Friday, August 31, 2012

Her father's teacups

With the kind permission of my college pal Lorelle, today I share her photos and story about some wonderful teacups she recently received. She says, "Thirty some years ago, my father (born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland) began purchasing dishes from Winn Dixie. The blue and white dishes had scenes from different lochs of Scotland. They were so special and treasured. Upon his passing in 1984, all his belongings were sold at a yard sale and my brother and I received very little." (Her parents were divorced then, she notes.)

"Last year, my mother found a box of tea cups and saucers and thought that I might want them ... To my surprise, these were from my father's set ... TEARS! I have six. And if I could only have part of this dinner set, well ... I suppose this was meant to be. What a blessing." (I agree!)

I don't think you even have to know Lorelle to be thrilled for her that she now has these beautiful teacups (in classic blue and white!) which are so meaningful to her. You can clearly see the Scottish thistles and the roses on the design, and of course that panoramic image on the teacup is just stunning. The bottom of this teacup says "Lochs of Scotland, Loch Duich, Royal Warwick" and "England." I believe a set like this would have caught my eye even if I did not know the history, but now that I've heard Lorelle's story, I'm even more charmed! Did any of you readers happen to collect these dishes years ago? And why, oh why, don't the grocery stores still offer them today!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

School supplies for tea lovers

Although I've been out of school for quite some years now, I still just love shopping for school supplies! As a writer I'm always loading up on pens and pencils, journals of every shape and size, and notebooks for a variety of purposes. This year, I realized some of my best "school supplies" were all gifts from tea friend Lani in Hawaii.

This set of erasers includes, clockwise from top, sweet rice cakes and red bean jam wrapped in oak leaves, sweet rice cakes on bamboo sticks, sweet rice cakes wrapped in cherry blossom leaves, green tea, and little cakes filled with red bean jam. What an elaborate set of erasers!

There are also cute little teacups ...

... and a teapot and teacup set. I must confess, though, that I enjoy looking at them too much to actually use these erasers. Would you?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Clark's Teaberry Chewing Gum

It was time to find the answer to a question that had puzzled me for quite some time: Why is Clark's Teaberry Chewing Gum called "teaberry" when my own tea plant has never had any berries?

As research, I bought a package of the gum ($1.19 for 15 pieces) when I was at Cracker Barrel last week. It had a nice wintergreen flavor, although I'm not a big fan of chewing gum and would rather save my candy calories for chocolate. Still, I learned that the Eastern Teaberry plant produces berries with a minty flavor (inspiring the name of the gum), and the leaves and branches can be used to make an herbal tea.

My husband informed me of an old jingle for the gum called "The Teaberry Shuffle," and I was delighted to find it on YouTube. So now if you see Clark's Teaberry Chewing Gum, you'll know how it got its name, how it's related to tea, and how to do "The Teaberry Shuffle," if you're so inclined!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A better-late-than-never tea towel calendar

My husband, who loves college football as much as I love tea, has been eagerly awaiting the start of his beloved college football season. That reminded me I need to find a few new sewing projects for when I'm upstairs hiding out from the football games, so I went online to see if there any new tea-themed fabrics that inspired me. And there may be, but the most inspiring fabric I found, at, is actually a tea towel calendar design that I absolutely adore. Why else would I have ordered a 2012 calendar at the end of August 2012?

But c'mon, is this design brilliant or what? WHY, WHY, WHY am I only now learning about this? Tea friends, clearly we have fallen down on the job, else we'd have known long before now about this amazing design where each month is cleverly chronicled on a teacup. It's by a Canadian artist, Cynthia Frenette. I don't know her, but I'll bet I'd like her!

And we know this design is most assuredly tea and not coffee because of the teaspoon and sugar cubes! I actually intend to use my "tea towel" as artwork, and I'm crossing my fingers that the artist will do a 2013 version as well. If you, too, would like to order this tea towel fabric, go here and click on "Fat Quarter". All you have to do is hem it and you're done. And if you do order, please tell the good people at to give you more than a mere 1/8 inch border of fabric up top, as mine was quite a challenge to hem, but at least it preserved all of the wonderful design!

Monday, August 27, 2012

"Paper Made!" by Kayte Terry

A few weeks ago my colleague Nichole received a review copy of a book that she said looked like something I would enjoy. She was right, and over the weekend I made my first project out of the book, these easy teacup cards!

