Monday, May 2, 2016


Hello, dear readers,

I apologize for the two-month, impromptu hiatus. My life has been shifting in a big way lately, and as regular blogging had not yet become ingrained in my routine when these changes came along, it was the first thing I put on the back burner. So let me share with you the biggest of these developments. And then, I promise, I'll get back to the happy business of maintaining this site!

Here's my news (drumroll, please): After this school year ends, I will be leaving the teaching profession. I'll have to write a follow-up post about the many factors that went into this decision someday, after I've had time to process through it all. I'm sad, of course, to be leaving the classroom, and I'll miss my students and colleagues terribly. But this is, on the whole, a happy development, and the main impetus behind my decision is that I've caught the writing bug. I've caught it bad. And I want to make a career out of it!

Time will tell what this will actually look like for me, but I'm excited to see what the future holds. The tricky part is that I am doing this soul-searching (and job searching!) while finishing out the school year. As any high school teacher can tell you, April and May are two very busy months for us. It is difficult to take all the necessary steps to start a new career while making sure that I'm not cheating my students out of a strong end to the school year. As a result, it will be a few weeks yet before I can put my full energy into writing. I can't tell you how excited I am, though. Expect further updates as time goes on!

My craft projects have also fallen victim to the busyness of the end of the school year, but I have a few updates in that department as well. The blanket I showed you in my last post is finished, and a beautiful baby girl has already puked on it, so I know it's well-loved. Here's a picture of the final product, along with its owner, sweet little baby M.

Isn't she just too beautiful for words? Watch out, Gerber baby! You've got competition!
I decided to go with a simple scalloped edge. The moss stitch was pretty enough that I didn't feel the need to add any embellishment.

And alas, I don't have the Misfit Flash ribbon wristband project to share with you. This is partly because I've been so busy, and partly because before I found the time to make it, my Misfit met with a mysterious misfortune. I was rocking it in my pendant necklace holder while attending my college's Alumni Weekend a couple weeks ago, and somehow, during the course of the day, my Misfit went kaput. I'm corresponding with company support to diagnose the problem. Up until its untimely demise, though, it was working great and I really enjoyed using it. I may or may not end up writing that review post I talked about before. It depends on whether I'm able to have my device replaced.

That's all I have for you today, friends. Have a lovely Monday!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Baby Blanket Preview and DIY Fitness Tracker Accessories

Are turtlenecks even remotely in style right now? I wore a big, chunky, knitted, turtleneck sweater to work today, because Missouri weather has finally broken me. We keep getting these almost-warm, sunny weekends, followed by dismal, damp, cold weekdays. I’ve lived here my whole life, and I will never get used to the torture that is late winter and early spring in Missouri. So because my springy outfit left me goosebumped and grumpy yesterday, I broke down and wore a turtleneck, corduroy pants, and wool socks today. The weather won’t stay warm, but I will feel warm, even if it means getting teased by teenagers. I'm used to that anyway.

So, in between compulsively checking the weather forecast and hissing at the sky out my window from under the cover of a down blanket, I’ve been working on my latest baby blanket project. I’ll make another post about this one once it’s finished, but here’s a preview.

Moss Stitch Baby Blanket

I used the directions for this adorable animal alphabet afghan. It's a departure from the plain, single stitch blankets I've been making without a lot of added effort. For each row, just alternate a half double crochet and a slip stitch. Easy peasy. It's turning out really nice. I haven't decided on a border yet, or whether I'll add any embellishments.

But crocheting isn't all I've been working on lately.

DIY Misfit Accessories

I think I've mentioned before that I'm hoping to get into better shape this year. I will write next week's post about my reasons for wanting to exercise more and how I plan to go about that in a healthy, sustainable, and self-loving way. But today I want to share with you one of the steps I've taken toward that goal, and also to share how I'm making it more fun for myself. 

It has taken me a long time to get onto the fitness tracker bandwagon. I see the value in it, and I really enjoyed the episode of the podcast "To The Best of Our Knowledge" called "The Quantified Self", which talks about personal tracking and how it can improve our lives. But I'm a cheapskate, so it took me a while.

