Monday, June 17, 2019

Magnolia Market at the Silos

Last week, I was in Texas with my sister, Rhonda, so that we could take my ten-year-old nephew, Matthew to football camp at the University of Texas in Austin. The three of us, along with my thirteen-year-old niece, Amelia, left their house in Georgia at 6 a.m. on Sunday and got to Fort Worth, where Rhonda's in-laws live, about thirteen hours later. We enjoyed dinner at a local Tex-Mex restaurant before three of us left for Waco the next morning. (Amelia stayed with her Texas grandparents for the duration of the three days of football camp.) I got in on this trip simply because my brother-in-law had been unable to get off work for this particular week, so when Rhonda asked a few months ago if I'd be up for a road trip in June, I said sure. And if I haven't mentioned it already, we both decided a few months ago to stop coloring our hair, so we are happily referring to ourselves as "Silver Sisters" now. It has been a game-changer for us!

And on Monday, we left Fort Worth, headed south, and stopped by Magnolia Market at the Silos in Waco, the shopping area made famous by Chip and Joanna Gaines on their show Fixer Upper. My sister is a huge fan of the show (Joanna's latest book was what she requested as her Christmas gift from me last year), and she has visited Magnolia Market several times now but was happy to introduce me.

The silos are quite impressive, and the area is just so beautifully designed. If it's raining, you can borrow an umbrella for free. Got a dog with you? There are water bowls for Fido. Kids need a break? There's a large play area (shown here) that many families were enjoying the day we visited.

I also enjoyed seeing Magnolia Seed + Supply and the beautiful display gardens there. They had all the plants labeled, and I came home with a hankering to find several of the pretty roses they were growing. I also bought a new garden journal at one of the gift shops, and I was able to list some of the gorgeous plants I saw.

Like this "Belinda's Dream" rose!

The lines for their restaurants were long, but they also have a lot of food trucks, which was great since I learned that Matthew pretty much lives off of cheeseburgers, and he quickly found one here.

He wanted some tea, though, and I was more than happy to stand in line for that at the Alabama Sweet Tea Co.'s food truck.

Matthew wanted the Southern (sweet tea), and I got the Mason-Dixon (which was half and half). 

For my lunch, I got a tasty quesadilla and some delicious minted watermelon at the Cheddar Box food truck, and I loved that our tea from the Alabama Sweet Tea Co. came in these huge glass Mason jars with the company name on them. It was the perfect souvenir for me! 

You can read it a little better here. By the way, after I decided on the Cheddar Box, up walked my sister with a *chicken salad croissant* from the Magnolia Table's food truck, and she reported that it was very good. Had I seen that, it is most certainly what I would have ordered, but I enjoyed my quesadilla and watermelon just the same.

Rhonda and I also got two cupcakes to take to the hotel in Austin with us, one Lemon Lavender and one Strawberries 'N Cream, and we split both of them over the course of two days because they were so rich. (Matthew, strangely, didn't want one. Again, he eats pretty much cheeseburgers all the time. Some days, he mixes it up. After one particularly exhausting day of football practice, he wanted two cheeseburgers.)

And boy, were these cupcakes delicious! I've never been one to watch the home improvement shows on TV, but I do believe my sister has turned me into a Fixer Upper fan as well. Seemed like a lot of my friends had already visited Magnolia Market in Waco, and I'm happy that now I can say, "Me too!"

Friday, June 14, 2019

More road trip teas from Teavana

I've been in Texas all week with my sister, and as we were arriving on Sunday, just outside of Fort Worth, we stopped at the convenience store to top all convenience stores, the incredible Buc-ee's.

I wondered whether they would have some more of those delicious Teavana teas like I got on my last road trip, and boy, did they — any flavor I could have wanted!

I had good luck with the unsweetened green tea I got on my last road trip, so this time, I got the Peach Nectarine Green Tea. Only, when we got to the car, I realized I had just purchased *sparkling* green tea! It was quite delicious, and although it wasn't exactly what I thought I was getting (because it was, frankly, even better), I was pleased. I sure wish I had a Buc-ee's near me so that I could try all the Teavana teas on their display! (And coming next week: a few places where I unexpectedly found tea in Texas.)

