Staycation

If I Stay and Coffee
via the Books & Tea Instagram

We are entering busy season at work, which is why I was up until 3:30 on Tuesday morning working on payroll. Luckily, this weekend has been all about R&R, so I’ll be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for work on Monday. Jon and I were asked to dog-sit for his aunt, so we’ve turned this weekend into a Staycation. We’re in the super nice part of town, where all the houses are big and the backyards look out on to the golf course. Of course it’s sunny and warm too, there is a case of Bells Two Hearted Ale in the fridge, and it’s quiet. So, so quiet.

Last night, we treated ourselves to Max & Erma’s for dinner and an evening in Schuler Books, but for the move part, I’ve been drinking too much coffee and binge-reading. Which makes me feel simultaneously relaxed and productive considering the reading slump I fell in to recently. Jon’s aunt had a copy of If I Stay by Gayle Forman, which I devoured in two sittings– sadly unheard of in my world these days. The only thing missing is chocolate and my cat, Fargo. Truly, I miss him, and I feel guilty leaving him alone for so long, especially since I’m just across town with another person’s pets. Of course I swing by the apartment to check up on him. To make sure he has food and water and to play a couple of rounds of fetch with him. Yesterday I left the TV on the Animal Planet for him (with a TV timer of course). This time spent away from each other makes his heart grow fonder of Jon and I though. He actually paid attention to us when we stopped by to check on him yesterday. Today I suspect he may even let us pet him without biting our hands!

Have you enjoyed a Staycation recently, or perhaps a real vacation where you had the opportunity to steal away to some place exciting? Where did you go? What did you do?

Book Blogger Love-A-Thon Kickoff!

If you haven’t already heard, Alexa from Alexa Loves Books is hosting the 2015 Book Blogger Love-A-Thon, which is a weekend long event dedicated to exploring new blogs, celebrating the bloggers behind them, and spreading positivity in the community. If you haven’t already signed up, it’s not too late! Click on over to Alexa’s blog to find out more.

Behind the Blog

If you don’t already know, I’m Jackie, and I hail from the Mitten State (ie. Michigan, USA). I’ve been involved in the blogosphere for almost fifteen years now. I don’t remember how I was introduced to blogging. I was a pre-teen? I was bored? I just discovered the internet? I thought I had something to say. I started back in the day of expage and envy.nu and geocities, and eventually one of my online pals hosted my site through her own personal domain. I just spent about an hour shuffling through the Internet Archive: Way Back Machine to see if I could find one of my old layouts, but alas they do not exist. Imagine if you will, my layouts featured bands like Tiger Army and AFI, and I drew sharp, erratic squiggles for borders because I wanted to be edgy. I didn’t have a niche back then; I blogged about my teenage life and color guard and AP classes and the Lord of the Rings. Thrilling, right? I still keep in contact with a few of my blogging buddies from back then. One of them even sent me a Christmas gift this year. I think I’m due to return the favor. Double Bubble Jo, I’m lookin’ at you!

It wasn’t until my last semester at college that I discovered niche blogging– more specifically, a handful of young adult book blogs that kept me entertained between classes when it was too cold to walk home. After college, when I was bored and unemployed and looking for something to bide my time, I decided to start Books & Tea. Here is my first post EVAR! Mostly I write about young adult books– fantasy, contemporary, sci-fi— I don’t have a preference. Sometimes I write about non-fiction books, especially those by Bill Bryson. Oh also tea. I write about that too, of course. Which reminds me, I’m supposed to tell you about how I came up with my blog name, but I don’t have an interesting story to tell. Just like Siegfried & Roy or Barnes & Noble, Book & Tea make such a superb pair, and that is, as they say, is that.

Blogosphere Love

The older I grew, the more my preference in reading material made me feel like a black sheep. I’m and English Major who never developed an appreciation for the classics (but, I am trying to change that with the Classics Club). I’m an adult who never truly graduated to grown-up novels. What can I say? I’m a sucker for young adult novels– those feelings of falling in love for the first time and almost-kisses to saving the world from a dark lord while away at boarding school to cyborg Cinderella finally making it to the ball. So, when it comes to discussing books “in real life”, I approach the topic with reservation. I feel like a lot of people will think I’m silly for reading young adult novels.

The blogosphere has provided me with an outlet though. Sure the book blogging community has had its fair share of drama, but for me its easy to look past that because there are a plethora of book blogs out there spreading positivity and sharing their love of books with the world. On top of that, I’ve discovered a community of readers similar to me– in their mid-twenties, some older, and still suckers for young adult literature. It makes me happy that I’m not the only twenty-six year old re-reading Harry Potter or eagerly waiting to read the next installment in the Lunar Chronicles.

Books on My Radar

I mentioned before that I don’t have a genre preference, although I do tend to avoid romance and westerns and the self-help sort of non-fiction. Lately though, I’ve been gobbling up fantasy novels, like the Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima, which I would totally love to see turned into a movie or even a TV show. I’m also really loving science fiction novels and graphic novels.

