An Afternoon of Tea and Cake is a regular feature where I chat to a variety of people including other bloggers, musicians, authors, artists, etc, to find out their thoughts and experiences on all the subjects that I cover on my blog.
Today we meet up with Capricious Lestrange from The Zebra Pit.
Let’s get the important stuff out the way first. What is your favourite brand of tea and how do you take it?
My favourite tea is a Cinnamon Hibiscus herbal tea. I take it hot with plenty of vanilla almond milk.
And cake? Do you have a recipe that you would like to share with us?
My first love in the realm of sweets has always been chocolate, but this Spiced Pumpkin Layer Cake won me over from the start. I used to make it for Thanksgiving. It’s hard work, but well worth it.
If you could have a celebrity afternoon tea, who would you invite?
For the longest time my stock answer to this question was always Adrienne Rich, but since she’s passed on, I think it would be amazing to have afternoon tea with the endlessly fascinating musician Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. I know very little about him, but admire his unique creativity and flexibility as a musician. I also admire how he contributes so much to helping other musicians and feel like we’d have much in common given the similarity of subjects covered in his songs and some of my own work. He’s someone I feel like I could sit down with and talk about anything from politics to our childhood trauma to religion and we’d still get along just fine.
Give a brief description of your blog and tell us about your short or long-term blogging goals?
The Zebra Pit is a health and wellness blog for zebras and spoonies (people who have chronic health issues and rare conditions). I share tips and things that have helped me recover from severe illness to a more comfortable and stable baseline in my health, write articles that help people better understand these rare conditions and try to provide a safe space where people can talk about the intricacies of living life with chronic illness. My blog includes recipes, exercise videos which demonstrate safe, modified exercise for people with joint damage and laxity, a series which highlights a chronic illness warrior who gives back to the community every month and Toot Your Horn Tuesday, a monthly blog share for other chronic and mental illness bloggers.
What do you do to soothe or lift your soul?
I used to rely heavily on hiking and spending time in the woods to help balance my stress levels, but now I exercise at home and rely on music. I find music to be medicine for my soul and always have. I often rely on music to lift me up and help me feel whole again. At times, I rely on music to mirror my emotions, but often I use it to lift me from a depression and relieve anxiety. I find singing to be both relaxing and stress relieving. I’ve always loved to dance, as well, but had to give that up.
Do you like crafts, upcycling or DIY?
Traditional crafts have always been difficult for me because of my poor motor skills and hand pain. For a long time, I didn’t take part in any of them and I remember my mother being frustrated with me for all the different crafts I would try and quickly abandon. She was exceptionally skilled with thread, needle and yarn.
I realized when we rehabilitated a mobile home that I have pretty good woodworking skills and would love to develop those more, but as we live in an apartment now, I don’t have the space, so it wouldn’t be very practical. I’ve always loved art even though I’m not very good at it. On a whim, I took up painting. It isn’t always easy with shaking hands and constantly changing vision, but it’s something I enjoy very much. I’m sometimes frustrated by my lack of knowledge and limited capabilities, but I find it liberating to work on something for which I haven’t been trained in the least, where I can be more forgiving and accepting of my flaws.
I work in acrylics. Since my hands shake, I tend not to work standing at an easel, but rather on a flat surface, where I can brace my arm against the table. I can’t work for very long before things start aching pretty severely, so I’m only good for about an hour. This barely gives me enough time to get my colours mixed and a small object created or a bit of background put down. Even if I work a couple of times a week, it takes me several months to do one 10×14.
I find people love my home or garden tips, do you have any of your own that you can pass on?
People are often amazed by how clean and organized my home is despite my chronic fatigue. My favourite tips to people who have difficulty keeping the clutter down in their home: Make sure everything in your home has a designated storage space (label it if necessary) and never leave a room empty handed (and make it a family rule). Headed to the kitchen? Snag the dishes. Going to the bedroom? Take the shoes and shirt you dumped by your chair. If you’re always picking up as the day goes along, you’re never facing a big mess.
Where is your favourite travel destination and why?
My favourite travel destination so far has been the Mayan Riviera. My husband and I have visited the region a few times and have loved each visit. We enjoy the weather, the beaches, the people, the Mayan Ruins, the incredible cenotes and jungles, and the beautiful and warm native peoples of the region. Each time we go, we see a different historic site or zoological park. We’re also anxious to expand our travels around the world and Rome has been a dream of mine since I was a Latin student in high school.
What sort of books or mags do you read?
I read many types of books, but my favourites are historical and multicultural fiction, memoir, and sci-fi fantasy. I read a lot of female authors like Amy Tan and Alice Walker and absolutely adore their work, but I’m a big sucker for a good fantasy and am particularly in love with the work of Australian author Sara Douglass and American Brandon Sanderson in this genre. Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the brilliant Anthony Doerr who wrote All the Light We Cannot See_and I had the privilege of studying with at Bowling Green State University. Had I known I’d been in the presence of such genius at the time, I would have paid more attention. I’ve read all of his books, a few more than once.
I also really enjoy reading about science, archaeology and history, so I subscribe to Smithsonian and Archeology Magazines, but I confess I’m not that great about reading them in this age of technology. I find myself with my nose in my cellphone more often than not.
Do you have any health tips or experiences that you would like to share?
I learned recently that one of the reasons singing helps with my anxiety is because it actually helps to restore vagal tone. The vagus nerve runs from our brains through our digestive systems and sexual organs, so maintaining good vagal tone is important to a properly functioning brain, digestive system and reproductive system.
And finally what is your favourite section on Tea and Cake for the Soul?
I really enjoy all of your articles, but my favourite categories are upcycling/crafts and mental health. I really enjoy your perspective and advice in your mental health articles and since we both have anxiety issues, I can really relate. The upcycling is very interesting to me and I love to see these projects. I’d love to see more of this.
Thank you so much for sharing with us today Caprice. That cake looks amazing. Pumpkin is such a great ingredient to bake with. I’ve several Pumpkin Recipes included here on the blog that I make every year.
I love that music, irrespective of genre can give so much joy to so many people. We are very lucky that musicians spread their talent, aren’t we?
I have recently featured some of Caprice’s poetry in a previous blog for National Poetry Day If you suffer from any of the illnesses mentioned then do pop over to The Zebra Pit for lots of useful information. You can also find Caprice on Twitter.
I have lots more Afternoons with Tea & Cake for the Soul scheduled so do check back or read about some of my other guests