Alice in Wonderland Tea Inspiration

Alice in Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland by Marjorie Ann

A little Alice in Wonderland tea inspiration for today. When I was a girl, my mom had me drink a lot of tea. She was always buying different kinds of herbal teas. Sometimes they were very recognizable, like Celestial Seasonings chamomile. Other times they were mysteries – bags of crushed loose leaves that smelled faintly of fruit. At one time she even made her own mint tea from mint she grew. Any ailment I had, there always seemed to be a tea she’d have me drink.

Of course, as a child I didn’t appreciate this at all. I thought it terrible that I had these strange ‘healthy’ teas when what I really wanted was to drink ‘proper tea’ and in my mind that meant ‘British Tea’. I assumed this was what Alice in Wonderland must have had because a tea party, even one as silly as the party in Alice’s adventures, had to have the kind of tea you served for occasions and not the kind you used for upset tummies or sore throats.

This meant that Alice’s tea party became my ultimate goal for tea and is possibly why today my favorite teas happen to be black teas with a little sugar (no cream), instead of the herbal teas I grew up with. While I certainly drink my fair share of herbal tea for colds and indigestion, many of the teas I take enjoyment in today are the ones that I fantasized Alice having at that silly tea party! I hope you take some time to enjoy something you dreamed of when you were little this weekend and have a fabulous Friday ❤

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Yes, I’m Depressed

No, I don’t want to talk about it. Except sometimes I do. And sometimes I don’t want to but probably should and possibly need to. Right now, I’m simply moved to share.

While perusing some of the blogs of people that like my posts, I came across this article: Depression, Suicide, and Courage by Cristian Mihai. The past couple of years my depression has started to flow back in again and it’s not something that I talk about mostly because of the difficulty of dealing with the responses people, even well-intentioned family and friends, usually have to it. To be honest, it’s hard enough just dealing with the depression.

But Cristian’s article made an impact on me today. Short, yet meaningful, his post got me thinking about how important it is to shine light on our darker experiences. He starts with a quote by David Foster Wallace.

The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling. 

It’s hard to understand what anyone else endures, especially in such misunderstood areas like depression and suicide. My suicide attempts as a teenager were always dismissed and even speaking about them now is hard because so many people wave it off and say things like “but you had so much to live for!”, “bet you’re glad you didn’t succeed” and “look at where you are now!”

I don’t know if other survivors get these same kinds of responses, but this is so typical for me that I just don’t talk about it, or when I do, I only do so when I’m amply prepped and braced for having my struggles dismissed. As a woman of color, this kind of bracing is unfortunately commonplace for all aspects of my life.

But I get it, someone’s experience with suicide is an awkward and sad conversation that most people don’t want to have. The knee-jerk response is to add a silver-lining to make the situation more comfortable for the non-depressed listener. The thing is, if it’s that hard to hear about, just imagine how difficult it must have been to share that painful experience let alone live it!

At minimum, these statements are insensitive and chip away at the vast amount of work it takes to get to and sustain a healthier mind-space. However, more often than not, they are very hurtful. They minimize the seriousness of depression and suicide while simultaneously marginalizing how much work and effort it takes to combat depression and how much help people need to cope and even function at times.

While my attempts were over twenty years ago and I’m far healthier and safer now with no suicidal thoughts in over a decade, I still have depression. It’s 75% less than back then and that’s incredible to me. Going through what I was going through as a teenager was horrific, I was always in a kind of everlasting pain with no end in sight. All that was compounded and made worse by the fact that no one seemed to care. When I finally decided to commit suicide (I attempted twice), the decision felt like a kind of relief. For me, suicide was a fear and pain that would at the very least end as opposed to the terror and pain I experienced that seemed to go on forever.

Even though I had my own reasons, I found it hard to see other’s unseen reasons for attempting or committing suicide. Almost 10 years after my own attempts, while talking to my spouse I admonished an in-law’s suicide attempt because the reasons shared seemed so frivolous compared to the horrors I endured. When her family gathered to support her I was angry and incredulous rather than understanding or being open to helping her. I thought “How dare she? What does she have to escape from?”

