May Afternoon Tea with SJ

Good Afternoon, and welcome to Afternoon Tea with SJ!

Today is uncharacteristically sunny and I just love typing at my desk with the sun on my hands. I had an amazing month and I can’t wait to share it with you…

-May ‘21 Afternoon Tea Setting-

Location: Cottage in a forest

Tea: Lavender, Editor’s Blend, Strawberry Vanilla

Offered with: Lemon cheese cake, Chocolate banana chiffon cake, Matcha tiramisu

So, without further ado, let the party commence!


I suffered from a reading block towards the end of April to mid May, so I read significantly less books than the previous months. I also took up books outside the Omnibus syllabus and read more nonfiction than usual. 

May Reads 

  1. Story Genius -Lisa Cron (Nfic)
  2. The Book of Hygge -Louisa Thomsen Brits (Nfic)
  3. Want -Cindy Pon (YA sci-fi)
  4. Ignite -Jenna Terese (ARC, YA sci-fi)
  5. Wildwood -Colin Meloy (Jfic/MG)
  6. Holy Sexulaity and the Gospel -Christopher Yuan (Nfic)
  7. The Iliad -Homer (O4)
  8. Blessed Monsters -Emily A. Duncan (YA fantasy)

Currently Reading: Capsule, The House of Government, Catch-22

Overall, it’s been a slow reading month, but I finally conquered the Iliad and that to me has been a greater win. 🙂 

More tea or cake, anyone? I really adore the lemon cheese cake, do try it out!

Anyhow…this month has been saturated with various media that I re-discovered and discovered, so let’s take a look at some of them. 

Music 

I finally figured out Spotify and *blushes* have been spending way too much time there while I was working. Well, that’s what it’s there for, right??

Practising: Mozart’s Rondo in D-dur K485, Brahms Viola Sonata Op. 120 No.2 first movement, Mozart’s Requiem–Lacrimosa by Thalberg, AoT Ops. 1-5

Listening to: AoT lo-fi, TG lo-fi, Kuhlau Piano Sonatinas Op. 20 & 55, Tchaikovsky Souvenir de Florence

Movie 

We only watched one movie this month, and *drumrolls*….it’s 1917!!

If you’ve been on SJ Barnard for a while, you might already know, but I’m obsessed with history, especially of the early 20th century. I loved this movie (as I should) and want to watch it again. 

Manga/Anime

This section should probably get a bigger highlight. I finished AoT vol 32 and am officially obsessed with it. (Isayama-sensei is dementedly genius.) Also, I’ve begun to dip my toes in the My Hero Academia fandom (hullo, Deku!) and love that, too. I’m still waiting to read the rest of TPN manga–it’s on order at my library–so just wait a few more weeks until I restart screaming about it. I really want to get into Jujutsu Kaisen…any fans out there? 

Okay. Writing Life…

Um, maybe before that, do you want to try the lavender tea? It’s absolutely celestial, I promise. Or the Strawberry Vanilla tea? That one’s a template for cottage core. 😉

So. WIPs. 

Initially I was planning to edit Juliet. Because, that’s like my headstone project I’ve been working on for the past four or five years. I re-read part 1, I made notes, outlines, began re-writing and yadda yadda yadda, when I had to stop.

It wasn’t working. 

I had all these cool ideas and an actually coherent plot, tons of character analysis and everything, when the floor fell out from underneath me. I had no idea why I was writing this story. Like, for real. 

  1. Goes into existential crisis
  2. Denial
  3. Realisation something is definitely wrong with it
  4. Hides
  5. Cries oceans
  6. Sleeps

Anyhow. So now it’s permanently on hold where it might RIP or might be brought back from the dead once I hide from it long enough. *Sighs*

But there’s good news! In the meantime, I’ve been working on Osthauptstadt, the second-newest WIP on my shelf. I’m almost at the 40K mark, so I wrote around 25K! I don’t know how long it’s going to be, but I’m hoping to write at least 50K in this WIP. 

I’m really excited for university to start! I got accepted into another one with scholarships, this one the number one ranking in Canada, and I’m utterly blown. Because it’s too far for me to attend, I won’t be going there (and I decided on the other one already), but this means a lot to me. I’ve begun creating a timeline and to-do lists to get ready. But yes, college…*grins*

How about another slice of matcha tiramisu? I just love tiramisu! 

I feel like I’ve talked about most of the things that happened this May–wait, I didn’t talk about how I started running!

Prepare for astonishment: I began running tracks in the mornings!

.

.

.

