Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The opera singer pouring tea

If you're into history at all, I highly recommend that you pay regular visits to the Library of Congress website and check out the offerings. This week, I found a photo titled "Johnson" that the LOC says "shows Edward Patrick Johnson (1878?-1959), a Canadian tenor opera singer who was billed outside North America as Edoardo Di Giovanni. Johnson is pouring tea out of a teapot while looking at a score. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2017)"

I wish there were another photo of the teapot on what I believe is some type of stand/warmer contraption at left. Do you agree?

And are any of us opera fans? If so, this photo should make you especially happy!

Monday, July 29, 2019

A taste of the Edenton Tea Party

So reader Susan B. in North Carolina sent an email that she was sending me "a little something" in the mail. To my surprise, her "little something" was a box containing several individually wrapped gifts. I was intrigued!

Inside, there were some wonderful treats that were right up my alley. Green tea Chapstick (and I was almost out of lip balm) and green tea mints are certainly welcome gifts!

And I was tickled when I realized this postcard was an image from the famous Edenton Tea Party, the historic event in Edenton, N.C., where one Penelope Barker and her friends famously opposed the Tea Act by boycotting tea and refusing to “conform to ye pernicious Custom of Drinking Tea.”

Then I realized this card contained a beautiful, clear photo of the Edenton teapot historical marker that I'd not seen before. When I turned the card over, I learned that Susan took the photo! Inside, she included a few articles she thought I would enjoy, and I did, including one that says African violets benefit from a drink of chamomile tea. I will be trying that!

And when I opened the last gift (I saved the biggest to unwrap last), it was this fabulous cookbook,  Take Tea at the Barker House, which I didn't even know existed. And you know what occurred to me? In just five years, it will be the 250th anniversary of the Edenton Tea Party, so I hope the good people of Edenton are even now planning a mega celebration. Wouldn't that be a great time to have a gathering of tea lovers come to town? I may have to start making a few inquiries now!

Friday, July 26, 2019

A particularly tea-ish issue of Victoria magazine

Friends, the September issue of Victoria magazine is one that some of you will not want to miss! It's the annual British Issue, yes, but I was smitten when I saw the words "The gracious ritual of taking afternoon tea" on the cover. (Like we've never read an article about afternoon tea, right? Still, there is always more to learn.)

This spread was just beautiful, and I give bonus points to those who feature Elmwood Inn Fine Teas.

And I give even *more* bonus points when I come across a piece of silver-plate I've never seen before! Do you know what the gorgeous bell-shaped piece is? Click here if you'd like to know.

And as if all that weren't fun enough, there's a "Behind the SEAMS" feature on costumes in the series The Crown. Lots of fun for tea lovers and Anglophiles, in other words. Happy reading!

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Heirloom Rose Snack Plates from Lefton

A thoughtful friend recently gifted me with a wonderful treat, a set of eight snack plates in pristine condition.

I had mentioned that I've had an idea for a tea to do at my church this fall, and it will require quite a few tea-and-toast sets. My friend found these for a song, and while they're absent the teacups, she and I both agreed that simple white teacups, or even mix-and-match rose ones, will work just perfectly.

The plates are marked "Lefton China" and "Hand Painted, Reg. U.S. Pat. Off." According to this site, that means these date from 1949-1955.

I just love this pretty, feminine design …

And this hint of blush pink around the edge is something I've not seen on a tea-and-toast set before, and I've accumulated 50-plus sets, in lots of different (and mostly floral) patterns. I actually discovered on that this particular pattern is called Heirloom Rose. Isn't that lovely? And if you'll click here, you can even see what the matching teacups look like. Considering how intricate that handle is, I'm not at all surprised that they didn't manage to stay with the sets over the years. So I'm delighted to have these gorgeous new plates to include in my teatime stash, and you never know when I might even stumble upon a matching teacup one day!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Linens and lace and a bit of tea

Now that the first book in a jewelry-themed cozy mystery series is behind me, I'm in various stages of progress on writing more books. A later (and totally unrelated) cozy series will have a plot line that involves old linens and lace, so I have been doing some research while I work on ideas for that book. Last week, my friend Sandra, who is known locally as "The Lace Lady," was kind enough to allow me to spend a few hours examining some of the many items in her vast collection. Lace even features prominently in her dollhouse, and when I pulled out my iPhone and started snapping photos, I realized there were quite a few tea-related items and got her blessing to share some of the images here.

This "tablecloth" is actually a lace doily with a cross-stitched design in the center. So once I spotted this miniature tea table, I had to remind myself that I was really there to study the lace and linens!

Here, I was interested in the little tapestry-looking piece that serves as a rug, so I can't help the fact that there are also a tea set and tea tray in this photo, where a lace-gowned lady awaits her teatime.

