Monday, September 20, 2021

Fried Green Tomatoes & Sweet Tea

On Friday, my high school girlfriend Tammy and I headed to Juliette to eat lunch at the Whistle Stop Café. I'm betting many if not most of you have seen the 1991 movie Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, which starred Jessica Tandy, Kathy Bates, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Mary Louise Parker. I first visited Juliette shortly after the movie came out, and I was well acquainted with it since much of it had been filmed in Coweta County, where I live. The newspaper where I worked at the time wrote lots of FGT stories while the movie was being filmed. One of my colleagues took photos of most of the stars on the set. I got to interview a local actress who was the stand-in for both Kathy Bates and Mary Stuart Masterson. She had a ball working on FGT, and amazingly, she entrusted me with her scrapbook from the film, which had behind-the-scenes photos and autographs of all the stars. The interior of the Threadgoode family's home was actually filmed at a historic home in Coweta where some friends live. The exterior of the Threadgood home was filmed at another old home in Coweta. The nursing home where Evelyn and Mrs. Threadgoode hung out? That was in Coweta too.

But the most iconic site in the film was, of course, the café itself, and for that, you have to go to Juliette.

I'd been before, but Tammy had never eaten there. It was fun to go back after a few decades, and we both marveled that the film is now thirty years old!

As expected, sweet tea was on the menu.

We decided to split an appetizer platter and a barbecue sandwich, and it was all delicious, but the fried green tomatoes were the first things I ate!

The Bennett's BBQ on the sandwich was succulent and the sauce tasty. If you've seen the movie, I suppose I don't have to tell you that "the secret's in the sauce."

We also split a dessert of Pecan Cobbler and ice cream. Oh. My. Goodness. Not surprisingly, I did not want any supper that night after such a huge lunch!

Juliette also has a cute little row of antique shops next to the café. I was delighted to find several vintage Christmas goodies, which I'll share later in the week. After lunch, we walked off some of those calories by taking a tour of the nearby Jarrell Plantation historic site, which Tammy had wisely looked into ahead of time and for which she had obtained a state parks pass through her local library. I had no idea you can "check out" a pass for two, and since she did, our visit was free! Here is one of the "new" buildings, the 1920 farmhouse, which is a private home and not on the tour. Structures on the property date from 1847 to 1945, and the site is considered "one of the most complete collections of family artifacts of this period in the Southeast."

I loved all the history and found myself wondering (as I always do) how to incorporate some of this into a future book, so we'll see if that works out! But check out this stacked rock chimney. If they told you to find a Jarrell ancestor's name in the rock, could you find it?

We did!

And I'll close with a few other photos from this rich historic site. We had a great day in Juliette, and I loved reliving the memories of a movie that came out thirty years ago!

Saturday, September 18, 2021

The dish cloth giveaway winner is …

 M. Holtsford! Congrats, and thanks to all who entered!

Friday, September 17, 2021

Sampling some longed-for ice cream


Finally, FINALLY, I happened to be in downtown Newnan at the right time of day and was able to visit the much-lauded Rock Salt Milk Bar, a new ice cream place that opened several years ago. Since they're an ice cream place, they're open mostly in the afternoons and evenings, and I never got the timing right before, but a group I'm volunteering with had a meeting downtown the other day, and at four o'clock, as I was headed home, I noticed there was an open parking space across the street from the shop. Clearly, this was a sign!

Why was I longing to visit this ice cream place, you ask? Well, because one of their flavors I'd heard about was the Blackberry Earl Grey, and this nice young man, Aidyn, scooped some of it up for me this week! And I'm happy to say it was worth the wait. The creamy treat had a hint of Earl Grey and a pleasantly fruity blackberry taste. It was just what I was hoping for, and their waffle cone was one of the best I've ever had. (If I can't have a waffle cone, let's not bother with a cone. I don't like the ones that taste like glorified rice cakes.) So if you're not in Newnan, well, I'll have another of these ice creams on your behalf sometime. But if you are a local and haven't sampled this ice cream, I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

An anniversary trip to Huntsville, Alabama


On Friday, Alex and I headed to Huntsville, Alabama, the "Rocket City," for a weekend getaway in honor of our fifteenth anniversary! Huntsville was an easy four-hour drive away, and we enjoyed the short drive as well as all the new sights we found in Huntsville. The space center was across from our hotel, so this was our first sight every morning.

