Monday, October 15, 2018

A fall visit to Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground, Georgia

Over the weekend, my friend Lynn and I went to Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground, Georgia. I think I’m the last person in my neck of the woods to pay a visit, as everybody I know seems to have been raving about the place for years, but Lynn had a guest pass and invited me to go with her on Saturday, and what a gorgeous feast for the senses this was!

At my house, the plants have largely given up for the year. Not these!

Gibbs Gardens is so well laid out, and on Saturday, they had a live band playing in the midst of the gardens, so we ordered lunch at the Arbor Café and enjoyed the music. Lynn recommended their Tarragon Chicken Salad, so I got a sandwich and tea for lunch. (And the chunky chicken salad was terrific!)

Did y’all know that Gold Peak makes a Lemonade Tea? I did not, and for a bottled tea, this one was pretty good! Lynn liked her Sweet Tea as well.

It was a fabulous way to welcome fall, and I’m happy that now I know what all the well-deserved praise was about. Here are a few more photos of the day. Enjoy!

Friday, October 12, 2018

A tea party for … Rover?

I keep finding new-to-me tea-related images on the Library of Congress website, but this one (just half of a stereograph, interestingly enough) takes the cake! Copyright 1906, it's titled "Celebrating Rover's Recovery," and I'm not sure all those "Rovers" are having a good time at the tea party, but the little girls sure are.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Chai Spiced Vanilla mix goes to …

Donna Z.! And I've just sent her an email, so hopefully I'll have this on the way to Donna's home very shortly. Congrats!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A Teacup Quilt Along that's free!

I've been keeping an eye out for a small fall project to take along on a trip that I'll be enjoying soon, and my friend Joy spotted a link that she passed along to me at the absolute perfect time. The From My Carolina Home blog is hosting an Autumn Jubilee and Teacups Quilt Along, and I love that these patterns are going to remain on the blog and are free!

The first block is featured on page 57 of this Cups and Saucers book, which I realized I have owned for a while but have never used to actually stitch anything. And if you don't have the book but would like to stitch along, you can find the pattern through links on the blog post above.

I'm going to assemble a small baggie of fabrics and take this along on my trip. Surely, surely I can stitch one block a month. Would any of you like to join me?

Monday, October 8, 2018

October Giveaway: Chai Spiced Vanilla

For the October giveaway, I picked up this cute bag of Chai Spiced Vanilla at T.J. Maxx over the weekend. All you have to do is add hot milk, and I've had this type of chai before and enjoyed it when I wanted a hot beverage that was a little thicker than just regular tea. So I'm hoping that one of you will enjoy trying this treat as well!

If you'd like to win the the chai, simply leave an "Enter me" to this post between now and 7 a.m. EST on Thursday, October 11, making sure to include an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner, and you'll be entered to win. US only, please. Good luck!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Nurses at tea … a hundred years ago

"Nurses home, 11th. Street, New York City. Afternoon tea." That's all the identifying information I found with this photo from the Library of Congress website. I love so much about this photo, from the wicker chairs to the radiator in the background and the hat on the woman at center.

And this photo, a gift to the Library of Congress from the American National Red Cross, is from 1918, so I love the fact that we're looking at some of our kindred spirits from 100 years ago!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Herbal Essences Cucumber & Green Tea Shampoo and Conditioner

It's been a while since I've come across any new cosmetics with green tea as an ingredient, but while I was at Kroger over the weekend, I found this new (to me at least) Herbal Essences shampoo and conditioner with cucumber and green tea. Since it said "sheer moisture," I was hopeful that the products would indeed moisturize my hair, which seems to have gotten a lot dryer as I've gotten older. I'm happy to say that the shampoo and conditioner not only smell great, with a pleasant floral scent, but they also work great and have left my hair shiny and much softer.

And as I've learned to do, I checked the ingredients list on both products to be sure they actually included some camellia sinensis, and they do! Have you tried this shampoo and conditioner? Or come across a new cosmetic with tea as an ingredient? If so, I'd love to hear about it!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Stash Licorice Spice Tea

I haven't bought any Stash tea in a while, but I'd been thinking about it since their attractive new packaging has been catching my eye at the grocery store lately. And because Stash tea was on sale at Kroger over the weekend, that's the brand I tried.