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

A treasured teapot turns up in "Tea Time"

Many years ago, I was coming back from a magazine assignment in LaGrange, Georgia, when I stopped by an antique store there and spotted this lovely old Sadler teapot. I'd been searching for a pretty pink teapot, and I bought this teapot because I thought it was one of the prettiest teapots I had ever seen. I still do!

Fast-forward to 2019, and I'm innocently flipping through the charming pages of the new issue of Tea Time when I say …

Hey, that's like my teapot! I knew mine was a Sadler, but that was almost all I knew about it, and then I read this: "Over time, the company evolved its products, creating whimsical and ornate pieces, such as the Sadler 1562 teapot. From the unique apple shape of its body to the classic floral design to the gold scrollwork and trim, this is an eye-catching piece to feature at your summertime tea party!" So thank you, Tea Time, for sharing some new information about my teapot's pedigree. Do any of you happen to have a Sadler 1562 teapot? I'd sure like to see any others that were made!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Careen's Cups and the Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum

It's such a pleasure to hear from old friends I haven't seen in years. One of them, Delana, was a girlhood friend that I went to church with for many years, and several months ago, we reconnected on Facebook, and she suggested we meet at the Gone With the Wind Museum in Marietta and then have lunch on the Square. Delana is the girlfriend who spent the night with me before Charles and Diana's wedding so that we could wake up early and watch it together the next morning, so I think that shows you how far we go back!

I've been to the GWTW Museum before, but not in its new home at Brumby Hall, so I enjoyed seeing the new space as well as some new items from their collection. Delana's wedding dress was a recreation of the white dress Scarlett O'Hara wore in the movie's opening scene (replica at upper right), so it was fun to see her checking out all the gowns.

But what caught my eye this time? A demitasse set that belonged to Ann Rutherford, the movie's Careen O'Hara!

Here's what the letter accompanying this set says: "Dearest Chris, Your birthday gift is not only woefully late, but it is a puzzlement. Even Herb Brooks hasn't ever heard of one of these demi tasse sets of service for twelve, he has only tracked down one of eight! I'm sure I received it in about 1952 and it was probably a gift from Atlanta's mayor. I'm not even sure of that. I do know that many of the cups have a historic reference, which is the reason I stuck a card around those so you don't have to read the bottom of the cups to see what that cup is honoring. There is one little girl on a cup. Her last name is 'Lumpkin.'  I was so happy it wasn't 'Marietta.' Anyway, I trust everything arrived as whole as they were sent. Looking forward to Kent State and you. Big love to your mom and Paul, and more love to you on your extra special day. Ask for more meatloaf! XOXOXO Ann."

I'm guessing the aforementioned little girl is the one pictured behind this teacup, right? (I didn't fully read the letter until I got home and enlarged the photo on the computer. If I'd read it before leaving, I would have been on a mission to track down the "little girl cup.")

I love that Atlanta's mayor "maybe" gave this set to Ann Rutherford all those years ago, and I quite enjoyed seeing it at the Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum. And because I'm including a GWTW reference in all of my "Junkin' Jewelry" mysteries, this visit also served as research for my future books!

Friday, June 7, 2019

Taking "tea" on the road

Scrolling through my iPhone photos this week, I realized I'd taken a couple of tea photos on my recent trip to North Carolina that I meant to share here. First, I wasn't hungry for a full lunch while at the mall in Cary, North Carolina, one day, so instead I decided to just treat myself to a chai frappuccino, which I believe I got at Jet's Coffee. I wasn't sure about having cold chai, but this was delicious and definitely served as my sweet treat for the day!

Alex and I also like to check out the nice new gas station/convenience store centers along the way when we need a snack or drink. This time, I found a new Teavana bottled tea, this unsweetened Strawberry Apple Green Tea. I've tried lots of bottled teas over the years, and this one tasted like tea that I make for myself at home. I think it helped that there were no wonky-tasting sweeteners. Lesson learned, and I'll be looking for this tea again.

I know tea lovers like to try new tearooms when they travel, but do any of you like to try new teas and tea treats on road trips? I sure do, and I've got another road trip planned soon, so I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for more new teas along the way.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Courtyard Tea from Palais des Thés

I'm still quite enjoying the Palais des Thés Garden Tea they were kind enough to share with me recently, and this week, I tried the elegant tea bags of another Thé du Louvre, the Courtyard Tea.

