Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Friendship and a taste of pumpkin spice rooibos

Last week, two of my oldest, dearest friends traveled to downtown Newnan to meet me for lunch and an afternoon of shopping. Patty, Monicha, and I attended elementary school, junior high, and high school together. Patty and I even went to the same college, and all three of us are happy to have stayed in touch and plan even more outings together. Here we are at one of the local shops, and the shopkeeper graciously took a photo of us with this sign, which I thought was absolutely splendid advice, especially considering these two ladies I am blessed to count among my lifelong friends. 

One of the stores we browsed in was Downtown Olive & Kitchen Supply Co., and to my delight, they had prepackaged bags of loose tea for sale.

It's funny, but when I last worked downtown six years ago, I felt I had practically memorized the inventory of most of the downtown stores since I often shopped on my lunch hour. Now that I work from home, I feel as if I'm rediscovering my town's downtown, and I was happy to share it with my friends.

And the Pumpkin Spice Tea is as yummy as I knew it would be with honeybush tea, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cocoa nibs, natural pumpkin spice flavor, and safflower. It's definitely got more spice and more kick than the pumpkin spice teas I usually sip, and what a wonderful reminder of my delightful afternoon with friends. (And if you're local, you may want to check out their teas the next time you're downtown!)

Monday, October 28, 2019

Crafter's Companion Floral Tea Cups Stamps — A Review

A few weeks ago, I saw some teacup stamps on Amazon that I immediately fell in love with and ordered, and since some of you enjoy paper crafting as much as I do, I thought I'd share my experience here since I was quite happy with the results!

These "Floral Tea Cups" stamps are from Crafter's Companion and also have a matching die, which is sold separately.

Helpfully, the stamps are numbered in the order in which you're supposed to use them. First, you stamp the main background color.

Next, you use the outline stamp. (Hard to see here, but this gold color has a metallic sheen, much like a real teacup would.)

Next, you stamp the outside of the roses.

Then, the inside of the roses. (I know my pink inks don't match at all, but hey, I was dying to try these out and used what I had on hand.)

And then the finished design with the roses and leaves. I was aiming for perfection, but apparently the stamp is supposed to leave a bit of white space in the design, which makes these stamps pretty forgiving to use. And in the interest of full disclosure, I wasn't paying attention and switched steps four and five, so the leaves actually were supposed to be step four and not step five. Oh well.

I've got to find a space in my office to place a table, but until then, I work in the floor, using my trusty Cricut Cuttlebug to cut out all the teacup stacks. I love to cut things out with a die!

I made two different styles of card, and even though I wasn't thrilled with the roses' ink colors (Hobby Lobby, here I come), I was actually pretty happy with the finished cards. I had a gift card and ordered my stamp set from Amazon here, and it's also available directly from Crafter's Companion here. And as luck would have it, a kind reader just *happened* to send me some gorgeous tea-themed paper crafting supplies last week, so look for more designs in the coming days!

Friday, October 25, 2019

Happy Edenton Tea Party Day!

I thought that Edenton Tea Party Day would be a great time to tell you about a fun new cookbook I recently discovered, Take The Tour, published by St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Edenton, North Carolina in 1995. Edenton is known as the home of an early political protest, the Edenton Tea Party, which is believed to be "the earliest recorded political activity by colonial women," according to this book. The leader of this event was one Penelope Barker, and she and other local ladies protested the tax on tea by signing their names to a document that read, in part, "We the ladies of Edenton do hereby solemnly engage not to conform to ye pernicious Custom of Drinking Tea or that we, the aforesaid Ladies, will not promote ye wear of any manufacture from England, until such time that all Acts which tend to enslave this our Native Country shall be repealed." So these ladies were gathering and sipping their last cups of tea for a while on October 25, 1774, exactly 245 years ago today!
The tea party is commemorated with this historic marker in Edenton (also pictured on my vintage postcard here), and I'd never seen a painting of the marker before, but it's on the back of the cookbook.

The teapot features prominently in the graphics of the cookbook, and I love that women's history, tea, and teapots came together in an important event so many years ago. Clearly, I wanted this cookbook for the graphics and the historic information, but I was delighted to find that it also includes a recipe for Penelope Barker Lace Cookies, so I will be trying those soon!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Bigelow's Ginger Peach Turmeric Herbal Tea

This week, I'm among the living again, but last week, fall allergies had me by the throat … and nose … and eyeballs … and … you get the idea. You know when that pale-yellow pollen pours down like rain in the springtime? Doesn't affect me one bit. It can be covering my car and even sticking to my contact lenses, but I don't sneeze. At the first hint of ragweed, however, I'm out. And I said all that to say this: I have consumed about two boxes of herbal tea in the past week, so on my first day outside the house this week, off to the grocery store I went, and I found a new-to-me flavor of Bigelow tea!

