Tea Drops – The Cutest Tea You Will Ever Drink

Author: Kirsti Kay, Food & Drink, Hot Drinks, Philanthropy, Tea

rose-earl-grey-tea-dropsForget your single origin oolongs, your hipster matcha tea shops, and your precious high tea at fancy hotels. I have discovered the cutest tea in the world and you can drink it in your own home, wearing that dirty Aerosmith t-shirt while binge-watching Santa Clarita Diet. It’s called Tea Drops and it will make you wonder why you ever bothered with tea bags or fumbled with a messy tea ball.

Tea Drops are individually packaged organic teas pressed into darling little shapes that steep instantly in hot water and contain just the right amount of pure organic cane sugar—a self-contained Cute Bomb! Simply put a Tea Drop in your favorite teacup and pour boiling water over and you have a delicious cup of perfectly measured, sweetened, spiced tea.

Founder and CEO Sashee Chandra grew up in a tea drinking household, but discovered when she started working in the real world that making tea the old-fashioned way was inefficient, especially in the fast-paced environments of today’s companies, so she created a way to make a fancy tasting cup of tea quickly. By shaping tea into fun shapes with sweetener and spices, she created the perfect cuppa for the girl (or boy) on the go. By packaging her tea in biodegradable and compostable wrapping and boxes, Sashee gives us even more reasons to go on a tea spree.

tea-dropsWith flavors like Cardamom Spice, Citrus Ginger, Sweet Peppermint and—my favorite—Rose Earl Grey, there is a tea for everyone. Tea Drops are made from organic tea leaves (not instant tea), so there is some sediment that will linger at the bottom of your cup, but it is perfectly fine to drink. Many enjoy drinking the sediment as part of their tea experience, but you can always leave the last sip if that’s not your thing.

If the adorable shapes and unique flavors aren’t enough to get you to take the plunge, Tea Drops also donates a YEAR’S SUPPY OF CLEAN WATER to a person in need with every order, no matter how small! Without water, there would be no tea, and without tea, there would be no scones or jam or clotted cream, and without scones or jam or clotted cream, there would be no happiness, so it’s so nice to know that by soothing your soul with beautiful tea, you are helping people at the same time. You can also donate $25 through the company’s website to Thirst Project, which provides a lifetime of water to someone in need.

With so many reasons to try Tea Drops, why not join the #CommuniTEA today?

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Click here to learn more about the partnership between Tea Drops and Thirst Project.


Barn Praising

Author: Kirsten K., Philanthropy

The Gentle Barn 1For the past few years, my sister Heidi and I have made a regular practice of sending each other cute pictures and videos of animals: dogs and cats snuggling, foxes jumping on trampolines, rats sleeping with teddy bears, pigs wearing sweaters. Who knew that owls like to cuddle? Or that hippos enjoy massages? Heidi and I joke about the increasingly large piece of property we’ll need to accommodate all the animals we want. Whenever I come across a video of a cow playing with a ball or a baby elephant taking a bath, I’ll think, “We’re gonna need more land.”

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Gettin’ our goat at The Gentle Barn

Long before my nephew brought home a baby goat named Orbit to look after for a friend, Heidi and I were swooning over all things hircine. Based on the number of goat videos I come across online, we’re not alone. From baby goats in pajamas and miniature stampedes to Buttermilk Sky and fainting breeds, goats are having a moment. A couple of weeks ago, I said to my sister, “I need to pet some goats!” So she drove me a short distance from her house to visit The Gentle Barn. Located 40 miles north of Los Angeles in Santa Clarita, California, The Gentle Barn is an animal sanctuary housing horses, cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, dogs, sheep and, yes, goats. While there, we also saw a llama, a donkey, and a peacock named Jewel who likes to bed down with the pigs.

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Addison loves carrots and having his head and ears rubbed

We were able to pet several goats, in addition to Addison the donkey, a massive pig named Zeus, and three different breeds of cow, but many of these animals have come from situations of extreme abuse and neglect and can be wary of people. Volunteers on the premises advised us as to which animals were shy about being approached or having their heads touched. Some animals need to be cordoned off from the crowds on visiting days, because they are in the process of being rehabilitated and are still fearful of humans. When you look into the eyes of the animals or pet their soft fur, it’s difficult to imagine that anyone could bear to harm them.

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Three’s company in the hog house.

Fortunately, the caring and dedicated staff at The Gentle Barn are there to give them a second chance at a happy life. The well-being of the animals is their top priority, and this extends to the community at large. One of the missions of The Gentle Barn is to teach children empathy through interaction with animals. Their At-Risk Youth program offers young people the opportunity to identify with these animals and benefit from their unconditional love and acceptance in an effort to break the cycle of abuse.

The Gentle Barn 5By the time Heidi and I made the rounds of all the animal enclosures (and she nearly had her skirt eaten by a baby cow named Sage), we’d worked up an appetite, so we stopped by The Frankenstand for some veggie dogs. Afterwards, having satisfied both our hunger and our goat quota, we headed home to our own beasts, grateful that we were raised to love and respect animals and fortunate to have had them as cherished family members throughout our lives.

If you want to get your fix of wet noses, wagging tails, soft feathers, and playful grunts, make a “gentle note” to visit this wonderful sanctuary.

