Uncategorized Archives - Tianna Holley | Tianna Holley

Oh, Happy Day! School is Back in Play!!!

Posted by on Aug 8, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Yes! Summer is officially over in the Holley house, and I’m loving it! If you’ve been following my social media, you’ll notice I haven’t been online much, and life has been full of chaos since Memorial Weekend, when we decided to sell our home near Atlanta and move to the Gulf Coast. With all the things that come with moving, along with family vacations and getting prepared to open a tea shop, I’m behind in every area of my life.

This morning, after my children left for their new schools, I let out a deep sigh of relief. Although I’m still surrounded by unpacked boxes, my walls aren’t fully painted, and the entire flooring in this home will soon be ripped out for replacement, I feel a small sense of normalcy now that we’ll be on a schedule again. I’m also back at my desk, where I truly love solitude, dark chocolate, and hot tea.

After months of traveling and eating out, I’m also hoping to get back into exercising. I’m definitely out of the habit, and my body is feeling and showing it! (The worst thing about being short–and getting older–is how easy it is to gain weight. During a biology experiment in college, I found out I was supposed to eat the least amount of calories in a day than everyone else in the room. I’ll admit that in that moment, I envied the tall guys in the room. They needed more than double my calories and could eat an entire pizza without any guilt. Just think of all the dark chocolate I could eat in a day if I were them!)

In the midst of all this chaos, it’s time I get back to work. While driving to my new home, I listened to the playlist for the Alissia Roswell Series, and all the scenes ran through my mind. I even have songs for the last book, and the scenes are clear to me. They’re intense!

If you want to hear the playlist for the first three novels, you can find the songs on each book’s Pinterest board. Until then, sign up for my newsletter to get notified with the latest on the Unexpected Beginning. I know I’m extremely late, but I’ll soon be sending it out to beta readers for review. If you want to be on that list, be sure to sign up for that as well.

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A Tea Lover’s Review of Adagio Teas

Posted by on Jul 15, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Someone from Adagio reached out to me a few months ago, asking if I would like to review some of their teas. Well, how could I say no to that? Of course! I’m all about tea and writing–so much that I’ll soon be selling tea alongside my career as an author. It’s something I planned to do last year, but if you have kept up with my blog, you know I had a lot of family emergencies in the spring of last year, turning my world upside down and causing major delays with the release of Unexpected Beginning.

Since receiving Adagio’s teas, I attended the World Tea Expo, where I immersed myself in the world of tea for four days. It was bliss! Pure bliss! And I tell you this, so you’ll understand that when I first received Adagio’s teas, I had not tried some of the flavors. They were new to me, because I was either scared of those flavors after reading reviews or I had already had bad experiences with them. (I’ve tasted some bad teas!)

Now let’s get to the review. Look at all the goodies I received:

I was given a $30 credit to buy from a short list of teas they specifically wanted reviewed, and I honestly cringed at the teas on the list. As stated above, I was either scared of trying the flavors or already had bad experiences with them. However, after reading some of the reviews on their site, I chose a variety of sample-sized packages so that I could try many flavors. I even purchased some jade oolong and dragon well. Why? Because $30 is just not enough when it comes to my tea addiction! Also, my last order was from a Japanese supplier, and I was low on teas from other origins.

I’ll start with the genmai cha. It’s one I had always wanted to try but avoided when spending my own money. The reviews always scared me. I mean, who wants to taste burned popcorn? Does that even sound appealing? So I steeped it exactly as directed on the packaging, and sure enough, it smelled like burned popcorn. I took a sip expecting the worst but was greatly surprised by the unique flavor. Yes, there is a resemblance to burned popcorn, but it’s truly not a bad thing. In fact, I found myself craving more of the tea two hours later, and I steeped the leaves again. Now I know why it’s a regular, daily drink for many. Days later, I chose it over my other teas. Genmai cha’s flavor lingers on your tongue, and hours later, you’ll want it again. It’s now something I plan to keep stocked.

While at the expo, I sampled more genmai cha, and I found them comparable with Adagio’s. However, I brought a sample home from one supplier, and I found it much weaker than Adagio’s. As with all teas, not all genmai cha are the same. Make sure you get it fresh. Don’t buy weak genmai cha!

Because I only chose a sample of it, I ran out quickly and moved on to the yerba mate, which is an herbal drink. Seeing the many pictures of loose pieces floating around a gourd with a special straw always scared me away from buying it. I can’t stand coffee or anything thick and bitter, and that’s the flavor I associated with it.

