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

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Birthday Special For RLT Collection!

In honor of my Birthday today, May 22nd, I'm offering 22% off all RLT Collection Bracelets!!!!
The Coupon Code is Birthday2013! The Sale will last who knows...  :) But it will be around for at least a week! Thank you for all of your support! Shop Here! 

Friday, May 17, 2013

RLT Collection News...

I'm having a 15% off Sale thur Sat at Midnight. Coupon Code May2013 This will also apply to bracelets that have been marked down. Shop Here!

There are still some Bracelets of the Week  from the last two weeks left. Already marked at a great price, plus you get the extra 15% off, Coupon Code May2013. Tira wearing both in the picture above. They look great together. Shop Here!

For The Love of Chrysoprase has been marked down plus an extra 15% off. Coupon Code, May2013. The Chrysoprase is one of my favorite stones and it stacks well with agates.  Shop Here!

The new Unisex Bracelets on the website are wonderful!  15% off Coupon Code May2013 Shop Here!

The Spring Forward Collection are fun colors in Jade Gemstones at a special price plus 15%off coupon code may2013. I'm selling out of these so hurry. Shop Here!

Follow RLT Collection on Instagram for all of your bracelet fashion and tends @RLTCollection my personal Instagram is RaeLT

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tea With Rae: Weight Lost Series-Sakura Allure

It is no secret that I am not a big fan of green tea. You can look at my Tea Review history and it speaks volumes. Now, I'm finding myself faced with having to drink more green tea.

You all know that I'm trying my best to lose some of this body fat created by my HIV medications and  added by very little movement with my on and off  IV medications.

Well, because green tea is suppose to help with weight lost I had to rethink green tea. I remember Tracye Madre telling me one day, that she makes herself drink it because of it's benefits to weight lost, and she has adjusted to the taste. You remember Tracye, she has lost over 100 pounds from working out and eating healthy. She has even launched a training business. You read my blog that mentions Tracye here and connect with her here.

For sure a cup of regular green tea is an acquired taste.  For the longest I have been in search of a blended green tea that didn't have that green tea taste. Well, Teavana posted this picture of Sakura Allure Green Tea on Instagram. I said to myself, "Any tea that's this pretty has got to taste good."

I made my way over to Teavana to give it a smell and lo and behold, it smelled like I was walking in a field of blossoms. So I took some home and it sat and sat and sat. I think I had a mental block because for sure I have had some green teas that smelled wonderful but the taste left a lot of be desired.

Well, a friend was in town and we went to Teavana. She asked the staff about a green tea with a great taste and they produced Sakura Allure. I was put to shame and I had to laugh to myself, "I have that tea at home," I mumbled.  It was stuffed in my tea cabinet with my other 100 or so teas. The shame I felt, forced me to come home and try it. I mean I'm the try queen. I will give any tea a one try.

 OMG! By far Sakura Allure Green Tea is the BEST Green Tea that I have ever drank! This is a blended tea of Sakura Blossoms, mango, candied pineapples, rose and hibiscus. It's a wonderful combination that compliments the Sakura- Cherry Blossom that grows in Japan. Like most cherry blossoms, they only bloom a limited time of the year. In Japan, you can see their beauty late march, early April and even into May.

I know you are asking, what about weight lost?  Glad you asked! Green Tea comes from the same plant as black, oolong and white tea (Camellia sinensis). While all tea groups have some benefits what makes green tea special is a couple of things. One, it is not fermented before drying and steaming, which allows it to keep more of it''s antioxidants.  Secondly, green tea is a rich source of polyphenol catechin.

Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is the most active form of catechin responsible for green tea's anti-inflammatory, and metabolic effects. While green tea is light in caffeine, it is there and that helps EGCG assist the metabolism and body fat accumulations.

In a nut shell, it stimulates the body to burn calories and decreases body fat, epically the waist line. Green tea also lowers cholesterol, which I'm putting to the test. My bad cholesterol is very hight right now. Green tea also fights, cancer and heart disease. It is the highest in anti-inflammatory properties. of the 4 tea groups. Studies have shown over and again that green tea is a factor in weight lost. However, you must drink at least 4 cups of green tea a day to benefit from the metabolic effects.

There are many  wonderful health reasons to drink green tea. If you don't like the taste. Well, today I've given you a reason to drink up; Sakura Allure at Teavana!