The Licorice Spice herbal tea appealed to me. I like licorice in small doses. If we're together at Easter, I will gladly eat the black jelly beans for you. But I was a little nervous about trying this tea. If it suggested licorice, it would be great. But if it was purely liquid licorice, well … I wasn't so sure about that.

Now I'd be willing to bet at least half of my tea friends are firmly in the just-say-no-to-licorice camp, but for those who like the flavor of licorice, I have to tell you, this herbal tea was awesome! It's really just a spicy, peppery tea, and the warm flavor was exactly the pick-me-up treat I was looking for. It's also naturally sweet enough that it satisfied the sweets craving I was having, and with no sugar added. When I looked at the ingredients, I found that this tea contains licorice root*, cinnamon, orange peel, star anise, vanilla extract, sarsaparilla, orange oil, natural cinnamon flavor, clove bud oil, and cardamom oil. No wonder I found this tea so sweet! (And just as a caution, I should mention that the website notes, "Licorice root is not intended for use during pregnancy and while nursing, or if you have heart disease or high blood pressure.")

So satisfy my curiosity, friends. Licorice—yes or no?

Friday, September 28, 2018

Tea Lovers' Book Club: "A Literary Tea Party" by Alison Walsh

Summary: You have to love a cookbook that was inspired by a blogger (!) who was asked to turn her "Alison's Wonderland Recipes" blog into a book. And if you're a book geek as well as a tea lover, this charming cookbook is a must for your library.

My thoughts: The author has created recipes for teatime foods and beverages inspired by classic literature, including favorites like Anne of Green Gables and The Wizard of Oz and Little Women. For those who enjoy hosting themed tea parties, the author helpfully includes menus for entire themed teas, such as Alice's Mad Tea Party, Aslan's Feast (inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia), and Murder Most Delicious: A Detective Tea Party, which features recipes inspired by Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie. As a writer, I thoroughly enjoyed a couple of the author's observations about food in books. She writes, "If we pay close attention, we'll notice that bread in books is rarely eaten alone. Instead, it is almost always shared, be it among family at a dinner table or fireside companions on a lonely trail." She also notes that desserts "are often connected to characters' emotions." How intriguing!

The judgment: This is such a clever idea for a cookbook, and I found quite a few recipes I want to try. The Blood Orange Scones (from "The Five Orange Pips" by Arthur Conan Doyle ) are going to be tempting once blood oranges are in season, and Arrietty's Mini Cherry Cakes (from The Borrowers by Mary Norton) are so elegant (and easy!) that I can already see these on my table at a Christmas tea.

For discussion:

• Do you hold themed teas? I have held seasonal teas and Royal Wedding teas but no themed teas. I'm thinking I need to consider a literary tea. (Possibly soon!)

• Do you find yourself thinking about the food in books? One time, I was reading a book that made some barbecue sound absolutely delicious. Now I'm not a big barbecue fan at all, but after reading about barbecue, I suddenly was eager to visit a local barbecue joint that night. Is it the power of suggestion? Or is it just that we're so easily influenced when we're hungry?

(Special thanks to NetGalley for the review copy of this book!)

Next Month's Book: The Harlequin Tea Set and other Stories by Agatha Christie

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The new Tea Time! ornaments from Hallmark

Now that my local Hallmark store has closed and my nearest mall Hallmark store has closed, I find I'm missing the fun of going to the store to see the new Christmas ornament releases. But I did have the presence of mind to remember that I needed to get my order in early for the third release in the Tea Time! ornament series from Tracy Larsen. (Here are the 2016 and 2017 ornaments in the series, which I consider a must for ornament collectors who happen to be tea lovers.)

And happily, these adorable new Nutcracker teacup and teapot ornaments are now available on and as well, so if I don't come across another Hallmark store soon, I can always go the online route. Maybe you too?

(Photos courtesy of

Monday, September 24, 2018

Now that autumn is here …

So Saturday was officially the first day of fall, but here in Georgia, it sure didn't feel like it. Do you know, the weather forecaster the other morning said that this year, we had more ninety-degree days in September than we did in August. I believe it! Still, knowing that it's officially fall gave me the go-ahead to start thinking about fall teas and tea wares. The other day, I happened to notice I had randomly stacked these three cranberry-colored teacup-and-saucer sets near each other in the tea cabinet. The one on the top was a recent find from Rome, Georgia, the one on the bottom was a souvenir from Rome, Italy, and the one in the middle came from eBay.

