Friday, November 27, 2020

'Tis the teacup season …

 

It's time to begin using my Christmas teacups, and the first one I'll be using this season is a new one I recently found at T. J. Maxx. It's slightly larger than the typical bone china teacups I favor, and that's perfect for all the Christmas tea I plan on sipping this year!

I think one reason I like this set so much is its soft color palette. While I like bright colors in all of that vintage and retro Christmas decor I collect, when it comes to tea wares, I like a more subdued color palette, and this one is perfect with its soft reds and mint greens.

And of course, the price was right.

Naturally, this tea is peppermint, a flavor I will all but wear out in December. (Note to self: Don't forget to get a Peppermint Chip Milkshake at Chick-fil-A soon. I forgot last year until it was too late!) Are you pulling out your Christmas teacups yet? Putting up your tree? I'm just *relaxing* this weekend. I've worked hard, cooked hard, and now I plan to simply lollygag over the next few days. What about you, friends?

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Reasons I'm thankful for tea!

 

I'm really enjoying the posts I'm seeing on Facebook this week where everyone is sharing what they're thankful for. As a variation on that, I started thinking about all the reasons I'm thankful God made tea. Here are the first three things that came to mind:

1) I'm so thankful for the many wonderful teatimes I've enjoyed around a tea table (mine or someone else's) with family and friends. Some of those friends and family members are in Heaven now, and how wonderful to have happy teatime memories to enjoy.

2) I'm thankful that tea has facilitated my friendships with so many amazing women! I now have friends all across the country, and a few across the world, who share my love for tea and teatime. I've met quite a few of them in person, and our mutual love of tea turned us into friends so quickly that it's rather astonishing. (Have you ever heard of, say, a group of Mountain Dew or Dr Pepper enthusiasts who can claim that? I think not.)

3) I'm thankful that plain tea has no calories. Seriously.

What about you? What are you thankful for about tea?

Monday, November 23, 2020

Some fun Christmas finds


On a recent Saturday morning, I was out running errands early and decided to stop by Treasures Lost and Found, a local antique shop that I gather is the latest iteration of an antique mall that recently closed, Treasures Old and New. I like the new shop even better than the old one, and it almost seemed to have *more* stuff and was more intimate. I arrived early enough that I was the only customer there, which made me happy during these mask-wearing, social-distancing days of ours. I had barely made it in the door before I spotted this Ruby Damask Old Country Roses teacup and saucer for just $8. I knew that was going home with me. I'm not sure this is actually a Christmas pattern, but it looks Christmasy to me, and the price was right. Plus, it had the original Royal Albert sticker still on the bottom, so it's possible this lovely set was never even used.


As I always keep my eyes peeled for vintage Christmas decor, I was delighted to come upon this set of fun little bendable "Annalee Mobilitee" dolls from 1971. They seem so familiar. Maybe we had these when I was a little girl? (I would have been seven.) Or maybe I saw them somewhere else back then? The nostalgia of such items gets me every time.

I love the whimsical style, and I was happy to see a tag on the back so that I could research them.


Their faces are so expressive! And just $6 for the set was a good buy, so I was happy with that as well.


I'm trying to hold off on using my Christmas teacups until after Thanksgiving, and since this one isn't technically a Christmas teacup, and I was sipping the India Wilkes (from Gone With the Wind) blend from Adagio Teas, I decided that using this teacup was okay, especially here at Thanksgiving week. While 2020 certainly hasn't looked like any of us thought it would, I find myself thankful for many things this year, and that certainly includes all the wonderful tea-loving friends who read this blog!

Friday, November 20, 2020

The winner of "The Vintage Christmas Cookbook" is …

 Ginger C.! And I'm headed to the post office again today, so that book will soon be on its way. Congrats, and thanks to all who entered!

Dollar-store deals … for tea lovers!


Last week, I was disappointed in my Dollar Tree washi tape, but this week, they made up for it by offering great plastic platters, 14-inch ones that say "Have a cup of cheer!" I bought two and will reserve these for friends who love teacups and teatime!


