Monday, September 28, 2020

Tea Thoughts: A great new source for tea-themed stationery!

So when I mentioned that I'd (finally) found some tea-themed Washi tape online, tea friend Lynn of the My Tea Diary blog shared a link to Tea Thoughts, a delightful source of tea-themed products that I certainly wish I'd heard of before now! I immediately placed an order, and I'm super impressed with the products and the service. I ordered the lovely Washi tape with a camellia sinensis design as well as the matching sticky notes, and they've already arrived. (And who *wraps* their products for customers anymore? Tea Thoughts does, apparently.)

Simply opening the package was such a treat! First, I found the goodies tucked behind this paper featuring a tea design. I'm not discarding it, because I'm sure I can use it to make a card or something.

I use Washi tape to hold my dies in place while cutting out designs for card making, and as every crafter knows, it's important to have *cute* craft supplies. I know I will enjoy using this tape!

And since I never met an office supply I didn't like, I naturally had to have these sticky notes too. Aren't these lovely?

A personal thank-you note and cute stickers? I was beaming by the time I finished discovering all the goodies in my modest little order. If you'd like to check out this company with lovely tea wares and office supplies and more, go here. I think you'll be impressed too!

Friday, September 25, 2020

The Amazon gift card winner is …

 Donna Z.! Congrats to Donna, and thanks to everyone for letting me know what you're reading these days!

Nivea Basil & White Tea Refreshing Body Wash

It's been a while since I've come across a new tea product in the cosmetics aisle, so I was happy to come across this new Basil and White Tea body wash from Nivea when I was at CVS the other day. It's a nice big 20-ounce bottle, on sale for $7.99 with $3 in Extrabucks back, which makes the price about equal to the $4.97 you'd pay at Walmart (yes, I looked online when I got home; I know CVS can be expensive).

I took a whiff of this stuff right there in the store, and this yummy body wash smells just like … well, something familiar! I can't remember what it was, but it's the smell of another (possibly tea-containing) product I've used in the past. And since my skin always gets dry in the fall and winter, a "nourishing" body wash with tea sounded like a great idea.

Only when I got home did I check out the ingredients label, and alas, I can't find any actual tea (camellia sinensis) in this product. Sometimes, companies will say a product is "tea-scented," but I've rarely had a white tea that had a scent, and certainly not the bright floral of this body wash. So if, like me, you're drawn to products with tea in them, just know that I can't find that this one has anything but a tea "scent." But I did love the scent when I tried this body wash, and I hope it will be as good a moisturizer as it claims.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Fall "seams" like a good time to craft!

Most weeks, my friend Kathy hosts a stamping/card-making video on her YouTube channel, and I love to watch as she teaches a new card-making technique with her trademark humorous style. I'm usually watching via iPhone or MacBook Air at my craft table so that I can craft right along with her. I'm not making the same project, but I do enjoy multitasking, especially when crafting is involved, and I know Kathy would approve. This week, I happened to be playing with some designs plucked straight out of the enormous box of stamps Kathy gave me last week after she cleaned out her stash! We're both still social distancing, so we FaceTimed last Friday morning, and that afternoon, I drove to her house and picked up my goodies from her porch! This sweet little teacup stamp was in one of the sets.

She asked if I minded that this had both coffee and tea, and of course I did not. Plus, the price was right!

Speaking of price … I have to share my good luck via the Goodwill in Rome over the weekend. I took Aunt Jane there to shop, and I found these 100-yard rolls of seam binding for just $1.99 each. That's 500 yards of seam binding, and I love to use this stuff as ribbon, but I'm used to paying more like $5 for a roll of 10 yards. With Christmas coming up, I figure the plum/wine color will be great for presents, and the gray and white will be good for card making.

I made this little card a while back but was really raiding my ribbon box for a tiny, elegant ribbon suitable for a teapot handle. Now I have plenty of ribbon!

And this has nothing to do with tea, but I thought you might like to see one of my fall birthday cards, made with the new Autumn Greetings stamp and die set I got from Kathy, who is a Stampin' Up demonstrator. I've gotten into the routine of making cards when I have a spare moment during the week, and I sew on the weekends. So it looks like I might just have a crafty fall ahead! (And wait till you see the tea-themed Washi tape I found on Amazon. It can't get here fast enough!) 



Monday, September 21, 2020

September giveaway: $15 Amazon gift card


Since I haven't found any cute tea gifts lately, I'm going with an old favorite giveaway item: an Amazon e-gift card for $15. I figure that will buy you a new book or some new tea!


Here's how you can win: 1) Tell me the name of the last book you read and enjoyed (I'd rather hear about good books than bad ones!) 2) Be sure to include a way for me to get in touch with you if you're the winner.

