Friday, May 25, 2018

Tea Lovers' Book Club: "The Way of Tea and Justice" by Becca Stevens

Summary: Reverend Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest, shares the story of Magdalene and Thistle Farms, social enterprises in Nashville, Tennessee, that minister to women recovering from violence, prostitution, and addiction.

My thoughts: As a Southern Baptist who happily lives smack-dab in the middle of the Bible Belt, I must confess that I was more than a little nervous about reading a book with "Justice" in the title by a female Episcopal priest. I had plenty of preconceived notions about what this book might include, and to my absolute delight, I couldn't have been more wrong. This book was deep, it was thoughtful, it was challenging, and while the reverend and I do have a few theological hairs to split, I ended this book thinking how much I love this woman and how she's definitely a kindred spirit in the spiritual realm as well as the tea world. I'd love to visit the Thistle Stop Café, the tea room she birthed, and I'd love to be able to hear her speak one day as well.

The judgment: Read it, read it, read it. I had so many "wow" moments while reading this book that I hardly know where to begin. Here are a few:

• "When someone argues that prostitution is a choice … I always ask, 'What were the other choices?'"

• "Silence is the deep presence of truth, not the absence of words. The words 'nausea' and 'noise' come from the same root, and one of the greatest sicknesses is all the noise that fills our world and our heads. Noise keeps heaven at bay."

• "It is a Christian notion that an offering is poured out for the sake of the well-being of another. Tea becomes a symbol of the nature of sacrificial love. In the Gospels, Jesus said His blood was 'poured out' for the sake of forgiveness. We were created to be poured out. What if every time we poured a pot of tea for a stranger or friend, we were forgiving ourselves and others as freely as the leaves release their healing gifts?"

For discussion: While it's almost a given that tea parties and gatherings include only light conversation and happy topics, I must say I'm pleased to learn that teatime is also being used to help provide healing for women who have been rescued from prostitution and addiction. How do you feel about tea being used as a vehicle for "social justice"?

• If you've read the book, what did you think about the women's testimonies? Were you moved by any of them? If so, which ones?

• Stevens and her team faced a lot of obstacles on the way to opening their Thistle Stop Café. Would you have gotten discouraged? What do you think inspired them to continue?

Next Month's Book: A novel that's been in my Kindle queue for a while is The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies, so I'd love for some of you to join me in reading that during June!


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Some lovely surprises from my tea friends



This time last week, I was preparing to head up to Woodstock, Georgia, to meet up with my friend Phyllis and her group of traveling tea friends. I loved being able to enjoy afternoon tea with them all and see Phyllis, my longtime blogger friend, and her friend Lori from Michigan, whom I'd also had the pleasure of meeting before. To my great surprise, the two of them gifted me and the other two Georgia visitors to the group with these lovely Gracie China teacups from the Tea Leave and Thyme gift shop!

I love-love-love scalloped teacups and saucers but don't have very many of them, so I was especially thrilled to add this lovely set to my teacup collection!

And in yet another surprise, Teresa from Ohio gifted me with this delightful tea towel and mints from the Buckeye State! I will remember her and our teatime together oh-so-fondly as I pop these peppermints and enjoy using the clever new vintage-style tea towel, two terrific reminders of that lovely afternoon of tea with friends old and new!

Monday, May 21, 2018

A Royal Wedding recap

So this was pretty much the view in my living room on Saturday morning, where my friend Lynn joined me just before 6 a.m. so we could watch the Royal Wedding. (Neither of us dressed up or wore makeup, as we were aiming for comfort, thus no photos of the attendees this time, ha!)

But there was no reason I couldn't "dress" the tea trolley for the occasion, so I pulled out the new teapot and sugar and creamer I recently found at T.J. Maxx, along with the "Harry & Meghan" mugs I found there as well. I tied a bow around Lynn's and told her it could be her souvenir of the day!

I had both Royal Palace Tea from Harney and Celebration Blend Tea from Fortnum & Mason on hand, but we both liked the Royal Palace Tea so much that we stuck with it throughout our viewing.

I made raisin as well as salted caramel mini scones, served with lemon curd and freshly whipped cream.