Well, not anymore! It’s mild–no astringent bitterness–and it’s pleasant. After tasting others at the expo, I know that Adagio’s tastes fresh, and I can recommend it.

Now we move on to the rooibos samples. I enjoyed apple cinnamon rooibos years ago when I started drinking hot tea. It’s another herbal, and suppliers mix it in a variety of ways for summer or winter drinks. I often ended my winter evenings with a rooibos. My children even loved them. Then I made the mistake of buying three cute, little tins in a variety of rooibos flavors from a gift shop one day. (I think now would be a good time to warn you to never, I mean NEVER EVER, buy your teas from any place other than tea shops. I don’t care how cute the tins are! Unless that gift shop has a relationship with a reputable tea company, don’t buy the tea!)

After that experience, I stopped buying rooibos. It wasn’t just those three tins that turned me away from the herbal drink, it was other brand names as well. A lot of them tasted like pure chemical additives. They just weren’t natural at all! And that’s why I dreaded tasting Adagio’s rooibos. They have many blends to choose from, and after reading some reviews, I chose:  rooibos cinnamon apple, green rooibos blueberry, green rooibos bonita, green rooibos key west, and green rooibos. They even threw in a sample of rooibos vanilla chai. Can you spot the three rooibos blends with the genmai cha and jade oolong?

I had never tried green rooibos, so I selected quite a few of those. The samples arrived in a cute, little box (great for a gift), and I decided to try the cinnamon apple, since I had already tasted that flavor more than once.

Well, what a surprise! It tasted nothing like the last rooibos I tried. No chemical taste whatsoever. I’ve tasted each of the samples, and it’s the same with all of them. Smooth and natural, just the way I like them! My children even love the flavors, and because rooibos is caffeine free, they can drink them.

I have a box of rooibos blends I’m trying from another supplier at the moment, and they match up to Adagio’s, which leads me to believe they’re high quality and trying to keep it natural. However, many companies aren’t doing that. Beware of a rooibos blend that tastes like chemicals. It’s just wrong!

As for my purchases, the dragonwell and jade oolong both tasted as I expected. I kept it safe and ordered mild teas 🙂

So what do I think about Adagio? I think they’re keeping things natural, and I can recommend their blends, herbals, and pures. They put steeping instruction on all their packaging, which is greatly appreciated by many. Although they don’t specifically say organic and fairtrade (which is very important to me), they have something called Roots. They know where their teas come from, and they even give you cute little postcards to mail to the farmers thanking them for their tea. They’re doing good things 🙂

Although new to their teas, I purchased their infuser from Amazon a while back, and it’s held up great to daily use. I can honestly recommend Adagio for their teas, along with their teaware.

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We’re Downsizing! It’s Purging Time!

Posted by on Jul 9, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Welcome to my summer of chaos! My husband and I took the children to a quaint town on the coast over Memorial Weekend, as we wanted to see if it would be a good place to live. We planned to move out of the Atlanta suburbs next summer, and this town popped up on Google as one of the top ten coastal places for a family.

We spent a lot of time riding around looking at neighborhoods and schools, and we happened to spot a house for sale by owner. That’s when we spontaneously called the owners, and they welcomed us (even our three children) into their home within an hour of our call.

Well, the rest is history! Within days we were under contract on a new home, and we were dealing with realtors and fixer-upper guys on our Atlanta home. We tirelessly decluttered and packed boxes to store in the garage until after the move. I then left for a week in Vegas for the World Tea Expo. (I now sell loose leaf teas as well!) We welcomed guests into our home WHILE it was on the market. (The house still stayed spotless with four adults, six kids, and two dogs.) Then we left for a ten day vacation to the Northeast, and now we’re back in Atlanta packing and getting ready for the big move. We have a buyer on our current home, so things are going smoothly. We just have a time crunch with the children starting school on August 4, and I still have to work in a visit to see my mother. She’s not happy with me for moving even farther away, and since this is something my husband and I planned ourselves instead of relocating with a job, I’m in even more trouble with her.

