Friday, May 31, 2013

A rescued teacup windchime

Do any of you like to go "junkin'" for good junk? I do. I recently came across a 1968 book about "junkin'" in an antique mall and got it for a junker friend I suspected would love it, and she did. We both were surprised to find the term in use that long ago. Although I love antique malls and flea markets and love to come across fine things in great condition at a good price, I also love to find the less-than-perfect item, too. In this case, it was a $3 teacup windchime on the clearance cart at T.J. Maxx.

It was missing the hook up top to suspend it, and I thought surely I could find something to fix that!

And so I did. With a little scrounging around in the kitchen junk drawer I soon had a new windchime, a rescued $3 piece that makes me happier than if I'd found it brand spanking new. Funny how that works sometimes!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Uncle Si's Tea Glass

Let it never be said we are snobs here at the Tea With Friends blog. Just because we review fine Parisian teas one day doesn't mean we can't review convenience store plasticware the next. And so, friends, I proudly present to you one of this home's greatest souvenirs of our recent road trip, these copies of Uncle Si's Tea Glass from the fine A&E show "Duck Dynasty."

Now when my husband first started watching the show, I usually saw all that camouflage and hightailed it upstairs to stick my nose in a decorating magazine for the evening. But one night he challenged me to actually watch the show. I thought I'd give it 10 minutes and cross that off my list, but like lots of Americans I became a fan! Turns out, these famous duck call makers with the Duck Commander company are just a fun bunch of folks who value faith and family, and furthermore they are just plain fun to watch. I love the dad, Phil (who is always "happy, happy, happy"), and his wife Miss Kay, all the boys and their "yuppie" wives, but my favorite of these celebrities is the fellow pictured here, crazy old Uncle Si. He doesn't have a smile here but he often does on the show, and he is famous for carrying around a pitcher of unsweet tea everywhere he goes, tea which must be sipped from his ratty old plastic glass (vintage Tupperware, I believe). I saw on Facebook recently where Willie and his wife Korie were in the area to speak at a church. A young man who was a fan of the show was in the hospital and unable to attend, so they went to his hospital room and personally visited with him. I *love* stories like that!

So, when we stopped at some convenience store halfway between Wisconsin and Georgia and came across these Duck Commander glasses (only $1, because the clerk didn't know the price and just made one up), we were what you might call happy, happy, happy!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Some great new products from Le Palais des Thés

Le Palais des Thés asked if I'd like to sample some new products and of course I said yes. I must say it was an especially fragrant package that awaited on my doorstep recently!

Four new teas arrived from this Parisian tea company, and I've just sampled two of them. As soon as I opened the packet of La Menthe Glaciale (Frosty Mint), I got a nice strong whiff of peppermint. Brewed, this green tea had a very invigorating taste, much more minty than most. There was no grassiness from the green tea, and I enjoyed this tea as an after-dinner treat one night.

My highest praise, however, must go to this *simply marvelous* La Poire (Pear) flavored tea, a green tea made even prettier with marigold flower petals. Now I love pears. I've tried quite a few pear-flavored teas in my day, most of which were fine but merely "suggested" pears. Few of them really had what I'd call a true pear taste. As soon as I opened this packet, though, I detected a true pear fragrance and got my hopes up. Could it be? Indeed, yes! You know that first bite of a pear when you get that sugary rush from the fresh juices bursting forth? That's how I felt sipping this tea! I'm looking forward to trying the other two teas soon (and will review them, of course), but after such success with these two I figured I'd better stop!

A surprise in my package was one of their new luxury tea-scented candles. (Have you noticed how high-end candles are all the rage in gift stores these days?) This one is the Thé du Hammam candle, which "recalls the sensual, intimate atmosphere of the Turkish bath ... an Eastern celebration of fresh green tea, delicate rose petals and orange blossom, ripe red fruits and crystallized fruits."

This line of candles (featured here) is definitely of the deluxe variety, as the elegant packaging indicates, and the candle is said to burn for about 50 hours! The fragrance is very rich and almost spicy, yet it isn't too overpowering at all. I imagine I'll be seeing these yummy candles in all the decorating magazines soon, and you can see them now by visiting Le Palais des Thés online here.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

2013 Memorial Day in Senoia

In my neck of the woods, one of the biggest and best Memorial Day celebrations around is the one in Senoia ("Suh-NOY" -- it rhymes with "boy"). Vendors selling everything from antiques and jewelry to soaps and locally-produced honey come out in full force on Memorial Day, and a highlight of the day is always the afternoon's parade.

Here are some of the furniture offerings I spotted. Alas, I didn't find any teawares this year, although as you'll soon see, I did indeed spot some tea. (Sort of!)