You may enter the giveaway now through 7 a.m. EST on Friday, September 25. (US only please.) Good luck!

Friday, September 18, 2020

Where Woodrow Wilson went after voting for women's suffrage …

Since I love history, I've been enjoying all the articles about women's suffrage that I've seen since this year marks the hundredth anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment. And this week, I came across a photo related to tea and suffrage while perusing the online archives of the Library of Congress. You may not recognize the lady here, but I'll bet you recognize the man on the left: "Photograph shows President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) with Philena Fobes Fine in Princeton, New Jersey where he went to cast a vote in favor of the Woman Suffrage Amendment on October 19, 1915. Philena Fine was the wife of Princeton University professor Henry B. Fine. Wilson went to their home for tea after voting." (Source: Flickr Commons project, 1915 and the Woodrow Wilson House, 2020)

Now isn't it fun to know that the president went to tea after voting there in New Jersey? (What kind? What did the china look like? Were there finger sandwiches? Inquiring minds want to know.)

They look like they're having a fun conversation, and I'm intrigued by Mrs. Fine's feathery hat and stole or scarf. Sure wish I could find photos of them having tea! 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The September/October 2020 issue of Tea Time

 

In years to come, I wonder whether we'll look back at our 2020 Tea Time issues and remember what we were doing during those particular months. I can't imagine we'll ever forget what 2020 was like. The other day, I was shopping for new tea and saw a certain vendor had come out with a 2020 blend at the beginning of the year. All I could think was, "None for me, thanks!" But a magazine about teatime, like most things tea, is a pleasant diversion whenever it appears, and as always, the fall issue is one of my favorites.

For one thing, I am quite smitten with Frank Smith Silver Company's 2830 sterling silver teapot. I found the exact teapot at Replacements.com on sale for a mere $2,499. There's only one left, so feel free to beat me to it, friends.

This issue also features cute little gingerbread cakes in autumn leaf shapes. I have one of these "cakelet" pans, so that recipe is going on my to-bake list.

And what charmed me most in this edition was how nicely they solved a little issue I'd been wondering about. I read somewhere a few months ago that thanks to COVID-19, we'll probably never watch someone blow out candles over a birthday cake again. Isn't that sad? But this sweet little line in Tea Time was the perfect solution to that dilemma, and bless their gentle hearts, they never even had to say the word "COVID." They said, "A cupcake just for the honoree is a great way to keep the tradition of blowing out a candle."

Have you read this issue yet? I'd love to hear what you enjoyed!

Monday, September 14, 2020

Pumpkin Spice Shortbread

I normally wait until October to start enjoying pumpkin spice treats, but not this year. I had a Salted Caramel Pumpkin Spice Concrete Mixer from Culver's over the weekend, and boy, was it good. Afterward, I wondered what would happen if I added a bit of pumpkin spice to my favorite shortbread recipe.

So I added some pumpkin pie spice to my trusty old recipe and gave it a try. Would you believe I apparently don't own a pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter? So I opted for my fall leaf-shaped cookie cutters instead.

And someone asked previously when I shared this (unspiced) shortbread recipe, but no, you don't have to punch the little holes in the cookies with the tines of a fork, though I think they're prettier that way.



This is the same brown sugar shortbread recipe that my tea friend Sandy shared with me years ago, simply with that little touch of spice added. It seemed to make the cookies a tad crisper, and it resulted in that light taste of fall that I was seeking.

Pumpkin Spice Shortbread

1/2 cup softened butter (no substitutions)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cream butter and sugar using an electric mixer. Gradually stir in flour. When blended, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead till smooth, about 3 minutes. I like to use a rolling pin that flattens the dough into a perfect 3/8-inch thickness before cutting out the cookies with various cookie cutters. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet, prick with a fork, and bake for 25 minutes, just until bottoms are beginning to brown. Yields about 20 (2- to 3-inch) cookies. 

And in other news … To make it easier for you to leave comments, I have created a Tea With Friends Facebook page! I set it up last week and wanted to give it a test run to be sure posts appear automatically, as I intended, and so far so good. If you don't have a Facebook page, you'll still see all of my blog posts here, just like always, but I know that for some readers, seeing these posts in your Facebook feed is simply an easier way to keep up with them. You can go here to "Like" my page, and I also plan to use this FB page to share other tea tidbits I come across that I think will be of interest to my tea friends. I hope you'll enjoy it!

Friday, September 11, 2020

Twinings Cold Brewed Iced Tea - Mixed Berries

 

Twinings Earl Grey is one of the first teas I ever tried, and to this day, the Twinings name has a special place in my heart. I even had the pleasure of visiting the Twinings shop in London years ago, and I continue to drink out of the Twinings logo mug that was a souvenir of that fine day. But this week, it's a cold-brew tea from Twinings that has my attention.

