5 Favourite Tea Companies + WIP Update

Hullo, world!

Last week I wrote a post that was kind of heavy and actually took many tries for me to write…And I’m glad I did. 

But for this week, I think I’ll settle for something light and fluffy. 😉 The cherry blossoms are starting to bloom, but that’s just the timing for it to rain…I know, Vancouver weather simply sucks. Plus, it hailed last Friday. 

Anyhow. 

Today, I’ll be sharing my 5 Favourite Tea Companies! *squeals* I love drinking tea (in case you didn’t know) and usually drink at least 5 cups of tea a day. Since I’m on a Lent fast, I’m only drinking hot water as of current, but still. 

Now that the introductions are underway, let the tea party commence!

1. Murchie’s Tea & Coffee

:: Visit Murchie’s::

This is one of the older companies on the list with a history of 127 years. Since it’s Canadian/Scottish, the tea blends offer things like Canadian Breakfast, Sugar Maple, CBC Radio blends, & c. One thing I love about Murchie’s is the old tea shop feel and how one can find totally unexpected blends like Strawberry shortcake blend. 

Some of my favourite tea blends:

Canadian Breakfast | Editor’s Blend | Queen Victoria 

2. The Secret Garden Tea Company

:: Visit TSGTC::

This is an excellent tea parlour like anyone can hope for based locally! It’s one of the oldest tea houses in Vancouver located in one of my favourite areas…Kerrisdale! You can book a high tea, breakfast/lunch tea, or individual teas. It is a bit expensive, but I love the atmosphere and the special occasion feel, so it’s definitely worth it. 

3. DavidsTea

:: Visit DAVIDsTEA::

Okay, now that I looked at the list, this one’s also a Canadian tea store. But. Unlike the other tea companies on the list, this one takes a more modern approach to tea so it’s not like the traditional tea store. Plus, I just love the colourful cans and glass-jars filled with all sorts of exotic blends. 

Some of my favourite tea blends:

cream of earl grey organic | tulsi tranquility | just peachy

4. Twinnings 

:: Visit Twinnings (UK/NA)::

As many of you already know, I’m obsessed with Earl Grey tea. And since I’m obsessed, there’s no possible way I won’t mention the company which first established it. Twinnings has a history of 300+ years, and that’s almost as cool as the fact it’s practically a tea standard of sorts. (Fun Fact: Our family buys the 144 tea bag box of Earl Grey.)

Some of my favourite tea blends:

Ear Grey | Lady Grey | English Breakfast

5. Tsujiri

:: Visit Tsujiri (CA/JP)::

This store was founded in 1860 around the time of the end of the Edo era and shogunate. I didn’t have a chance to visit when I was in Japan, but it recently came to Canada! 

One thing I love about Tsujiri is the deep authentic taste of Japanese tea. I’m kind of picky about green tea here (which is why I cringe when I find people have blended green tea with something else). With Tsujiri, I can be sure to get the dark, rich flavour I’ve been craving. They also have tea-infused sweets and food which is just amazing. 

Some of my favourite tea blends:

O-matcha | Houjicha Latte | Sencha


*End tea-rant*

I hope I’ve done each tea company justice to convince you to drink more tea. If not, I guess I’ll force-feed you tea next week. *inserts evil laughter*

Anyhow. 

WIP Update

I’ve been kind of all over the place with my WiPs as of late and kind of wanted to apologise for that. I mean, I don’t need to, but I don’t like confusion and I’m just going to assume you don’t, either. (If you’re the kind of person who lives for chaos, this has nothing to do with you.) 

Recap of Months 1, 2, and 3

January–I was writing my secret project ™ which I revealed (sort of) to be titled Osthauptstadt. Wrote the 0.5 draft to halfway point of 25K and left it to stew. 

February–I wanted to write something fluffy and not as serious as my previous WIP, so I switched gears to Elijacomb 17. I wrote 10K in addition to the 11K I had, bridging the 0.5 draft total to 21K. Very happy with what I’ve written. 

