Saturday, March 30, 2013

Tea Room Recipe #13 - Midwestern Tea Room Pleasures

Looking for a quick chocolate treat to go in those Easter baskets? Then have I got a recipe for you!

This easy recipe came from the 1994 book "Midwestern Tea Room Pleasures" by Joyce Decherd. This cookbook is one of several I own which features recipes from a variety of tea rooms and B&B's in a particular state or region. This book features tea rooms of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin.

The Dicus House B&B in Streator, Ill. served these delicious Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles at their Victorian Sweetheart Tea, according to the book. They are super easy to make!

And in case you wonder what they look like inside, well, here ya go—just a creamy, luscious center. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles

1 cup peanut butter baking chips (I used Reese's)
3/4 cup margarine
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Finely chopped nuts, unsweetened cocoa powder, graham cracker crumbs or powdered sugar

In a heavy saucepan, melt peanut butter chips and margarine over low heat. Stir in cocoa and whisk until smooth. Add condensed milk and vanilla. Cook for about 4 minutes, stirring constantly, until thick and well blended. Remove from heat. Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours or until firm enough to roll into 1-inch balls. Roll in nuts or other coating (I used pecans). Store, covered, in refrigerator. Serve at room temperature.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Michaels and Mary: Friends of tea lovers

Tea friend Janet P. in Texas has once again sent me scurrying to Michaels, this time for a terrific new line of Mary Engelbreit tea-themed goodies, including these totally gaudy, must-have rhinestone accents. No idea what I'll use these for, but I can't risk them getting gone while I figure it out!

Here's what was in the bag I left with that day, although there were actually many other designs. These current $1.50 goodies include a *lot* of tea loot, friends, and I hope to stock up even more when they knock them down to $1.

LOVE the new notecards!

And these may be my favorite "Mary" cupcake papers ever!

Finally, who could resist such a sweet little rubber stamp! Isn't it fun when something under $2 brings us so much happiness?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Teatime Favorites

Ever since I saw it advertised in Tea Time magazine, I've been eagerly awaiting the newsstand arrival of their special commemorative issue, Teatime Favorites, and yesterday I found it at Kroger. I can't believe it's already been 10 years since Tea Time began publication. I remember what fun it was to discover such a pretty magazine devoted to all things tea!

This is the back cover of the issue, which has some terrific eye candy. The feature categories are Tables, Wares, Teas and Foods. I must admit that while I did recall a few of the recipes and photos, most of them I did not. If you're a collector of tea magazines, it's sure nice to have one like this on hand for some instant inspiration. Think I'll sit a spell and enjoy mine with a nice cup of tea!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A tea gift with perfect timing

Last week was a stressful one, and then on Friday I got some very bad news about some very dear friends. By the time I got home that night, I just wanted to crawl in bed and pull the covers up over my head. When I arrived home, though, I saw that an eBay teapot I had recently won had arrived.

This beautiful shamrock teapot came from the eBay shop of fellow tea blogger Michele of The Nest at Finch Rest, and I was oh-so-happy to use up a Christmas gift card on this item. When I saw it had arrived, I opened the box and was just thrilled with my beautiful new teapot and how carefully it had been packaged!

But ... that wasn't all! I trust Michele doesn't do this for all her eBay customers (she'd surely lose money!), but she had included a beautiful shamrock-themed runner AND a cookie cutter AND an ornament. W-O-W, was I ever amazed!

But she had also included a note which told me to open yet another item last, and it was this wonderful shamrock design Lefton teacup! Can you believe that? As I told her at the time, I really feel like God used her to give me a lift when it was greatly needed. So, I got my new teapot and teacup, made me some tasty rooibos tea, and soon I felt ready to face the world again! (Thanks again, Michele, for such a generous and well-timed gift!)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tea scenes at the Southeastern Flower Show

Whoever said you can't be in two places at one time simply didn't try hard enough! Although I was enjoying a much-needed week of vacation when this year's Southeastern Flower Show came to Atlanta, my dear friend Deberah attended and volunteered to be my eyes and ears at this year's show. Just as I had read in the flower show's pre-publicity, tea themes were in abundance!