My favorite sight in Huntsville, though, was the famous "Cosmic Christ" mosaic at First Baptist Church of Huntsville. The space-age artwork, started in the sixties and completed in the seventies, is now being restored. But if you haven't heard of "Cosmic Christ," you might have heard of the mosaic's nickname, "Egg Beater Jesus," which I'm told the locals use affectionately and meaning no disrespect to the Lord!

I think it's pretty self-explanatory why they call it that. Some 14 million tiles, each no larger than a thumbnail, went into this mosaic.

Here are some photos where you can see the individual tiles. I cannot image the work that went into the mosaic or the work that's now going into its restoration!

Because I'm setting my second cozy mystery series in a small town outside of Huntsville, I wanted to visit a small town outside of Huntsville for ideas that I can use in my books. Decatur was the perfect town, and it even has a historic depot.

I always enjoy reading the signage from a historical association.

Decatur also had some great antique stores, including Tammy Eddy Antiques, where I enjoyed the friendly welcome and the lovely offerings throughout the store. 

The blue wares caught my eye, but what I bought was a brown transferware teacup for fall.

It's marked Charmstone Chin Hung, which I believe is a Korean manufacturer.

Is this a pagoda or a teahouse? I liked it, at any rate.

I liked the roses incorporated in the design as well, so this was the perfect fall teacup for me!

Carrying on with the railroad theme, Decatur has a restaurant called the Railyard, where we enjoyed a delicious late lunch of duck tacos (me) and a Cuban sandwich (Alex). We shared a dessert of their Toffee Crack Pie, which was divine!

Here's some of the decor from the Railyard.

And I'll close with the requisite cheesy picture of me with the butterfly wings. We greatly enjoyed our trip to Alabama and look forward to returning one day!


Monday, September 13, 2021

A teatime dish cloth giveaway

Alex and I just got back from a trip to Huntsville and Decatur, Alabama, and during the weekend's shopping, I found some cute tea-themed dish cloths that I decided would be fun for a giveaway, so I got a pack of them for me and a second pack for one of you! If you'd like to be entered to win the dish cloths, just leave an "Enter me" to this post between now and 7 a.m. EST Saturday, September 18, *making sure to include an email address (if not already on file) so I can contact you if you're the winner* (very important), and you'll be entered to win. US only, please. Good luck!

Friday, September 10, 2021

Some delightful new reading

Last weekend, I whiled away a completely lovely couple of hours perusing the latest issue of a new favorite magazine, My French Country Home. The July/August issue, which I imagine is still on some newsstands since it comes from afar, had lots of great features, but what I liked most was that unlike American magazines these days, it doesn't appear to have an agenda. Unlike so many of the other magazines I've read lately, this one didn't seem on a mission to promote this or that cause, agenda, or concern. And when I finished reading the magazine, I realized how utterly delightful it was to forget all the issues of the day and just look at pretty photos of homes, gardens, and decor. It was so refreshing!

This photo of a teacup caught my eye, and I loved learning that a California woman visited Paris and learned to enjoy a teatime ritual between 2 and 4 p.m. each day, a ritual she continues to enjoy—with Mariage Frères teas from France, not surprisingly.

I also look for macarons in any articles I read about France, and I found some here, on one of the prettiest tole trays I have ever laid eyes on. (If anyone knows of an online source for French antique tole trays, I'm all ears.)

And to my delight, there is a tiny town in France known as the Chocolate Box Village, and it is fondly known as…

 "the town of a thousand rose bushes," drawing crowds in the spring when the roses are in full bloom. If this magazine sounds like your cup of tea, too, please give it a look! (I got mine at Barnes & Noble.)

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

An elite new tea: Deberah's Tea


Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting my friend Deberah for lunch. While we've certainly been in touch over the past year and even worked on some book projects together, it was the first time we've met for lunch in more than a year, and it was so fun just to catch up with her. It was also fun when she handed me a gift bag containing several goodies, including this tea she grew and processed herself!

I am so impressed! I have a camellia sinensis plant, too, but I've never plucked my leaves and actually made tea with them. Deberah said it is a black tea, and she advised me to use more than I usually do, so that's what I did.

And I must say that this was an exceptionally smooth tea with no astringency. If "Deberah's Tea" were available commercially, I'd absolutely be a customer. It leans a little toward an oolong taste, and I savored every delightful sip. I suspect, however, that this tea was made with love and friendship, and I'll bet it will be hard to find anything comparable. It occurred to me that this is the very definition of a "small-batch" tea, and I'm so thrilled my friend shared some with me.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Friday, September 3, 2021

A tea shop from 1846

I don't imagine I will ever tire of researching the tea history of this country. Recently, I came across an 1846 advertising print on the Library of Congress website here. It's an ad for T. Sharpless & Sons in Philadelphia, and it's fun to see how prominently tea is featured in the image.