The book is called "Paper Made! 101 Exceptional Projects to Make Out of Everyday Paper" by Kayte Terry. It tells you how to turn everything from old cardboard boxes to orphaned playing cards and scraps of wrapping paper into great jewelry, decor, gifts and more.

I was, naturally, inspired by these "Cup of Tea Cards." The book has a companion website at, and it was easy to download the templates for these cards. Unlike books which include a template and have you enlarge it, these templates download at just the right size for printing on 8-1/2 x 11 paper. I appreciated that!

I liked the idea of stitching (see previous card), but I was even more excited about using up paper scraps in my stash. I had plenty of them to choose from, thanks to lots of leftovers from scrapbooking through the years, little strips that aren't big enough for much of anything but too pretty to toss. Now, I'm so glad I saved those tiny treasures!

I loved making the tea-themed cards, but there's sooooo much else in this book I want to try: a switch plate made from paper scraps, a necklace made of beads fashioned from the Yellow Pages, and a bracelet made of candy wrappers. If you're a paper lover as well, "Paper Made!" is a fun new book well worth a look!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Teatime Giveaway #34 - A copy of "Dainty Dining"

The winner of the silicone baking cups from last week is The Cake Lady, so congrats! I said earlier this year I would be giving away a copy of my book quarterly, so now it's time to give away the Summer copy of "Dainty Dining: Vintage recipes, memories and memorabilia from America's department store tea rooms."
To be entered, just leave a comment to this post between now and noon EST on Friday, Aug. 31. Good luck!

Friday, August 24, 2012

It's time to look for teatime ornaments

Tea friend Janet in Texas sent a helpful alert letting me know some teatime Christmas goodies have arrived at Cracker Barrel, so off to Cracker Barrel I went. (Bonus: My husband treated me to "breakfast for supper," so I'm doubly thankful for that alert!) Indeed Christmas is much in evidence there, from the cute Christmas cupcake teapots, which I'm still pondering, to the Christmas teapot and teacup ornaments, which required only slight pondering.

These are slightly different from the cardinal designs of such ornaments Cracker Barrel has had in past years. Here's the cute little teapot ...

... and here's the cute little teacup. And at just $2.99 each for the diminutive delights, these won't break the bank or the Christmas tree either one!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pinterest & Peanut Butter

Peanut butter has been on my mind a lot this summer, and I found a recipe on Pinterest recently that I decided might make nice, bite-sized treats for teatime. Whipping up these Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies was a breeze, and soon I had a few bite-sized pieces on my bone china biscuit set just waiting for snacktime.

These blondies get their super sweet goodness from chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and brown sugar. I'm still eating on this pan of them, and I am content eating about two 1-inch squares at a time.

Do you pin recipes to Pinterest? If so, you might want to visit Rainy Day Gal and pin this recipe as I did!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Love Baking? Love Tea? You'll love this magazine!

We interrupt today's regularly scheduled blog post to bring you this important public service announcement: Yesterday I discovered a new British magazine on the newsstand that you are going to want to get your hands on! It's called Love Baking, and this Garden Party issue is packaged in a cardboard type envelope.

Inside, you'll find the magazine and all kinds of extra goodies including:

A cute cardboard cakestand that you can assemble in about 30 seconds flat!

You can make the base pink or turn the pieces over to feature blue. Wouldn't this be great for a picnic tea? No fear of breakage!

And there are cupcake wrappers and rose printed toppers as well.

The whole kit and kaboodle sells for $14.99 at Barnes & Noble, and oh my goodness, wait'll you hear what's inside the magazine itself! Treats like Vintage Rose Cupcakes.

Lady Grey Cupcakes.

There are stunning teapot and teacup cookies, and oh, so much more! The feature on Teatime Treats includes Cherry Tarts, Pink Macarons, Luscious Lemon Squares and more. And I do hope I've not encouraged too much shopping lately, but I can't bear to think of a tea lover not knowing about this magazine!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Fit to be tied

When I went to the mailbox on Saturday, you might say I was fit to be tied when I saw an unexpected package waiting inside. It was a gift from my friend Sandra, who found something she wanted to share!

I recognized the "Celebrate It" line of ribbons as ones carried by Michaels, but this design is certainly new to me. I don't usually look at the ribbons, though, and I'm certainly glad my friend did!

Possible uses: Tie a pretty bow on a cellophane bag containing a cookie or other teatime treat. Use as a bookmark (I'm doing this with mine already). Use in scrapbooking or cardmaking—but only on cards going to fellow tea lovers who will appreciate this fabulous new ribbon!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Checkerboard Cake #1

My purchase of that checkerboard cake pan set last week meant I had to try baking this cake over the weekend, and I have to say I was pleased with my inaugural attempt!

