Monday, July 13, 2020

Twinings Cold Infuse Flavoured Cold Water Enhancer

I grocery shopped at Walmart the other day, and I was surprised and delighted to find a new product I'd seen on Amazon but deemed too expensive (about $10) for a mere 12 infuser bags. But when Walmart had it for just under $5, that seemed like quite the bargain—and one that would help me consume more water this summer.

The infusers are vacuum sealed, and these are the instructions on the top of the inner lining. That's pretty much all you do.

The sweet, enticing scent was primarily of watermelon. I love watermelon (and all fruit, really), so I knew this was a good sign.

This herbal tea contains hibiscus, beetroot, rosehips, and natural flavorings, and Twinings notes that "these herbal ingredients are specially heat treated to make them our first ever infuser safe to drop into cold water." 

So I plopped the infuser into my water bottle (I didn't care for this particular brand of water, so I poured it out and used cold tap water), shook it, and within just five minutes, the water had turned dark pink. The combination of herbal flavors in my water was quite refreshing, and I like knowing that this beverage comes from a trusted name in tea. The package, by the way, notes that this tea may also be sipped hot, but considering that the tagless infusers are designed to fit in water bottles, I think I'll reserve mine for that.

Have any of you tried this Cold Infuse Water Enhancer? Would you?

Friday, July 10, 2020

Tea at the beach … in 1926

One of these days, I'm going to have to break down and purchase an antique stereoscope so that I can quit making myself sit here and practically stare at my nose until I go all cross-eyed, but hey, that technique works and is free, so there's that. Basically, to make these images work, you have to sort of zone out and stare at the line in the middle (pretend you're doing your taxes, if that helps). Eventually, you'll come to your senses and realize that hey, that image looks kind of three-dimensional! And this one, taken at the "Deck" Tea Garden at the Hollywood Beach Hotel in Hollywood, Florida, in 1926 is especially fun when viewed in 3D. I believe I spy a few tea wares, and once again, I have the Library of Congress to thank for this!

And here's a larger view of the image itself if you're unable to view it in 3D. If you're not at the beach but would like to be, maybe this will provide a little beachside fun until you can get there!

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Christmas (planning) in July

Since I haven't been recreational shopping in a while, I've turned to eBay and Etsy as I look for vintage tea-themed Christmas goodies. I'm also thinking way ahead this year since, as the pandemic has certainly proven, it's impossible to even predict what Christmas 2020 will be like. I'm going to tell the kids in my family that I need their wish lists by November 1. I just have a gut feeling that 2020 is not the year to be doing any last-minute hunting. So on that note, I found a cute little vintage plastic ornament on eBay the other day for just $1. (And yes, the shipping was more than the item, but the total was still about what I'd pay for an ornament.)

I love that this ornament is still in the original Sears package. Remember when the Sears logo looked like that? And when those price tags all looked so "modern" with their computer-generated numbers and symbols? Good times.

I'm also planning ahead to when Hallmark releases its 2020 Tea Time ornament, which is still a few days away. (This charming set is the fifth and final set in the Hallmark Keepsake series by Tracy Larsen if you have been collecting them too.)

Earlier this year, I finally found a mini aluminum Christmas tree I like (thank you, Goodwill!), which will display my miniature tea-themed ornaments. A new one from Hallmark is coming in October, and I can't wait to get Edythe Kegrize's Tea Party Twirlabout, featured in the brief video above.

Are any of you planning for Christmas yet?

Monday, July 6, 2020

Plantation Peach Tea from the Charleston Tea Plantation

Last week, the good people of Amazon delivered a new loose leaf tea I discovered while looking for a peach-flavored tea to try, and it was this Plantation Peach Tea. Since it said "100% American Grown Tea" and had a flag on the tin, maybe that was my sign that this was what I'd be sipping on the Fourth of July weekend!

The 2.3-ounce tin of tea was just $9.23, which I thought was a great price. And because I've been to the Charleston Tea Plantation before, it's kind of neat to have a tin featuring the tea fields I saw there.

