Friday, August 23, 2019

Some lovely *free* teapot graphics!

Several times this year, I've mentioned that reader Diane M. has been kind enough to share tea-related links that she thinks I'll find of interest. This week, I was looking back at one of the sites she referred me to earlier this year, and it's another link from the Graphics Fairy with graphics like this one. Isn't this teacup gorgeous? This particular graphic comes both with and without words on the front, and this plain one would be delightful as a tea party invitation, don't you think?

I like this one too. (All those flourishes!)


And this one! Actually, I can imagine uses for all of these. Scrapbooking, card making, Christmas and Valentine's crafts, used as iron-on designs for sewing projects (quilts, T-shirts, totes), and the list is endless. I'm so glad Diane shared this with me, and I wanted to share it with you!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

A Tea-Set … for the Piano!

Show of hands, please. Do any of you tea friends play a musical instrument? I know that my friend Joy is an organist, and I took piano lessons in my youth (and occasionally played at church if they were desperate), but I haven't tickled the ivories for years. I wish I had, though, because I found the coolest thing on the Library of Congress website, this Tea-Set Composed for the Piano by F. W. Ratcliffe, Louisville, Kentucky. Note that it includes "Tea Polka, "Young Hyson Waltz," "Bohea Schottische" (schottische means "slow polka"; I had to look it up),"Gunpowder Imperial March," "Sugar and Cream Waltz," "The Nameless Schottische," and "Clearing Away Galop."


The Library of Congress has included the two pages of the "Tea Polka," so if you play the piano and give it a whirl sometime, I'd love to know what you think of the tune. (Please note the dedication too. It's fun!)

Monday, August 19, 2019

The Mackenzie-Childs Teapot Lunch Tote

When I actually went to an office every day, I didn't bother to take a stylish lunch tote, but recently, I discovered a new need for one. When I go to my friend Kathy's for crafting day, she always offers to make lunch for me, but since I'd rather craft than eat, I got in the habit of just taking a protein bar or water. Then I took my favorite replacement meal, low-fat Greek yogurt, but I almost forgot it was in my craft tote. So I went online and did a search for "teapot lunch tote," and up came this little goodie.

The colors and the design just make me happy!

It's made of neoprene and polyester, and I love how they even captured the iconic black-and-white details from those pretty Mackenzie-Childs teapots I've been lusting over for years.

My tote is a little floppy since I'm typically packing only a few things so far—a large bottled water, yogurt, a few tablespoons of dry cereal to top the yogurt—but I can see that a sandwich and bowl of soup will easily fit inside when the weather turns cooler and I want a heartier lunch. I got my tote on sale, and then they were out of stock. However, when I checked yesterday, it was on sale again, so click here if you want to order one of these for yourself. Happy lunching!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Pu-erh Pistachio from Tea Bird Loose Teas

When I had the pleasure of visiting the Carolina Parakeet Tea and Gifts in Anderson, S.C., a few weeks ago, one of the teas I purchased to take home with me was this Pu-erh Pistachio. I have enjoyed pu-erh teas for years, and I like the distinctive earthy taste of them, but this is the first time I have come across flavored pu-erhs in a tea shop, so I had to try one.

This one consists of pu-erh tea, pistachio, natural flavoring, and rose petals (a surprise ingredient). It certainly makes for an attractive blend!

And I loved it! I could detect that earthiness I like in the pu-erh, but it was definitely moderated by the addition of the other flavors, and that made me like this pu-erh even more. I was so impressed by this tea that now I'm on the lookout for other flavored pu-erhs to try!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

"The Power of Tea and A Good Book"

Recently, I got an offer in the mail asking me to go online and rate a magazine I subscribe to in order to instantly receive a $5 Amazon e-gift card. Sure, I thought! I had been shopping for tea-themed stamps on Amazon, so a stamp set with the designs above is what I purchased with $2.89 of that gift. Based on the shipping time, it must be coming from somewhere overseas, which always makes me a little nervous, but a) it was free and b) the one review said it was a cute product and"delivery good." So fingers crossed, and after it arrives, I'll be sure to show you what I end up making.

I love several things about this design, though, and I'm sure you know it's not the coffee. That stack of books with the teacup on it looks lovely, and I so believe that sentiment, "Never underestimate the power of tea and a good book." Yesterday, I had lunch with a friend from my (online) book club, and we had so much fun talking about the books we're reading. Our club's book two months ago was I Think I Love You by Allison Pearson, about a young Welsh girl who enters a contest where the prize is to get to meet David Cassidy (especially fun if, like me, you were a teen in the seventies). Last month, we read the wildly popular Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Now I have a long history of not particularly enjoying the national best sellers, so I was pleasantly surprised when I liked this one. Her descriptions of nature, especially, were just so beautifully written, and it made me want to go camping near a marsh. (No one else in the group wanted to go visit the marsh. I may take my reading a bit too seriously.)

