Friday, April 16, 2021

The winner of the springtime tea giveaway is …

 Loralie! Congrats to Loralie, and thanks to all of you who entered. Stay tuned for more giveaways!

A delightful gift from a new friend!

I received an unexpected gift from a new friend this week and thought that you would enjoy seeing it here! Claire B. lives in my county here in Georgia, and while I've known her name for years (she was very active in local civic life back when I worked for the newspaper), I'd never met her face to face. Turns out, she and her cousin like cozy mysteries, and after Emeralds and Envy came out back in 2019, she asked if we could meet for lunch one day and if I'd sign copies for her and some friends. Of course I said yes, and we hit it off immediately. We stayed in touch on Facebook, and this week, we again met face-to-face for lunch. She'd told me she had something for me, and it was this teapot tissue holder she made from plastic canvas. Isn't it beautiful?

I've haven't done any needlework that involves counted stitching in a long time, so I know and greatly appreciate the amount of work that goes into a gift like this. And as I told Claire, with the blue of the teacup and the pink of the roses, this design looks tailor-made for me. Claire says she is happy that she is personal friends with a cozy author, and I'm happy that I'm friends with a lovely lady who stitches up such gorgeous needlework!


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

A bit of serendipi-tea

Do you ever have those days when all your devices need to go on a diet? This week alone, my laptop, desktop computer, and iPhone are all telling me that they've gotten too fat with photos and need to slim down, so I've had to spend a little time going through photo files, and I came across something on my iPhone that I meant to share last month. I was sewing at the dining room table one day, and the scene looked like this.

I was about to pick up this teacup-shaped needle book when the strangest thing happened. I saw that tea bag tag and thought, "Wait a minute! I didn't sew a tag onto the handle of the teacup, so how'd it get there?"

And then I realized I was looking at the fabric on the table runner, and I had to laugh at myself as I reached for a needle! This beautiful table runner, a gift from reader Nancy C. in Iowa in 2017, is a piece I treasure, and I use it every spring, but the way the teacup and tea bag happened to align threw me for a loop! (And it doesn't take much.) Have you ever had a bit of serendipi-tea like that?

Monday, April 12, 2021

A springtime tea giveaway

Isn't it amazing how well advertisers know us? I'm increasingly finding ads for tea companies in my Facebook and Instagram feeds, and silly me, I'm *buying* the teas. They're only going to keep this up! But I saw an ad for a sampler from Oteas, a Canadian company I'd never heard of before, so when I ordered the sampler and got 12 tea bags in the mail, I decided it might be fun to have one of you sample half of them. So here you go!

And just for fun, I'll add some cute teatime stickers I found at Dollar Tree. If you're not a crafter, you can use them on the back of envelopes when you're mailing something to a fellow tea lover! So if you'd like to win this springtime tea sampler, just leave an "Enter me" to this post between now and 7 a.m. on Friday, April 16, and you'll be entered to win. Good luck!

Friday, April 9, 2021

Sweet Peppermint Tea Drops

I enjoy getting delayed presents anytime (it extends whatever the occasion was), so when I got this unexpected Christmas gift of tea recently, I was delighted!

I love the pretty packaging on these Sweet Peppermint Tea Drops, and while caffeine doesn't bother me, I imagine the fact that they're caffeine-free will appeal to a lot of people.

I remember trying Tea Drops when they first came out some years ago, but I don't believe they were individually packaged like these. Very handy!

And in the shape of hearts! Who doesn't love hearts?

I took a photo before the tea was fully steeped just to show the sediment that lands in the bottom of the teacup ("expected and drinkable," they say, but I still try not to drink it). While I've never been completely sold on the sediment factor with Tea Drops, I must tell you that the *taste* of this spearmint-peppermint tea is divine! It's probably one of the only teas I've tried that has calories (25 per cup) because it's sweetened with organic cane sugar. And when I added water for a second cup, I still got lots of flavor. So as an occasional indulgence, I'm enjoying this new tea, and it was sure fun to receive such a pretty and sweet gift!


