Teavana tea maker

Monday, May 30, 2016

I haven't done a tea post in a while, and my new Teavana Perfectea Maker was a great excuse to do one.

(On sale today 20% off with free shipping. No, I'm not getting anything free telling you this, just thought you might like to know.)

Isn't this tablecloth gorgeous? It was embroidered by a dear friend of my husband's grandmother. I'm not sure of the vintage, but I would guess it's well over 50 years old.

If you look closely at the picture below in the bottom right corner, you can see that two different shades of peach embroidery thread were used. At first I thought that that part of the tablecloth had faded, but it was definitely a different shade from the beginning.

If I was embroidering this tablecloth and ran out of the darker peach floss, I would just go out and buy some more. But this tablecloth was made during a time when people were much more conscientious of "making do or doing without."  The lighter peach thread was perfectly serviceable, and it would have been considered by many wasteful to buy additional thread. 

I like this tablecloth even more because of this. I think of the Depression and war time, and the sacrifices that had to be made. Women making beauty out of what they had at hand.

And I know they made tea perfectly fine without this little gadget, but it is still pretty cool . . . 

I stopped in Teavana in the mall the other day to get some iced herbal tea. Now herbal tea has never been my favorite, but as I'm trying to avoid caffeine and soda, I decided to be good.

Well, the girl behind the counter made my tea using this gadget, and then told me about some of her favorite herbal teas. I got the tea maker and some peach tea and a "tranquil" tea blend. I've had Celestial Seasonings peach tea, and . . . meh . . . but this peach tea is so yummy. I just ordered some more online.

The strainer at the inside bottom of the tea maker . . . 

Put some loose tea in the bottom of the tea maker. Add sugar if desired.

Pour in boiling water and let steep for about 5 minutes. No need to stir.

I can fill up a large mug once, or a teacup several times. Hmm . . . do I pick the big Hillsdale College mug my youngest son gave me, or the pretty little cup Judith from Lavender Cottage gifted me?

I'll go with the teacup. That way I can pour myself three cups!

With the package I purchased at Teavana, I got 2 ounces of tea and some sugar along with the tea maker. Here, I've transferred the rock sugar into a glass bottle, and affixed the label. 

After the tea has steeped -- and this is the cool part -- set the tea maker on top of your mug or teacup. The bottom is spring-loaded, so the brewed tea will drain right out into your cup. As soon as you lift it off the top of your cup, it closes, and you can set it on the little tray that comes with it.

Making tea can be a happy, soothing ritual. Taking it in a pretty cup adds to the pleasure. Won't you stop and have some soon?


Little things make me happy. Like pretty colors enjoying each others' company.

(with Waterlogue app)

Linking with No Place Like Home.

Insomnia . . . continued

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Judging by the comments I had last week lots of you suffer from insomnia or occasional sleepless nights. I wanted to let you know what I've been trying this week to get a better night's sleep, including getting a map of my brain waves.

But first, I want to apologize for not getting back to everyone who visited, and for not visiting anybody last week.

In order to try and help my insomnia, I've stopped using my laptop after dinner; this has seriously cut into my blogging/visiting blogs time. And I was gone almost every day this past week, three days where I had no internet access. Anyway, I promise to catch up with you all at some point, and thank you for your visits here . . .

Still making washcloths . . . hope to "graduate" to socks one of these days . . . 
So, a friend told me about an advertisement for a company called Brain Life Center. There are franchises around the country if you want to look them up. I paid half price for a map of my brain waves ($75 versus $150) because I mentioned the advertisement.

I was hooked up to sensors on my skull and then asked, variously, to read a selection to myself, answer simple math questions, close my eyes and just let my mind drift, and listen to a story and answer a question. This all took about 45 minutes. I then watched a video about the science behind the technology while a technician analyzed the results. She called me in and went over the data with me.

Basically, I was told that the left and right sides of my brain weren't communicating well with each other (I think everyone is probably told this), and that I was dealing with insomnia and anxiety. I could come in seven times in a 10-day period to listen to my "optimized" brain waves played back to me. Then I would listen to them at home several times and go back into the clinic for one more session. (I think I have that right.)

