Sauna Etiquette and Other Important Things

Dear Kid,

As the song says, there are some things you just don’t do. You don’t pull on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind, you don’t pull the mask of the Lone Ranger.

And you don’t pour water on the heating element of a sauna when other people are expecting a dry sauna experience.

It turns out that some people (me) thought you should save water for a steam room and never ever pour water on the “coals” of a sauna. It further turns out that the experts on the internet are quite comfortable with the idea of a wet sauna experience in which one adds water and keeps the temperature at a lower level.

Hey! Guess what happened at the gym the other day? Jenelle and I went into the sauna expecting dry heat and this chick kept pouring water on the rocks. We were not amused.

If I'd wanted steam I'd have gotten a cup of hot coffee. DearKidLoveMom.comIf we’d wanted steam we’d have gotten nice hot beverages. We wanted dry heat.

Not having consulted My Friend the Internet, I was convinced that the chick was a heathen and going to break the sauna and electrocute us all. Turns out I was wwwwrong, but facts are not the point here. The point is that it’s a public place and you follow public etiquette in a public place.

Why didn’t we say anything?

We tried the subtle method of delicate commenting, but she had headphones on and her music was cranked loud enough for the entire city so I’m pretty sure she didn’t hear us.

More importantly, she looked like she could kick our butts without breaking a sweat.

Love, Mom

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Weird and Wonderful Stuff You Don’t Know About Tea

Dear Kid,

Admit it. You’ve been waiting for it. You knew that sooner or later I’d get around to weird and wonderful facts about tea.


The ubiquitous tea bag was invented by Thomas Sullivan. He put tea in little silk bags to give samples to customers. He called it marketing. Customers called it convenient and thought they were supposed to put the whole thing in their tea pot. We call it innovation. Not everyone thinks tea bags are a good thing, but most of the western world appreciates not having loose tea floating around in their drink.

You’ve been waiting for it. You knew that sooner or later I’d get around to weird and wonderful facts about tea. DearKidLoveMom.comThe art of reading tea leaves is called tasseography. Remind me to check the tea leaves to see if I should write about reading them.

If the Queen visits, you need to know that to serve tea formally one requires a formal tea service. That means teapot (duh), sugar bowl, milk pitcher, coffee pot (for the heathens), slop bowl, teacups and saucers, and the tray (because how else would you carry everything out?). The slop bowl is not for the pigs, nor is it for the used tea leaves (one leaves the leaves in the tea pot, m’dear). The slop bowl is to hold the hot water you used to warm the tea pot prior to pouring in the hot water for tea. Don’t worry. The Queen doesn’t usually drop in unannounced, so you have time to figure it all out.

Once upon a time, there was breakfast and there was dinner but there was no lunch. In the 1800s, Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, got hungry in the afternoon. So she invited guests for tea and sweets (and conversation). This is where afternoon tea began.

In ancient China, tea was a form of currency. Tea leaves were pressed into bricks and scored on one side so it could be broken to make change.

It takes about 2,000 little tiny tea leaves to make a pound of tea. A pound of tea makes about 200 cups of brewed tea.

The best tea is grown at high elevation and is hand picked.

Tea plants can grow into tall trees (up to 52 feet tall according to one source I read). It is difficult to reach 52 feet high to harvest the leaves, so most plants are pruned to waist height.

Tea plants require 50 inches of rain annually.

All of which means we will continue to purchase tea and not attempt to grow any in the backyard.

Love, Mom

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There’s WHAT In My Tea?

Dear Kid,

We’re back to our discussion about tea (you thought I forgot, didn’t you? No such luck.).

Tea (all of the actual tea varieties we discussed the other day—pop quiz: do you remember them? White tea, green tea, Oolong, Black tea, and pu-erh) comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. If the beverage you’re drinking comes from the leaf or flower of any other plant, it may look like tea, smell like tea, taste like tea, and be marketed as tea, but it is not tea.

You’re joking. The box says tea.

If the beverage you’re drinking comes from the leaf or flower of any other plant, it may look like tea, smell like tea, taste like tea, and be marketed as tea, but it is not tea. DearKidLoveMom.comIt does. It’s wrong. What you’ve got in your cup is a tisane or infusion or some other brewed loveliness of herbs. It is not tea if it doesn’t come from Camellia sinesis. Most of the time, these non-tea beverages are called herbal tea which doesn’t seem to make sense to me, but who am I to argue?

Herbal teas are made from the roots, leaves, flowers, bark, seeds, and/or fruits of various plants, which may be more than you wanted to know.

More importantly, just because the beverage is Not Really Tea doesn’t mean that it isn’t delicious and wonderfully good for you.

There are umpteen bazillion different kinds of herbal tea and they all offer different tastes and benefits. For the most part, the stuff you buy in a box in the grocery store isn’t going to provide too many benefits (it’s been sitting around for a while and generally is only average quality to begin with) but if it makes you happy (and soothes your throat) enjoy!

There are tea snobs in the world. Fortunately, I’m not one of them.

Love, Mom

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Rules We Need, New and Interesting Products, and Edith Ann

Dear Kid,

There ought to be a rule.

OK, to be fair, there are all sorts of rules in the world. I’m talking about a new rule.

I’m talking about a rule that says that websites shouldn’t talk about New and Interesting Products in a way that makes people want to find out more when the New and Interesting Product in question is not yet available for sale. And doesn’t have a price posted.

The New and Interesting Product I’m referring to is called the HOVR. It’s a gizmo that lets you swing your feet while you sit at your desk. This improves health and cognitive ability according to the inventors.

