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, May 21, 2010

Afrobella Weighs in on Make-up Artist Roxanna Floyd

I always wanted to ask beauty/natural hair guru Afrobella to be a guest blogger on my Diva Living with AIDS Blog, but I didn't want to infringe upon our friendship and make her feel obligated. Then it happened quite organically. We were talking the other day and she mentioned the passing of Roxanna Floyd. I stopped in my tracks. OMG! She was the make artist that did my face for the cover of Essence magazine. Well, I asked Bella to dig into her archives and share with my readers the life and work of celebrity make-up artist Roxanna Floyd who quietly paved the way for many to come and had well over 60 covers to her credit.  So here it is:

The world of celebrity makeup artists suffered a tremendous loss in February – the legendary Roxanna Floyd passed away at her home in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. To many, her name may be unknown. But to fans of black celebrity makeup, Roxanna Floyd was a legend. Her first celebrity client was Yoko Ono. After Ono started recommending her to friends, Floyd’s career went into hyperdrive. Her first cover for Essence magazine featured Halle Berry, and Roxanna went on to beautify faces for 60 more Essence magazine cover stars. 
Roxanna forged close working relationships with some of the most celebrated contemporary icons of black beauty, including Angela Bassett, Whitney Houston, Queen Latifah, and Halle Berry. In the wake of her passing, some amazing tributes have appeared online. 

Roxanna Floyd was the Creative Beauty Director for venerable cosmetics brand Fashion Fair. Brand Manager Basheerah Enahora offered the following quote: 
 "We are truly overwhelmed by the unfortunate news of Roxanna Floyd’s untimely passing. Not only was Roxanna our creative beauty director, she was a friend…a sister…she was Fashion Fair® Cosmetics family. She possessed a wonderful gift of creating, accentuating and transforming beauty. Her innovation, creativity and flair will be missed – but her legacy and spirit will continue to live.”
Makeup artist Sam Fine rhapsodized about Roxanna in a touching tribute for Essence magazine: 
 “The makeup industry seems vast, but actually it's quite small. There are very few artists that reach a level where you recognize their name, identify their work at a glance, or rattle off celebrity clients that they've beautified. Roxanna Floyd was one of those artists. However, her artistry is not what I'll remember most. I'll always remember Roxanna as an artist who paved the way for many "artists of color" to reach new heights by setting a standard of excellence with her work on numerous magazine covers, music videos and celebrity clients. In an industry that isn't always welcoming to artists of color, Roxanna became a beacon of light, showing us how brightly our lights could shine.” 

Harriet Cole, Editor in Chief of Ebony Magazine, shared her personal recollections as a friend of Roxanna’s: “She was a genius with a set of makeup brushes. And she appreciated brown skin so much that she learned how to blend colors perfectly to ensure that a woman of any and every skin tone would be flawless before the camera. Roxanna was a perfectionist. Anyone who knew her will tell you that she was the queen of the eyebrow. She spent as much time as it took to sculpt a brow, so much so that you felt like even if you didn’t have anything but foundation and a brow, you were ready for anything!” 

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Roxanna at an Oprah related event in Miami some years back. Even though I was but a young writer and a fan – I’d barely just started my blog, Afrobella -- she took the time to be gracious and friendly to me. I spent more than an hour watching her at her craft – making women look beautiful. She was like a hummingbird – flitting from side to side, deftly blending with her makeup brushes, absolutely in command of the moment. It was extremely inspiring. Rest in peace, Roxanna. Your legend will live on, and your work will forever be admired.

Post Script: I am honored to have been a face among Whitney Houston and Queen Latifah.  Roxanna's creative genius in my Essence photo shoot set the standard for me. I know you remember the glamorous, sensual look she gave me on the cover of Essence.

Here are more photo's from the 12 hour photo shoot with Roxanna and the Essence Beauty team.... The picture of me in the white dress has never been seen publicly. The picture in the black dress is the one that they wanted to use on the inside but because it was "see through," it didn't fly 15 years ago. They settled on the one in the silver dress... As you can see, Roxanna was able to create totally different looks for me in each one... She was gifted... For Real...
Thanks Afrobella for sharing your insights on Roxanna....
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