Crustless mini quiches were the only savory I made (this was more than enough food for two people!), and Lynn brought the fresh fruit.

And of course we had to have something chocolate for breakfast "dessert."

I actually bought these British cupcake papers after Prince William's wedding, and I'm glad I did, because I figure it will be quite a few years before another really grand Royal Wedding takes place. (I know Princess Eugenie is getting married later this year, but I'm guessing George or Charlotte will be the next "big" Royal Wedding.)

Lynn and I so enjoyed watching the wedding together, and I learned a fun fact about my friend. According to family legend, a grandfather several generations ago was a page boy for Queen Victoria, and somewhere there is a family Bible inscribed to him by the Queen! Lynn is researching that to find out who in the family now has the Bible, and I hope I'll at least get to see a photo of it one day.

So what were your favorite moments from Saturday? I loved the moment the gorgeous bride arrived, of course, revealing her simple but stunning gown, and I also enjoyed seeing the Queen arrive with the recently-recovered-from-hip-surgery Prince Philip. What a trouper!

Lynn recognized more of the celebrities than I did, but I did enjoy spotting Oprah (and I loved her hat!). I was also pleased that Sarah, Duchess of York was invited to this wedding, and I thought she looked lovely.

Meghan Markle's mother, Doria Ragland, looked absolutely stunning in her green dress, coat, and matching hat, I thought. When she started tearing up before the ceremony, so did I!

I thought it was awfully gracious of Prince Charles to escort Meghan in place of her absent father, and I loved that he extended his arm to Ms. Ragland on several occasions, clearly welcoming her into the family.

What were your favorite moments from the day? Do you agree with the ones listed by the Daily Mail?






Friday, May 18, 2018

Meeting some traveling friends for tea in Georgia!

On Wednesday, I was delighted to be able to join longtime tea friends Phyllis, left, and Joy, right, for tea at Tea Leaves and Thyme in Woodstock! We enjoyed the Queen's Tea along with …

Quite a few other ladies from Michigan and Ohio—and one more Georgian! Phyllis, whom many of you know from her Relevant Tea Leaf blog, has organized a Southern Tea Time tour, taking the group to Woodstock, Atlanta, Marietta, Savannah, Charleston, and quite a few more spots, and this was one of their stops on the tour. I was so, so happy to get to see Phyllis and Joy again, and I was also delighted to visit with the other tea-loving ladies!

One of them was Phyllis's friend Lori, also from Michigan, at right, whom I absolutely fell in love with when I got to meet her several years ago during a tea blogger trip to Kentucky. Lori is a fellow scrapbooker, and we talked papercrafts a bit on Wednesday. I was also delighted to get to sit across from (and gab with!) Angela from Georgia (yes, there's another one!) and Teresa from Ohio.

Check out Teresa's purse! Lovely!

And here are Kim, the owner of Tea Leaves and Thyme, with Angela. If you are someone who likes to visit tearooms when you travel, you simply *must* visit Angela Renals's Destination Tea, which is a wonderful go-to source for finding tearooms all over the country. I loved hearing about her creation of this website and her plans for its future. I learned she also has a Destination Tea Facebook page, and I started following Destination Tea there as soon as I got home so that I won't miss her posts!

And here I am with Teresa just as everyone was about to depart!



With so many tea friends to talk to, I must confess that I was less focused on the tea and food than I have ever been before because I was so captivated by all the tea talk! So when it was time to leave, I had a nice big to-go box of delicious food to take home with me, mostly the sweets, and I am still enjoying some "sweet" memories, both literal and figurative, from Wednesday's wonderful tea room visit. I know Phyllis will be blogging all about the Southern tea tour when they return home in another week or so, and now I can't wait to read all about their adventures!


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Planning your "Royal Wedding" viewing


Two friends shared this graphic with me yesterday, and I found it so helpful, I wanted to share it here with you!

