Monday, February 29, 2016

The weekend's Oscar fun

On Saturday night, Alex and I attended an Oscar Night gala held as a fundraiser for our local Boys and Girls Club. I can't remember the last time I got to get all dolled up in rhinestones and black velvet, and I must say we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! The event was held in a local developer's private hangar at the Newnan-Coweta Airport, transformed for the night into a swanky affair complete with red carpet, movie posters, and spotlights. Lots of fun, and there was a wonderful dinner as well.

The people at my table were all surprised and impressed that hospitality students from West Georgia Technical College provided the catering, and they were so attentive, it felt as if each couple had our own private server. (I could get used to that, sigh. Since I was drinking iced tea, I was asked not only whether I wanted more tea but also whether I wanted more ice and how much. Lovely!) There was a vast array of hors d'oeuvres, lots of dinner menu items (so many I couldn't possibly have tried everything I wanted), and then the dessert they brought out to us afterward was a real showstopper. They'd somehow managed to create a cookie in the shape of an Oscar statuette and had it standing atop a strip of "red carpet" in the center of the plate, along with a decadent chocolate mousse on one side and a rich and beautiful cheesecake on the other. Why no photos? It was too dark, and I didn't see others snapping photos, so I didn't either. But our "VIP treat" to take home was this golden box of sweets, which I thought was just lovely and which I enjoyed with my afternoon tea yesterday!

I was especially charmed by this little chocolate candy with a garnish of pistachio and dried fruit. Naturally, I thought how beautiful all these items would be on a tea tray. And wouldn't an Oscar-themed tea be fun? The treat box was an elegant and tasty memento of a fun evening, and all to benefit a great cause!

Photo courtesy of Linda Edmonds of Precious Memories Portraits

Saturday, February 27, 2016

My Country, 'Tis of Tea - Delaware

This week's focus is on Delaware, the first state. Now why is it called the first state? Because Delaware was one of the original thirteen colonies, and on Dec. 7, 1787, Delaware was first to ratify the Constitution.

• Speaking of the American Revolution period, Google Play Books led me to some interesting tea info from the free book "Delaware Archives - Revolutionary War in Three Volumes - Volume III," a reprint of the 1911-1919 edition. Apparently there was much discussion of some tea said to be missing from a store on Feb. 1, 1779, and it was fun to read how John said he saw Jacob sell the tea, Jacob said he bought the tea from Sgt. Rock, Sgt. Rock said he knew nothing about tea being taken out of the store except by others, etc. Considering that the Boston Tea Party was not that far in the past, I find it intriguing how many people seemed interested in getting some of that tea!

• It's always fun to look for an interesting old tea room in any state's past, and I enjoyed learning about the Old Court House Tea Room in New Castle, Delaware, which opened in 1926 adjacent to the old court house, shown on the postcard here. If you'll click here and scroll down, you'll learn of a famous customer who visited the tea room and ordered a chicken sandwich, a piece of cheese and a chocolate milkshake there in July of 1938. (Clue: Which child star was all the rage in 1938?) 

— Photo courtesy of Hotel du Pont

• So is there a good place to take tea in Delaware today? Of course, and one such place that was recently recognized with a coveted Zagat rating was the Green Room of the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, Delaware. According to the hotel's website, "Showcasing specially created blends of teas inspired by Longwood Gardens, Winterthur Estate, and Nemours Mansion and Gardens, and other neighboring Brandywine Valley museums, mansions, and gardens, our Tea Service is available daily." When I read that description, it reminded me that a tea blogger friend has actually reported on this particular hotel's tea before, so go here if you'd like to see more photos and my friend Phyllis's review!

Friday, February 26, 2016

An elegant new teacup

Today I wanted to share the last of the new teawares I recently received from my friend Ann. She said I needed this yellow teacup since it has pink and yellow roses on it, and to quote that great philosopher Annie Lennox of the Eurythmics, "Who am I to disagree?"

