Friday, November 16, 2018

Some terrific ideas for mailable tea gifts!

I recently received a lovely surprise package from tea friend Frances in California, and I thought her gifts were all brilliant ideas for unbreakable goodies to send to tea friends — maybe even during the upcoming Christmas season!

The package smelled yummy from the moment I opened it thanks to this Earl Grey sachet.

And I'm planning to enjoy a little pampering this weekend thanks to this green tea mask sheet. (Don't you love the graphics?)

And last but not least, this isn't tea-themed, but Frances said she was including the Jelly Belly jelly beans (in one of my favorite flavors, peach!) just for fun in the new Mason Jar ziplock bag. Is this bag not adorable? Imagine it filled with a few spoons of your own blend of loose tea! She told me they have these bags on Amazon, and indeed, just type "Mason Jar baggie," and you'll find lots of options. Thanks again, Frances!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Suggestions wanted for Christmas teas

The other night, it dawned on me that for the first time since I became a true fan of tea, I no longer live within driving distance of a tea shop where I can go to sniff and taste new teas. Isn't that sad? There used to be a great tea shop just a few miles up the road in Peachtree City called Teafusions, but it closed. And there used to be Teavana shops all over metro Atlanta, but they're now closed. So it has occurred to me that until scratch-and-sniff technology makes it way to the internet, I'll be ordering by mail or finding my teas at the grocery store. In past years, I have enjoyed Christmas blends including the Candy Cane Lane Green Tea from Celestial Seasonings (a favorite), Christmas Tea from Twinings, and Holiday Chai from Republic of Tea.

I've also enjoyed the Holiday Tea and White Christmas Tea from Harney & Sons, which I assume I'll still be able to find at my local Barnes & Noble.

But now I'm thinking I may need to plan a day trip to somewhere in Georgia with a true tea shop just so I can *experience* the teas in person. Meanwhile, do you have any new Christmas blends you can recommend? The minute Thanksgiving passes, my taste buds will switch from pumpkin spice to peppermint, so any minty blends are especially welcome!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Finding gifts for the tea lovers on your Christmas list

If you’re like me, this is the time of year you start looking for tea-themed gifts for a friend or two on your Christmas list. Over the weekend, I went to the Christmas Open House at Carriage House Antiques and Gifts in Senoia, and I found the perfect gift for a fellow tea lover (I believe she’s too busy to read this blog these days!), and it’s this Mud Pie teacup, coaster, and spoon set. The teacup says “O Christmas Tea, O Christmas Tea." I paid $18 for this one, but they're also on Amazon and eBay for $21.99 with free shipping, which still isn't a bad price!

The attached spoon reads "Joy Tea the World."

To go with the set, I got this cute little bag of Santa’s Workshop Tea from Metropolitan Tea Company (and one for me). It’s a nice, brisk black tea with a pleasant cranberry taste. Have you found any good tea gifts this year?

Friday, November 9, 2018

The winner of the Talbots teacup socks is …

Marilyn Miller, and since I have your address, I will get these headed your way. Congrats!

The Self-Pouring Teapot

I was recently looking up some old advertising images online and came across this one for the P. D. & Co. Self-Pouring Teapot. I was frankly surprised I'd never come across this style of teapot before, and of course now I'd love to find one. (Preferably at Goodwill, and preferably for $2 or less.)

Naturally, I Googled and found an amazing number of images of this teapot, in silver as well as chintz and other china patterns. I'm still just amazed that I'd never heard of this teapot before. I'm also puzzled by its claim that it "saves at least 25 per cent of Tea." Why would that be? Any guesses? If you've seen this teapot before, or perhaps even own one, I'd love to know more!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

A visit to Vintage Market Days

On Saturday, my sister, Rhonda, Aunt Jane, and I traveled to Hampton and the Atlanta Motor Speedway, but the only “race” we were interested in was the “race” to see all the goodies at their Vintage Market Days event!

I didn’t buy any of the silver in this suitcase, but isn’t this a fun idea for a display?

There was lots of clothes and jewelry, Christmas decor old and new, and a handful of booths that I would say were exclusively vintage. My favorite, far and away, was the booth by Soulshine Cottage, which makes vintage Christmas arrangements using vintage Christmas baubles, and I was in love! This little one was made with a vintage tart tin (like the ones I used here to make financiers).

Here's another one made with a tart tin.

Some designs were so colorful and cheerful that they just made me smile.

And for the Shabby Chic lover, there were some in a softer palette.

I even spotted one in a teapot, but it's not the one I went home with.

