Friday, June 28, 2019

Trader Joe's Mint Ginger Green Tea

Believe it or not, I have a sister who doesn't like to shop. But when we were in Austin, Texas, recently, I was delighted to discover that there is one store that I believe my organic-loving sister could camp out in for a while, and that was Trader Joe's, where I found this new loose tea.

Now Rhonda can go in store after store and not want a thing, so I stood there in amazement as she, in her first visit to a Trader Joe's, just oohed and aahed over the selection. She kept placing toiletries and cosmetics in her shopping basket, and it dawned on me that it's not that she doesn't like to shop; I just haven't been with her in the right kind of stores! As for me, my lone purchase, but one I was happy to make, was this green tea with mint and ginger.

And really, $1.99 for a chunky 1.4-ounce bag of tea is quite a bargain! This green tea blend is flavored with peppermint, ginger, orange and lemon slices, and dried sunflower. I love a nice minty tea, and this one has a super refreshing taste, with a price point that can't be beat. Have any of you tried this tea?

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The perfect thank-you gift …

Getting to enjoy Afternoon Tea in Senoia on Sunday was a privilege and an honor, as always, and yet they sent me home with a cute little silver pot that I could see had tea bags and some other goodies inside. There was some dip mix, a spice-scented mug mat (I love those!), and while I could see that there was possibly a teacup inside, I couldn't quite tell the design.

And it was this lovely teacup in a charming pastel pink!

Pink teacups with roses on them will always be among my favorites.

And I like how the design is at the center of both the teacup and the saucer.

The teacup is by Collingwoods Bone China in England, and I was surprised that this was a new name in tea wares for me. Are any of you familiar with Collingwoods? From my cursory online research, it appears that this company was in business from the late 1800s through the late 1950s. I love the pretty color and design of this obviously vintage teacup, as well as the fancy scalloped gilding, but mostly I love that it's a memento from my friends in Senoia, the perfect way for me to remember their Afternoon Tea of 2019!

Monday, June 24, 2019

A Historical Society Tea at The Veranda in Senoia

It is always such a pleasure to be asked to attend the Senoia Area Historical Society's Afternoon Tea, and this year's event was one of the best yet! It was held at The Veranda, a historic bed-and-breakfast inn on the National Register. I have so many great memories of The Veranda over the years. I've been to numerous teas there, and my stepdaughter's beautiful wedding reception was held there. I first visited the hotel as a young newspaper reporter and interviewed the then-owners, Jan and Bobby Boal (Jan was the husband, Bobby the wife), who were just some of the loveliest people I've ever met,  and they became known far and wide not only for their hospitality but also for their collection of kaleidoscopes. Today's owner, Laura Reynolds, introduced me to guests and carried on the inn's tradition of offering elegant events and warm hospitality!

I wasn't, of course, the first reporter to interview people at The Veranda, and I won't be the last, but you know who else conducted interviews there? Margaret Mitchell! It's widely told around these parts that she came to Senoia and interviewed Confederate veterans about their Civil War memories when she was doing research for Gone With the Wind. Quick note: If you like movies, Senoia is also the Georgia town where filming occurred for Fried Green Tomatoes, Driving Miss Daisy, and more recently, shows like Drop Dead Diva and The Walking Dead. So if you're into TV and movies, you need to know the name Senoia. It's pronounced by the locals like "Suh-noy," which rhymes with "boy." So getting to spend some time in Senoia is always a treat!

 The Veranda today.

What a welcoming porch! (And greeter!)

Here are just a few of the great hats I saw this year. I was so busy (I was also reading from and, at the end, signing copies of Emerald and Envy) that I somehow failed to get a photo of the winning hat, but the "record" fascinator at top right won Honorable Mention. How clever is that!

My fellow judges included my friend Corby Winters of The Coweta Shopper, shown with me here, and Senoia's mayor, Jeff Fisher.

Here are a few of the lovely tables that were set up in the various dining rooms at The Veranda.

And I couldn't wait to tell you about the unique menu they had this year. As everyone was arriving, we got to nibble on these cute crudité cups. I had skipped lunch (I've learned to do so because of their elaborate teas), so I found this a fun way to be welcomed to teatime!

