Friday, September 21, 2018

Mr. Titian Peale and Miss Mary Peale at tea

So the Library of Congress website says this: "Photograph shows Titian Peale, Miss Mary Peale, and another woman (seated on the left) sitting at a table set for tea, with a large silver tea service on the fore-edge of the table; they are in a room with two large windows at the rear with plants growing in pots on the windowsills, there is a small book shelf on a chest of drawers between the windows, along with books there is a small portrait that may be Titian as a younger man, and there is a large painting hanging behind Mary Peale."

Now, have I lost my mind, or is there no woman at left? I see what might have been a body, maybe, but … well, there's no head on it, or else that head is transparent, which is a wee bit creepy.

(Click here if you want to go to the LOC website and see the photo at the largest size.)

I am just flummoxed by this picture. But I am intrigued that Titian Peale, famous naturalist and photographer, was having tea! I still haven't figured out his relationship to Mary Peale, but I'm guessing a sister or niece since she is "Miss." If any of you happen to know, please share!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Finding Joy and Faith at Goodwill

So last Friday, the day I told myself I was going to look for lace and laciness everywhere I went, I happened upon this set of two plates at Goodwill in Carrollton. The set was marked $2.12 with a B, and since the "B" items (blue) were half off last week, that meant $1.06 for the set. Just 53 cents apiece, which struck me as a deal. Now I don't normally like to buy a set of anything that I can't see half of, but since I couldn't very well stand there and rip off the tape, I decided I'd take a chance. Besides, even if the second plate was a dud, who couldn't use a little more "Joy" in their life, right?
I got home and discovered the second plate read "Faith" and featured a teapot on a lace doily. Kind of ironic, isn't it, that I found a plate with a teapot, lace, and the word "Faith" on it that day?

When I first saw the "Joy" plate, I thought it was a Sandy Clough design, but then I noticed the name Galen Huang. Never heard of this artist before, but I sure like the plates, and I was very happy that these cleaned up so well.

Now my cleaned-up plates are hanging happily next to a Sandy Clough print that she actually signed for me many, many years ago at a women's conference I was attending. And that's my tale of lace, Joy, and Faith!

Monday, September 17, 2018

A Cambridge Lace Tea Mug

Now this is just weird. You know how I wrote about my book-fueled lace fixation on Friday's blog post? Well, later that very day, my aunt and I were shopping when I had the thought that I wished I had a lace-themed mug or teacup to use at my desk while working on the book, but I knew of only one teacup with a lace pattern, and it is black, and I was thinking "white lace." I'd told myself that morning to exercise my imagination by looking for lace-like things while I was out and about that day. Set your mind to it, and that's easy enough to do. I spotted spider webs and "lacy" highway railings, and in an antique mall, I spotted a vintage lace bridal veil and some lace doilies. But in T.J. Maxx, I was nearly speechless when I came across this lovely mug. Why?

It's from Cambridge Lace! Now isn't that a bit of serendipity?

When I spotted it with the other mugs, I thought, "Now wait a minute. How on earth is THAT supposed to work with holes in it?" Then I ran my fingers over both the inside and outside of the mug. While I could definitely feel a different texture to that part of the mug, I couldn't feel a seam or a hole or anything, as I had assumed that surely a glass (glass?) hole or two would be punctured. Hmm. Could this thing work? I had to find out. 

I've been using it only a few days, and I have already gotten so much enjoyment from using my new "magic tea mug," as I've taken to thinking of it. It also comes in an oversized teacup style, in case you're interested in visiting your own T.J. Maxx to look for one. And this wasn't the only lace-and-tea item I picked up on Friday. In my next post, I'll share what lacy goodness turned up at Goodwill … for just $1.13!

Friday, September 14, 2018

The fall tea and tea towels winner is …

Heather of the Blue Jeans and Teacups blog! And since I already have Heather's address, I can get this headed her way. Thanks to all of you who entered!

For the love of linens and lace

A few months ago, I had an idea for yet another cozy mystery, so yes, I'm in the midst of writing my third while I'm still editing numbers one and two. And while I'm in various stages of edits with the two other 75,000-word books, I got so excited about the next book that I started working on it right after Labor Day.

The new book is about a woman who restores old lace and linens. I've never really thought of myself as consciously "collecting" lace and linens, but as I looked back over the years of this blog, I can see that lace and vintage linens have indeed shown up here a time or two. I'm pretty sure most of you have a thing for lace and linens as well.

So I've got a question for you. What's the favorite lace or linen item that you own? I'm looking for inspiration for some of the characters who will be consulting with my main character in the books ahead, and I'm curious what others would name as their favorite lace or linen item. (Mine is a vintage crocheted lace tablecloth I received as a wedding gift.) Do you have something you'd like to have repaired? I'd love to hear your stories!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A surprise package from Hawaii!

Over the weekend, I received an unexpected and thoroughly delightful package from tea friend Lani in Hawaii. The highly decorated envelope was just a hint of what lay underneath!

Lani had written a while back to tell me about a new puzzle she had found with a prominent tea scene. Well, she has enjoyed the puzzle herself and now is passing it along to me. I absolutely love this idea of a passalong puzzle!

