Posts Tagged ‘tea’

Top 5 little luxuries

3 December 2013

Regular readers of this blog (both of you!) may be aware that I’ve been oscillating between living in Melbourne and Sydney. This oscillation (I do like that word!) will be continuing: I’m moving back to Sydney in about a fortnight (that’s two weeks for the North Americans among us), then returning to Melbourne at the beginning of March, in time to commence my doctorate. So my nomadic lifestyle shows no sign of abating, at least for the next few months.

As a result, most of my stuff is in storage at various places, which leads to the burning question: how much stuff do I really need? As it turns out, my peripatetic existence (oooh, there’s another nice word, peripatetic. I’m on a roll today!) — ahem, my peripatetic existence has been marvellous for my minimalism. How much crap do I really need? Even less than I thought.

Not everything that’s in storage will be purged. I have several coats, scarves and gloves that are staying — it’s just that there’s absolutely no point in taking them with me to Sydney. Especially in the heat of summer. (Winter was on a Tuesday there this year.) And I have a funky retro vase from the 70s, all white and terracotta swirls that is staying, but I’m not moving it until absolutely necessary.

The surprising turns are that things that I Absolutely. Cannot. Do. Without. They seem like luxuries, but here are a few items that help me maintain some vague semblance of sanity:

  • Singing bowl. Meditation has been linked to health benefits: try here, here and here for links. And there are more flavours of meditation than there are of ice cream: if you don’t like raspberry ripple, go for chocolate chip. My personal favourite is using a singing bowl, and I have a small one that’s portable enough to travel with me in a cabin bag.
  • Essential bath oil. Especially while I’m travelling or living a (wait for it…) peripatetic lifestyle, it’s just a little luxury. I’m fond of blends with a bit of vetiver or patchouli, and never, ever anything artificial. I don’t want my bath smelling like cheap air freshener, oh no no no. I’m on a budget; I can only afford the best. 🙂
  • Tea. Good tea. Seriously good tea. Brewed from leaves, so yes, a small teapot is an essential item. I currently have a high quality one with laser-cut strainer, which works because I brew rooibos which is really fine, but I’m looking for something a bit more lightweight.
  • Chocolate. Again, the good stuff. Thankfully good chocolate is becoming more readily available in Australia, although the hot and humid climate in most of the country still makes transporting it a challenge.
  • Cuff links. Small, portable, adds a dash of colour and fun. I’m planning to get about five pairs, without any qualms of guilt, because I’ll use them all. Cuff links always add something.

Those are my top 5 little luxuries — what are yours?

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20 November 2013

I have another confession to make.

I wouldn’t think of wearing a shirt with a giant swoosh across the top, let alone the word “Lacroix” emblazoned across the top (sweetie darling sweetie!). Years ago I gave up on wearing football jerseys — apart from the fact that I am completely crap at anything involving a ball (let alone being tackled), I didn’t want to be a human billboard for whichever corporate sponsor was sponsoring the Parramatta Football Club corporation which is part of the National Rugby League corporation. Want to advertise? Do it on someone else’s chest.

But corporations can be sneaky. In this case, they didn’t dump mercury-containing waste on my back doorstep (or in my dental cavities), feed me genetically-modified corn (frankencorn), charge me $5 for water from my tap or any of the other nefarious things some corporations would love to do to me. Oh no no no no no no. They found my one weak spot, a chink in my armour, and shot an arrow right there:

Tea.

For those of you who know me, I adore a good cup of tea. And, yes, controversially that includes rooibos, my beverage of choice. There is a certain zen to tea drinking; the process of brewing the kettle to the right temperature, the stillness, sipping the tea and letting it envelop the senses. Tea truly is the “heavenly leaf”, and I drink tea partially as a meditation technique as much as anything else. It’s safe to say that I am fervent in my love of tea, and equally distasteful of its evil twin, coffee.