As soon as I opened the tin, I was greeted with a nice peach scent, which was encouraging. Some peach-flavored teas don't taste (or smell) very peachy at all. This one did, but I wanted a bit stronger peach flavor, so I heaped my teaspoons full when I made the next 2-cup pot, and it was perfect. It's got the nice brisk flavor of black tea with only slight astringency, and the flavor reminds me of ripe, juicy peaches. I also made some of this tea and had it over ice, and it's great that way as well. So if you're a fan of peaches and looking for a new peach tea to try, I am happy to recommend this one!

Friday, July 3, 2020

The card giveaway winner is …

The Victorian Girl, so congrats! Funny enough, my favorite card was far and away #2, which didn't get many votes, and I like it mainly because it is the only one with some pretty floral background paper. I had wondered whether card #3 was too flashy with the frilly border AND rhinestones, but apparently not, as that was the clear favorite!

It was also helpful for me to know that while you favored the teacup-stack card (and I like that stamp design too), I also saw many fans of that pretty blue color.

The reason I wanted to know is that I'll be making more cards, and it's nice to see the variety of opinions regarding color and design. Thanks for playing along, and I'm sure there will be more card giveaways to come!

What I'll be reading this weekend …

So what's everybody doing for the Fourth this year? I've never liked crowds, and except for the years when I was a newspaper reporter and was on assignment that weekend, I've seldom gone where the masses are on July Fourth. So this year, in the time of COVID-19 concerns, I'm content to plan just a quiet weekend at home with some crafting and reading. And my reading list includes the new issue of Tea Time magazine, which I was fortunate to find at the grocery store the other day. The Coalport Ming Rose tea wares on the cover are perfect for summertime.

I always enjoy seeing the pretty foods they feature, and what immediately caught my eye this time was the Custard Cream Cookies made with an embossed rolling pin. Fellow Tea Time readers, did you notice those too? I've been seeing those pretty embossed rolling pins in the baking catalogs, but I've never ordered one. I'd love to hear from any of you who might have attempted to use one!

And since few people seem to be traveling outside the US right now, how very fitting that this new issue is the annual British issue. I always love seeing what's going on in tearooms across the pond, and oh, how I enjoy reading these articles. This lovely place is the Great John Street Hotel in Manchester.

And what about Sketch in London? The pink velvet seating here is absolutely swoon worthy. (And doesn't it remind you of ladyfingers just a bit?)

And on this side of the pond, however you observe the holiday, I wish you all a safe and Happy Fourth of July!

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Teavana tea at Target

Since a trip to the grocery store continues to be the highlight of my biweekly retail shopping (especially with COVID-19 cases on the rise, alas), I am practically exuberant when I find a new tea at the grocery store. Over the weekend, I bought groceries at the Target in Carrollton, where I was happy to see social distancing measures being observed. And I was also happy to find a new Teavana bottled tea to try!

This one was the Peach Green Tea with Lemongrass & Mint. I tend to like most peach teas I've tried, and I was impressed by the bright, crisp, subtly minty taste of this one thanks to the added flavors of lemongrass and mint.

I didn't realize until I got home with it, though, that this tea was sweetened (I really *must* learn to read labels), but I did consume this bottle of tea in two servings, so there's that. This is only the second time I've come across this "craft iced tea" from Teavana, and the last time I found it was a year ago when I was in Texas. Have any of you tried any other flavors of this Teavana tea? I'd sure like to try them all!

Monday, June 29, 2020

Giveaway: Need to send a note to a tea-loving friend?