I will be reviewing more green teas in this weight lost series, as well as other tea groups. Stay Tuned!! Happy Cuppa!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday Reflection: The Power of Knowledge!

 Knowledge is a powerful thing. We can use it for greatness or use it against the natural order of the life that God has given us. That's with every single thing in life. Just because you know how to make a bomb, does not mean you have to use it to destroy others. Nope, even the "baddest" technology can be for a greater good.

Now, my issue today isn't that complicated. In fact, in the scheme of the universe it's a small issue, but for me, it weights heavy on my heart and in my freaking back, tummy and arms. Two weeks ago, I made a declaration about my weight. I laid out a good argument on why I need to hit the gym. I was good that week and then last week it went to hell in a hand basket. CLICK Here to Read!

My nights were so sleepless last week that I was dragging and cranky all week. Everything I did was a struggle because of sleep deprivation. That's why I didn't blog last week. I was too tired and cranky to even think. Menopause is kicking my tail. I guess they call it pre- menopausal. I haven't stop my menstrual cycle just yet, I have one every 2-5 months, but these night sweats and mood swings  have been all consuming.  Let me tell you, waking up from sleep in the middle of the night because it feels like you are on fire from the inside is not pretty. Waking up twice in the middle of the night is like a nightmare from hell.

When I made it to therapy last week, I thought that I was losing my mind. We tried to unpack this issue as best as we could. The fact of the matter is I have a lot of discipline and I do every single thing I put my mind to, so what is the darn problem?

The size 2 suit is to big. Look at the looseness in the arms.
Maybe there are a few issues. One problem I think is that somewhere deep inside, I'm feeling a tad defeated by HIV in the area of weight. I started out 20 years ago in a size 8 at my lowest, a steady 10 and a 12, when I was eating more than moving.

Then I made a transition to AIDS and in 4 months I went from a 12 to a 10, to a 8, to a size 6. Then I went from a size 6 to a 4 and stayed there a while. And then I went to a size 2 to a 0. I stayed there for a while and that's when I started to see death staring me in the face. Every time I looked in the mirror, death said to me, "I'm waiting." I'm so glad that God has power over death.

Then I started the new HIV medications and I went back up to a size 6 and I stayed there for almost two years. Then after a couple of years on the new HIV medication my weight shifted. I woke up one morning and I was a size 14 at the top part of my body, a 8 at my waist line and a 2 at my thighs. I was a hot freaking mess and I cried all the time. HIV lipodystrophy  is a trip. You can read an older blog post about it HERE!

Can you image the clothes drama that I have had with all these size changes with HIV?  Can you image what it's like to go from magazine cover ready to photo shop ready?

At one point after my weight shifted, I was able to get it under control. I met this trainer Cornell McCleanen and working out became a way of life.  I was able to get the top part of my body to a 8-10, and the waist down to a 4 and build the bottom up so I didn't look so freakin disproportionate.

 Then drug resistant herpes came and I spent more time in bed then walking. For sure, working out was not on my agenda cause ummm it hurt too bad to walk.

Working out had became a way of life life  for me and it was taken away right before my eyes, without any recourse. You can read about my Herpes drama HERE! The doctors are clear that the damage done to my immune system in those early day has made it possible for Herpes to become this aggressive nightmare for me today. (There are other post on herpes just search the labels)

A week of IV medication! 
BUT... I have not had an herpes outbreak in 3 months that means NO IV medication! I thank God everyday, but underneath I'm holding my breath, crossing my fingers and prying that it stays away.

The point is, right now I am healthy. I have no barriers to working out. Even my therapist thinks it's a good idea. She said that working out regularly works as well as antidepressant for mild depression.  Menopause does cause depression and mood swings that is for sure.

So with all this knowledge about how good working out is for me, and my success in the past with working out, what's the freaking problem? Why can't I use this knowledge for my good and wellness?

Sigh.... I have to come to terms with the fact, that
I can only control what I can control for the time that I can control it. I may never get my body to shape exacty how I want it. Lipodystrophy does not stop because you work out. I have to work extra hard to see some improvements and I then have to work to maintain those improvements.

And guest what? Herpes still may come back and then I will have to start over again.  It is what it is... You can control what you can, with the knowledge that you have, while you can control what you can.

I have got to come to terms with this.  That's it.... Oprah says often, "When you know better you should do better. "I say often, "Knowing better does not mean that you do better." Sometimes doing better means letting go of the easy, the familiar and the possibility of failure.  In the end, as powerful as knowledge is, we render it powerless when we don't act on the goodness of what we know.

