Teachiai. (An ode to tea.)

Combining the characters for “stand” and “meet,” “tachiai” is the term for the initial charge that gets all sumo bouts underway.

(Credit to John Gunning and The Japan Times for the paraphrased quote above.)

Hello there, my friends. Let’s talk tea… literally. No spilling!

Somewhere along the way, I went from coffee-drinkerism to tea-drinkerism, a conversion that started to brew five or so years ago when I experienced an odd occurrence of coffee-induced nausea during a bout of the common cold. It was a note-to-self moment, don’t drink coffee again until the cold’s run its course, and somehow, the moment never ended. It just so happened that I never got back around to drinking coffee. It was an incidental quitting rather than an intentional one.

Maybe it was because I wasn’t missing the daily jump-start into the morning that I didn’t make a special note of it.

I didn’t miss the coffee jump-start, but now that I’ve made a new morning ritual of matcha-mushroom tea – a concoction I started drinking in the third week of last October, so four months ago as of this writing – I’m enjoying a different kind of daily morning boost. A cup of matcha green tea has the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee, but its caffeine delivery is a mellow slow-release. Where coffee roars, matcha green tea purrs. It’s a sustained purr that carries on for hours and hours.

The energy I get from matcha is significant yet quiet as its wonderfully juxtaposed calming effect is the opposite of the coffee jitters I remember too well. I find the whole experience of drinking this magickal beverage in the morning to be incredibly soothing, and I get to work with just the right amount of energy. With matcha green tea in my system, I hum along rather than bounce off the walls. There’s no crash-and-burn.

Mixing medicinal mushroom powder into the tea simply carries it over into another realm of goodness.

At night, I’ll sometimes indulge in another tea beverage: A Bengal Spice (Celestial Seasonings) soy milk latte. Celestial Seasonings crafted their Bengal Spice tea to be a caffeine-free chai, so essentially it’s a chai latte that can be enjoyed at night. I steep the tea for 5-7 minutes, covered with a cloth (so the brew is deep and intense in color and aroma) before filling the remaining 1/4 of the mug with soy milk. Those are my chai tea latte proportions of preference: 3/4 tea, 1/4 soy milk.

Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice soy latte.

On that note, my friends, I’ll wish you all a good night, this being later at night on my end. Translate this to “Good (whatever-applies-where-you-are).” Truth be told, writing about tea is making me want to get to bed earlier so that I can wake up sooner to my morning matcha-mushroom brew.

Until mid-week, then.

October-December and CURRENT Favorites! (31 Things.)

Hello, friends! Let’s get into my recent Favorite Things! Some of you have been asking about my next “favorites” list. I got you.

There’s a lot going on in this list because it’s a build-up of favorites ranging from October to now. 31 things, three months, the standard 10-per-month, plus one, as it’s the second week of the fourth month.

Surprisingly, I’ve only got two movies to show for the last three months. There were a few others that I watched, but I didn’t enjoy them enough (or wasn’t impressed enough) to want to share them. Whatever’s on this list is only here because it really knocked me out.

Without further ado, then!

MOVIES (In the order that I saw them)

1). Dune (IMAX theater)

Epic! Especially on IMAX!

2). The Power of the Dog (Netflix)

In my opinion, Benedict Cumberbatch deserves an Oscar for his work in this film. Cumberbatch as the dark and complex protagonist in a Western is one of the most surprising things I’ve seen in film ever, and his adeptness with the material in character is stunning. What a performance! And what a film, in general. I highly recommend this one.

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T.V. SERIES/MINISERIES (In the order that I saw them)

3). Midnight Mass (Netflix)

Spooky season in 2021 didn’t disappoint.

4). You, S3 (Netflix)

The finale episode of You, season 3 was without a doubt one of the best season finales I’ve ever seen, and season 3 is by far my favorite season of the series. This does not happen often. You season 3 is fantastic.

