Friday, January 15, 2021

The winner of the teaspoons is …

Grammy Tea SLR, so congrats! I had no idea these little teaspoons would be so popular, so I'll keep them on my tea radar so that I can offer some as a giveaway again one day! 

Tea-mail: It's better than e-mail

When a big box came in the mail this week, I was so delighted! I've always enjoyed getting mail, even as a little girl. I used to order Betty and Veronica comic books for the joy of receiving them in the mailbox, and later, I ordered a book from the Sonny and Cher fan club and was thrilled when it arrived. All of that probably started my lifelong love affair with ordering things by mail. When tea friend Donna Z. wrote to say that she was getting rid of this Santa teapot and wondered if I would like for her to mail it to me, I said yes. These days, I'm usually trying to get rid of things more than acquire new things, but when it comes to Christmas and tea wares, I just can't seem to turn them down!

This cute little teapot will be a fun addition to my Christmas display this year. I love the little bird on his shoulder!

And what a great surprise it was to find this Sandy Lynam Clough teacup in the box as well! I was gifted the teapot, matching plate, and a teacup in this design from my friend Phyllis years ago, and I love it, but I have thought several times that it would be so nice to have a second teacup so that I could use this set when a friend comes over to quilt with me. (As I trust will happen one day soon once COVID-19 is behind us!) I was beaming when I saw that sweet Santa was joined by sweet Sandy, and it means so much to me that this favorite set of tea wares has been completely given to me by friends. How special is that? So this was my fun "tea mail" for the week. How about you? Did you get anything fun in the mail this week? I'm hearing of some friends whose Christmas gifts are just now arriving!

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

A surprise gift of Cherry Bing Tea


My friend Joy recently surprised me with a box of treats that included this decaf Cherry Bing Tea from Benjamin Twiggs. That's a vendor that's new to me, and since I love cherries and anything cherry-flavored, I was looking forward to trying it!

What's in this tea? "Tea and natural cherry flavoring." Perfect! As soon as I opened one of the individually wrapped tea bags, I got a nice whiff of cherry fragrance, and the flavor is as cherry-packed as I'd hoped!

It's a great, naturally sweet tea to enjoy on these gray, rainy days we've been having here in Georgia. So that's what I'm sipping for this second full week of National Hot Tea Month. How about you, friends?

Monday, January 11, 2021

A January giveaway of tea and teaspoons!

Let's observe National Hot Tea Month with a giveaway, shall we? I found these treats on sale at a local gift shop recently, so the winner will get one to keep and one to share with a friend! Each little packet contains four teas: chamomile, a white tea, and two teas that I can't see without opening the package, so ... we'll all be surprised, ha!

If you'd like to win the teas and teaspoons, simply leave an "Enter me" to this post between now and 7 a.m. EST on Friday, January 15, making sure that I have a way to contact you if you're the winner, and you'll be entered to win. US only, please. Good luck!


Friday, January 8, 2021

An "unorthodox" method of making tea … in 1913

My friend Becky recently sent me a link to the Feeding America cookbook site at Michigan State University, and one of the books I looked into was from 1913, Dishes & Beverages of the Old South by Martha McCulloch-Williams. I'm interested in documenting any early references to tea in this country, so I always turn to the table of contents to see if "tea" is listed anywhere, and I found that section as I scrolled through the PDF of the book on my computer. Check out the author's "unorthodox" method of making tea:

An interesting way of making tea, to be sure!

If you like perusing old cookbooks as well, check out the collection here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Empire of Tea's Pomegranate & Berries Tea


When I was out shopping right before Christmas, I found this Pomegranate & Berries Tea from Empire of Tea, and I have to admit that I bought it because I thought the tin was so lovely!

Another blend sounded like one I would actually like better, but the tin was orange, and I just couldn't see me bringing an orange tin into my home, so I went with the pink one. Pomegranate teas, and berry teas, are often mouth-puckeringly tart, but oh well, I could understeep it if need be.

But to my delight, this tea wasn't tart at all! Yes, it has a berry flavor, but it's got only a hint of that tartness I usually find, and it's naturally sweet, which is great since I'm trying to lighten up on the sugar after baking up a storm over the holidays. I looked online and found that I can reorder this tea directly from the company, but it's $20 for the tin of 15 sachets, so the $4.99 tin I found at Tuesday Morning looks even prettier now!

Monday, January 4, 2021

Winter whites and wishing for snow

No matter what color palette I choose for Christmas, I always want that soothing winter white palette to come out in January, so the tea trolley finally got a new outfit this weekend. I've had lace on my mind, so I pulled out some lacy pieces and tossed them all together, and I like how it all ended up.

The featured tea set is a white-on-white dimensional teapot and sugar and creamer that I bought years ago, probably at T. J. Maxx. This set was used on the guest book table at my wedding, so I don't imagine I'll ever get tired of these pieces.

