Saturday, November 22, 2014

Tea Room Postcard #47 - Donaldson's Glass Block Department Store Japanese Tea Room (Minneapolis, MN)

Donaldson's Glass Block Department Store in Minneapolis, Minnesota is a vintage department store I initially found interesting because of the name. The store was so named because of all the glass used in its design (there are lots of photos of the exterior in postcards on eBay if you're curious, as I was). But of course what I really enjoyed learning about was the store's Japanese Tea Room, which is shown here in this postcard mailed in 1908.

This card was mailed to Miss Mary Brown of what I believe is Mora, Minnesota. It was mailed from Osseo, Minnesota on Oct. 5, 1908 and reads, "Dear Aunt, I see you are still OK these days and playing (music?). How did you survive the cool spell? I guess there was a heavy fire in Foley the other day and the forest fires are all out now I hope. I guess I will have to draw this to a close. Your loving nephew Bill." It continues to amaze me that occasionally I am sitting here reading someone's correspondence from more than a hundred years ago. A hundred years from now, how will folks know what we were up to back in 2014? Will they go back and read our Twitter feeds, blogs, Facebook pages or e-mails? Somehow I doubt it, but I can't yet imagine what will take the place of the old handwritten letters and postcards. Can you?

Friday, November 21, 2014

A new tea room opens — in 1914!

Last month I blogged about a wonderful vintage cookbook that tea friend Jenn sent me from Massachusetts. She said at the time that the chapter house of her Daughters of the American Revolution chapter there, the Colonel Timothy Bigelow Chapter, was being reorganized, and when they came across a supply of the books, they decided to use them as a fundraiser. But the story doesn't end there. This week, Jenn wrote with the exciting (to me at least!) news that it has been discovered that her DAR chapter's house once was home to ... a tea room! Above is a screen grab of the chapter's website where I pulled up this information.

A scrapbook revealed that this DAR chapter opened their tea room in the "old Paine Homestead" in 1914. This is a screen grab of a newspaper article about the tea room, and here's a link to the blog post with the article. I won't ruin the surprise by telling you what type of china they used (just take a guess), because I absolutely adored getting to read about this charming tea room of yesteryear. A special thanks to Jenn, once again, for sharing, because I know some of you are going to love this wonderful bit of tea room history as much as I do!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The giveaway winner is … me!

Ha! Many times throughout the year you'll see a headline on here that says, "The giveaway winner is …" and it announces the winner of my latest giveaway. This week, I am delighted to report that my mailbox turned up a wonderful package that I won in a giveaway sponsored by my tea blogger friend Marilyn!

Among the goodies I received was this adorable red glass tea trivet. I knew immediately where I would use this, as I have two small desks in my office upstairs (one for writing, one for reading), and the "reading" desk needs a place to sit a mug of hot tea. Perfect!

I was especially happy to win this pretty red and purple teapot bracelet, as I have a new red sweater that needs some accessories. This is just what I needed!

The exuberant little girl on the front of this sweet mini book reminds me of Marilyn herself—I can almost imagine that's her in the whimsical tutus she sometimes wears!

And there was also a surprise bookmark tucked inside my box, always a most welcome gift in this house. Thanks so much, Marilyn, for hosting the giveaway and especially for picking me!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Some new tea from Kenya

A popular credit card commercial always likes to say, "What's in YOUR wallet?" I think a much more fun question is, "What's in YOUR teacup?" Today, mine has a tea filter containing a very fine blend of tea that I recently received from my friend Lisa.

Lisa's father was an interpreter for the UN and went to Kenya quite a bit, so she says that she has a real fondness for Kenya. For that reason, she was at a market not long ago and bought what she thought was Kenyan teabags from Safari Pure Tea only to find out she'd purchased Kenyan loose tea instead. May I just say I am so blessed to get my friends' tea rejects? As most of you know by now, I'll try anything once, and if it's good I'll drink it more than once!

I had no idea what to expect when I opened this bag of Safari Pure Tea, but when I poured a little out I realized it is one of those super-fine blends that resembles coffee grounds. The other tea I've had that looked like this is the London Cuppa blend, which I know some of you have tried and enjoyed. When I first steeped this Safari tea it was wayyyyy too strong for these tastebuds, but when I steeped it a second time for just about two minutes it was perfect. It's a nice brisk blend and just the sort of thing I enjoy on these cold afternoons when I need a little pick-me-up at the end of my workday. So now it must be asked: "What's in YOUR teacup today?"