March–I started out brainstorming for another secret project involving homeschoolers, tea, and superpowers, but realised I had to type out last MeNoWriMo’s handwritten draft (aka Woodstone, 05 draft)…which is what I’m doing now. I also printed out Zwei from Juliet and began some edits. 

So that’s kind of where I’m at. Although I feel all over the place, looking at it this way makes me realise I hadn’t been wasting my time or anything. (I know, that’s the grand revelation we come to.) I’m still kind of on the fence whether I should do Camp NaNo this year or not, but last year I got solid wordcounts in for Woodstone and would like to do that, so I guess I’m leaning into doing it. Not on the website, though. (If you’re curious about this, read this post I did last October.) 

And I guess what I wanted to say is, even though a quarter of this year’s already past, you’ll probably find that you’ve actually accomplished much if you look back. Until I did this WIP Update, I didn’t realise I got a lot done already. I thought I was kind of flitting to and fro and meandering between projects (which is true to some extent) , not getting much done. 

But I was. 

And it reminds me that it’s important we know where we are in life, where we’re heading, and whether or not we’re at a place God wants us to be. Maybe you didn’t get things done you thought you would. Maybe you’re a little burnt out already. Wherever you are, try to take a moment to reflect on the year 2021 so far. I promise you, it will help you find your footing. 

And that’s it for today! 

Thank you for reading! What did you think? Do you have any favourite tea company? Do you like drinking tea? How is life going for you so far? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

Create a Writing Life That (Actually) Works for You

Hullo, world! 

It’s actually snowing in Vancouver today, which is super exciting. Snowcouver trumps Raincouver! (I know, spoken like someone from Edmonton where it’s -30°C and sunny.)

I’m thinking I’ll take a short walk in the snow with my sister for an early Valentine girl’s date…It’s a White Valentine! (I know, now I’m ceasing to make much sense.)

Me going outside today.

Today, we’ll be tackling the topic of Writing Life

Writing Life is a fickle thing. Last week I talked about writing what you love, but sometimes we don’t even get there–we seem to be unable to find time to write. Or, you might be squeezing in that writing, but it leaves you exhausted and dissatisfied with your writing and you think, “This isn’t the writing life I was dreaming of!”

Courage, dear heart. Where there is a will, there always is a way.

1. Brainstorm

First off, take a moment right now and think of your ideal writing life. What does it look like? When are you writing? Last year, I stalked my four legendary authors and went to see what kind of writing life they had. From this experience, I’ve been brainstorming what my ideal writing life would look like. I shared my ideal Bookham routine in January, but February has been knocking me out, so I’m not able to follow that routine too much. 

A good writing life or day for me would be devoid of siblings (sorry my dears, you are too obstreperous), filled with cups of tea and hot chocolate and coffee magically refilling themselves (or not), and me banging up 5K or more. And no, this isn’t just a fantasy. I had a very good writing day about a year ago where I banged out 10k in a single Saturday. 

But enough about my ideal writing life. Try to come up with yours and make it as specific as possible. It might be a good idea to make a Pinterest board on it, too. (I know, I can’t promote Pinterest enough.)

2. Assess 

This is where a reality check comes in. Where are you at your life sans writing? Are you a high schooler, a college student, or a stay-at-home mom? What does your work schedule look like? 

If you are a high school senior, I will advise you to focus on your future. And if you’re offended, I’m sorry, but I was a senior myself. You can read about my disastrous writing life back then. It’s not a priority. Your life is. Writing should be put on the back burner until you’re finished with applications and scholarships and whatnots. 

If you aren’t on the dividing road of life, however, really think back on your schedule. When do you wake up and go to sleep? What are some of the non-negotiable blocks of your time? Ruthlessly go through everything in a given day, and yes, that includes the time you spend scrolling on Instagram. It’s a good idea to do this on paper and list all your non-negotiable schedule versus negotiable things. 