Here's a bit of detail. And it's sitting on a piece of crochet made by one of my grandmothers. It's really just a sample she crocheted (she left behind a lot of magazines where she clipped a piece inside that I assume she tried out before deciding whether to make a whole tablecloth or spread). I use them like doilies.

This Wedgwood "teapot" is actually a votive holder, and when you light a votive inside it on a cold winter night, it produces such a soft golden glow that I feel all Jane Austen-like just looking at it!

I've used this little faux flower arrangement from Ross for years now, but the pale, pale pink of the flowers just seems to work wherever I plop it.

And I even leave a few Christmas decorations out in January. I mean, we have church all year round, so why not decorate with church figures all year round? I also like the lacy rim on these dessert plates, which, Lord willing, I hope to be using at teatime again before too long! (I've warned Alex that when COVID is behind us, I plan to entertain like nobody's business.)

Another holdover ornament has "snow" inside. Did I mention that we got a dusting of snow here on Christmas Eve and woke to a light covering of snow on Christmas morning? I was sooooo happy. I know my northern friends are thinking, "Big deal!" But here, it IS a big deal, as I hadn't seen so much as a snowflake in years. A nice big snow (with no power outages and downed limbs) would be very much enjoyed this winter. (If any of you are inclined, I *love* to see my friends' pictures of the snow, so feel free to share!)

And of course this is my trusty old Heritage Lace tablecloth featuring tea wares, but I never get tired of it.

The teacup stand features teacups in shades of ivory, and each one has its own little coaster trimmed with tatted lace. Both the teacup and the coasters were gifts from friends, making them extra cherished.

I find that many of us go for a simpler, paler palette come January. My theory is that it symbolizes the clean slate with which we all like to greet the new year. Do you agree?

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Some great new (to me) tea gifts!

While I'm grateful for any gifts that friends and family are kind enough to share with me, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that some of my favorite gifts often end up being the old ones! I think it's because you can't just go buy these with an Amazon card, and it's always meant a lot to me when someone takes the time to discover something at a thrift store or garage sale with me in mind. And I haven't asked, but I'm betting that's where my fellow treasure hunter and friend Deberah found these goodies, including three tea-themed Christmas ornaments I did not already have. This cheerful "Spot of Tea" ornament is some type of china and quite heavy, and I've never seen one like it before!

This one is pretty in pink, and I love how the teacup is attached.

And Precious Moments! Remember when these sweet Precious Moments figurines were all the rage back in the eighties or so? (I imagine some people still collect them.) I seem to recall cross-stitching a few of these designs back in the day.

And among my other "old" gifts from Deberah was this set of tea-themed decorative plates, which I just love! They're marked "Sakura" on the back, and I'm busy imagining a wall grouping in the dining room.

Or maybe the living room! I've been thinking of taking down a shadow box there that I'm tired of looking at, and these would fit perfectly in that spot.

Hmm … it's fun to have options. And I ask this every year, but it's because I like knowing every year … did any of you receive tea gifts, old or new, for Christmas 2020? I'd love to hear about them!

Monday, December 28, 2020

This week between Christmas and New Year’s is always one of my favorite times of the year. The hustle and bustle leading up to Christmas has passed, and it’s a calmer, quieter time, and a time for reflection. This is the week I think about plans for the new year and what I hope to accomplish. Like many of us, I’ll be making my plans with a few tea-ish Christmas gifts at hand, including this teacup that Alex got me (I found it and he enabled it, ha!). This may well be the prettiest teacup I’ve ever had, and it is absolutely one of the most fragile. “Eggshell-thin” is a good description, and while I definitely plan to use it (what’s the point, otherwise?), I’m holding it by the base as well as the handle when it’s full of tea and at its heaviest, just in case.

The bottom of the teacup is marked M.Z. Austria.

The bottom of the saucer isn’t marked at all.

I just love all the roses and the scallops and the elaborate handle.

Daddy gives my sister and me money and tells us to go pick out our gifts at Christmas, so I bought some new teas and some new books with mine. One of the teas I got was this Raspberry Coconut blend from Tea Forté, and I’m enjoying it so much. I’m having the (slightly) fruity tea in between some of the mint teas I tend to wear out over Christmas.

So during this tea-sipping time of reflection, I’ve been thinking about how to approach 2021. The COVID pandemic is by no means over once the calendar turns to 2021, and someone online wrote about how, because of that, she’s anticipating another year that’s not very good. That just struck me as a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. I don’t want to be a Pollyanna, but I do think our attitude about life has much to do with how we experience it. I thought it was interesting timing that last week, a Christian speaker I heard in January of 2020 posted online about how she is determined to be "defiantly joyful." Wow, how I love that! I've never been one to choose a word or words for the year, but I think 2021 is a good time to try something new, so while I don't want to be delusional, I'm aiming to be "defiantly joyful" too. (Really, what is there to lose with that attitude?)