My picture doesn't do it justice, but this arrangement in a mini Santa mug is the one I chose as my treat for the day. Have you ever been to a Christmas market like this? Saturday's was my first, and as much as I love vintage stuff, I'd sure love to find more of them!

Monday, November 5, 2018

November Giveaway: Talbots Teacup Socks!

For the November giveaway, I thought one of you might enjoy the same little treat I picked up for myself last month, these new teacup socks from Talbots! I love these and got them on sale (with free shipping; always look for a deal, right?). 

If you'd like to win the socks, simply leave an "Enter me" to this post between now and 7 a.m. EST on Friday, November 9, making sure to include an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner, and you'll be entered to win. US only, please. Good luck!

Friday, November 2, 2018

Bigelow Benefits Ginger & Peach Herbal Tea

Have any of you come across the Bigelow Benefits teas at the grocery store?

I spotted their Ginger & Peach Herbal Tea and decided to give it a try. As always, one of the selling points of Bigelow's teas is that they are packaged in those nice, thick foil packets!

I've had several cups of this new tea and am enjoying it very much, but I must say that I was not expecting peppermint (which I happen to love) to be such a prominent flavor in a tea labeled "Ginger & Peach." I do detect a little kick from the ginger, but I'm not getting much peach taste at all. Still, this tea is so enjoyable with the mint and ginger that I'm sipping it right up. If you've tried this one or another in this line of teas, I'd love to hear your review!

Monday, October 29, 2018

"Things" to be thankful for

Yesterday afternoon, my husband was commenting on the fact that he and I have much to be thankful for, and we do. In addition to each other (a better deal for me than for him, no doubt!), we have our health; happy and healthy family members; and we also enjoy many spiritual, emotional, and even material blessings. I thought about this when I was decorating the tea trolley for fall over the weekend. I don't imagine every woman in the world can reach into closets and shelves and pull out tea accoutrements for every season of the year. And I'm thankful for mine!

The eye-catching embroidered tablecloth is something I won on Bernideen's blog many years ago, and I think it's just as beautiful as I did back when I won it.

The tea bag holders were an antique mall find years ago.

The teapot was part of the Bernideen bonanza I won. I love it!

And this "give thanks" art is actually a Papyrus card I bought on our recent trip to Wisconsin. I realized I could place it in a frame without glass so that the fabric details would show (and use the card more than once). Because I bought it on a trip, the card also reminds me that I occasionally get to travel, and I'm thankful for that too. I have been tempted to fast-forward to Christmas this year, but thinking about "giving thanks" has made me slow down and savor  the holidays in their proper order. So what are you thankful for?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Tea Lovers' Book Club: "The Harlequin Tea Set and Other Stories" by Agatha Christie

Summary: A colorful tea set plays a pivotal role in the short story given star billing in this collection by the woman considered the queen of mystery, Agatha Christie.

My thoughts: For women who write and/or read mysteries, I think it's important to have at least a nodding acquaintance with Agatha Christie, and since I'd read only a couple of her books, I decided this short story collection with "tea" in the title would be a good place to start. It did not disappointment, and I was impressed by the brevity with which she was able to lay the groundwork and effectively create a mini mystery with each story.

The judgment: I liked "The Harlequin Tea Set" just fine, but it was not my favorite short story in the book. I liked "The Edge," "The Actress," and "The Lonely God" much better. I noted that the old mistaken-identity device was used in her stories several times, but I always enjoy that one. I once heard it said that there are only seven different plots in the world (don't ask me to name them!), so if that's true, it stands to reason that some of them will be repeated. And if the story's interesting, I don't mind that at all. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this collection of stories and think other tea lovers would too, as tea is mentioned in almost every story.

For discussion:

• If you read the book, did you have a favorite short story? If so, which one? (Or have you ever read Agatha Christie? Or watched the TV and movie versions of her stories?)

• In "The Harlequin Tea Set," there was a passage I found myself nodding along with. The narrator is commenting on the hostess: "Continually offering people cakes, taking their cups away and replenishing them, handing things round. Somehow, he thought, it would be more pleasant and more informal if she let people help themselves." I certainly agree with that assessment, and it made me wonder whether perhaps most of us prefer a hostess who doesn't hover. Your thoughts?

Next month's read is a bit of history that sounds intriguing: The Imperial Tea Party: Family, Politics and Betrayal: The Ill-Fated British and Russian Royal Alliance by Frances Welch

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

'Tis the season … to decorate!

The holiday decorating magazines have hit the local newsstands, and I wanted to share two of the new ones I'm enjoying, Holiday Decor and Vintage Holiday.

Traditionalists and minimalists might enjoy seeing this pastel-decorated tea cart in Holiday Decor magazine. I love the understated elegance here.

