Boss Up with Bevin Your dream life is at the end of your comfort zone

2016-05-09

What the Heck is Inflammation and Why is Drinking Anti-Inflammatory Tea Good For You?

My friend Mucha just moved to LA and she’s renting out our guest room briefly while she gets settled. It’s nice to have someone to teach all of my newfound information about the neighborhood and living in LA. She used the same movers we used, she already has her driver’s license, she’s getting stuff done.

She’s also getting hives. It’s probably a weed allergy she hasn’t been exposed to yet, so she’s doing the things you do like taking Zyrtec and whatnot, but I suggested drinking my Hibiscus Coconut tea to help with the inflammation.

hibiscuscoconutteaThis tea is so gorgeous, when it’s in dry form and when you brew it, it’s so pink and pretty.

She said to me, “What the heck is inflammation anyway?” (She didn’t say heck, actually.) She’s right, people throw around health buzzwords but they rarely get explained in this mile a minute internet world.

I’m going to tell you my understanding of inflammation. I am not a doctor and you should totally consult a doctor or naturopath or someone in the medical field who knows your body before you take my advice, but maybe this will help folks have more understanding about how inflammation works and why anti-inflammatories are so good for you.

My understanding of inflammation comes from my experience doing my friend Vic’s cleanses. Vic is my health coach and I am so forever grateful to her for helping me address chronic health issues by reorienting how I interact with food. Her cleanses are a real stay full, learn about cooking and foods and your body’s reactions to foods experience.

Inflammation is when your body is in fight mode. Our immune system is meant to rise up to attack when we get sick or injured, to move healing energy to that part of our body that needs healing. When you have a cut that’s puffy, that’s inflammation because our immune system is going to work. When we have chronic inflammation it is where our bodies are fighting everything.

beltanemuchaA weed allergy and yet the opportunities to hang out on lawns on blankets with friends in LA abounds!

For example, if you are allergic to the grass around your house and every single day you had itchy eyes and watery nose and hives, you might get used to that being your everyday life. But you go to visit a friend’s house and when you’re there you have clear eyes and no watery nose and no hives. You feel so good! And then you go home again and feel crappy. Inflammation is like a silent version of that, where your body is exhibiting lots of side effects from other parts of your body you don’t realize.

Inflammation in the gut (where 70% of your immune system lives) can lead to tons of outside symptoms–for me it was chronic IBS and my body being achy. For other folks it can lead to auto-immune disorders, psoriasis, increased depression, the list is endless. Anti-inflammatory foods are also sometimes linked to cancer prevention and since my partner is a cancer survivor we work hard to give her nourishing anti-inflammatory foods!

bevinmuchaLove this babe so much. She got to town four days before Dara and I threw a HUGE Seder dinner/performance art event in our backyard. This photo is from my outfit as “God.”

Inflammation can result from the food you eat, sleep deprivation and stress. Yes, having an ongoing stressful situation can physically harm you and wind you up with a chronic or worsened health condition.

I handled my chronic inflammation by doing the Candida Murder Plan. Working with Vic, it really helped me figure out what are my trigger foods and how to orient my nutrition.

I now focus on supplementing my diet with anti-inflammatory natural foods. (Like the Good for Me Lifestyle Heal Me honeys–so good for inflammation and migraines.) I make a lot of bone broth and try to make sure there’s always soup in the house made from bone broth. The recipe I use is from my health coach and I make sure to add a whole bunch of scallions, more salt than you think you need, a little pepper and a cup of dried Nettle leaf because of its anti-inflammatory gut healing properties.

muchaonsunsetWalking in Silverlake.

When I made my Hibiscus Coconut tea it was because I wanted something refreshing and hydrating and delicious. I also realized as I did more work with hibiscus, how good it is at anti-inflammatory work in the body. I decided to add Nettle leaf to the tea to just give it a wham pow of anti-inflammatory magic. So folks who bought the tea in the first pre sale got the original version and when I tried

The way Reiki works is to transmit life force energy. When you get a Reiki treatment, this energy is put into you by your practitioner. Because it is energy once you are Level 2 certified, you can transmit that energy through time and space and into objects. My goal with my teas is to amplify the naturally occurring herbal benefits in the flowers and leaves themselves, as well as provide the drinker with Reiki healing energy.

With all of my teas, I think you get the most benefit drinking one cup a day. Set aside fifteen minutes a day to enjoy a cup, treat it as a centering experience and you’ll experience better quality of life. Even if you don’t buy into the anti-inflammatory idea, self care stretches time. Taking that pause is important!

I’m excited to be feeding Mucha lots of nourishing foods and see if having her drinking deliciously tart Hibiscus Coconut tea every day helps with her “Welcome to LA you’re allergic to everything” hives.

bevinmuchadunks

I’m doing a pre sale of my teas through May 10th, but will leave the sale open a bit longer if you’re reading this post later than that. Can’t wait to scale up my business so I can do orders all the time!

And if you have questions about any of the tea blends hit me up, I am excited to talk about them and have so much communications work to do on my forthcoming website! It’s truly my dream come true to develop a business to help get healing and self love into as many hands as possible!

2016-05-02

Honoring Prince with New Reiki Infused Tea Blends–Pre Sale through May 10th

Hey friends!

I am excited to start my second Reiki-infused Tea Blend pre sale! This time around I am using the proceeds to work with a graphic designer on tea branding and fund attendance at the World Tea Expo next month! Dara and I can stay with her mom, so that means I just need to get the funds for the steep (pun intended) $500 entrance fee. Also, the diagnosis of the back end buggy issues on this here blog is to install a new theme and move to a new host, which is going to cost hundreds of dollars. It’s also wrapped into starting a website for the tea itself!

feelingsThis is what the tea tins look like, the packaging will continue to evolve as I work on new labels and work with a graphic designer on branding.

I had so much great feedback from the first round of tea shipped out. People said it was “love in a cup,” “totally delicious,” and one person even said “Best tea I’ve ever had” about the Find Your Chill blend! Wow!!

Because I love to grieve by creating art, I thought that for this sale I would create two special blends to honor Prince. One caffeinated and one herbal tisane. I’ve heard a lot about his secret philanthropy since his death and am donating 20% of the proceeds from those blends to Yes We Code, a coding school empowering folks from low-opportunity backgrounds find success in the tech sector.