Here the crowd begins to pause for ...

... the presentation of the colors.

And here's another vendor booth, this one sporting lots of red, white and blue.

I should mention that Senoia is also where "The Walking Dead" films. I've never actually gotten around to watching the show (and one of my friends is an extra, for Pete's sake!), but I can tell you it is all the rage here. This building right on Main Street is the Woodbury Town Hall in the show. My friend who owns a store in Senoia says some customers were standing there raving about the show one day, and what they didn't know was that one of the staffers on the show was standing right there listening. And smiling, of course!

You wanna know what makes me smile? Seeing these older veterans come out for the Memorial Day Parade. My loudest applause is for these men. I don't normally get too choked up about much in life, but I must confess I go all wobbly over patriotic celebrations, thinking of the men and women who've fought for the freedoms I enjoy today.

Some of the local young dancers showed up, stylish as ever.

As were the older girls as well!

Senoia has lots of antique automobile enthusiasts, and there were many great old cars in the parade.

Another misty-eyed moment for me always comes when the Army Band passes by with a rousing tune.

And I don't think any float sported more flags than this Boy Scout float.

I know "tea party" groups these days can draw different reactions depending on the particular group and on one's political views, but I was pleased to see the chest of tea on this group's float.

Tea on parade. Gotta love that!

And I especially liked how this float ended with a sober reminder that yes, we kick off summer and celebrate on Memorial Day, but hopefully we also use the occasion to remember fallen soldiers as well. Another fine job and another great parade, Senoia!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day!

Hope everyone has a safe and Happy Memorial Day today!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Tea Room Recipe #21 - Cranberry Tea Room (San Bernardino, Calif.)

This week I had a good excuse to use my $1 green Depression glass grill plates I found last Christmas. This seemed the perfect plate on which to serve this week's "luncheon" type tea room recipe, Spaghetti Salad!

This recipe comes from the "Cranberry Tea Room Cookbook," a 1992 book by Richard Martinez. The book jacket says this about the tea room: "Founded in 1980 by Richard Martinez and the late Robin Denslow, The Cranberry Tea Room was originally located in the 40th Street shopping mall in North San Bernardino, and was one of just two eating establishments in the area that could be called 'upscale.' Martinez, a native of Texas, had spent over a decade in the restaurant business prior to opening the Tea Room, and brought to the new venture a wide range of American and Mexican specialties, plus his consummate management skills. Denslow designed the interior of the new establishment, combining a flavor of Paris and a touch of the exotic to create a unique decor that was both tasteful and complementary to the cuisine." (That, I thought, explained the presence of so many Mexican recipes in the book. I love Mexican, but not generally in conjunction with my teatimes!)

Cold pasta salads very much appeal to me at this time of year, and this Spaghetti Salad sounded great. I loved the flavor, and I absolutely agree that you *must* let it marinate thoroughly! Yields 6-8 servings.

Spaghetti Salad

1/2 pound spaghetti, cooked according to package directions and drained
1 small can sliced black olives, drained
1 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup green onions with tops, sliced
1 small can sliced mushrooms, drained
1/2 cup green pepper, diced
1/2 cup radishes, sliced
1 (16-ounce) bottle vinegar-and-oil Italian dressing
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and toss well. Cover and let flavors marinate in the refrigerator for at least 7 hours or overnight. The book notes you could add any leftover vegetables you may have to vary the flavors, but I made this just as-is and very much enjoyed it as my lunch one day this week!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Thrifting in Wisconsin

So far my perfect record for finding thrift store goodies in Wisconsin remains unbroken. Each trip, I seem to come across a few bargains, and when we're in the car (as opposed to the times we've flown), I am happy for the space to transport goodies back to Georgia!

After I received a miniature African violet a few months ago, I found that demitasse size teacups (like this one) are perfect for displaying them. I don't want to spend more than a few dollars for my glorified flower pots, though, so this $1.99 set fit the bill. I also love the unique handle!

I have a green glass plate matching this pink Cremax one and just love it, using it to serve everything from cookies to cake to tea sandwiches. This was well worth the $4.99 I paid for it!

And finally, this old Homer Laughlin salad-size plate ($1.99) is something I bought purely for the graphics. Isn't that just a happy design of a bird and flowers? It says spring to me — and spring in Wisconsin!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

On a stroll through the neighborhood

When I got married I gained some wonderful stepchildren and, very soon afterwards, grandchildren. The two in Wisconsin, Michael and Andrew, are just some of the sweetest little boys around. Their chubby cheeks and bright blue eyes make us smile all the time!

