Monday, February 28, 2011

The 2011 Southeastern Flower Show

The springlike weather here in Georgia was much enjoyed by those of us attending the Southeastern Flower Show in Atlanta on Friday. I went with my friends Deberah and Amy, and we saw so many gorgeous things, which I'm sure Deberah will be writing about on her blog as well! "In Tune with Blooms" was the theme of this year's show, so many of the displays and exhibits were inspired by famous tunes. My favorite table setting was this one inspired by the song "Nature Boy" by Nat King Cole (and who doesn't love Nat King Cole!). I loved everything about it, from the rich tapestry looking fabric (it wasn't really tapestry; I touched) to the burlap overlay and the teawares on the table ... just lovely. They even had a cabbage teacup topping the iron chandelier ...

... and a cabbage teapot on the table! Perfect!

At left, you'll see a creative idea for a nature-inspired "pedestal" for serving.

I also liked this "stump" seating, which featured cute cushions. I just adored this display!

One of the more elegant garden club table settings was a tribute to Elton John, who lives part-time in Atlanta.

The glasses were a nice touch!

In the display gardens, I loved these mossy chairs the moment I saw them! Probably wouldn't be very comfortable to sit in, but oh my, how lovely!

Several of the retail exhibitors created wedding displays, and this one from A Legendary Event in Atlanta was stunning!

They created this amazing canopy from sheer ribbon, dangling crystals and glistening butterflies.

As gorgeous as it was at the flower show, I can only imagine how magical such a thing would be on site at a wedding!

Speaking of gorgeous, I truly enjoyed this display of "My Fair Lady" inspired floral designs, which remind me of my mom's head vase collection.

I'm rather partial to this film since it won Best Picture the year I was born and stars Aubrey Hepburn, with whom I share a birthday!

And finally, no flower show would be complete without a visit to the vendor aisles. This year there was a very elegant booth with lovely glass and antique silver.

And these stained glass nightlights caught my eye as well. But if you'll come back tomorrow, I'll show you my prize purchase, which was -- strange as it may sound -- the *prettiest* composting bin ever!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Tea Sandwich Saturday #9 - Turkey & Guava Paste

This week's tea sandwich isn't about the recipe so much as it is about the *idea.* I had decided I wanted to pair sliced turkey with something for this week's sandwich, but I couldn't decide what. Pear? Another cream cheese concoction? All I knew is that I wanted meat and something. Then on Wednesday, I joined my friend Ashly, whose husband is currently serving in Iraq, in a visit to the PX at Ft. Benning. I'd never visited a PX before, and those of you raised in military families can just imagine the surprises that greeted me!

There was a place where you could buy international foods, and several things came home with me: Some guava paste from Brazil, some Tea Time Pâté from Croatia, and some Chinese green tea with jasmine (made in America, but it appealed to me at the moment). All of this cost me just a little over $5.

Now I like juices that are blended with guava juice, so I had a feeling I might like the guava paste. When I sliced it, it was very firm, sort of like a really stiff cranberry sauce but with that nice tropical guava taste. For my tea sandwich, I used a scalloped cutter to cut rounds of white bread (frozen for easier cutting). I spread a thin layer of butter on each slice, then added the thin-sliced turkey and a thin slice of the guava paste. I liked the combination of the sweet guava with the salty turkey. Obviously this is not a food I'll have access to all the time, but it did encourage me to experiment with new ingredients.

Ashly had spotted the Tea Time Pâté, which is basically a $1 tin of deviled ham, but I had to get it because of the name. I used the Croatian pâté as a spread on Italian bread and then added a small round slice of the Brazilian guava paste as an accent, making this my most "international" tea sandwich thus far, I suppose.

I have so much guava paste left I will no doubt be able to conduct a few more culinary experiments. Fortunately, I found a great link online with suggestions for using guava paste. I really enjoy experimenting with new foods. Do you?

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Kimberly Shaw giveaway winner is ...

Susan of the Chipmunknits blog! If you'll send me your current mailing address via the e-mail button at right, I'll get these off to you. Congratulations!

"Fairy Tea Party" children's book

Many of us who collect books on tea enjoy having a few children's books in our collection as well. This week I received one I'd never heard of before from my friend Joanie, "Fairy Tea Party," written by Jamie Michalak and illustrated by Kaori Watanabe.

This 2008 board book is a simple one designed to teach children their colors. On these two pages, for instance, a blue teapot and white teacups are being gathered for a tea party. What a charming way to teach colors!

What I love most about this book, though, is the fun folk art look of the paintings. It's a nice change from the typical cartoon look of most children's teatime books. So if you know a young tea lover, or still feel like one yourself, you may want to check out this delightful book!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Kimberly Shaw stationery giveaway!

I'm sure many (if not all) of you are aware of the artist Kimberly Shaw, whose gorgeous teapot and teacup designs grace many a stationery item. Several times I've been treated to one of her lovely cards similar to this one with a teabag tucked right into the design on front of the card. It's beautiful *and* useful all at once!