I did have a Fitbit Zip that Joe got through work, but it was prone to (and eventually succumbed to) cat shenanigans. Hobbit once stole it off of the nightstand, and we found it in the living room the next morning with 400 steps on it. Alas, the Zip's next feline encounter proved to be fatal. One night, Adele knocked everything off of the nightstand and into the trash can. By the time I realized the Zip was missing, it had long since been taken to the dumpster.

Anyway, that's a very long and cat-heavy way to say that I was without a fitness tracker until recently. My school district started a wellness program with a daily step goal. The district offered to reimburse us up to $25 to purchase a tracker. If you've bought a Fitbit, you know that's not really much help. So I bought a cheaper tracker, the Misfit Flash. It was actually on special from Amazon Prime for $20, so with the reimbursement, it was free! 

Since I've only had it for a day, I'll wait until later to give it a complete review. But what I can share is what I'm doing to make it more fun to wear. Right now, it looks like this:

Not hideous, but also pretty conspicuous and athletic-looking. I saw some of the accessories for the Misfit Shine, a more expensive model, and I got a hankering to make a few DIY accessories of my own. 

I looked all over the place for tutorials to DIY some Misfit accessories, and I couldn't find any. Really! I even looked on the second and third page of Google results! Etsy has some cute handmade options, but as I said before, I'm a penny pincher. I was left with no choice but to come up with my own projects.

For my first attempt, I was inspired by this pretty locket-style necklace for the Misfit Shine. My Flash isn't compatible with it, which is fine, because I'm not about to spend $80 on one. 

Instead, I found this empty locket in the jewelry section at Joann Fabric & Crafts for $3.99 (not including my teacher discount - woot woot!).

No idea what kind of metal this is.
Maybe I'll end up with a giant green circle on my chest from wearing it!
It doesn't fit perfectly, so I had to wrap the necklace chain through the loops twice to get it to stay closed. This way I can wear it when I need to look fancy. Which isn't very frequently, if I'm being honest. But at least I have options. I'll bet the Misfit Shine will fit even better in one of these, so let's call this the absolute easiest way to save $86 on wearable tech accessories. You're welcome.

Note the less-than-perfect fit. Then remember how much money you're saving.

I warned you about the turtleneck. Sexy, no?

Here's my next project: I saw this ribbon bracelet, meant to make the Misfit more comfortable to wear while sleeping, and I decided that I could for-sure create something similar with my sewing machine. I'm planning to cut up an old workout shirt for this job. I'll post the project with pictures and a tutorial next week, along with my review of the Misfit Flash. Let's hope my cats haven't eaten it before then!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Yarn Crafts for Health and Easy Baby Blanket Crochet Projects

Happy Saturday!

Anyone else in Missouri today may wonder why I'm sitting inside blogging when the high today is 71ºF, in February. My answer to you, dear, hypothetical Missourian readers, is that it is still morning, and the thermometer has not yet broken 60ºF, also known as the temperature at which I will willingly spend my leisure time out of doors. For lo, I am a wimp. But I am enjoying the morning sunshine in my living room, watching Hobbit flopping around like a goofball in a nice warm patch on the carpet.

I wasn't fast enough to get a pic of him rolling around. He's embarrassed that he got caught being adorable.

Putting aside for the moment the existential dread stemming from the knowledge that such a gloriously warm day in February is likely the result of global warming, I'm really excited that I get to spend some time outside today. But first, I want to talk about crocheting.

Did you know that yarn crafts are good for your health? This blog post from the New York Times, The Health Benefits of Knitting, quotes doctors and researchers studying the mental and physical perks of crocheting and knitting. It's an interesting read.

I learned to crochet when I was little, but I took it back up more seriously in the last year or so as a way to keep myself from biting my nails. Here are the benefits, health-related and otherwise, that I've noticed:

1. It keeps my hands busy, so I'm not picking or biting my nails, and I'm also not mindlessly snacking. Snacking's great, but if I'm not paying attention while I eat, I'm not enjoying it anyway!
2. The repetitive motion helps reduce my anxiety and calms me down after a stressful day. Yarn is cheaper than a therapist!*
3. I'm big into giving gifts, and giving someone a gift I made by hand makes it more meaningful, and this strengthens my friendships.
4. I save money on winter accessories. Like, for real. This hat takes me less than two hours to make (I'm pretty slow), and it's less than $5 worth of yarn. Also, it's super cute.
5. If I'm going to watch six episodes of The West Wing in a row, at least I'll have something to show for it afterwards.