I know, you’re probably confused. Like, people run all the time. Except, I really hate running. I used to run when I was in elementary, but then my asthma got worse, so I swam more instead. Then COVID happened and all the swimming pools shut down. I had lots of nervous breakdowns, walked a lot, but wasn’t getting enough exercise in. 

Insert brilliant idea no. 109: Running!

About a month ago, I stumbled upon Mel Torrefranca’s video, I followed Haruki Murakami’s strict schedule for a week. And it got me thinking about my health. As I prepare for a new chapter of my life, I definitely didn’t want to repeat my disastrous high school years where I was literally sick every single month. Hence, running. 

I began with 2km, which felt okay, so I slowly worked my way up to 4km. I ran 6km a few days ago, and hope to get to 10km by the end of this challenge. My focus in running is more on breathing technique–I’m using the one I learnt at karate–and so far it’s been working out! Once I got over my paralyzing fear of running, I’m finding out I actually enjoy it! (I know, marvels of marvels.) 

I also wake up consistently around a little before 5 am-6 am routine. We’re also hiking every week as a family which is super fun because we’re literally surrounded by mountains, rivers, oceans, and islands. Summer in BC is breathtaking. 

So, that’s about it! 

Thank you for reading today’s post! What are some things you did this May? Did you meet any great books? (Or join new fandoms?) How was your writing this month? Do tell me all about it; I’d love to chat with you!

April Afternoon Tea with SJ + Camp NaNo Update

Good afternoon! 

I’m finally (?) back again for April Afternoon Tea with SJ! (Hopefully I won’t jinx this one…) 

It feels a little odd since I took a short hitout, but even during that short amount of time, so much has happened I don’t know where to start…

Just to begin with, imagine you’re sitting on a terrace of a manor overlooking the ocean. The water surface is pale blue, and the mountainside slopes gently in the distance. The sun is shining warmly, the flowers are in full bloom around the area, and a soft breeze ruffles your hair. We’re having rose-champagne tea in fine china, the sides are peach charlotte cake, cherry blossom bites, and strawberry mousse. 

Ready?

Here we go…

Ah, books. This month, my reading lagged a bit, but I did meet incredible books. The breakdown is the following:

April Reads

  1. Cinder -Marissa Meyer (YA)
  2. Kakushsigoto -Yoru Sumino (Jpn Fic)
  3. The Westminster Confession of Faith (O3)
  4. Files Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents -Lemony Snicket (MG)
  5. Nejimaki Dori Kuronikuru (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle) Vol. 1 -Haruki Murakami (Jpn Fic)
  6. How to Run a Country -Cicero (O4)
  7. These Violent Delights -Micah Nemerever (Fic/DA)
  8. Here in the Real World -Sara Pennypacker (JFic)
  9. Democracy in America -Alexis de Tocqueville (O6)
  10. Forgiving What You Can’t Forget -Lysa TerKeurst (NFic)

Currently Reading: Cicero’s Basic Works, Iliad, Henry V

How about another cherry blossom bite? Or more tea? 

I’ve decided to add a new section to AF…Media! Here, I’ll share some music, movies, and other media I’ve fallen in love with for the month. 

Music 

Practising: Mozart’s Rondo in D-dur K485, Brahms Viola Sonata Op. 120 No.2 first movement, Debussy Claire de Lune

Listening to: Dark Academia Playlists, Mozart The Singles, Beethoven ‘Waldstein’ + ‘Spring’ album, Danish String Quartet Prism 1

Movie 

I watched A Beautiful Mind (starring Russel Crowe) and I. Just. Love it! I can’t say anything more than it has major DA vibes and features a mathematician because I might accidentally give away a huge plot twist in the middle of the movie. It reminded me of The Theory of Everything, so this movie is for you if you like the academia vibe with scientists. 

Manga/Anime

This is a totally brand-new section I desperately needed 🙂

I finished The Promised Neverland season 2, and although I guess they ran out of budget towards the end, it made me want to read the manga from the start again! We started Attack on Titan and it’s just…Wow. WHY DID I NEVER PAY PROPER ATTENTION TO IT BEFORE???

Anyhow. I can’t wait to go through this epic manga/anime! Also, Hetalia World Twinkle began serialisation again which I’m squealing all over the place about. 

So, Camp NaNoWriMo update. 

My original camp goal was 25K which I reached the beginning of this week. I’m almost at the 30K mark now, but I won’t be setting a word count goal. Instead, I’ll try to finish Book 2 which I’m at right now. 

