Monday, April 29, 2019

A vintage Coalport teacup and saucer

Saturday's thrifting session with Aunt Jane was a good one. I found a book about King Edward and Wallis Simpson for 33 cents at the Salvation Army, and at the Blake House, one of the newer thrift stores on my Carrollton watch list, this teacup. I was just about to leave when I spotted a display rack with some teacups in a far back corner of the store, and there sat this set.

I couldn't quibble with the price. As always, I looked away and ran my finger around the rims of the cup and saucer to see if I could "feel" any chips or flea bites without looking, but there were none.

I think these mostly solid-color teacups with floral interiors are quite elegant. The gilding on this set is in excellent condition, and of course a spray of flowers in the center of both cup and saucer is always a good idea.

I don't know much about Coalport Bone China other than the name, but I do find it interesting that it says "Made in England A.D. 1750." When I Googled this, I found one website saying this mark was used from 1881 to 1939, and this set is in such great condition, I'm betting it's closer to the mid-1900s than the late 1800s. And I looked to see if I've blogged about finding any Coalport tea wares over the years, but apparently this is my first. Do you have any Coalport teacups?

Friday, April 26, 2019

Society, charity, and a mystery tea

Gentle readers, why am I so fascinated by vintage photos of women? I don't know, but I just am, and when I saw this photo on the Library of Congress website, I instantly began imagining lives for all of them. The lady seated at front left? She's a cool cucumber, going with the flow, perhaps a bit weary from her week. The austere-looking woman next to her has places to go and people to see and things to do and wishes the photographer would hurry up. The older woman seated at far right? She looks a bit startled, as if she wasn't quite ready for the photo to be taken and perhaps is uncomfortable being photographed.

I could make up stories for the back row too (especially that saucy-looking woman at far left, cutting her eyes at someone or something), but I won't. And with all these furs they're wearing, do you think it's safe to assume this photo was taken in the winter?

The LOC website reveals only that it was taken between 1910 and 1915. And while it's titled "Society at Charity Tea," dare I ask, "Where's the tea?"

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

St. Dalfour's Golden Peach Organic Tea

It seems I can go years sometimes without coming across any new tea purveyors, but T.J. Maxx has turned up yet another one I'd not heard of, St. Dalfour France.

The cellophane-wrapped box looked very peachy to me, and since I do love peach-flavored teas, I decided to give this one a try.

The tea bags are individually wrapped, always a plus in my book.

And I was surprised to find these tea bags are made in a style I've come across only in England before. See that string through the bag?

You *gently* pull on the tag to extend the string and make your tea. It's quite a clever way to make a tea bag, and I was delighted to come across this style once more. But most of all, I was happy to find another delicious black tea flavored with peach (and vanilla, it turns out). This $3.99 box of tea was definitely a winner!

Monday, April 22, 2019

Welbeck and, well, purple!

I almost didn't get around to decorating my tea trolley for Easter this year, but on Saturday, I was inspired by a vintage embroidered table runner I'd come across.

I'm trying to give away, donate, or toss a lot of the linens that I've let accumulate but don't use very often, yet something about this piece speaks to me. I'm not sure, but I believe it was in a pile of assorted linens my late mother gave me years ago.  Since I crochet, I know how much work went into this trim. And I love how these thick old linens have such a loose, floppy quality to them, as though they've been loved by many others before me.

And while I admire precise stitching and embroidery (my inner perfectionist gets so frustrated when I can't achieve that myself), I am somehow charmed by the crude quality of these lavender, purple, yellow, and green stitches. 

 The effect is still just lovely.

And of course it's always around Easter that I pull out my beloved Royal Winton Welbeck tea wares. A friend recently asked to borrow a dozen vintage teapots for a baby shower her daughter was hosting, and I was happy to be able to accommodate her. As I looked around my kitchen and dining room, though, I realized I am perfectly willing to loan out just about anything I have except my Welbeck and this teapot. I think it's because I could come close to replacing everything else, but not these pieces. (To be more accurate, I could replace the Welbeck, I just couldn't afford it anymore, because I know I couldn't duplicate the $20-or-less price I paid for the teapot, tray, and other pieces years ago thanks to an eagle-eyed girlfriend!)

Also in the display: a few faux flowers .

And since I'm going with a yellow-and-purple theme, I thought this teacup deserved a spot of honor.

This one too. 

A detail from a yellow rose plate.

And here's what I'll be sipping out of this week!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Trice Strawberry and Arctic Mint Tea

Spring is a time when I want to try some new fruity teas, and this herbal blend caught my eye when I was at T.J. Maxx earlier this week. It's from Trice, a company I don't believe I've heard of before, and it's their Strawberry and Arctic Mint flavor.

The attractive turquoise box with the nice teacup graphic struck me as really unusual, and when I got it home, it took me a bit to figure out how it opened!

I was pleasantly surprised to find individually packaged tea bags inside. Nice!

