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!

Camp NaNoWriMo + Short Hitouts Notice

Hullo, world!

You might be wondering what happened to me last week. You were probably pouring yourself tea (or coffee) waiting for March Afternoon Tea with SJ to go live at three.

But it never happened.

Yes, I do apologise about that. If you’re subscribed to my email list, you’d probably know, but the green pepper accident happened. Here’s the excerpt straight from that section:

My Sad Disclaimer About Why There’s No March ’21 Afternoon Tea

Some of you are probably wondering why I didn’t do my AT this month. This is because I had a painful and kind of hilarious accident that weekend. 

Saturday, I had a seminar (which was super empowering) all morning, then I had work in the afternoon and I realised I won’t be able to update my blog. Which is just fine, because I thought, “Hey, I’ll do it Sunday!”

Sunday came, and I was helping mum empty green pepper seeds. Green pepper, as all normal people know, is not something to be handled–well, with bare hands. I’m not normal, I used my bare hands to get the extremely hot seeds out. My hands are red, my face is red, everything I eat is spicy, and still I’m not sure. I think, “Hey, I’ll do it Monday! It’s not ideal, but I can’t type like this.”

Monday comes. I wake up with my hands (esp. my fingertips) practically glowing, I’m starting to feel miserable, and mum googles symptoms. It turns out there are a lot of abnormal people out there who suffered just like me and put out tips of all sort to relieve the pain starting with washing with oil and ending with drinking vodka. I would have liked to try the vodka option, but I ended up doing everything other than that and spent Monday in agony. Tuesday was work, and by that time I’d given up seeing a March ’21 AT on my blog. 

The End. 


So yes, that happened. Cut short to the chase, quick stats for March are the following:

  • Read 19 books (Which now makes 50 books /120 books I’m planning to read this year)
  • Wrote 9K in an experimental WIP
  • Loose concept edit of [ETT] which is part 1 of Juliet
  • Printed out [ZWEI] and did a quick read-through
  • Printed out Woodstone Book 1 and did a quick read-through
  • Life happened a lot. Just saying.

And now to the real topic of the day…

Camp NaNoWriMo Season is Back!!!

Yes, that’s right. I just started Camp NaNoWriMo! *inserts cheers and fanfares* Like usual, I won’t be doing it on the website because, reasons. After spending much time debating which WIP I should work on, I’ve gone back to Woodstone Abbey…spring is WS season, y’all.

Check out the story :: Explore the world :: Read My Progress Report

I first thought I’ll go for half-WriMo which would be 25K, but I might do the full one given the progress I’m making so far. We’ll see, we’ll see…

But What of This Hit-Outs I Hear About???

Yes, you heard right. I’ll be on a short hit-outs for the month of April to focus on Camp NaNo and also my life where I’m doing lots of exciting shiny things™. Given the schedule, I don’t think I can fit in blogging on top of everything else I’m doing, so I’ll be taking a break. But don’t worry, I will be back for April Afternoon Tea. Hopefully I won’t jinx it again. 🙂

And that’s it for now!

How did March go for you? What are some of your plans this April? Are you doing Camp NaNoWriMo? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

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!