5). Maid (Netflix)

This one was difficult to watch, but I made myself sit through the whole thing, just one episode per week. That was all I could handle. I was relieved when it was over, but it was undeniably excellent, and I do recommend it. Trigger warning for domestic violence/abuse.

6). Escape From a House of Horror: A Diane Sawyer Special Event (Hulu)

Do you remember the case of the Turpin family? The group of 13 siblings who spent their lives locked up, abused, and malnourished, discovered by police after one of the daughters escaped? In this special on Hulu, Diane Sawyer interviews that young woman and her sister. It’s heart-breaking, but also inspiring.

7). Arcane (Netflix)

Outstanding animation and a great story!

8). The Witcher (Netflix) – Currently watching

9). Stay Close (Netflix) – Currently watching

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FOOD

10). Lacinato (“dinosaur”) kale with Okinawan sweet potatoes and kimchi.

Okinawan sweet potato, Lacinato kale, and kimchi
Kimchi and the purple potato complement each other so well!

I can’t come up with words to adequately describe Lacinato kale, as it’s unique. It’s delicate, slightly bitter, solid and soft at the same time, and it melts in the mouth (I steam it). I’m hooked!

11). Green leaf lettuce, avocado, and plant-based chick’n salad.

Green leaf lettuce, avocado, plant chick’n

This salad is heavenly. I use an entire (small) bunch of green leaf lettuce, an avocado, and pan-fried Tofurky chick’n pieces, and then I drizzle the salad generously with olive oil, squeeze in half of a lemon, and grind sea salt and black peppercorns over the whole thing. I could eat this salad every day and never get tired of it.

12). Almond-butter-stuffed protein pancakes.

Almond-butter-stuffed protein pancakes

I came up with this creation one Sunday morning – Sunday morning pancakes almost every week! – when I couldn’t decide on almond butter or regular Earth Balance with maple syrup. I wanted both, so I spread almond butter onto one pancake, topped it with the second one (I make two large pancakes with the amount of batter that’s supposed to feed a family of four – serving sizes are ridic, in my opinion), spread Earth Balance on that top pancake, cut the stack into wedges, and poured on the maple syrup. It’s delicious and quite filling. I haven’t had these pancakes any other way since.

My go-to protein pancake mix is Birchbenders Plant Protein Pancake and Waffle Mix.

13). Healthy Banana Cookies.

Healthy banana cookies

This recipe is sorcery. Explain to me how a mere five ingredients go from a chunky slimy wet and sloppy mess in the bowl to these amazing cookies after 15 minutes in the oven…? The five ingredients are bananas, dates, oatmeal, oil, and vanilla extract. There’s no flour, sweetener, or leavening agents. These cookies defy standard baking chemistry rules (of which I’m aware, anyway). The problem is that knowing that they’re basically baked oatmeal in cookie form, I feel justified in eating half a batch in one sitting. I have to ration them in order to make them last. No more than five at a time, I tell myself (before I proceed to eat eight).

14). Sourdough toast.

Sourdough toast with organic Earth Balance.

Hot sourdough toast dripping with butter (Earth Balance, in my case) is one of my favorite comfort foods. I was born in San Francisco and grew up in the SF Bay Area, so I’m super picky about my sourdough bread. For myself, personally, I’ve found that the best sourdough breads this side of San Francisco are any of the options available at Trader Joe’s. They have classic, whole wheat, and multi-grain varieties, and they’re all good.

15). Made in Nature Apricots in the Buff Supersnacks Organic Dried Apricots.

Made in Nature Apricots in the Buff Supersnacks Organic Dried Apricots

Ingredients: Organic pitted apricots.

16). Prana Organic Kilimanjaro Deluxe Chocolate Trail Mix.

Prana Organic Kilimanjaro Deluxe Chocolate Trail Mix

Someone gave to this me as a gift. I wish that they didn’t, because now I know about it.

Ingredients: 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate* (Chocolate liquor*, Cane sugar*, Cocoa butter*, vanilla extract*), Raisins* (raisins*, sunflower oil*), Cashews*, Almonds*, Cranberries* (cranberries*, cane sugar*, sunflower oil*), Walnuts*, Sea salt. *Organic

17). Clif Nut Butter Bar (Chocolate & Peanut Butter).