Perhaps it's because of my great fondness for tea, but I absolutely love the combination of tea and a good book, and when I'm reading a book, a cup of tea is very often close by. Is that true for you?


Monday, August 12, 2019

A bit of weekend creativi-tea

Every month or so this year, I've had the pleasure of going over to my friend Kathy's house for a morning or afternoon and playing with "all the things," as she calls them, in her craft studio. She is a Stampin' Up demonstrator and has every paper crafting gadget, machine, tool, and toy imaginable, and I've been inspired to pull out my paper crafting supplies once again. This weekend, I decided to consult my Pinterest boards and experiment with the Stampin' Up Tea Together stamp set Kathy gave me last Christmas. I'm usually quite critical of my own cards because they're not as perfect and precise as hers, but I actually liked this one, perhaps because it was so simple!


First, I stamped a bunch of teapots and teacups so that I'd have plenty in case I messed up.


On a side note, I bought this retired color of Stampin' Up ink on eBay a while back because I liked the name and shade of this particular green.

I had some embossed pink paper I used as the background, and then I just added the die-cut teapot and flowers, attached with those little raised adhesive dots that give it a dimensional look. Coloring is one of my favorite parts of card making, and I used some Chameleon Pens that I thought went well with the pink of this paper. (No idea what color the paper is, but I'm pretty sure I got it at Michaels or Joann.) And Kathy had also given me some cute pearl adhesive dots (another Stampin' Up goodie), and I thought they made the perfect finishing touch for this card.


I've been slap out of tea-themed cards, as we say down South, so my goal is to make a batch of them and have them on hand at all times. If you're interested in getting this stamp set (and the matching dies) yourself, you can visit Kathy's  Stampin' Up page here. (No affiliation, just a grateful friend.) And for my paper crafting friends who already have this set, or who just like to see some pretty eye candy, I have been adding to this Pinterest board filled with cards that other people have made with this set. Have any of you been crafting in any form lately? (Warning: I just rediscovered an old watercolor paint kit. We'll see where this leads!)


Friday, August 9, 2019

The tea and Camellia sinensis tea towel winner is …

Annette! So I've just sent her an email so that I can get the fig tea and tea towel headed her way. Congrats!

(And for those who asked, here is a link if you'd like to buy one of these tea towels for yourself. I'm not an affiliate or anything, just a happy customer!)

A teatime idea from France? Say Oui!

I've been eating a lot more yogurt over the past year. My favorite is the Ingles store brand of mango-flavored nonfat Greek yogurt, but since we don't have an Ingles in my town and I can only go there when I visit my dad, I'm often without access to my favorite yogurt. I've been trying some other mango-flavored yogurts, but they just don't measure up, so I've branched out to try other flavors. This week, Kroger had a sale on some "French-style yogurt" called Oui Petites, and I thought I'd give them a try.

Call it love at first bite! I got the one that's chocolate with shavings, and oh my, is it good! Regular yogurt is often boring to me, but this French-style yogurt? Yum! And just 140 calories.

But the reason I wanted to write about this yogurt is that I had no idea these came in such adorable little glass jars! They remind me of baby food jars for grown-ups, with no lids to screw on, just a nice "lip" that makes this something I wouldn't be opposed to using for craft storage (buttons and sewing notions come to mind), and then I realized: I have been wanting more tiny glass wares for teatime treats, and now I know where to find them!

Years ago, I got a cute set of mini dessert glasses at Ross, but there are only eight of them (I used six for the tea party here and served raspberry and white chocolate mini trifles). If I want to make a cute treat for, say, Thanksgiving, that's not nearly enough. But if I treat myself to some Oui yogurt every now and again, I can have a nice stash in no time. And interestingly enough, I already had a Pinterest board featuring desserts in glasses, but I'm even more excited about it now. (It's here, if you happen to be on Pinterest and want to follow my board.)

And Oui also has its own suggestions for how to reuse the glasses their delicious yogurt comes in. I learned that this yogurt has been around for a couple of years now, so once again, I'm a little late to the party. Are any of you fans of Oui yogurt?

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

And … news of a 99-cent ebook sale!

Just a quick "bonus post" for today: If you haven't read my debut novel, Emeralds and Envy, but would like to do so, my publisher has purchased an international BookBub ad targeting the UK, India, Australia, and Canada, and the ebook is now available at the sale price of 99 cents to readers there, and to US readers as well, through August 8. Click here to get the sale price today and tomorrow only, and thanks!