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My bargain Sadler teapot

I must confess I felt a little guilty buying this Sadler teapot at a Bremen antique mall over the weekend since I happen to have a tea blogger friend who collects Sadlers, but when you're in the antique mall and you see one marked $18 (not bad) and realize the booth has marked most things half-off (really not bad), what are you to do? Well, you buy the teapot!

I loved the shape of this teapot as well as the pretty rose design, which will blend well with the pink teawares in my collection.

This backstamp looks rather new-ish to me, and when I searched online I saw it described as a 1947-and-later mark and also as a 1955 mark, but I would not be shocked to learn this teapot is only a few years old because it is in such good condition. At any rate, I love my new $9 teapot and look forward to pouring many cups of happiness from its sweet little spout.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Spotting tea in unexpected places

I just love being surprised when I discover "teatime" in an unexpected place. This weekend, that place was Staples, the office supply store. Can you guess what this is?

If you guessed a journal, you would be correct. Journals are very important to my writing life, and I never seem to have enough of them. I usually have at least three or four extras on hand in case of emergency, and a writing emergency is simply having a new idea that requires its own journal!

This one is nice and thick, and I was pleasantly surprised such a nice quality journal was just $12.99. Even the young woman at the checkout admired it, asking where in the store I'd found it. (The gift section, where they have some really lovely things.) This new journal is absolutely perfect for the notes I'm about to start making in preparation for next year's Saturday teatime project, which is still in the planning stage. It's very, very different from anything I've ever done here before, and I can't wait to start!

I also like to look through the calendars when I'm out shopping in late fall, and this mini calendar (about 7 x 7 inches) features quotes by Karen Kingsbury, an inspirational author several friends have recommended to me but whom I've not actually read yet. Still, I liked the look of this $2.99 calendar, and when I flipped it over to see the images on the back …

… I realized this was just my cup of you-know-what!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Tea Room Postcard #46 - Waioli Tea Room (Honolulu, Hawaii)

When I spent a year cooking old tea room recipes in 2013, one of the tea room cookbooks I acquired for this project was from the Waioli Tea Room in Honolulu, Hawaii, a tea room owned and operated by the Salvation Army. When I saw this vintage postcard from that tea room, I naturally was interested. (Click here to see what "tropical" food I prepared from the tea room's cookbook.)

Although this postcard doesn't contain a message, it does contain some information that I found useful, that someone ate there on May 20 and ate a "Buffet Lunch." Now I don't have any official research for this, but my sense is that older postcards were purchased more for mailing and communication purposes, and more modern-era postcards (say, fifties on) were just as likely to be purchased as souvenirs. This is not the first time I've seen a postcard whose purchaser used it for journaling purposes, and I must say I rather like this idea. When you purchase postcards during your travels, do you send them or use them as keepsakes?

Friday, November 14, 2014

MojiTea bottled tea from Argo Tea

If I see a new bottled tea I've never tried before, I am probably going to buy it and try it. That's just what I did at Kroger this week when I saw Argo's MojiTea sitting pretty in one of the featured cases.

This MojiTea drink includes "Armenian Mint tea, vitamin-filled lime juice and pure cane sugar." Each bottle contains about two servings of 70 calories each, and I absolutely loved the taste of this tea. It was pleasantly sweet and yet I got a lot of the lime flavor, which I love. I checked out their website when I got home, and I was surprised to learn that Argo Tea sells loose leaf teas and tea sachets as well as the RTD teas I've blogged about before. Have any of you tried Argo's loose leaf teas? You can go here to learn more — and also to see one of the coolest modern teacups ever!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A taste of Thanksgiving

It's my turn to host Thanksgiving this year, and I'm so looking forward to it! A day set aside for giving thanks is such a lovely idea, and I like that the Thanksgiving hostess isn't expected to have the whole house decorated or presents under the tree just yet. For a little inspiration, I picked up a copy of the new Taste of the South magazine.