This is also the time to stock up on paper doilies. They can line a plate or tray, but they're also great for crafting and for sprucing up a package or padding tins of cookies and candies. Since I don't always see them in Christmas designs, I bought a pack of these when I saw them at Dollar Tree.


And Dollar General turned up some cute gift bags for $1 each. Again, I'll be saving these for friends who appreciate teacups and teatime. If you see any great dollar-store deals suitable for tea enthusiasts this Christmas, please share!

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

12 Days of Christmas from Adagio Teas

 


Last week, I wrote about my fun new Tea Advent Calendar from Adagio Teas, and today, I want to share my review of another great gift they allowed me to sample, their 12 Days of Christmas gift set … and I have some fun ideas for how to enjoy it long after the teas are gone!


When you open the box, you immediately see a little card…


… that lists all the teas, which range from Earl Grey Bravo (a nice crisp Earl Grey) to Golden Monkey and Rooibos Pecan Turtle (a rich, naturally sweet dessert tea that I adored).


And look how the teas are packaged! They're in these small rectangular tins just a little larger than a gift card, and the spines when lined up feature an ornament design. How clever is that?



I've long been a fan of Adagio Teas, so I knew the loose tea samples themselves would be a hit, and they were …


… and I also think the tins themselves are so pretty.


Some of them even look like cross-stitch, and if you were generous and willing to share, you could hang one or two on the tree for a friend or family member. (Or not, ahem.)


But my inner crafter went nuts when I realized that these adorably tiny tins are absolutely perfect for crafting after you've enjoyed all the teas. Have you seen the new craft of creating scenes in tiny altered tins, like Altoid tins? Some I've seen on Etsy have featured a nativity, a snowy Christmas scene, and even a vignette perfect for tea lovers. These Adagio tins would require you to either find super-thin miniatures or (my idea) create dimensional paper images, and wow, aren't these perfect for that?

Of course, if you're not a crafter, you could just enjoy the pleasure of trying a lot of great new teas, and that's okay too! This set of teas is just $19, and I predict that I'll be buying these for myself every year from now on. (Go here to check them out now.)

Monday, November 16, 2020

November Giveaway: The Vintage Christmas Cookbook!

 


It's here! I'm so pleased to announce that The Vintage Christmas Cookbook is now available on Amazon.com, and to celebrate, as always, I want to give away a copy here! I only recently got my proofs and haven't even gotten my own bulk order yet (it's on the way), but the book is already up on Amazon, so I decided there was no use delaying the announcement!


If you'd like to win a signed copy, just leave an "Enter me" comment to this post between now and 7 a.m. EST this Friday, November 20, and you'll be entered to win. I will ship the winner's book anywhere in the world, so feel free to enter wherever you live! 

Here are a few screen grabs of the interior layouts:




I did order about a dozen extra copies because I've learned it's usually wise to do so, so if any of you in the US know that you want to purchase a signed copy, just let me know by emailing angelamcrae at charter dot net, and I'll shoot you a PayPal invoice and reserve you a copy from my bulk order. Books are $19.95 + $3 shipping. (And if you're outside the US, I believe this should be available from your country's Amazon site.)

I'm so thrilled with the design by my talented designer friend Deberah Williams, and I had a lot of fun with this book, so I do hope readers will enjoy reading and using it as much as I enjoyed writing it! Hope lots of you will enter the giveaway, and good luck!

Friday, November 13, 2020

Washi tape — you get what you pay for


A friend of mine used to say, "You win some, you lose some, and some get rained out." Well, this "washi tape" from Dollar Tree would fall into the "you lose some" category. I was so excited to have found a washi tape with a teacup on it for just a dollar.


With cookies and hearts and a shy, smiling teacup, how could I lose, right?