Tea Bird Fig Festival Tea from the Carolina Parakeet

While at the Carolina Parakeet in Anderson, S.C., over the weekend, I did't spend nearly as much as time as I would have liked checking out the tea selections, but one that caught my eye immediately was this Fig Festival blend. I tried a fig tea once years ago and loved it, but I've never seen a fig tea since. As soon as I sniffed this one, I could tell it would be one I would enjoy, and oh, did I!

Because these teas are blended there at the shop, Carolina Parakeet can tell you right on the package that their tea consists of "Black Tea (66%), Date Pieces (Dates, Rice Flower), Sultanas, Planed Almonds, and Freeze-Dried Fig Pieces." And my goodness, this is some delicious tea! It's got that "dessert tea" taste I so love because it (sometimes) keeps me from reaching for sweets. I've learned that I like most any tea with almond flavor, and I'm assuming the extra natural sweetness in this tea comes from the dates, figs, and sultanas. I've heard it said that good loose tea is a "cheap luxury," and I quite agree.

I also wanted to mention the unique tea display cabinet there at the Carolina Parakeet, which I think is both attractive and ingenious. Owner Donna Siemen told me that her husband, Wolfgang, built it to her specifications. See those colored circles underneath the bags of tea?

That would be the "sniffer" bottles, quite a few of which I slid out and sniffed while I had a few moments at the shop. (And if this fig tea sounds good to you, don't forget to enter the giveaway in Monday's post.) To learn more about the Carolina Parakeet's tea selections, which are available by mail, click here. And I look forward to trying a few more teas I purchased at the shop, so look for more reviews soon!



Monday, August 5, 2019

A visit to the Carolina Parakeet — and a giveaway for one of you!

On Saturday, I had the great pleasure of being the guest speaker for the morning's "Tea and Topics" program at the Carolina Parakeet, a tea shop in Anderson, South Carolina. After corresponding back and forth with owner Donna Siemen for months, I was delighted to arrive there on Friday evening to meet her and look around the shop.


And I must admit I was almost giddy when I saw my name on this sign. This was definitely a first!


This is Donna, her husband, Wolfgang (what a great name!), and me on Saturday, but I loved that I got to meet them both when they welcomed Alex and me to stop by on Friday evening to say hello and set up early if I wanted. That ended up being a great help, and I was so at ease that all I had to do on Saturday morning was arrive and I was good to go!

The Carolina Parakeet is not a tearoom that serves afternoon tea but rather a tea and gift shop that is well-stocked with their beautifully packaged "Tea Bird" loose leaf teas, and later this week, I'll be telling you more about some of the teas I purchased. I know many of you live near tearooms and tea shops, but I do not, so walking into this welcoming shop with its soothing decor and a vast selection of teas and tea gifts was an absolute delight! And in case you're wondering about the shop's name, here's what I learned: "Carolina Parakeet takes its name from the now extinct bird that was North America's only native parakeet. It serves as our reminder for preservation. Our mission is to offer tea instruction and high quality products to our customers that will assist them in preserving a lifestyle of civility, hospitality and health. These things have been associated with tea for many centuries and in many cultures." I could quickly tell that Donna and her husband are all about using the tea shop to promote "civility, hospitality and health," and I knew immediately that I'd made some new friends.

I was also tickled to see my books so prominently on display!

Of course, I had to look around at the displays in the shop, and this terry cloth tea towel with "Camellia Sinensis" woven into the design immediately caught my eye. Pretty!

I loved the shop's tea packaging, and I so enjoyed getting to do a little in-person tea shopping instead of having to rely on mail order, although I should mention that the Carolina Parakeet does indeed offer mail order for those of us who don't live nearby. (Go here to visit their shopping site online.)

Donna had charming and elegant tables set up for the event, using a variety of pretty blue and white china, fresh flowers, and white tablecloths.

So for her Saturday morning "Tea and Topics," Donna provides a treat and some tea selections, and the attendees get to hear about different tea-related topics. This time, she made Higbee Muffins from my book and served an iced peach oolong and a hot peach tea, in honor of yours truly being from Georgia, the peach state. I shared some of the department store tearoom info from my book Dainty Dining, and Kim, the woman holding the book in the photo above, was singing its praises to the others. As anyone with a book will tell you, that's the best kind of endorsement you can get. And at back is Michelle, an old friend from Newnan who now lives in Greenville, S.C., and showed up for the talk and even treated me to lunch afterward.

The guests were all so friendly and gave me great feedback as I asked questions or shared stories during my talk, and it was truly a pleasure to be part of such a fun morning at the Carolina Parakeet!