Isn't this vignette with red transferware just delightful? I love how the colors really "pop" off the table! (OK, I had to write "pop" just for Deberah. It is one of her pet peeves that magazines today say everything really pops, from colors to flavors. She says it makes her want to "pop" someone. I'd best move on from the topic before she pops me!)

Clearly the "natural log" look is in fashion right now. I like the quirkiness of combining elegant china with something as rustic as bare wood.

Here's another view of that scene.

Check out this table with the fun pedestal made of a vase of apples, with apple-motif dishes adding to the theme.

My favorite table, though, was this one with some very unique legs made of garden spades. Fun!

This was the entry to the flower show, which is sponsored by the Southeastern Horticultural Society.

"High Tea" was one of the themes in design competition this year, and arrangements had to be created in antique or replica teacups and saucers.

I really like how these colors ... STAND OUT ... against that blue saucer in the background. (You will note that I did not say the forbidden word!)

I liked the variety of flowers in this arrangement.
And the vintage pearls-and-lace look here would be a great wedding table decoration.

Oddly, for me, this more contemporary looking teacup and arrangement was my favorite, simply because the colors look so nice together. Do you have a favorite teacup arrangement, and if so which one? (Special thanks to Deberah for taking and sharing her photos!)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Tea Room Recipe #12 - Glass Slipper Tea Cottage (Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.)

After visiting the Glass Slipper Tea Cottage in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. last week, I knew I wanted to make something from the tea room's cookbook for this week's Tea Room Recipe. And since Spring has just arrived, a light pasta and chicken salad seemed perfect! (Or at least it did for a brief few days before we had *snow* in the forecast!)

I'm so grateful to "tea friend" Sarah in Mississippi for sending me this cookbook and introducing me to this tea room. If you ever get there yourself, you will want to get the cookbook, I promise! Many of the recipes I enjoyed at tea are included, and I'm eager to try so many of these and the other offerings.

The first recipe I tried was this fruit-and-veggie packed pasta and chicken salad. It was easy to prepare, and the flavors melded together beautifully. Although I had a large portion of this for supper one night, it would be a great dish to serve at a luncheon, or at tea when served in a pretty little bowl or teacup. However you serve it, I can promise you it's perfectly delicious!

Cashew-Curry-Chicken Salad

12 ounces (4-1/2 cups) uncooked rotini
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1-1/2 cups halved red seedless grapes
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 oranges, peeled and chopped
1 cup cashew halves


1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cook rotini according to package directions, then drain and rinse with cold water. In a large bowl (and I had to use the largest bowl I own!), combine cooked rotini and remaining salad ingredients.

In small bowl, combine all dressing ingredients and blend. Add to salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately (as I did!) or cover and refrigerate until serving time. Easily yields 10-12 servings.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Junkin' & antiquin'

Last year on vacation I visited an antique store in Alabama where this teacup was for sale. The style isn't quite as frou frou as I normally like, but I thought the shape was attractive. I turned it over to see who the maker was ...

... and learned this was a GDA French Limoges piece once sold at Macy's. Now since I love researching old department stores, this seemed like something I should have, right? Alas, the price was absent, the antique mall owner couldn't reach the seller on the phone, and she declined to sell me the teacup. I was so disappointed! I told myself, though, that it probably would have been $50 since the seller knew someone wanted it. Well, I went back last week and there it was, still, and this time it had a price tag on it: $10. Sold!

The thrift stores in the Foley, Ala. area have some real bargains (nice armchairs for $9.99, for instance), but what I came home with was a set of Christmas dessert plates, just 50 cents each.

Flatware for $1 always makes me happy, especially when the pieces clean up all nice and purty.

And I always seem drawn to the ocean blue color palette when shopping at the beach, and this time I came across this Pyrex two-quart casserole dish in an amazing teal color for $6. The antique shop owner said, "Yeah, that color is getting harder and harder to find." Well, I'd never seen it before at all myself, but I knew immediately I would love to have more of this. Only problem was, I couldn't find the name of the pattern, and searches for "teal" or "turquoise" Pyrex online turned up boatloads of the kind with the milky white interior. (Who knew Pyrex was so collectible? I had no idea!)