In her sun room/tearoom, my friend has a beautiful way of displaying her demitasse cups with vintage handkerchiefs, many of them lace-edged.

One of her newer pieces is a lace tea cozy, which I believe she said came from the Victorian Papers catalog some years ago.

And because she once worked in a frame shop, Sandra is very talented at framing her own bits of art, including this piece she salvaged from an antique crazy quilt. Can you believe it actually had a teacup with the year 1884 embroidered on it? Wow! And that paper scrap at the bottom is from some stationery I wrote her a note on years ago. I remembered it when I looked at the framed piece, but I have no idea where I got it, though I sure wish this stationery were still being made today.

And I'll close with a few random lace photos just to give you an idea of some of the linens-and-lace beauties that gave me more than enough inspiration for that new novel!

Friday, July 19, 2019

Victorian-era phrases about teatime

I am constantly amazed at the kindness of readers who send along articles, photos, and videos they think I might enjoy. A recent treat comes courtesy of Kris H., who found an article in Open Culture about a 1909 dictionary titled Passing English of the Victorian Era: A Dictionary of Heterodox, English, Slang, and Phrase by J. Redding Ware.

Kris noted quite a few tea-related phrases are included. Some of the ones I found:

Bull — A teapot with the leaves left in it for a second brew. ("Here you are, mate; here's a bull for you.")

Daisy-five-o'clocker — A charming five o'clock tea.

Knife and fork tea — Vulgarisation (sic) of high tea.

Muffin-wallopers — Scandal-loving women, chiefly spinsters, who meet over a cup of tea.

Put the miller's eye out — To use too much water in making grog or tea.

Those are just a few of the fun tea terms I found, and if you'd like to check them all out, click here and type "tea" in the "search inside" search bar. (And special thanks to Kris for sharing this!)

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Not kung fu fighting but kung fu tea!

Reader Diane M. has been sending me the most fascinating articles, links, and videos for a while now, and one I've watched repeatedly is this one about kung fu tea! You can click on the video above to watch it right here.

And when you're through, check out this article for the full story. Now, can you just imagine showing up at your next tea party with a long-spout teapot? I must admit the idea does have its possibilities …

One of the many, many things I love about tea is that there is always so much more to learn about tea and tea culture—as this video clearly proves!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Teatime finds from Meijer

Several years ago, I went in my first Meijer supercenter, and I just loved it. We don't have those in the South, so when a Meijer opened near my stepdaughter's home in Green Bay a few years ago, I was happy to realize I can now visit it at least once or twice a year. Last week, I checked out their tea selections and went home with this Sweet Slumber Chamomile Mint herbal tea. At just $1.99 for the box of 20 tea bags, I figured I wasn't taking too big of a risk if I didn't care for it.

I don't often see teas flavored with chamomile, and this combo appealed to me. I was impressed that the tea bags were individually packaged, which is not always the case, especially with less-expensive teas. And I'm happy to report that I thoroughly enjoyed this fresh-tasting minty chamomile tea.

And that's not all I found! Like most writers I know, I am addicted to pens and paper, so I was delighted to find these little 5 x 7-inch notebooks for just $1.49. (If you live in Meijer territory, there is also a pink one in this design family, but I'm just drawn to blues and greens lately.) So if you're a regular Meijer shopper, consider yourself lucky and know that some of your Southern sisters consider shopping there a real treat!

Friday, July 12, 2019

A pattern with a pedigree

The last purchase that I wanted to share from my friend Patti's estate sale preview last week is this trio. I do enjoy sipping tea out of a teacup with a nice wide handle, and I loved the elegant shape of these pieces as well as the pretty peach color of the roses. I see lots of roses in pink, but this softer hue is one I immediately found striking.

I can't say exactly why I find it so elegant (because after all, I still love me some pink), but this just has a certain charm about it. And the pattern?

Well, when I turned the pieces over, every one of them is marked Johann Haviland Bavaria and "Standard Pattern for US AIR FORCE." I've found matching pieces available online this week, but I have no idea what this back stamp means. I don't imagine some fighter pilot had his tea sloshing around in the cockpit, but were the pieces used at Air Force dinners, maybe? Anyone got a clue? If I don't learn the real backstory, I may just have to make one up and make this trio a "character" in one of my books. At any rate, this lovely set instantly became even lovelier to me when I realized that it has a connection to the US Air Force! 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

A match made in Heaven

The trio sitting atop this plate is not a match, but wow, it's close, isn't it? Many Christmases ago, my mother gave me a box that contained the pink Depression glass I was collecting at the time. I set it aside until I needed to use the pink wares for a tea, I believe, and when I unpacked the glassware months later, I realized my mother had also included eight dinner plates just like the one at the bottom of the stack here. It's called "Primuline" by Homer Laughlin, and I've not yet come across a matching teacup and saucer.

