Saturday, September 29, 2012

Teatime Giveaway #39 - Teacup ribbons

The winner of the tea tin and tea from last week is Gram, so congrats! If you'll send me your snail mail address via the e-mail button at right, I'll get this headed your way. And for this week's giveaway, we have two rolls of teacup ribbon from Michaels.

This red ribbon is a grosgrain type ribbon and says "Keep Calm - Carry On." Always good advice!

The purple ribbon features a row of teacup designs and would be great for accenting tea party favors or perhaps even wrapping up a few Christmas gifts. If you'd like to win, just leave a comment to this post between now and noon EST on Friday, Oct. 5. Good luck!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Three new bottled teas

If only there were a Whole Foods nearby, I'd probably shop there at least every other day. One day this week I got to have lunch at a Whole Foods in Atlanta, and again I loaded up my salad bowl with their fresh greens and my current vegetable addiction, edamame. Love that stuff! But even more than that, I absolutely adore the humongous selection of bottled teas at Whole Foods. I had one with my lunch and got two more to try at home later.

My lunchtime choice was POM Pomegranate Lychee Green Tea, which the company describes as "gently brewed green tea enhanced with the delicate flavor of sweet lychee and the antioxidant power of pomegranate." I'm not sure why I was drawn to this tea, because I usually find pomegranate teas overly tart, but this one was awesome. It had just a subtle taste of pomegranate, and I suppose the lychee was what gave this such a complex, sophisticated taste. I saved some of it so I could take it home to photograph, and I will definitely be buying this tea again!

My fall allergies have had me on a honey kick lately, but most honey flavored teas I've tried did not, in fact, taste like honey. And although honey in an iced tea is not generally a favorite flavor, I was curious to see if this Argo Carolina Honey tea tasted like the honey and lemon as promised. It did, I am happy to report!

Finally, from Numi comes this bottled Peach Pu-erh Tea. Since I like peach-flavored anything and I greatly enjoy puerhs, I thought this would be my favorite but it was not. I found it bitter and so unpleasant tasting that I could not actually finish the bottle, and I'll usually try anything once. I must mention, though, that this is the first Numi tea I have not liked, so I'll stick to their hot teas in the future. And that's all until my next trip to Whole Foods!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Treats for the Garden Club

Monday night was the monthly meeting of the Crossroads Garden Club, and it was my turn to bring refreshments. The topic was roses, so I tried to carry out the theme with my treats. They included homemade pimiento cheese sandwiches with tomato roses and ...

... chocolate cupcakes in two different sizes and ...

... Pumpkin-Cranberry Muffins made in a Nordic Ware petit fours pan with flower-shaped cavities. Ironically, after searching the internet for a pumpkin muffin recipe, the one I came across just happened to be one my step-daughter Heather submitted to Cooking Light magazine five years ago, and it is delicious. And it is here.

Our garden club president, Deberah, had decorated the food table with a rose design lace tablecloth, even.

That pulled everything together quite nicely, I thought. And yes, I learned a lot about growing roses at the meeting, so maybe you'll be seeing some pretty new rose varieties on my blog next spring!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Gifts from the library tea

This display table at the Friends of the Library Tea on Saturday featured some copies of my own book, "Dainty Dining," that are now in the collection of the Central Library, as well as the five tea books I discussed during my talk. The books, which represented some of my all-time favorite tea titles, included "If Teacups Could Talk" by Emilie Barnes, "For All the Tea in China" by Sarah Rose, "Death by Darjeeling" by Laura Childs, "Tea at the Blue Lantern Inn" by Jan Whitaker, and "The Harney and Sons Guide to Tea" by Michael Harney. On the left of the table you can see a pretty gift bag and a box wrapped in yellow paper, and I was tickled to learn both gifts were for me!

Inside the yellow box was this beautiful bib-style pink apron in a tea fabric I've never seen before. How perfect!

And in the gift bag were more wonderful and much-appreciated gifts: some green tea cakes, some chocolates for candy making (I used them the very next day) and, to my delight, six matching silver teaspoons with teapots on them! I don't have more than four matching teaspoons in any single pattern, so this set of six was a most welcome gift.

I also got to take home the beautiful fall flowers that had decorated the display table. Don't quite feel that I deserved all the fuss, but it sure was nice to be treated to such lovely, lovely gifts!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The "Friends of the Central Library" Tea

For the second year in a row, I had the privilege on Saturday to speak at a fundraiser for the Friends of the Central Library, their annual tea. Now I can't think of a better way to celebrate the first day of fall than by going to tea, can you? Here's the "tea room" the volunteers had created in a meeting room at the library.

Each table was decorated with a teapot holding a fresh floral arrangement in gorgeous fall colors. (Later, I got to take one of the arrangements home with me!)

As guests arrived, they were offered Cheese Straws, and these were some of the finest I have ever tasted, with that nice "kick" from cayenne pepper.

We were also served tea sandwiches of classic flavors including Chicken Salad, Tuna Salad and Pimiento Cheese. Yum! The sweets included Nut Brownies and some Pecan Mini-muffins and ...

... small slices of some of the most divine Caramel Cake I've ever put in my mouth. Boy, was it good!

My tablemates were longtime friends Sandra, Mary Ellen and Shirley.

I also got to visit with two of my favorite fellow tea lovers, Friends of the Library volunteer Jimmie, at left, and Joanie, whose teacup top was quite the hit!

As she did last year, Jimmie loaned some items from her vast collection of teawares to the library for display.

Have you ever seen a peacock teapot? I had not!

Or this frog teapot? I love these unique designs.

It was such an honor to get to speak to the Friends of the Library, and it was a mighty fine way to say hello to Fall!