During that time, I never once delved deeper into the thought that obviously she did have something she felt the need to get away from, otherwise she wouldn’t have tried to kill herself in the first place. I didn’t even think to ask what she was struggling with because as someone who had also attempted suicide I couldn’t envision anyone attempting it without having endured similar tortures, powerlessness, and hopelessness to my own.

At the time, I couldn’t understand why she would try to do that when she was living what I considered a ‘dream life’. I’m sure that the awful responses to my own attempts didn’t help my world view or my understanding of what to do when someone else suffers thinking of the same morbid solutions to life, but that doesn’t make what I did right.

Later I learned about other factors, but knowing or not knowing those factors shouldn’t determine whether to help someone. Sharing a similar event in life doesn’t necessarily give you insight into another person’s mind, what they are thinking, or how it impacted them. And it’s so integral to understand that different experiences than our own should not be treated as less worthy of recognition or help.

What can others do then? Honestly, I’m not certain. Survivors of trauma don’t automatically get imbued with a sudden knowledge as to how others can help or what others can say that doesn’t make it worse. That’s why so many people turn to therapy. We need someone to help us troubleshoot emotions and human relations and coping mechanisms, etc. Because if I’m being real honest here, most of society and American culture does an awfully poor job of it.

However, I can give an example of a response that wasn’t hurtful to me. It actually came from one of my children. A kid she went to school with committed suicide at 12 and she wanted to know why someone would do something like that. Since the student’s story was unknown to me, I did my best to explain how someone might feel that suicide is the only solution to feeling trapped, powerless, hopeless, or scared. In the end, I used my own experience as an example and also to show her that not all suicide attempts end with the person dying; it’s possible for survivors to lead happy, successful lives in their future.

Afterward she just sat for a moment to process and then said,”That’s so sad. I feel sad for you. I’m glad you’re here. Do you want a hug?” For such a simple response, she managed to show a lot of understanding and empathy. My spouse and I can’t take all the credit, our children are far more emotionally healthy then we were at that age and I swear they are smarter than we were too because they are awesome people in their own right. But I digress, here’s why that response worked well…

First, it valued my experience. She recognized that I was hurt and felt sad for my pain. It’s important to acknowledge a person’s struggle and experience. Second, she expressed that she was happy I was alive. Now, possibly because at the time this was coming from a tween who had for the past couple years openly expressed how annoyed she was with her mom (and everyone else in the house too 😉 ), I can’t express how significant it was to know and feel that I mattered. Because people can know they matter but not know they matter. It’s important to hear it. It’s important to know.

And lastly, she asked if I wanted comfort. I really need to point out here that she didn’t just try to hug me even though she’s perfectly comfortable plopping quite literally on top of me on the couch or in my bed for snuggles. Nope, she asked me if I wanted a hug. Consent is absolutely imperative. Not everyone wants that type of interaction, especially after talking about something painful every time. (Note: We hugged.)

She didn’t dismiss my feelings or struggles, didn’t insist I should ‘look at it this way!’, didn’t glaze over my experience with a silver-lining comeback, didn’t minimize the effort it takes to live with depression, didn’t degrade me for needing/wanting help, didn’t force her preferred method of comfort onto me, and didn’t marginalize my experience in any way.

In the end her simple response valued my experience, established my importance to her, connected by sharing her own feelings, and asked if I wanted comfort/help with coping. You might notice that the basis of her response was about making sure the hurt party was taken care of while still expressing her own emotions. Like so many things in life, in that situation, less really was more.

I wish I could say I taught her this somehow or that there is some key I could share that could help us respond with more kindness and understanding to each other but I don’t. Obviously I’m biased and will think she’s amazing since she’s my daughter, but I’m not blind to the fact that she’s human and also makes thoughtless remarks sometimes or gives hurtful knee-jerk responses. We try to be better today than we were yesterday. Sometimes we are, sometimes we take a few steps back, but just like coping with depression it’s an ebb and flow. We just need to keep trying and help each other up when one of us falls.

