Hello, again! Continuing the theme of what's gotten me through 2020/2021, I want to share some television shows, documentaries, and movies that helped me cope these last two years. There are the obvious shows like Ted Lasso that I won't feature since EVERYONE knows about -- instead, I'll be showcasing some favorites that are off the beaten path but are definitely worth the time. I hope you'll drop your favorite TV and movies in the comments, too!
Here we are at the end of 2021 and we all thought we'd be out of this weird and tumultuous pandemic by now. With Omicron variant and Delta surging through the world - STILL - I am spending a lot of time reflecting on the self-care practices that have gotten me through these past two years. From TV shows, to really good books, to favorite songs & podcasts - this is part one of my compiled list of "things" that helped, and of course, I shall pair them all with a cup of tea!
“If we were perfect, the light He shines on us would just bounce right off. But the wrinkles, they catch the light. And the cracks, that’s how the light gets inside us. When I pray, Odie, I never pray for perfection. I pray for forgiveness, because it’s the one prayer I know will always be answered.” - This Tender Land
“I learned then that as long as I have my voice, I am still alive." - The Mountains Sing
“Maybe that’s the thing we need to understand, Alice. That some things are a gift, even if you don’t get to keep them.” There was a silence before he spoke again. “Maybe just to know that something this beautiful exists is all we can really ask for.” - The Giver of Stars
“We can't change the world, and a lot of the time we can't even change people. No more than one bit at a time. So we do what we can to help whenever we get the chance, sweetheart. We save those we can. We do our best. Then we try to find a way to convince ourselves that that will just have to...be enough. So we can live with our failures without drowning.” - Anxious People
“I have been feeling very clearheaded lately and what I want to write about today is the sea. It contains so many colors. Silver at dawn, green at noon, dark blue in the evening. Sometimes it looks almost red. Or it will turn the color of old coins. Right now the shadows of clouds are dragging across it, and patches of sunlight are touching down everywhere. White strings of gulls drag over it like beads.
This started as one post but in order for me to give the time needed for each thing, I am breaking it up into parts, so stay tuned for Part Two: Televison & Documentaries! Hope you find a new book or author in this batch of good books and don't forget to support your local libraries and bookstores!
What a great day back inside the shop! The layout worked so great and people got tea and tea lattes and bought loose leaf and loved my new tea cups & pots!
AND my Gang of Youths shirt came in today so I put it on and I got to wear my house slippers and everything was just so happy in here today!
Thanks to everyone who came out - I’ll be in here again tomorrow from 10am-6pm!
Oh, and free shipping with orders $25 or more at www.abbiteas.com with coupon code HOLIDAYSPIRIT at checkout!
The shop has been converted to gifts & tea & things! I will not be offering dine in at this time but you can order any tea off the menu - including my famous tea lattes! On warm days, I’ll have seating on the porch!
Depending on demand this first week, I may bring back some light tea snacks like scones & brownies but for now, just tea!
A WORD ON MASKS
Cases are on the rise and testing is very low. Masks will be required in the shop. Please don’t make me ask you to wear one, just be respectful of how I’ve worked to keep my shop a safe place for folks of all ages and health conditions. If the mask upsets you, you can shop online or schedule a pick-up and I’m happy to bring it out to you curbside!
For those who are new here: my entire family is high risk. My Grami was very sick the last several months (not COVID related) and is finally on the up & up. Many of my customers are high risk, too. Special needs adults, cancer patients, and I have lots of kiddos who only recently have been able to get a vaccine but are not yet fully vaccinated.
I’m not trying to attack anyone’s rights, I’m simply trying to be careful and considerate and do my part to curb this mess. Please be kind. This little shop is my holy & happy place.
HOLIDAY BLENDS ARE HERE
Usually I make y’all wait til Black Friday for these cherished holiday blends, but with shipping already beginning to lag I’ve decided to release them early!
More on that in the morning!!
Several years ago a young woman came in and asked me, “Ms. Abbi can I shadow you? I want to own a bakery one day.” “Of course!” I said. She showed up on time, with an apron, and I taught her how I blend my teas and how to make one of my most popular lattes. She was a pro right from the start.
