Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Some Georgia-themed stamps from Studio Calico!

Advertising—there's no escaping it. I like it when *I'm* doing the advertising (like running Facebook ads for my books), but sometimes, I get wildly wrong guesses about the sort of advertisement that will lead me to actually purchase an item. The other day, I was shown an ad for a $58,000 Tiffany bracelet. Lovely as it was, what on earth made Facebook (or maybe it was Instagram) think I was their target customer? Alas, no. But the day I was scrolling on Instagram and saw an ad for these state-themed stamps for crafting, somebody hit the bull's-eye with me, and I clicked "Buy" before too many seconds passed! Aside from a stamp of the state of Georgia, which will come in handy when corresponding with friends and family out of state, can you guess which particular stamp made me purchase this set?

If you guessed this one, you're right!

The stamps arrived in just days, much faster than expected, and I was delighted to discover they were packaged in a nice, thick, reusable plastic pocket, not the throwaway cellophane that such sets usually arrive in. I also got 10 percent off my first order, which was nice. If you're a Georgia stamper/tea lover, too, you may like this same set, and if you're a non-Georgia stamper, it might be fun to see what stamps are included in the set for your state! You can find them here. (No affiliation, just a happy customer.) 

Monday, June 5, 2023

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Over the weekend, I wanted to make some banana bread but didn't have the sour cream my favorite recipe calls for. Could I use Greek yogurt instead? And could I add both pecans and chocolate chips?
Yes, I could—and did!

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large ripe banana, mashed
4 tablespoons Greek yogurt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine ingredients in order listed and mix well after each addition. Pour batter into a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan prepared with cooking spray and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Refrigerate any leftovers. 

Friday, June 2, 2023

Inspiration in the new Tea Time magazine


I always enjoy seeing a new issue of Tea Time land in my mailbox instead of more junk mail, and I'm especially happy when tea wares with roses make the cover! But this time, I had to turn only one page before I found something that made this whole issue a treat.

It was this shell-patterned Wedgwood White Dolphins teacup! Isn't this a classy-looking design? I've been looking for something like this for several years now for a very bookish reason. My first cozy mystery series is about a former newspaper reporter turned jewelry maker here in Georgia. My second series (the one just launched) is about two sisters with a junk business in Alabama. But my third series (coming in a few more years) will be about a retired interior designer who lives at the beach in Florida, and for years now, I have been searching for just the right china pattern for her. Most of the shell patterns I've seen just didn't grab me, but this one? I think it's lovely, and it *looks* like an interior designer would like it, don't you think?

All those shells around the three-tiered server really caught my eye! So while I always find teatime inspiration in Tea Time, it's not every issue that can provide some writing inspiration as well.

And in another bit of good timing, I came across a cute tea sandwich idea that I want to make for my niece Cari's baby shower next month. My first great-nephew, Ezra, is expected to arrive later this summer, and I'm helping plan the baby shower. If I've ever seen teddy bear tea sandwiches before, I'd forgotten them, but these will be great for the shower. In fact, maybe I need to go reread some of my back issues of Tea Time and see what other baby shower ideas I can come up with!

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

A trip to Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga.

On Saturday, Alex and I took a two-hour drive north to visit a site we’d often heard about but never visited, Rev. Harold Finster’s Paradise Garden in Summerville, Georgia. Finster is famous in the folk art world for his primitive paintings featuring religious imagery and texts, and I’d long wanted to visit. 

This is the World's Folk Art Church there, and visitors can't go inside at the moment since the Paradise Garden Foundation is working to restore it. I'm very curious to know if it's as intriguing inside as it is outside.

The retired minister was said to be quite the eccentric, and I bought a book about his life that said even his critics agreed that he treated people well and truly seemed to love everyone he met. (Something to aspire to!)

The gardens featured lots of miscellany throughout, and I imagine you could visit this place a dozen times and see something new on each visit.

In this open-air bridge-like gallery, there was artwork by Finster as well as artwork by others. He just painted the artists' names right there on the walls, and Alex and I both hope the Foundation has documented all of this before it fades one day!

Only a handful of visitors and a small group of plein air painters were there the day we visited. You can go in all of the outbuildings at your leisure, and there was stuff everywhere!