Our new home doesn’t have a basement, so we’re losing quite a bit of space. However, it’s still bigger than living on a sailboat, which we considered doing. (Seriously, I was ready to dump everything to hop on a boat!) The stuff I’ve collected throughout my lifetime is starting to mean less to me, and I’m ready to let things go. Now that I use essential oils and don’t believe in candles, all of my sconces and candle holders aren’t needed. All those pretty fake floral arrangements–they’re just dust collectors! I’m ready to fill my home with real herbs and useful living plants. The same goes for large, beautiful rugs. They collect dust and dirt. I don’t have time for all that! Let’s just keep it simple.

The Salvation Army is a great place. You just throw everything into boxes and drop them off at their place. I’m ready to let go of everything we don’t use. No more boxes of junk. I’m actually going through the house loudly singing (the kids say annoyingly), “Let it go! Let it go! Throw it in a box and let it go.”  It’s amazing how freeing it is to just let things go.

What about my writing? I know my readers are asking that question. The whole reason behind this move is for a quieter lifestyle. Things have been going way too fast these past two years, and it’s been hard for me to get long hours at my desk. This move should give me a lot more time for my writing and tea passions. So definitely stay tuned, and please be patient with me. I’m fixing the problems–in a drastic move–and my writing should be back on track!


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Life & Chaos – Why I’ve Been Absent from Social Media Lately

Posted by on Jun 23, 2017 in Uncategorized | 1 comment

It all began with a goodbye kiss to my husband before he walked out the door to catch a flight. (Okay, I’ll be honest. It was an extremely early flight, and he told me he loved me before leaving our bedroom to meet his Uber driver in the dark. I mumbled something in return and frowned, because I only had two hours left before my alarm went off. In my defense, he wasn’t going on a routine business trip or to see his family. He was going to sail around the Caribbean for ten days with a bunch of guys to strengthen his boating skills.)

Like a skilled corporate wife, I shrugged at the thought of my husband leaving for ten days. I’ve been doing this for years. What could go wrong? And with him in the Caribbean, I figured I could milk that for a while.

Oh, but life can be funny. I mean, it wasn’t funny at the time, but now I can roll my eyes and smile at the thought of those ten days. Every. Single. Day. Something chaotic happened during every single one of those days or nights. Ever woke in the middle of the night from the SMELL of a sick dog that decided to eat an outside plant? Then my son got a messy stomach virus. Oh, and let’s not forget the teenagers. One kept missing the bus, while the one I drove to school each morning thought she didn’t have to be on time with it being the end of the year. Without going into the details, I’ll add three 911 calls made throughout the week as well. By the time my husband made it home from the Caribbean, I felt like death, and I honestly think he feared the look in my eyes.

After that, things got crazy with the end of school activities and packing for our Memorial Day vacation. We chose a quaint little town on the Gulf Coast to see if we would like to move there next summer. We’ve been considering a change for a while now, and this town has great schools and a place for a future sailboat my husband wants to buy.

Well, we visited the town, fell in love with it, and put a bid on a house. Just like that! Talk about spontaneous. The next week consisted of unpacking, decluttering our home, packing, and dealing with realtors to put our house on the market. A few days after the house went on the market, we had company visiting, and then I flew out to Las Vegas with my bestie for a week at the World Tea Expo. Along with writing, I’m passionate about tea, and I plan to start sharing my favorites with others.

And now we’re at today. I have an early morning flight out with the family tomorrow, and I haven’t even started packing. I still have to pick up my dog/house sitter from out of town, and the house needs to be spotless before we walk out the door. (Oh, the joys of having a house on the market.)

As you can tell, I just haven’t had much time for social media or anything else lately. However, this move should give me much more time, and I’m looking forward to getting my life back for writing and tea tastings. Unexpected Beginning is top priority! After the move, I plan to get it off my desk to start Unexpected Legends, the sixth and last book in the series.

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Smoothies, Teas & Infused Waters – Using Fresh Herbs

Posted by on May 13, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Warm weather is here, and the gardens are bursting with flavor! Although I don’t have a green thumb and kill most of the plants I try to grow, herbs seem easy for me. Right now my rosemary bush is thriving and could use a good trimming, and I can see some peppermint leaves in their large barrel. Lemon balm, chamomile, parsley, basil–there’s too many to name!

What do I do with all these herbs? I dry some for teas and aromatherapy uses–which make great gifts–and I freeze some. However, I try to use a lot of them while they’re fresh. That means I throw them in summer salads, smoothies, hot teas, iced teas, cakes, breads, and infused waters. Like the essential oils they produce, fresh herbs have powerful benefits when eaten, and you can easily add them to smoothies, salads, and infused waters without noticing them.