Anyway, the total cost was around $2,000. They boast a 91% success rate for insomnia. (They treat other conditions as well with this therapy, including pain and addictions.)

Well, I'm not sure why, but I felt skeptical of the whole thing. This technology has been featured on major news outlets like Fox and ABC, and has been endorsed by a neurosurgeon at Wake Forest where it is being studied. Perhaps the technician I talked to was new, but I had a lot of questions she didn't seem to know how to answer. Like, what does "success" mean? I'll fall asleep in one and a half hours versus three? I'll sleep three nights out of the week rather than just one?

If I knew it meant I would fall asleep every night within a half hour, and sleep well every night, I would seriously consider it, even at that price. But I had too many questions and frankly, for some reason, just didn't feel right about it. I'm keeping it on the back burner, though, and may have another look at it if I have no luck with trying other things.

So, I'm down to just one cup of coffee a day, and plan to totally wean off this week. I will probably  drink a cup of decaf coffee in the morning, and then switch to herbal tea.

I'm taking a bath at night with Epsom salts (the magnesium is supposed to promote sleep), and taking a little magnesium powder in warm water before bed. And, no computer after dinner. I felt like things were a little better this week (still taking about two hours to fall asleep, though), but then last night I couldn't fall asleep until 4:30 a.m.! Can't figure out what that was all about. Didn't feel particularly anxious or stressed.

Do you mean I'm giving up my coffee and computer for NOTHING!?!?

I've been prepping cabinet doors for painting at my daughter's soon-to-be home. 
I also signed up this week for a program called SHUTi (Sleep Healthy Using the Internet). It is an online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) program to help with insomnia. It goes for 16 weeks and cost $135. So far, I've just read some introductory materials and been keeping a sleep diary. I'm not sure I'm going to learn a lot here that I haven't already tried.

I guess I sound kind of discouraged. I'll try to stay positive and believe things will work out well! After all, I've been on sleep medication for close to eight years, and only off it for less than a month.

I've also talked with my doctor and am going to go off some other medication I take that may be contributing to the insomnia. 

Well, that's my story this week, friends. Life is good, with lots of good things happening. And I'm grateful that I have options to explore, and that the Lord is with me whether I'm waking or (not) sleeping.

Linking to No Place Like Home.

Sleep problems?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Yes, me too. 

I've struggled with chronic insomnia for almost 20 years. For the past eight, I've been taking medication under a doctor's care. I've tried several different kinds with varying degrees of success, and have tried a couple of times to wean myself off of them, without success. About a month ago, I stopped taking medication again because the particular drug I was taking seemed to be losing its effectiveness. It was beginning to take a couple of hours to fall asleep some nights even with medication.

Now, without medication, it takes me about two to three hours to fall asleep most nights. Maybe one night a week, I will get a break, and fall asleep within an hour.

That's a lot better than about 10 years ago, when I would be awake until around 5 a.m. four or five nights a week.

I really want to find a way to sleep well without medication. Believe me, if I could find something without side effects that worked, I'd be all for it. You get so you're willing to do anything just to sleep. Hey, I'd even give up be tempted to give up state secrets to the enemy if they were torturing me with sleep deprivation. Oh, who I am kidding? I'd spill the beans after only a few nights without sleep.

My problem with insomnia has to do with not being able to quiet an overactive, over-thinking, over-stimulated brain. I've tried relaxation techniques. And sometimes even when I'm not thinking about anything, I can still feel the motor deep inside revved up. It's difficult to know how much is anxiety/over-stimulation and how much of this is biochemical (and to be honest, I don't even know what that means -- I'm not even sure a lot of doctors understand it). I do know that insomnia can feed on itself, and create even more insomnia, something my doctor calls PTSD -- post-traumatic sleep disorder. Not an "official" disorder, just something he's noticed, and I've experienced -- a fear of not sleeping brought on by years of insomnia that can be debilitating and self-perpetuating.