So since you all couldn't be there, I knew that something from the Carolina Parakeet would make the perfect August giveaway here on my blog. Now my styling isn't nearly as good as theirs, but I'm giving away one of their Camellia Sinensis tea towels and a bag of their delicious Fig Festival black tea, which I'll be sharing more about on Wednesday. So if you'd like to win these treats I picked up just for one of you, leave an "Enter me" to this post between now and 7 a.m. EST on Friday, August 9, making sure 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, August 2, 2019

"Sweet Tea and Secrets" by Joy Avon

Author Joy Avon follows up her first "Tea and Read Mystery," In Peppermint Peril, with another well-written cozy mystery, Sweet Tea and Secrets. This go-round, Callie Aspen has left her old job as a tour guide and is beginning to settle in to her new life in Heart’s Harbor, Maine. She moves into a fixer-upper and continues to assist her great-aunt, Iphy, with the operation of Iphy's tearoom, Book Tea, where the teatime treats are book-themed. This time, that includes Hound of the Brownivilles (brownie bites) and Grimm Tales, cookies in fairy tale shapes.

Callie is helping her great-aunt plan a Fourth of July tea, where the fun will include a sweet tea competition, and one of Callie's ideas is to feature some important event in town history. While researching the history of Heart’s Harbor, Callie is intrigued to learn that a famous across, Monica Walker, disappeared from town in the late 1980s and was never heard from again. Callie starts making a few inquiries about the missing actress, and one of her sources turns up dead. Is someone worried about this missing-person case getting another look?

Meanwhile, Callie is getting mixed signals from Ace Falk, the local deputy she met last Christmas. She thought he was interested in her—one of several reasons she decided to move to Heart’s Harbor—but now she’s wondering whether she read him wrong. One thing’s for sure, though: Falk means for her to stay out of his investigations. And as Callie comes closer to find out what really happened to Monica Walker and who wants the story kept quiet, readers will feel increasingly edgy and find themselves looking for the killer at every turn. An excellent second novel in a fun new series!

Review copy courtesy of NetGalley

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The opera singer pouring tea

If you're into history at all, I highly recommend that you pay regular visits to the Library of Congress website and check out the offerings. This week, I found a photo titled "Johnson" that the LOC says "shows Edward Patrick Johnson (1878?-1959), a Canadian tenor opera singer who was billed outside North America as Edoardo Di Giovanni. Johnson is pouring tea out of a teapot while looking at a score. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2017)"

I wish there were another photo of the teapot on what I believe is some type of stand/warmer contraption at left. Do you agree?

And are any of us opera fans? If so, this photo should make you especially happy!

Monday, July 29, 2019

A taste of the Edenton Tea Party

So reader Susan B. in North Carolina sent an email that she was sending me "a little something" in the mail. To my surprise, her "little something" was a box containing several individually wrapped gifts. I was intrigued!

Inside, there were some wonderful treats that were right up my alley. Green tea Chapstick (and I was almost out of lip balm) and green tea mints are certainly welcome gifts!

And I was tickled when I realized this postcard was an image from the famous Edenton Tea Party, the historic event in Edenton, N.C., where one Penelope Barker and her friends famously opposed the Tea Act by boycotting tea and refusing to “conform to ye pernicious Custom of Drinking Tea.”

Then I realized this card contained a beautiful, clear photo of the Edenton teapot historical marker that I'd not seen before. When I turned the card over, I learned that Susan took the photo! Inside, she included a few articles she thought I would enjoy, and I did, including one that says African violets benefit from a drink of chamomile tea. I will be trying that!

And when I opened the last gift (I saved the biggest to unwrap last), it was this fabulous cookbook,  Take Tea at the Barker House, which I didn't even know existed. And you know what occurred to me? In just five years, it will be the 250th anniversary of the Edenton Tea Party, so I hope the good people of Edenton are even now planning a mega celebration. Wouldn't that be a great time to have a gathering of tea lovers come to town? I may have to start making a few inquiries now!

Friday, July 26, 2019

A particularly tea-ish issue of Victoria magazine

Friends, the September issue of Victoria magazine is one that some of you will not want to miss! It's the annual British Issue, yes, but I was smitten when I saw the words "The gracious ritual of taking afternoon tea" on the cover. (Like we've never read an article about afternoon tea, right? Still, there is always more to learn.)

This spread was just beautiful, and I give bonus points to those who feature Elmwood Inn Fine Teas.

And I give even *more* bonus points when I come across a piece of silver-plate I've never seen before! Do you know what the gorgeous bell-shaped piece is? Click here if you'd like to know.

And as if all that weren't fun enough, there's a "Behind the SEAMS" feature on costumes in the series The Crown. Lots of fun for tea lovers and Anglophiles, in other words. Happy reading!