On trips to Wisconsin, I've learned that it's always going to be cooler there than in Georgia, yet I was surprised to see that it's still early, early spring up there. Daffodils and tulips are in abundance, while those spring favorites are long gone back here in Georgia. The flowering trees were just beginning to bloom, and one morning Alex and I decided to take the boys for a stroll around the neighborhood, where I saw these grape hyacinths, or muscari.

Their mom told us it also happened to be the day of the annual neighborhood yard sale. I didn't think too much about it at first, but we began to come across some fun stuff, like this wonderful red "hand" chair. (I'd have bought this for my "junker" friend if we weren't going to have to cart it 900 miles back home!)

Fortunately my husband had cash on him, because I found a sale with a few goodies I just *had* to have, like these old floral prints for just 75 cents each.

A demitasse teacup and saucer for $2 was perfect for the miniature African violets I am starting to grow.

I found a whole batch of silverplate for $1, including some spoons with my beloved ribbons on them and old forks with an "N," my mother Nancy's initial.

This vintage Christmas magazine with some great recipes was the happy price of 50 cents.

And an Occupied Japan lemon server, in perfect condition, was $1.50.

And just for future reference, I can report that a baby stroller also makes for a great rummage sale shopping cart!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Paducah, Kentucky & The National Quilt Museum

We just returned from a trip to Wisconsin to visit family, and on the way we spent a night in Paducah, Kentucky so I could visit the National Quilt Museum. I have wanted to visit this museum for years, and after tea friend Denise in Alabama recently visited during the town's annual Quilt Week and shared some photos, I wanted to visit even more!

Here are some of the pretty quilt-design stained glass windows near the museum's entrance. Like a lot of museums, this one doesn't allow photos inside, which I understand since flashing lights fade the quilts, for one thing. Fortunately, I had a notebook with me and wrote down names of the quilts that impressed me most so I could look them up later. Susan Stewart had two quilts I absolutely adored, "Tulips of Fire" (shown here) and "Radiance" (shown here). Even the detailed photos online don't do these quilts justice. When I stood in front of the tulips quilt, I found myself searching for words to describe the embroidery on this magnificent piece. "Shimmering" is the one I finally settled on. And "Radiance" may be the most gorgeous quilt I have ever seen in my life. I went back to it twice to stand there and just admire all the details and marvel at how much time and *love* went into this piece. I've always been partial to entirely handmade quilts since I'm such a fan of hand sewing, but today's quilt artistry has made me change my mind about this bias. A machine may help push the needle down into the fabric, but it takes an artist and master stitcher to make that machine do all the incredible stitching I saw on these quilts. "Radiance" was absolutely magical, and I think it fed my creative soul simply to look at it.

I didn't come across a teapot or teacup quilt in the museum, but I did find these cute Carol Wilson teapot notecards and a great mousepad by Rebecca Barker in the well-stocked gift shop!

I've seen these Carol Wilson notecards pictured online before but never owned a pack of them. Many times I've mistaken these for an actual quilt pattern when I've seen them, so I was happy to find them and believe they would make a great basis for a quilt. After seeing the museum's amazing display of miniature quilts (under 24 inches), such as these stunning works by George Siciliano, I now have a hankering to make a little bitty quilt, because somehow it seems like a more manageable project (although I would certainly never attempt something as complex as the Siciliano quilts). As you can tell, ideas were popping into my head like crazy just by being around such beautiful and creative quilts!

Several times over the years I have purchased fabric from Hancock's of Paducah, but somehow it didn't really register with me that it was in, well, Paducah, until we got off the interstate and I saw this sign on the way to the quilt museum. My DH was quite accommodating and dropped me off to browse a spell while he visited the riverfront.

I left with some clearance-priced Anna Griffin fabric (the pink rose design), and a fabric I'd never seen before, this J. Wecker Frisch fabric with blue teapots. I was thinking "napkins," but after visiting the quilt museum and fueling my quilt lust I may hold onto it for a while. Decisions, decisions.

We also toured Paducah's scenic riverfront and viewed the wall of murals by Robert Dafford. The murals tell the history of Paducah and are quite impressive!

We left Paducah and on the way to Peoria, Illinois, made a spur-of-the-moment visit to the St. Louis Arch.

I had no idea the huge park leading up to the arch would be so lovely, lush and green!

And why were we headed to Peoria? So my husband could visit the Caterpillar Visitors Center. He humored me with a stop at the quilt museum, so I couldn't begrudge him a stop at the Caterpillar center! Definitely no tea goodies there, but he did leave with a Caterpillar coffee mug, although I think my teapot notecards are the better souvenir. It's always fun to visit new places, and my sweetheart is a lot of fun to travel with!