And this little detail on the tea cart caught my eye: cookies served in some of those pretty scalloped baking cups. I've used those to make cupcakes and to serve sliced fruit, but this photo made me realize that bite-size brownies, lemon bars, shortbread bites, and truffles would also be pretty served in these cups.

I'm looking forward to pulling out my Santa mug collection again this year, so I enjoyed this photo in Vintage Holiday magazine (plus, I'm still hankering for one of those vintage campers like the one shown on the bottom shelf).

Vintage Holiday also used a metal tea cart — they call it a "bar cart," but whatever — to display a Christmas vignette. I like this idea as well!

And Vintage Holiday also shows a vintage Christmas tablecloth with mix-and-match plates and teacups, and it dawned on me that those old green teacups would blend well with some new Ralph Lauren plaid dessert plates I've been using at Christmas. So those are the first two Christmas magazines I've read this year, and I enjoyed them very much. Have you started reading Christmas magazines yet? Spotted tea in any of them?

Monday, October 22, 2018

A memorable October visit to Wisconsin

On Wednesday, Alex and I headed to Wisconsin to visit our grandsons Michael and Andrew (and their parents!) for a few days and help celebrate Michael's eighth birthday. We got back to Atlanta last night and had a great time on our trip as always, and this year's visit was particularly memorable because of what the boys' Saturday morning soccer games looked like.

They looked like this! I did not pack a winter coat and knew better than to join them, so I was content to get on-the-scene photos from their mom and stay at home where it was warm. Not too long after the boys' soccer snow, it began snowing at the house, although it didn't stick. Still, I'm pretty sure this is the only time in my 54 years that I've ever seen snow in October!

Staying warm on this trip was easy since I had taken along a few tea samples from friends, and I also picked up this new Teavana Peach Tranquility herbal tea I found at a Walmart in Wisconsin. I must admit that the cup-style packaging (with a foil inner seal) caught my attention when I saw this tea advertised somewhere recently.

The tea sachets had a pleasant if delicate peach taste, and what I liked best about the tea was its citrusy notes. Have you tried any of these new Teavana teas? If so, I'd love to hear about them—whether you live in the snowy Midwest, the sunny South, or somewhere else!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Pumpkin Chai candles at T.J. Maxx

Consider this an early fall shopping alert: T.J. Maxx has small Pumpkin Chai candles for $2.99!

The teapot design is what caught my eye, but the scent is quite yummy too (definitely more fruity than spicy), and the price is certainly right. I found only one of these, though, so good luck if you decide to search for one!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The creamer I was supposed to find

October is a sentimental month for me. I love fall, and October has so many wonderful moments each year, but October will also forever be the month in which my beloved mother passed away five years ago. I wondered if I would ever get to the point where it will be "just another month," but then I heard a friend in Sunday School mention that she was missing her mother, remembering when she passed away twenty years ago, and I thought, "No, I guess not." A few years before her death, my mom surprised me with a lovely pink rose Fitz and Floyd teapot and sugar bowl she'd found at a garage sale, and she laughed and said, "You'll have to find the creamer yourself." And last week, while I was in Goodwill with Aunt Jane, I did.

It needs a good soak in some mild detergent, and it's got a few chips, which normally might keep me from buying it, but not this time. And the $1.31 price meant I didn't have to think twice.

A friend suggested I touch up the chipped parts with pink nail polish, and that's just what I plan to do!  (Somehow, I think Mama would be pleased.)

And next spring, when it's time to pull out the pink tea wares again, the Fitz and Floyd family will be complete. Look for it!

Monday, October 15, 2018

A fall visit to Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground, Georgia

Over the weekend, my friend Lynn and I went to Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground, Georgia. I think I’m the last person in my neck of the woods to pay a visit, as everybody I know seems to have been raving about the place for years, but Lynn had a guest pass and invited me to go with her on Saturday, and what a gorgeous feast for the senses this was!

At my house, the plants have largely given up for the year. Not these!

Gibbs Gardens is so well laid out, and on Saturday, they had a live band playing in the midst of the gardens, so we ordered lunch at the Arbor Café and enjoyed the music. Lynn recommended their Tarragon Chicken Salad, so I got a sandwich and tea for lunch. (And the chunky chicken salad was terrific!)

Did y’all know that Gold Peak makes a Lemonade Tea? I did not, and for a bottled tea, this one was pretty good! Lynn liked her Sweet Tea as well.

It was a fabulous way to welcome fall, and I’m happy that now I know what all the well-deserved praise was about. Here are a few more photos of the day. Enjoy!