When Kimberly asked if I'd like to have some of her goodies to give away on this blog I of course said yes, and she sent so many great things I can promise you quite a few of these giveaways will be in this blog's future! So let's begin with a sampling: How about a set of six tea-themed notecards and ...

... a pretty sheet of tea-themed stickers and ...

... four beautiful teacup magnets. Anyone interested? Yes, I thought so! Just leave a comment before 7 a.m. EST tomorrow and you'll be entered to win all these fun treats! And to experience even more stationery lust, visit the Kimberly Shaw store online. Good luck!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Quest for a tearoom's famous cake

Recently I mentioned a new teacup I had purchased which originally came from the famous Wanamaker's department store. That set me to thinking about the most famous department store in my own state, the late great Rich's. Years ago I found this vintage knife from Rich's on one of my junkin' expeditions and knew I wanted to save it as a memento of that dear, departed store.

I thought I had eaten at Rich's famous tea room, The Magnolia Room, as a little girl, but my mom said no, she doesn't think so, when I asked her about that recently, and I trust her memory over mine! One thing I know for sure, however, is that my family was a frequent customer of the Rich's Bake Shop, and a recipe that both they and the Rich's tea room were known for is their legendary Rich's Coconut Cake.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution had printed what was supposedly "the" recipe years ago, and I dutifully tried making it but it was a dud. It called for fresh coconut and had a gazillion steps, and it just tasted like a dried-out coconut cake. Soooo not worth the effort!

Recently, I saw the AJC had on its website an updated recipe for Rich's Coconut Cake, one developed with the assistance of a gentleman who had actually worked in the Rich's Bake Shop. I made one for Daddy, whose birthday was yesterday. The review? It was fairly tasty and definitely moister than the previous version but merely OK in my book. My dad — who is an expert cake baker himself and makes THE best coconut cake since Rich's — said convincingly that he thought it was "gooood." But I know better. I'm his daughter and he would have said that no matter what! So, my quest for the "real" Rich's Coconut Cake continues. Meanwhile, I've come across another department store tea room recipe for a dish I learned about from Phyllis in Michigan, the famous Maurice Salad once served at J.L. Hudson's Department Store in Detroit. I'll let you know how it turns out!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New teatime artwork

When I was shopping at my local Ross store a few weeks ago, I came across some journals with teacups on the cover (one was a recent blog giveaway), and they were marked Lissom Design 2011. As I browsed the stationery aisle, I also came across some boxed notecards which appeared to feature the same style of tea-themed artwork.

I don't know who the artist is, and I can't quite make out the initials or signature, but I sure like their work! This box of notecards features four different designs, including the attractive blue and white teawares on the box lid.

I really like these cards, and I thought $3.99 for a set of 20 large teatime cards (6-3/4 x 5 inches) was a terrific buy. If you happen to be in your local Ross store, you might want to look for some of these. And if you don't live near a Ross (similar to a T.J. Maxx or Marshalls), you can find other tea-themed stationery from Lissom Design by going here.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A lovely finish to Valentine's Week!

Last week I wrote about going to Valentine's Tea in Woodstock, but I also wanted to mention that the town has some great antique malls and shops that are worth checking out if you're in the neighborhood. One of my favorite finds, at a delightful antique mall called Pennybag Emporium, was this rosy teacup and saucer by Royal Winchester. Now I love roses in just about any shape, size or fashion, but the old-fashioned, full-blown pink and white ones are my absolute favorites.

I don't often come across teacup roses that look as soft and pretty as these, but when I do, I grab them!

It also helped to find this set had, for no apparent reason, been marked down $10. Excellent! So that's what I sipped my tea from during Valentine's Week.

Now I had assumed the celebrating was over on Monday, but on Friday afternoon I learned a delightful gift bag of treats had been dropped off for me at the office by my friend Joanie! What fun I had opening layers of pink tissue paper and sparkly tulle to find all the treats she had so lovingly gathered: A beautiful silhouette card, a delicious Toffee Crunch chocolate ball, a heart pen, a whimsical package of those cute stretchy bracelets that are so "in" right now, a red rock sugar wand (these are perfect for sweetening tea!), a gift card to Hastings book store here in Newnan (boy, will I enjoy using that!), and last but not least, a lovely little ribbon and roses bedecked glass I would have adored even if it hadn't contained Dove chocolates!

I have seen these elegant little glasses used in tea rooms for serving cream and/or lemon curd (yes, you can put both in a single glass). I will so enjoy using this and remembering what a fun Valentine's treat my friend surprised me with. It was an unexpected and thoroughly fun treat, and a terrific way to close out Valentine's Week 2011!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Tea Sandwich Saturday #8 - Japanese Potato Salad Sandwiches

So, have any of you ever tried a Japanese Potato Salad Sandwich before? I was definitely intrigued when Lani (see yesterday's post) sent me a copy of this recipe, and I knew I had to try it. Some of the ingredients left me guessing about size and variety, so I thought I'd also tell you specifically what I used to make these tasty little sandwiches and a unique new potato salad!