The first thing that caught my eye was this Cranberry-Pretzel Salad. Friends, how do you feel about this? Personally, I'm intrigued. I'm already planning to have homemade cranberry sauce as well as the canned stuff my family has always had, and perhaps one more cranberry item might not be too much.

I also liked this pretty spread showing the bounty of the southern Thanksgiving table. It reminded me that I got some new Thanksgiving linens the last time I hosted Thanksgiving, and I need to remember to use them this year!

Though the Cranberry-Pretzel Salad recipe doesn't appear to be available online, the magazine's website does include this recipe for Sweet Potato S'mores Bars, which I think sound yummy! The sweets are the Thanksgiving treats I like best, perhaps because we all sit around enjoying them with tea (or coffee) for a few days after Thanksgiving is over. So who are the Thanksgiving cooks among us this year? If you're the cook for your celebration, are you cooking anything new this year?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The almost-perfect Lilly Pulitzer tea tumbler

After I left T.J. Maxx with a new Christmas teapot on Saturday, I walked next door to Marshalls and left with the most summery new tea tumbler imaginable, but it was something I had to have because a) I love Lilly Pulitzer's cheerful patterns b) I love roses and c) I love teapots! When I saw this pretty tumbler sitting on a shelf staring at me, I literally stopped in my tracks and pulled out my reading glasses because I thought I was imagining there were teapots on that tumbler. As a longtime Lilly Pulitzer fan, I would certainly have heard if Lilly had introduced a teapot design, wouldn't I?

But indeed there were teapots.

And indeed there were roses.

But the funny thing is, the reason this particular Lilly pattern wasn't on my radar is that it's one of their lines created for a sorority, Delta Zeta. See the little triangle and the Z? Yep. So I, who was never in a sorority, now own a Delta Zeta tea tumbler. But my goodness, isn't this just the cutest thing? Would you have been discouraged from buying it by the sorority connection? If you're a tea fan and happen to have been in Delta Zeta, well, I would HAVE to have one of these if I were you. (But don't pay the $20 they're going for on eBay. Hold out for Marshalls, where I got mine for just $4.99!)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Happy Veterans Day!

Today I'm lifting my cup to all of America's veterans, past and present!

Monday, November 10, 2014

A new Christmas teapot

On Saturday I visited a big T.J. Maxx/HomeGoods store in Marietta that I haven't been to in a while. I had a writer's group meeting in the area, so afterward I buzzed by to see if they had some Christmas goodies out. Indeed they did, including this pretty Christmas teapot!

I know from experience, and from reading other tea blogs, that it can be hard to find a Christmas teapot at all, much less at a good price. This one from Gracie's China was just $12.99, so it went in my cart pretty quickly. And if you'd like a shopping report, I can also tell you they had plenty of Spode Christmas Tree pattern teacup and saucer sets ($4.99), Spode Christmas Tree pattern teapots with peppermint cane handles ($19.99), assorted chintz and poinsettia design tea-for-one sets ($9.99), and something fun but that I'd have no idea what to do with, a giant gingerbread man cookie cutter that I'd estimate was between four and five feet tall ($49.99).

After my mom passed away so quickly and unexpectedly last fall, I must say the holidays were pretty dreary. I think it's safe to say my whole family was in survival mode, just wanting Thanksgiving and Christmas to get over with and sail into the history books. A godly friend who had lost her own mother earlier in the year had told me that joy WOULD return to my life, and though I had a hard time believing her then, I can see now that she was right. So even though I see all the pretty Christmas things in the stores and miss getting to ooh and aah over them with my mom, I remember to be thankful for all the years we did get to do those things together, and often now I like to imagine what pretty things *she* is seeing in Heaven that I can look forward to seeing for myself one day. Meanwhile, I know she would not like it if she thought everyone was moping around down here in her absence. So I guess that's my long-winded way of saying, I am soooo looking forward to getting back in the Christmas spirit this year! Are you Christmas shopping yet? Have you decided how you want to decorate? I'm thinking of ditching the blue and brown Christmas decor from last year and going back to good old red and green. I'd love to hear your plans!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The fall giveaway winner is ...