Her name is Sharlotte and I am one of her BIGGEST fans. She and her sister, Silvey, and her mom, Michelle have become some of my most favorite people in the world. When Sharlotte asked me last year if she could bake goodies and sell them out at at the tea stand, she came with a hand made ordering menu that she asked me to hand out to folks so they could email in their orders. Bumble Bee Brownies, the name of her enterprise. She came with her brownies, and hand drawn brochures. I provided the space, umbrella, and the table. She did the rest! She already had pre-orders so she managed her pickups and then she sold out of her goodies in record time to those whose stopped by.
She was a natural!
Fast forward to a few weeks ago when she stopped by to ask if I’d be her community recommendation for her application to the FBLA! She came polished with her why and how important it was to her and all of her goals.
We talked about how I was in FBLA when I was in middle school and how I went on to be a Lt Governor for the Missouri Arkansas Key Club in high school. She already had her eyes set on being a leader in her club.
So, it’s no surprise that today her Mom proudly announced she’d been named Vice President of the FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) at Pulaski Heights Middle School.
Go Sharlotte! Watching you grow your entrepreneurial skills these last several years has been an honor!
I love you and I am SO proud of you!
Some of you might know about Jaguar Man, but if you don’t - he is a delightful man who lives in the neighborhood.
When I started this tea stand journey last year he’d drive by and honk and occasionally pass me any spare change he had with the blow of a kiss as he left.
Today he brought me things from his garden and honestly I just adore Jaguar Man - as he drove off he flipped his hand up for a kiss to blow and said “Tell everyone your boyfriend brought you this! Sharing is caring!”
A great first day back out on the curb, and it wasn’t even too terribly hot!!
Thank you to EVERYONE who came out and supported me! Sold out of tea jugs and everything!
After just over a month of being re-opened inside at the tea shop, I cannot believe I am writing this - I am headed back out to the curb. Today, Arkansas was marked as the 2nd most dangerous place in the United States in terms of contracting the new Delta Variant of Covid-19. With 1,000 new cases yesterday, and another 1200+ new cases today - our state is experiencing a THIRD surge of the virus.
I am so discouraged. I just got used to the shop being open again - feeling a little bit back to normal, and yet we are not back to normal. I would rather be hot and tired on the curb than feeling anxious about the spread of the virus inside of my shop. I am a small business and likely my decision will make a very small ripple in this situation, but I feel a responsibility to myself, my family and to my customers to make efforts to curb the outcome of this next surge.
Many of you already know that a large part of our customers are under the age of 15 - little cuties who love to visit the shop with their parents or neighborhood kids who ride their bike to the shop to share a jug of tea on the porch. These kids have zero choice in vaccination. And, now with new information coming out that there are many breakthrough cases (people getting the Delta Variant of Covid-19 who have been vaccinated for months specifically those who have the Pfizer vaccine.) I know this to be true because a friend of mine who has been vaccinated with Pfizer since April just tested positive this past week right here in Little Rock. Fortunately, I had not seen him for awhile, but the news was enough to have me more than worried. You see, I have the Pfizer vaccine and so does my Grami. The risk of either of us contracting this new and more contagious virus is not worth it especially after I spent 15 months out there keep this little dream alive already.
So, out to the curb we go again. I did it last year - in the heat - and I can do it again. But this go around, I am not going to be as perky about it. Here me when I say, please DO NOT come to the tea stand without your masks on your face. I will not be apologetic about asking you to put one on while you're with me. It is impossible for me to know who is vaccinated and who is not - and by us all wearing a mask that takes the stress and anxiety off me while I sit out there in the sun serving my tea.
If you are out of town and you are reading this, you can still support me! Please shop online - I have a free shipping promotion on the site running through the end of July with coupon-code SUMMERTIME at check-out. You can see my various loose leaf tea blends & other tea accessories at our online store.
Thank you all so much for supporting me thus far - this was a very hard decision for me as the heat is at PEAK levels in Arkansas right now. I will likely only have 2 tea stands per week during the hot weeks but if I see a cool day, I will pop out there more - you can keep up with this info on my social media pages.
Please wear a mask, please get vaccinated, please be mindful of the kids around you, please be kind to each other. - Abbi
Name: Meaghan Ferneau
Where are you? Little Rock, Arkansas
What do you do? Regional Demand Generation Manager (basically Tech Marketing) and Princessing as a side hustle!