Japanese Potato Salad (as I made it)

3 medium-sized Idaho potatoes
1/2 cucumber, peeled, sliced and diced
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced and then pieces soaked in water
1/2 carrot, thin sliced and then each round chopped into quarters
2 slices thin-sliced deli ham, chopped fine
2 teaspoons rice vinegar (in the ethnic foods section of the grocery store)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons mayonnaise, or to taste
2 boiled eggs, chopped fine

Boil potatoes until skins start to peel off and potatoes are soft. Remove skins and mash the potatoes. While potatoes are still hot, add the rice vinegar, olive oil and salt. Mix potatoes, mayonnaise, the other vegetables (including drained onions), ham and chopped eggs. Yield: One large bowl of potato salad -- and dozens and dozens of tea sandwiches, I imagine!

As a fan of potato salad I enjoyed both making a new variety of it and trying it as a sandwich spread. Here, I made the filling in the sandwich at left look nice and smooth while the one at right looks a little more raggedy and potato salad-y. I think it would be fun to make the smooth looking sandwich for a tea party and then have guests guess what flavor it is! The only thing I'd change is that I would omit the onion for tea party sandwiches because I think the onion would overpower some of the other flavors being served. That said, I did take Japanese Potato Salad Sandwiches on white bread and wheat bread to work for lunch this week and absolutely loved them! Thanks, Lani, for the sandwich inspiration!

Friday, February 18, 2011

A new tea friend from Hawaii!

The other day I received in the office mail a completely unexpected but amazing package of goodies from a tea lover named Lani in Honolulu, who recently started reading this blog. The gifts she sent were fun and so thoughtful, and I'll definitely be sharing them in the days ahead, but my absolute *favorite* thing about this gift was that Lani shared so much of her heart and even included photos, which she kindly is allowing me to share with you! Here you see Lani and her husband Ken at A Cup of Tea, a Victorian tea room which opened in Kailua, Hawaii in 2008.

Lani has been reading the Tea Sandwich Saturday posts, so she shared some of the tea sandwich ideas she has enjoyed herself over the years, and I greatly enjoyed seeing them! She told of how she used to cut her sandwiches in the style of tea sandwiches to take to work, enjoying the variety and sharing them with her co-workers and also her husband. From left are tuna salad, smoked salmon, egg salad, ham with sliced mushrooms, ham and sliced Japan cucumbers, turkey, American and cheddar cheeses, all on enriched white bread. (Wouldn't you love to have been her co-worker!)

Other times, Lani said, she'd use her lunch hour to take a walk in the park, get a cup of her favorite Pomegranate Blueberry tea from Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf to accompany her tea sandwiches, and have her own simple tea party. I like the way she thinks!

Are any of you familiar with this? It's "kamaboko," a steamed Japanese fish cake whose color is a pretty pink. She likes to chop it up, add some mayo and fresh cracked pepper and make ...

... tea sandwiches! She thinks the color makes for pretty tea sandwiches, and I thoroughly agree!

I learned about Lani's lovely church (and a tea luncheon with a great speaker), some of the many other tea rooms she has visited (I'll have to show you one with unique topiaries sometime soon), and wait 'til you see all the cute-cute-cute baking items she sent! Hopefully I will be using them soon and show you the results. But today I wanted to end with this: Lani shared this photo of a very unique type of sandwich she has enjoyed. My scan is a little light, but I'm wondering if anyone cares to guess what kind of sandwich this is. She sent me the recipe and I made it myself for Tea Sandwich Saturday this week, so I'll be sharing it tomorrow. I think you'll be surprised ...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Some Unique British Tea Tins

Do you shop differently when you have a gift card? I'm pretty sure I do. If it's my own money I'm usually pretty thrifty, but when I have a gift card I almost insist on using it for something frivolous! And the other day I used a T.J. Maxx gift card on two unique tea tins filled with (very average) chocolate chip cookies, but golly, aren't these tin tea shops clever!

The awning design is something I've never seen on a tin before. The largest, for "Ludlows Bakery & Tea's," stands about 8-1/2 inches tall. Now as something of a grammar geek, I can't help wondering if this UK item ended up in the U.S. because that apostrophe should have been in Ludlow's and not in Tea's. At any rate, I thought it was quite cute and decided I could overlook the typo. (Almost!)

Here's a close-up view from under the awning, where you get a better view of the tea rooms and bakery. I love the thought that went into this design!

G. Woodrow Fine Tea Merchant, which stands about 6 inches tall, is the tin which originally caught my eye.

Upstairs a gent can be seen at a window near the tea sign.

And below, you can see the chest of tea and scales for measuring tea. Such details made me love these tins, and in case some of you like them too I wanted to give you a heads-up on them!