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

A Mesh Tea Ball with Cup Rest Handle

I haven't splurged on a new tea infuser in a while, so when I saw this one for $2.99 at T.J. Maxx recently, I decided to give it a whirl.

Following the advice on the package, I filled the infuser only about half full of tea leaves, to give them room to expand, and let it steep. Since the Raspberry Coconut Tea from Tea Forté brewed well, I'm assuming the amount of tea that I used was fine.

But then I realized I'd missed the whole point. The box says, "This unique handle rests over the rim of your cup, while brewing to desired strength." Clearly, if I had perched it there while filling the cup closer to the very tippy top with boiling water, that would be fine, but I still prefer to drop it down into my mug or cup for fully immersed steeping of the tea. So far, so good, and I look forward to seeing how long this infuser will last. Have any of you used this style of infuser? If so, I'd love to know your experience!

Monday, April 5, 2021

Honeysuckle Flower Tea from Harney & Sons

I have loved honeysuckle for as long as I can remember. Growing up in the country, I often would stop and pluck a honeysuckle blossom from the vine before pulling off the green piece at the bottom so that I could sip its nectar. I love the look and smell and taste of honeysuckle, so when I saw that Harney & Sons was offering an herbal tea consisting of simply dried honeysuckle flowers, I had to give it a try.

There was no childhood-memory-inducing whiff of honeysuckle when I opened the tin, but then I wasn’t necessarily expecting one. The spoonful of fluffy dried flowers came out in a clump. I brewed them for three minutes in less than boiling water, and the tea still had a strong vegetal taste (the one some describe as “grassy”).

I re-steeped the honeysuckle flowers, for just two minutes, and that was a much smoother, less grassy-tasting tea, very similar to some green teas I've tried. While this probably won't ever be a go-to tea for me, as a honeysuckle lover, I had to give it a try, and I'm glad that I did! It was also time to begin using a favorite spring teacup, the Royal Ardalt English teacup that once belonged to my brother-in-law's grandmother. It was the perfect teacup for Easter weekend sipping.

Are any of you honeysuckle fans? I'm wondering whether I'm the only country kid who grew up sipping honeysuckle nectar!

Friday, April 2, 2021

A Joyous Eastertide

Some of you may recall that at the end of 2020, I decided that, like a Christian speaker I'd heard, I wanted to be "defiantly joyful" in the year ahead. That is such an interesting goal, because I've had several opportunities lately to put this into practice. As my town recovers from the devastating tornado last week, I've been so moved by the positive attitudes of those who seem to have lost everything in the storm, but really, they haven't. Like a pastor's wife I know. Last week, her home was totally destroyed in the tornado, but she got someone to go back and see if a favorite piece of artwork was still anywhere around, and there it hung on one of the barely standing walls of the house, the sheet music to the wonderful old hymn "It Is Well With My Soul." And she continues to tell everyone that it is still well with her soul! (Sure makes my minor gripes this week seem awfully petty by comparison!) So with that type of "defiant joyfulness" in mind, I want to share another vintage tea-themed postcard I recently found. I have several different versions of this image, but this one against the background of the cross is definitely my favorite!

Dated April 9, 1909, it reads: "Dear Laura, I know it is awful that I have not written but I haven't written scarcely any letters this winter - only to my mother. I got a chicken bone in my throat day after Christmas and had a bad time (with?) I don't feel any too good now. Hope you are all well. How is Clifford? I hope you all will have a very pleasant Easter. I will try and write a letter before long, but really this winter I don't seem to have any time between one thing and another. Write again to us. Lovingly, Ida." (Do I just have a warped sense of humor for finding it funny that poor Ida got ill from choking on a chicken bone but then sends an Easter postcard featuring … chickens?)

At any rate, like Ida and the Easter chicks, I wish you all a Joyous Eastertide!