Reiki Infused Tea Blend Offerings:

Each tin contains enough loose tea or tisane for 20 cups.

PurpleReign

Purple Reign: A Tea Honoring Prince
Caffeinated tea. Ceylon tea blended with purple herbs and a subtle berry flavor. This can be a good daytime pick-me up or drink so you can keep rocking all night, like Prince himself. 20% of the proceeds from this blend benefit a charity Prince supported. Yes We Code is a coding school empowering folks from low-opportunity backgrounds find success in the tech sector.

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Erotic City: An Herbal Tisane Honoring Prince
Herbal Tisane. Green Rooibos tea is a naturally caffeine free anti-oxident powerhouse, blended with Passionflower, Damiana, Rhodiola root, and Oat Straw to reduce feelings of anxiety and naturally enhance libido through relaxation. The flavor profile tends towards fruity but it is a subtle flavor. 20% of the proceeds from this blend benefit a charity Prince supported. Yes We Code is a coding school empowering folks from low-opportunity backgrounds find success in the tech sector.

selflovetea

Self Love Tea
Caffeinated. Pu-erh is a type of tea that is fermented rather than dried. The result is a more full-bodied tea with richer flavor and darker in color. I blend the Pu-erh with rose petals, citrus peel and bergamot. Rose petals balance the heart and mind and soothe emotions. Making yourself tea is a self-loving act; making tea with the intention of loving yourself and the support of rose petals kicks the effectiveness into high gear!

Bevin’s Earl Grey
Caffeinated. Black tea leaves are blended with a small amount of Rhodiola rosea, a root traditionally used to fight fatigue and improve energy in folks depleted by stress. Flavored with bergamot oil like a traditional Earl Gray, this tea goes beyond the standard renewal of the traditional Earl Gray.

Find Your Chill
Herbal tisane (the common parlance is “tea” but actually when they are herbs it’s a tisane). This is my calming blend. Chamomile and lavender are standards in the calming herbal market, but did you know that catnip has a soothing effect on humans? I find it really takes down my stress levels. For this reason, catnip is also great at soothing upset stomachs! I blend it with lemon peel, orange peel and other natural citrus flavors to add deliciousness. My serving suggestion to take the flavor up a notch is to add lemon juice (bonus if it’s fresh lemon from a neighbor’s tree).

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Feelings Tea
Herbal tisane. When you are having Big Feelings–anger, hurt, frustration, sadness, grief–the only way out is through. My Feelings tea is a blend of oatstraw, rose petals and hawthorne berries to support soothing and strengthening the nerves and emotional healing. My Find Your Chill calming herbs–lavender, chamomile and catnip are also added to help soothe tension. To this I add natural tart flavorings, including elderberries, rosehips and hibiscus, to acknowledge that having feelings is sometimes tart. The blend is delicious and a great way to step back and support feeling your feelings.

dollymintscale

Dolly Mint
Herbal tisane. This was my favorite to blend as I am a really picky mint tea drinker and I’ve really nailed it with this one. I blend spearmint and peppermint, both soothe digestion. Added to it is a touch of sweet blackberry leaves, rosemary, rosehips, and chicory root. Chicory (you might know it from the addition to th that rounds out the mint with an earthy flavor. It’s great as a standard hot tea and also wonderful iced. Another serving suggestion–I like to give it a long steep (say, 30 minutes or so) and then add ice and your fav dairy or non-dairy milk for a delicious iced tea latte situation.

hibiscus

Hibiscus Coconut
Herbal tisane. Hibiscus, which is great for hydration and cooling, and coconut, which is great for being delicious. Includes Nettles, which is a great all-purpose herb and anti-inflammatory.

Rooibos Citrus
Herbal tisane. Rooibos is an African Red Bush tea that is known to hold flavors exceptionally well. Rooibos is a medicinal wunderkind–great at treating skin conditions and fighting free radicals. I blend this with citrus flavors to create a delicious tea suitable to any time of day.

Lesbian Tea Basket Sampler Pack
A sample pack that will make you 3 cups of each of the above seven flavors. (Does not include Prince tea blends.)

The tea pre sale goes through May 10th, and all items will ship by June 2, enabling me to purchase supplies and containers.

Click here to order!

2016-04-21

My Favorite Tea Accessories

Hey it’s British National Tea Day! What better way to celebrate than to tell you my favorite tea accessories and chronicle my day’s tea drinking on Instagram?

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If I were going to personal shop for you what you need in your tea making arsenal (except the leaves themselves), this is what I would buy you.

First and foremost is the proper loose tea brewing accessory. Before I upgraded I thought I was fine with a tea ball, a mesh contraption that holds tea like a tea bag does. Wrong. Life is so much better and tea brews so much better with a cup shaped infuser. It’s a $10 investment in your tea drinking happiness.

The cup shape allows the tea to swim around in your tea water and brews each herb better. Loose tea is superior to bagged tea because it’s the full leaves of tea, not a powder. (Cut open a Celestial Seasonings tea bag and check out the powder for yourself!) I find a cup shaped infuser is so versatile! I can use it in a mug of any size, the product I suggest has a longer arm so it can sit on a wider mouth cup. I can also use it in a tea pot. Normally you use about a teaspoon of tea per cup of water (depending on the type/manufacturer) and because there’s more space in this you can brew multiple cups at once. If you don’t have a teapot yet, you can use a large measuring cup as a teapot with one of these infusers.

I invested a long time ago in an electric tea kettle. It was a great choice for me because I tend to walk away from the brewing water and it wastes gas and could cause a fire if I walked away from the stove, right? I had this one for only $15 and it served me well until I leveled up. I found the cord fiddly to constantly have to unplug in order to refill my cup.

I leveled up to a tea kettle that hits all of my sweet spots. It sets on a base which is much easier to refill cups. I can set the temperature to adhere to tea brewing instructions. Sensitive white tea likes it 180 degrees Farenheiht, versus boiling which is 212. Best of all, it continues to heat the water for up to an hour after boiling, which is exceptionally helpful in a multi-tea drinker household where both of us work from home.

The tea kettle did poop out last Fall, six months after I bought it. The base just stopped heating up my water. I called Hamilton Beach and they replaced it under warranty for $16 shipping, which was cheaper than buying a new one and fairly easy to do. If you buy a different one than this be sure to read the reviews! There was one I bought for $80 with a coupon and gift card and returned to Bed Bath and Beyond because the reviews were so bad.