Example:

Non-NegotiableNegotiable
-Full-Time Work (8hrs)
-Part-Time Work (2-4hrs)
-Study (6hrs or more)
-Sleep (6-7hrs)
-Eating (3hrs)
-Personal Hygiene–Shower, bath, etc. (1.5hrs)
-Transit (1-2hrs)
-Sleeping in
-Reading
-Social Media and other phone usages (ave. per day=3.5hrs or  more)
-Watching TV shows (ave. per week= 8hrs)
-Other Hobbies

3. Excavate

Once you have a detailed idea of where all your time is going, ruthlessly go through the negotiable list. Is it truly necessary to binge-watch Netflix over the weekends? Do you really need to read that book? *gasp* Is it possible to wake up an hour earlier than usual? What can you be doing other than scrolling through Instagram feeds? 

At this point, go back to point 1 where you did a brainstorm of your ideal writing life. Now, compare it with the time you have. How much time can you actually allot? As much as possible, try to create one day in a month where you can achieve that ideal writing life. Once you can do that regularly, try every other week. Then once a week. 

For me, Saturdays are my sacred days where I leisurely write my blog, work on my WiPs, and ignore work and study as much as possible. I know, it sounds a little stressful, esp. if you’re a studyholic like me, but it works. 

During weekdays, I try to set my bars really low. If I can write an hour a day, I consider it a great achievement. But as long as I make the time to write consistently, I think it a great writing life. 

Think of your ideal writing life. Assess the time you have in your 24 hours a day. Then at the actual time you can excavate to write. Chances are, if you are serious about writing, you can cut back on the negotiable and write. It doesn’t have to look the same every day, but it is preferable to stick to it until you’re wired to take the time to write. 

When everything is stripped away of life, will you be writing? How much writing means to you will be the measure of how much you will treasure it. And if writing life right now looks like taking ten minutes every morning to jot down small details or typing on your phone in transit, that’s okay, too. What matters is you realise what your priorities are, and if writing is one of them, to guard it. 

And that’s what we do–write. 

Thank you for reading this post! What does your ideal writing life look like? What are some areas you can cut back on to write instead? How can you make time to write in your stage of life? Let me know what you thought in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

A Day in a Gap-Year Student Writer’s Life

Hullo, world! 

It’s officially my first post on SJ Barnard, 2021! (Of course, we did that last week, but I mean this is my first non-new year or end-of-the-year post. I know, confusing.)

I’ve been loosely asking around what sort of posts would be interesting, and a lot of people responded to Lifestyle. I myself personally love lifestyle posts, especially if they’re about writers! So this will be my first writer lifestyle-esque post, and I hope to do more in the future. 

Today, I want to share with you A Day in a Gap-Year Student Writer’s Life, which, of course, is yours truly. 😉 In a way, it’s my version of the “Bookham routine”–C. S. Lewis’s ideal routine that I covered in a post exactly one year ago–and I don’t always follow the same routine or timing, but some things are pretty much solid. 

Before I begin, I just want to tell you life is life. Most of the time it wreaks havoc on me and all routine gets thrown out the window like it’s on fire (which it is). I also sound a bit mental with my study ethics, something I have been looking into fixing. It’s gotten better, but you don’t want to know what I was doing at 4:30 am when I was thirteen. Like, seriously. Teenage me should get a life. (Said a teenager to the other.)

So with that warning out of the way, let’s dive in!

My Bookham Routine

5:25-6:25 = Wake Up

I try to get up around this time frame on weekdays. Over the years I’ve ditched my insane three-thirty-am routine, but I still like to be up earlier in the morning. 

Waking up

6:00-7:30 = Devotions (+ Breakfast if I feel starving)

I proceed to do devotions, which usually takes me about an hour to do. I also make myself breakfast if I’m absolutely starving, but most of the time I make do with a kettle full of boiling water, tea, &c. In a way, I fast breakfasts. (Ha, ha, how funny it is!)

7:00-8:30 = Write

Usually, around this time, my Mom pours me a nice cup of coffee (consisting of 50% soymilk, 20% Irish cream, 30% coffee) and I sit down with soft music to write. This is about the only peaceful writing time I get in my day, so I try to make the most of it. 