Almost forgot to select a winner this time! And the fall giveaway winner is "Dah," so if you'll send me your snail mail address via the e-mail button at right, I'll get these goodies headed your way. Congrats!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Tea Room Postcard #45 - Laurel Court Tea Room at the Fairmont Hotel (San Francisco, Calif.)

Isn't this a pretty scene from the Laurel Court Tea Room at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco? I've seen this postcard for sale online many times, but usually the card's back was blank so I was holding out for one with some sort of message.

And here's the message: "Well Hello Laura am having a good time and will be home soon With Love Lee." This was sent to Miss Laura Davidson of Forest Grove, Oregon on Aug. 3, 1913, and I am completely charmed by its simplicity and sweetness. I have to believe Lee was Laura's suitor, don't you? One thing concerns me, though, and it's that upside-down stamp in the upper right corner. I thought perhaps it was part of the "Language of Stamps" meaning "I love you" or something, but it turns out that the upside-down position in the upper right corner means "Write no more," whereas if it had been upside down in the upper left corner that would have meant "I love you." But I have never seen a postcard with a stamp in the upper left corner, have you? Here is one of the many articles available online that explains the secret language of stamps. I do hope poor Lee didn't get his wires crossed!

Oh, and you'll be happy to hear the Laurel Court is still serving tea at the Fairmont Hotel today, and you can click here to see it for yourself and here to read about their Afternoon Tea!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Is loose tea better than teabags?

What do you say when someone asks you, "Is it true that loose tea is better than teabags?" I'm never able to give people the outright yes-or-no answer they expect and always like to tell them that while I do enjoy loose tea, there are some very high-quality teabags on the market so it really just depends on the manufacturer. That said, I also really like to encourage others to experience the joys of brewing loose leaf tea, and this week I tried this beautiful new sample I recently received from Golden Tips in India, their Halmari Gold Black Tea. I love seeing these pretty brown and black bits of leaf!

The package tells me this tea originated in Assam, India and was picked on June 2, 2014. Every time I try a new Golden Tips tea, I marvel at the fact a tea growing in India just a few months ago is steeping in my teacup today.

I've been sipping so much hot tea this week that I'm using my tea infuser baskets pretty steadily, and here's one containing the Halmari Gold leaves after they've steeped. While the dry tea had that wood shavings scent I've come to admire, the steeped tea had an almost sweet scent and a pleasantly malty taste and was as fine a cup of black tea as I've had in a while, just perfect for my afternoon teatime. I've been very impressed with the new teas I've tried from Golden Tips, and I noticed on the website they have a $15 sampler offer (with free shipping) for anyone who wants to give them a try. Click here to find out more.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Roses for fall

Many of us like to use teawares in seasonal colors, and fall can present a challenge. There simply aren't a lot of soft, pretty teawares in earth tones of gold, brown and orange. But as I was arranging some things in a cabinet in my kitchen this week, I realized a cup and saucer set I have always categorized as "pink" is really not.

These colors aren't pink at all, are they? It was only as I removed them from a pink stack that I saw these pieces anew, and suddenly it was as if someone had just handed me a new fall teacup and saucer! (Have you ever had that happen? Looked at something you already owned in a new way?)

The pattern is Royal Albert's Centennial Rose, and this set was a Christmas gift from my husband not long after we were married. I loved it then, but I love it even more now that I'm seeing it in the light of fall. (That applies to him too, by the way!)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A different kind of "sweet tea" at lunchtime

So I was meeting a friend for lunch downtown yesterday when she suggested we'd have a quieter place to dine if we went to The Cellar. This restaurant recently moved from another location nearby to this more visible spot along one of our main roads through downtown Newnan. I was also intrigued by the fact it is now located in a former automotive shop where I used to buy my tires when I worked downtown. The Cellar is definitely not a tire place anymore, and I was so impressed by the lovely interior decor.

When my friend and I looked over our menus, my eye went straight to one item, and I'll bet you can guess which one!

Yes, I ordered the Sweet Tea Brined Fried Chicken Sandwich and fries, and I must say it was delish!

Here's a little glimpse of the crispy, light and non-greasy batter on the chicken, which was so moist and tender I could (and did) easily cut it with my fork. The sandwich was great, and I know I enjoyed it even more after learning that sweet tea played a role in its preparation. Have you ever had sweet tea brined chicken before?