The design is quite elegant, but what really intrigued me was that tiny, tiny base on the teacup! I've never seen one so small! There's no ridge for it in the saucer, either, which I find interesting, yet I must say it does balance there just perfectly.

I love plates that are reticulated like this (meaning the porcelain features a pierced design).

It's a lovely new addition to my teacup collection, and I'm so grateful my friend thought of me when deciding to pass along some of her mom's lovely old things.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

More about Mayme Lee Clinkscale and her tearoom …

In Tuesday's blog post, I mentioned coming across an old photo of Mrs. Mayme Lee Clinkscale, at left, the proprietress of Chicago's Ideal Tea-Room, featured in a 1925 book about African-American progress. In that same book was another photo of a Mayme Clinkscale (no "Lee" in the name), at right, who was listed as a milliner. To my absolute delight, a savvy reader in New Hampshire, Marie Langlais, wrote to say that she found the mystery intriguing and put her genealogy research skills to fast use! I asked if I could have her permission to share her findings, and she graciously agreed. Here's what she found:

Using Ancestry and I was able to find that there were indeed two different Maymes. 

The milliner was married to a Forrest Clinkscale. The tea room owner (Mayme Lee) was married to a Martin Luther Clinkscale. Further research showed Forrest and Martin were brothers (who both married women named Mayme!). 

In the 1930 census Mayme Lee's occupation is listed as "caterer" and that she owned her own business. Her sister-in-law's shop was advertised in Black's Blue Book, 1921 as "Exclusive Millinery---Mourning our specialty". Black's Blue Book contained "Names addresses and phone numbers of colored home with a telephone. Classified List of Colored Business and Professional People".

There were 5 listings under "Tea Rooms" in the book: Bragg's, The Delmonico, Ideal, The Thorntine, and The University.

Both Maymes seem to have been quite successful at their businesses.

I was fascinated to learn this new information about not one but two successful Mayme Clinkscales, and I hope some of you are as well!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Roses as a theme …

The nice thing about collecting teawares with roses on them is that everything you love matches. Always. So when my friend Ann gave me these gorgeous pieces that belonged to her mother, I had no doubt I would find plenty at home to use them with. I definitely was not about to turn down this beautiful handled plate with pink, yellow, and white roses on it!

There were also two orphaned cups that she said I was welcome to find a use for.

The pink one was a pretty footed model, and …

The interior is stunning, so we both agreed it needs to be displayed where this will show.

I use the small (2-1/2-inch or so) cups like this to hold safety pins and other tiny items in my bathroom. But what struck me, as I unwrapped all these pieces once I got home, is how pretty everything looks together. And that's no surprise, I guess, when they all feature roses, is it?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Chicago's Ideal Tea-Room and Mrs. Mayme Lee Clinkscale

Since it's Black History Month, I thought it was the perfect time to share a wonderful old image I recently came across in the New York Public Library Digital Collections. This page is from a book titled The Souvenir of Negro Progress, Chicago, 1779-1925. This particular page features the Ideal Tea-Room and says, "A chic and colorful feature of social life in Chicago is 'The Ideal Tea-Room' at 3344 South Michigan Avenue. Whether the occasion is a breakfast-dance, a reception, or a banquet, by sorority, club, or frat, scarcely a day but witnesses some kind of exclusive function. It is the favorite rendezvous of the younger set. Mrs. Mayme Lee Clinkscale, Proprietress." It struck me as pretty amazing—and admirable—that long before the Civil Rights era, Mrs. Clinkscale was proprietress of her own tearoom, and it looks as though it was quite a lovely one, too.

My online searching turned up little else about Mrs. Clinkscale and her tearoom, but when I typed in simply "Clinkscale" on the NYPL Digital Collections site, it turned up this photo from the same book. As you can see at lower right, this Mrs. Mayme Clinkscale (no "Lee") was listed as a milliner at 3641 S. State St. (near the Chicago Public Library today). I think the Mrs. Clinkscale in the photo above looks quite different (and younger) than the Mrs. Clinkscale up top, so I'm intrigued and hope to learn more about the enterprising Chicago woman who was one of the earliest women to operate a tearoom!

