The Art of Tea

I love a good cup of tea and I average about two cups a day. I tend to drink mostly herbal/fruit blends with little to no caffeine because caffeine gives me a headache. Lately the dandelion tea bags I found at my local grocery store, the loose leaf Milk oolong from Capitol Teas (here) and the Dragon Fruit Devotion from Teavana(here) have been in heavy rotation at casa Ofthecomely. 

I prefer tea bags for when I'm traveling because all you need is a cup of hot water. I like Teavana's cup with strainer and Capitol Tea's magic tea maker for when I'm in the mood for some loose leaf tea. They're also great for the office because they don't take up much space. The Breville Tea Maker is the most recent addition to my tea making arsenal. I'd been thinking about getting one for about a year and finally pulled the trigger due to a Teavana store closing discount. With the Breville I can simply set the time and the temperature for the best brew of the type of tea I'm making and the machine will let me know when it's done, and keep it warm for up to an hour. I can also program it so that it will have a pot of tea brewed for me when I wake up in the mornings just like a coffee maker. 💘 I know right!! I have achieved team making nirvana. As happy as I am about my new found tea bliss I have to admit that the circumstances that made it possible make me sad.  All of the Teavana stores in the US are being closed. Teavana was bought by Starbucks in 2012 and per my local Teavana rep Starbucks has made the decision to close down all 379 of the Teavana stores due to under performance. I found an article about the store closings (here). I don't drink coffee so I appreciated having a dedicated store like Teavana for my tea fix.  I'm going to miss them. 

Most of my friends in a birds of a feather flock together type of situation are tea drinkers.  But according to the statistics we are in the minority.  I'm curious about you guys. What's your hot beverage of choice coffee or tea? 


What's In the Bag?

Cole Haan Genevieve Weave N/S Tote
Dimensions: 14 1'2" L x 13" H X 4 1'4" D/ 8" Drop

1. Wallet - Mulberry
2. Green pouch used as makeup case -Bought in South Africa
3. Sunglasses- Burberry
4. Iphone 6 case - Henri Bendel
5. Small notebook- JFK airport Muji store
6. Pencil case - Ted Baker
7. Small red pouch used for headphones - Bought in South Africa

1. Cross pen/stylus here
2. Dose of colors - Kiss of Fire(Review coming one day soon. In the meantime check out this excellent review of the brand here )
3. Jin Soon- Doux here

Hi there. It's time for another fun edition of What's In the Bag?  The bag in question is once again from Cole Haan. What can I say? They make great bags.  I'm going to try to add the bag's dimensions when possible to these posts because I always find that information helpful when deciding on a bag. Most of the bags I've featured in these type of posts are bags I use for work so that means that in addition to everything pictured I'm also carrying my work laptop, the laptop charger and a mouse in the bag. The N/S Genevieve holds everything and fits comfortably on the shoulder without being bulky. 

I picked up some colorful pouches while in Cape Town this summer that I've been using for makeup and ear buds. 

I've been doing either neutral or red nail polish lately. I'll usually always have a bottle of nail polish from either my current manicure or my next scheduled manicure in my bag.

I like a bold lip and Kiss of Fire is a classic bold red that I get compliments on every time I wear it. I've been meaning to do a review but you know life, laziness and the pursuit of sleep have caused some delays. I'm getting to it though. 

My favorite sales lady at Chanel gave me that Gabrielle perfume tester. It's nice but I'm not sure I want to pull the trigger and purchase it just yet. I want to check out Jo Malone's Orange Bitters first. Bitters is described as having amber and orange notes which sounds like a great combination to me. 

Last but definitely not least I am thrilled to report that I have reached my Goodreads goal of reading thirty books for the year. I've actually read 32 books to date. The majority of those have been library books but I found myself in a Barnes & Nobles recently and I decided to pick up Ready Player One. It has an interesting premise and got excellent reviews. After Ready Player One the plan is to use that Amazon gift card I've had since last Christmas( I hope they don't expire) to buy What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons. Mainly because I saw the beautiful cover while looking for an air filter in Target. After I stopped drooling over the cover I looked it up and found that it also got some pretty good reviews. I moved the gift card from my desk at home to my bag to remind me to use it. I'll let you know if that worked.