A side note: Woodstone Abbey, as you might know, is insanely long. Part of it is due to the way I’ve decided to head the chapters. For instance, I have alternating chapters which are the Roman numeral chapters. In this chapter, there are three numerical chapters, which also have three to five small Roman numeral chapters. (Ex. I. Cognito, ergo sum C1: Dana Housie Beckett i. ) Mind-boggling, I know. 

More tea, anyone? I also stocked raspberry Earl Grey tea (which I’m actually drinking right now) and it’s heavenly. Perfect for spring. 

Right, then. Academics…

I found out I got accepted into a university in the Bachelor of Arts!! It’s one of the top three ranking unis in Canada (top 25 in the world, their website claims), so I’m super hyped. Fun story: The admission decision came five days before I realised it. I spent those days thinking I’d failed. #reasonstocheckyourinbox

I also got an entrance scholarship that covers about half of the first-year cost, and I still can’t believe it. My family’s suggesting I should go punch myself to make sure it’s not a dream. *cough, violence, cough, cough*

I think most of you might remember, but I talked about a super controversial topic on my blog last month–LGBTQ2+ and the Christian Writer. Well, there’s a continuing story to it. One of my IRL friends read the blog, told someone about it, and I was offered an opportunity to speak at a SOGI rally. (FYI, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) 

The focus was on parental rights and child medical transition concerning a court case that happened locally. It was a nerve-wracking experience, but I’m so glad I got to do this public speaking event! 

I also hosted a high schooling homeschooler panel discussion, which was immensely fun! 

So, yes, life happened in great quantity, and I’m glad it did.  😉

That’s about it for today! I hope you’ve enjoyed this tea time. 

What did you think? How has April been so far? What are some books you’ve read? Music you’re listening to? Are you looking forward to school ending soon? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

February Afternoon Tea w/ SJ + The Liebster Award

Good afternoon!

It’s that time of the month again, except February is a special one…it’s been officially one year since I began the Afternoon Tea series! *inserts fanfare and cheers and  confettis* 

Reading back from February a year ago, I can’t believe how so many things changed. Also, I really want to go back in time and hug myself circa 2020. It’s okay, me. You’ll get through this. *ends self-care session*

Today, we’ll go back to the cabin in the mountains, except it’s howling outside. There’s a warm fire crackling in the huge fireplace, there’s plenty of blankets and pillows to go around, and from the sunroom in the back, we can see nothing but whiteness. There are little potted plants on the window sills with name tags that read: Oliver, Calder, Amity, and John 9th. We’ve got an assortment of fruit tea, macaroons, and yoghurt cakes with berries. 

Are you ready? 

Here we go…

Mini-February Update

I’m drinking berry tea with a side of boxed macaroons set. And if you’re wondering why today it’s a mini update, it’s because I was tagged for the Liebster Award! So obviously, I’ve got to leave some room at the end. 

Bibliotheca 

This month was a really weird reading month. I read 13 books, which is significantly less than my reading goal, but February is short. I also have been ditching my Omnibus list and haven’t finished them all…But, I did meet other great books, and Canterbury tales is seriously graphic like it should be labelled R18 so all’s well that ends well. I’m currently juggling between Special Topics in Calamity Physics, The Travels of Marco Polo, and The Iliad. 

Academics 

I actually have zero memory of what happened academically…wait, now that I think about it, lots have happened. 

First. 

I applied to one of the universities under visual arts but had forgotten about it, and got a notice a week before the deadline to submit my portfolio. The only serious art I’ve done was back in 10th grade, and everything after that was lieu manga style which wasn’t accepted, so I had to scramble and put together something that hopefully screamed MODERN ART!!!

Second. 

I have a driver’s test coming up at the beginning of March and have been practising for evah. I failed the last two tests, but BC is super strict because you should see us all driving yet I hope I’ll make it this time around. Super stressed, but I think that’s normal. 

Writing 

Because I was suddenly busy conjuring up art portfolios, mashing up artist statements, trying to ignore my less than perfect transcript, learning to drive like I have confidence &c., writing has been slow for the month. I wrote a grand total of 10K in Elijacomb, but it’s a middle grade and why should I take it too seriously? 

Yes, I landed there. 

Sometimes, the best thing to do is to not take your writing seriously. 

So I promptly hurled my WIP out the window and began a new and shiny idea ™. I know, sacrilegious, but we all must make ends meet. 

Life

Life has been pretty normal. My mental health has improved greatly now that I take a lengthy time each morning for personal devotions. Oh, and I went skiing, which was fun! I was telling my mom and sister how bad I am skiing and on the day they were like: “You betrayed our trust!” Which was kind of funny. I did think I couldn’t ski well. 


