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 30, 2010

Fashion/Beauty Friday: Lashes Anyone?

I had never really considered them. In fact, until recently I had never seen any that I liked. Tammy Faye Baker was always the image that stayed in my head and that was way over the top. NOT Diva Approved! 

Honestly, I do admire them on  beautiful celebrities. But I always thought that those were "special" and cost prohibitive. So, needless to say,  they were off my Diva radar. That is until I became friends with  Alicia. Her eyelash extensions are simply beautiful. And when she bats those eyes, OMG! Men just melt.

Alicia had a lot of good advice and answered all of my pressing questions about her lashes, but I was still very very nervous. The more time that I spent with Alicia on her visits to Chicago, the more I considered having them done.  Then a few months back celebrity makeup artist, Tia Dantzler did my face for a Jet magazine photo shot and I was hooked. 

There are so many words to describe how eye lashes extensions made me feel. Glamorous, Beautiful, Fabulous, Girly, Feminine... The list just goes on and on. I concluded that they were DIVA approved!

I called Alicia immediately, "We have got to find me a place to get lashes!" I exclaimed.  Alicia is always game for new adventures, her "just do it" spirit is one of the reasons I love her so much. Anyway, she I and hit cyberspace and started tweeting. People were responding from all over the U.S. Alicia, living in Los Angeles, received a ton of west coast recommendations. I received recommendations from places that range from $30 to $300 around Chicago. It was all so overwhelming just trying to make a decision.

Then I remembered Brittany's lashes. She's the national coordinator for the Ambassador program for the Red Pump Project. But Brittany explained that her lashes were strips and she removed them each night and reapplied them in the morning. Glue in my hand near my eye was not a good idea. NOPE! Out of the question. 

I became so obsessed with lashes that I was making a stop at the Mac store right before each speaking engagement. For Real! One night after a gig I wanted to keep them on because I had another speaking engagement the next day before Mac opened.  But it is not advised to sleep in strips. You should have heard Brittany trying to explain to me how to glue the lashes over the telephone.  Too funny! I needed my reading spectacles just to see what I was doing and you cannot apply lashes with reading glasses on your face. Glue was everywhere. 

It had been confirmed. I was definitely getting eye lash extensions. My budget was a huge consideration in the deciding factor of where to get them, but so was my health. I have AIDS and I'm not confused that my immune system is not good. I didn't want to take a chance on an Asian nail shop so I settled on Amazing Faces.  Her prices were in between. Maureen is a licensed esthetician who specials in permanent makeup, lashes and no chip nails. (More to come on the no chip. I'm currently putting Maureen and no chip polish to the test.)

 Brittany came with me for moral support.  First, Maureen taped my bottom lashes down so they wouldn't interfere with the work being done on the top lashes. I have to admit, I was a little claustrophobic with my bottom lashes taped down, even if they were anti-winkle beauty pads. 

This is what my face looked liked before the lashes were applied. I was not allowed to talk which was also torture. LOL! But when you talk you change your face structure. During the lash application I felt absolutely nothing. I knew she was working but there is no pain involved at all. She applied the lashes individually with a permanent glue that will last approximately 3-4 weeks. 

This is what my face looked liked after the lashes were applied. They seem to open your eyes and complete your look. I simply LOVE them! Now I am going to be honest. They do take some time getting used to. If you have used the strips then the individual lashes will be a breeze. They are comfortable to wear, but those first few days you do know that they are there. 
The only thing that changed in my daily beauty regimen was using an oil-free makeup remover. Mary Kay's brand was highly recommended. I called my Soror for that hook-up! Other than that, I wash my face and apply make-up just like I did before I got the lashes applied. 

 Yes, this was a big plunge for me, but you only live once! The great thing is that they are semi-permanent, you can always change your mind, at no additional cost. After I got my lashes it was a call for celebration. Brittany and I made our way to Tavern on Rush for a light dinner and my wonderful assistant Jenna joined us. The suspense was way too much. She just had to see. All in all, everyone agreed that my new eye lash extensions were Diva Approved!

Note: Photos by Jason E. Jones Photography
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