The tea contains rosehip, mint leaves, hibiscus, blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, orange flower, pomegranate bits and natural flavoring.

I had wondered what a blend of strawberry and mint would taste like, and I found it deliciously intriguing. The tea wasn't tart, as some berry-flavored teas are, but it wasn't overly minty either. I'm not sure I'd have thought of combining these two flavors, but I'm impressed and very happy I tried this blend. Have you ever heard of Trice tea or tried this blend or any of their others?

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A sweet treat for a memorable day!

 Last week, my friend Ruth asked if I had time for lunch this week, and I knew she was off on Tuesdays, so I said sure and agreed to meet her for lunch at Zoes Kitchen in Peachtree City, a local favorite. When I got there, she had this huge box from Gigi's Cupcakes, which makes some of the most delicious cupcakes I've ever eaten. "What's that?" I asked, pointing at the box since I knew I couldn't even pretend not to notice it. "It's for you," she said, "from the book club." (That would be our online book group, the Page Turners Book Club, which reads a book together and discusses it monthly.) I knew they had been quite encouraging about the official launch day for my book yesterday, but I hadn't realized they were up to anything.

While Ruth and I were waiting on our lunches to be delivered, she told me to open the box because everyone wanted to see  the cupcakes and she needed to take a photo of them. And when I opened the lid and saw what was inside, well, "delighted" is the only word to describe how I felt!

I couldn't believe they had gone to the trouble to have these cupcakes and fondant toppers made just for me, but they did.

 Aren't these the cutest things?

I insisted Ruth join me for dessert there at the restaurant, and we sampled the Wedding Cake cupcakes, which she reported are the top-selling cupcakes for the local Gigi's. Mine was delicious … and so filling that I skipped supper, which I do not regret one bit!

And I promise I'm not going to mention the new book every other day on here, as this is a tea blog, not a book blog, but I did want to mention that I do now have some copies of the book available for those of you who have let me know you want a signed one. (See the button at top right, and I charge only the exact shipping that the post office charges me.) And if you're a local with an Amazon Prime account, by all means, order your book from Amazon to save that expense, and I'm sure I can hook up with you at a book signing or author event over the next few months! (Or if anyone happens to live close by, drop by and I'll sign your book and offer you a cupcake. I have plenty to share!)

Monday, April 15, 2019

April showers bring May flowers …

Yesterday morning, stormy weather was blowing through our area of West Georgia. At church, Alex and I both noted that even the birds were chirping up a storm outside, as if they were nervous about all of us there inside the sanctuary, but fortunately everything was fine and all we got was a lot of rain and a little thunder. Other parts of the state (and country) had it much worse, so we can't complain.

But what I did do when we got home was think about that old saying, "April showers bring May flowers." Did you grow up hearing that? I sure did. And I'd been thinking that while my default teacup is almost always one with roses on it — I'm betting 75 percent or more of mine are rose-bedecked — I decided it was time to sip from some spring teacups that don't include roses.

And my goodness, I'd forgotten how lovely a jonquil or a sweet pea or another flower can be! I do like to match my teacups to the season when possible (asters in the fall, Christmas holly and berries in December). Do you match your teacup to the season?

Friday, April 12, 2019

The signed copy of "Emeralds and Envy" goes to …

Frances L.! And I've just emailed Frances so I can see about getting this book in the mail to her. Congrats!

Tea-themed Easter postcards and springtime decor

So now that I'm looking for new vintage Easter postcards, I've had fun looking back over some of the ones I've acquired over the years. Little yellow chicks seem to be the main theme, and that blue teapot shows up in quite a few designs as well.

I like to look at my postcards, and I also like to decorate with them, putting some in frames to keep out on display. Vintage postcards are simply miniature works of art to me, and they're quite affordable, as art goes!

I've seen that a few tea friends are decorating for spring with violet-patterned tea wares, a look I love, and at my house, I find myself pulling out anything that has a sunny yellow or pastel flower on it. Do you have spring decor or tea wares out at your house? I'd love to know!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

A tea-making hack for when your infuser basket is too small …

So I wanted to steep a cup of this Organic Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea from TeaVivre, but I had a problem in that my basket-style tea infuser was too small for the mug I wanted to use.

Hmm, I wondered. Could I just stick a spoon in there and keep the basket from sinking to the bottom of the mug?

Yes. Yes, I could. The tea, by the way, is terrific (one of those rich, brothy-tasting green teas), but I was just so tickled to find such an easy solution to a too-small infuser basket. Have a tea hack you'd like to share? I'd love to hear it!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

My first review … and it's from a tea blogger!

I was so delighted when fellow tea blogger Heather, who reviews LOTS of books, said she would consider reviewing my new book, and guess who gave me my first review! (Hint: She liked it! Whew …)

And if any other bloggers who review books would like to review it, just let me know and I'll be glad to send you an early MOBI, EPUB, or PDF file from my publisher. Thanks!