This tea is another blend that pays tribute to the Louvre, and it was released just as the museum celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Louvre Pyramid.
This tea smells so divine from the moment you open the package, and the delicious scent was, I'm happy to say, matched by the delicious taste. This black tea is flavored with citrus and blackberry, and the taste is distinctive in that it's a very sophisticated pairing, as if the citrus and blackberry flavors were carefully selected to balance each other and not compete. It doesn't remind me of hot lemonade, as some citrus teas do, and it doesn't make me pucker, as some berry teas do. And I'm still quite smitten by the gorgeous packaging on these teas. You can check out this new one on the Palais des Thés website here.

Monday, June 3, 2019

"The Vintage Baker" by Jessie Sheehan

I was in more of "reading" mood than a "cooking" mood this weekend, and my reading included a new cookbook I had recently ordered, The Vintage Baker by Jessie Sheehan. This isn't a tea cookbook, but I shouldn't have been surprised that I came across a few tea-inspired recipes in the book.

When I opened it, I discovered a lovely surprise, a cute little facsimile cookbook of Vintage Recipes. In the intro, Sheehan explains that she got interested in all things related to sweets and baking when she went to work at a bakery in Brooklyn, New York, more than a decade ago and began collecting recipe booklets.

The recipes in this book are "revamped" versions of some old ones, and I enjoyed seeing where she got the originals. Here, for instance, is her recipe for Chai Banana Fritters. The chai spices are part of her "update" to the recipe, and this sounds quite delicious.

And have you ever heard of Swedish Tea Rolls? I had not, but Sheehan says they taste like "the best mini cinnamon-sugar toaster pastry you've ever had," and she also says they're perfect with an afternoon cup of tea. (I'm sold!) The Vintage Baker is one of the most fun, unique cookbooks I've come across in a while, and if you're into vintage recipes yourself, I definitely recommend that you take a look. 

I've been collecting vintage recipe booklets as well for the past few years, especially looking for anything suitable for teatime, so I love her idea of updating some of these recipes. Do you collect (or have saved) vintage recipe booklets? If so, got any recommendations?

Friday, May 31, 2019

Tea recipes from Food Network

For some reason, I started getting a free subscription to Food Network magazine last year, and I have really enjoyed it. And I'm enjoying the June issue even more because …

They have recipes for Iced Tea Mocktails and Cocktails! So if you're a Food Network fan, you might want to pick up this issue if you don't subscribe. I recently ordered an unsweet Arnold Palmer at Chick-fil-A (no problem, my friendly server said), so I am very interested in making the Green Tea Arnold Palmer (at far left). I need some fresh lemons first, though, so I'll be experimenting after I make a trip to the grocery store!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The "Running for Good" book goes to …

Susan K.! And I've just sent you an email so I can get this signed copy headed your way. Congrats!

Tin Roof Teas' Orange Creamsicle Tea

They say we eat with our eyes first, and I would like to offer a variation on that theme: we sip with our eyes first. Doesn't this tea with bits of orange peel and white chocolate look good enough to, well, eat?

It's one of my souvenirs from last week's trip to Raleigh, North Carolina, to attend my publisher's annual party. My four days in Raleigh were packed, with a bit of shopping, a lot of socializing, and much fun and games with my fellow authors. And once again, Alex and I made time for a side excursion to Tin Roof Teas, a tea shop I've visited for five years in a row. It's been ages since I had the pleasure of simply going in a tea shop and sniffing all those glorious samples of tea, so I certainly enjoyed myself. And this time, I came home with their Orange Creamsicle blend, which you can read about here.

When I was a little girl, those orange creamsicle ice creams on a stick were one of my favorite treats, and this tea captures the flavor beautifully and is my new favorite "dessert tea." It's a seasonal blend at Tin Roof Teas, so if you want to try it, you might want to act quickly. (And with their Priority Mail shipping being just $5, I've realized I need to be buying teas from them more than once a year!)

Friday, May 24, 2019

A different kind of Tea With Friends giveaway!

Are you familiar with the Chicken Soup for the Soul books? Well, I have an essay coming out in this one, Running for Good, which will be published June 4. You'll note that the subtitle says "101 Stories for Runners & Walkers to Get You Going!" I am one of the walkers, and they have published my story about a little boy I met while walking in my neighborhood, Ethan, who helped me meet some of my neighbors who remain my walking buddies to this day.