I know my usual posts don’t address serious issues and most likely it will stay that way. This particular venue is my stress free getaway space, where I post things that simply make me happy and that’s such an important thing to have. I’ve found, at least for my own experience with depression, that it’s the tiny and many times just the silly seeming things that help me get through the day. We rarely see all the thought and process that happens behind the camera or screen, and we inherently know this. If we cannot know what goes on behind the lens even with a wealth of story, dialog, and imagery attached, how can we expect to know precisely what goes on behind someone’s eyes when so much is left unknown, unsaid, and unseen?

Gryffindor Inspired Bedrooms

Gryffindor Bedroom Bold
Gryffindor Bedroom Bold by Marjorie Ann

Making various inspiration boards for each of the four Houses from Harry Potter has been quite a fun creative exercise for me. Hunting down pieces that work together from limited sources has proved quite challenging and I’ve found more often than not, I must adjust my initial vision to fit what pieces are available. While this was the last board I created, I wanted to post it first since it ended up my favorite of the three. I think I just love the pop of all the pieces!

 

Gryffindor Bedroom Cabin
Gryffindor Bedroom Cabin by Marjorie Ann

I love using plaid with the House colors. Instead of using the plaid to insinuate boarding school, I used it for a more cabin type of style. Seeing as Harry’s patronus is a stag, I thought the deer pillow was a fun tongue-in-cheek addition to the room. I think both the handy and difficult part of decorating with Gryffindor as inspirational material is the fact that the main characters in Harry Potter all belong to the Gryffindor House. It makes crossing over to include one or several characters’ traits into the designs quite easy which can quickly change a Gryffindor themed room into a distinctly Harry (or others) type of room.

Gryffindor Bedroom Ornate
Gryffindor Bedroom Ornate by Marjorie Ann

I tend to shy away from very traditional, ornate, or historic styled rooms. Mostly because they simply aren’t my style. For this board I wanted to try something out of my own box. Surprisingly, I had a lot of fun with it. It was definitely a few steps away from what I’m comfortable putting together, but I had a good time with the challenge. I feel like this space would be for someone older, more regal, and even a bit vain. Sort of like if Dumbledore was more like President Snow. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed these Harry Potter inspired bedroom posts. I certainly enjoyed putting them together! Thanks for stopping by and have a happy week! ❤

Chai Tea Inspiration

Chai Tea Board
Chai Tea Board by Marjorie Ann

Today’s tea inspiration is based on one of my most favorite of teas – chai! Or rather, spiced tea 😉 Chai tea always makes me think of Indian food and rich indulgent colors and patterns. Sari, intricate wood carvings, and Indian motifs were the major influences in this board. Bold teals and rich orange paired together are some of my favorite color combinations for Indian patterns so I focused on adding items that fit with that color scheme.

Some Chai Recipes to try:

Getting all cozy as the weather turns cooler with a hot cup of chai is one of life’s great simple pleasures. I hope you take some time to enjoy your own simple pleasures today and have a wonderful weekend! Thanks for visiting ❤

Ravenclaw Inspired Bedrooms

Ravenclaw Bedroom Classic
Ravenclaw Bedroom Classic by Marjorie Ann

Welcome back to another Harry Potter Inspired Monday! Today I have some Ravenclaw themed bedrooms. Since Ravenclaw is the house of wisdom, I wanted to start with a more classic and preppy space. Simple plaid and stripes unify the blues and hints of gold keep the room looking fresh. Some modern text art rounds out the space. My favorite pieces here are the “Big Books” print and the raven statuette. Both these pieces would fit into a lot of different themes!

 

Ravenclaw Bedroom Lush
Ravenclaw Bedroom Lush by Marjorie Ann

This lush Ravenclaw inspired space is my favorite of the three. I love cozy velvets, shimmery metallics, and whispy watercolors! For this room I focused on creating a luxurious haven that juxtaposed soft and bold. Iridescent textures tie in all the different finishes and keeping the fabrics distressed helps the luxe space feel calm and casual instead of formal.