Monday, September 24, 2012

An End-of-Summer Tea

My friends Amy and Angie and I share a love of writing, and each other. We've met semi-regularly for a couple of years now, and I'd been wanting to have them over to the house. Just in time to mark the end of summer, they and Angie's precious girls, Olivia and Isabel, came over for tea last week! From left are Olivia, Isabel, Angie and Amy.

Choosing the teawares and menu is half the fun of preparing for any tea, and I decided to use my pink Tea Room pattern glassware and mix and match some cups, saucers and plates as well. I didn't want it to be too "flowery" since summer was, after all, on the way out. This soft, faded pink palette seemed just right to me!

For the girls, I pulled out some paper teawares I found at a party supply store in Wisconsin last fall. Perfect!

The menu started with Cinnamon-Pecan Scones, served with honey butter.

For our tea sandwiches, we had Waldorf Chicken Salad on mini-croissants and Cucumber Sandwiches cut into teapot shapes. (I should mention that I followed the wonderful advice of Marilyn, who has revolutionized my tea-giving with her very sensible advice to cut out your fancy bread shapes from frozen bread the night before. No more frantic bread cutting 10 minutes before showtime!)

And here are the Harvest Apple Tea Sandwiches, consisting of Pepperidge Farm's Swirl Bread, peanut butter, and slices of Granny Smith apples.

Some of the edges are spread with peanut butter and dipped in pecans.

Last year I loved Pepperidge Farm's Pumpkin Swirl and Cranberry Swirl breads, but last week I came across Caramel Apple, the best one so far!

Here are Olivia and Isabel drinking apple juice out of their little plastic teacups. The grownups had Whittard of Chelsea's Breakfast Earl Grey and the Caramel Apple tea from Zhena's Gypsy Tea. Amy said she never thought she cared for Earl Grey before but she loved this one. Nice!

For our sweets, we had Lemon Madeleines and ...

... Peanut Butter Blondies. Pretty much everything but the scones was made in advance, so this was a real no-pressure assembly the morning of the tea.

Afterwards we went outside because Angie and Amy were interested in seeing all the bamboo I'd told them was growing near our creek. I got a kick out of watching the girls shake the giant bamboo stalks to see if any pandas would appear. Angie told me they were still talking pandas later that night! And after the girls wore themselves out watering my plants, sweet Olivia came in and just made herself right at home, which horrified her mother but thoroughly amused me. I hope the girls (the little ones and big ones) always feel this relaxed at teatime!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Teatime Giveaway #38 - A Tea Shop tin & tea

The winner of the tea soap from last week is B.J. Elder, so congrats! If you'll send me your snail mail address via the e-mail button at right, I'll get this headed your way. And for this week's giveaway, we have a cute tin of "Tea Shop" tea I picked up on clearance at T.J. Maxx recently.

It comes with a box of mystery tea, Earl Grey in the most nondescript packaging ever, so who knows if it is good or not--but hey, I bought this for the tin, not the tea! To be entered, just leave a comment between now and noon EST on Friday, Sept. 28. Good luck!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Some new salt & pepper shakers

My town has a big sidewalk sale that begins the Friday before Labor Day each year. This year, on that Friday, my husband and I were walking to a local restaurant when I passed one store's sale table and saw these English bone china salt and pepper shakers. "Cute!" I said, but I added that I didn't really need them and kept going. To my surprise (no, really!), my husband went back and got them for me and tucked them into a bag with my anniversary gifts this year.

And it doesn't mean I love England more, but I do love the teapot shaker best! Next time there's a "royal" anything to celebrate, I'll have the perfect accessories to add to the table.

But meanwhile, what do we do with teapot salt and pepper shakers when they're not in use? Yes, that's right. We add ribbons and turn them into Christmas ornaments!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Caramel Apple Zhena's Gypsy Tea

One day this week I was at Kroger on Lower Fayetteville Road, a place where I don't normally expect to find a big tea display, yet there it was, some new fall flavors of Zhena's Gypsy Tea. Now I have been lusting over Caramel Apples already, so it was pretty easy to decide which tea to try!

The Caramel Apple flavor is actually a rooibos tea. (Side note: Did you know Krispy Kreme has come out with both Cotton Candy and Caramel Apple flavors of doughnuts this fall? I tried both when I was at the beach a few weeks ago, and they were awesome. Thank goodness I don't have a Krispy Kreme nearby, and that I'm not a fan of the Dunkin Donuts we do have. Krispy Kreme rocks!)

But I digress. Tea. Yes. A round teabag goes into the cup of boiling water for 5 minutes, and soon you're inhaling those heavenly scents of fall, a spicy cinnamon-ish taste in addition to that fine caramel flavor I so love in fall. Mmm. Mmm. Mmm!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A tea giveaway comes my way!

In 2012, the word "giveaway" on this blog has normally meant the giveaway I host each Saturday. Today, I am delighted to report that I have actually *won* a giveaway, and I was doing the happy dance when I saw this box from New York on my front steps!

Ruthie and Barbara of Lady B's Time for Tea recently offered this giveaway prize package, and I couldn't believe it when my name was chosen! First, there was a beautiful box of Tea Time notecards from Laurel Ink.

I was looking at the five different designs of the cards when I realized the envelopes are decorated too in a pretty pink design. Lovely!

Bookmarks are always useful since I read more than one book at a time, and this teacup design bookmark is particularly welcome!

In all my years of tea collecting, I have never owned a tea-themed keychain before, but I do now. Isn't this great!

And there was even a sampler of teabags for me to enjoy. I have to tell you that though I am very much enjoying the giveaways I've hosted this year, it was pretty awesome to be the recipient of one as well! (Thanks again, Ruthie and Barbara!)