Got any notes you need to send? Because if you do, perhaps you'd like to win this set of four notecards! I've been stampin' up a storm with my new Stampin' Up stamps and dies that I bought with my birthday money this year. After stamping and die cutting lots of new design elements with the Ornate Garden Suite, which I just love, I decided to combine the new lacy frames with some of my old (mostly Stampin' Up) tea-themed stamps. So I didn't necessarily need these four cards, I just wanted to have fun making them, and I did! If you'd like to win these four cards, please leave a comment stating which card is your favorite. Just tell me whether you prefer card number 1, 2, 3, or 4 and you'll be entered to win. (Please comment by 7 a.m. EST on Friday, July 3. US only, please. And then I'll tell you which card is my favorite!)

Card 1

Card 2

Card 3

(This stamp was not from Stampin' Up and is from Crafter's Companion if any of you happen to be into stamping.)

Card 4

Good luck!

Friday, June 26, 2020

A truly "sweet" vintage photo

As National Iced Tea Month comes to a close, I thought about the fact that I haven't yet made my more-or-less annual pitcher of simple syrup, a concoction that lives up to its name by being so simple that it really does require only a cup of sugar and a cup of water, combined and boiled until the sugar crystals disappear. Other than that yearly indulgence, I don't sweeten my iced tea, and I only rarely sweeten my hot tea, but when I do, I enjoy having a box of sugar cubes from Domino Sugar on hand. Have you ever thought about how they pack those cubes? I had not until I came across this photo from the Library of Congress.

The old stereograph is from 1912, copyrighted by the American Sugar Refining Company, and "shows women packing sugar cubes in boxes on scales."

And this YouTube video shows how sugar cubes are produced today!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The journey of blue and white ceramics

The new issue of Veranda arrived the other day, and at first, I didn't even notice that up top, it said "Global Blue & White."

But then I came across this stunning feature inside and realized that oh, they meant this blue and white! I love how they created a timeline of blue and white ceramics and shared how the pieces "marched through 16th- and 17th-century Europe like a vivid carnival, fresh off a journey of color and craft that began in southern China, where artisans discovered a chemical kinship between their prized porcelain (made with locally sourced and highly coveted kaolin) and cobalt oxide (the only pigment to withstand porcelain's high-firing temps)."

Naturally, I was eager to spot some blue and white tea wares. While I'm familiar with the Blue Onion pattern on the plate above, I had not heard of the Blue Fluted Half Lace pattern on the teapot by Royal Copenhagen. That handle is so pretty and delicate looking.

And these exotic Mexican wares remind me of some of the Polish pottery I've seen in recent years with the cream and blue colors. I have a few blue and white teacups, a few plates, and two blue and white teapot lamps, and I seem to enjoy them best in the summertime. Are any of you fans of blue and white ceramics?

Monday, June 22, 2020

Tea & Father's Day

At family gatherings these days, the menu is divided between my sister and me, which makes life easier for both of us, but one constant: there will always be at least two pitchers of tea on hand, sweet and unsweet. Since it was Father's Day yesterday, I for some reason was drawn to remember all those years that my dad went to work at Ford Motor Company and packed his black metal lunchbox with a sandwich, chips, and a thermos of sweet tea. I was probably in my twenties before I ever had a cup of hot tea (imagine!), but at least I grew up knowing the joys of iced tea, like that shown here by my niece Cari as we all gathered for lunch at my sister's house yesterday.

Rhonda, my sister, made a roast for sandwiches, along with some delicious Instapot stew, and I brought the fixings and sides. (And I didn't get a photo, but for dessert, I made a heart-shaped chocolate chip pan cookie and brought ice cream to go with it.)

I think Aunt Jane was particularly happy to have everyone gathered. Even though Alex and I are still sticking close to home and social distancing (he's wearing the mask I made him; mine is pink), it's nice to feel that we can at least gather with family again.

And the other big news from my sister's house is that Amelia and Matthew have just gotten a Nigerian dwarf goat. Andy is the little guy's name, and I must admit he is awfully cute!

Friday, June 19, 2020

Ice-brewed green tea

This may look like just a glass of ordinary iced tea, but oh, my friends, it is not.

Why, you may ask, do I have loose tea sprinkled over a pan of ice cubes?