I also loved the lengthy summary of the ad from the Library of Congress:

This 1846 advertising print shows a four-story building located at 30-32 South Second Street, below Market Street in Philadelphia. The double storefronts have signage advertising the "Wholesale Ware Room" of "T. Sharpless & Sons," as well as the "Tea Store" of the Pekin Tea Company. Massive merchandise displays adorn the windows and front facades of the businesses. At the wareroom, reams of different cloths hang from rods within open windows. Tables are covered in swatches and bolts of cloth. A number of patrons, including women and a couple, admire the displays. Some enter the store; the shadowy figures of female clerks are visible inside. More merchandise is visible in showcase spaces on the second floor, including bolts of cloth and cloth-covered hat boxes. At the tea store, couples exit and enter the business, and a clerk stands within the store. Several boxes of tea are piled between the Chinese figurines displayed in the window. Potted plants adorn the windows on the third floor, between which hangs a large model of a box of tea. In front of the store, boxes of tea are piled under a frame for an awning that displays a sign advertising, "Fresh Teas." Manhole covers and a fire hydrant are seen on the sidewalk. Around the corner of the building, a woman and a girl walk past a horse-drawn dray traveling down a side alley to Strawberry Street, which is partially visible in the background. This print also shows partial views of adjacent buildings. The Pekin Tea Company relocated to Sixth and Callowhill streets in 1847. The textile firm established by Townsend Sharpless in 1815 moved to this address in 1841 under the name T. Sharpless & Son; in 1842, the firm was renamed T. Sharpless & Sons. This lithograph was created by Robert F. Reynolds, an artist born circa 1818 in Pennsylvania, and known for his fine-detailed architectural advertising prints. The printer was Wagner & McGuigan, a firm that specialized in the production of advertising prints.

I don't believe I've ever heard of the Pekin Tea Company before, but if I happen to come across the name in some of my vintage pursuits, I'll sure remember one place where it was sold!

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Cozy Cupfuls Stamp Set by Marcella Hawley for Power Poppy

Every other news story I read lately mentions how the "supply chain" across the world is still disrupted, so I'm starting to get my Christmas lists in order while that's on my mind. I was Googling tea-themed Christmas stamps recently when I came across this darling set by Marcella Hawley for Power Poppy, and I think some of you might like it too!

This charming tree-in-a-teacup stamp is the one I instantly fell in love with, and I know I will enjoy using it to make cards to share with tea friends this Christmas. The design would be pretty to stamp on small packages as well.

But wait, that's not all, as they say on TV! There's another design with a mug on it, and since I assume that most mugs may actually be used as tea mugs (that could be a chai latte we're looking at, after all), I will use this stamp for some designs too.

So if any of you crafter friends are in need of some Christmas stamping supplies, check out this design here (and the last time I looked, it was still on sale for half price!). Shipping is quite reasonable, and my order was shipped within two weeks as promised. I'm very, very happy with this fun purchase, and now I've also got a new stamp designer to keep on my radar!

Monday, August 30, 2021

A bowl full of fun

One day last week, I stopped by a Goodwill store and found some great goodies that were fun for several different reasons.

First, I've been bored with my current selection of tea mugs. I use "mugs" in my office and "teacups" when I'm downstairs, but I've got so many mugs already that I couldn't see buying another one. I even have a gift card from T. J. Maxx that is unused from my birthday back in May, but still, I can't see using it on a tea mug. These blue florals at Goodwill, however, caught my eye, and this Nikko French Country pattern tea mug was just 79 cents. Perfect!

I'll bet some of you are familiar with this Depression glass pattern, Iris and Herringbone. My mother collected this at one point (like me, she collected a lot of stuff "at one point"), and my little sister called it "Irish Hambone." For that reason alone, I thought this saucer, in perfect condition, was worth the 59 cents I paid for it.

Another odd collecting interest: I like *reticulated* things, which is a fancy word for china with piercings in it. These little 4-inch Schumann Bavarian dishes look like future jewelry trinket dishes to me, and at 99 cents each, the price was right.

Finally, I've been drooling over the photos of some vintage Christmas wares online, and I love the old Pyrex dishes I've seen in red and green that are being used as Christmas decor in the kitchen. This Hazel Atlas mixing bowl was just $2.99, and I will save it to use only at Christmas. I look forward to the day I can tell you that I've found something similar in red that was just as good a deal! (I've told myself no going on eBay, either. That would be cheating.)