I found this tea at Ollie's the other day (do they have Ollie's where you live?). I always like to check out all the discount books at Ollie's, and they've been known to have some tea bargains as well, like this box of 20 tea bags for $1.79.

And yes, I just plopped that tea bag in some water in the fridge, left it for a bit, and returned to find a crisp, delicious berry-flavored tea that was sooooo refreshing on a still-hot-and-humid Georgia afternoon. It's the kind of naturally sweet treat that "feels" like a snack but really isn't. I'm a fan! (And now I hope they've got some more of this tea the next time I go to Ollie's!)





Wednesday, September 9, 2020

A cup of cheer (and a platter of thrift)

On Saturday, I went recreational shopping for one of the first times in months. Aunt Jane and I both wore masks and applied hand sanitizer after every stop, and so far, so good. My favorite finds were at Hobby Lobby, which, not surprisingly, has all the Christmas stuff out and 40 percent off. Much as I love Santa mugs, I *had* to have this cute little plaque. Christmas sayings with "cup" in the title always catch my attention as a tea lover, so some of you might be interested in this one as well.

I'm already thinking of having a pastel Christmas next year (this year, I'm into vintage reds), so when I saw these mint green and pink Santa mugs from their Sleigh Bell Bistro line, I had to have them. There was an ivory one, too, and now I'm thinking I should have gotten it as well.

The green one looks almost like vintage Jadeite, doesn't it? These are large mugs, almost 5 inches tall and 7 inches wide including the handle, so these will be nice for decorating in addition to sipping!

And happily, Goodwill did not disappoint either. (Goodwill, by the way, took our temperatures before we went in.) I was about to leave the store empty-handed when, beneath a stack of not-quite-charming candles, appeared what looked like a piece of old English transferware. I shoved the candles aside, and while this 18 x 14-inch platter was Japanese, not English, it still struck me as a great addition to my Thanksgiving table, especially since it was in perfect condition and just $5.99. I don't mean to go crazy or anything, and I'm still taking COVID precautions at every turn, but it sure felt nice to go shopping again!

 

Monday, September 7, 2020

Friday, September 4, 2020

An image that's "Strictly confidential"

My latest find from the Library of Congress is a 1908 image titled "Strictly confidential." All three headings on the image hit rather close to home: "Women. Older people. Tea." I also note with interest that the category designation on the original folder said simply "Girls." Hmm. I'm pondering that.

I'm also pondering who these ladies were and what their relationship to each other was. Their physical closeness hints at emotional closeness, so I'm guessing sisters (the one on the left being the oldest), friends, or neighbors.

And then, of course, there's the teacup (gold-trimmed porcelain?), the teapot (looks like old ceramic), and the cake, which looks like some sort of steamed pudding. Do you love spotting the tea in old artwork as much as I do? What's your theory on who these ladies were?

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

"A Design to Die For" by Kathleen Bridge

In Kathleen Bridge's A Design to Die For, decorator Meg Barrett is invited to participate in Montauk, New York’s first annual Designer Showhouse, and great fun ensues when some well-heeled women try to one-up each other on the project. One of the owners of the showhouse winds up murdered, and the race is on to find out which of the many suspects killed the unlikable man.

Bridge’s fast-paced cozy is fifth in a series, and while I haven’t read the others, I was able to keep up with the shenanigans but did end the book with a desire to go back and read all of the others.

I enjoyed the setting of the Hamptons, a departure from the Southern-themed cozies I usually read. I also enjoyed the fact that the main character is hearing impaired, a characteristic I don’t ever remember seeing in a cozy heroine before.

Naturally, a few scenes in the book had someone preparing a cup of tea—the norm in cozies. And one tidbit in the book was memorable in light of some intrigue recently discovered here on this tea blog. One question raised in the plot was whether the home being used for the showhouse was actually designed by architect Stanford White. I kept thinking his name was familiar, and then I came across this line: “The story of how he was murdered in 1906 by the jealous husband of his mistress, actress Evelyn Nesbit, had been one of the biggest scandals of the new century.” Yes! I knew that! This picture of poor Evelyn, by then operating a tearoom in New York, garnered some fun discussion here back in May, so to come across her in a cozy mystery a few months later was quite fun.

Bridges has well-developed characters and a lively writing style that kept things hopping. Also, Meg’s growing friendship with a neighbor who is a writer was one I particularly enjoyed reading about, and I hope it deepens in a future book.