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The Gentle Barn


The Gentle Barn has locations in California and Tennessee. To assist in its efforts to care for these rescued animals, The Gentle Barn has set up a sponsorship program. You can visit the Virtual Barn on their website to see pictures of the animals and read their stories, then sponsor one for as little as $5 a month. If you live in the area, you can also help by becoming a member or a volunteer.


Vice Is Nice – An Interview with Penthouse President Kelly Holland

Author: Kirsten K., Philanthropy

Vice Is Nice 1Who hasn’t swooned over sweet doggy kisses or warm kitty cuddles? How about playful head butts from a goat, affectionate nuzzles from a donkey, or shameless flattery from a parrot? Such is business as usual at Rancho Providencia, the private home and animal sanctuary of Kelly Holland in Chatsworth, California. In addition to her work as president of Penthouse Media, Kelly is heavily involved in animal rescue and hosts a yearly Monte Carlo night on her property to raise funds and awareness for the cause. This year’s 6th annual Vice Is Nice event is coming up on July 25th, and Kelly took time out of her busy schedule to talk with The Swoon Society about The Animal Rescue Alliance, juggling work and charity, and why the porn industry is an animal’s best friend.

How did you become involved with animal rescue?
Well, I’ve always liked animals and I’ve always had a lot of animals, but when I got the ranch there was a pregnant, feral cat there who had kittens. And then somehow she died—she got attacked by a coyote or something—so I was brought this litter of kittens that had to be bottle fed.

At the same time, I was working and I had a film shoot I had to be on and I was going to be there 16 hours a day. I knew nothing about rescue at the time, so I took these kittens up [to a local rescue]. I paid them a couple hundred dollars to keep the kittens for two days and bottle feed them while I was on the set. I came back to pick the kittens up and they were in a kitten room with about 15 other kittens who all were sick. The volunteer said, “You’ve got to get these kittens out,” and I said, “Alright, give me my kittens,” and he said, “No, you need to take them all out of here. This is a really terrible place. They take a lot of donations, but they never have healthcare.”

So I load up all 15 kittens. Unfortunately, all of those kittens had something called panleukopenia, which is a fatal disease. And one by one by one by one, times 15, they all died. I tried everything. I couldn’t get one of these kittens to survive. That was so traumatic for meand I’m not easily traumatizedthat I would find myself for months afterwards walking down the street, driving down the street…I would just burst into tears. And I thought, “You know what? I’ve got to get over this. Maybe I just need to kind of get back on the horse.” So I met another rescue and asked them if I could foster and that’s how it started.

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Being the president of a major media company and working with animal rescue seem like two full-time jobs. How do you manage to do both?
Lots of caffeine. Truly. I mean, I go like 16 hours a day. I know where to relax. I have a great bunch of volunteers that support me. Thankfully, because I’m the president of Penthouse, I make a lot of money and I can hire people, so I have people that work every day taking care of the horses, the pig, the goats. I’ve just managed to craft a life where it works. Oh, and I don’t have a personal life. That would be a major issue.

You founded The Animal Rescue Alliance. Is that an umbrella organization?
The key word is “alliance.” I worked for many different rescues, [but] I’m an alpha. I just don’t do well when I’m submitting to irrational, stupid shit. So I thought, “I’m going to start a rescue, but I’m going to do what is key to these other rescues, which is…fundraising.” I’ll take the animals that I want to take, and that included horses and other farm animals. I will do it on my terms as my schedule will accommodate at any given point in my life. But I raise money for several other rescues and I facilitate.

Did you think when you started Vice Is Nice in 2010 that it was going to be a one-time deal?
No, I probably knew it wouldn’t, because I have a history of doing ongoing parties. I tend, once I do something, to keep doing it. Also, each year it gets so much easier. You have all the investment in the banners and the materials and everything. You’ve done all that in the first two, three, four, five years. This year, our costs will be down by half, because we have so much from last year.

How many people, approximately, show up for the event?
Seven hundred.

It seems like a lot of people in the adult film industry are involved in animal rescue. Why is that, do you think?
I don’t know. I’ve made that observation before and I don’t know why. I think that adult [film] people are essentially constantly judged, constantly ostracized. They’re social pariahs, and it may be that animals are so non-judgmental that that’s why they get into it. It’s pure hypothesis on my part.Vice Is Nice 2

Some of the sponsors for this year’s Vice Is Nice event are Adam & Eve, Adult FriendFinder, Jack Daniel’s, Param Yoga, Stella Artois, and Vivid Entertainment, many of which have donated items to be raffled off. All proceeds go to support The Animal Rescue Alliance and its partners Rags2Wags, Pink Paws, Life4Paws, and Almost Home Animal Rescue. In addition to a poker tournament, there will be psychic and tarot card readings, a silent auction, musical entertainment, vegetarian food, and the popular “Dunk-a-Porn-Star” game, so leave your inhibitions at home and come out to party for a worthy cause.

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The Animal Rescue Alliance

Rancho Providencia is always in need of volunteers to work with the animals, and The Animal Rescue Alliance is grateful for any financial support through tax deductible donations and gifts of hay, feed, and other supplies. For more information about how you can help, call (818) 718-4800.

Listen to the complete interview with Kelly and see more pictures of Rancho Providencia at The Swoon SocieTV.

All photographs of Rancho Providencia by Dillon Padgette Photography.