I've had this Pumpkin Ginger Tea from Republic of Tea on my mind for weeks now, but I didn't actually drink any until the weekend. By the way, do you all enjoy exploring all the new pumpkin-flavored treats each fall? I was in line at JoAnn on Saturday and noticed both Ghirardelli chocolate squares in a new pumpkin flavor as well as pumpkin spice piroulines, those cylindrical cream-filled wafer cookies that are so pretty on a dessert plate or embellishing a scoop of ice cream. But I'm waiting on a review from a friend (maybe one of you?) before I try those!

Even my reading tastes change in the fall, and I'm waiting till I detect that first nip in the air to crack open the most recent Jan Karon novel, the opening scene of which occurs on October 1. Do you pull out the fall tea wares at this time of year? Or have any tea or other rituals that you look forward to in the fall? I'd love to hear about them!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Mr. Titian Peale and Miss Mary Peale at tea

So the Library of Congress website says this: "Photograph shows Titian Peale, Miss Mary Peale, and another woman (seated on the left) sitting at a table set for tea, with a large silver tea service on the fore-edge of the table; they are in a room with two large windows at the rear with plants growing in pots on the windowsills, there is a small book shelf on a chest of drawers between the windows, along with books there is a small portrait that may be Titian as a younger man, and there is a large painting hanging behind Mary Peale."

Now, have I lost my mind, or is there no woman at left? I see what might have been a body, maybe, but … well, there's no head on it, or else that head is transparent, which is a wee bit creepy.

(Click here if you want to go to the LOC website and see the photo at the largest size.)

I am just flummoxed by this picture. But I am intrigued that Titian Peale, famous naturalist and photographer, was having tea! I still haven't figured out his relationship to Mary Peale, but I'm guessing a sister or niece since she is "Miss." If any of you happen to know, please share!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Finding Joy and Faith at Goodwill

So last Friday, the day I told myself I was going to look for lace and laciness everywhere I went, I happened upon this set of two plates at Goodwill in Carrollton. The set was marked $2.12 with a B, and since the "B" items (blue) were half off last week, that meant $1.06 for the set. Just 53 cents apiece, which struck me as a deal. Now I don't normally like to buy a set of anything that I can't see half of, but since I couldn't very well stand there and rip off the tape, I decided I'd take a chance. Besides, even if the second plate was a dud, who couldn't use a little more "Joy" in their life, right?
I got home and discovered the second plate read "Faith" and featured a teapot on a lace doily. Kind of ironic, isn't it, that I found a plate with a teapot, lace, and the word "Faith" on it that day?

When I first saw the "Joy" plate, I thought it was a Sandy Clough design, but then I noticed the name Galen Huang. Never heard of this artist before, but I sure like the plates, and I was very happy that these cleaned up so well.

Now my cleaned-up plates are hanging happily next to a Sandy Clough print that she actually signed for me many, many years ago at a women's conference I was attending. And that's my tale of lace, Joy, and Faith!

Monday, September 17, 2018

A Cambridge Lace Tea Mug

Now this is just weird. You know how I wrote about my book-fueled lace fixation on Friday's blog post? Well, later that very day, my aunt and I were shopping when I had the thought that I wished I had a lace-themed mug or teacup to use at my desk while working on the book, but I knew of only one teacup with a lace pattern, and it is black, and I was thinking "white lace." I'd told myself that morning to exercise my imagination by looking for lace-like things while I was out and about that day. Set your mind to it, and that's easy enough to do. I spotted spider webs and "lacy" highway railings, and in an antique mall, I spotted a vintage lace bridal veil and some lace doilies. But in T.J. Maxx, I was nearly speechless when I came across this lovely mug. Why?

It's from Cambridge Lace! Now isn't that a bit of serendipity?

When I spotted it with the other mugs, I thought, "Now wait a minute. How on earth is THAT supposed to work with holes in it?" Then I ran my fingers over both the inside and outside of the mug. While I could definitely feel a different texture to that part of the mug, I couldn't feel a seam or a hole or anything, as I had assumed that surely a glass (glass?) hole or two would be punctured. Hmm. Could this thing work? I had to find out. 

I've been using it only a few days, and I have already gotten so much enjoyment from using my new "magic tea mug," as I've taken to thinking of it. It also comes in an oversized teacup style, in case you're interested in visiting your own T.J. Maxx to look for one. And this wasn't the only lace-and-tea item I picked up on Friday. In my next post, I'll share what lacy goodness turned up at Goodwill … for just $1.13!