An essential tea accessory for iced tea drinker is a 3-in-1 iced tea pitcher! I like to have a lot of iced tea ready at once so I combine two pitchers and mason jars in my fridge for multiple options. Usually I brew it in this pitcher and then transfer it to a mason jar for storage, and then keep brewing.

This one is great. The long infuser is a cup infuser, it comes with a screw top so it can be immersed in the pitcher. You can swap out the cup infuser for a fruit infuser, and can add fruit flavor, lemon, whatever to your tea. Or just use it for infused water! It also comes with a reusable frozen thingy that keeps the tea cold for use outside. It rules, I love it! Dara bought mine from David’s Tea for our six month anniversary after watching me lust after it. David’s has moved on to simpler iced tea pitchers (why???) but you can get it on Amazon for $30. (Be sure to grab one that is BPA free–anytime you buy something plastic that might come in contact with hot stuff like water you want to make sure it’s BPA free.)

All of these accessories have been so essential to me starting my Reiki infused tea blend business! I’m excited to announce I’ll be doing another pre sale of tea starting next week. I’ll have the sale page up for a week and then I’ll order supplies, pack and ship again! This time I’m raising money to go to the World Tea Expo in Vegas in June so that I can learn more about tea flavoring and expand my supplier options!

2016-02-26

LA Week Five: Turning Social

I’m loving these weekly check-ins about the transition to LA. I keep reminding myself of the power of six months, that in six months everything will be different, settled, and all of this transitioning stuff won’t be in the forefront of my mind all the time.

There’s so much more to the transition than I thought there would be. I guess I thought I could prepare and plan enough, since I spent months preparing and planning for the move. But I don’t think I had any idea what kind of energy it requires to not know where anything is and get acclimated to a whole new place. Most of the time when I’ve moved in the past I had at least a passing comfort with the neighborhood.

heatherwithdollymintHeather, drinking my Dolly Mint Reiki tea blend by a fire pit. #blessed

The biggest thing that happened this week was the launch of my Reiki Tea pre sale. People tell me I’m “brave” all the time but I don’t necessarily feel brave. It’s so scary to put your dream out on the line and be open to failure. It’s really vulnerable!

The Reiki tea blend business was a great idea and was very “safe” in idea phase. The sweet and awesome news is that as soon as I put the post up I made a sale (thank you Allison!!) and I’ve gotten enough orders that I’m nearly 20% of the way to making the B-School tuition! (Including $100 from Grandmother she gave me for my birthday and Christmas.) I had been planning a pre sale at some point but having the deadline and the big goal was really helpful. I feel good that at least I’m trying and I get to share this awesome healing modality with my blog audience!

barbtommyselfieWith Barb and Tommy!

This fifth week in LA was all about turning social. Up until this point I’ve seen a couple of folks a week, having been so overwhelmed with setting up the house I had to lay low, but people have been in town and it is good to take breaks and see people.

We also had to have a major overhaul of our travel plans and intentions. We thought we’d be done with the house set-up so much quicker, but we weren’t. We were going to go up to Las Vegas to support Dara’s mom in the Nevada caucus last weekend (she was a precinct chair), but Dara ultimately decided that we should stay home and get more settled in. I was going to go up to the Bay Area this weekend to go to Bryn’s SF memorial and when another friend of mine passed suddenly last week I knew that my self care interest would be served by not traveling. The grief pile-on has been kind of a lot.

I think I can sometimes use socializing and traveling as a way to not stay present. I love both of those things, but I know I also need to balance it by feeling my feelings, doing my self care work, etc… Traveling is a lot of energy and disruption. Not traveling these two weekends has been great because I was able to find a humane butcher at the local farmer’s market and get a pork shoulder and bones. I feel like once I make bone broth, maybe that’s how I finally feel settled? Anyway, it has felt great to eat nourishing food I spent a long time brewing.

greenspartyGreens!

It also feels super nourishing to get to see friends I’ve known a long time and who are familiar in a new and not yet familiar place! That has been a nice antidote to the newness.

Friday night we did a little York Avenue taco tour in Highland Park with our friends Kristen and Madeleine. I met Kristen eight years ago at the Femme Conference with her feminist burlesque group the Miracle Whips. (The Miracle Whips are also featured in the Glitter and Grit Anthology, a brand new book I highly recommend from Heels on Wheels!)

tacoparty

The four of us, rather than choosing one taco place decided to try first the Vegan taco truck (delicious), then we thought there were street tacos but instead was a woman selling sausages wrapped in bacon (extremely delicious), and then another taco truck across the street from the Vegan truck that was “conventional” tacos and also really delicious. A street dinner for less than $10 each. I’m still trying to figure out my exact right condiment preferences for tacos. Definitely cilantro, but which kind of hot sauce? Onions? Radishes or no?

sausageparty

Saturday morning Dara went for her first and last run along the LA River (it hurt her knees which were weakened during chemotherapy) and I went for an aura cleansing class in Hollywood. I’m thrusting myself into the woo lifestyles of LA and I feel really great about it.

I moved out here to work on my spiritual gifts and I am super into any class for $15 that will teach me woo modalities. This was taught by the owners of the House of Intuition here in LA, which now has three locations and the stores and products are great. I visited when I was here in May and so many folks told me it was a must-see. (They also have an online store.)

houseofintentionworkshopauracleansing

The owners are queer women of color (a couple) and I learned SO much. About starting a business based on your intuition, building altars, magic, and the promised aura cleansing methods, which involves a ritual bath or shower. It gave me a lot of great ideas for enhancing my ritual for tea blending!

My friend Heather (co-editor of the Glitter and Grit anthology) was in town this weekend so I visited her at the apartment she was staying in. It was like a gorgeous human terrarium, with a running brook through the complex, a grotto, a heated pool with a fountain, a community grill, an outdoor fire place and a dry sauna. We used all of those things with Caitlin, another LA transplant from Brooklyn and Heather’s friend Monica. It was awesome to be around Femmes for the afternoon and just hang hard and look really cute.

poolpartyThis pool party was also my first time in a bikini as an LA resident.