*Please don't actually use yarn as a substitute for professional counseling. I was kidding.

The list goes on, but you get the picture. It's a simple, inexpensive hobby that boasts big returns, and it keeps my millennial layabout tendencies in check.

So, I'd like to share with you some of the projects I worked on last year. The thing about being twenty-five is, my friends are starting to reproduce. So are my siblings. Fine by me, as 1) It keeps the baby-making pressure off me and my hubby, and 2) I'm at that stage of life where I really love babies, as long as I can hand them back to their parents after we've hung out for a bit. Joe and I are still a few years out in terms of offspring. Anyway, I've been making a lot of baby blankets lately.

As I said before, I've only gotten back into crocheting regularly in past year or two, so these blankets were all beginner level projects. I basically just single crocheted forever and ever amen for the body of each blanket, then I did a simple border and an embellishment on each. Pictures and details below!

Blanket One: Airplane Appliqué Blanket with Blanket Stitch Border

This one was for my nephew, who was born last spring. My brother's father-in-law is a private pilot, and he gave my brother lessons while my brother was getting his own pilot's license. The family is pretty into planes, is what I'm saying. So I made a blanket using worsted weight yarn in single stitch, and then I used This pattern, a $2 download on, to make an airplane. Definitely worth the $2. I then finished it up with a blanket stitch border in blue, which is super easy and very cute. Here's the finished product.

Sorry for the poor picture quality, by the way. I took all these photos before I knew I'd be sharing them!

Blanket Two: Flower Appliqué Blanket with Scallop Stitch Border

This one was for the daughter of some friends of mine from church. They decorated their nursery in navy and cream with coral accents, so I used the same colors in the blanket. The weekend I made the flowers, I was feeling equal parts lazy and over-confident, so I decided to try making them without a pattern. They came out a bit less defined than I liked, but I kept them. This was my first foray into the scallop stitch for a border, and I used the fantastic book Crocheting School: A Complete Course to learn it. 

Also featured: my hideous living room couch! Feast your eyes!

The border looks nearly black here, but it's really a nice, deep navy.

Blanket Three: Hot Air Balloon Embroidered Blanket with Basic Border

This one was my favorite to make, partly because it was the easiest, and partly because I really loved combining crocheting and cross stitch embroidery in one project! This blanket was for the son of another couple of friends from our church. They didn't have any color or design preferences, so I did my own thing. I free-handed this one, and the squareness of the single crochet stitch made it easy to cross stitch using a yarn needle. I started with cross stitching the white stripe of the balloon, made symmetrical red stripes on either side, and then I used a smaller yarn to cross stitch the basket, finishing off the ropes with a chain stitch. If you don't know how to embroider, I kid you not, you can learn in one afternoon with a trip to the craft store and a couple of YouTube videos.
I have got to find a better place to photograph my projects. A futon? Really Anna?

So, there are the baby blankets that I made in 2015! Three more of my friends are pregnant already. I'll share what I'm working on for one of them in my next post. I've finally strayed from the single stitch blanket body to a pretty moss stitch. If you'd like an actual pattern for any of these blankets, leave a comment and I'll learn how to write patterns.

And would you look at that. In the time it's taken me to type up and edit this post, the temperature has risen from 54ºF to 67ºF. I'm going for a bike ride! Catch ya later!

Friday, February 5, 2016

I'm Back!

Greetings, web dwellers!

It’s been quite some time since I posted in this blog, and I’ll be straight with you: that’s because it started as a project for a college publishing class, and I am human, ergo I dropped it the less than two months after the class ended. I’ve since become a high school English teacher, and while my students write something every day in my class, I spend my days writing nothing more substantial than email. And every time I assign an essay, every time I ask my students to put their creative hats on and craft a story, poem, or persuasive article, I miss doing those same things myself.