Bracelet of The Week! Neon Glam! This bracelet says Summer Fun! We LOVE LOVE LOVE these Neon Beads.

 Perfect for Stacking!! This Neon bracelet is a beautiful orange 12-13 mm glass beads that have been rubberized. I am so fascinated with this rubberized glass. They take glass beads and rubberized them;how cool is that? SHOP HERE while supplies last! All Bracelets of the Week are very limited!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Peach Delight! Bracelet of the Week! Week 19!

Love! Love! Love! the new bracelet of the week! Week 19! Well, I love all of my bracelet designs and I wear all of them. So let me tell you about this week's bracelet special, Peach Delight! I choose these beads because they reminded me of a refreshing glass of peach ice tea in the summer.
This bracelet is a simple look with just enough color to say summer. It will wear wonderfully with all the summer colors, but it will also look great with browns.

It's designed with beautiful 10 mm faceted Fire Polish Czech Glass. The faceted cut makes the stones pop no matter which way you turn your wrist. It is in a soft  preach color for the summer. The faceted beads are paired with a thin and thick disc contrast with a touch of bling. 

It's at a great price of $25.00 I also suggest that you choose first class shipping to cut the cost even more. Remember, the bracelet of the week is already set at a great price and once they are gone, they are gone. Click Here to Shop!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Damn Ladies You Have All The Control #FuckinFriday

Ladies, you have so much control, but often you give it up; You give it up because you don't want to be alone, lonely or without companionship. We give it up because we want to be loved. But having sex with a man will NOT guarantee love. The only thing it will guarantee is a fuck and maybe not even a good one. Furthermore, having sex without a condom sure won't earn you his heart forever, but it just might earn you a sexually transmitted disease that you will have to live with forever. Diseases such as, HIV, Herpes, HPV, Hepatitis.

So why is it that we continue to have sex without a condom? You, don't want to rock the boat? You don't want him to think that you think he is cheating? Well, the fact of the matter is, you don't really know if he's cheating. You think you know, but at the end of the day you just don't know.

You don't want him to think you may be stepping outside of the relationship? Well, if his mind is that small, then his penis should not be big enough for you. This is real talk here. If a man cannot respect the choices you make about your body and have respect that you want to keep yourself safe, then he is not worth your body.

This video has been floating around Facebook and I thought that I would share it with you. While it is super funny, it speaks volumes to the control that we have, but yet surrender each time we let a man penetrate us with out a condom... That's all I wanted to say... Wrap It Up! #FuckinFriday

And remember, every 10 minutes a person becomes infected with HIV in the United States. Don't let it be you!!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Change Your MInd... Your Ass Will Follow...

Only so much fucking complaining you can do about something that you can change. This is some real talk right here. You don't like how someone treats you, then stop participating. For Real, For Real. A while back I was talking to this guy and I didn't like some of his behavior. I asked him to stop, but he either wasn't cable of change or he didn't give a fuck about how I felt. So you know what I did, right? Right! I sent him a quick e-mail saying just that and asked him to not bother by reaching out again.

If I had continued to talk to him under those conditions, then I was saying to him that I didn't really mean what I had asked of him, that he never bothered to do. I figured that there was no point in having yet another stupid ass conversation with him about the same topic. We had been down that path a year or so before, this was a second chance and I was so over it. There will not be a third and that's for real!

There's a lot of stuff we don't like in our life that we can change. You don't like your job environment, then start looking for a new one. You don't like how you feel when you do something, then stop it! You don't like how people make you feel then stop giving them that chance.

There is a lot of stuff that we can change that we don't. You tried of having high blood pressure, then get it under control, take your medication but change your damn eating habits. Put the fucking salt and fat down!

While God is in charge, God has also given us unlimited free will to make choices for our lives to live whole and healthy or destructive and foolish. God is such an awesome parent! You decide and then you live with your decision and He comforts while you are in the valley. You gotta grow up, God is letting you do that one on your own.

Now, I know that some issues are deeper than saying just do it, and require deeper work in therapy to unpack! That was my truth with shopping to darn much and men.com, looking for someone to love me. Somethings require a lot of work with the right professionals. You can't be afraid or ashamed to get the help that you need to be a better you.

I will never forget that day Oprah said, once she figured out that she didn't just like potato chips, but eating was connected to her childhood sexual abuse; food had deeper issues for her and understanding that she was able to work on her weight under better conditions.