I wore a semi-slutty dress over there because I have gotten so tired of wearing the same ten outfits. All of my clothes are still in boxes pending the completion of my Mariah Carey closet in our attic, but due to my weirdo packing some clothes have surfaced, including this super cute dress that is just so low cut I only like to wear it when I’m feeling really confident or with a group of folks I feel safe and supported by. Femme gatherings are great for fashion risks.

The truth is, I haven’t felt as confident since we got here. Being in that constant state of “I don’t know this area I don’t know where I’m going” has left me a little more vulnerable and thus less inclined to take risks or draw attention to myself aesthetically. I just want to hang out with cats / not get cat calls right now.

Heather’s partner Silas came home before I left and it was great to squeeze him and catch up! He’s directing and doing some other work on Transparent Season 3, you totally need to check his instagram for the dish. I’m so excited for his work coming out. Did you see the amazing video he directed for Peaches that came out a couple of months ago?

Then we party hopped to dinner with my friend Tommy who was visiting LA with his girlfriend (and Dara’s good friend) Barb. We went to this place down the street from us, Links n Hops, a SAUSAGE RESTAURANT. I am committed to trying all of their many kinds of sausages.

barbtommyFirst time seeing Tommy since my going away party in December!

Monday I finally went to the beach for the first time since living in LA and that was great except for super sad reasons. My friend Melissa Tracy, who is just a little bit younger than me, passed away suddenly last week. I have very few regrets in my life but I now definitely regret not aggressively pursuing a hang out with her before I left NY. We met when she lived in Baltimore, she moved to SF, then back to Baltimore, then to Ventura, then to Nyack, NY (near NYC). I will probably write more later about Melissa, but whenever I imagined her in Ventura I imagined her on this very specific beach I love there. I met up with my old friend James Leander who also knew Melissa and we said a prayer and lit a candle. It was super windy at that beach and I felt it was extremely auspicious that we were able to easily find a tiny candle cave to keep it lit.

candlecave

On the way back from Ventura I stopped in Camarillo to visit with my Aunt Shari. It’s so nice to just get to drop in and see my family! I watched the full moon rise over the mountains near East LA from I-5 on the way home. Did you catch the full moon on Monday? Celestial gorgeousness!

Tuesday we drove Heather to the airport and because avoiding traffic is a huge hobby of ours, Dara had a meeting in the late afternoon in Marina Del Rey (beachside town near LAX) and it was an adventure we made a day of it. We did a post-airport drop off Panera work date, had a post-lunch stroll on the beach, then back to another coffee shop for more work and Dara’s meeting. It was a looooong day but totally worth it for the beach break.

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Tuesday night I reunited with a longtime Femme friend, Jenni, who is another NYC area LA transplant, but had a year and a half jump on me. I got to make her dinner, which we ate with a huge pile of “to sort” stuff looming in the living room, but it was a super sweet reminder of what me and Dara are working so hard on our house for. I cannot wait to have dinner parties and regular parties and social things.

In fact, we planned a painting party/mild carpentry party this coming Saturday for some friends to come over and help us work on the Mariah Carey closet installation. It’s been hard for us to carve out the time and I truly love throwing parties way more than painting. I figured combining the two would be a really great way to motivate. Even if three people show up the extra help would rule. And then I get to be social and feel like I’m making progress on our house.

Oh also, we played tennis outside yesterday. Though the transition is still rough and scary sometimes, LA is definitely really sweet right now. I think, among the laundry list of physical, emotional and spiritual work to do right now is to really feel that I deserve all of the tremendous blessings that LA is offering. The weather is beautiful, the things we have access to are so phenomenal. I mean, my friend invited me over to swim in a heated pool and lounge by an outdoor fireplace at a random apartment complex just six minutes from me. Like, making this change has been a ton of work and hard, and it’s so much easier to not make change and just think about or long for what it would be like to make change. But pulling the trigger and walking through the gauntlet yields some pretty amazing stuff.

I’m really praying that pulling the trigger on starting the Reiki tea business is not scary for long and is one more beautiful blessed thing that I get to do now that I live here.

2015-04-10

New Episode of the Lesbian Tea Basket: Downton Abbey Teas (No Spoilers)

THERE ARE NO SPOILERS IN THIS POST.

That’s important for anyone who remains a Downton Abbey virgin. My dog groomer, Sequinette, of Fur Majesty NYC grooming, recently confessed to me that she hasn’t ever watched it. I know she’ll love it, so I said it to her and I say it to any of my readers who haven’t gone there with Downton… It’s waiting for you when you’re ready.

People are so into Downton for a ton of reasons. Here are some of the reasons I love it:

1. High drama: This show, like Empire, Nashville, Alias, Dallas (I went there with an 80s nighttime soap opera), loves to make 90 degree turns with its drama. By the end of an episode out of nowhere a character’s life will be changed forever. Also, like Buffy, the show’s writers are not afraid to kill off a beloved character, which amps the drama up 10 million percent. Scientifically proven high drama factor.

2. Vintage glamour: OMG the costumes! The hair! The sets. Downton the location (it’s set in some huge castle that is a real life place) is practically a character in the series.

maggie-smith-downton-abbey-2The Dowager Countess (played by Maggie Smith) is my favorite character. Her one liners are amazing. “Don’t be defeatist dear, it’s very middle class.”

3. Class tension: There are not a lot of shows on television that address class in any way, even the ones that are set in working class surroundings don’t always discuss it. I love that they talk about it, and especially that the show over the seasons addresses changing times in England, that exploration of the division between “upstairs and downstairs” (the upper class and the serving class that served them) is actually pretty nuanced and ongoing.

4. English people experiencing feelings: Emotions aren’t something Brittish people are known for being comfortable with and it’s so fascinating watching characters who are supposed to suppress feelings having them. The actors are really great in Downton Abbey.

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5. Shirley Maclaine! She shows up sometimes.

6. Tea passion: I literally always go make some tea while watching Downton because they remind me about tea and then I want to drink some.

So when Dara and I found a canister of GRANTHAM BLEND tea from The Republic of Tea at Bed Bath & Beyond last summer we were dumbfounded. Did we plop $12 on a caffeinated tea I probably wouldn’t like as much as PG Tips (because it is my hands-down favorite black tea why try something else). But the answer was, we love Downton Abbey and I figured it would be great to try it.

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Then on a recent trip to BB&B* I found more Downton Teas! Their English Rose tea (based on the daughters Grantham) and their Estate Blend (an Earl Gray based on the Dowager Countess). After that score I knew I needed to Lesbian Tea Basket about it.

