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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Stir Up Your Gifts!

If I can toot my own horn, I must say that I'm proud of me! I've done something's with my life. Like for real... For real I have never stopped living and growing no matter what has come my way. By the time I was 24 years old I had worked my second Presidential Campaign as a senior staff person.

Since I've been doing HIV/AIDS work, I have spoken to hundreds of audiences. I have an  Emmy Award, covers of magazines, 27 years of education. Like I have never stopped living! For sure, one of the things I'm most proud of outside of my work in HIV, is my bracelet business.

My first bracelet sale for the website was on August 23, 2009 just six months after I started designing. I decided to take a leap and launch a full line of bracelets because I could see that I had a gift that was waiting to shine. Rarely, are we willing to give it a go. We are always bound by what people may think of us; or God forbid, failure.

I had a lot of on lookers, hummm, actually friends who asked, "You are actually going to sale bracelets?" And follow up with, "Who's gonna buy them?" "We'll obviously not you," I thought and kept it moving. I knew that I knew, just like I knew that I was suppose to be speaking about my life. With that feeling in my gut, I kept pressing my way.

Now can I be honest? My early designs were not GREAT, but they had potential. I was still learning the trade of jewelry making. I only had one lesson from a friend Rendona and I took the ball rolling. Thanks Rae!

It was an idea that needed time and work. I had the eye! I just needed to grow my skill. I had something that I knew I could mature over time. I wasn't going to quit.

Be clear, from day one my vision was clear. I knew that I was NOT making jewelry on the side. I was designing collections of bracelets. And I have been quick to correct anyone. Just recently someone asked, "Oh you make jewelry as a hobby?" I responded, no I have a business; I design bracelets." Now, for me that was key. Ones vision is important. If you don't know where you are going, you have no idea where you will end up!

I'm glad that I was clear on my vision, because 3 years ago people turned their nose up at stretch bracelets and now everybody and their mama is making them and Neiman Marcus and Barney's are selling them. just not mine, YET! :) Shoot, let me tell you, I had a "girl friend" who could have used her clot for me to get me some good PR, but instead turned her nose up at me 3 years ago, who I bumped into a bead shop twice recently. SHUT UP!

BeJeweled Fall/Winter Collection 2012!
So everyone is "making" stretch bracelets and I'm Designing Bracelet Collections; on this point I've NEVER been confused. Every season I start with an idea and stretchhhh it to its limits. It may start with a color like red, of a concept like jewels and I spend hours upon hours making the concept a reality.

So each season there is something new and fresh on RLT Collection website! Now, I have two permanent collections, Pearls because they are my favorite gemstones and Black because it's my favorite color. However, while the theme stays the same, the designs do change. I just completed a new installment for The Love of Black Collection and they are wonderful. New Pearl bracelets are on my design board now.

I've been working on my Fall/Winter 2012 for months now. For sure my health has been a barrier these last few months, but I kept working on the Collections, on the days I felt well enough, until I saw completion. I must say, this is my BEST work. They just keep getting better and better. I have three Collections for Fall/Winter, Red Baby, The Wonder of Agates and BeJeweled. There is a lot of texture in my Fall/Winter Collections and that is innovative. I knew that I had to stretchhhhh the concept of stretch bracelets. :)

1962 Bracelet/ Original Concepts
I have the 1962 Bracelet. It functions like a stretch but it wears like a bangle; a combination of beads and wire. There will be a full permanent collection coming, but for now, I have a few in the three current Collections on the site. This is an original design idea, that I know EVERYone is going to copy. But I'm cool because I know that I birthed it!

I also have stretch bracelets with a chain combination. They wear like a chain bracelet with the functionally of a stretch bracelet, also an original design idea. I'm also introducing some simple necklace designs for each collection. You keep asking, but my focus will remain BRACELETS!

I'm proud of my latest work!! I tell people all the time, "I'm going to make RLT Collection a success," and many of them laugh me off in agreement. I just shrug them off and keep pouring everything into RLT Collection! I design them, I make them, and I ship them! I'm a one woman show waiting to grow bigger!

BeJeweled Fall/Winter Collection 2012!
I LOVE my customers! I'm simply honored that someone wears my designs! People can wear anything they want, and my bracelets don't have to be one of them. I so understand it!! THANK YOU!! Now, I haven't made any massive money, but after that first year and the half, I was no longer in the red. And some days, if it's not for a bracelet sale, I don't know how I would make it.

For sure, I reinvest and reinvest! I will buy gemstones and all the components to make bracelets and forgo a new outfit when I have extra money. I spend hours working through designs. I give RLT Collection all that it needs to grow. I'm not afraid of hard work. Nor am I afraid of success the old fashion way, HARD WORK!

I use to be taken a back by the fact that I know so many people and no one will give me a break. But then in the end, I would give someone other than God the credit. So I've been pluggin away and waiting until that door is suppose to open. We fail to remember that God's time is not always our time.

Sheryl Lee Ralph
My designs have gotten better and that's for sure. Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, who is a friend has been a testament to my growth. I remember I sent her some that first round, and she politely thanked me and that was that.

Then she and I did the Town Hall Meeting last year for Dionne Warwick and I had bracelets for her. Some people would have had an attitude because she wasn't wearing that first group. Well, she wore them, but they didn't hold up. LOL

But I didn't let that bother me and I gave her some new designs and low and behold when she walked into my house a month ago, she was wearing them. Sheryl said, "My Sister, I wear them all the time." She also got a sneak peak at the new collections before they went to the photographers and loved, loved loved them.

Side Bar: I also have a photographer now. Thank God I don't have to take pictures anymore. Jerolyn Wiggins, J Marshell Photography, who also took the photos for my book cover. I am so grateful!

Sheryl loved my Fall/Winter Collection so much, she showed the style team on a new television project she's working on for Nick At Nite and they loved them! She called 10 minutes before I went into the procedure to get the port removed and the next day, I crawled out of bed, pain, stitches and all and pulled together 27 designs and overnighted. They made the polite! Yey!!  I can't wait to see which ones from Fall Collection made it. Then Sheryl turned around and wore them for a new movie she is working on and they agreed to give me credits! POW!! I will keep you inform.

Red Baby Collection!
I am NOT afraid of HARD WORK! I am NOT afraid of chance taking! You have to believe in your gifts and develop them and God will open the door. Oprah says, "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity." I am not waiting on the pie to fall out of the sky! God has given each of us gifts. I'm not afraid to Stir Up The Gifts that God have planted inside of me.

In order to grow anything, you have to water it! Some plants even takes years of watering to grow; like the bamboo plant takes 7 years.

I learned as a baker, when you are making anything, you some times have to beat those ingredients over and over. I know the best pound cakes take time! If you don't beat the butter and sugar long enough before you add the other indigents you will have a heavy cake. And I know for me, I'll pass up the heavy pound cake every time. So when I make a pound cake, I stir and stir and stir. I'll even sit on a stool if need be, but I do what I must to render the best result.

For The Love of Black Collection!
I even understand with my bracelets making the television screen, it is just the beginning of what's to come. So I can't get weary if nothing extra comes of it. I'm honored that they were good enough to make the cut. But I also know that God is letting me take a peak into my feature.

I'm even more determine! I'll Keep Stirring! My message to you, As we approach 2013, Stir up the gifts that God has given you!

 Each day you live, it lives within you... Don't squander your gifts afraid of failure or of what people will say, or who will or will not support you...

God has a plan for every good work God had planted inside of you! Stir up Your Gift!

The Wonder of Agates Collection!

BeJeweled Collection!

The Wonder of Agates Collection!

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