8:30-10:00 = Calculus

It’s time for the much-dreaded Calculus. One of the reasons I am not looking forward to it is because I did Calc already using Saxon, but have to retake it for the sake of getting it accredited by the school board here. The other is because it’s online and understand things much better when I read it. But, we all have to “eat a frog” and the easiest way to do it is in the morning. 

Me viewing Calculus assignments

10:00-11:30 = Bible Study

This is the non-disputable time in the day where our family sits down to sing, pray, and do a detailed theological study. We follow Kenichci Nakagawa’s study material, which is excellent and also a good refresher because it’s in Japanese. 

12:00-1:30 = Luncheon (or Dinner)

We have a loose lunch-cooking rotation, so whoever’s on for the day gets the meal ready with Mom. We also have a dish-washing rotation, and for this month my brother and I are on it. We have a dishwasher but we aren’t sure how to use it, hence we still do them in an analogue way. 

13:30-14:30 = Latin (or a nice long walk)

One thing I really want to do this year is to learn Latin. I use my sibling’s Henley to talk about Romani milites Galliam occiderunt. Or to make sure I know what I’m talking about in Woodstone, given it’s basically built on the seven liberal arts, Latin, and Greek. (Or maybe I live for the day I get to insult someone by calling them crepito facies gallinis.)

Also, I might take a long walk instead because this is the only time of the day the sun is remotely shining in the winter. 

14:30-15:30 = Omnibus, Logic, Chemistry 

This is the time I do the rest of my version 7LA just because I’m obsessed like that. I’ve yet to finish reading the Omnibus reading list, I just started the Canon Logic, and I’m reading through Apologia Chemistry even though I have enough science courses under my belt. 

15:30-16:30 = Music (Viola + Piano)

I only give myself an hour total to practise viola and piano because, given any time, I’d keep on playing them forever. Which, as you might have guessed, isn’t exactly a productive way of spending one’s time. 

What I tend to do on the table when I’m bored.

16:00-17:00 = Free Time! (Technically.)

So, if I’m on for dinner duties, I have to start cooking in this time frame. If not, I can try to write some more or read from my Omnibus reading list. You’d be surprised how many books in The Odyssey one can read.

18:00-19:00 = Dinner (or Supper)

This one is self-explanatory. We sometimes watch The history of Japan or The Road to Avonlea over dinner. 

19:00-20:30 = Reading + Miscellaneous 

After dishes, I revert back to my pyjamas, read, or do some stretches and exercises. 

20:30-21:30 = Family Devotional Reading

Another indisputable time where we read a Christian nonfiction book or devotional or Proverbs. 

21:30-22:00 = Snuggle into my “hub” and recharge as I read

My inner battery starts running out around this time, so a) I start laughing at everything and anything or b) I start crying and become cranky. I proceed to recharge in my bed reading. 

Me charging in my hub be like:

22:00 = Lights Out! 

Whew, what a long day! I stay in my bed and ask nicely if someone would turn off the lights in my room because that’s just the sort of status I have in my house. #sorrynotsorry #flex

And yes, I go to bed at 10 pm.

So in a nutshell, that’s what my day can look like on a good old average day. Tuesdays, we have ski lessons for the month so it’s a bit chaotic. Monday I have the house mostly to myself and I write my Japanese blog during the Bible Study time. Saturdays are solely for lazing about writing my blog posts and my novels, and Sundays are my favourite–church days! Even though it’s online, I still love it. We might watch movies over the weekends, too. 

Although life is disputable in the way it comes at us, I love having a soft outline to make sure I can keep track of where I spend my energy being a low-powered person. I also have this tendency to want to stuff some sort of convoluted study into any free time I have, but I’m trying to relax and focus more on my writing and reading instead. 

I hope you enjoyed it!

What did you think? What does your day look like? Do you have a loose routine you follow? Are you a fan of having routines, or not? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!