Here are the Downton Tea Blends I tried from The Republic of Tea.

English Rose Tea (delightful hibiscus rose blend)
Grantham Breakfast Blend (a black tea basic–don’t be fooled it does not taste like ginger)
Estate Blend (an Earl Gray that is the best vanilla black tea I’ve ever had–you can only get it at Cost Plus World Market OR the CPWM in the Bed Bath and Beyond)

There are FOUR MORE varieties of Downton Teas I still need to try (and you can get them from The Republic of Tea website). Lady Cora’s Evening Tea is next on my list (chamomile lemon blend). Bates’ Brambleberry tea (another caffeinated black flavor tea) comes out on May 1st! And for $6 you can buy a sampler pack of ALL OF THE DOWNTON TEAS. I love a sampler.

You can watch all the seasons of Downton Abbey on Amazon Prime here in the States! And *sob* the upcoming season is going to be the last!

20141106_153105I think I love BB&B partially because of my triple B initials and partially because of the coupons and partially because I live in the city and it is kind of the best suburban style store and partially because of all the as seen on TV merch.

*We were at Bed Bath because I had coupons! I bought a $130 slow cooker/roaster/steamer thing for $80 on a gift card! I felt like the best Cooking Identified Femme Huntress when I scored that level of discount and used a gift card. I love coupons. I’ve been posting my recipe successes with the Ninja 3-in-1 on instagram.

If you want to buy your Downton Tea with a coupon, sign up for the Bed Bath & Beyond mailing list. The most valuable one for this I think would be to get the $5 off $15 coupon from the back of the catalog or use the 20% off coupons from the mailings or that you sometimes find in People Magazine. It’s like the best ongoing easter egg hunt when you have a BB&B gift card like I do and you want to ultra maximize your savings. Do you have BB&B money saving tips to share? Please comment!!! I love this game.

If you want to watch all of the episodes of the Lesbian Tea Basket, my web series where I rate and review tea and reclaim tea parties for lesbians, clickie here!

2015-04-02

New Episode of the Lesbian Tea Basket: Adagio Tea Haul

Filed under: Lesbian Tea Basket — Tags: , , , , , , — Bevin @ 3:42 pm

I had watched a few you tube videos about video bloggers doing “Hauls” about how they bought a bunch of stuff at a vintage store or make-up or whatever. I did the same thing with something I know a lot about buying. Tea.

So far, I love Adagio. I even had a really great experience talking to their live chat doohickey on the website. (“Want help? Chat live with a specialist!”) They call the chat person a “Tea Docent” and after their extreme competency helping me get a perpetual coupon to put up here on my blog, I believe they can help you get some tea knowledge going on. I mean, if you walked into a fancy tea store, hopefully someone would roll up on you and help you find the tea you want. Just like a docent in a museum tells you about the exhibits you’re looking at, a docent in a tea website can tell you about their teas.

IMG_20150401_183102Here’s the whole outfit I was wearing when I filmed this. I did it after a Bjork concert and I had a lot of creative energy.

The teas can be purchased in sample sizes (10 cups or so for cheap), bigger pouches and even in tea bags in case you don’t want to hassle with loose tea.

To get $5 off your first order at Adagio, use this coupon code: 3189993374

Full disclosure, I get points towards free tea if you use it. Win-win. Sip sip.

Here’s the episode with my haul, some brief yays and skips about the teas I’ve tried, and below the video are a bunch of links to the teas I talked about that I would recommend (and a couple I didn’t have time to talk about).

Here are the varieties I’ve tried, enjoyed and recommend:

Herbal or Decaf:
Blood Orange
Decaf Peach
Decaf Tropics
Decaf Raspberry
Sour Apple (a good kool aid kind of tea)
Decaf Earl Gray (I’m on a mission to find my favorite decaf Earl Gray… so far this is #2 on my list, behind Harney & Sons, but it’s #2 of at least 8 that I’ve tried–it’s pretty great)

Caffeinated in some capacity:
Earl Gray Moonlight (I love a cream Earl Gray and this one is superb)
Pu Erh Chorange (they nail this one, so delicious)
Pu Erh Hazelberry
Pu Erh Sampler (a really great place to start if you’re new to Pu Erh–has the two above in it)

And if you’re both a tea nerd and a lifestyle nerd, they offer Fandom blends. At the recommendation of my dear friend Megan Beene, I tried the Quartermaster sample, which came in a really cute tin with 50s dad glasses adorning it. I couldn’t figure out what Quartermaster was about. I thought it might be a Sherlock thing because Megan loves that show on the BBC but it took me asking my Tea Docent and a follow-up email to confirm that it’s about “Q” from 007, the recent movie. This “Q” is a handsome nerd dude, and I can see why people want to make tea about them. (P.S. I found the tea not as flavorful or strong as I would want from a caffeinated black tea.)

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I’ve been working on a Dorothy Allison blend of my reiki tea. I get it.

Watch more episodes of the Lesbian Tea Basket on this You Tube Playlist! I just changed the ordering of it so it goes from most recent to oldest. Watch me age in reverse!

2014-11-13

New Episode of my Web Series The Lesbian Tea Basket

Hey friends! There’s a new episode of my web series The Lesbian Tea Basket up! Epsiode 29. With a backlog of unedited episodes, in this one I’m back to basics having figured out how to film myself on this computer and rating and reviewing tea.

In this episode I try some Teavana tea, iced, in a new Tervis Tumbler cup I got as a wedding favor.

The flavor is Youthberry Wild Orange Blossom Blend with Rock Sugar Sample. The link I’m giving here has slightly different ingredients than the one I was given as part of Leo’s tea stash divestment, so perhaps Teavana changed their blend? Now I have something else to investigate.

I meant to talk about my outfit in the video but I got carried away about the tea… The pink jacket with the silver flare on the shoulders was what I call a “failed resale.” I bought it when I was doing my own side clothing resale stuff online about three years ago. It never sold and I couldn’t part with it when it came time to get rid of the remnants. And now it’s part of my wardrobe.

If you’d like to check out other episodes of the Lesbian Tea Basket, here is a playlist that has all of them! I love sharing my tea adventures.

20141112_222508 (1)I didn’t manage to get a photo with the sweater on but here’s the outfit underneath the sweater that I wore to MIX Fest on Wednesday night for the Queer Rebels curated films.