Well, so I watched this brief video the other day. Although I don't have any Japanese green tea on hand, I heard the words "cold water extracts less bitterness," and I was sold. So I tried this method with some gunpowder green tea I had, and to my surprise, it really doesn't have that astringent flavor that is so often associated with green tea! I did, of course, have to strain the tea leaves before pouring the brewed tea into a glass, but then I had a nice big pan full of tea leaves to toss on my roses, so that was good. Am I the last person to hear about ice-brewed green tea? Have you heard of it?

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Tea, lace, and inspiration

A trip to the grocery store continues to be one of the retail highlights of my week, so I am very thankful for the magazine selection at Ingles and Kroger these days. Last week, Kroger turned up a new issue of the The Cottage Journal titled Vintage Cottage, and as soon as I flipped through it, I knew I had to have this issue.

I was quite charmed by this feature on vintage children's pieces like china and bronzed baby shoes. I have some bronzed baby shoes that were mine when I was a baby, but mine are attached to a photo display stand. One day, I'll come across something unique to do with them!

What I really loved in this issue, though, was these gorgeous photos of a vintage sewing machine and vintage lace. Something about lace just speaks to me. I have a lace-collector friend here in Newnan (I'm talking *serious* lace collector), and I am most fortunate that she has been kind enough to let me play in her lace sometimes.

In case you can't read it, this quote from Coco Chanel seemed worth sharing: "I consider lace to be one of the prettiest imitations ever made of the fantasy of nature." I so agree! I see lace in spider webs, Queen Anne's lace, a dandelion, and much more. And does that pretty floral teacup at left catch your eye? It certainly did mine. I don't believe I've ever bought an issue of the Cottage Journal before, but I'm sure glad I came across this one. Do you like lace too? Any lace stories you can share?

Monday, June 15, 2020

Experiments in (teapot) cookie cutting

I believe I've mentioned before that I am working on a cookbook featuring vintage Christmas recipes, and this weekend, that involved testing a peppermint pie recipe and a sugar cookie recipe. Both of them turned out great, hallelujah, and after I made sugar cookies in Christmas shapes, I remembered that I wanted to use this teapot-shaped cookie cutter I had tried, unsuccessfully, before, so I used some of the leftover dough for that. See that handle on the cookie cutter? I wanted to cut out the interior of it.

But if I pressed too hard, I ended up with what amounted to teapot puzzle pieces, and the handle broke completely off, so I ended up leaving that piece intact.

This cookie's handle had the most pronounced interior, and I thought maybe I could cut it out once the cookie baked, but of course it all baked together. When I got through with all the other cookies, I was still puzzled about this teapot cookie cutter, and I couldn't honestly remember ever having seen sugar cookies with the interior of the handle cut out. So, I found a website that showed this particular style of cutter, and lo and behold, the interior isn't supposed to be cut out. Who knew? I didn't want to decorate these particular cookies, but at least now I know what to do the next time I do.

And if you happen to be on Pinterest, feel free to check out my board titled Cute Sugar Cookies. Heavy on the roses, lace, and tea wares, these are some of the gorgeous cookies I aspire to bake and decorate as my skills improve!

Friday, June 12, 2020

Iced tea of yesteryear …

I was looking up vintage advertisements online this week when I came across a new "old" name in tea, Canterbury Tea, which is the focus of this 1939 magazine advertisement. Since June is National Iced Tea Month, I'm trying to remember to focus on iced tea in addition to the hot tea I always drink.

This ad is intriguing with its recipe for a "Tropical Tempter." I found it interesting that this calls for, in addition to the tea, pineapple, bananas, lemon juice, pineapple juice, sugar, carbonated water, and crushed ice. I'd be willing to try it, but this definitely sounds more like punch (or dessert!) than tea.