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

A royally good read

I started seeing this new People Royals magazine on the newsstands about two weeks ago but didn't initially pick it up. Then, I read online that this isn't just some special issue but is rather the premiere issue of a new quarterly publication from People that is aimed at royal watchers like me. So that tempted me to pick it up the next time I saw it at the grocery store.

My custom is to flip inside a magazine, and if I don't see at least three photos or stories that appeal to me, I put it back. This time, I flipped to this article right off the bat, and then I didn't have to bother looking for items two and three.

The Duchess shares not only info on how to make the perfect cup of tea but also a bit of tea history I had not heard before: our famous Anna, Duchess of Bedford, often credited with "inventing" afternoon tea, was the sister of Sarah Ferguson's great-great-great-grandfather Francis Russell, 7th Duke of Bedford. Did you know that? I did not. And I also didn't know that "Fergie" sells a line of tea and "biscuits" (cookies) in support of one of her charities. If the shipping from the UK weren't almost as much as the item itself, I'd have placed an order already. Still, I was happy to add this magazine to my stash of royal publications, and because of the tea article, I think some of you would enjoy it too.

Monday, March 29, 2021

An update on Newnan …

Since so many of you have been kind enough to reach out and ask how Alex and I fared with Friday's tornado that devastated my hometown of Newnan, Georgia, I thought that this Monday, it would be appropriate to update you on Newnan before I venture back into the sweeter world of teatime. I haven't been out to view the damage myself (local law enforcement has asked that we all stay away for now), but a friend who lives closer to town, Leigh McKnight, was kind enough to allow me to share some of her images here. Newnan High School has sustained heavy damage and is closed this week. 

I've probably not mentioned this here before, but Newnan served as a "hospital town" during the Civil War and was the site of a Confederate military hospital. Eventually, lots of the buildings in Newnan—including schools, churches, and some of the larger homes—were used in treating some of the thousands of soldiers. Following the battle of Brown's Mill in 1864, Newnan treated wounded soldiers from both the North and the South, so one of the theories of how we got our nickname of "The City of Homes" is that the city's homes were spared during the Civil War precisely because of its role as a hospital town. Now, some of these old homes could use a hospital themselves. This one is obviously damaged a bit (minor compared to many, many other homes), and if you're interested in seeing some before-and-after photos, go here on Facebook. The first "home" pictured after the high school is now a special events facility where friends and I have taken tea on numerous occasions. I was heartbroken to see the windows blown out and the porch sagging from the destruction. And our lovely old homes with columns blown away are practically unrecognizable.

As a lifelong Georgian, I am accustomed to tornadoes coming through in the springtime. I remember hiding out in the basement with my sister and parents when I was a little girl. Alex and I don't have a basement, but when tornado warnings buzzed on my phone around midnight Thursday, we went to our bathroom downstairs to wait out the storm. The house shook a few times and there was some serious thunder and lightning, but that was it. I didn't think much of it until I checked Facebook and saw where one of my close friends said her house 10 miles away had been hit, the windows blown out and the roof ripped off, and that downtown Newnan looked like "a war zone." Then another friend posted video of rain pouring through the ceiling of her house. Then I learned a former coworker's home was hit. I now know so many with damage that I've stopped counting. Videos appeared online very quickly the next day, and it was eerie to see houses with roofs and upper floors ripped away and utility lines scattered across the road like so much Silly String. Amazingly, my understanding is that no one died directly from the tornado. (Sadly, one man died of a heart attack on the way to go rescue his daughter, who was supposed to get married the next day.)

So while cleanup is obviously going to take a long while, the good news is that Newnan is a very *giving* town. In fact, we saw on Facebook that the police department was asking for donations of water and nonperishable food, so we got dressed and headed to the grocery store. On the way, I checked my Facebook feed (never so grateful for Facebook!) to be sure of where to drop it off, and they posted that they were already overflowing with donations and for people to please hold off for a while. That story was repeated at other collection sites across town that asked people to hold off on any more giving. Any time there's been a tragedy here, I see the same sort of response, so we're waiting to see whether to buy tangible items later in the week or simply make a donation to one of the relief agencies. People's kindness to each other has brought me to tears. So Newnan doesn't really need anything but your thoughts and prayers right now!