So that's what I've been up to over the last few days. What about you, friends?

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

A last-minute treat idea


The other night, I got a text from my friend Lynn telling me she'd just dropped off some of her famous Christmas fudge at my front door. I couldn't wait, because I've been the happy recipient of her fudge before and knew it was delicious!

She did two packaging techniques that I thought were so clever, I wanted to share them here. First, for padding, she used a paper doily! Now I always have paper doilies on hand, so I found this such a pretty and clever way to fill out a container.

The other technique is probably one I'm the last person on earth to figure out, but … I wondered where she found the square papers to present the chocolate fudge and peanut butter fudge, but they're just round mini cupcake papers, and they conform to the shape of whatever's in them, apparently. That's so simple and sensible that I never would have figured it out if I hadn't seen it! Don't know if you'll be packaging up any treats for others in the next few days (or to enjoy, as I did, at your own personal teatime), but I thought these packaging ideas were worth sharing!

Monday, December 21, 2020

Counting down to Christmas …


Cookies and cards. That's going to be my theme for the week, I suppose, as those are the two things I have left to finish up before Christmas. Last week, I baked dozens of Spritz Cookies, Candy Cane Cookies, and Orange-Slice Bars to drop off with a few friends, but I still need more, so sometime between now and Wednesday, I plan to have another big baking session.

When I found "Vintage Christmas Sugar" at T. J. Maxx this year, I knew that was perfect for my Christmas cookies! (And it goes a long way. I've still got tons of it left in the bottle.)

I like how my "thrifted" cookie plates are turning out. This one was the rose-design plate I found recently for 75 cents at Goodwill (shown here), and it went to the friend I knew would appreciate it most.

And of course I had to take a tea break and enjoy an Orange-Slice Bar myself. It's amazing how much better that candy tastes when baked in a treat. I decided it was the grainy sugar coating I didn't care for, and when the candies are merely an ingredient in a batter, that graininess disappears. (The recipe is in my new cookbook and also this month's Coweta Shopper column here for anyone who would like it.)

My other project over the last week has been to stamp, color, and die cut nativity figures for some of the Christmas cards I'm sending (rather late in the month) to family this year. They take a while to create, but it's fun to do something in my craft room while watching old Christmas movies on YouTube.

I'm not sure the Stampin' Up people intended these designs to have a pastel background, but that's what I decided to do, so there you go. For some reason, Christmas seems to have gotten here faster than ever this year, and my goal is to finish all the "have-to" items on my list by Wednesday so that I can relax and "prepare Him room" by the morning of Christmas Eve. Are you ready for Christmas? Please tell me that I'm not the only one who isn't quite ready yet!

Friday, December 18, 2020

Who are those masked tea lovers?

A few weeks ago, I was out doing the weekend shopping when two women said to me, "I love your mask." I found that especially funny because a) my mask was a pitiful little homemade rectangle of pink floral fabric and b) I was wearing it only because the prettier, fitted one I found at Joann fogs up my glasses. So when tea friend Susan B. in North Carolina alerted me that Harney & Sons had a mask featuring teacups, I had to order one!

It arrived yesterday, and I love it! The website notes that it's 100 percent polyester and not medical-grade but instead designed for everyday use. It feels like a soft jersey knit.

I especially love that the elastic ties are adjustable. Perfect! I guess after so many months of mask wearing and making, makers have thoroughly fine-tuned the design. If you need a cute new tea-themed mask, too, go here to order. (And Harney has free shipping on all US orders, incredibly enough!)

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

A great new source for teatime art

One thing I've noticed in my years as a tea blogger is that many of us have similar interests. I have found, for instance, that more than a few tea-loving souls share my interest in sewing and crafting, and I love it when tea friends send me a link to a new fabric or rubber stamp that features a design of a teapot or teacup. Similarly, I find that many tea lovers are art lovers as well. And since those of us who enjoy teatime occasionally need a piece of artwork for this or that project, I'm always happy to share a source for teatime images in the public domain. This past week, Jane Friedman's Electric Speed writing newsletter listed a new source for art that's in the public domain, Artvee. Naturally, I had to see if any tea-related works showed up, and I was overwhelmed! I found such wonders as "Tea on the Terrace" by Frédéric Soulacroix (French, 1858–1933). (And may I just say that I love that these women are not skinny!)

Then there was 
"Time for Tea" by Albert Lynch (French, 1860–1950). I can practically feel the golden glow of the sunshine streaming into the room.

And I also liked "Strawberry Tea Set (1912)" by Childe Hassam (American, 1859-1935). The lines and brush strokes in this painting are particularly intriguing. There's lots more to look at, of course, but I was so excited by this new resource that I wanted to share it with you here. Incredibly enough, all of these images may be used for commercial and personal projects with no attribution required. (But as a creator myself, I think attribution is always a nice thing to provide, plus it assists the reader/viewer who wants to learn more.) Go here to check out for yourself!