I won't be sharing this recipe until I tweak it a little, but the flavors I chose were jasmine tea for the yellow part and matcha for the green. I got ready to bake and found I didn't have enough milk, so I substituted some Greek yogurt, which I absolutely adore. The end result was a cake that tasted good but a little too much like a nice poundcake, and I'm aiming for lighter, fluffier layers.

Also, next time I will use the tip recommended by the ever-thoughtful Mary Jane and pipe the batter into the pans using a pastry bag, but I happened to be out of bags and was too impatient to wait until I could go get some. (Anyone else that way?) So I spooned the batter into the rings of the pan (shown here in last week's post), and it was like magic to me that the colored batters do not run together. (I noticed my squares on the cake didn't line up perfectly, so I will be working on that, too.)

Since the cake wasn't super sweet to start with, I decided to splurge a bit with buttercream frosting, which pretty much makes anything taste great. So while it's not perfect, yet, I was pretty happy with my first checkerboard cake and can't wait to try it again. Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Teatime Giveaway #33 - Silicone teacups for baking

The winner of the tea giveaway from last week is Denise P., so congrats! I think I've got your snail mail address from a previous giveaway, but if you'd confirm by sending me an e-mail via the button at right that would be great! For this week's giveaway, I'm offering a set of four silicone teacups for baking "teacupcakes." Now *only* the teacups go in the oven, not the saucers, so please be aware that this is one baking tip you don't want to forget!

My friend Stacie at the office actually found these for me at a bargain price in the ABC Catalog, which some of you may be familiar with. I ordered two sets of them, one for you and one for me. I had previously bought a set on eBay back in 2010 (shown here), but I found I needed a few more. These baking molds will come to you sealed in this plastic bag, not in the pink box like my original set, but hey, a bargain's a bargain, right? If you'd like to win this baking set, just leave a comment to this post between now and noon EST on Friday, Aug. 24. Good luck!

Friday, August 17, 2012

A few fun finds from Grannie Fannie's

There are few things I enjoy more than a nice ramble through an antique store. One I rambled through this week was Grannie Fannie's on the square in downtown Newnan. I hadn't been in a few weeks, and I was delighted to see they have now filled the upstairs as well. The store is housed in a charming old building with lots of character, and I enjoyed checking out the new space almost as much as I enjoyed my shopping, which resulted in a few new (old) pieces of silverware and a great vintage cookbook.

The design of this pretty fork reminded me of the one I found at the Portobello Road flea market in London many years ago. The backstamp has been almost rubbed away, so I'm clueless as to the maker of this piece.

This fork didn't have my name on it, but it did have my initial on it, so I got it as well. It's marked "Old Company Plate." The silverware was the first thing I saw when I walked in the store, and happily it was marked $1 for any piece. Terrific!

I have been on a quest to collect vintage local cookbooks, and this $3 one from the American Legion Auxiliary in Newnan was a fun addition to my collection. It doesn't seem to include a date, but in the brief history of the club the most recent year mentioned is 1952. You won't be surprised to learn I always turn to the sweets first, and I found recipes for Tea Cakes (which I always love to come across), Graham Cracker Cookies and the impressive-sounding Waldorf-Astoria Chocolate Nut Cake. Isn't it lovely that cooks of yesteryear had a sweet tooth just like we do today?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Time to get our teapot calendars

Several years ago I nearly missed out on getting the popular Teapot & Tea Calendar many of us are so loyal to. In fact, if I hadn't had a dear friend (waving at Joanie!) working at a local store and able to track down this calendar at another branch of the store, I'd have gone without that year. Whew, that was close! Happily, my friends at Scott's Bookstore in Newnan called recently to say the new teapot calendars were in and they were holding one for me "just in case I wanted it." Indeed I did!

I'm always eager to see the photo accompanying my birth month, May, and fittingly there are pink teawares and roses on "my" page next year. Lovely!

I'm also partial to this circa 1800 patriotic-looking teapot from March (also featured on the cover), since this happens to be the birth month of my husband, who shares a birthday with one of my best friends, and it's also the birth month of a goodly number of tea bloggers. If you haven't gotten your new teapot calendar yet, I'm sure there's still time, but I like to post about it each year in case anyone new to these calendars wants in on the fun!