I’ve decided it’s time to start writing again. Even if I’m inconsistent with my blogging, and even if nary a soul reads it, I know it will soothe my stagnated, shriveled writer’s soul. And besides, I’ve always regretted letting such a sweet blog title go to waste.

So here we are. I don’t know what I will write about from week to week, but hopefully over time something will begin to solidify. I still love tea, but I don’t think I can sustain a regular blog that focuses exclusively on that blessed beverage. I’ve mostly become set in my ways on that front, mostly drinking Twining’s and Bigelow and whatever’s on sale at the grocery store. Also, I long ago abandoned my Google Alerts for “tea” because I was inundated with articles about the Tea Party. And while I have plenty to say on that subject, I’m going to try to keep things positive here.

So, dear reader, in true English teacher form, I believe it’s time for a brainstorming session. Here are some ideas I’ve come up with for blog posts. In the future, if I can force myself to stick with this, you can expect to see posts about…
  • Tea - I know, I know, I’ve already talked about this. But it’s best to start from familiar ground, no?

  • Teaching - This is my third year of teaching and I work in a low-income district. I have SO MUCH still to learn, but I'd like to share my experiences!

  • Travel - I don’t do a lot of it, but I do have a family trip to Paris coming up in June, so there’s that! I speak French and I love French culture, so that will show up from time to time on here as well. 

  • Crafts - crochet, embroidery, sewing, and general crafts of the Pinterest variety. 

  • Wellness and Fitness - I am currently in the worst physical shape of my life, and I’m working towards exercising out of self-love. I’m dipping my toe into cycling and yoga, and I’m also trying out mindfulness meditation to combat anxiety.

  • Book Reviews – That English teacher life.

  • Food – I like it a lot. I’ll probably share recipes.

  • Feminism – Prepare yourself for some rants.

  • Faith – I've always been a Christian, but I have some complicated feelings on the subject. Let's see where that goes.

I guess that’s a long enough list. I’m sure other things will come up as well. Cats, for instance. Yep, get ready for some posts about cats. But for now, I think it's time wrap this up. If you've made it this far, thanks for reading! I hope you come back to read more!


Monday, July 2, 2012

The Irish Cuppa

Just found this article from the Irish Times. The Irish are now officially the number one tea drinkers worldwide - according to the article, Irish people drink 6-7 cups a day, which amounts to 7lbs of dry tea leaves annually. No wonder I felt so at home there! The article also discusses the recent increase in drinking tea for health benefits. Check it out here:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The City of Lights and the Emerald Isle!

Photo by Maggie Bohn 

Hey friends - I'm back!
I am ashamed to say I abandoned my post for a few weeks. The my internet connection was rather dodgy in both Paris and Ireland, so I never got around to posting. Then I got back and settled into a state of Battlestar Galactica-fueled lethargy until, well, yesterday I suppose (fun fact - they drink a lot of tea on that show!). Anyway, I hope you can all forgive me for my laziness! Now, to recount my European adventures:

Paris was, of course, beautiful. We had three busy days full of sightseeing, family time, and wedding stuff, and not much time for tea. We stayed at Le Grand Hôtel des Balcons, a beautiful hotel in the Latin Quarter, owned by family friends. The rehearsal dinner took place at Le Train Bleu, an ornately decorated restaurant in the Gare de Lyon, a famous train station in the heart of Paris. The ceremony itself was in L'Église de la Madeleine, a church originally built as a temple for Napoleon's glory. It was such a big deal that there were tourists in there during the ceremony, watching my cousin Erin and her husband Lee exchange their vows! After the ceremony all the guests were given a private bus tour of the city, and then we went to Hôtel de Crillon for the reception. That place is chock-full of history. Benjamin Franklin signed an agreement with the French there recognizing the Declaration of Independence. The cocktail hour took place in the salon where Marie Antoinette supposedly had her music lessons. Overall, a pretty over-the-top experience. I recommend Googling some pictures of those places. They were all amazing!