2014-06-12

My Reading with Spiritual Advisor Alex and Kazoo

I like to think of meetings with spiritual advisors, psychics, astrologers, past life readers and all manner of woo folks to be a cross between spiritual practice and therapy. You get a chance to work through issues you are having with someone who has more insights than you might at a given time and it also relies on your belief in a power/energy/spirit world greater than yourself.

A friend of mine had a reading with Alex and Kazoo and recommended him. Alex, that is, who is the human part of the duo, Kazoo being the spiritual end. Alex communicates with Kazoo, the name he gave his spirit guide at a young age.

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I started working with Alex and Kazoo with a twenty minute reading, which he offered as a special a couple of months ago. After our first reading I was sold on his gift, our connection and I was curious what a longer, hour long reading would be like.

Both times I met with Alex and Kazoo via Skype. I’ve done other spiritual readings over skype before and I find them to be just as good as in person, sometimes even better because for some reason my focus is a little more sharp. When I’m with someone in person it takes me longer to focus in on the interaction and I get more distracted.

Kazoo connects with spirit guides and tells Alex what the spirit guide is saying. So the reading is kind of like Alex reporting what two metaphysical beings are saying about you. This is basically where my recent interest in talking to psychics and mediums is coming from–at this point I know so many people who have POTSAed* I’m convinced everyone is partying out there and I want to know what’s happening. I’m nosy.

Alex knew things about me that you wouldn’t know about me, even if you scoured my blog and my social media. There are psychics out there I have worked with who I can tell are making a genuine connection with me and Alex is one of them.

The thing that really got me with Alex and Kazoo was during the first reading he gave me really great advice about something I had been struggling with without me even needing to ask about it. After my first reading I was able to rest assured I was doing the right thing and it became more and more clear that he had been right about that in a very specific way (sorry to be so vague about the subject) that he couldn’t possibly have just guessed and thrown that at me. So having had that great advice and comfort, I decided to reach out to Alex for a full hour-long reading.

Both times Alex and Kazoo connected with a male spirit guide of mine. From his first description I thought it might be my paternal grandfather, who I have felt a closeness with since his passing in 2012, but Alex explained it is someone who tunes into me out of respect for someone close to me.

During the second reading I asked if there were any other spirit guides around and he said a couple of sisters popped up. The sisters thing was interesting because during my visit to a psychic medium in January (a crowd-funded birthday present from my friends) a pair of independent sisters appeared, who I believe to be great aunts of my father. Both readings, by Alex and the other medium, explained the pair of sisters in really similar ways.

In the reading Alex reported first what my spirit guide was excited to talk to me about. He noticed a marked difference in my energy from the first reading to the second reading. When I had my second reading I was at a house alongside a babbling brook–a weekday vacation I took at the end of May to get out of the city. He said I needed to have this be a more regular thing that I had let my energy get too depleted and it’s an important renewal for my spirit to be out in nature.

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Alex then switched to me needing to spend more time doing things in a “selfish” way, things that have no purpose whatsoever. Spending time working on stuff that requires my concentration but pulls me out of the world. I asked if it was like working on a puzzle and he said, “Yes!” as I had been working on a jigsaw puzzle for a few months but hadn’t yet gotten to finishing it. After the reading I set aside a bunch of puzzle time, telling my girlfriend that I needed to have some puzzle time to unplug.

My spirit guide told me to spend less time studying and more time paying attention to my intuition. I had noticed my internal tapes kept berating myself for needing to learn more. I often get into weird thought spirals where I think I need to learn things–I was recently on a tear telling myself I needed to learn more languages, to play the banjo and a few other things I keep thinking I need to “study.” It was interesting that I got the specific message that I needed to spend less time studying. I found this advice to be eerily timely. I had told Alex nothing about me thinking about studying and he knew to tell me not to do so much of it.

He also told me more dessert and indulgence.

I was also told that life has been sending a lot of shit my way and instead of dodging things I should just start letting them hit me and not letting it affect me. It’s less like playing frogger in life and more like just walking across a street and not letting the trucks break me, if that makes sense. It was helpful advice that I’ve found really empowering in the couple of weeks following our second reading, as life has delivered more shit storm.

I enjoyed hearing what my spirit guide was excited to talk to me about, but what I found most valuable was towards the end of the reading I just started bouncing ideas off of my spirit guide through Alex and Kazoo and getting some very detailed feedback. It helped me flesh out some things that I’m working on.

I talked about my idea to craft Reiki infused tea blends, as I am now Reiki Level Two attuned, using Reiki energy to invigorate the healing power of herbs and super charge the tea itself with Reiki life force energy. Alex said, “Ding ding ding!” about the idea. And we worked through some things that I hadn’t even gotten to with the idea that my spirit guide was really excited to tell me about.

One thing that was really interesting that came up was when I was talking about an event I’m planning, my first foray into nightlife after a six month hiatus. At first my spirit guide was supportive, but then Alex’s face got very concerned. He warned about something very specific that had happened and I knew immediately what it was. It was super powerful and important that I get affirmation/warning from my spirit guide on and I was really glad I brought it up.

14140094159_af8998ee54_zAfter I got home from the trip to the babbling brook I turned back to the puzzle I’d been working on for two months and finished it in three days. It’s missing five pieces and I really don’t care.

If you’re feeling called to have a reading from Alex I highly recommend it. I found them fun and soothing.

Alex and Kazoo’s readings can happen via skype or in person if you’re in the New York City area. He also does readings for up to three people at a time, which I imagine is really fun.

Alex is offering a special for my blog readers–if you book a reading and mention my site before June 30th (the reading can be for later, you just have to book by the 30th) you can get an hour reading for $50 off his standard rate. So instead of paying $150 you pay just $100.

Get in touch with Alex through his website, connect on his facebook page or email alexandkazoo at gmail dot com!

*Passed On To Something Awesome (the idea that when you pass you are going on to a higher consciousness).

2014-05-12

New Episode of the Lesbian Tea Basket! Grandmother and Oh Canada! Tea from David’s Tea

Friends, I am so pleased to debut this episode of the Lesbian Tea Basket. My first adventure reviewing a tea from David’s Tea that I brewed at home. Since the tea is from a Canadian company and actually called Oh Canada! (because of the maple content) I decided to ask my beloved Grandmother to be my special guest.