With that being said, care to refill your cup? How about Mandarin orange and honey tea? Or raspberry green tea? Better yet, try this lavender macaroon. It’s absolutely gorgeous. 

Okay, now that we’re settled, let’s move on to the Liebster award segment! 

The Rules:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you. (Thanks, Ariella!)
  • Answer the eleven questions he/she asked.
  • Nominate eleven more bloggers for the award.
  • Make sure they know you nominated them.
  • And ask your eleven nominated bloggers eleven questions.

The Questions:

1. What is your current favourite book/series, and why?

I’ve got to say, A Series of Unfortunate Events and All the Wrong Questions. My obsession with Lemony Snicket started around October last year, and ever since I can’t seem to stop advertising his books. I guess I’m into noir children’s lit??

I really, really want to watch the TV series as well…

2. What are your favourite genres to read and write?

Are you telling me to cut off my limbs?? 

Jokes aside, I’ve been re-reading my WIPs as of late and have come to this startling discovery: All of my stories have some sort of conspiracy and academia vibes in them. Also, ever since I found out dark academia was a thing, I’ve been going down that road. Considering everything, I think I like literary fiction of any genres, and especially books with lots of conspiracy and dark organisations with classy vibes. Go figure. 

3. What is your favourite fandom?

Narnia, for starters…And I’ve got to say, Marvel, even though I haven’t watched all the movies yet and started the movies from Endgame (I know, that’s not how you’re supposed to do it). 

Also, Anne with an E even though it has several problems with it. The casting was perfect, and I’m so sad they’re not continuing with it. Like, how come they never, ever, make it to Anne of the Island??? That’s the best part, y’all. 

This Marilla, tho. You just can’t help it. XD

4. Would you rather bring one of your characters to this world for a day or visit your favourite book world for a day?

Visit my fav. book world in a heartbeat. Why should I miss an opportunity to get to Narnia?

Me: Never miss a chance to get to Narnia.

5. What is your favourite kind of character to write or read about?

I love reading/writing intelligent and bent characters. Or weird ones. (It tells you already what kind of person I really am.)

6. Do you prefer coffee or tea? (Or something else?)

Tea forever. There’s a reason I host tea parties every month. 😉

7. Would you rather be really good at one specific talent or average at a wide variety of talents? Why?

I want to be really good at one specific talent, because that’s what having a spike is about…(I legit cried about not having a strong spike when I was applying to university last year. It still kind of haunts me.) Plus, being a genius in one thing and terrible at other things makes for a great story. 🙂

8. What is your passion in life?

One, Jesus, two, the Bible, three, stories. Also homeschoolers. Recently I discovered I’m mental about promoting homeschooling and helping fellow homeschoolers out. 

9. Do you have any “unusual” talents or hobbies?

Hmm…is it weird I self-host various campaigns starting with Eat Ramen Once a Week © and ending with Learn Alchemy and Canadian history? (War of 1812!!)

Or I guess being a violist is “unusual”. Or fighting in karate tournaments? Or…

This guy needs a proper hobby.

10. Would you rather live in a desert or a snowy region for the rest of your life?

Snowy region. And yes, I’m Canadian, you’re welcome. 

Except, I grew up with the temperate Tokyo climate.

11. Can you think of a movie adaptation that is better than the book?

Oof, I don’t know–why yes, I do know. Feel free to disagree with me all you want, but the Prince Caspian movie totally rocks. I mean, reference the BBC version and you’d know. 

The Nominees:

  1. Jenna Terese
  2. Kenechi Duatron
  3. Writing for Christ
  4. Bella Putt
  5. Emma Starr
  6. Mere Colloquials
  7. Eden
  8. Bree Dawn
  9. Ash Ronnel
  10. Jai Lynn
  11. Julia Witmer

My Questions:

  1. Would you rather be smart or beautiful?
  2. Are you a paper book reader, an e-book reader, or an audiobook reader?
  3. Winter sports or summer sports?
  4. If you could invite a book character for tea, who would you call on? 
  5. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done in your life? 
  6. Would you rather write an epic or a series of tanka?
  7. If you were a book, what genre would you be?
  8. Train or bus? 
  9. If you had to spend the rest of your life as a car, which car would you be? 
  10. Who is most likely to murder you in your sleep? 
  11. Which author would you write a  love-letter to and why? 

Wow, that was long! Thank you for reading thus far. 

How was your February? What were some highlights of the month? A favourite read? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!