It would seem the reverend didn't view anything as trash. In one of the buildings, I spotted some pieces that I would have liked if they hadn't been damaged.

These pieces looked fine, and I wondered what Finster, who died in 2001, had planned to do with them.

Coffee, anyone?

Throughout the gardens were several of these pieces that remind me of a chicken-wire compost bin I have in the backyard. But Finster's "compost" was not quite like mine …

Look at all these plates!

And that pink saucer was (key word being "was") so pretty!

Look at all this stuff!

This mosaic (ish?) piece reminded me of those shell-encrusted pieces you see around coastal cities like Savannah, except …


I recognized this piece (a teacup, perhaps) as Royal Winton's Old Cottage Chintz pattern. I certainly didn't expect to see that there!

Or Santa!

And this artwork? It may or may not be in the garden somewhere. I saw it in a photo collage (uncaptioned) that was displayed in the welcome center, and I asked the staffer on duty if she happened to know where it was. She did not, but she noted that even a year after working there, she still sees new things all the time. I can believe it! I bought a book about the whimsical art by the retired minister who loved Jesus, people, and junk, and I'm looking forward to learning more about this unusual man who's been referred to as "the Andy Warhol of the South." If you appreciate folk art and ever have the opportunity to visit Paradise Garden, go!


Monday, May 29, 2023

Remember and honor


Today, we remember and honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice …

Friday, May 26, 2023

The winner of the ebook of "The Roots of All Evil" is …

 Mel! So if you'll check your email for details, I'll get this headed your way. Congrats!

A new treat from Twinings

I realize it's just now feeling like spring in some parts of the country, but here in Georgia, we've already had a few overly warm days that had me reaching for some iced tea. And now that I've learned to cold-brew tea in the fridge, I'm willing to slap any ol' tea bag that strikes my fancy into a glass of water, and I'll sip on it all day. So when I saw this jar of Pineapple & Coconut Cold Water Infusions from Twinings on sale at Kroger this week, I decided to give it a try.

Frankly, the flavor is what appealed to me most. I know probiotics are good for you, though, and if I can get them in my tea (or tisane, in this case), so much the better. This blend contains white hibiscus, lemon balm, apple pieces, and natural coconut and pineapple flavor.

You're supposed to steep this infusion in a water bottle, but I like to steep mine in a glass of ice water, and I imagine the result is much the same. The pineapple-coconut flavor of this one was delicious and refreshing, and I hope to grab another jar of these while they're still on sale this week!

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Ebook giveaway for "The Roots of All Evil"


Increasingly, I find that readers want a book to be available on Kindle as much as they want it to be available in print. Now that the ebook version of "The Roots of All Evil" is available, I decided to give away a copy here!

So if you're a Kindle user (and I read Kindle ebooks on my Kindle, my iPhone, and occasionally, an old iPad), just leave an Enter Me to this post by 7 a.m. EST Friday, May 26, 2023, and you'll be entered to win! I want you to have the book in time for the long holiday weekend, so please make sure I have a way to contact you if you're the winner! Good luck!

Monday, May 22, 2023

'Tis the season … no, really!

On Saturday, I ran in Hobby Lobby to get an ink pad, and as always, my eye gets drawn to those bright-orange clearance stickers scattered on items throughout the store. This time, I saw one on a package containing a cute Christmas mug die set and thought, "Wait a minute… I always say I'm going to get started on Christmas cards early. This is a sign!" And of course the good discount was another sign, so yesterday, I made my first Christmas card of 2023!

I collect every Christmas cup/mug die set I can find, so I was happy to discover a new one. These Momenta dies were super easy to use, and I really like the way this card turned out. I didn't have any brown card stock to make the cookies in the package photo, but I think I like the card better without them because it focuses on the tea mug. The green background was made with one of Stampin' Up's Scalloped Contours dies, which are absolutely the best all-purpose background dies I've ever owned. (Got mine from my friend Kathy here, if you're interested in these.)

I'll wait and add a sentiment at Christmastime, whether that's a "Thank you" or a "You're invited" or simply "Merry Christmas." Or maybe I'll make a few cards that say nothing and just use them as notecards during December. If you're a card crafter, too, you may want to check out your local Hobby Lobby before these sale dies get scooped up!

