A Cup of Mud

I used to start my day with a cup of tea. Or four.

I liked it black and steeped until the astringent liquid would hit my tongue and jolt me into wakefulness.

I liked it hot in my hands before it was cool enough to drink.

I slopped it over the sides of my tea cup on the way down the driveway in the morning and figured the wet pants were a small price to pay.

I had extra cups on cold winter days and slow days and sad days and grumpy days. I had extra cups in celebration of warm mornings and happy occasions and book reading afternoons.

I always used to start my day with a cup of tea, or six.

But now… having become fairly intolerant of excessive amounts of caffeine, I start my day with a cup of Mud.

One cup.

Of mud.

MUD/WTR, as it is officially known, is lovely in a chocolaty dirt sort of way. I drink it with a bit of honey and milk. It’s warm and soothing and the bottom of the cup always contains an extra layer of gritty bitter sediment that if I close my eyes and squint as I knock the last bit back, I can almost pretend is akin to the tang of tea.

My morning mud is filled with mushrooms and turmeric and other things that are supposed to be great for me and most importantly just a smidgen of caffeine.

Nowadays tea gives me the attention span of a rabid squirrel with ADD if consumed in any amount that seems proper. Mud is like getting a warm hug in the morning and I’ve grown to love that hug (I’m big on hugs lately).

I used to start my day with a cup of tea or eight.

Now I have one cup of mud.


I was up. I was moving. I was feeling sassy in my new tank top. And I was late and in a hurry.

I was happily (for morning me) zooming around the house, eating breakfast as I ran in and out of rooms getting ready for the day. Hot tea in hand to wash my breakfast down and finish opening my eyeballs, I was flying through the bathroom when I took a gulp of tea and choked on my breakfast (I know, this is why you aren’t supposed to eat and run around the house at the same time). I reflexively coughed and sprayed hot tea from both my mouth and nose. Everywhere.

I was in front of the bathroom sink when it happened, which in someone else’s house might have meant a good location and easy clean up. Instead, hot tea covered toothbrushes and toothpaste, contact cases, hair brushes, an electric razor, hair ties… you get the picture. I looked up, nose burning and eyes streaming to see that I had thoroughly sprayed the mirror as well.

“But did you die?”

And that’s when I found my shirt to be much more apt than I really would have preferred.


It’s not always necessary to talk when having a “conversation” with Jane…

“Mom this smells like your favorite drink!

Mom, whats your favorite drink again?

Wait! … What is it called?

Oh right- caffeine.

What does caffeine smell like again?”tea

…but it’s always a good idea to listen because you can bet that she’s been listening to everything you say.

Also, in answer to your question Jane, I’m not sure that caffeine has a smell but if it did I’m pretty sure it would be just like heaven.

Happy Tribus Day!

Happy Tribus Day!

A day to celebrate cookies, tea and blogging!Cookies, Tea, Blogging

What? You’ve never heard of it?

That’s OK. I’m sure it’s only because, thanks to CoachDaddy and Rarasaur, it came into existence earlier this week. And what a fantastic concept, because, well, cookies, tea and blogging! It’ll be international by this time next year!

(Of course if cookies, tea and blogging aren’t your thing, Tribus Day can work with that too. Just pick your three favorite things and start the celebration. That’s the beauty of Tribus day!)

I am happy to let cookies reside at the top of my list. They are my favorite thing, specifically chocolate chip cookies. I like other cookies, I might love some other cookies. But chocolate chip cookies never disappoint and that is a beautiful thing in a dessert.cookies

Cookies are extra fantastic because I like to bake. I’m not going to claim to be some expert baker but I’m a master craving fulfill-er. You come to my house looking for cookies, give me 20 minutes and I’ll have a hot one for you. Though you should plan to bring a Diet Coke just in case. You see I have this thing about baking (and driving, and waking up from a nap, and 3 o’clock in the afternoon and sitting at the computer and late at night with bourbon…) it’s just better with a Diet Coke at hand.making cookies with a Diet Coke

While cookies can be made on short order, the tea is always available.