And speaking of prayer … my prayers these past few days are full of thanks to the Lord that there wasn't a major loss of life from this tornado. When I saw this photo that Leigh took, I really pondered that cross showing up in the damage here at Holy Week. I'm so glad she noticed it!

So if I haven't overshared with you today, I'll end with a link to a local company's drone footage showing how "The City of Homes" has turned into "The City of Tarped Homes." But everyone is grateful because it could have been so, so much worse. And I am grateful that some of you tea friends were kind enough to check on me.

Wednesday, I trust, we'll be back to talking about teatime here!

Friday, March 26, 2021

A tea-themed Easter postcard from 1927

With Easter just around the corner, I've had Easter Sunday (and bunnies) on my mind. I've found a few tea-themed vintage Easter postcards on eBay over the years, and when I browsed a few weeks ago, I found this one and wanted to share this sweet girl and her bunny friends with you!

Miss Mildred Schreib of Caledonia, New York, was sent this 1927 note by Martha W., who wrote, "Dear Mildred: Here's hoping you have a joyful Easter. Thank you for sending the birthday card. Sincerely, Martha W." I think I'm going to try to get a few Easter cards in the mail. Wouldn't it be nice to be remembered for a thoughtful gesture 94 years later? Hope you all have a lovely weekend and enjoy this spring weather!


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

"Closely Harbored Secrets" by Bree Baker

In the latest Seaside Café cozy mystery from Bree Baker, Closely Harbored Secrets, Halloween is drawing nigh, and tea shop café owner Everly Swan is attending a ghostly walking tour when one of its actors is found dead. In an especially spooky twist, the victim has scratched Everly's name in the ground. Was the woman fingering Everly as the culprit, or was she merely trying to tell her something?

Naturally, investigating this murder wasn't on Everly's to-do list for the week, as she would much prefer to raise funds for Charm, North Carolina's famous wild horses while baking her sweet treats and serving one of her delicious specialty iced teas. Everly’s limited-edition blend this season is called “Widow's Brew,” a crimson-hued blend of blood orange tea with hibiscus and rose hips.

Meanwhile, Aunt Fran's campaign for mayor is in full swing, and with voting just around the corner, Everly, Aunt Clara, and her aunt’s other supporters are busy trying to see that their candidate wins, but Fran's fellow candidates aren’t going down without a fight. And as if all that weren’t enough, Everly gets an emotional sucker punch when love interest (and homicide detective) Grady Hays tells her they should call things off—before their romance has really even gotten off the ground. Hurt but wasting no time, Everly accepts a date with a local paramedic who's had designs on her, and while she has a good time with the kind suitor, she instantly regrets the move. Interestingly, so does Grady.

On the home front, a tricky bookshelf repair is keeping her up at night, but her DIY efforts pale in comparison to the clean-up efforts she must undertake when someone breaks into her Victorian home and wrecks the place. The plot builds to a slow boil on Halloween night, and Everly faces her gravest danger yet when she discovers the identity of the killer.

This is just the kind of clean cozy read that I love, and I believe many of you would like it as well!

Monday, March 22, 2021

A new tea mug for spring

I tend to rotate my tea wares according to the season, and when spring arrives, I definitely want to use something sunny and cheerful and springlike with flowers on it. When I was at T.J. Maxx the other week, I saw this glass tea mug and just had to have it!

I love that you can even see the brush strokes on the flowers.

And these bees! Who doesn't love bees and honey? (My sister is thinking of getting into the bee business, which I am strongly encouraging. Imagine all the tea and honey!)

For just $4.99, this pretty glass tea mug has already paid for itself in happiness as I've been sipping from it for the past week, and the T.J. Maxx I shopped at had a heap of them, so check them out if you're in need (or want) of a new spring mug!

