always affordable freshwater pearl bracelets in my collection.

OK... I think I pulled it together pretty nicely and in the process, I proved to myself that I didn't need to spend any more money to look fabulous. All I really had to do was go to the back of my closet, take what I already had and give it a fresh look.

The point for me is to always look well put together.  You only have one time to make a good first impression. It does not take money to achieve that goal, it takes a little thought and time in your closet.

P.S. The event was wonderful! While I ministered to these young people, God also ministered to me. This was my Facebook status the next day:  

I went to FAMU to minister to these wonderful young people yesterday. But in the midst of it, God ministered to me. He gave me the reminder that I NEEDED. "I planned my life, but miscalculated. God planned for my miscalculation." My life belongs to God. My purpose is His purpose. Anything extra is a gift. Stay focused my daughter. I'm doing some awesome work in your life.

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