Monday, February 22, 2016

A most meaningful gift of teawares

Some especially meaningful teawares came my way last week. After my friend Ann's mother, Dean, passed away, Ann asked if I would like any of her mother's old dishes and even sent me some photos to choose from. I knew immediately what I wanted. Years ago, I bought some moss rose tea and toast sets that had belonged to her mom, so when I saw the matching teapot, I knew that's what I would most like. I also had the pleasure of enjoying a few social occasions with her mother, who was a retired nurse, on several occasions, so I have a lovely lady to think of whenever I use this teapot. (I also remember eating some of her spiced pecans at a shower, and they were the best pecans I've ever eaten!)

When I got to Ann's house, however, I found she had assembled a few extras as well, mostly things that featured that same moss rose design. In fact, we have a mutual friend named Barbara, who is Ann's best friend, and she said, "Oh, here, Barbara pulled these for you as well." I couldn't help grinning, because I had insisted I wanted only the teapot, but as you can imagine, it isn't very hard to wear me down when teawares are involved! In fact, later this week I'll share more of them—and some wonderful old books I came home with as well.

The bowl and the vase were easy pieces to identify, but I was intrigued by this pretty heart-shaped set of pieces. Ann and I both guessed these were once used as ashtrays (imagine!), maybe with the little rounded piece at the top of the heart used for resting the cigarette. But I have been to a tearoom where old Tiara glass ashtrays were called into service to hold lemon curd and even tiny pieces of cut fruit. I'll bet if I used these in a pretty table setting, no "ashes" would ever come to mind! As I told Ann, I will treasure my new teapot and all these pieces, knowing they once belonged to her sweet mother. Do you have any teawares that are meaningful because they were passed along to you in a similar way? I'd love to hear about them!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

My Country, 'Tis of Tea — Connecticut

What do you know about Connecticut? That it's in southern New England and that it's the home of Yale University in New Haven? True enough, but there are some tea-related things about Connecticut that are worth knowing as well!

• What would you say is the most well-respected name in tea here in the U.S.? I would make the case that it is clearly Harney & Sons. The late John Harney was proprietor of the White Hart Inn in Salisbury, Connecticut some 30-plus years ago when he first developed a passion for fine teas. According to the company website, he was introduced to the world of tea by Stanley Mason, who taught him the art and the business of tea-blending. His home-based business there in Salisbury, Connecticut would become a worldwide operation, and today the Harney name is widely recognized for its quality tea. The company was even invited by the Historic Royal Palaces of England to create some English tea blends. Best of all, I think, is that the company is still family owned and operated today. I am a loyal fan of Harney teas, and I think Connecticut can be proud to claim them.

• Whenever I'm researching a particular state, I turn to the Library of Congress website and type in the name of the state and "tea" to see if any tea associations happen to pop up. I was intrigued to find there this 1933 photo titled "Father Sill's Tea." Who was Father Sill, and why were these boys having tea? Well, Father Sill was an Episcopal monk who founded the Kent School, a private school in Kent, Connecticut in 1906. Sill was also the headmaster and rowing coach at the school. In fact, the school's website says one reason he chose the location for the school was its location near a river. Kent is also known as the first secondary school in the country to charge students on a sliding scale, something that was important to Sill because he wanted the school to have students from all walks of life. In 1960, the school started admitting girls as well. I still don't know precisely what "Father Sill's Tea" was, but I was intrigued by the story of the monk who founded a school and served as a rowing coach. Maybe the boys were having a bracing cup of tea before a race!