Friday, March 19, 2021

Tetley's Duchess Balmoral British Blend

So if you guessed Duchess Balmoral blend, like Joy did, you correctly guessed which tea I bought at Ingles last week! I prefer flavored black teas over plain black teas, and I always vote for the feminine over the masculine, so the blends with "duchess" and "lady" in the name, Duchess Balmoral and Lady Clarence, came out on top, followed by the gents, Lord Kensington and Earl Grey. However, when I saw Ginger's comment that she often judges a new tea blend by its Earl Grey, it dawned on me that this is very smart, as I know how a good Earl Grey is supposed to taste, so I may have to reconsider my tea-buying biases. 

So Joy will be receiving some of these tea bags in the mail. I like the graphics! It is indeed a "sweet and creamy" tasting vanilla-flavored tea, and I love it when a tea seems like a calorie-free dessert.

I like the boxes that dispense tea bags from the bottom, and the perforation on this box allows us to do exactly that.

I also like how the box calls Duchess Balmoral "the jewel in the crown," and now I'm eager to try another of these blends. (If  you've already tried one yourself, I'd love to hear about it!)

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Tetley's new British Blends

When I went to Ingles on Friday, I needed to dash down the coffee-and-tea aisle to get to something else, and since I didn't need any tea, I wasn't even looking at those shelves, but I *was* apparently looking at the floor and literally stopped in my tracks. Well-played, Tetley, well-played!

I'd been seeing a few ads for these Tetley British Blends, and I couldn't help smiling at the thought of Tetley cleverly capturing my attention by putting an in-store advertisement on the floor. It worked, and can you guess which of these four blends went home with me? As I stood there making my selection, I realized that I very much have a psychology behind my tea buying, and that struck me as amusing. Can you guess which one of these I bought? Was it A) Duchess Balmoral (sweet and creamy vanilla flavored black tea) B) Lord Kensington (strong and full bodied black tea) C) Lady Clarence (smooth and well rounded English Breakfast black tea) or D) Earl Grey (fresh and zesty flavored black tea)? If you're the first one to guess correctly, I'll send you a card with a couple of these tea bags to try for yourself!

And I loved the tea, by the way, as it was even better than I'd expected! I'll tell you which tea it was on Friday!

Monday, March 15, 2021

Signs of spring


One sure sign of spring is that everyone is starting to do their spring cleaning. I took three boxes of books, clothes, and other castoffs to Goodwill on Friday myself. In the donation line, I was behind a woman whose SUV was filled with donations, and she said her husband was out of town for three weeks, so she decided it was a great time to purge his things, which I thought was funny. She apologized for the hold-up, but I told her she was fine and I was in no hurry. (Aunt Jane and I went shopping on Friday instead of Saturday because I wanted to be there in time to see niece Amelia get ready for her prom that evening!)

But even as I was patting myself on the back for donating some old tea wares I didn't want anymore, Fate led me to the ReThread Thrift Store, where I found this lovely English Crown Staffordshire bone china teacup for $1.99. Could you have left this behind? No, I didn't think so.

Then at the Salvation Army, I found a gorgeous set of four etched rose iced tea goblets, the large ones, for just 75 cents each. When I paid for them, I found out they were half off, so I got four pretty new glasses for $1.50!

Of course, I'm always stocking up on pretty plates for future gift giving …

And I'm not going to turn down a vintage rose plate at these prices. But the prettiest thing I saw on Friday wasn't in any store. It was …

My niece Amelia! At 15, she was attending the prom of her home school group, and I thought our self-described farm girl and dog lover looked lovely, but of course I am highly biased.

I'm told she and her friends had a great time, which was so nice to hear, although it makes me a little sad that she's growing up so fast!

Some of you who've been reading this blog for years may remember when Amelia and I went to tea at the American Girl store in years past, or when she helped me with her sister Cari's birthday tea one time.

And finally, since you all get to hear about Aunt Jane so often, I thought you'd like to see how happy she was to have her picture made with our sweet Amelia!