My first clue that something was amiss was that the tape had a piece of clear cellophane holding it in place, which I've never seen on other washi tape. When I removed the clear piece of tape, this stiff stuff practically popped right up. (And if you're not a washi tape enthusiast—yet—just imagine a slightly lighter weight of masking tape. Same idea. So it should definitely be sticking to itself.) It *did* hold my dies in place for my die-cutting machine, which is one of the main reasons I buy washi tape, but alas, it tore the paper when I removed it, so that's a deal breaker. This tape has little in common with the other washi tapes I've used, so maybe I'll use this one to decorate packages or something. On the bright side, it'll force me to be creative!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

A salute to our veterans!


Today is Veterans Day, the federal holiday we set aside each year for honoring those who have served in the United States Armed Forces. I'm truly grateful for those who've served our country though military service—including my dad, who served in the Army and whom I'll be talking with later today—and I think it's so important that we let them know that we appreciate them!

In honor of Veterans Day, I found some artwork on the Library of Congress website that I think is perfect for today, even if it does say "boy" instead of "boys and girls," but hey, this was a hundred years ago. The summary says it is a "Y.M.C.A. poster for the United War Work Campaign showing a man in military uniform pouring a cup of tea for a young soldier seated with a rifle across his lap and helmet at his feet; signpost with Y.M.C.A. logo in upper right corner." This poster was published in 1918.

Veterans, thank you for your service!

Monday, November 9, 2020

The Adagio Teas Advent Calendar


Adagio Teas asked whether I'd be interested in reviewing their tea-filled Advent Calendar, and being no dummy, I immediately said yes. I've seen tea-themed advent calendars for a few years now, but this is the first one I've seen that I consider a good value at just $29, and I love that the 24 tea samples are available in both loose tea and tea bag form. (Not sure whether they knew that I would prefer the loose tea version, but yay, because that's what I got!)


After all the challenges that 2020 has delivered, I must say that I think this is a fine year to treat yourself to something special in celebration of the upcoming holidays, and for a tea lover, this is ideal. I went ahead and tucked into a few samples so that I could tell you about them. Behind door number one was a Spiced Apple Chai that was so yummy-smelling that I simply savored the scent for a while before I ever took a sip. This tea was a fine blend of both apple and chai flavors, and I enjoyed it very much.


What tea to try next? My birthday is May 4, so I decided to peek behind door number 4, and oh boy, it held Cherry Marzipan Oolong tea. Now I *love* cherry-flavored teas but rarely find them, except for those cherry-rose green teas, which I also like, but I think cherry-flavored teas are perfect for Christmas. This one had that great naturally sweet "dessert tea" taste and is definitely one I need to order in a larger size.


And finally, I think that after this pandemic year, the number 20 is going to need some good PR, so I decided to give it a shot. Behind door number 20 was this decaf Hazelnut Cinnamon Creme tea, and it, too, had a "dessert tea" taste, so naturally sweet that I didn't even consider adding sugar, making this another fine indulgence.


If you'd like to treat someone else or yourself to a bit of Christmas joy, I'm happy to recommend the Tea Advent Calendar from Adagio Teas (click here for ordering info), and I'm grateful they gave me the opportunity to sample this delicious gift! Ahhh …


Friday, November 6, 2020

Tea and candles … and pumpkin spice!

The other day, I was rifling through a kitchen cabinet in search of this particular blue teacup, which I somehow end up reaching for each fall. I sat it next to a candle I'd tucked away, and it struck me that both the color and the flavors matched, as this is the teacup I've been using when sipping my Pumpkin Ginger tea, a Republic of Tea blend that I've been enjoying for about a decade now.

The candle, I don't remember buying. A gift, maybe? I like candles, although I'm not quite the candle aficionado that some of my friends are. I first realized this years ago when friends began hosting candle parties, which I had not realized even existed! These days, though, I do perk up when I hear about tea-scented candles, so I was pleased when tea friend Michele alerted me to a new Bath & Body Works candle with white tea and sage, which I will be looking for the next time I'm near one of their stores.