All right now it's your turn. What's in your bag? 


Cape Town, South Africa : 33.9249° S, 18.4241° E

View from the cableway at Table Mountain National Park 
Sunglasses: Burberry
Scarf: Target
Jacket: Lululemon
Sweater: Banana Republic
Jeans: Lucky Brand
Boots: Cole Haan
Purse: Coach

Camps Bay
View from our backyard 
V&A Waterfront

Robben Island. Our tour guide told us Mandela hid his manuscript for his biography in this garden. 

Nelson Mandela's cell
They used to let people go inside until someone stole the spoon from the tray. <Insert face palm here >

Cape of Good Hope 
Happy Feet at Boulders Beach 

A short video of one of our last nights at Camps Bay

This summer the crew here at OTC went to South Africa. The choices were Johannesburg or Cape Town. Cape Town won because all of the reviews highlighted that in Cape Town you could experience both the mountains and the beach. 

South Africa is on the southern most tip of the African continent. From my neck of the woods in the southern USA I had a layover in Atlanta then a connecting flight in Johannesburg before arriving in Cape Town. On the way back I had a lay over in Paris, and a second layover in Atlanta before heading home. I did not need a visa to visit South Africa.  Flying time was a little over a day coming and going. Winter in South Africa is from June to August so while we were there the temperatures ranged from the low 50s and 60s during the day, and dipped into the 40s some nights. 

The official currency of South Africa is the rand. The exchange rate was approximately $1 US to $13 rand. I found the prices of goods, services and meals to be more or less comparable to what I would pay at home. We used Uber to get around most of the time while we were there. I hadn't used Uber internationally before so I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked. The drivers were prompt and courteous and they always knew how to get us to where we wanted to go. 

Cape Town is beautiful! We had a great time enjoying the food and the scenery. There really was something for everyone. I had no trouble finding good vegetarian options. The South African wines which are reportedly world renowned were given good reviews by my friends. We stayed in Camps Bay and arrived early in the morning. I will never forget that first glorious sight of the waves breaking on the beach.  The next day we were even more awestruck as we made our way to the beach again this time from a different direction and at night. 

If you get a chance to go to Cape Town please do. My must experience recommendations based on my one time 😜visit are:

1. Camps Bay Beach(Plan to stay long enough to the see the area at night)
2. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens  ( Plan to eat at the excellent restaurant there- Moyo)
3. Robben Island(Technically not Cape Town but a fairly short boat ride away)
4. Table Mountain Park
5. Boulders Beach(One word-penguins! )
6. Cape of Good Hope( Wear shoes with some traction as the rocks are slippery and you'll want to 
                                      walk around and take pictures here)

If you've been to Cape Town or any other part of South Africa let me know in the comments. Thanks for dropping by! 


Warnings & Choices

Mother nature via Hurricane Irma decided to pay us a visit these past couple days. Between you and me she wasn't the best guest. I am not complaining though because before coming to see us she wreaked havoc on my friends and family in the Caribbean. We are still waiting on word from them to see if they are okay. For us after being shut in for about three days due to heavy rains, tornadoes and high winds she left. Irma left us with uprooted trees and loss of power but left us our lives.

In the days leading up to the landfall of the hurricane we actually booked a flight to leave but as luck would have it our flight was cancelled leaving us with no choice we felt but to stay. So we stayed and we waited. I downloaded several books on my Kindle. I filled buckets and pots with water. I turned the freezer to the coldest setting and filled it with ice. I cooked- pasta marina, couscous and veggie meat balls. I cleaned out the fridge. I scrubbed the tub. I did laundry. I charged the phone, kindle, I-Pad, laptop and the extra phone charger. I made a list of all the phone numbers of my family and friends. I hauled out the flashlights, the Ziploc bags and the D batteries. I'd heard second and third hand reports about people who experienced Irma in the Caribbean and lost everything. With that in mind I packed a hurricane suitcase just in case my place didn't hold up and I had to leave in the middle of the night, or if it was severely damaged and I would need to stay at a shelter. There is nothing that makes you re-evaulate all the things you have acquired more than having to decide what you will take with you in the event you can never come back. Trust me on this.