Friday, September 14, 2018

The fall tea and tea towels winner is …

Heather of the Blue Jeans and Teacups blog! And since I already have Heather's address, I can get this headed her way. Thanks to all of you who entered!

For the love of linens and lace

A few months ago, I had an idea for yet another cozy mystery, so yes, I'm in the midst of writing my third while I'm still editing numbers one and two. And while I'm in various stages of edits with the two other 75,000-word books, I got so excited about the next book that I started working on it right after Labor Day.

The new book is about a woman who restores old lace and linens. I've never really thought of myself as consciously "collecting" lace and linens, but as I looked back over the years of this blog, I can see that lace and vintage linens have indeed shown up here a time or two. I'm pretty sure most of you have a thing for lace and linens as well.

So I've got a question for you. What's the favorite lace or linen item that you own? I'm looking for inspiration for some of the characters who will be consulting with my main character in the books ahead, and I'm curious what others would name as their favorite lace or linen item. (Mine is a vintage crocheted lace tablecloth I received as a wedding gift.) Do you have something you'd like to have repaired? I'd love to hear your stories!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A surprise package from Hawaii!

Over the weekend, I received an unexpected and thoroughly delightful package from tea friend Lani in Hawaii. The highly decorated envelope was just a hint of what lay underneath!

Lani had written a while back to tell me about a new puzzle she had found with a prominent tea scene. Well, she has enjoyed the puzzle herself and now is passing it along to me. I absolutely love this idea of a passalong puzzle!

She even included printouts of the completed puzzle, which will definitely be of help!

And look at this: she separated the edge pieces for me. (Hallelujah!)

And last but not least, she generously included some teatime treats: Biscoff cookies (which I usually get only when I'm on an airplane and they're offered) and some Hawaiian Royal Cream Crackers, which are sooooo good when dunked in a cup of hot tea! So thank you, Lani, for the great gifts and the great puzzle ideas! 

Monday, September 10, 2018

September Giveaway: Fall tea and tea towels

I'm so ready for fall, and to make sure you're ready, I decided that one of you could use a new set of fall tea towels and a box of Stash Decaf Chai tea for the September giveaway!

The set of two tea towels came from Ross, by the way, and I think the embroidered pumpkin design is perfect for fall. And since so many of you seem to be avoiding caffeine these days, I decided we'd have a decaf tea this time so you can enjoy the flavors of fall as well.

So if you'd like to win the tea and tea towels, simply leave an "Enter me" to this post between now and 7 a.m. EST on Friday, September 14, making sure to include an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner, and you'll be entered to win. US only, please. Good luck!

Friday, September 7, 2018

"4 children around table, having a tea party"

This photo from the Library of Congress, circa 1893, is labeled "4 children around table, having a tea party." It is a "Photoprint by Gatch," and the caption card has categorized it as "Tea drinking; Children playing adults; Ph. Ind. (any idea what that means?); Tea; Children Play; and Shelf."

When I noticed the trunk at left and the three older children swamped by their oversized garments, I realized this very likely is children pretending to be adults, and I find that quite charming. (These days, I just wish some of the adults I know would pretend to be adults, and I'll bet you do too! Ha!)

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

A head start on tea-themed Christmas ornaments

Usually by this time each year, I've added at least a few tea-themed Christmas ornaments to my collection. I hadn't seen a single new one all year until last week, at a local business luncheon, when a friend I see occasionally grabbed me and said, "Oh! I've got something for you in my pocketbook." And she pulled out these two ornaments she had tired of. So now I'm two ahead on this year's additions!

Then on Saturday, Aunt Jane and I were browsing at the Blake House Thrift Store in Carrollton, a new-to-me thrift store we've been visiting for a few months. I looked past that $1.97 sticker, mentally corrected the label to say "knickknacks," and thought, "Hmm, is that what I think it is in that red velvet box?"

And indeed it was a cloisonnĂ© teapot ornament, still sporting the $30 price tag from Dillard's. (I like this ornament a lot, but I would never have paid $30 for it!) 

The detail on this piece is just lovely. Even lovelier at $1.97.

And this isn't a tea-related piece, but since my late mother got me started with a small collection of vintage Christmas tree pins, I look for cheap ones all year long. This $1 model with all prong-set aurora borealis rhinestones was right up my alley. Fa la la la la …