Monday, April 8, 2019

April Giveaway: A signed copy of "Emeralds and Envy"

Now here is a giveaway I've been eager to announce, because it's for one of the very first Advance Reader Copies (or ARCs) of my newest book, Emeralds and Envy. So for the April giveaway, I'll be delighted to sign this book for one of you and get it headed your way!

If you would like to win a copy, simply leave an "Enter me" to this post between now and 7 a.m. EST on Friday, April 12, making sure I have an email address or other way to contact you if you're the winner, and you'll be entered to win. US only, please. Good luck!

(I'm also ordering copies for family and friends later this week, and I'll be getting some extras for those of you who've told me you would like a signed copy, so I'll have that info up very soon. And thank you all so much for your support over the years, without which I probably wouldn't be writing books today!)

Friday, April 5, 2019

"She Sheds Style" by Erika Kotite

Fridays are always a great time to begin thinking about weekend projects, and if it's not raining all weekend, I hope to tidy up the flower beds in front of my house. If it rains, maybe I'll just kick back with a whole pot of tea and keep lusting over the pages of this charming new book, She Sheds Style by Erika Kotite. She is a past editor of Romantic Homes magazine (one of my favorite editors they've had), and I love her approach to sharing these eclectic she sheds and the women who've built and decorated them. I still haven't decided whether I'd prefer a she shed or a vintage camper, but I do know that I want my one-day retreat to be multipurpose: it will need to serve as a writing cottage, a garden shed, and a tea house! It's rather a fanciful dream of mine, but you know what? I believe dreams are fine things to have. In fact, my friend LaTina gave me a pretty journal earlier this year, and I am using it to write down some of my dreams, including getting either a she shed or a camper.

I love all the photos in the book, but this tiny house in the Catskills absolutely takes the cake!

And check out this room in one of the book's she sheds. My eyes went straight to the tea cart at left and then to that teapot up top. (Did yours?)

I found several images, in fact, that inspired my dream of a writing cottage/garden shed/teahouse, including this one. This vignette would be right at home in my fantasy structure, whatever form it may take. I don't have a whole lot of wants anymore, but this future retreat is definitely one of them, and sometimes, I think writing down our dreams helps make them more real. Do you have any dreams like this? (And do you have or want a she shed?)

Thursday, April 4, 2019

For ebook fans, I'm now on Book Bub!

Friends, since I have an ebook coming out soon, I'm now officially an author on BookBub, which is quite exciting. Do any of you subscribe to BookBub? It's a free service I've used for several years to help me keep up with authors I like, and my fondest hope is that now, I'll be an author that someone else likes!

If you read ebooks, BookBub will help you discover books you'll love and even get updates from your favorite authors, generally just when they have a new release or when their book is offered at a steep discount. The service is free to use, and if you're a fellow BookBub enthusiast, I'd love for you to click that red button on the right and follow me.

And please check back here over the coming days, because I'll be giving away a copy of a certain paperback book very, very soon …

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Stevia and Zevia have a fine new peach tea

A trip by the tea aisle at Ingles over the weekend revealed that there are several new ready-to-drink (RTD) teas on the market, and I grabbed the one that most appealed to me, this skinny can of peach-flavored black tea from Zevia, a new name in tea to me.

"No sugar, zero calories," it says. Well, that's good, but what about the peach flavor? I was delighted to find that the tea did indeed taste like juicy peaches, so I was quite happy with the flavor and will buy this tea again.

And as is clearly hinted at in the company name, the sweetener is stevia leaf extract. I remember when a friend first told me about the stevia plant years ago, and today I find stevia in more and more products. I don't actually require sweetener very often since I've learned to enjoy my teas au naturel, but for a bit of sweetness, stevia seems like a smart way to go, and I was happy to find it in this tasty new tea. Are any of you stevia fans?

Monday, April 1, 2019

Some things are just mint to be …

So one of my weekend goals was to go ahead and get some mint growing for iced tea (it's supposed to hit 80 here in Georgia this week), but I didn't have time to run by any of the local garden centers. 

Fortunately, Ingles grocery store had a few mint plants in the produce section, so I tossed one in my cart.

This mint doesn't say what variety it is, but I like all mints, so I'm sure I'll be happy with whatever it is. I also like that it's an organic plant that's grown in the US.

And while I'm not ready to plant a fairy garden just yet — my largest teacup planter has cracked and is going to need replacing first — I've started gathering items for the fairy garden, including the little teapot on a tree. Perfect, isn't it? It was on sale at JoAnn the other day for half off.

I also got a cute shepherd's hook marker to let the fairies know they're welcome. If you happen to run across any tea-themed doodads appropriate for a fairy garden this spring, would you kindly let me know where you saw them? If mine isn't completely planted by then, it will be nice to have a list of sources. Thanks in advance, friends!