• Those of us who collect vintage postcards enjoy looking at these beautiful old pieces of ephemera. This one, from 1911, features the late, great Edgewood Inn in Greenwich, Connecticut. Isn't it magnificent! The 150-room hotel sat on 350 acres of old farmland. Among the restaurants in the hotel was Ye Colonial Tea Room. For women, the hotel offered a reception room, parlor, and writing room as well. With a tearoom and a writing room, this hotel is one I certainly would have loved visiting, but alas, after the building was leased to a school from 1932-1940, it was eventually razed, and we can remember it and its tea room only through a postcard on Wikipedia.

Friday, February 19, 2016

A local send-off for "Downton Abbey" on March 6

Can you believe "Downton Abbey" is soon coming to an end? I'm actually a bit sad about that, but the local historical society is turning the final show into an occasion, one I hope some of you within driving distance of Newnan might be able to enjoy! On Sunday, March 6, the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society is hosting an advance screening of the final episode of "Downton Abbey" beginning at 5 p.m., and of course I sent my RSVP as soon as I heard about it. 

The fun begins at 4 p.m. with tea and dessert, and the DVD screening will be at 5 p.m. 

This event is free, but you do need to make reservations, so if you can make it to the McRitchie-Hollis Museum on March 6, I'll see you there!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Still celebrating Valentine's Day/Month

Tea friend Mary Jane wins the creative crafting award for Valentine's season of 2016 with this elaborate valentine I received from her over the weekend! Isn't this beautiful? I've got it standing on my office desk so I can enjoy it all month long!

The detail is just amazing, including this charming strand of sparkling red hearts pouring forth a cup of tea.

The Valentine wasn't all that was in the envelope, though. There was also a sample of tea and a cute little heart-shaped notepad. (That is going to be perfect for keeping a record of all my vintage valentines, something I've long needed to do!)

The tea was, appropriately enough, some Thé de Marie Antoinette from Nina's of Paris, a wonderful black tea scented with fresh apples and roses. I loved the charming valentine, and I was equally smitten by her clever way of packaging a sample of loose leaf tea! As soon as I can get to the store for some waxed paper, I am going to try to copy her example and start sending out a few such samples of my own. So thank you, Mary Jane, for the valentine, the tea, and the inspiration!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A new Bath and Body Works candle for tea lovers

Do you use scented candles in your home? I do, and yesterday I came across this cute travel-size candle at my local Bath and Body Works store and had to give it a try.

The graphic of Big Ben caught my eye, along with the words "Tea & Lemon." It truly does smell like sweet tea with lemon in it.

Even the bottom of the candle gets into the teatime spirit by saying, "It's teatime! Enjoy a majestic celebration with a royal blend of tea, lemon and sugar." And at just $4.50, these candles would be great for tucking into a tea-lover's gift basket as well!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Pomegranate Lemon Tea from Beautiful Earth Organics

When I was at Beautiful Earth Organics in Peachtree City last week, I naturally had to take some time to check out all the great tea samples they had on display. I love it when a shop has sniffable samples, because that always helps me make a decision. The tea I chose was one quite out of the norm for me, this Pomegranate Lemon tea.

The label said this tea featured the "succulent character of pomegranate infused with sweet and sour Andalusia Lemon." Something about that sounded mighty tasty to me!

I think I was also charmed by the pretty look of the blend, which includes organic black tea, calendula petals, lemon pieces, and natural flavors. Now I always seem to turn to peppermint teas and chai teas over the cool weather months, but I must say I enjoyed this departure from my norm with a nice fruity tea with a bright lemon flavor. I definitely need to make this tea and coffee shop a regular stop whenever I'm in Peachtree City!

Monday, February 15, 2016

The winner of the tote bag is ...

Loralie! And since I have your address there in Arizona, I'll get this headed your way ASAP. Congrats, and thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaways this week!