So imagine my delight when I found a boutique tea shop here in Melbourne. T2 was selling me just what I wanted: sencha quince, gunpowder green, loose-leaf rooibos. And there is the tea paraphernalia: special teapots to brew the rooibos in (it has really fine leaves like pine needles, and if you try to brew it in a normal teapot you’ll have leaves everywhere), cups and saucers and travel mugs and tea caddies and magnetic labels. They added cold drip tea, iced tea, and delectable macarons in a quirky but interesting shade of slate blue. Going to T2 became a Sunday afternoon ritual for me, where I bought two bottles of cold drip tea to face Mondays with.

Yep, a corporation had got me. Skewered me beautifully with a whole bunch of tea-related stuff. And I was loving it.

Turns out that T2 was bought by Unilever, a multinational corporation if ever there was one. And my humble, artisanal hand-plucked tea shop was turning into the Australian version of Starbucks, but with tea. And my tea caddies magnetic labels and travel mug? All marked, of course, with a CORPORATE F*CKING LOGO, because that’s just how they roll.

So now I’m looking coolly at my tea paraphernalia. Do I really want a Unilever logo in the sanctuary of my tea cupboard?

No.

Do I want to support this company as it goes down the Starbucks route of dumbing down its tea for the mainstream consumer?

No.

<sigh>

So I’m now on the lookout for new caddies, new labels, a new travel mug. There’s no sense of urgency about this; it’s just that when I think some multinational corporation has weaseled its way into my tea chest, it’s time to say enough is enough.

I’m baaaaaaack!

8 October 2013

Yes, after a three month absence the blog is returning — and once I work out how to upload photos, hopefully brighter and better than ever.

I have some interesting reflections on the last few months — one of them being that a shiny job with lots of money distracted me from what I *really* want to do. As of two weeks ago, I no longer work there — and more to the point, I’m not tempted to go back to a similar job. It’s settled: the corporate 9 to 5 six digit salary being a small cog in a large machine does not work for me (and truth be told, never really did).

So, where to now?

At this point I’m inventing a new job. Yes, you read right, inventing. I am in the process of creating a job that makes my heart sing. (Actually, several, but that’s beside the point.)

And I think the main moral of the lesson of the last few months is: if you get off the track, the universe will be sure to let you know. (In my case, with gallstones.) And realising that, although the job I had was well-paid enough (in spades!), it really wasn’t going to take me where I wanted to go, and certainly didn’t make my heart sing.

Enough of that. Life’s too short to do stuff you don’t really want to do.

What I REALLY want to do when I grow up is 1) finish my novel (and I have written a 50,000 word first draft, so it’s no longer in the someday / one day category), and 2) do my doctorate in commercialising biotechnology. Oh, and if I get to travel the world (hello, Iceland!), cut and polish some gemstones (sapphires and rubies in particular), and ingest dumplings, tea and macarons, that would be pretty epic too.

So now I’m focused on what I REALLY want. And I’ve made a great start today — I’ve had $17,000 worth of debt cancelled. 🙂  I think going after what I really want is the way to go, I’m sure Abraham Hicks would agree. 8)

The 12th Vitamin has been Discovered

9 April 2013

For those who know something about nutrition, there are currently eleven known vitamins: vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B9 (folic acid), B12, C, D, E and K. Just an aside here: whatever happened to the letters F, G, H, I and J, and how did more than half of the vitamins end up with B? The letter B is just being greedy here. If all eleven vitamins got their own letter we would still have the letters A through to K covered, and no letters would miss out. Just putting it out there…

But I digress. After much long research, I have come to the conclusion that there is indeed a twelfth vitamin lurking in the shadows, that many — indeed, most — people are desperately deficient in. Given the somewhat random way that vitamins have been allocated letters, I have allocated this most essential vitamin to be called vitamin T. The reason for this name is the rich source of this vitamin is found in tea. (For a really good explanation of zen and tea, here.)