CLIF Nut Butter Bar (Chocolate & Peanut Butter)

Literally stuffed with creamy peanut butter!

Ingredients: PEANUT BUTTER*, ROLLED OATS*, OAT FLOUR*, BROWN RICE SYRUP*, CANE SYRUP*, DATE PASTE*, PEA PROTEIN*, HIGH OLEIC SUNFLOWER OIL*, RICE STARCH*, TAPIOCA SYRUP*, PALM OIL*, PEANUT FLOUR*, CANE SUGAR*, RICE FLOUR*, VEGETABLE GLYCERIN, UNSWEETENED CHOCOLATE*, COCOA*, NATURAL FLAVORS, SEA SALT, ALKALIZED COCOA*, SUNFLOWER LECITHIN, MIXED TOCOPHEROLS (ANTIOXIDANT).

*ORGANIC INGREDIENT

18). Sprouts Organic Popcorn Himalayan Pink Salt and Coconut Oil.

Sprouts Organic Popcorn Himalayan Pink Salt and Coconut Oil

Ingredients: Organic Popcorn, Organic Coconut Oil, Himalayan Pink Salt.

If you don’t have a Sprouts near you, any popcorn with Himalayan pink salt and coconut oil would be fabulous, I’m sure!

19). Rick’s Picks Smokra Pickled Okra with Seasoned Paprika.

Rick’s Picks Smokra

I love ingredients lists that look like this product’s. Everything on this list is whole, and it’s all stuff that I like. This pickled smoked okra is just sour enough, just spicy enough, and more than amazing enough. I’m totally hooked.

Ingredients: cider vinegar, okra, water, garlic, salt, smoked paprika, curry powder, mustard seed, chili flakes, dried chili peppers, cayenne pepper

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Beverages

20). Jade Leaf Organic Japanese Matcha Green Tea Powder.

Jade Leaf Organic Japanese Matcha Green Tea Powder

Ingredients: 100% organic Japanese Matcha green tea powder.

Matcha green tea – an antioxidant bomb with a slow-release caffeine effect that tastes as mellow as some black teas can taste sharp.

21). Kiki Green The Eight Mushrooms.

Kiki Green The Eight Mushrooms

I’ve added medicinal mushrooms back into my daily supplement regimen, and this time, I’ve gone the route of mushroom powder. This blend is excellent with its eight mushrooms: Red Reishi, Cordyceps, Chaga, Lion’s Mane, Shiitake, Turkey Tail, Maitake, and Agaricus Blazei Murrill.

Kiki Green’s The Eight Mushrooms powder is a newer product that hasn’t found its way to their website yet. They themselves posted it on their Facebook page with a link to the product on Amazon. Still, I’m linking you to Kiki Green’s site page on mushrooms, where you can read about the mushrooms, how they’re sourced and grown and harvested, the medicinal properties of each, and so on.

This brings me to my new morning indulgence:

22). Matcha-mushroom tea.

Matcha-mushroom tea

Every morning, I ritually create a hot brew of matcha green tea and these eight mushrooms, and I bring the steaming mug into my bedroom and set it on the dresser next to my lit candle and magickal new fluorite skull – thank you, friend! – and drink it as I get ready for the day. Surprisingly, the brew tastes of dark, bitter (unsweetened) chocolate. The flavor of the tea, itself, is mellow, round, and smooth, and somehow, the added mushrooms give it a distinct cocoa flavor, exactly as I’d imagine hot chocolate tasted as consumed by the ancient Maya and Aztecs.

23). Pirq (“Decadent Chocolate”)

Pirq Decadent Chocolate protein drink.

It became less and less possible to get my hands on my years-long favorite plant-protein shake by Vega – I guess they discontinued it – so I had to switch. I landed on this one by Pirq, and I have to say, I can’t be mad about it. It straight-up tastes like chocolate milk.

