Friday, November 30, 2012

A fun place for ladies who lunch

Earlier this week, my friend Deberah and I were in LaGrange and decided to have lunch at a restaurant whose name I hadn't heard in years, A Taste of Lemon. It's housed in the old Second Methodist Episcopal Church, which was moved to this location and has now been a restaurant for 32 years, according to the lovely young woman who served us. (Go here and scroll down to the bottom of the page if you wish to see an earlier view of the building.)

Inside, this was our view from our seat near the platform or pulpit area of the church.

And when we checked out, this is the view looking back toward our seats. I had actually been to this restaurant about 20 years ago and only recently learned it was still in business. There had been a fire in a neighboring building some years ago, and I guess I assumed A Taste of Lemon was no more, but happily it is still there and apparently thriving.

For my lunch, I chose the sweet tea (of course!) along with the ham and cheese quiche, okra, green beans, and what I'm told is a popular vegetable substitution, the pineapple casserole. The meal came with cornbread, and though I find most restaurant cornbread to be very dry, this was perfect, quite moist and ungreasy. I really, really enjoy good cornbread and can pretty much eat just a slice or two of that for supper and be satisfied. (Is that a southern thing? Any northern or western cornbread fans out there?)

But back to that amazing pineapple casserole … what a great, old-fashioned recipe this was! Chunks of pineapple, cheese, a buttery Ritz cracker topping—yum! My whole meal was very tasty and not at all greasy as some southern cooking can be.

Deberah ordered the vegetable plate, which included a sampling of all 10 vegetables, and she too substituted the pineapple casserole for one. She said this is just about the best vegetable plate she has ever had—and this is a woman who knows, and loves, her veggies! We both agreed that in warmer weather, we want to return and try the salad plate, which comes with a heap of things including chicken salad, pasta salad, congealed salad, a frozen salad, maybe a broccoli salad. It was so much I can't remember it all!

I couldn't help asking our server if A Taste of Lemon ever has teas. They don't, but the facility is rented out for other events such as luncheons and parties, so I suppose it's possible some individuals have hosted teatime there. Wouldn't this be ideal for a tea room, though? Obviously a restaurant that's been in business so long is doing quite well and doesn't need input from outsiders, but I can certainly dream that one day they'll branch out into the tea business!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A puzzling new gift

Money man Dave Ramsey was on TV the other morning talking about how "re-gifting" is OK, but "me-gifting" is not. Well, theoretically I agree with him that we don't need to buy ourselves gifts while we're out Christmas shopping. But Dave, I had been *wanting* this pretty teacup puzzle and I had a 40 percent off coupon at Hobby Lobby!

Dave would probably be puzzled at my logic here, but I decided this was not just a puzzle. It's a post-Christmas, we-get-lots-of-time-off-from-work fun game for my husband and me after the holidays, and then it will become artwork. So really it's home decor and not merely a gift for myself. (Pretty good, huh!) And a tip if you want one of these for yourself: This puzzle is regularly $12.99, but again, you can use the 40 percent off coupon in the newspaper and save several dollars. I noticed the exact same puzzle is $15.95 at Barnes and Noble.

Even though I won't start on this for a while, I was curious to find out what size the puzzle pieces are. They're pretty small, so I hope the DH is good at working puzzles!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Some fun new fabric finds

Now if this isn't a cheerful Christmas fabric, I don't know what is!

I had actually bypassed this the first time I saw it at Hobby Lobby a few weeks ago, mainly because I knew I wouldn't have time for any sewing projects before Christmas this year. But then they had to go and put the Christmas fabrics on sale for half-off, so at just $4 a yard, I figured a little ole two-yard addition to my fabric stash was justified. But what if you like the fabric design but you don't sew?

Hobby Lobby's got you covered there, too, you see, for they have these nice-sized baskets already lined with the cute teapot fabric. Regularly $17.99, they're half-off as well right now. I'm going to use mine to hold Christmas cards this year, the first of which we have already received--yikes!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas magazines of note

Recently, I thinned out the stacks of magazines which had taken over my craft room. Coming across so many old Christmas magazines certainly helped put the brakes on my desire to add any new ones this year and, after all, how many trifle recipes does a girl really need? So I have developed quite a bit of restraint in the magazine acquisition department this year, but I did acquire two new food magazines, and only two, which I find worthy of a mention here. First is a British magazine I found at Barnes and Noble, the Best-ever Christmas Cookbook from the U.K. version of Good Housekeeping. From soups and salads to food gifts and cakes galore, this magazine is brimming with entire meals I'd love to make. The magazine is beautifully organized, even pulling together menus ranging from Tasty Treats for Carol Singers to a Vegetarian Christmas Lunch, a New Year's Eve Supper and an Anytime Tea.

The Tea Time feature, of course, is what closed the deal for me! It includes gorgeous treats such as Traditional Christmas Stollen, Creole Christmas Cake and a tower of Mini Meringues that will have you drooling.

One fun tip I learned: Use bay leaves and frozen cranberries to represent holly and berries on a white cake. Now why didn't I think of that?

The photography in this magazine is exceptionally nice, and those of us bloggers who aim to better style our food photos will find much to admire, like this great photo of Turkish Delight.

The other Christmas food magazine I like this year is the December issue of Food Network magazine. I especially enjoy the small inserted booklets they feature. This issue, the booklet is titled "50 Muffins," and I found it a good sign when #2 on the list is an Earl Grey muffin! There's also a nice piece on "Mix & Match Truffles" which I may try when whipping up my Christmas food gifts this year.

Have you purchased any good Christmas magazines this year? I'd love to know what you're reading!