Those of us with short legs have always known that swinging your feet while you’re sitting and working is fun. DearKidLoveMom.comThose of us with short legs have always known that swinging your feet while you’re sitting and working is fun.

And it doesn’t cost anything.

Except possibly a little dignity.

When I saw the promo, I was intrigued and thought I’d investigate to see how much such a gizmo might cost. I’m not likely to purchase one, but I was curious about how much I was not going to purchase it for.

The first site I found was happy to tell me everything (including the cost of shipping) except the price.

That was frustrating.

I searched more.

My Friend the Internet groaned a little about being awoken from a perfectly good nap, but got to work.

The HOVR costs $89. The tracker costs $33 (that part is optional). You can attach the HOVR to your desk or you can buy the stand which costs $100. You read that correctly: the stand costs more than the thing you’re buying.

There ought to be a rule.

Love, Mom


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Tea for Two and Things You Never Knew About Tea

Dear Kid,

It’s Tea for Two Tuesday. Seriously, it is.

There are lots of different kinds of tea to enjoy—I learned about more than coffee at Coffee Fest!

It’s Tea for Two Tuesday. Seriously, it is. DearKidLoveMom.comPu-erh tea is fermented tea, which is to say the leaves are fully oxidized and fermented, and, um, often moldy (in a good way). Think wine or cheese. I’ve never had it, but I’ve been assured it is an acquired taste. Until 1995, it was illegal to import pu-erh teas into the US.

The most common type of tea in the US is black tea. Black tea leaves are fully oxidized which basically means the tea leaves absorb oxygen after they’re picked (think rust on a car). The oxidation turns the leaves dark brown and black and impacts the taste of the brewed tea. They have the highest caffeine level of the teas (but not as much as coffee).

Oolong teas are semi-oxidized. Which make them the middle child of teas.

Green teas are not oxidized which is to say they’re dried without being allowed to absorb much oxygen which in turn is why they stay green. Green teas are subtle both in terms of flavor and caffeination.

White tea is pretty rare. It’s a delicate tea made from little tiny baby tea leaves picked at an exact time. It’s considered the healthiest of teas—but you’ll pay for all that healthiness.

None of this matters if you don’t like tea. Or if you only drink herbal tea which it turns out isn’t tea at all. Tune in tomorrow (or some other day) for more on the whole herbal tea thing.

Love, Mom

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You Have What Stuck In Your Head?

You Have What Stuck In Your Head?

Dear Kid,

I have a song stuck in my head. I woke up with it playing loud and clear, and it’s kept playing ever since.

Most of the time, a song stuck on constant repeat (repeat repeat) would be a bad thing. It would normally be a reason to wail and bemoan earworms. To do everything possible to find a way to replace, reduce, remove the song in question (the questionable song).

So while I generally can do without earworms, this one is welcome to stick around for a while.

Amazingly, this one is the exception. The song that’s stuck is making me incredibly happy. It’s upbeat, it’s fun, it makes me wants to dance around.

So while I generally can do without earworms, this one is welcome to stick around for a while.

Love, Mom

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What’s New In Coffee

Dear Kid,

Were you busy thinking there are no interesting innovations in the world of coffee? Silly you.

We met Taylor from Coffee Blenders yesterday. And brought home one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a while. Coffee Blenders is (and I quote) “the pioneer in functional coffee”. I don’t think they have covered wagons, but I haven’t done enough research to be sure.

What I do know is they’ve got some seriously cool stuff and a great cup of coffee.

It will not surprise you to learn that what caught my eye was a pouch labeled Lean Cup. Taylor and I had a lovely discussion in which she fed my already saturated brain all sorts of information about their different coffees.

This morning, I put the pouch to the test.

Step 0: Wake up after having stayed up late chatting with the GirlChild and friends. This is not an easy step. The Puppy made it easier by suggesting that it was time for him to be walked, thank you very much.

Step 1: After walking and feeding the Puppy, get a cup for coffee. Not a problem as I am well-practiced in the Art of Getting Coffee Cups.

Step 1: Get a coffee cup.

Step 2: Open the packet. Easier said than done. Once I found the little tear place it wasn’t hard. Finding the place where they started the tear without coffee in my system…

Step 3 Open the pouch.

Step 3: Place the little filter pouch in the coffee cup. Adorable yes? Yes. Realize you have to tear open the adorable little filter pouch. Panic for a moment envisioning difficulties and coffee going everywhere. Relax immensely when it turns out to be the easiest part of the entire process.

Step 3 Forget to open the filter.

I spent a minute trying to decide whether to congratulate the inventors for making such a wonderful process or myself for flawless execution. Decided we could share the glory.

Step 3 Revised: Open the filter

Step 4: Pour hot water in the little filter pouch (yep, I did that flawlessly too). Let the coffee bloom for 20 seconds (yeah, right, like I was going to time it) then add more water.

Step 4: Pour in hot water.

Step 5: Enjoy.

Now here is the really, incredibly amazing part. (I hope you’re sitting down.)

It was dang good coffee. I mean, really, really good.

We all know that there are lots of coffees I don’t like and that pretty much no one is going to claim I have the most sophisticated palate in the world. I can live with this. I’m not a Master Coffee Expert Taster with certifications and whatnot. I’m just me. And I love this coffee. No, they haven’t paid me to say that (although they’re certainly welcome to).

The only problem is that I don’t have another pouch to have a second cup.

Life is hard sometimes.

Love, Mom

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