Meanwhile, I'll continue to enjoy the lovely scents of my Pumpkin Spice candle and my Pumpkin Ginger tea in a favorite teacup, a gift from a former coworker. I always forget who made it, and I'm always surprised when I see that it was …


Royal Albert! So I'm curious: Are any of you fans of candles? If so, what brands and scents are your favorites? I'd love to know!

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Mrs. White and her sons at tea, circa 1902

 

I'd been looking for old public-domain tea images on the Library of Congress website when I came across one I'd not seen before, and oh, this one inspires so many questions! It looks rather "styled," doesn't it? The caption info says the photo is of Jane White with sons Lewis and Maynard White "seated at dining table with teacups." Those two little boys do not at all look like willing tea party participants, and since Mrs. White is looking down, it's hard to know what emotions she brought to the table. The little boy at left looks like he'd rather have a root canal (or its equivalent, back in the day), and the little boy at right looks curious, like he's wondering what the photographer is up to.

The original photo on the Library of Congress website is not the sharpest, but when I enlarged it on my computer, the sugar bowl and creamer look like some of those pretty old German pieces I've seen, and I'm picturing it with pale-pink roses. Again, the delicacy is so at odds with the two country-looking little boys, isn't it?

According to the LOC, the photo is part of "The White Family Collection in Memory of Clarence H. White, Jane Felix White, and Maynard Pressley White, Jr." When I looked up the names, I found that the boys' father, Clarence White, a native of Ohio, "was an inventive artist, an influential leader of the American Pictorialist movement, a pioneer in the development of photographic magazine illustration and advertising, and founder of the first school of fine art photography in the United States." So can we assume that Clarence took this photo himself? If so, I'm guessing that the little boy at left had probably already had his photo taken by Dad about a hundred times that day and wanted to go out and play. Your thoughts?

The original is here if you'd like to enlarge this photo and check it out yourself!




Monday, November 2, 2020

Feeling thrifty …


I recently saw someone on Instagram mention that her latest post was a "loot shoot," a fun term for her photography of the junk she'd found at garage sales. I've had a wee bit of luck at thrift stores lately and thought you might enjoy the "loot shoot" of my finds! First, Aunt Jane and I hit up Goodwill on Saturday, and I was thrilled to find several vintage Christmas goodies, all at great prices, and a new-to-me name in dinnerware.

First, I was happy to find a few little china pieces I think will be fun to decorate with. The tree full of Santas was $1.49, and the angel ornament was 59 cents.

My best find there, though, was this pretty set of holly and berry mugs for $1.99.

I prefer that soft look on my Christmas wares, and while I couldn't really tell whether these are vintage or not, I like the look. They would be great for gift giving with a packet of cocoa and a small gift tucked inside, or … I may keep them to use with mix-and-match Christmas plates at a future tea.

They're marked Porcelana Schmidt Brasil (with an "s," I noted), and while I learned the company dates to 1943, I can't figure out the age of the mugs. If anyone knows, please share!

Later, we went to the Salvation Army, where I found this pretty Christmas bell for $1.50.

It's marked Lefton China, and I have several Lefton dishes among my Christmas goodies, so that was a fun find.

Two weeks ago, Aunt Jane and I went to another thrift store which shall remain nameless, and I didn't have to think too hard about whether this 40-cent mesh teacup should go home with me.

The most fun story, however, is that I had to dicker with the clerk over the price of these old "light candles," which I'm thinking of using for a Christmas craft. I saw her looking for the price, and I told her they said 80 cents on the back. She held one up and examined it and said, "No, I think it's twenty cents." Me: "Are you sure? I mean, I'm happy to pay eighty cents." Her: "No, look. I think these two were eighty marked down to twenty, and I'll let you have the other one for twenty too." So I left with the three candles and a teacup planter for one dollar. When I told Alex, he said, "So you beat a thrift store out of money?" But no, I didn't, and I honestly tried to pay her more! (But what a fun adventure in thrifting, eh?)