Monday, November 26, 2012

A cup of Christmas tea

Now that pumpkin and spice tea flavors have come and gone from my pantry, I have moved on to the mint family and am enjoying my favorite Christmas tea, the Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane green tea featuring peppermint and vanilla. Oh, how I love it!

For some Christmas sipping enjoyment, I actually found this vintage Christmas teacup in an antique mall a few weeks ago, for just $6, though I didn't officially use it until after Thanksgiving.

It's by Lefton, marked "December Holly," and that makes me wonder if perhaps there was a whole yearlong series of such cups from Lefton. Must investigate!

My vintage Christmas teacups are all different, but I did notice one day that the unifying design seems to be holly leaves and red berries. That works!

And while Candy Cane Lane is my favorite Christmas tea (I bought five boxes when I happened upon it at Walmart a few weeks ago), I was ready to explore some new flavors as well. If you're on all the tea e-mail lists as I am, you probably got alerts that many companies are offering free shipping through today in honor of Cyber Monday. I happily took advantage of this by ordering from Adagio and Harney, and hopefully I'll have some new flavors of tea to review very soon!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Teatime Giveaway #47 - Teacup Christmas Pin

The winner of my book "Dainty Dining" from last week is Kim, the Pastry Princess, 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. Now, why do you suppose I have not one but two cute little teacup Christmas pins here?

Yes, it's because I got one for me, and one for one of you! The little gingerbread couple looks quite festive, and hopefully you will be too if you win. To be entered, just leave a comment to this post between now and noon EST on Friday, Nov. 30. Good luck!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving wrap-up

Since you all had to endure quite a few posts about my Thanksgiving plans this year, I thought I'd share a few photos to wrap things up. I forgot to get photos of the actual meal, but it was the usual turkey, casseroles, rolls, cornbread, vegetables, etc. Desserts, the most fun part of any meal, were Chocolate Chip Pie, Pumpkin Spice Pie and a Caramel Cake--my first! I had a great time celebrating with my family, and they are definitely some of the blessings in life for which I am most thankful. Hope yours was a joyful day as well!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A most thoughtful Thanksgiving gift

Many times before I've shared how tea friend Lani in Hawaii has blessed me with an unexpected surprise in the mail. What arrived on my doorstep a few days ago is just so, so lovely, I thought you might enjoy hearing about it! First, there is a Susan Branch Thanksgiving card (love Susan Branch!) and a Hello Kitty advent card. Did you know there were advent cards? I did not!

Open this one and you'll find a tea tin sitting above the number 13, and look, there's my Thanksgiving turkey below the tea cabinet at number 15!

Hello Kitty is also represented on this miniature cup and saucer she sent, with the suggestion that I might superglue the two pieces together and use as an ornament on my tea-themed Christmas tree. Look for it, because I'll be doing exactly that!

That's not the only new ornament I'll have. I'm not sure how she managed to locate this adorable 2006 Madame Alexander "Christmas Tea" doll ornament, but oh, how I love this, and can't wait to hang it on my tree!

And Lani also sent this beautiful book from Karla Dornacher, "Give Thanks."

"My cup runneth over." Lani, you certainly made that come true for me!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bluebird Tea Paperie

Today I am delighted to be able to share with you a new (to me) source for tea stationery, Bluebird Tea Paperie. I was recently asked if I'd like to sample a box of their stationery, and after checking out the website, I said sure! Soon there arrived this exquisite little blue box of stationery, and I loved opening it to find tissue-wrapped goodies embellished with a bluebird sticker. A promise of good things to come?

I could tell from the website that the photography was just my cup of you-know-what, and the first cards I opened confirmed that.

In addition to the fact they are die-cut, the cards have a nice thick feel to them, and the linen texture really makes these seem a notch above other cards. Each card is individually wrapped in plastic, so it has occurred to me I could include one or two as a small "gift" in tea packages. (But let's be honest, chances are excellent I'm going to keep every one of these!)

The cards are priced very reasonably for such high-quality cards, and much less than the per-card price you'd pay at a card shop. In fact, I've already decided a couple of friends will be getting some of these cards as gifts, my only problem is deciding which designs! Bluebird Tea Paperie also offers tea party invitations and address labels with the tea lover in mind. Interested? Go here to see their lovely offerings!

Monday, November 19, 2012

New tea mugs and glasses

A visit to see my parents, more often than not, means I am going to leave with some new treat. This time, both my parents found goodies for me. My mom found these tea mugs, some with the price stickers still on them, at a yard sale for 25 cents apiece, so she got all four. (I am *such* an amateur shopper when compared with my mom!)

And Daddy was proud to have found another Santa Claus mug to add to my collection. This one, interestingly, says it was "Made in Thailand."

My favorite of the new tea mugs is this chintz one with the swirling handle, and to go in it, I found at T.J. Maxx a box of that delightful Dilmah Peppermint and English Toffee Tea I was so fondly remembering just last week!

My best find of the weekend, though, was a surprise discovery of a dozen amber glasses at a T.J. Maxx in Marietta. I had been trolling my local antique stores in search of old or new amber glasses, any amber glasses at all, and I'd finally given up hopes of finding them in time for this Thanksgiving.

T.J. rarely lets me down, and when I found six each of these two designs, I knew immediately I'd be using them to serve the tea at this year's Thanksgiving meal. Yet another small thing to be thankful for this week!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Teatime Giveaway #46 - A copy of my book "Dainty Dining"

The winner of the book "The Pleasures of Tea" from last week is Belinda in South Carolina, so congrats! I said earlier this year I would be giving away a copy of my own book quarterly, so now it's time to give away the year's final 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, Nov. 23. And if you win and want it autographed to yourself or someone else (maybe you already have a copy but would like to give one as a gift?), just let me know. Good luck!