(Image courtesy of Town & Country magazine)

Monday, May 14, 2018

Some timely teatime finds at Goodwill

Saturday's visit to the Goodwill in Rome was a good one! I have been pondering what foods I want to make ahead to have ready for the royal wedding on Saturday, and lo and behold, there appears the book "Eating Royally" by Darren McGrady, private chef to Princess Diana. I know some of you have this book already, and I'd been tempted to buy it myself, so I "splurged" on this copy for $2.92.

I knew I would love reading the stories about Princess Diana and her boys, and I did. I was especially amused by one anecdote the chef shared. McGrady aimed to serve healthy meals, he says, but one day, he found in the kitchen a note that read, "Darren, Please give the boys pizza tonight. Thank you." It was "signed" by the nanny, but Darren strongly suspected the handwriting belonged to eight-year-old Prince Harry, who was later called on it and dashed out of the kitchen. That's the Prince Harry we all know and love! The book also has the chef's scone recipe and plenty of teatime treats (and stories), so I wish I'd gotten this book sooner. If you don't have it, you might want to look into getting a copy!

As I looked through the book and thought about Saturday's festivities, I found a very simple recipe for Sausage Rolls that looks like the perfect breakfast food. (Are any of you planning to have a special viewing on Saturday?)

And of course I make it a point never to pass through a Goodwill without checking out the Christmas aisle. This time, I found a box of what I believe are vintage but new-looking Christmas cookie cutters for 99 cents. The heart, bell, star, and Christmas tree are perfect for cutting out tea sandwiches, and Santa and the reindeer will come in handy if I decorate sugar cookies this year. Christmas will be here before we know it, and I noted with interest (and mild shock) that Hobby Lobby already has the fall decorations out! Me? With a busy week ahead, I'm just trying to get my ducks in a row for the royal wedding. Let's focus on one thing at a time, I say!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Finding tea in unexpected places …



On Monday, I was at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta where my husband had some (non-life-threatening) surgery on his leg. After he was in recovery, he asked if I would go find him some cheese crackers. As I was on my way to the gift shop, I noticed many vintage items attractively displayed in cases along a hallway, and all the vignettes had some connection to Piedmont Hospital history. I was speeding by this case when something made me hit the brakes.

(Who knew that I would ever have cause to picture a bedpan on this blog?) But I spotted this teapot and plate and had to know more. What did that small silver teapot have to do with Piedmont?

And then I read this: "From the hospital's founding in 1905, when Fannie Amster served as the first dietician, Piedmont has built a reputation for providing high-quality, nutritious food to help with a patient's recovery. Frances Wikle Whitaker headed the dietetics department from 1917 to 1926. This plate, pitcher and menu were used by Piedmont patients. Today more than 125 different patient menus are available at Piedmont." But the name "Frances Wikle Whitaker" got my attention because that is the woman who went on to open the Frances Virginia Tearoom, an Atlanta legend!

In fact, I've gotten to meet France's niece on a few occasions and have even written about the fabulous tea room cookbook she wrote using her aunt's recipes. So even though a hospital visit is never exactly fun, it was certainly nice to find a teatime connection in the hallway. (And happily, my husband is up and at 'em already and has recovered just fine!)



Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The dish on dishes

So my birthday was last week, and I decided to head to Douglasville for the day. I had received some birthday money and gift cards, and when I saw that a brand-spanking-new HomeGoods store had opened (in the old Kmart shopping center, if you know Douglasville), I knew it was a sign I should stop by!

I was immediately smitten with these Royal Stafford plates, which say on the back that they're "Made in Burslem, the Heart of the Potteries, England." I'm thinking these may be used to serve a royal wedding breakfast on May 19! I read something not long ago that really influenced how I shop. It said something to the effect of not buying things you merely "like" but saving your pennies for things you "love," and I do "love" these plates because of both the soft denim-blue color palette and the lush roses!

I even had plates on the brain as I was reading the new issue of Afar, a travel magazine I somehow started getting for free.

 It includes this random two-page spread titled "Dish it up," featuring 22 plates that it says provide a "sense of place." For most of the plates, I would agree, but what about …

This pattern at top right from the United States. It looks like restaurant ware to me, and it's also rather plain, but then I realized I couldn't quite think of a single plate to represent the U.S. At first I thought of "Old Country Roses," since I've read that it is the most popular pattern here, but then I realized it's made in England. So … yeah, there's that. What about a Fiestaware plate? If you'd had to choose a single plate to represent the U.S., what would you have chosen?

