Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Tea Review: Sugar Plum Spice by Celestial Seasonings

Welcome to my first tea review!
I picked up this tea at my base commissary back in late December or early January, when the holiday/seasonal teas go on clearance prices and I can indulge my tea obsession without doing damage to the wallet. It has sat in my cabinet for months....then we had a warm spell (well, warm for England) and I didn't want to drink my normal English Breakfast teas.
One of the reasons I picked up this box of tea was the cover. Eye-catching and in keeping with the holiday feel. Please note that Celestial Seasonings recently redid their packaging, so the box on the website will not look at the box from my own stash. Personally, I like the holiday packaging and hope they keep it going while the rest of the year they use the new boxes.
This is a herbal tea and caffeine free, so it is suitable for everyone; as always, it is a good idea to check the ingredient list just to ensure you are not consuming anything that could be harmful to you.
First Impressions: as the tea steeped, a beautiful purple color emerged. Seriously pretty tea. And the smell is strong and pleasant but not overpowering.
First Sip Reaction: Wow! Perfect balances of spices and sweetness. Most holiday teas are too sweet for my taste.
Bottom of the Cup Reaction: I need to make another cup. That was good. So good I need to let my friends know about this tea. It honestly doesn't taste like a winter holiday tea - it tastes more like a summer time tea. That gave me an idea and I tried this tea on ice and it tasted as good cold as it did hot. I would say it was even a bit more flavorful cold than hot.
Final verdict: The one box I had of this tea didn't last a week. I brewed a cup for my friend when she came over to chat while the kids played. She left the house with four tea bags! I would highly recommend this tea.
If you want to try Sugar Plum Spice for yourself, you don't have to wait until December! You can order online at Celestial Seasonings; however, please note that the US site does not recognize APO zip codes, so if you are military living overseas, try using the Amazon site within your country.
Until next time, happy sipping!

Summer 2016 Reading Challenge #2: DoD-MWR Summer Reading Program

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The second reading challenge I am doing is a repeat from last year. Each year, the Dept of Defense (DoD) and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) libraries execute a summer reading program aimed at helping military dependents prevent "the summer slide" in reading skills in children (see picture). This year's theme is "Read - For The Win" (basically sports). My kids participated last year - there is the launch party with crafts, games, and a take home bag of goodies, weekly prizes (based on theme), and an end of the summer reading party where awards are given out based on reading reports.

The reports are generated by the online registration and tracking, divided by age groups. I only tracked my kids' reading last year, but this year I have decided to track my own reading along with the kids' reading. I have a soon-to-be kindergartener, so some of the books we are reading are for beginner readers to help him gain some confidence in reading; I figure on a little bit of me reading to him and him reading to me. As for my pre-schooler, she is just happy to get time with mommy and her books.

The program runs from June 1st through mid- to late August, although launch parties are held after June 1st. It is important to remember the dates so you can track your reading from June 1st so that you don't miss any reading in the first two weeks of the program. Story time at the library also counts!

 Want to know more about the DoD-MWR Summer Reading Program? Contact your base library or go to

Until next time, happy reading!

Summer 2016 Reading Challenge #1: COYER Summer Vacation


First, what is COYER?

COYER stands for Clean Out Your E-Reader, a challenge thought up years ago in the reading community to help readers get their e-reading under control. I have seen a good number of friends do one of the seasonal COYER challenges in the past and it looks like a lot of fun.

So here it is, my sign up post officially declaring my participation in the COYER Summer Vacation challenge. Currently, I have no goals, but hopefully by next week I will have my reading mapped out for the summer. As I don't review on my blog, I will be linking my reviews to my BookLikes account.

This challenge starts June 18th and runs through the summer until September 4th. Why don't you join me? There is a FB group as well as a new website devoted to all things COYER (starting June 18th). Want more information or do you want to sign up? Then head over to Because Reading Is Better Than Real Life blog!

Until next time, happy reading!

Monday, May 16, 2016


Hi everyone! I haven't blogged in recent weeks because I have been participating in a number of book challenges and read-a-thons. So I am taking today to update my readers on what is going on in my reading and tea drinking life.

First up, the book club I was trying to build is now a no-go. We couldn't get the cooperation needed to start the club and with PSC season upon us, it would be rebuilding again when the club wasn't fully formed yet. I think the kind of problems we faced are the ones naturally found in the military life; I think this is why a lot of military spouses and dependents tend to seek out on-line book communities or start their own blog (like me, lol).

Second, the read-a-thons I participated in were Caffeinated Blog's 24 hour TBR Control, Dewey's, and most recently, Bout of Books round 16. With the first two, I only managed two books in each; with the third, I managed to read four out of the five books I had hoped complete. My problem is that I like to keep my reading balanced between fiction and non-fiction; I have found that for me, non-fiction books are not conducive to read-a-thons because they take a greater amount of time and attention than fiction.

I did have a lot of fun meeting other readers and bloggers that I now follow on Twitter and their respective blogs. I tend not to do challenges or contests; I prefer to meet people and read books over trying to win a prize. That may sound Pollyanna-ish, but the whole point of my participation in these events is to make a dent in my reading piles and have fun, not blog visits or gift certificates.

There is one more read-a-thon I will be doing this month; the National Read-a-thon is this Friday (May 20th). The base library is holding two sessions for people to drop in and read, along with the children's librarians holding a special story time sessions. This will be the kids' first participation in a read-a-thon. I also plan on participating in Bout of Books round 17 (third week of August).

I find that read-a-thons and challenges help re-motivate me to meet my reading challenges. And since I have year-long personal reading challenges in addition to the one generic challenge, I could use all the support and motivation I can get. Making connections with other bloggers also makes blogging less lonely.

Until next time,
Happy Reading!