Another touch that someone obviously spent a lot of time on: calligraphy place cards at each guest's seat, along with a beribboned souvenir menu and a floral sugar cookie.

Each table had a selection of teas from Harney & Sons, and I selected the Paris blend, which I have long enjoyed. I loved this gorgeous teapot that held the hot water.

And when the tea trays came out, we were all oohing and aahing. The menu: Mini Scones, Cucumber Radish Sandwiches, Pimento Cheese Sandwiches, Chicken Salad Sandwiches, Assorted Cold Cuts, Totsie's Tea Cakes, Brownies, Lemon Tartlets, Strawberry Mini Cupcakes, Peach Mini Cupcakes, Cake Truffles, and Floral Sugar Cookies.

I have to tell you about a unique tea sandwich I ate, which I learned was made by my friend (and longtime historical society member) Nancy. It was these Cucumber Radish Sandwiches, and she laughed when I told her it was the most sophisticated cucumber sandwich I've ever had, and it was! She spread cream cheese on a thick cranberry bread and topped each piece with thin slices of cucumber and radish and a bit of rosemary, all speared with a black olive garnish and then the slightest bit of balsamic vinegar sprinkled on top. This flavor combination is not one I would have ever thought of, but I absolutely loved it. Everything I ate was quite tasty (and my favorite sweet was the mini lemon tart with its yummy, crumbly crust), but this sandwich deserves a special mention.

I also met a few other local authors and got invited to visit a book club, so it was a wonderful afternoon in so very many delicious ways!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Tea and turtles in Texas

When we were in Texas last week, my sister, niece and nephew, and my sister's in-laws all headed to County Line on the Lake, a barbecue place in Austin, for dinner one night. I love trying out unique new restaurants when I visit a new place, and this one was quite memorable!

It immediately endeared itself to me by having an "Arnold Palmer" listed on the drinks menu. I go to Chick-fil-A sometimes and ask if I can get half tea/half lemonade (I don't ask for an "Arnold Palmer" since not everyone knows that this is the drink made popular by the famous golfer). So while I can get it at Chick-fil-A, I've never seen this particular beverage listed on a menu before and was happy to find it in Austin. Plus, it's pretty with that ombre mix of the tea and lemonade. (Now that I'm in the "grombre" stage of growing out my hair from brown to gray, I'm noticing things that are "ombre" like never before!)

I had these brisket tacos, and they were awesome! (Half of them went back to the hotel with me and served as lunch the following day.)

In addition to the delicious food and the unexpected blessing of enjoying an Arnold Palmer with my meal, I loved the fact that they encourage the feeding of the ducks, turtles, and fish on the lake. Here Amelia is stocking up on their food.

I noted with interest that she was careful to bring her cowgirl boots to Texas with us!

Have you ever seen so many turtles?

I had not, and this was one Texas dinner I won't soon forget!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

A visit to the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

One morning while my nephew, Matthew, was at Longhorns Football Camp at the University of Texas last week, my sister and I walked across the street to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, a site I was eager to see. I've been greatly interested in politics all of my life, so a visit to a presidential library was a must.

Rhonda and I took a selfie as we walked up to the next floor and looked at the four floors of LBJ archives. The red boxes with the Presidential Seal on them all face outward so visitors can see them, a design feature that was requested by Lady Bird Johnson.

LBJ recorded lots of his telephone calls, and a docent told us that we should stop and listen to a few at one of the telephones carefully placed throughout the exhibit. Rhonda is listening to one of the recordings here, and I listened to conversations with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Richard B. Russell (fellow Georgians) and Katharine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post

It was quite sobering to see this display of the clothing that President Johnson and Lady Bird wore on November 22, 1963, the day President Kennedy was assassinated. I can't imagine the shock of having to assume the presidency under such circumstances.

I knew that President Johnson was known for his Civil Rights achievements, and I enjoyed seeing the desk where he sat when he signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. I thought about the privilege of voting when I cast a ballot yesterday in my local election for sheriff. Voting is so important, and regardless of which side of "the aisle" you're on (and why does there have to be an aisle? we're all in the same boat, aren't we?), I think it's so important to vote.