After a major weather event everyone becomes an expert on what should have happened, and what should have been said or done. I think all the weather agencies and the news media did the best they could with the information they had. I am firmly in the better safe than sorry camp so I will always err on the side of caution when it comes to storms.

Mother nature has been very busy with the fires in California(I know there's debate as to whether those are man made but the drought they are experiencing is also an issue), the devastating earthquake in Mexico, flooding in India and Bangladesh, and mudslides in Sierra Leone. And hurricane season runs through November so we still have a ways to go. Wherever you are I hope all is well with you and yours.


The Shadow of the Wind - Book Review

"Julián spoke about all that as if it didn't matter to him, as if it were part of a past he had left behind, but these things are never forgotten. The words with which a child's heart is poisoned, through malice or through ignorance, remain branded in his memory, and sooner or later they will burn his soul."  pg. 167

This was a good book! I was up into the wee hours of the morning pouring through it. I laughed, I yelled, and I almost cried. You can imagine how pleased I was to find out it was party of a trilogy.

But, first things first. The Shadow of the Wind is a 487 page novel set in 1950s post World War II Barcelona. The book jacket tells you that ten year old Daniel whose father owns a bookstore, discovers a rare novel that he reads and loves. His fascination with the book and his desire to learn more about the mysterious author turns into an epic adventure. It's essentially a story within a story about a book which sucks the reader in from the very first pages as you try to decipher if art is imitating life, or life imitating art. Carlos Ruiz Zafón writes beautifully. The Shadow of the Wind was originally written in Spanish so kudos are due to the translator Lucia Graves as well. This was a library read for me and I took pictures of so many pages with phrases that I loved that I decided to buy the book before I was even finished reading it.

I found this quote from the author online where he reportedly described the novel as, "A story of love, of hatred, of the dreams that live in the shadow of the wind."

I say this one hit all the feels. And oh yeah, don't start it if you have to get up early for work the next morning. As always, if you've read it I'd love to hear your thoughts.

One last sad note. The city of Barcelona is very much a character in The Shadow of the Wind. While reading it I couldn't help but think of the time I spent in that great city (here &  here). My prayers go out to all those affected by the recent tragedy there.


Views From Coach

Hi there,

Have a good week! Don't let the bastards grind you down.


Diptyque: New Baies 600g 3-Wick Candle

Baies 600g(21.2oz) 3-Wick Candle- approx. 100 hours burn time 

Left- 6.5oz/190g
Center- 21.2oz/600g
Right- 2.5oz/70g

Left- 51.2oz/1500g
Right- 21.2oz/600g

Diptyque recently released a new size in their best selling Baies(blackberry and bulgarian rose) candle. With the new candle they now offer the Baies line in the following sizes:
  • 2.5oz/$34
  • 6.5oz/$64
  • 10.2 oz/$90
  • 21.20z(600g)/$195   - New!
  • 51.2oz(1500g)/$295 - Indoor/Outdoor candle   

I've tried all of the sizes. I think the 2.5 oz works great for a small space like a bathroom or an office desk. The 6.5oz and the 10.2oz work well for medium sized rooms. Those two are my preferred size for my bedroom. The 51.20z(1500g) candle was a Christmas gift from me to me last year (here). Although the upfront cost was the most that candle lasted me over five months with regular burning and scented my entire home, so in the long run it was the most economical. I've just started burning the new 600g Baies candle and so far I love it. It's size between the 10.2oz and the 51.2oz makes it a great option to scent a larger room. I have one of those open floor plan living/dining areas and it works great for me in that space. The new Baies size also comes in a very chic matte black porcelain container that will be fun to repurpose. 

I don't know if this new size is going to be a limited edition offering. The 3 Wick 600g/21.2 oz candle was originally available only at Diptyque online (here). It's now available online at Net-A- Porter (here) and Neiman Marcus(here). 

As we head in to thick of wedding and graduation season I think the 600g Baies would make a great gift for your favorite graduate or newly married couple. I also think it would be a great gift for who I hope is your favorite person- you 😉.