This isn't a tea book, but at least one tea drinker (me!) appears in the book, so perhaps one of you would like an advance copy? Or maybe you have a runner or walker friend who would enjoy a signed copy? If so, just leave an "Enter me" to this post between now and 7 a.m. on Wednesday, May 29, making sure I have a way to contact you if you're the winner, and you'll be entered to win. Good luck!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

A mystery in the new issue of Tea Time …

I always find so much to admire in a new Tea Time magazine, and the May/June 2019 issue has so many fun things … as well as a bit of mystery.

One mystery is the cozy mystery Chocolate Cream Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke, whose cozies I've read and enjoyed. I like how Tea Time is partnering with the book's publisher on "The Cozy Corner." That is just smart marketing for everyone.

But the mystery I'm most interested in? Where did they find the verrine glasses (a term I'd never heard before) on the second tier of this tea tray? I've looked on the resources page at the back of the magazine, but it doesn't list them. They'd have to be small to fit on the second tier of a tea tray, right? Have any of you heard of verrine glasses before?

And finally, I'll probably never have a tea for Cinco de Mayo, but I love these cute little seven-layer dips served in small glasses. Would you serve these at a fiesta tea?

Monday, May 20, 2019

A gift of tea & chocolate from afar

This teacup featuring Gustav Klimt's famous The Kiss comes from a totally unexpected source. You see, my husband has been ghostwriting a lot of books in recent years, and one of his current clients is an amazing woman from the Czech Republic. After they'd had a few meetings to discuss the book, he decided I should join them as well, and she and I hit it off over tea and coffee at an Atlanta café. She's got quite a story to tell, and part of it involves regular trips back home. When Alex and I met with her last week, she had this surprise for me!

This is definitely a teacup and saucer I didn't have in my collection, and I am fascinated that famous artwork is featured on it. It's got a nice large cup that I've been sipping from all weekend, and I'm enjoying this set so much. (Also, it reminds me of that Helen Mirren movie I saw a while back, Woman in Gold, which focuses on another famous Klimt painting that was stolen by the Nazis. Did any of you see it? I will always be fascinated by art and the mystique surrounding it.)

I'm even saving the satin-lined box the teacup and saucer came in, as I can't think of anything more appropriate for storing the art supplies I'm assembling as I get back into cardmaking and papercrafting.

And did you know that "Praha" is Czech for "Prague"? This new friend also brought back two large chocolate bars for Alex and me, and I claimed the white one, which is just so decadent and delicious. I'm again reminded of how incredibly blessed I am, and I marvel that tea (and chocolate!) is a love language spoken all over the world.

Friday, May 17, 2019

A thrifty new infuser mug for the office

Yesterday was a "book homework" day for me, one in which I sat at my computer, participated in a marketing webinar recommended by my publisher, and generally worked on the behind-the-scenes stuff that is required of authors these days. Necessary but not particularly fun stuff, in other words. You know what makes it better? A new tea mug! Downstairs, I generally sip out of bone china. But upstairs in my office, where desk space is valuable real estate, I don't need a saucer taking up space and instead use tea mugs. I found a new one (or perhaps a new "old" one) over the weekend at Goodwill. 

I couldn't quibble with the price. And hasn't Goodwill gotten fancy with their stickers! I just realized that I bought this tea mug the very day it is dated, so perhaps I got to it just before someone else did.

The two-piece set caught my eye immediately, and I love both the pretty seafoam-green color and the crackling, which I'm guessing is a design feature and not necessarily the result of age. And isn't that handle pretty? I love a handle like this because one finger can comfortably grip the inside while another perches on that little curve beneath it. 

The infuser appeared to be in great shape, and when I got it home and untaped the set, I was happy to find the infuser intact, since I always wonder whether the tape and stickers might be covering some flaw. I made a cup of oolong tea in this new mug and enjoyed several steepings of it thanks to the mug, which did a fine job of steeping my tea and made my day of work much more enjoyable than it might have otherwise been.

Do you suppose this is a Chinese or Japanese character? I have no idea, but I'd sure love to know who made my pretty and efficient little tea mug!