View this post on Instagram

Better. #notamorningperson

A post shared by Behind The Willows (@behindthewillows) on

Mornings inevitably lead to a quick zap in the microwave in order to get the caffeine into my body as soon as possible. Other times of day I’m willing to wait for water to boil and the tea to steep properly for a superior cup. But in all that waiting you’ve got to do something, and nothing goes with tea quite like books.reading a book while waiting for water to boil Then once the tea is made you need to let it cool a bit so you can just finish the chapter, and then once it’s done there is such a nice rocking chair under the window, good light, and a spot nearby to set a cup of tea… Ahhhh!

As for blogging, well let me check some stats here… Looks like I’ve been blogging for 65 consecutive months and published 1,136 posts. This blogging business seems to have some appeal for me!

View this post on Instagram

I could get used to this!

A post shared by Behind The Willows (@behindthewillows) on

And the best part is that a majority of those posts have pictures. Pictures that I’ve taken. In the last few years my camera has gone from being somewhere about the house, to immediately accessible at all times. I have discovered that anything, even a trip to the park, can be made more enjoyable with a camera in hand.   And then, joy of all joys, I get to put them on my blog and share them! What’s not to love!?!

picture of laptop

I just tried to take a picture of the camera sitting next to the laptop – not my smartest move.


All three together?blogging, tea, cookies

Looks like a beautiful day!

Of course a day with my camera in hand and plenty of Diet Coke and books would be pretty awesome too.Camera, Diet Coke, BooksBut then I’d miss my cookies, blogging and tea!

Happy Tribus Day!

How will you celebrate?


A Cup of Tea

If you wake up a mom, she’s going to want a cup of tea.

While her water is heating, she’ll get herself some yogurt.

But, a kid will see her yogurt and want it. So she’ll give it to them.

Feeding a kid will remind her that she needs to check on the baby ducks. So she’ll leave the dad in charge of breakfast and go outside.

Once she checks on the baby ducks, she’ll decide to do the rest of the chores.

After she does the chores, she’ll run the dogs and water the plants.

Then she’ll come inside and remember her tea. She’ll take the warm water out of the microwave and put in a tea bag.tea

While her tea steeps, she’ll clean up the kitchen.

Cleaning up the kitchen will remind her that she needs to change the laundry.

When she piles the clean laundry on her bed she’ll pass by the bathroom.

That will remind her that she needs to brush her teeth.

Brushing her teeth will remind her that she still hasn’t eaten her breakfast, so she’ll head back to the kitchen.

Her kids will be off playing so she’ll take her yogurt to the computer and check her e-mail.

Checking her e-mail will magically alert the kids to her presence and they will all come crying about the rampant social injustice within her household.

Crying kids will make her grumpy, and when she’s grumpy, (and tired) she’s going to want a cup of tea.

But when she goes in the kitchen to get it…used tea bag

… it’ll be cold.


This is not always how it goes. Many days John makes my tea and thrusts it in front of me somewhere in the middle of this progression – he’s a good man!


Perfection Pending


Since this is likely to be the post that has you all backing away slowly through the blogosphere trying to put as much distance between yourself and the crazy, cranky lady as you can manage I’d like to thank you all now for being such friendly, loyal readers. But perhaps there is someone out there who also hates cheerful messages so, forgive me if you can, I’m just going to dive right in.

I hate inspirational messages printed in unlikely places.

My tea bags for instance. When my tea tells me” savor,” “be good to yourself,” “relax” I feel my eyes start to roll in my head. I find it to be the equivalent of someone asking me how I’m doing yet not actually caring about the answer – but worse. For instance, the lady at the checkout. I find it unlikely that she cares about how any of us are actually doing today. It’s just polite conversation. If that same checkout lady instead spewed random, cheesy sayings I’d not only think she was a bit wacko but I’d be mildly irritated. I would find it difficult to believe that when she advised everyone to “Be true to yourself.” that it was anything more than a nice sounding bit of fluff to end a conversation with. I’d also be annoyed that she felt qualified to comment on my life (because, yes, I am just that crabby). Perhaps, since it was an actual, real life person, after I rolled my eyes it would make me smile. More likely I’d finish my eye roll on the way out the door as I moved on.