I mostly stuck to coffee while in Paris, to fight the jet lag. But I got a couple opportunities to enjoy some tea in the short time we were there. One morning, my family climbed the steep hill of Montmartre to see Sacré Ceour, one of the most beautiful churches in the world. When some of us went inside, we were promptly asked to leave - My sister Erin and I for our bare shoulders, my brother Drew and his wife Ann for showing their knees. Outside, we found my mom and other sisters, Maggie and Claire, who were all dressed appropriately. They went inside and the rest of us headed to a nearby café, where I ordered a cup of tea. It wasn't anything special, just some Assam black. And it cost me €5 - that's close to $7! I was a bit disappointed, but it was worth the experience. Ann took a picture of me, which I'll be adding to this post asap. 

On my last morning in Paris, I undertook a walking tour which one of my wonderful professors wrote. He gave me a copy of his as-yet unpublished manuscript, which visits some of the favorite haunts of the Lost Generation of American writers in Paris. I didn't have time to finish it, but I did have a lovely cup of Darjeeling tea at the Café du Dôme (now simply, "Le Dôme"), which in the 20s was a hub of American literary hobnobbing. Here's a picture of my table. This was the most peaceful part of my stay in Paris:
Later that day, we flew Aer Lingus into Dublin, and then drove three hours to the splendid little town of Kinsale, Ireland. On our first walk into the town, I spotted the Perryville Tea Room, and I instantly knew I'd be spending a lot of time there. Maggie and I went in the next morning, and quickly dubbed it our "Happy Place." The front of the store is a shabby chic gift shop, and the tea room in back is quiet, calm, and full of soft greys and blues - the perfect escape from a little too much family bonding time. We ended up going there four times in the five days we stayed in Kinsale, and we ordered the same thing every time: Perryville Breakfast Blend black tea, and a slice of coffee cake to share. We brought Claire along twice, but we made her promise to honor the rules of our Happy Place: speak quietly and take your time with the cake - we want to stretch this out as long as possible! Here are some pictures: 

Sorry for the cruddy quality - I'm not a very good photog!
The glaze-like icing on that coffee cake was delicious.

Just enjoying a cuppa.
It was at this tea room that Maggie and I discovered how scrumptious it is to put milk and sugar in our tea. I've been doing it a lot since I got back. It makes tea feel like dessert - dessert you can have with breakfast!

On our last visit, I discovered that the Perryville tea room also has an apiary, and sells Parryville honey! I bought a jar and brought it home. I'm saving it for when I get back to school - something to sweeten the start of my senior year!

I had tea at every café we went to, and even at a couple of pubs throughout the rest of our stay. Cream and sugar are brought out with it, just like with coffee. Long story short, Ireland trumps France when it comes to tea. At least in my experience. But of course, this trip wasn't about tea. It was a chance to see some of the most beautiful places in the world, and to connect with people - family and friends, old and new. The tea just made it better!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Green Tea and Great Adventures!

So, I definitely stretched beyond the limits of my promised "two-to-three day break" after finals week. I suppose I underestimated the amount of time it would take me to recover from such a busy semester! But here I am again.

I just wanted to share with you all a cool article I found about the health benefits of green tea. Recent studies have shown that not only does it lower cancer risks, it also combats a host of other diseases! You go, green tea!

Here's the link to the article:

I've been drinking mostly black tea and Darjeeling (always a fave) this week because I haven't yet unpacked all my tea things after returning home. I should probably get on that today.

I'd also like to announce that in two days, I'll be heading across the pond to La Ville Lumière - the City of Lights - Paris! My cousin is getting married there, and we'll be spending three days there for the festivities. After that, my parents, sisters and I will spend a week in Ireland! How about that? I'll be sniffing out the best Irish teas and letting you know all about it! My goal is to find some more Connemara Irish Afternoon Tea, which my lovely friend Emma brought me from her study abroad experience in Ireland last summer. Which reminds me - Emma's got a really fun travel blog that you should check out! She's hopping around some wonderful places in Europe with my other friend - her freshman roommate - Herolinda. Check it out at

That's all for now! My next post will be from the Emerald Isle!!!

Pictured: Kinsale, where my family will be staying. I plan on sitting in one of those chairs and sipping a cup of tea. Probably followed by a Guinness or two in the evening. Source