So when I was at my friend Patti's last week and saw the unmarked trio with the bands of pale green, I just had to have it. It's not a match, but I am still delighted to have found it. In fact, I looked at her and said, "You don't happen to have seven more of these, do you?" (She didn't, but she is, seriously, going to ask her sister!)

I've had trouble remembering the name "Primuline" when I'm out and about, so this week, I told myself that "Primuline" is not a very "prim and proper" looking pattern. We'll see if that helps! And now, I'm going to have to memorize this coordinating unmarked pattern so that if I run across it or Primuline, I'll know precisely what I'm looking for!

Monday, July 8, 2019

Treasures from an estate sale preview

On Friday morning, I had the great pleasure of getting to check out my friend Patti's pretty tea wares as she prepares to downsize and, in preparation, hold an estate sale. She said she wanted me to have first dibs, which was quite thoughtful of her, and I left with a shopping bag full of goodies that I am happy to have since they will remind me of Patti, whom I first met in Bible study years ago.

Her prices were quite reasonable too, like just $8 each for teapots (this one from Wood and Sons) and trios.

I have had several pieces with this design and definitely wanted this pretty trio from Royal Staffordshire.

 And I'll have more to say about this set later, but this is actually the first thing my eye went to, for a wonderful reason. (I'll explain on Wednesday.)

And while I have quite a few tea tiles, or tea trivets, I'd never seen one with these pretty old roses, and I love the fact that the background color is a bright emerald green. I'm redesigning my author website and want it to be green and vintage-looking, and I have just not found very many lovely old things that are emerald green, but this is perfect and may end up in the opening page photo. And if you look at the top photo, at bottom left, you'll see a tiny sliver of another trio I got. It has an intriguing back stamp and backstory, so I'm researching that before I share more about it. So as you can see, I was quite thrilled with my lovely array of goodies from Patti's cleaning-out prior to her move, and now I have some fun research to add to this week's tasks. I think I like a good backstory as much as I like pretty tea wares!

Friday, July 5, 2019

The winner of the Christmas ornament is …

Joy B.! And I already have Joy's address, so I will be sending this to her shortly. Congrats, and thanks to all who entered!

William Penn's Tea Service

My husband has been ghostwriting a book for a client in Pennsylvania, and I've been reading parts of it over the past few days and enjoy learning more about the state. So perhaps it's no surprise that in my latest check of photos on the Library of Congress website, I was drawn to a photo of the silver tea service that belonged to William Penn, founder of the Province of Pennsylvania.

The Library of Congress doesn't have much to say about this stereograph photo, except that it was created between 1850 and 1900.

A similar image is available on the J. Paul Getty Museum's website, and it appears this tea service is now in the collection of the museum in LA, although it's not currently on exhibit. When I visit a museum, I always look for tea wares, and in my travels, I would dearly love to come across a tea service that was used by such an important figure in American history. Wouldn't you?

Monday, July 1, 2019

A Christmas-in-July Giveaway

It's time for my annual reminder that now really is the month to start Christmas shopping, especially if you enjoy decorating with vintage and thrifted Christmas goodies. Of course, it's possible to visit your local antique mall in November or perhaps early December and still find some goodies, but I know from experience that Christmas things are much cheaper when you find them at thrift stores earlier in the year. Recently, I found a duplicate of an item I already own, this 2006 Madame Alexander Christmas ornament from Hallmark, and it's in mint condition and still in the box. Goodwill had this for just $1.99, but I treasure the one I have just like it that was a gift from Lani, a friend in Hawaii, some years ago. If you'd like to win this one, just leave an "Enter me" to this post between now and 7 a.m. EST on Friday, July 5, and you'll be entered to win it!

On Saturday, I found another tea-themed Christmas item at Goodwill, this teapot candleholder. I'm not sure I like that black and white on the handle and spout (it reminds me too much of the Chick-fil-A cow), but I like the shape and the fact that the candlelight will shine through the pierced design on the front at Christmas. Maybe I'll paint the black part gold. Maybe I'll paint the whole thing white.

Maybe I'll just use the bottom to hold a Christmas candle.

All I know is that for 89 cents, I saw a lot of possibility in this piece.

And this old Santa Claus bank isn't tea-related, but he was another recent 99-cent purchase. I've already collected a bag full of vintage Christmas goodies for this year's decor, and I have yet to spend $10, which is just the way I like it. My "stamping" friend Kathy has offered to get me started on making my Christmas cards for this year, and when I have a few of those ready to go, hopefully later this month, I'll feel like I've really made some pre-holiday progress!