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

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Small Pleasures: The Chicago Festival of Lights!

I love Chicago! There is never a shortage of things for people to do from shopping, to good eating, to festivals. The summer is a blast; There are always free concerts and festivals. But once the cold comes around, outdoor events are hard to come by. Many winter days I sit in my Gold Coast apartment and people watch, and other times, I simply winter watch. But one of my all time favorite winter events is the Chicago Lights Festival.  This year was the 20th anniversary of the festival, which is sponsored by Harris Bank.

Now I have to be honest, I love this festival but this Diva doesn't do crowds, so I have found myself the perfect view, the wonderful four-star restaurant Spiaggia on the Mag Mile.

No, I don't have dinner. Remember, I'm a Diva on a budget. I sit in the bar area and have an appetizer, tea and dessert, while watching the festival from their Oak Street view; Which is where the parade begins.

So yesterday at dusk, I shut my 6 day work week down and made my way to the Mag Mile. This is my fourth year attending and it is always wonderful! Sitting in Spiaggia and watching the parade is one of my small pleasures. Living with AIDS, on the one hand, and giving so much of myself to the public on the other hand, I need these moments that belong to me. 

The parade was wonderful! The Disney characters are always a delight. My favorite was Daffy and Donald, although Mickey and Minnie were the grand marshals. It seems though, Kermit got the largest applause. The service at Spiaggia's is superb and the food is unbelievable. I had a risotto appetizer that I paired with a wonderful French Reserve Rooibos tea. For dessert I had a chocolate lovers delight, a warm flour-less cake in a dark chocolate sauce.

You talking about heaven, yes it was. For the foodie and tea lover that I am, it couldn't  have been a better night. The only thing that made me want to be in the crowd was the Garret Popcorn float passing by with their wonderful popcorn.

It was a wonderful evening.  If you  live in the Chicago area and have never attended the festival, put it on your calendar for next year. If you have kids, bundle them up and make your way to the Mag Mile next year, it's a must!

And let's not forget, Spiagga. If you ever have the occasion for a wonderful meal, you will not be disappointed. But ummm, bring $$$$ it's pricey and fit for a Diva; And men, I believe a jacket is a must! Oh, let me not forget, Spiaggia also have a Cafe and it's open for lunch and half the price as the restaurant. I've eaten there a few times and it's just as great!

 The bottom line, everyone needs something to make them smile. The Chicago Festival of Lights and Spiaggia is one of my small pleasures!

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