Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Monday, October 29, 2018

"Things" to be thankful for

Yesterday afternoon, my husband was commenting on the fact that he and I have much to be thankful for, and we do. In addition to each other (a better deal for me than for him, no doubt!), we have our health; happy and healthy family members; and we also enjoy many spiritual, emotional, and even material blessings. I thought about this when I was decorating the tea trolley for fall over the weekend. I don't imagine every woman in the world can reach into closets and shelves and pull out tea accoutrements for every season of the year. And I'm thankful for mine!

The eye-catching embroidered tablecloth is something I won on Bernideen's blog many years ago, and I think it's just as beautiful as I did back when I won it.

The tea bag holders were an antique mall find years ago.

The teapot was part of the Bernideen bonanza I won. I love it!

And this "give thanks" art is actually a Papyrus card I bought on our recent trip to Wisconsin. I realized I could place it in a frame without glass so that the fabric details would show (and use the card more than once). Because I bought it on a trip, the card also reminds me that I occasionally get to travel, and I'm thankful for that too. I have been tempted to fast-forward to Christmas this year, but thinking about "giving thanks" has made me slow down and savor  the holidays in their proper order. So what are you thankful for?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Tea Lovers' Book Club: "The Harlequin Tea Set and Other Stories" by Agatha Christie

Summary: A colorful tea set plays a pivotal role in the short story given star billing in this collection by the woman considered the queen of mystery, Agatha Christie.

My thoughts: For women who write and/or read mysteries, I think it's important to have at least a nodding acquaintance with Agatha Christie, and since I'd read only a couple of her books, I decided this short story collection with "tea" in the title would be a good place to start. It did not disappointment, and I was impressed by the brevity with which she was able to lay the groundwork and effectively create a mini mystery with each story.

The judgment: I liked "The Harlequin Tea Set" just fine, but it was not my favorite short story in the book. I liked "The Edge," "The Actress," and "The Lonely God" much better. I noted that the old mistaken-identity device was used in her stories several times, but I always enjoy that one. I once heard it said that there are only seven different plots in the world (don't ask me to name them!), so if that's true, it stands to reason that some of them will be repeated. And if the story's interesting, I don't mind that at all. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this collection of stories and think other tea lovers would too, as tea is mentioned in almost every story.

For discussion:

• If you read the book, did you have a favorite short story? If so, which one? (Or have you ever read Agatha Christie? Or watched the TV and movie versions of her stories?)

• In "The Harlequin Tea Set," there was a passage I found myself nodding along with. The narrator is commenting on the hostess: "Continually offering people cakes, taking their cups away and replenishing them, handing things round. Somehow, he thought, it would be more pleasant and more informal if she let people help themselves." I certainly agree with that assessment, and it made me wonder whether perhaps most of us prefer a hostess who doesn't hover. Your thoughts?

Next month's read is a bit of history that sounds intriguing: The Imperial Tea Party: Family, Politics and Betrayal: The Ill-Fated British and Russian Royal Alliance by Frances Welch

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

'Tis the season … to decorate!

The holiday decorating magazines have hit the local newsstands, and I wanted to share two of the new ones I'm enjoying, Holiday Decor and Vintage Holiday.

Traditionalists and minimalists might enjoy seeing this pastel-decorated tea cart in Holiday Decor magazine. I love the understated elegance here.

And this little detail on the tea cart caught my eye: cookies served in some of those pretty scalloped baking cups. I've used those to make cupcakes and to serve sliced fruit, but this photo made me realize that bite-size brownies, lemon bars, shortbread bites, and truffles would also be pretty served in these cups.

I'm looking forward to pulling out my Santa mug collection again this year, so I enjoyed this photo in Vintage Holiday magazine (plus, I'm still hankering for one of those vintage campers like the one shown on the bottom shelf).

Vintage Holiday also used a metal tea cart — they call it a "bar cart," but whatever — to display a Christmas vignette. I like this idea as well!

And Vintage Holiday also shows a vintage Christmas tablecloth with mix-and-match plates and teacups, and it dawned on me that those old green teacups would blend well with some new Ralph Lauren plaid dessert plates I've been using at Christmas. So those are the first two Christmas magazines I've read this year, and I enjoyed them very much. Have you started reading Christmas magazines yet? Spotted tea in any of them?

Monday, October 22, 2018

A memorable October visit to Wisconsin

On Wednesday, Alex and I headed to Wisconsin to visit our grandsons Michael and Andrew (and their parents!) for a few days and help celebrate Michael's eighth birthday. We got back to Atlanta last night and had a great time on our trip as always, and this year's visit was particularly memorable because of what the boys' Saturday morning soccer games looked like.

They looked like this! I did not pack a winter coat and knew better than to join them, so I was content to get on-the-scene photos from their mom and stay at home where it was warm. Not too long after the boys' soccer snow, it began snowing at the house, although it didn't stick. Still, I'm pretty sure this is the only time in my 54 years that I've ever seen snow in October!

Staying warm on this trip was easy since I had taken along a few tea samples from friends, and I also picked up this new Teavana Peach Tranquility herbal tea I found at a Walmart in Wisconsin. I must admit that the cup-style packaging (with a foil inner seal) caught my attention when I saw this tea advertised somewhere recently.

The tea sachets had a pleasant if delicate peach taste, and what I liked best about the tea was its citrusy notes. Have you tried any of these new Teavana teas? If so, I'd love to hear about them—whether you live in the snowy Midwest, the sunny South, or somewhere else!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Pumpkin Chai candles at T.J. Maxx

Consider this an early fall shopping alert: T.J. Maxx has small Pumpkin Chai candles for $2.99!

The teapot design is what caught my eye, but the scent is quite yummy too (definitely more fruity than spicy), and the price is certainly right. I found only one of these, though, so good luck if you decide to search for one!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The creamer I was supposed to find

October is a sentimental month for me. I love fall, and October has so many wonderful moments each year, but October will also forever be the month in which my beloved mother passed away five years ago. I wondered if I would ever get to the point where it will be "just another month," but then I heard a friend in Sunday School mention that she was missing her mother, remembering when she passed away twenty years ago, and I thought, "No, I guess not." A few years before her death, my mom surprised me with a lovely pink rose Fitz and Floyd teapot and sugar bowl she'd found at a garage sale, and she laughed and said, "You'll have to find the creamer yourself." And last week, while I was in Goodwill with Aunt Jane, I did.

It needs a good soak in some mild detergent, and it's got a few chips, which normally might keep me from buying it, but not this time. And the $1.31 price meant I didn't have to think twice.

A friend suggested I touch up the chipped parts with pink nail polish, and that's just what I plan to do!  (Somehow, I think Mama would be pleased.)

And next spring, when it's time to pull out the pink tea wares again, the Fitz and Floyd family will be complete. Look for it!

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?