 

Ravenclaw Bedroom Smart
Ravenclaw Bedroom Smart by Marjorie Ann

The last room gets its inspiration from summer with soft distressed chambray blue and plenty of white. I wanted a kind of traveler feel, even if the travels are just from reading many books. A classic, calming space perfect for the Ravenclaw bookworm! Enjoy and thanks for stopping by! Fly on down next Monday for the Gryffindor rooms and have an amazing week ❤

Slytherin Inspired Bedrooms

Slytherin Bedroom Luscious
Slytherin Bedroom Luscious by Marjorie Ann

Happy Monday! Welcome back to my second installment of fandom bedroom sets. Today I have some spaces for you to… Slytherin 😉 I’ve mentioned before that I belong to Slytherin House so this first board is based a lot on my personal style or at least what I would pick if I created a Slytherin inspired room just for me. Lots of velvets, satins, shimmer, and gold! It’s not an accident that there isn’t any actual ‘license’ pieces in this example. I love the idea of hinting at the fandom by using it as a theme rather than collecting the ‘themed’ items themselves.

Slytherin Bedroom PreppySlytherin Bedroom Preppy by Marjorie Ann

Here’s a kind of preppy Slytherin space. Because Hogwarts is essentially a boarding school, I can’t help but to think of campus related patterns. House colored plaid, Slytherin banner, and heavy wood furniture make the foundation of this set. A few fun pieces tossed in make this space a little more playful and less serious. I keep it bright with lots of white and pale gray to offset the dark green and navy.

 

Slytherin Bedroom GlobalSlytherin Bedroom Global by Marjorie Ann

For the last set I wanted to go in a very different direction and find pieces that had a more global feel. Carved wood, patchwork, and sari inspired designs bring a touch of India to the space. The Slytherin mascot feels not just right at home in the space, but maybe even a little bit charming 😉 Enjoy the mood boards and thanks for visiting! Slither on by next Monday. I’ll be sharing some Ravenclaw spaces ❤

Cozy Tea Time and Books by Authors of Color

Cozy Tea Time
Cozy Tea Time by Marjorie Ann

There’s nothing like snuggling up with a good book and a cup of tea! For this tea inspiration board I focused on things that remind me of getting cozy on a chilly day with a great novel and a freshly brewed cup of tea. Lately I’ve been getting into Alaya Dawn Johnson’s books. I started with Moonshine and Wicked City (fantastic Supernatural reads based in the early 1900s) since they are all my library has available of hers. She’s an incredibly fun author to read – descriptive, clever, sassy, and her books are full of twists! The Summer Prince  is on my Christmas list and I’m still debating whether to buy her Spirit Binder’s series since it’s on hold and I have a lot of books on my wish list.

Finding Books by Authors of Color

Last year I had a stark realization that I couldn’t recall reading any books throughout my life that were written by an author of color. The realization came after I happened to watch Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s The Danger of a Single Story TED Talk about representation. I thought surely, as a woman of color, that I had read something, or that someone would have recommended an author of color to me since I was often one of the only students of color in my classes growing up and in college. But as I wracked my brain I couldn’t remember reading a single book that wasn’t written by a white author. In fact, all the books ever recommended to me by family, friends, coworkers, and teachers were by white authors. I know I live in an extremely white city but I thought statistically I should have at least come across and read one book by an author of color.

Immediately after, I decided to change all that and find books with greater representation. At first I tried to find stories with characters of color but sadly that search lead to lists composed of nearly all white authors who put a few characters of color in their stories. I figured, well then, I’ll just start with some non-fiction. After all, it’s much easier to find an author of color when they are right on the cover! I loved comedy so I read Mindy Kaling’s books, Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance, and Kunal Nayyar’s Yes My Accent is Real – all intriguing and fun non-fiction reads. But my most beloved genre was high fantasy and sci-fi and I wanted to get back to reading something similar or at the very least, something close.