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PRODUCTS

24). Sprouts Shea Butter and Almond Bar Soap. (Cruelty-free and vegan)

Sprouts Shea Butter & Almond Bar Soap

My beloved Dr. Bronner’s tea tree liquid soap rebelled against me at some point in the fall… it started drying out my skin as the weather turned cooler. I had to go on the hunt for another option for the cold months, and I found a gem in the first one that I tried. It’s this unassuming little bar of soap, Sprouts’ generic brand, ivory in color and devoid of design or fragrance. The bar yields a generous, rich lather, and it leave my skin soft and moisturized. Another keeper!

25). Sea Witch Botanicals Krampus Solid Perfume. (Cruelty-free and vegan)

Sea Witch Botanicals Krampus Solid Perfume

My sister-in-law gave this perfume to me for Christmas. Its label reads: “A Sinister Winter Aroma of Frankincense, Woods, and Holiday Spice.” I guess if any fragrance could be described as “sinister,” it would be this one. It’s gorgeous.

26). Hask Biotin Boost 5-in-1 Leave-In Spray. (Cruelty-free and vegan)

Hask Biotin Boost 5-in-1 Leave-In Spray

I just wasn’t born with “nice” hair, and there are no miracle hair products, so any hair product that I post as a favorite gets onto the list because it works well relative to the ground-zero state of things. This biotin boost spray smells just awful – like a 1970’s beauty salon – and I was going to trash it based on that. Then I woke up the next morning and saw what it did to my hair. I went out immediately and bought another one before it could be discontinued. Enough said.

27). e.l.f. Luminous Putty Primer Universal Glow. (Cruelty-free and vegan)

e.l.f. Luminous Putty Primer Universal Glow

I’ve never had a good experience with primers, but I was happy to try three of e.l.f.’s putty primers when they arrived as free trial-size additions to an order. The original putty primer worked well, to my surprise, and this luminous version worked even better. I bought a full-size one.

28). Too Faced Peach Bloom Color Blossoming Lip & Cheek Tint (in Strawberry Glow). (Cruelty-free)

Too Face Peach Bloom Lip and Cheek Tint

I wanted to try the darkest one there on the right, but it was sold out, so I got the one that wasn’t orangey. It’s a perfect shade of just enough color, and I love its silky formula. Also, it’s long-wearing! Incidentally, I think this is my first lip-color product on a “favorites” list since 2019.

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MISCELLANEOUS

29). Mrs. Meyers Iowa Pine (seasonal/limited edition) Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner.

Mrs. Meyers Iowa Pine seasonal cleaner

When Mrs. Meyer’s came out with their Iowa Pine limited edition scent for the holidays, I had a feeling that it would become my new, less-toxic Pine-Sol for my spiritual floor washes… and it did. Its pine scent is softer and lighter and just lovely, and I feel better about using it. I use this as my everyday cleaning spray, and when I go to do my floors, I just pour a little into the mop bucket with warm water. You know I stocked up vigorously. It’s now unavailable until next holiday season, but I’m set for the year.

30). Killstar “Don’t Care” slippers.

These slippers are adorable and that was what drew me to them, but that’s not why they’re on this list. They’re on the list because they keep my feet unbelievably warm and cozy. My house, as you know, is deliberately cold. My feet being warm is crucial. These slippers make all the difference, and their adorableness is a bonus!

On me:

Killstar Don’t Care Slippers

The link is going to break soon, because these slippers are on clearance and selling out!

31). Duraflame Freestanding Infrared Quartz Fireplace Stove with Remote Control.

Duraflame fireplace space heater in my office

As I’d mentioned recently, this electric fireplace was a birthday gift from my parents. I’m blessed. 3D and flickering, the fire looks as real as hell, literally.

That’s it for the next… while, I guess! I’ll check in with another “favorites” list in three-four months, my friends. I do find that covering material over several months (rather than every month) makes sense.

May this find you healthy and safe!