If you, too, would enjoy reading a cozy mystery set in the Hamptons, I’m happy to recommend this fun book!

Review copy courtesy of NetGalley

Monday, August 31, 2020

Lipton Tea + Probiotic to "Glow From Within"

I'm not usually drawn to "ground tea" products that make health claims, but I happened to spot a new product at Kroger the other evening that caught my attention, Lipton's "Tea + Probiotic" line. Actually, what caught my attention was the price—$5.99 for twelve "sachets"—which seemed a bit pricey when I thought it was just powdered tea packets. But this one says it has "probiotics and collagen supporting Vitamin C for a delicious and convenient way to add more probiotics to your day!" This one was a blend of hibiscus, mate, and Goji berry, so I thought I'd give it a try.

The box says to mix one packet with twelve ounces of cold water, then shake or stir. The box notes, "Some sediment at the bottom of your cup is expected," but I found that it blended quite well.

I prepared mine in this favorite old "TEA" glass.

And while I expected something that tasted tart and perhaps a little bitter, this was a light, fruity drink, more like flavored water than tea, but I really enjoyed it! So I'm going to follow their advice and drink two cups a day for a while and see what happens. This "Glow" blend was the only blend I saw at the grocery store, but when I looked online, other blends are titled "Soothe Your Tummy," "Cleanse," and "Immune Support." I generally prefer loose tea that's simply a pleasurable beverage, but I'm certainly not opposed to drinking tea for its health benefits too. Have any of you spotted these blends in the stores where you live?

Friday, August 28, 2020

An old magazine sparks some new ideas

Sometimes I marvel that I continue to keep thirty-year-old magazines, and yet, even as I try to get rid of some things in my library, my back issues of Victoria remain precious to me. This week, I thumbed through the August 1990 issue to see what I was reading about back then. But I noted with interest that this issue's label says "P.  Mason" of Smyrna, Georgia, and I think maybe this is is one of the issues my late grandmother found for me once she knew I was trying to complete a collection. A sweet memory!

In these old issues, I don't have to turn very many pages at all before I'm oohing and aahing over old lace …

And teacups! I like the tall shape of these, but they weren't listed in the shopping information. Anyone have a clue about this maker or pattern?

But the most fun thing I found was a recipe section titled "An Occasion for Iced Teas." I was all ready to follow their advice and prepare my own blend of iced mint tea and lemon tea, but would you believe I'm out of mint tea? Now how did that happen! Oh well, at least I'll have something tea-ish to look for on my next trip to the grocery store. And thanks for the memories, Victoria!

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

"Edwardian Cooking: The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook" by Larry Edwards

I do love a bargain, so when my friend Joy emailed to say that Edwardian Cooking: The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook by Larry Edwards was currently *free* on Kindle, I grabbed it. And I checked last night to be sure, and it was STILL free for Kindle, so if any of you don't have this one, please check it out!

Like me, you've probably read that during the pandemic, home cooking has soared. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why that is, and I think it's actually a plus from this whole thing!

Edwards has an entertaining writing style, and the recipes include lots of things that caught my eye: King Edward Coronation Toffee Shortbread, Grantham Family Crumpets, Estate Oat Bread, and Lobster Pudding, for instance. So if you haven't downloaded your free copy, please check it out. (And as a fellow writer, I always like to remind folks to please leave a review after you're done and make an author's day!)

Monday, August 24, 2020

A tea trolley taste of fall

Are you all as ready for fall as I am? I spotted my first yellow leaves on a flowering cherry tree in our front yard last week, and I wanted to cheer. That's always one of the first signs that fall is on the way. That got me to thinking about fall decor, and I decided to add a few "pre-fall" touches to the tea trolley in hopes it will speed things up. And yes, I'm ridiculously proud that my avocado plant is still alive!

Something about the yellow and gold in this rose design teapot makes me think of fall.

And I don't have very many fall-toned teacups at all, so I gathered some in peach, burgundy, and wine colors and plopped them on the teacup stand. I think they'll work until I (slowly) gather some fall-themed teacups. The pretty lace coasters, a gift from a blog reader friend years ago, tie them all together, I think.

My grapevine wreath teapot is a favorite piece I always pull out each fall.

And this taupe-colored filet crochet doily was another gift from a blog reader some years ago. I still love it!

Finally, the message on this (store-bought) greeting card, which I liked so much that I framed it, is a great reminder. It's interesting to me that just before the pandemic hit, in February, I started recording in my bullet journal each day a single blessing. I'd never been very good about keeping current with a gratitude journal, but one line a day? I can do that. Some days, I'm aware of so many blessings from the Lord that I have a hard time deciding on just one to write down, and that's a blessing, too, isn't it?