Beautiful Earth Organics in Peachtree City

One thing I've learned in my nearly three years as a freelance writer and editor is that I have to be intentional about scheduling time for my own projects. Last week, I planned ahead and actually had Friday listed as a sacred writing day on my calendar. It's taken me a while to learn this, but my commitments to myself are just as important as my commitments to clients and everyone else. And so it was that I was looking for a coffee shop where I could spend a few hours and focus on editing my first cozy mystery. A little Googling and I discovered a new-to-me place just ten minutes up the road, in Peachtree City, called Beautiful Earth Organics. It's at 300 Willowbend Rd., located near First Baptist Church of Peachtree City.

When I looked online, I saw they had great reviews, and it sounded as if they were quite open to visitors who wanted to come in and sit a spell. They offered organic coffees and teas, I learned, so this looked like a place I needed to know about.

The other thing that lured me there was a review I saw of something they call the "Fayette Fog." Peachtree City is in Fayette County, and their Fayette Fog is a creamy Earl Grey concoction, and Oh. My. Goodness. This drink was incredible, with a delicious Earl Grey (they fill the silken tea bag themselves with fresh loose leaf tea), infused with vanilla and then a little froth on top. Heavenly!

I'd also read on their Facebook page about their Green Tea Cookies. What I did not realize until I was there in person is that these were mega cookies, about five or six inches in diameter. Mine was fresh out of the oven and brimming with white chocolate chips and sultanas. Again: heavenly!

Best of all, I spent several hours there poring over my manuscript, noting what works and what doesn't and what I need to rewrite before I submit my novel for publication. It was definitely time well spent, and the delicious new treats made it an enjoyable as well as productive day!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The tea mug winner is …

Nancy in northeast Iowa! I've sent you an email so I can get your snail mail address, and this tea mug is soon headed your way. Congrats!

Valentine's Week Giveaway #7

The local Books A Million store has a whole display of Alice in Wonderland goodies, and I decided this canvas tote bag would be the perfect gift to end on for this year's Valentine's Giveaway Week. The quote is one I love: 

"Take some more tea," the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.

"I've had nothing yet," Alice replied in an offended tone, "so I can't take more."

"You mean you can't take less," said the Hatter. "It's very easy to take more than nothing." 

This quote combines my love of tea with my (slight) grammar nerdiness, so of course I love it. If you'd like to be entered to win, just leave an "Enter me" comment by 7 a.m. EST tomorrow, Feb. 15, and this bag just might be headed to your home! (Please make sure I have a way to contact you if you're the winner.)

The vintage valentine I'm sharing today is probably my favorite of those I've found online in the past year. It's got a little marking on the inner handle, and I strongly suspect some child of yesteryear did that, so I don't necessarily mind it. Adds authenticity!

This is another mechanical valentine, meaning a part of it moves. When you swing the teapot lid to the right, a cute little fellow pops up.

This valentine is unusual because it's signed with the names of two people, "from Russel & Thelma Traver." Brother and sister, I'm guessing? I hope you've enjoyed seeing my vintage valentines this week, and I want to wish you all a happy, happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The coloring book winner is ...

Linda at Friendship Tea! I know your address, so I'll get this headed your way shortly. Congrats, and happy coloring!

Valentine's Week Giveaway #6

So who needs a new tea mug? This cute oversized tea mug (a clearance item from T.J. Maxx, I'm happy to report) seemed perfect for a giveaway this week since it reads "There's always Time for Tea with You." If you'd like to win the tea mug, just leave an "Enter me" comment to this post before 7 a.m. EST tomorrow, February 14 (making sure I have a way to contact you if you're the winner), and you'll be entered to win.

The vintage valentine I'm sharing today is another teakettle design, this one with a cute kitten in the background.

I love the little message inside this card, but I've had trouble deciphering that name after the "I love you" written in pencil. Is that Tat? Dat? Pat? Jat? Any thoughts on that?

And while I don't normally have a blog post on Sundays, since tomorrow is actually Valentine's Day, I felt the Lord would approve of my having a giveaway on the day itself this year! It is my favorite gift of the week, so I hope you'll stop by and check it out!