But it did remind me of something. Last month, I made a dish that required crushed pineapple, and I had to drain off the juice. Now I hate to waste anything, especially these days, so I saved the pineapple juice and used it to sweeten my tea that week. I enjoyed it so much that later, I saved some cherry juice and did the same thing. And while I don't normally sweeten my tea, I did enjoy these fruity sweeteners. So the next time you have to drain off some juice, you might try adding a teaspoonful or two to your tea!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Trice's Lemon and Ginger green tea blend

So my first post-quarantine visit to a retail establishment that wasn't a grocery store was Great Clips. The second? A stop by T. J. Maxx, where I continued to wear my mask and was correct in believing that the rainy morning would make for a quiet store, and it did. I bought a cute new pink bread pan (for all those loaves of sourdough bread), a journal (there's so much to write about), and … some tea!

This Lemon and Ginger blend from Trice was billed as being good both hot and iced, and that appealed to me.

I'd bought some of this brand of tea before, but for the life of me, I couldn't remember how to open the box! Finally, I realized there was a band around the box that slid off, then the inner box opened with a hinged lid. So if you buy some of this yourself, don't be like me and spend 15 minutes figuring out how to get in it!

This is one of those rare teas that I like both hot and cold! On a rainy day, I had a cup of the hot tea and enjoyed the soothing warmth from the ginger. On a hot day, I plopped one of the silken tea bags in a glass of ice water and found the lemon and ginger flavor refreshing and cooling. They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade? I now think that when life gives you lemons, make some tea!

Monday, June 8, 2020

A new teatime craft project

Inspired by a fun tag book in the new issue of Somerset Studio, I was in the mood to play around with some of my paper craft supplies this weekend. And I had just unearthed this old chipboard teapot "book," so that seemed like the perfect canvas to use. Just five pages? Piece of cake.

For a collage project like this, I really enjoy looking through the odd bits of paper ephemera I've collected. I found a lot of postmarked stamps I'd cut off old envelopes, and I also found a package of vintage-looking Tim Holtz paper pieces I got last year at Joann. I found they inspired my writing more than my crafting, though, as I would make up stories in my head about the old library card, the ticket stub, the air mail stamp, etcetera. (I also think these tidbits are good writing prompts and plan to use them the next time I teach a class on writing and am talking about creativity.)

The vintage image of the little girl is one I found on the Library of Congress website a while back, and I pondered how serious she was about her teacup, which made me think that "Handle With Care" was an appropriate message here. I tinkered with this so long that I got only one page done in this totally frivolous flip book, but I found it relaxing and enjoyed doing it, and that's what counts!

I thought about stamping the word "teatime," but then I found these old letters I had stamped years ago and glued a clock face embellishment at the end. Done!

I have been a lot craftier in recent months for obvious reasons, and I also found a new *free* quilt pattern over the weekend, Teapot Garden by Darlene Zimmerman, that I've saved for when I finish the two quilt tops I'm working on right now. Isn't it pretty? If any of you are crafters/quilters/needle workers, I'd love to hear what you've been up to!

Friday, June 5, 2020

In observance of National Iced Tea Month

In observance of National Iced Tea Month, I reached into the dark corner of my kitchen cabinets and pulled out the one remaining true "TEA" glass of the four I bought many years ago. Can you see the word "TEA" on the front? Around that band, it also says Thé, Tee, and TE'. I bought a set of four of these glasses more than a decade ago at a World Market store, but alas, three of them have gone on to Glory.

And what type of iced tea am I sipping? I'm so glad you asked! One thing I love about iced tea is that I can happily experiment with blending teas I probably wouldn't otherwise consider combining. Here, I had some rose tea a friend had given me (mostly dried rosebuds, actually), and I added some gunpowder green tea and really enjoyed the blend.

And the mint seeds I planted a few weeks ago? They're in a pot (I listened to those of you who told me how invasive mint is!), and they're already coming up like crazy, with a few of them large enough to add to my rose-flavored iced green tea. Are you celebrating National Iced Tea Month? If so, have you got an iced tea to recommend?