She even included printouts of the completed puzzle, which will definitely be of help!

And look at this: she separated the edge pieces for me. (Hallelujah!)

And last but not least, she generously included some teatime treats: Biscoff cookies (which I usually get only when I'm on an airplane and they're offered) and some Hawaiian Royal Cream Crackers, which are sooooo good when dunked in a cup of hot tea! So thank you, Lani, for the great gifts and the great puzzle ideas! 

Monday, September 10, 2018

September Giveaway: Fall tea and tea towels

I'm so ready for fall, and to make sure you're ready, I decided that one of you could use a new set of fall tea towels and a box of Stash Decaf Chai tea for the September giveaway!

The set of two tea towels came from Ross, by the way, and I think the embroidered pumpkin design is perfect for fall. And since so many of you seem to be avoiding caffeine these days, I decided we'd have a decaf tea this time so you can enjoy the flavors of fall as well.

So if you'd like to win the tea and tea towels, simply leave an "Enter me" to this post between now and 7 a.m. EST on Friday, September 14, 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, September 7, 2018

"4 children around table, having a tea party"

This photo from the Library of Congress, circa 1893, is labeled "4 children around table, having a tea party." It is a "Photoprint by Gatch," and the caption card has categorized it as "Tea drinking; Children playing adults; Ph. Ind. (any idea what that means?); Tea; Children Play; and Shelf."

When I noticed the trunk at left and the three older children swamped by their oversized garments, I realized this very likely is children pretending to be adults, and I find that quite charming. (These days, I just wish some of the adults I know would pretend to be adults, and I'll bet you do too! Ha!)

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

A head start on tea-themed Christmas ornaments

Usually by this time each year, I've added at least a few tea-themed Christmas ornaments to my collection. I hadn't seen a single new one all year until last week, at a local business luncheon, when a friend I see occasionally grabbed me and said, "Oh! I've got something for you in my pocketbook." And she pulled out these two ornaments she had tired of. So now I'm two ahead on this year's additions!

Then on Saturday, Aunt Jane and I were browsing at the Blake House Thrift Store in Carrollton, a new-to-me thrift store we've been visiting for a few months. I looked past that $1.97 sticker, mentally corrected the label to say "knickknacks," and thought, "Hmm, is that what I think it is in that red velvet box?"

And indeed it was a cloisonné teapot ornament, still sporting the $30 price tag from Dillard's. (I like this ornament a lot, but I would never have paid $30 for it!) 

The detail on this piece is just lovely. Even lovelier at $1.97.

And this isn't a tea-related piece, but since my late mother got me started with a small collection of vintage Christmas tree pins, I look for cheap ones all year long. This $1 model with all prong-set aurora borealis rhinestones was right up my alley. Fa la la la la …

Friday, August 31, 2018

"Waiting for Papa"

It seems that every time I take a few moments to check out the Library of Congress's collection of digital images, I come across something new that's tea-ish. This week, it was a chromolithograph titled "Waiting for Papa."

The description says, "Print shows a young woman and a little girl doing needlepoint at a table which has been set for tea," and a note says the piece is copyrighted by J. Stiner in 1876.

At first I thought this was a Christmas image because of the color palette, but the more I looked at it, I decided not. What do you think? (It would make a great Christmas card, though, wouldn't it!)

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Tazo Glazed Lemon Loaf Herbal Tea

I believe it was a blog commenter who recommended Tazo's Glazed Lemon Loaf tea, and when I saw it on sale at the grocery store the other day, I tossed a box in my cart.

Tazo teas have been iffy for me, but I was in the mood for something lemony, so why not?

Now I like most lemon-flavored teas I've tried anyway, but this one was just outstanding! I hadn't realized the tea combines the flavors of lemon and vanilla, and the rich, decadent taste is definitely suitable for a dessert tea. So if you see this one on sale at your local grocery store, I recommend you give it a try!

Monday, August 27, 2018

"My Energy Tea" from My Organic Tea in Victoria, Australia

So I was at a HomeGoods store over the weekend when I came across a new herbal tea with packaging so interesting, I had to bring it home with me to check it out.

The store had several blends for sale, and I got the "My Energy Tea" blend, which contains sencha green tea, lemongrass, Siberian ginseng, yerba mate, rosebuds and petals, and lime.

I was a bit concerned about the clear packaging, since tea experts often tell us to be sure tea is stored in a dark place. While I've rarely seen tea sold in plastic, the label says this packaging is recyclable, BPA-free, and nontoxic. I saw the "Open" tab on the lid and realized it would be secure until I got home and broke the tab off, which was a good thing.

All these pretty rose petals are another reason I wanted this tea, and when I steeped it, I was surprised (and pleased) that the tea wasn't overly perfumey at all. Instead, the citrusy notes are what I tasted most, and while I can't say the caffeine gave me a noticeable dose of energy, I loved the flavor and am delighted with this new herbal tea blend. Now that I've tried it hot, I think I'll make a pitcher in the fridge and give the iced tea version a try.

So, have you tried any new teas lately?

Friday, August 24, 2018

A great resource for tea lovers!