Monday, May 7, 2018

Harney & Sons Royal Palace Tea

When I got a marketing email from Harney & Sons a few weeks ago, one of the new tea tins pictured immediately caught my eye, and for an obvious and quite colorful reason. So I knew I wanted the tin no matter what type of tea it contained, but then it struck me that "Royal Palace Tea" would make a terrific tea to have in honor of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding on May 19.

Naturally, a tea tasting was in order for this "black tea with lemon and grapefruit," and I wasn't surprised at all that I loved it. It's a brisk-tasting tea with those citrusy notes I adore, and while I've only had it hot, I'm sure it would be delicious iced as well.

But those graphics make this tin a real keeper and one I'll proudly have on my tea table (or tea trolley; I haven't decided yet) come May 19! You can find this tea for yourself by clicking here. Plus, you can save 20 percent sitewide right now AND get free shipping on any size order. (No connection to Harney other than being a longtime happy customer who likes to see my friends get a deal!)

Friday, May 4, 2018

"The Tea Room Business" by Mrs. Ida Lee Cary

Can you read the title of this booklet?

It's "The Tea Room Business" by Mrs. Ida Lee Cary, and I found it on the Library of Congress website through the link here. So 98 years ago, women were being enticed into the business world this way: "Tea Room Business is the most attractive and profitable way for a woman to earn money in her own home. Though married you will find you can buy many things for yourself and family that you could not buy if you did not have a business of your own."

Mrs. Cary goes on to give some suggested menu items for your tea room, and it's clear that in 1920, this was more of the "country cooking" style of tea room than the tea-and-crumpets tea rooms we enjoy today. I was happy to see a chicken salad sandwich on the menu, though, although the "lettuce sandwich" didn't sound very appetizing. I wished the booklet included the recipe for the chocolate cake that Mrs. Cary says is "a great favorite with everyone," but a few more seconds of prowling the internet led me to this. More fun reading courtesy of Mrs. Cary and her tea room!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The merry, merry month of May

In my neck of the woods, May is indeed one of the merriest months for flowers, and I thought I'd share a few blooms that I've been enjoying! The iris are very happy this year, and I love the purple ones but especially the mauve and yellow ones.

A few late-blooming daffodils are still around.
 

The roses are starting to bloom …


And I'll forever be partial to the pink ones, I suppose!

Most tea lovers I know are also great fans of all things floral, so I wanted to mention a book I've been enjoying, Rachel Ashwell's newest release, My Floral Affair.

This two-page spread of pretty dishes has me hankering to spread out all my dishes and create a similar photograph, so don't be surprised if something like that turns up here soon.

And aren't these pretty pink roses and macarons simply dreamy? I'll bet some of you have this book already. If you do, what's your favorite part?


Monday, April 30, 2018

A royal wedding mug and "English" silverplate


The weekend's shopping finds both have an English influence, and I feel compelled to share them now that we're just weeks away from the next royal wedding! First, there's this lovely commemorative mug by Molly Green that I found at T. J. Maxx for $5.99. Every tea-loving wedding watcher needs one of these, right?

With so many tea wares made in China and merely decorated in England anymore, I was surprised to find this sticker inside the mug reading "Designed & Made in England."

Here's the back of the mug, and I'll be interested to see if it bears any resemblance to real life!

My bargain find for the weekend was an old silverplated dish I found at a new-to-me thrift store in Carrollton, the Blake House Thrift Store (it's near the Publix Shopping Center, if any of you locals are curious). If I had an antique store or a place to resell items, I would have loaded up there! They had beautiful glass-handled tidbit plates, china platters, a few teacups and teapots, and nothing was over about $4. But I'd been searching for a small candy dish, and I love the pierced design on this one.

"Old English Silver Plate by Poole," it says, and I've purchased a fresh new container of Wright's Silver Polish so I can pretty it up. I believe Poole was a Massachusetts company, but I can't blame them if they, like me, like all things English!