Favorite blends? Gentle Dreams / Rose Mint / Peach Mint
Iced or hot? Hot!
What's your ideal tea experience? Sitting out in the French countryside with a cup of Gentle Dreams and no one is around, except Chris Pratt - he’s there. Did you say ideal experience or day dream? Same thing right?
What got you into tea? I have always enjoyed it, but in all honesty I have never had blends as creative or delicious as Abbi’s!
Any fun cocktails or weird/fun things you do with your tea leaves? I use the Rose Mint leaves on my hands for eczema- and we have made cocktails with a few blends making a simple syrup!
What are you reading? I finally opened up “Untamed” which I’ve had sitting unopened for quite some time!
What are you listening to these days? I’m an old soul - I love old records mainly from the 60s and 70s.
What's a blend you'd love to try but haven't yet? Goji Ginger
Thanks for always making me laugh, Meaghan and for all the kind words & drive by honks from the Jeep on your way home!
A really small and insignificant event just happened that triggered in me a deep cathartic cry that I feel has been dwelling up in me for a few weeks now. One of those cleansing “make things new by clearing things out” types of cries.
At the beginning of the pandemic, when I was trying to figure out what retail would sell and would be easy to move in and out every day out at the tea stand I made some purchases of teapots.
Typically when I buy teapots or things for the store, I choose things that I really love in hopes people will love it like I do.
So, when I found this matte gray teapot with a cream accent, I really wanted to keep it for myself but alas, I have so many teapots. I couldn’t let it pass and there was only one left from this manufacturer, and I needed it for the stand.
I knew it would sell.
Well, the year passed - in and out this gray teapot came and went with me out to the stand. In every season - cold weather, spring weather, hot humid weather, fall weather, and repeat.
When we got to the point where I was ready to open back up, I was merchandising and buying for the gift shop room & the gray teapot was the last remaining teapot from that initial pandemic buy. I just didn’t understand why no one loved this little teapot like me. So, I told myself that if it was still here at Christmas this year, I would take it home, and it would be mine.
Today, I sold the gray teapot.
I do not know why it touched me so much, but when they came around the corner after spending much time debating which pot to choose for their tea nook, they had the gray teapot nestled in their elbow.
Tears sprung to my eyes and I said, “Oh, are you going to buy that one?!” They said “Well, we’d hoped so!” I quickly said “yes, yes please!” and unintentionally I let loose some tears on them. I explained to them about how this was the only teapot that literally came in and out every single time at the tea stand for a year and a half - and, how I just didn’t understand why no one would buy it.
The loneliest but most loyal teapot to survive the elements and the hustle without even so much as a chip on her. She’s a resilient little pot, that one!
The tears were rolling at this point and I said, “That teapot has just been waiting for you! It’s just been waiting to find you this whole time and I hope you will just love her and cherish her.”
They were super cool about it even though my sappy ass was having a bit of a moment. We chattered about books and other things and they headed out the door with her.
But, as they are standing on the sidewalk - teapot lovingly held in their arms - I feel like the whole load of this year just came rolling out of me. The weight of making it through it all. The weight of hauling my shop in and out every single day.
Farewell, teapot friend. You are the only one who saw me laugh, cry, dance, sing, work, sweat, read, & work my entire self mentally & physically to keep this tea shop afloat. You did it with me - all on the side of the curb during the hardest year of my entire life. You hold so many stories and sights and memories that only you could see & many only you will ever know.
I hope you get used fully and often and I bet you make the best damn tea a pot could ever make because you survived this year just like me — and now you are right where you belong! We made it. We’re okay. We survived - and now we can go back to doing what we were really meant to do.
I made it! I keep whispering that to myself these days. February marks the start of my fourth year in business. It also marks the 12th month of operating 100% curbside with the tea stand. I spent 10 of the 12 months of my 3rd year outside in the elements of Arkansas weather slinging tea and finding solace in the faces of my neighbors and customers. I MADE IT!
The loneliness of 2020 was really hard for me. Not just at the tea shop that sat quiet and empty day after day, but the world in general was a hard and lonely place. Isolating from those we love, the tensions of extreme partisanship in our country, and the loneliness of being misunderstood and directly lied about were all things I struggled with more than ever in year 3.