I've long enjoyed seeking out vintage tea images in the public domain through sites like the Library of Congress and others, but I know that lots of great contemporary images are in the public domain as well, and I believe they could come in handy for some of you who promote tea at a business, workplace, church, or community event. Who couldn't use a great graphic for a card, poster, or email invite? The latest site I've discovered is, and this image of tea bags immediately caught my eye. (, though attribution is not required.)

 Naturally, I liked this tea-and-computer image as well. (

 Or I can go old-school with a tea-and-typewriter image instead. (Also

Check these images out for yourself by clicking here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The famous September issue of Vogue

Over the past few months, I have received an incredible number of offers for totally free magazine subscriptions, probably because I'm on some mailing list from back when I was a city magazine editor myself. So I'm now getting everything from Vogue and Bazaar to regional titles like Seattle, Portland Monthly, Charlotte, and Houstonia, to lifestyle mags like VerandaTaste of Home, Martha Stewart Living, Food Network Magazine, and O, the Oprah Magazine. But the new Vogue is here this week, and it happens to be that big honkin' 648-page whopper of a magazine that is their September issue. This one has a lovely Beyoncé on the cover. I'm trying to figure out why she's wearing a flower arrangement on her head, but Beyoncé seems to have done just fine without my input, so there's that.

I accepted the Vogue subscription since a character in one of the novels I'm working on reads Vogue for inspiration, but in this gigantic September issue, which I've not yet started actually reading, I've yet to come across an article. The table of contents doesn't appear until page 138, which just blows my mind, but Vogue, like Beyoncé, does just fine without my opinion. But I came across an ad that stopped me in my tracks. Can you guess what this is advertising?

Gucci! And what does it say about me that I'm far more interested in the teapot (at right) and all the plates than the fashion?

And here's another two-page ad with even more breakables, though I wish this model would kindly get her loafers off those dishes. I think the monkey at left agrees with me. I'm too exhausted from trying to find the table of contents to know whether I'll come across any tea in this magazine, but stay tuned, because it's certainly surprised me so far!

Monday, August 20, 2018

A teacup that's brimming with history

On Saturday, Aunt Jane and I shopped in Rome, Georgia, and one of the antique malls there turned up a red transferware teacup that has already provided me with much more than $9.99 worth of intrigue. The front of the teacup features the images of Priscilla and John Alden, who were some of the Pilgrims who came to America on the Mayflower.

The back of the teacup features this image of the Statue of Massasoit, said to be the leader of the Wampanoag when the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth.

The saucer depicts more images associated with the early years of our country. Like most Americans, I imagine, I'm always interested in the story of how our forefathers got to America. Years ago at a family reunion, a relative shared a notebook of photos and genealogy, and I learned that my paternal grandmother, Ruby Pace Webster, was descended from Richard Pace, an early settler of Jamestown, who was born in 1590 in England and died at Jamestown in 1628 (or 1627). Back in England, he had married an Isabella Smyth (or Smythe), and their plantation on the James River was called Paces Paines. (And that's as far into the story as I've gotten, as I simply don't have time to dig deeply into family history. Maybe when I retire one day!)

 So I wonder about the unknown ship (not the Mayflower) that brought my relatives to America.

Also, I was fascinated by the teacup's design of the portico over Plymouth Rock. Never having been to Plymouth, I had to research this and find actual photos of this portico. Who knew? (All of you who've visited Plymouth, no doubt!)

And I must say I find great irony in the fact that Adams Potteries in Staffordshire, England, made the teacup commemorating some early American history. So as much as I resist adding to my teacup collection these days, this is one of those sets I bought purely for its history!

Friday, August 17, 2018

TeaVivre's Fuding Shou Mei White Tea Cake 2013

This week I realized I hadn't yet sampled TeaVivre's Fuding Shou Mei White Tea Cake 2013, and since I was in the mood to try a new tea, I decided to see what a white tea cake looked and tasted like. 

 I quickly figured out that it looked like this, so I broke off a bit and steeped it.

Copper-colored in the cup, this tea had an earthy, brisk taste, with only a little astringency, and I liked it very much as a delicious change from all the iced tea I've been sipping this summer! (Click here to see the white tea cakes currently available from TeaVivre.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

September/October 2018 Tea Time magazine

The fall issue of Tea Time magazine is always one of my favorites, and this year's did not disappoint. I know some folks are griping about seeing pumpkins at the grocery store in August, but for me, fall can't get here fast enough! In fact, I saw my first new pumpkin spice product of the season, an air freshener candle, at the grocery store on Sunday and was just delighted. So this cover with its rich golden hues is right up my alley!

Here in Georgia, I noticed yesterday that the afternoon sunlight out my office window has a bit more of a gold tint than usual. Real or imagined? I can't say, but I can say that the sight of pumpkins and golden teawares in the new Tea Time has me hankering for some pumpkin spice tea!

And one other note about the new issue: It features a Music Tea spread. The plates are rimmed with piano keys, and check out those finger sandwiches laid out to look like piano keys. How clever is that!

So are you eager for fall as well, or do you think we're rushing the season just a bit?