We put out a full tea set and my mom video taped it. Grandmother is one of my femme icons and has taught me a lot about being exactly as glamorous (or, as I would say it, as glitter) as I feel like being regardless of how many people try to rush you to get ready in the morning.

teawithgrandmotherMe and Grandmother at High Tea a couple of years ago. I did an episode of the Lesbian Tea Basket about it!

My bestie Jacqueline was kind enough to lend her incredibly baller professional video editing skills to the finished product and here we have my review of Oh Canada! and some cute anecdotes from my Grandmother.

Spoiler alert: Grandmother loved the tea so much she asked me to leave it at her house in Palm Springs, CA.

You can order Oh Canada! from David’s Tea online or visit one of their shiny teal tea stores throughout the US and Canada. I am a big fan of the Park Slope one, but also have made friends with the tea folks at their Upper East Side and West Village locations.

You can find all of the episodes of the Lesbian Tea Basket in this playlist on my You Tube Channel!

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2014-03-04

Seven Strategies to Curb Anxiety

Towards the end of January I had a little bit of a break-down. I just felt completely overwhelmed and anxious. I wasn’t sure why. I had spent most of the weekend doing self care activities and was walking home from the gym on the phone with Jacqueline saying, “I just don’t know why out of nowhere I feel so anxious and it won’t go away!” And Jacqueline wisely told me that sometimes when she does self care like yoga or something very relaxing she ends up with more anxiety. That resonated with me. It feels like when I don’t acknowledge my feelings of anxiety and overwhelm, it’s like a cork that releases all this pent up stuff I haven’t been looking at and poof! I can’t get away from it.

As a result of this little mini-breakdown, I am obsessed with self care right now. I’m talking to people about their self care regimens, being more methodical about what I need from myself in order to be the person I want to be in the world. I now acknowledge that when it comes to taking care of others, the more I have the more I can give. My well has to be 100% full in order for me to give water to anyone else, and I’m in the role of primary caregiver to my girlfriend (yeah, we went there) who is going through chemo treatment for breast cancer right now.

12417512173_a30b444fb5_zI went away for a birthday retreat with my friends in February and it was all about finding a place with a hot tub. I love to meditate in a hot tub when it’s cold outside.

I am going to do a mini-blog series about self care and in this first post I detail what I do to handle anxiety when it comes. There are lots of ways to deal with anxiety, of course, but this is what has worked for me and what works for some of my pals. Obviously, there are varying degrees of anxiety and some folks should consider seeing a mental health professional, but for those who have kind of spotty occurring anxiety like me, hopefully these tips will help.

1. Pay attention and course correct.

I treat feelings of anxiety and overwhelm as warning signs. They’re my own personal “check engine light,” some kind of acknowledgement my body, mind and/or spirit needs attention. If I’m having anxiety come up more often than usual than I know something is wrong and I need to do the work to assess what’s going on in my life and where the imbalance is. If I were on Car Talk and talking about running a diagnostic, I would do the things I know to do when I need to diagnose what’s going on with me. Journal, phone a trusted friend, stop and look at what’s going on in my life. In the January example, I knew what was going on–I had three friends and one of my cats pass away in a three week span in December on top of being primary caregiver for someone with cancer. Any one of those things is a lot! I needed to be gentle with myself and take care of myself and the check engine light came on!

When I’m feeling anxiety, it’s hard to know in the moment that I need to do something differently, in the moment all I can do is think “Fuck, how can I make this stop?” Then I turn to more immediate solutions.

2. Drink stress relieving tea.

Over my Christmas trip to visit my mom and grandmother I woke up feeling intense anxiety one morning. (I think this was another moment where I was relaxing and the cork popped out and all the grief and anxiety I was feeling came out.) I didn’t have anything that could cut the anxiety in the moment, so I went rummaging through Grandmother’s tea cabinet to see if she had any chamomile. Lo and behold, she still had the tea sampler I created as a hostess gift for my cross country road trip two years ago. Fully intact, it held in it four kinds of loose tea including “Stressed Out Tea.” It was like a gift to myself from the past. I drank that tea like I was chain smoking, one cup after another and within a couple of hours it started to work.

I bought the Stressed Out Tea from PS Coffee and Tea in Park Slope, but here are the ingredients if you want to create it yourself. Stressed Out Tea (blend of lots of herbs to calm down including rosemary, peppermint, chamomile, lady slipper, catnip, violet, feverfew, wood bettany herb, blessed thistle herb, white willow bark, stevia herb, raspberry leaf and flavored with peppermint oil).

841322_156802627802561_896072570_oPhoto by Katrina Del Mar.

3. Treat self care like a job.

Self care is a really important aspect of my anti-anxiety routine. The best thing I can do for my anxiety is to prevent it from happening. I like to say self care is a full time job, which it kind of can be, especially in the Winter when we have all the Winter Feelings and seasonal depression.

The other day I was staying with friends and they told me, “We go to bed at 9:30.” Which is an amazing example of prioritizing getting the sleep they need and having a mellow, unrushed morning. I have so much admiration for people who prioritize their self care.

Since my breakdown in January I have been very strict about doing all the core self care things I do every single day. I knew I hadn’t been doing the things I usually do every day, I was skipping some. I was in love jail, snuggled up with my sweetie in Winter and mistaking those temporary good feelings with the things I need to do for my own sanity in the long run.

4. Cut the caffeine.

Eliminating caffeine from my diet has been great for keeping my anxiety at bay. Some days I have none, some days I have a little, but I keep it in check as much as possible. I started the Lesbian Tea Basket web series when I gave up coffee for digestive reasons. Replacing my passion for coffee with tea wasn’t exactly a substitute (I still dearly, desperately, love coffee) but I do now feel very passionately for tea in a way I didn’t expect. I think the herbal aspects of tea are medicinally great but I also think the ritual of brewing and consuming a hot beverage is very soothing.

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5. Exercise.

It’s such a hassle sometimes, but exercise is so crucial to my mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. It soothes everything for me. If I can keep it up at least twice a week it’s great to keep me from getting depressed or anxious.

