Sunday, November 4, 2018

Tea and a sensible biscuit

A couple of months after I got back from England, my friend Jan went over and found this little wet teabag saucer for me:

She knows me so well, doesn't she?

Tea and I are having a milestone moment in our lifelong relationship.  And I do mean lifelong!  I remember being a little girl coming home from elementary school to brew myself a pot and make up a little tray with cookies, sugar, milk, a cup and a spoon, plus my tattered copy of Little Women, to take into a cosy reading nook I had manufactured in the basement.  It was so restful and wonderful, I did it again the next night, and then for the rest of the week.  Likely as not the cookies were my mother's famous chocolate chip ones, the ones everybody loved and couldn't keep their mitts off of.

The secret incredient in said cookies?


How early did I start having caffeine, I wonder?  Those cookies were a mainstay of my childhood so my guess is, 'early'.

Before we delve any further into all that, let's take a moment to admire this lovely box of tea - another gift from Jan, and the latest installment in the long journey tea and I have made together:

I fell in love with this stuff in a fish and chip restaurant in York this summer.  It really tastes and smells of oranges, while definitely being tea, and is awesome, and is also the first time I have actually liked drinking fruit-flavoured tea.  I stupidly neglected to go back to the museum gift shop where I'd seen it to buy some to take home, and then couldn't find it anywhere else despite constant hunting, so Jan took up the challenge when she was there.  She ended up buying it from the chef at the hotel where she was staying!  It seems like it's available almost exclusively to commercial enterprises, though I did find it in a couple of online shops that will ship to Canada.  I brewed a pot for Jan when she gave it to me and she was instantly all, DANG, why didn't I get a second box???

I tell you this so that you will appreciate the misery of the aforementioned milestone.

which is because...

Now that the house is done except for the myriad bits that I'm supposed to be doing (paint touch-up, dealing with the growing mass of gardening tools and boots and gloves at the side door, unpacking the boxes we haven't looked at in over a year so that we can donate whatever is in them, etc.) I am trying to address some sleep issues that crept up while I was trying to juggle a huge renovation project with all the other bits and pieces that make up an adult life. 

You know the drill for dealing with chronic paralysing insomnia, because there are SO many news stories floating around to tell you just how much not sleeping is harming you, like you hadn't noticed already.

They are all boring and sad to consider, like

not playing on your computer or tablet or phone into the wee hours

not racing around doing chores until the very last minute, but instead introducing restful routines that cue your brain to think MUST. SLEEP.

not eating sugar in the evening

not having caffeine after, what, lunchtime?

Basically it's all a lot of yuck.  Sensible behaviour = not fun.

Still, as I have learned to my cost, not sleeping also = not fun.  So I am trying to be sensible about screen time, which is why there are still so few new Hugs here.

I am taking time to read a book on a sofa for about twenty minutes before I go to bed, too.  A real book, made of paper, which is harder now that I have converted most of my library to e-books to save space.

And I have cut out sugar - actually, I cut down to the level the World Health Organization recommends (25 grams, which is less than what's in a single slice of most cakes), and after a few months of not dying from that I decided to drop to none grams per day, because I was pretty sure that sugar has only been pretending to be my friend all these years.

Fun fact

An odd thing happens when you stop eating sugar except what's naturally in milk or added to extremely dark chocolate: even the 6 grams in a single roll of delicious, nostalgic Rockets candy will make you feel very sick. 

... and then there's caffeine.
I've never been a coffee drinker - the closest I get is decaf lattes or maybe a small decaf on the way to the cottage in summer - so my overall caffeine consumption is not crazy high even when you factor in very dark chocolate.  In fact my problem, as it turns out, is not late-day caffeine but early morning caffeine.  That's because I 'like' (aka require) a good cup of tea every morning about ninety minutes before I have to go out.  Which can mean getting up very early, which in turn is a huge problem if you're not nodding off early the night before.

So: I decided to break my connection to early morning tea, and to do that, I've had to kick caffeine.

Whaaaaaa?  how is this possible and does it mean I have to be a gracious person and give my box of lemon and orange tea back to Jan???

hahahahahahahaha don't be silly. 

No, what it means is that I wait till at least 9am to have my first cup, and usually later.  When I have that, I brew a caffeinated tea bag for 1 minute in freshly boiled water, then dump that tea, and steep the bag again in freshly boiled water for about 3 minutes.  It doesn't cut all the caffeine, but it does take it down quite a bit, especially if I am busy mulitasking and don't get the bag out for 90 seconds the first time.

Thankfully, although this does not result in a completely delicious cup of tea, you do still get a tastier cup than you do with actual decaf, which is what I am drinking from midafternoon onward UGH.

Still, it's tea!

And you can even have it with a biscuit if it's a not very sugary one, like an oat cookie for example, which is delicious with cheese.  Consuming it all while wearing warm handknit socks also helps foster the illusion of comfort.

You might be wondering whether all these drastic life changes are paying off.  And the answer is, horribly, Yes.

I am sleeping much better.  I  do feel more energized and hopeful about what I might manage to take on in the day, and I am more productive than I've been.  Also I feel less snacky and seem to be losing weight, because apparently caffeine stimulates hunger? and sugar has a lot of calories in it?  who knew.  Also I think I must be spending less money now that I am not buying or making cookies or other sugary friends.

Still, I know that whatever happens between me and sugar, tea and I will always be in love.  Cue the last present from Jan:

 This coaster speaks the truth.  You canNOT drink too much tea.  It is not possible.

Hope you've all been well and happy while I've been off recalibrating!

brief garden update: it is not done - we still don't have a lawn - but it's done for the season.  next time, I'll show you where we left it.  I think you might be impressed, or at least willing to tell me you're impressed so that I feel better about how hard it was to get what we did do, done... and about finally  noticing based on the 2-day recovery time from just 2 hours of brick path setting that I seem not to be 25 years old any more.  Grrrr.


old lady said...

Hi - try amazon. Just searched and found some. Enjoy!!

Mary Keenan said...

Aha - thank you!

Laurinda said...

I am not a fan of all this adulting I have to do, either! No caffeine after 3, veggies every night (I still hate to cook) exercising to help me sleep better... it stinks. The worst is being reminded that I'm not in my 20s anymore. The WORST!!
But it sounds like you're feeling the benefits, so that's good. I'm glad to have heard from you again, Laurinda

Btw` I don't think your button at the bottom "Email follow-up comments to..." has ever sent me an email. Perhaps I'm just lucky :-\

Mary Keenan said...

That is a funny button there Laurinda... I never think to check it, I wonder if it works for anyone? Yes, YES - not being 20 any more is so stinky. And giving up sugar is so smart until you go to eat something with sugar in it and feel really ill. grrrr.