Friday, May 19, 2023

The winner of the signed copy of "The Roots of All Evil" is …

... Ginger in North Carolina, and I have her address, so I'll get this headed her way ASAP. Congrats! Here's a photo from my book launch last night at the Newnan Carnegie Library, and I assumed Russ Moore was buying this for his wife, my friend Mary Caroline, but no, it was for him. A fun time!

The ebook should be available next week (I'll announce it here), and if you want a print copy from Amazon, you can find it here:

Also, I do have a handful of extra copies on hand from last night, so if you want a signed copy shipped to you and you have PayPal or Venmo, just email me (angelamcrae at charter dot net) and I'll be glad to invoice you ($19.95, same as Amazon, and free shipping). Thanks for all the kind comments about my book launch week, friends!

Some in-and-out thrifting

Last week, I ran by the local Salvation Army to drop off boxes and boxes of books and household goods that I'd been meaning to donate. "Should I go inside?" I asked myself after making my donation at the back door of the store. I mean, the purpose of the trip was to de-clutter, not re-clutter. But of course I decided that a quick visit wouldn't hurt.

And when I saw this wooden teacup container/basket/bin, I immediately thought of the upcycling possibilities for its use in my craft room. Now that I've launched a new book and finished the first draft of the second book in the series, I plan to take some time to chill and play in my craft room. One thing that's been on my wish list for a while is a new organizing system for craft supplies, and if I paint this pink or turquoise, I suspect it will be just the thing I need! (Would you decoupage a design on it or leave it plain? I'm torn!)

And I also found this cute little milk glass pedestal bowl that matches a platter I got at an estate sale last year. For $2.99, it seemed like a good buy and a worthy companion to a piece I'm already using. I've been too busy to do much thrifting lately, but these fun funds were certainly worth that five-minute shopping spree! 


Wednesday, May 17, 2023

A very different chamomile tea!


Last night, it was pouring down rain and lightning, and it looked so gray and gloomy outside that of course I required tea!

I hadn't yet tried the Sleepy Time Tea my husband got me for my birthday, so I decided it was time to give it a try. At first glance, the steeped tea looked rather like a typical chamomile tea blend.

But when I removed the infuser basket, I went, "Wait a minute! Why is my tea blue?" And then I thought of all those blue teas that came on the scene a few years ago. Was there any of that in this tea?

Butterfly pea flower! Yes, that was it! The butterfly pea flower made the tea blue, but the licorice root made it delightfully sweet, so this tea from Hyamoon was a delicious surprise in more ways than one!

Monday, May 15, 2023

Giveaway for a signed copy of "The Roots of All Evil," my new book!

It's book launch week for The Roots of All Evil, the first book in my new Silver Sisters cozy mystery series, so of course I wanted to do a giveaway here! I'll be officially launching the book on Thursday night at the Newnan Carnegie Library, and I'm so excited about this new series. I just sent the second book in the series off to my editor last week, and I'm planning to release it in the fall. Then I'll continue working on my third Junkin' Jewelry mystery (did you follow all that?). This new series features two middle-aged sisters, one of whom is a tea lover and one of whom is a coffee lover, and I do hope readers will enjoy it. The paperback is now up on Amazon here, the ebook is coming soon, and here's the blurb:


Sisters Carolyn Hopeworth and Nan Padgett are busy growing their Silver & Salvage junk shop in Alabama and decide to take their vintage campers out for one last hurrah before putting them in storage. While out “glamping” for the weekend, they compare notes about their other big project—letting their hair go gray after decades of dye jobs.

At the campsite, they quickly find a new friend in Kitty Monroe, part owner of the Monroe Construction empire. The sisters hit it off with Kitty, and the three of them can’t wait to show off their vintage campers at a charity fundraiser the next day.

But before the Tour of Campers can get underway, there’s a shocking discovery of the body of a deceased glamper—the floozy whose affair with Kitty’s ex-husband led to the end of the Monroes’ marriage. When Carolyn and Nan's new friend Kitty is hauled off to jail, they must rescue more than just roadside treasures. This time, a woman’s life may end up in the trash bin if her new friends can’t salvage her reputation …


If you'd like to win a signed copy of the new book, just leave an "Enter me" to this post, email your entry (to angelamcrae at charter dot net), or leave a comment on the Tea With Friends page on Facebook, and you'll be entered to win, so please make sure I have a way to contact you if you're the winner. And I'll send this book anywhere in the world, so please feel free to enter no matter where you live. Good luck!  