Narrowing my search that small in the already small pool of authors of color felt like trying to find unicorns. Since I don’t have funds to purchase a lot of books, I also needed to find titles, or at the very least authors, who were available at my county libraries. And quite likely because I live in a very white community, I ended up finding less than 1/4 of the books on these lists of award winning books by authors of color. Though they should have been easily available throughout the U.S., they weren’t here so I stopped trying to look for specific books and instead started just looking for any books by the authors.

Last year I still read a mix of books but this year I’ve dedicated my reading to only authors of color (although I did read 1984 by George Orwell so I could better understand the possible parallels and allusions to it in 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami). Perhaps I’ve just had great luck so far, but the books I’ve read have been more captivating, less cliche, and many times more poignant than the books I read that my friends and family had been recommending to me in the years past.

Not to say there aren’t great books by white authors, it just seems much of what people recommend to me is the same types of stories again and again, or non-complex reading in general. Whether that says more about what they read or what they think I’m capable or interested in reading, I can’t say. But I have noticed in just the dozen+ books by authors of color that I have experienced a far greater variety of stories, plots, perspectives, and ideas than most of what I’ve read on a whole from white authors. I think that speaks volumes on how much representation matters in books – especially reading from authors of color and not just reading characters of color written by white authors.

If you too are looking for more books to read by authors of color, I found these lists to be especially helpful. And if you live in an area like mine where these books aren’t widely available at your libraries, try looking up just the author instead and trying one of their other books. Because my book fund is limited – I try to find other books by the author in the library first. Then I can make a more informed decision on whether to buy another of their books. Even if I end up reading it just once, I can donate it to the library so that others can read more books by authors of color too.

Thanks for visiting and I hope you find some great reads! If you have a favorite book by an author of color, please leave me a comment! I’d love to add it to my books to read list ❤

 

Hufflepuff Inspired Bedrooms

Hufflepuff Bedroom Contemporary Style
Hufflepuff Bedroom Contemporary Style by Marjorie Ann

I thought it might be fun to play with some different options of bedroom decor inspired by Harry Potter. My eldest hinted that she’s thinking about changing her room so it got me thinking about some of her fandoms. Since she belongs to Hufflepuff House, I thought I’d start there. This first set is a contemporary approach using geometric patterns, clean lines, modern style furniture, and lots of contrast. I wanted to create a very gender-neutral space with basics that could easily be interpreted as something other than the Harry Potter fandom.

 

Hufflepuff Bedroom Animal Lover
Hufflepuff Bedroom Animal Lover by Marjorie Ann

One of traits that Hufflepuffs typically have is being good with animals or good in nature in general. The mascot badger always reminds me of the woods and is the inspiration for this set. I included other similar woodland animals and and played with more fun pieces. This set feels more organic and eclectic, youthful and fun. I adore the fox pillow, and the ‘good at naps’ blanket is so perfect!

 

Hufflepuff Bedroom Floral Style
Hufflepuff Bedroom Floral Style by Marjorie Ann

Hufflepuffs are great with plants and for this set I wanted to create something a bit more feminine. Neither of my girls like flowery things, which isn’t too surprising, and even though I do I’m insanely picky about what I actually like as far as having it in my own home. But playing with flowers and delicate patterns can be a lot of fun so I put together this last set based on flower gardens.

It’s incredibly easy to get wildly different moods simply by changing the theme. When creating a fandom inspired space, try incorporating a theme and the colors rather than trying to find specific fandom pieces. A more unique and personality filled space will result plus it will be easier to add to your space. An added bonus – the few fandom pieces you have will really stand out and be special! Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy! Join me next Monday for the Slytherin boards ❤

Green Tea Inspiration

Green Tea Inspiration
Green Tea Inspiration by Marjorie Ann

Last week I posted a tea inspiration board based off tea time, so this week I wanted to post a board based on green tea. I actually don’t like drinking green tea or many herbal teas in general. I prefer black and chai. Even though I don’t care for green tea, it always makes me think of healthier living and eastern practices, and I do love yoga 😉 So this board is based a lot off of that.