The other night I made this year’s first batch of infused water, and the children are drinking it up. How else could I get them to eat rosemary, cucumber, ginger, and lemon without complaining? I also upgraded my smoothie maker and got a NutriBullet RX a few days ago, and I’m loving it. Yesterday I threw in some fresh greens, almonds, frozen fruits, and some goat milk I found on sale into one of the large pictures for lunch, and I put the leftovers in the fridge for later. All three of my children poured some for their after school snack, and I just smiled, knowing I can sneak all kinds of healthy food into those smoothies.

I’ll have to do a post on the NutriBullet RX later. With a powerful motor, it can do smoothies and drinks, and the large pictures make it easy to keep extra in the fridge. It can even make hot soups. That’s a big change from my old Ninja.

If you don’t think you can garden or even like gardening, I recommend you give certain herbs a try. Many of them are easy to grow, and they come back every year. You can even enjoy some of them year round. You just plant them and let nature do the rest. Just like the essential oils most everyone is raving about, the plants offer health benefits. Just make sure you do a little research on the herbs you plan to grow so that you know how much attention they need. Some will take over your yard if you don’t plant them in containers. That’s where large barrel planters come in handy. If you don’t have much room, you can always use smaller pots. I’m just greedy and love my barrels when it comes to certain herbs.

If you’re new to infused water, I suggest you get some ideas from Pinterest, but don’t be afraid to change the recipes. The drink I made last night originally called for mint, but since my mint isn’t ready, I used rosemary. I also love adding grated ginger to most of my waters. It has a lot of health benefits, and it’s the best way I like to ingest it. I keep the roots in my freezer and cut off a piece as needed.

Certain ingredients need to be organic. They spray a lot of chemicals on lemons, and they’re on the dirty list. Everything I’ve read says to go organic with lemons, and I use a lot of them. I start each day with a glass of lemon water.

I prepare all my infused drinks at night so the vitamins and minerals have enough time to get into the water. Once I drink all the water on the following day, I usually add more grated ginger and fill it back up for another night in the fridge. That way I get two days using the ingredients.

If you have any questions or would even like to share a recipe, be sure to leave a comment below. The drink in the picture above contains one lemon, half of a large cucumber, grated ginger, and rosemary sprigs.


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The Problem with Farmers’ Markets

Posted by on May 10, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Spring is here, and the weather has been beautiful in the Atlanta area. Last month I wrote a blog post about my first visit of the year to some of the local farmers’ markets with my husband and young son. The following week my two teenage daughters surprised us with their presence to another local market, and we made it a family morning. (I still can’t believe they woke up, got dressed, and walked out the door on a Saturday morning to visit a farmers’ market. I didn’t even force them!)

With perfect weather, my daughters actually let me hold their hands in public, and we walked around tasting samples and filling our bag with fresh goodies. One of my daughters loves cheese, and it’s been causing her some problems. When I spotted a table with goat cheese samples, I urged her and my son to try them with me. I don’t even like cream cheese or cranberries, yet when I took a bite of that cranberry goat cheese on a cracker, I was hooked!

I don’t mean that in a small way either. It’s become an addiction. I HAVE to have my serving of cranberry goat cheese and crackers as a snack every morning. I crave the goat cheese. It calls me into the kitchen–even when I’m not hungry!

Out of curiosity, I purchased some cranberry cinnamon goat cheese I found at the grocery store, but it tasted nothing like the one I bought at the farmers’ market. When I ran out of the two containers I bought from the local farmer, I knew I had to go back for more.

You may be wondering how this is a bad thing. I mean, it’s great that I found something healthier than regular cheese, and I’m also supporting a local farmer. Right? What about the fact that I’ve never tasted anything this yummy, and I now depend on this one supplier for my fix? What if I move one day? What if the farmer stops showing up at the market? I mean, this isn’t a branded item. I can’t get this anywhere else!

So, take this as a warning. Casually strolling around a farmers’ market and munching on artisan samples can be hazardous. One day you’re carefree and got your eating under control. Then you’re suddenly addicted to a food item you never imagined you would even like, and you’re at the mercy of a local farmer to get your daily fix. I’m not going to be able to visit the market this weekend, and I’m already worried about not having this goat cheese next week. This is a problem!

How about you? Leave me a comment below or on the social media post. I’d love to hear about it!

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