Afternoon Tea with SJ Blogiversary Edition

Good afternoon to you! 

Today is my second blogiversary…and I can scarcely believe it’s been two years since I started blogging. There’s so many things I want to say, share with you, but first of all this: Thank you. Thank you for being a SJ Barnard reader and being a part of my reading-writing journey. It’s been incredible every part of the way, and I could not have done that if not for you!

-June ‘21 Afternoon Tea Setting-

Location: Beach House

Tea: Sayama-cha, Iced-peach strawberry, Iced-lemon mint

Offered with: Peach-strawberry parfait, lime-lemon-mint sherbet, pink champagne/green tea macaron 

Without further ado, let the celebration begin!

Stats ‘21

Views–4,121

Visitors–1,995

Likes–331

Comments–201

Best Month–May, with 1.1K views!

Total Followers–169

Total Email List Followers–31


Top 5 Posts

  1. 5 Ways to Write (Without Actually Writing) 
  2. AH: 5 Truths to Remind Yourself On Painful Writing Days 
  3. The Original Outstanding Blogger Award + WIP 
  4. Happy First Blogiversary! 
  5. 12 Classic Loves Collab with Samantha 

Wow. I mean, compared to my last blogiversary, I’ve definitely seen growth. (A lot of the stats have doubled or tripled!) I think I also grew into my blogging style so it’s quite comfortable for me. 🙂 

Q’s

More tea, anyone? I personally love iced-lemon-mint tea! Also, the peach strawberry parfait and pink champagne macarons are absolutely gorgeous. 

Okay, this is my impromptu Q & A session! (Note: I actually forgot to ask questions ahead of time and did this kind of last minute, so thank you to everyone who sent their questions in. You can still ask me questions in this post!)

Nicole Dust

1. Current fav. song? 

Ooh, this is a tough one…Maybe Name of Love by Cinema staff?? Listening to it makes me tear up every time. 😭 Also, I’m really in love with most songs in my Toumei-sei (Transparency) playlist. 

2. What’s an anime you’d recommend to literally anybody?

I want to say AoT except I wouldn’t recommend it to literally anybody, so I’ve got to say Future Boy Conan, which was one of Miyazaki’s earliest works and also one of the awesome-est. It literally has every theme he’ll explore in the coming years!!

Paperstrider 

What’s your favourite blog post you’ve ever written?

That’s a great question. Hmm, favourite blog post…If I had to choose, it would be between The Narnia Tag (I still think it was the most genius idea I’ve ever come up with), AH: 5 Truths to Remind Yourself On Painful Writing Days, and any Afternoon Tea series!

Jenna Terese

What’s one thing you’d want to tell the whole blogosphere?

New Aesthetics & Direction

I’m getting a little thirsty…I think I’ll have a classic green tea, Sayama-cha. Would you like some sherbet?

Finally, I’d just like to share a few things about my blog. 

You might have noticed I rebranded my blog a few weeks ago. I loved my old blog identity, but felt like it didn’t completely resonate with me anymore, partly because I’ve been discovering a wider range of aesthetics than what I’ve previously known, and partly because my philosophy has gone back to the simplest form of Ecclesiastes 12:12-13. 

Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.

Ecclesiastes 12:12-13

So, I’m trying to find my stride with a more minimal, Lewisian-vibe aesthetic. Obviously it might change again, but for the time being this is what I’m going with!

(P. S. Some of my favourite aesthetics are: minimalism, academia, beige milk tea, cottagecore)


At the same time, I just love reading and writing. It’s something I’d keep on doing even if the world was ending. 

All this is to say, I’ll keep on posting as I am–with focus on mental health, reading classics and modern books, ranting about my favourite fandoms, and talking about my writing journey. 

So, thank you once more for being a part of this journey. And shall we say, The road goes ever on and on. 

Thank you for celebrating my two-year blogiversary with me! How has your month been? Is there anything you’re curious about my writing/blogging journey? What are your favourite aesthetics? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

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!