Mandalas, yoga, green tea, namaste, and ohm were my key inspiration words for this board. While I haven’t liked drinking green tea, I have had green tea infused desserts that I thought were delicious. Especially some green tea french macaroons that we picked up from a farmer’s market in CA when we visited a couple summers ago. They had a lot of tea flavors and all of them were amazing! I would certainly give any tea flavored dessert a try. Thanks for visiting and have a wonderful weekend ❤

Hanging Closet Organizers

Hanging Storage in Closets
Hanging Storage in Closets by Marjorie Ann

Last week I went over some budget solutions for getting a built in feel in a closet without paying a built in price. Custom closets and even modular closet systems can easily end up costing thousands of dollars. Even doing a non-built in closet with a few nice drawers and shelf systems can set you back several hundreds. But what if your budget is under $100 and you still need additional closet storage?

This is where hanging systems shine. Typically inexpensive and containing a lot of storage for the cost, these hanging closet storage organizers can help you turn your plain single rod closet into a powerhouse of storage. While there are some drawbacks, these systems offer a lot of storage space to make up for it.

To start, shelf and drawer units will offer the biggest advantage:

  • Fold and stack your clothes in each of these compartments
  • Roll a few bulky items or several smaller items for quick ID-ing and grabbing
  • Store bags or other bulky accessories on shelves
  • Use smaller shoe shelves for accessories or smaller clothing, like rolled tank-tops, instead of or in addition to shoes
  • Drawers can hold hard to fold or personal items like underwear, socks, camisoles, etc.

 

Over the Door Organizers
Over the Door Organizers by Marjorie Ann

If you have a swinging door, you can also use over the door hangers. Find a system that has the storage you need.

  • Shoe holders can hold accessories, rolled shirts, jewelry, cleaners, etc. as well as shoes
  • Assorted pocket systems are good for a variety of accessories, jewelry, and other household goods
  • Baskets work well for quick grab items or storing multiples of single items like clutches, flat shoes/sandals, athletic accessories, etc
  • Over the door towel hangers can be used for pants, extra clothes, or for prepping the next day’s outfit
  • Hooks are quick and easy for coats, hats, purses, robes, etc.
  • Over the door full-body mirrors are great for checking over your outfit. Bonus if you can find one with additional jewelry storage inside

Closet Hangers
Closet Hangers by Marjorie Ann

Even hangers themselves have some storage variations for belts, ties, pants, skirts, scarves, etc. For the most cohesive closet, pick all the same style and color of hangers.

Tips for picking hanging systems:

  • Find strong metal hangers – metal hangers that don’t bend will last the longest and feel the most stable
  • Invest in firmer bases – test the stiffness of the shelves or bases to see whether the system will hold up to the weight of your clothes. Since these pieces are already so inexpensive, it pays to invest a little more in a set that feels sturdier
  • Coordinate colors – for a cohesive closet, pick all your pieces in the same color – including hangers if possible
  • Leave hanging room – make sure you leave enough room to hang your clothes. One of the drawbacks to hanging storage is that it uses some of your hanging space
  • Keep it simple – buy as few as you can. Another drawback is that hanging systems tend to look more cluttered than actual shelves, so use them sparingly if you can

The last drawback to these systems is that they typically wear out much faster than actual shelves or modular systems. This means that you may have to replace these every year or so. If you buy sturdier organizers and take good care of them, then they will most likely last you much longer (I once had a hanging organizer last me nearly 5 years before it started sagging).

All in all, using hanging organizers is a wonderful inexpensive way to inch out some extra storage in your closet. In fact, if you’re planning on staying someplace for just a couple years or less, these are the best way to go. They are inexpensive, add extra storage, are easy to put up and take down, plus they are light-weight and simple to pack. So how do you like to organize your closet? Thanks for visiting and have a great week! ❤