Finally, after about a week of searching, I discovered this is the "Peacock" Tinted Clear Pyrex color, made in 2002, and it features a basketweave effect but also came with a smooth surface. I'm shamelessly asking you to please let me know if you come across a piece of it sometime, either online or in person. (But yeah, I'm still sticking to my 10-bucks-and-under rule, so ... wish me luck!)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

New teas from Tea Forté

Even on vacation, I am always eager to visit any T.J. Maxx I can, and so when I was at the beach last week I found some new Tea Forté tea bags at a T.J. Maxx there.

This Apricot Amaretto is a rooibos tea with a richly almond flavor, and I greatly enjoyed it. One thing I love about rooibos is that you don't have to steep it as precisely as you do a black or green tea, since it doesn't seem to get bitter. This was a great tea to enjoy with the sweets I indulged in last week!

The Kiwi Lime Ginger struck me as quite an odd flavor pairing, and I'm afraid I didn't care for it. It's made with organic honeybush, organic ginger root, organic rooibos, organic lemon peel, natural kiwi flavor and natural lime flavor, according to the company, all of which I like, but the combination here just didn't do it for me. "Medicinal" is the word I would use to describe the flavor of this tea. Happily, though, the Apricot Amaretto was a real winner, so I was glad for the opportunity to try these new teas.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Cracked, chipped—and adored!

So while on vacation last week, my husband and I had gone over to Pensacola, Fla. for the day when we spotted a promising looking antique mall. Only problem was, we were listening to the radio and heard white smoke had been spotted at the Vatican, and I didn't want to miss the announcement of the new Pope. (No, I'm not Catholic, just nosey. I was also excited for my Catholic friends that they were getting a new Pope!) So the DH agreed to stay in the car and monitor the radio while I popped into the antique mall, and am I glad I did! I've never bought a chipped, cracked piece before, and certainly couldn't have imagined I'd be so happy with a damaged $6.95 item. Why?

Well, brown transferware is fine, but normally it wouldn't catch my eye. The front of the damaged, demitasse-size cup featured a young chap in a pastoral setting. Whoopee, right?

The back of the cup gets a little more interesting ...

And the small saucer, in immaculate condition, sports an even better version of the image.

Is that what I think it is?

Why yes, it's a "Tea Drinker" I'm seeing! Now, are you as surprised as I am not to have come across this design before? I *know* I would remember if I had seen this before, because I'd want all of this pattern I could find! Alas, this pattern from the Societé Ceramique in Maestricht, the Netherlands, doesn't appear to be for sale too often here in the U.S., but if you go here and here, you can see a few examples from elsewhere in the world. In the second link, if you scroll to the last photo in the series, you can see this comes in green, blue and red (Phyllis B.!) in addition to my brown design. So what to do with a small, cracked, but most treasured teacup? Well, if I hadn't killed all my miniature African violets, one of those would be perfect in here.

But then I got back to work on Monday and, in a bit of serendipity, my friend Deberah had gotten me a treasure at the Southeastern Flower Show, a *new* miniature African violet! Ta-da!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Finds at the Glass Slipper Tea Cottage

It was surprising to see that spring arrived at the beach so much earlier than at my house five hours up the road. Here in Fort Walton Beach, the plants outside the Glass Slipper Tea Cottage were just gorgeous, especially this clever row of rosemary plants along the front fence!

Doesn't this make you want to go scoop up all the rosemary plants at your local nursery and plant them at your house?

I just thought this was such a great idea, and the blooms looked very happy in their location in front of the tea room.

Azaleas were in abundance at the coast, including beside the deck at the Glass Slipper.

This, I learned, is a bottle brush plant. I want one! So photos of plants are among my "souvenirs" of this lovely trip to the tea room, but happily their gift shop had lots of things I wanted as well!

What I finally settled on: a teacup, some yummy new Caribe blend tea, and a pastry server.

The tea room served its miniature roasted peppers on these pastry servers, which made for such an elegant presentation when I saw this peeking out from my three-tiered tray.

And of course a vintage teacup is always my favorite souvenir, especially this reribboned sky blue teacup by Colclough. Great finds, great tea and a great companion ... it doesn't get any better than that!