There's nothing like a mind change to change ones life. My first love Randy use to say to me all the time, "Change your mind and your ass will follow," this is the gospel truth!

However, with other things there requires a mind change and some discipline. It's not enough to now better, you have to do the better that you know. That's being your best you.

We don't apply discipline. We keep saying tomorrow and then tomorrow becomes today. My therapist use to remind me often that discipline is a transferable skill.

The sweater I'm wearing is an extra large and the skirt is a size 4
I've been whining about losing weight for a while. HIV itself combined with HIV medications causes something called lipodystrophy. It redistributes my fat from the bottom to the top; and when I gain weight it all goes to the top.

In the last two years I've been on IV medication a lot, this combined with nerve pain, I've had very little opportunity to workout and have spent more time in bed. As a result I gained 25 pounds! I've lost about 10 of those with just changing my eating habits and more movement outside the house; but for sure I have more fat pockets than hot pockets.

Now that I'm healthy give or take, I have decided to but my foot down! About two weeks ago I said I was headed to the gym. I made it that day, but then excuses took control of my life. I decided this weekend that enough was enough and on Monday I crawled out of bed and went straight to the gym. I'm headed to the doctors this morning so we will see how the rest of the week goes. The thing is, my gym is opened 24 hours. Like so what excuse can I come up with, other then me not applying discipline to my life?

This week I have done better than two weeks ago. We are at Wednesday and I've been to the gym two of the three days so far.

The thing is, I can't fit any of my clothes and y'all know I have no money to get new ones. This has forced me to wear the same ensembles over and over again, when I have a closet full of clothes. *SMDH* I have so many St. John Knit suits that I can't fit, it's a shame and a testament to waste in my life.

I hate the way lipodystrophy makes me look and I complain about it almost everyday. I really need to do this for me.

There are other reasons why I need to hit the gym other than how lipodystrophy has reshaped my body making me kinda depressed. When the fat is redistributed it tends to go to the back, the chin and the mid-section. Studies over and again have determined the more fat you have in your mid-section that more likely you are to have heart issues. On top of that, my HIV medication causes high cholesterol. I'm off the chart with very high cholesterol, the bad kind (LDL). Wouldn't it be a shame to live this long from HIV to have a heart attack or a stoke?

Me having a Dexa Scan
Then to top that off, new research is showing that HIV actually destroys a persons bone density over time. With this information my gynecologist thought that I might be at a high risk. I'm going through menopause and my mother is white. White women have more bone density issues then black women. She ordered a bone dentistry scan and low and behold I have already started to loose bone. Not enough to take the major drugs to treat it, but enough to be concerned about the direction that I'm going. I started a 1000 mg of calcium and she wants me to work out 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week as a preventative measure, before I start shrinking.

Lastly, on the health tip. Depression is an ongoing battle for me. I ain't this happy go getter all the time. Living with HIV is hard! Really hard! I wouldn't wish this on my worse enemy. It has been proven that working out increases the serotonin, and who doesn't need more serotonin? Come on somebody, working out has it's benefits.

This is a $500.00 Escada blouse that's hanging in my closet that's to small 
So you see, I have a lot of reasons to hit the gym and change my life style. When I first developed lipodystrophy, well to be honest, after a year of literally crying about it. I was a size 14 at the top, my waist was a size 8 and my thighs and legs a size 2, I hit the gym and changed my life style.

The key is to eat healthy, minimize fat and sugar, cardio and weights. Weights are a must because the more muscle you gain the more fat you burn. Plus, I'm so small at my bottom, I need to balance it off, loose the top and build the bottom.

I was doing so well, then somewhere that just went to hell in a hand basket. I think when I started getting that drug resistant herpes, it changed my life style for sure, on and off IV meds all the time, nerve pain in my back and legs. Walking is even painful. I know that I am capable, I've done it before. I just need to be disciplined. Being healthy has to be just as important as being alive.

Soooooooo I'm saying all of this to say, some things in our life that we are unhappy about we can change. I'm so happy that God has given us free will. I know for sure that I have not been using my freewill in all areas of my life to be the best I can be.

I'm not trying to be a perfect me, I just want to be the best me! What about you? I can here Randy with that wonderful smile on his face saying as clear as day, "All you have to do darling, is change your mind and your ass will surly follow." But I've learned over the years, in order to get that ass in action, you have to add some discipline to the knowledge that you know.

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