P.S. The ebook is coming soon, and I'll let you know when that is available as well.

Friday, May 12, 2023

"Floral Tea Kit Vintage Junk Journal" images by Sam Poole Designs

I go through different phases with my paper crafting, and I’m currently in the “collect and collage” phase. Inspired by some videos on Instagram, I’ve started making tiny little cards that I will compile into some sort of project—hopefully soon. So when I came across some gorgeous vintage images with teacups and roses on them on Etsy recently, I thought it was well worth the $4.48 to download them.

And I was so impressed with my download from Sam Poole Designs that I wanted to let you know about it. It was quite easy to download the file and print the images. I used cheap copy paper for the current project because I don't need anything too thick, but I’m glad I still have access to the images and can print them on thicker card stock when I need a nicer paper quality. If you’re a paper crafter who might be interested in these images—for crafting or for tea party signage and invites—go here to check them out!

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Some fun new teatime socks!

I wish I were going somewhere soon where I would have to take off my shoes, because I received the cutest new socks from my friend Joy for my birthday last week!

Aren't these great? And Romans 15:13 is one of my favorite Bible verses, which makes me love these socks even more.

I sometimes think I've seen all the tea-themed goodies around, but then something like this comes along and proves that I've seen perhaps a thimbleful of what's out there. I'm so enjoying my cute new "Standing on the Word" socks, thanks to Joy, and they're as soft and comfy as they look!

Monday, May 8, 2023

Let's talk Coronation Day!

Okay, before we move on with this week, I feel the need to process the Coronation. I must admit that for the first time I can remember, I didn't have even a small celebration to mark such a grand Royal occasion, but an old friend's daughter had just died of cancer at only 35 years old, and so I just didn't find it appropriate to plan a big gala this year, especially since I was headed out of town for the memorial that evening. (Plus, I didn't get my new book sent off to my editor until late the afternoon of my birthday, so I was a bit wiped out for a lot of reasons last week!) All that said, I did get up in time to watch the event and quietly sip my Coronation Tea (that's the lid above).

I thought it all went off beautifully, and King Charles was probably correct in his reading of the public mood when he decided to scale things back just a bit. Still, "scaled back" is still a grand thing in the UK, and I always say that nobody does pageantry better than those folks. My favorite moment in the whole thing was probably when the king was presented with a Bible and it was described as "the most valuable gift that this world affords." Amen to that! If I had to choose between every tea ware in my home and my Bible, you could take all the tea wares, no contest.

It's always fun to see what the women in particular wear at these Royal events, and this time, I was absolutely smitten with that gorgeous teal outfit worn by Member of Parliament Penny Mordaunt. (I originally typed "tea outfit." Freudian slip?) And did you catch the info from the Twitter post above? "She's Lord President of the Privy Council and one of the two politicians King Charles sees most regularly."

I was so happy to find lots of info on places like the BBC website that explained what she was doing with those ceremonial swords. I also thought there would have to be a real craft to maintaining such a neutral expression on your face for hours on end, and she certainly nailed it.

I didn't do screen grabs of all the other things I noticed, but as I continue to sip my Harney & Sons Coronation Tea, here are my thoughts:

• King Charles looked quite humble, like he couldn't believe all this was for him. Found that touching.

• Queen Camilla's gown sure had some beautiful and meaningful embroidery on it.

• Was happy to see Harry show up and be smiling and looking fairly comfortable.

• Princess Anne became one of my new favorite Royals when her mother died. I didn't realize what a worker bee she is, and she never seems to want to claim the spotlight for herself. Love her.

• The Prince and Princess of Wales (and all of their children) carried out their duties beautifully. I personally would have liked to see a few more shots of Kate, but then it wasn't her day, was it?

• Am also a fan of the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, and they, too, looked and acted brilliant.

If you watched the Coronation, what were your thoughts? Were you pleased too?