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from teabloom
The weekly tea: flowering teas
Here’s the concept behind flowering teas: sew tea leaves and flowers together, and then let them dry in a ball. When steeped in water, the ball unfolds to reveal a flower.
I’ve had these before, but the last time I had one, it didn’t taste very good and was more an aesthetic than a beverage. Don’t get me wrong; I love aesthetic teas. I just also want them to be drinkable.
So when I ordered a canister of flowering teas from Teabloom, I wasn’t actually expecting much.
(it looks like a
tea seed?)
I ended up doing about 3 shorter steeps per ball. While the directions say to steep for 5-10 minutes, the thought of doing that made me shudder. I did a quick 90 second steep, where the tea ball was almost open, and a second, 2 minute steep where the flower completely blossomed, and a third 3 minute steep. Visually, this is a beautiful tea.
The taste? Good but not amazing. It smells and tastes floral with a nice little sweetness. That being said, the heavy floral taste is partially due to chemical additives, which overpowered the natural taste of the tea. I wouldn’t recommend this to tea purists, but it is a reasonably good tea that looks absolutely stunning.
I brewed enough of these over the last weeks that I’m going to look for some that are a little less commercially oriented to see if I can find one that doesn’t have that chemical aftertaste.
(this one is called golden oasis)

Speaking of blooms…
(autumn flowers)
There are two reasons I’m pretty proud of this centerpiece that’s currently sitting on my coffee table.
  1. All of these flowers came from my front yard—entirely low-water plants suited for the Colorado climate that I’ve grown since they were tiny 6” tall specimens. We spent quite a bit of time getting plants into the ground, and it’s exciting to see them take off.
  2. I made the container myself from start to finish.
(here is the 
inside of the pot)
Those of you who have been with this newsletter for a while know that I started taking classes a while back because one of the protagonists of the book I’m writing is a potter.
I took spent ten weeks at a studio half an hour from my house, but they stopped temporarily to accommodate a summer kids camp. But it turned out that a new clay studio had opened very close to my house and they had exactly one spot left.
My prior instructor was fine! Maybe even above average! But the person who teaches at the new studio is extraordinary. (He says it was because he was really bad at throwing when he first started and so he had to figure out exactly what he was doing wrong.)
One of the main things I've learned is a mindset, not a skill. At the prior studio, the instructor told us that when a pot collapsed, it was a failure and an indication you’d pushed too far. At this one, the instructor praises us when a piece collapses for pushing our limits and asks us what we learned about when and where things started to go wrong (and sometimes makes clay monsters out of collapsed pots).
It seems like such a small thing, but learning to embrace failure as the inevitable and delightful consequence of pushing limits has meant massive improvements on my part.

Learning things about yourself…
The Pursuit Of…
A novella about cheese and learning about yourself
This novella is very special to me in part because I put some of my past self into Henry, a character who thinks of himself as a bit of an incompetent buffoon. A while back (1997, to put it in proper perspective), I felt a lot like Henry. This was during the second time I had dropped out of college, in part because a bounced check under $20 had morphed into impenetrable debt due to Bank Shenanigans.
But what is a bleak time in my prior life if not fodder for fiction? I put a lot of those feelings from 1997 into Henry. Writing this book gave me a chance to be gentle and loving to my past self in a way that I couldn’t at the time.
Then something interesting happened. People wrote to me and said: “I loved the way you wrote Henry, it’s so nice to see a character with ADHD portrayed in a way that feels organic.” Not just one person. Not just two. I had a very awkward moment where I said, “But I wasn’t trying to give him ADHD! I was just trying to make him like me!” 
Cue looking directly into the camera and my friend Bree (who also has ADHD) saying, “you know I have been dropping hints for a VERY LONG TIME.” Then I went and got diagnosed.
If you were one of the people who wrote to me about that, thank you.

Buy The Pursuit Of… on:
lady justice by dahlia lithwick
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I have known about Dahlia Lithwick, Slate's legal commentator, for as long as I can remember reading legal commentary. But I have known her as a person and a friend since the end of 2017.
Her new book is about female lawyers and the fight for justice in America. Some of the stories she told in this book were ones I’d followed as they were unfolding—things like the stories about Stacey Abrams (aka romance author Selena Montgomery, aka Georgia’s next governor) and Christine Blasey Ford, Anita Hill, and their experiences testifying before the Senate Judiciary committee when their abusers and assaulted were being elevated to the Supreme Court. Others, like the story of Vanita Gupta, who has worked for criminal justice reform for years, were new to me.
It’s a book about law, but it’s also a book about the quality of hope, about what it is that makes people look at seemingly insurmountable odds and think, “that, that is the thing I am going to take on next.”
Full disclosure: there is a section of this book that mentions me. It deals with a very difficult time in my life that for many, many years felt like a deep and private failure. I’d had enough public success that the idea of revealing how utterly I’d failed seemed anathema. Being vulnerable in public about it was one of the hardest things I’ve done.
For years, I looked at the person who went through that situation and thought, basically: “ugh. Glad that’s over.” Having Dahlia tell a part of that story helped me see that the person I was then was as deserving of kindness as anyone else. This particular failure of mine was important.
Get Lady Justice from:

SEE YOU next week.
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