If you have struggled with insomnia, you know the frustration. You get into bed, and instantly think, oh no, what if I can't sleep? Oh no, what if I'm up all night? You try to tell yourself it's okay. You try to relax. You pray. You try to get comfortable. But then it starts. The tossing and the turning. The fluffing of the pillow. You try to quiet yourself and clear your mind. But then your heart starts pounding. You try to go to your happy place. You give yourself over to the Lord's keeping. You toss and turn some more. You give up and just let yourself think about whatever it is that's on your mind, from real worries to innocuous things like what you'll make for dinner tomorrow.  You look at the clock. Two hours have passed. You lay there, physically and mentally exhausted and worn out, but still unable to switch off. Another hour passes. Sound like torture? It can be. 

Unfortunately, insomnia is not well understood. Even though 60 million Americans struggle with some form of insomnia, doctors don't always know how to help. And it can create other problems, including susceptibility to worsening depression and diabetes.

I use a lot of strategies to help myself. Most are recommendations you can find doing an internet search; others are ones I've discovered myself. Here are a few you might try:

  • Avoid naps during the day. I have to admit, sometimes I am just so tired I can't help it, but it really will affect your night time sleep. Last week I took a nap, and couldn't fall asleep that night until 4:30 a.m.
  • Avoid caffeine after lunch. I try to keep my coffee intake to two cups in the morning, and drink decaf and herbal tea in the afternoon and evening. Even decaf contains some caffeine, so this may be something I need to address.
  • Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. I go to bed about 11:30 p.m., and (try) to get up at 7:30 a.m. I'm trying to get my husband to go to bed with me earlier (about 10 p.m.). I have to go to bed at the same time as he does; having different sleep times is too disruptive for me.
  • Don't eat sugary snacks at night. If I'm really hungry, I have a little protein before bed, like a cheese stick. When I was losing weight I would be hungry every night at bed time. It's better not to be.
  • Take a warm bath before bed.
  • Wear socks to bed. The extra warmth really helps. I also avoid wearing anything on the bottom half of my body (besides the socks) unless it's really cold. Getting tangled up in nightgowns and pajama bottoms is frustrating to a restless sleeper. I just wear a warm top or even a sweatshirt in the winter. Oh, and top off the "look" with a sleep mask. It takes a few nights to get used to it, but it really can help.
  • Don't use the computer after dinner. Okay, this is a big challenge, and one habit I've just implemented since going off medication. There's something about the lights, and for me, all the information stimulation. This has been difficult, as I do a lot of my blog visiting in the evening while my husband watches news and sports. I'm trying to do really calming activities like knitting and reading (nothing too exciting) and even coloring if I find myself worked up about something.

  • Avoid anything too stimulating, exciting, interesting, thought-provoking, worrisome, anxiety-producing . . . yeah, right. Life happens, and I can't avoid it all, nor do I want to. But I do try not to watch the news late at night or get into conversations or read information that may be overly stimulating.

Okay, so these common-sense recommendations aren't resolving the problem for me. I'm scheduled now to go in to a clinic and get a "map" of my brain wave activity. This treatment involves some kind of bio-feedback. I'm praying for a miracle here. I may sign up for an online CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) program. I'll go do a sleep study maybe.

That first one? Difficulty going to sleep? I'll give that a 10.

Years ago, I felt I just had to struggle through with depression, anxiety, and sleep problems. Not anymore. If one thing doesn't work, I'll try another. I would recommend you get help, too, if you're struggling. A good night's rest is such a blessing.

Linking to No Place Like Home.

(Not a) Blogging Day

Monday, May 9, 2016

Isn't this a great mug? My daughter picked it out for me, and I imagine we will be very happy blogging together . . . but not today.

We've just got home after nine days in North Carolina visiting our two sons and daughter-in-law. So good to see them.

But today I've got heaps of laundry to catch up on and some grocery shopping to do. And my book club is coming tonight. 

Hope to have a "blogging day" very soon.

xo, Deborah
Made With Love By The Dutch Lady Designs