Now informed by this new discovery, I am pleased to announce the scientific facts* about this vitamin:

Vitamin name: Vitamin T

Recommended daily intake: Ideally, vitamin T is taken in on awakening, having a calm moment before the start of the day. During the day at selected intervals would also be good, and a final one at night before sleep.

Minimum daily intake: At the very least, once a day is the bare minimum intake for vitamin T.

Sources: The most common source of vitamin T is tea, which involves sitting down, switching off, and living in the now as you inhale the vapours of the freshly brewed tea. Unfortunately, quickly grabbing a cup of tea and sitting at your desk in front of a computer is not a good source of vitamin T, as it will not be absorbed. Similarly, grabbing a cup of coffee in the morning and racing out the door with a “heart-starter” is not only not a source of vitamin T, but is likely to put the body on a caffeine-sugar-burnout-caffeine-sugar-burnout treadmill that so many run on “just to get through the day”. And people wonder why they’re exhausted at the end of the day.

Tea is not the only source of vitamin T; a well-made cup of hot chocolate or even coffee if your taste runs to these things will suffice. In fact, just about anything eaten or drunk with mindfulness will suffice.

Meditation is also a brilliant source of vitamin T, and most definitely recommended in cases of vitamin T deficiency.

Symptoms of deficiency: There is a subtle but noticeable shift from cause to blame, and happiness no longer comes from within but is dependent on circumstances in the outside world. As a result, things tend towards a feeling of overwhelm, or as Abraham Hicks would put it, “outside the vortex” experiences.

Symptoms of overdose: A sense of calm, a happiness/joy/peace in whatever circumstances surround you; being “inside the vortex“.

So there. That’s vitamin T in a nutshell. I’m off to have a cup of tea right now!

 

*Okay, so they’re not entirely scientific facts. But what I’ve written makes some sense. 🙂

15 minute timer trick (Blogging on New Year’s Day)

1 January 2013

Like I said last week, I would be blogging on a Tuesday — every Tuesday — come rain, hail, or shine. Or in this case, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. At least I know Good Friday can’t possibly come on a Tuesday. 😉

So, today is New Year’s Day. I promise there will be absolutely NO:

  • resolutions
  • goals
  • reflections
  • general new year’s rubbish.

If you want to transform your life, any day’s a good day to start, and TODAY is always the best day to start anything.

So, new year’s hype aside, I thought I’d share a little trick that has stood me in good stead in the last few years in terms of cleaning out clutter: it’s the 15 minute timer trick. I can’t claim this is my original idea, it belongs to the wildly successful Flylady website.  So here it is:

Step 1: allocate yourself three areas that you want to work on (say, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. You want to clean the kitchen and bathroom, and declutter a couple of boxes in the bedroom).

Step 2: Set the timer to 15 minutes and go like crazy in the first area — let’s say it’s the kitchen. Clean, clean, clean as fast as you can as much as you can — it doesn’t have to be perfect, you are NOT doing all of the cupboards, just a quick wipe over, put away food, etc. As soon as the timer goes off, STOP.

Step 3: Now to the second area — let’s say your bedroom. You will sort as much as you can as fast as you can — it doesn’t have to be perfect or even complete, just 15 minutes’ solid work. You may even surprise yourself and finish early (I’ve done this on more than one occasion). As soon as the timer goes off, STOP.

Step 4: Now to the final room, in this case, the bathroom. Clean, clean, clean like crazy, until — you guessed it! — the timer goes off, then STOP immediately.

Step 5: Make yourself a nice hot cup of tea (or coffee if you prefer). Take a look around your house, and you’ll be surprised just how much you’ve accomplished in 45 minutes or less. If you feel up to it, you can do a second round, although I wouldn’t recommend a third one.

It’s surprising just how much you can accomplish in 15 minutes. I used to have two timers — my house was so cluttered I knew I wouldn’t always be able to find one, so I bought a backup just in case — but now I’m ready to get rid of the second one in my next 15 minute round of clutter clearing.

Tea, anyone?