If it was a person.

When my tea bag tells me “peace” it isn’t someone who looked at me and thought I might need a nice inspirational message to help me through my day. It’s not even a person being polite. No, it is a tea bag. A tiny piece of paper printed by a machine and inscribed with sappy messages because of some sort of marketing campaign.

I’m not feeling the “love.”

That said, the irritation that my tea has brought me this week has nothing on the chocolate.

We almost always have a bag of dark chocolate in the house. Those little individual wrapped pieces that are just perfect for popping in your mouth when you think perhaps it might be a good idea to either scream obscenities or eat your own offspring.  The chocolate gums up your mouth stops you from saying something you’ll regret later and with a moments break common sense can rule again. Our current bag has little “love notes” written inside the wrapper. “Sleep late tomorrow.” my chocolate advised me today.

I’m sorry is there a prize at the bottom of the bag I didn’t know about? A nanny perhaps? Because without one how will I ever take such wonderful advice? WHY ARE YOU TEASING ME CHOCOLATE?

So I eat another one. I eat another one, mind you, not because I’m calmly sitting and enjoying my afternoon with a cup of overly cheerful tea and a book. No I’m eating another one because I’m taking a moment to lower my blood pressure before diving into the fray of my three kids all of whom are in some stage of upset  The cat has thrown up on the rug, the dogs are scratching at the door wanting in and my chocolate has just pointed out the fact that I will be waking up early to start it all over again. And this wrapper. This wrapper tells me to “Love every moment.”

The way I look at it is thus. Yes, I have beautiful, healthy children who are growing up fast – thank God. You know how people say women forget the pain and the details of childbirth in the euphoric glow of their new baby? I remember childbirth, it was great. However the hours between two and three this afternoon I’m hoping my brain selectively deletes in favor of the wonderful time we all had just before bed.

There are many moments of life to love. I refuse to believe I have to love them all, no matter what my chocolate tells me.

Morning Tea

These are my aunt’s horses. They have nothing to do with this post. I just thought you’d like them.DSCN3636-(2sm)  

Some days I drink my fancy tea. I fill kettles and use teapots and it’s all relaxed and lovely and warm and soothing.

Other days I just need tea- now – and I go for a mug of Lipton.DSCN3651-(2sm)

Step one: Get mug out of cupboard.

Step two: Fill with water.

Step three: Microwave mug with water.

Step four: Add tea bag.

Step Five: Drink.

That’s it, five steps and rarely a morning goes by where I don’t forget my tea at one of them.

Mid-morning I find my empty mug on the counter.

I find mugs with lukewarm water both in the microwave and on the counter.

Tea bags are left unopened sitting by the sink.

And, most pathetically, I find tea, ready to drink, sitting untouched and wonder what is wrong with my brain in the morning that I can not focus through a very simple five step process.DSCN3649-(2sm)

Meanwhile I’m stumbling through my morning, hating life (like I do before 8 AM, 9 AM, 10 AM!?) wondering why I can’t get the fuzz out of my brain and get going.

It’s pathetic.

This morning I sunk to new depths and discovered a new and terrible way to ruin my cup of tea.

Running late, I was gulping my tea every time I passed through the kitchen getting ready. During one fly by as I was talking with John I grabbed my cup, gulped and as he causally mentioned that I was drinking his coffee, was already spitting it back out.

I don’t do coffee.

I quickly drank my tea – it tasted like coffee.

I headed out the door with a glass of water – it tasted like coffee.

I drank a Diet Coke – it helped.

It took a delicious lunch made by a friend and a second Diet Coke to finally scour the coffee flavor from the back of my throat.DSCN3686-(2sm)

Tomorrow I’m hoping that I do forget to drink my tea, at least until John is done with his coffee!