6. Medicate.

There are a lot of people I know who medicate for anxiety. I’ve never gotten a prescription for anything mental health related, but haven’t ruled out the possibility. There’s so much stigma associated with mental health prescriptions but honestly, I think stigmas around what people need to do for their mental health are bullshit. If you have a headache you take an advil, if you have anxiety and a pill will help, maybe take the pill? I’m definitely a follower of the Kate Bornstein philosophy of living:

Do whatever it takes to make your life more worth living. Anything at all. It can be illegal, immoral, unethical, self-destructive… anything at all if it makes your life more worth living. There’s only one rule to follow to make that kind of blanket permission work: Don’t be mean.

I just got some Rescue Remedy to see if an herb tincture (they also have pastilles/candy and gum) could help me in those moments where in emergency I need to break glass. So far it seems to work though I’ve only done it a couple of times when I was mildly stressed and haven’t had a major anxiety bout since I got the tincture.

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I have some friends who medicate with klonipin (one of them just nibbles a little on a pill to take the edge off an anxiety episode), ativan, and xanax. Obviously you’ll go see a mental health professional or general practitioner who can advise about prescription meds.

Other friends I know with chronic anxiety use medical marijuana. For those who don’t know there are like a billion kinds of marijuana and there are lots of different ways to use it. Depending on your body chemistry there are kinds that just take the edge off the anxiety and you can still function (“cleaning the kitchen” weed) or others that make you want to sit on the couch. I am into watching documentaries about the medical marijuana dispensaries on Netflix and what it can do for folks. Again, this is totally something to go talk to a professional about if you’re in a jurisdiction that has the medical marijuana.

7. Meditation.

I am a shitty, inconsistent meditator. However, if I can take a minute to stare at some birds and ponder what they are up to, look up at the sky for thirty seconds, or close my eyes and just notice what sounds I hear, that will do me as much good as sitting in a chair with my eyes closed trying really hard to think about nothing. It’s really not much more for me than a way to ground myself in the present and remind myself that I am safe. When I’m feeling anxious I am not feeling safe.

12919812773_f0c6e5949d_zThis bird feeder was right next to the hot tub at the house we stayed at!

I hope this not comprehensive list helps out when folks are feeling frustrated by bouts of anxiety. Leave your tips in the comments!

2014-02-03

New Episode of the Lesbian Tea Basket–A Visit to the Tea Shop in Woodstock

Last week I went away with my sweetie to a tiny town near Woodstock, NY in the Catskill Mountains. A friend of ours gifted us with the time at his rental property as a nice pre-chemo getaway. It was really lovely. I can feel myself completely relax when I’m around nature and out of the city. Part of my relaxation rituals, especially in Winter, involve the consumption of tea.  20140129_142200

Dara and I are both big fans of rooibos teas and we ran out of a few favorite varieties while at the cabin. Since we’re conserving pennies we didn’t want to “go into town” to spend money, but the idea of taking a wander through the adorable storefronts of Woodstock was super appealing. I thought that perhaps we could combine an errand with an adventure and googled tea store in Woodstock thinking I’d find a coffee shop with a smattering of teas. Instead we stumbled upon this gem of a store right in the “downtown” area of Woodstock called The Tea Shop.

It was gorgeous, light-filled and had a literal wall of loose teas, each in a big tin that the shop keeper opened for us and then spilled onto the lid so we could get a good whif of the tea and see the components. Fantastic presentation!

We settled on a few rooibos varieties, and we each picked a black tea (decaf for her, full caf for me) to order a la carte as a cup of tea. I was so delighted by the experience I had to film a Lesbian Tea Basket right then and there. Watch this video below and find out how magical the tea experience was, as well as my rating of the Orange White Chocolate black tea.

You can order from the Tea Shop of Woodstock online. Many thanks to my wonderful friend Leo for editing the video for me.

Other things I loved about visiting the Phoenicia/Woodstock area of the Hudson Valley:

Mirabai–super cute New Age book store. We were drawn in because of the sign that said “Calm, this way.” It was basically the catalog of Hay House in a store, plus a whole bunch of other related awesomeness. Great kids books and virtually all the self-development, spiritual and/or beautiful books you can think of. A giant selection of tarot cards–all on display so you can touch and feel them. There was also a really sweet meditation room that you can just go in and meditate in when they aren’t giving workshops. I almost bought a 40% off calendar but see above about trying not to spend money. (I still don’t have a 2014 calendar so if anyone out there has one to unload on me get in touch!)

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Mama’s Boy Market–seriously it’s called that. They have tee shirts if you’re interested in repping that way. Also, they have an awesome Pay it Forward board where you can buy stuff for your neighbors. One of my favorite bloggers blogged about a woman whose sister had Down syndrome and passed away. On the anniversary of her sister’s death they were doing a social media Pay it Forward campaign, and I thought it was too much of a coincidence not to participate, so I bought a random Phoenician a cup of coffee in honor of Maura.

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If you want to check out more episodes of the Lesbian Tea Basket click here!

2013-12-23

New Episode of the Lesbian Tea Basket! Birthday Cake Tea!

Filed under: Lesbian Tea Basket — Tags: , , , , , , , — Bevin @ 5:54 pm

There’s a new episode of the Lesbian Tea Basket!! I review Birthday Cake Tea from David’s Tea in NYC. It’s a super brandy brand kind of tea store with overpriced tea with fancy things inside it like birthday cake sprinkles (as in Birthday Cake Tea). My birthday is tomorrow so I kind of went for it with this $4 cup of tea. Also I said in the video they were in NYC but apparently they are all over North America.

Check out all the episodes of the Lesbian Tea Basket here! And if you know anyone who sells tea and wants to send me some to review I am stoked to support small businesses on the LTB!


Me and my two Persian Princes, Bear and ALF, who passed about six months to the day apart. ALF was four years younger but he’d never known life without Bear and I think he just couldn’t hang.

This week has been kind of intense. I ended up having to put my beloved cat, ALF, to sleep on Wednesday, and I supported a loved one through breast cancer surgery so it’s been intense. But the super bright spot is I finally got my new laptop that I crowd funded through the support for this website! Thank you all so much who have donated so far. Your words of support have been so amazing and I’m super excited to be able to create more content for QueerFatFemme.com!

If you want to donate the page is here and there are a ton of cool prizes, including lots of services donated by my awesome friends. My hope was to raise $1,000 per year the site has content up and gather funds to be able to continue creating the content I’m super stoked to share with you, including more episodes of the Lesbian Tea Basket!

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