Moving right along, I have to confess that I was so disappointed to learn the Lady Bird Johnson portion of the exhibit was temporarily closed due to water damage. They did have a notebook showing photos from the exhibit, so that's the closest I got to seeing this china with wildflowers on it.

Presidential china has always fascinated me, so this photo of President Johnson with Dr. King and other Civil Rights leaders caught my eye.

And I don't know if they had tea or coffee, but President Johnson and the prime minister of South Vietnam seem to be enjoying a good conversation over these cups.

I like to think that perhaps the First Lady and her staff were pausing here for a spot of tea!

And while this was a coffeepot and not a teapot, I thought you might enjoy seeing what the president of Ireland gave the Johnsons in 1964.

I greatly enjoyed my visit to the LBJ Library and came home with a richer appreciation for our 36th president. My sister has also visited JFK's library in Boston and found it quite impressive. Have any of you visited a presidential library? I'd love to visit them all!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Magnolia Market at the Silos

Last week, I was in Texas with my sister, Rhonda, so that we could take my ten-year-old nephew, Matthew to football camp at the University of Texas in Austin. The three of us, along with my thirteen-year-old niece, Amelia, left their house in Georgia at 6 a.m. on Sunday and got to Fort Worth, where Rhonda's in-laws live, about thirteen hours later. We enjoyed dinner at a local Tex-Mex restaurant before three of us left for Waco the next morning. (Amelia stayed with her Texas grandparents for the duration of the three days of football camp.) I got in on this trip simply because my brother-in-law had been unable to get off work for this particular week, so when Rhonda asked a few months ago if I'd be up for a road trip in June, I said sure. And if I haven't mentioned it already, we both decided a few months ago to stop coloring our hair, so we are happily referring to ourselves as "Silver Sisters" now. It has been a game-changer for us!

And on Monday, we left Fort Worth, headed south, and stopped by Magnolia Market at the Silos in Waco, the shopping area made famous by Chip and Joanna Gaines on their show Fixer Upper. My sister is a huge fan of the show (Joanna's latest book was what she requested as her Christmas gift from me last year), and she has visited Magnolia Market several times now but was happy to introduce me.

The silos are quite impressive, and the area is just so beautifully designed. If it's raining, you can borrow an umbrella for free. Got a dog with you? There are water bowls for Fido. Kids need a break? There's a large play area (shown here) that many families were enjoying the day we visited.

I also enjoyed seeing Magnolia Seed + Supply and the beautiful display gardens there. They had all the plants labeled, and I came home with a hankering to find several of the pretty roses they were growing. I also bought a new garden journal at one of the gift shops, and I was able to list some of the gorgeous plants I saw.

Like this "Belinda's Dream" rose!

The lines for their restaurants were long, but they also have a lot of food trucks, which was great since I learned that Matthew pretty much lives off of cheeseburgers, and he quickly found one here.

He wanted some tea, though, and I was more than happy to stand in line for that at the Alabama Sweet Tea Co.'s food truck.

Matthew wanted the Southern (sweet tea), and I got the Mason-Dixon (which was half and half). 

For my lunch, I got a tasty quesadilla and some delicious minted watermelon at the Cheddar Box food truck, and I loved that our tea from the Alabama Sweet Tea Co. came in these huge glass Mason jars with the company name on them. It was the perfect souvenir for me! 

You can read it a little better here. By the way, after I decided on the Cheddar Box, up walked my sister with a *chicken salad croissant* from the Magnolia Table's food truck, and she reported that it was very good. Had I seen that, it is most certainly what I would have ordered, but I enjoyed my quesadilla and watermelon just the same.

Rhonda and I also got two cupcakes to take to the hotel in Austin with us, one Lemon Lavender and one Strawberries 'N Cream, and we split both of them over the course of two days because they were so rich. (Matthew, strangely, didn't want one. Again, he eats pretty much cheeseburgers all the time. Some days, he mixes it up. After one particularly exhausting day of football practice, he wanted two cheeseburgers.)

And boy, were these cupcakes delicious! I've never been one to watch the home improvement shows on TV, but I do believe my sister has turned me into a Fixer Upper fan as well. Seemed like a lot of my friends had already visited Magnolia Market in Waco, and I'm happy that now I can say, "Me too!"