The next part in the Love-A-Thon questionnaire asks us to list five books we’re looking forward to in 2015, but I don’t get super geeked over new releases. That sounds ridiculous, I know! But I’m stingy and I don’t request ARCs. I seek out cheap e-books, paperbacks, and library loot; a lot of the books I read and review on Books & Tea are usually over a year old. So, I’mma change up this next part to books I’ve had my eye on for a while now and am still dying to read.

Fantasy

Graphic Novels

Science Fiction

Jackie in Real Life

I love playing video games as much as I love reading and blogging. I have a hard time choosing my favorite game, but I’m a huge fan of Borderlands and its sequels, the Elder Scrolls games, the Mass Effect series, and the Fallout games. Binge watching TV shows on Netflix is also a fun pastime, and lately I’ve been a little obsessed with Supernatural, Pretty Little Liars, and Gilmore Girls. My all-time favorite is Eureka, though. I also like to plan the stories that I want to write, but I haven’t found the courage to actually write the stories. Ugh! I have a tendency to be a homebody, by my boyfriend breaks me out of my shell on occasion– like the time we went to the cider mill or the time we went to the pig roast.

I also love trying new kinds of tea and new kinds of coffee, so outside of buying books, I probably spend most of my extra cash on these two things. I actually haven’t purchased any more tea since last fall, but I also have three shoe boxes full of tins and unopened bags. I unofficially put myself on a tea buying ban. I’m sure this will dissolve once I find a great sale. As for coffee, I buy it when I run out, but I make sure I try new brands, new blends, new flavors every time. I really should make a post about some of the coffees I’ve tried because there are a few Michigan-based roasters that provide a wonderful product, and I cannot resist showing some love for my home state.

Your turn, reader! Tell me a little about yourself. Who are you? What do you love about our blogging community? What do you love to do when you’re not reading or blogging?

I Know This Site isn’t Called Books & Coffee, but…

First, let me say something about my “hometown” of Jackson, Michigan.  It’s missing somethings, like a job market.  Decent malls too, but mostly a job market.  The industrial part of town is filled with old, dilapidated factories, but if you can look past that, Jackson does have a great community, mom and pop diners that make you wonder why you even bother to cook anymore, beautiful landscape filled with lakes, rivers, countryside, and weeping willows, and Jackson Coffee Company.  

Despite being strapped for cash, people in Jackson love their coffee.  Yea, we know passing up a morning cappuccino at a local coffee shop would be easier on out wallets.  But, what is a life worth when it is filled with only mass-produced, pre-ground, Columbian coffee from the grocery store?  We have a Starbucks, a Bigby’s, three Tim Hortons, a Dunkin Donuts, Bearclaw Coffee, and five other independent coffee shops that I’ve never even heard of, but in this town, Jackson Coffee Company reigns supreme over all.  Seriously!  They’ve won the town’s Best Coffee Shop award every year since 2006, when they first opened their doors to their customers.

Jackson Coffee Company does coffee right.  Fair Trade.  Organic.  LOCALLY ROASTED coffee beans!  I mean, their bean roaster is right by the front door for heaven’s sake.  If you buy their beans online, they ship your beans within 24 hours of roasting.  If you buy in store, you never buy anything that is more than a few days old.  That’s because coffee beans start going stale hours after they’ve been roasted, and in two weeks, your specialty coffee starts tasting like the generic coffee you could have bought at the grocery store.  And who wants that?  Blech!  None of their coffee sits around pre-grounded either.  Usually, I snag a bag, and ground coffee up as I go at home.  But, if you don’t have a coffee grinder, they will grind it up for you at the shop.

I know this site isn’t called Books & Coffee, but I’ve gotta showcase one of Jackson’s many gems.  And I know I just wrote a piece about a tea that would convert coffee addicts into tea drinkers.  But, well, I just discovered a coffee that would convert ex-coffee drinkers back into coffee addicts!

Normally, I buy dark roasted coffee with bold flavors– Columbian, French Roast, Sumatran.  In fact, I’d just finished up my bag of Sumatra beans– great cuppa joe, terrible espresso.  With dark roasted coffees, it’s the flavor that wakes me up before the caffeine has had time to take effect.  But, during my most recent trip to Jackson Coffee Company, I decided to go a different route.  I went with a medium roasted, Organic Mexican bean.

The flavor did not overwhelm my taste buds like the dark roasts usually do, and the body of the coffee is relatively light (a light body can be compared to the feeling of skim milk, and a full body can be compared to the feeling of whole milk).  This makes the Organic Mexican coffee a perfect cup of coffee to accompany a light breakfast or a mid-morning snack.  Or lunch.  Or dinner.  This blend is also versatile; it makes a perfect cuppa joe as well as a perfect spot of espresso!

Bottom Line: Honestly, I could drink this stuff all day and not get sick of it.  I bought the coffee on Friday.  As I type of this post, it’s a Tuesday.  We only have enough coffee beans for one more pot of coffee, and I’m about use them up.  It’s that good.

And now, I leave you with some wise words from the incredibly awesome Twin Peaks tv show (ever watched it?):

Do you have a favorite coffee shop in your town? Do you have a default roast that you always turn to? Tell me about it =]