Ginger Peach anything always tempts me, but this Ginger Peach Turmeric was especially appealing since turmeric has been hailed lately for its antioxidant properties and many other medicinal uses. As I hoped it would, this tea tasted great, slightly peppery and spicy but with a strong peach flavor. The spicy tea is a pleasure to sip as well as to sniff, since I have been keeping my stopped-up nose over a mug of tea lately.

And of course, I still enjoy the fact that Bigelow's teas are individually packaged, which I like to think keeps the tea fresher longer. When you have a cold or allergy, do you have a go-to tea (or other remedy)? I'd love to hear it!

Monday, October 21, 2019

The mystery of "Who was Betty?"

When a friend from Newnan, Nancy, knew she was headed to York for a few weeks this summer, she asked if there was a souvenir I'd like for her to bring back for me. And since she asked, I told her I'd love to see some teatime brochures or pamphlets that might help me plan my next trip to England. And since she enjoyed teatimes and meals at one of several Bettys Café Tea Rooms, she brought me back a cute bag full of local brochures as well as a delightful new book I was thrilled to add to my tea library! Who was Betty? features a foreword by Prince Charles, and various writers have supplied whimsical stories about who Betty might have been. The truth is that no one really knows, although I do find it interesting that, as one writer points out, the name is "Bettys" and not "Betty's," so I especially like the story suggesting that the name pays tribute to several women named Betty.

 This is the back of the book, and I just love the style of the teatime graphics.

A visit to Bettys has long been on my bucket list, and thanks to Nancy, I now know that this is the 100th anniversary of the founding of Bettys, which is known for, among other things, its famously fruity Fat Rascal scones.

And something else I learned? Bettys has a Cookery School! Nancy said if she had known that beforehand, she might have arranged to take a class while she was there. It's certainly something I want to look into before my next trip to England, and if any of you are going soon, book a class early, because I looked online, and they apparently fill up fast! Have any of you been to Bettys while you were in England? Did you all enjoy it as much as my friend Nancy did?

Friday, October 18, 2019

The winner of the pumpkin spice socks is …

Susan K.! And I've just sent her an email, so hopefully she'll be sporting some colorful new socks very soon. Congrats!

Here we go 'round the mulberry tree …

Back in late May, I took a few photos of the mulberry tree at the side of my house. I'm assuming it's not the only mulberry tree in town, but it's certainly the only one I'm aware of. I discovered its identity one year only by trying to figure out where those supersized berries on the ground were coming from. Finally overcoming my own dimness, it dawned on me to look up, and the mysterious berries were hanging plentifully overhead.

The leaves on this tree are huge. I took a photo of one with my (crepey, but oh well) hand on it for comparison. Most of the leaves were definitely larger than my hand.

And while I apparently didn't go back and get a photo when the mulberries had fully ripened to purple, you can see here how they resemble elongated blackberries. (Or caterpillars. Take your pick.)

So why am I writing about out-of-season mulberries? Well, because tea friend Diane emailed me something about a new type of tea strainer that is made out of … mulberry leaves! Click here to see this new leaf-style tea filter. (And feel free to contact me if you'd like to become an angel investor in McRae's Mulberry Leaf Tea Strainer Company. Ha!)

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Dollar Tree sticker shock

I wasn't actually looking for tea things when I was in Dollar Tree over the weekend. I usually dash in for household needs like batteries, hand soap, and dishwashing liquid, as I know they always have the brands I want at a price I like. So I was darting between rows in a larger-than-usual Dollar Tree in Villa Rica when my mind went, "Wait! Was that a teacup there in the school supplies?"

And indeed, it was a cute package of stickers with teacups, a teapot, cupcakes, macarons, and more. I can't wait to use these to decorate envelopes and packages that I send to tea-loving friends. I also love that the little macarons say "to do" and "to go." I'll have fun using these on my planner.

Some days, I'm just shocked by the goodies I find at Dollar Tree, and this time, I guess you could say it was sticker shock!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Giveaway: Pumpkin Spice & Everything Nice!

I found these cute pumpkin spice–themed teacup socks on clearance at Joann last week, so I got a pair for me and a pair for one of you!

If you'd like to win the socks, simply leave an "Enter me" to this post between now and 7 a.m. EST on Friday, October 18, 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 11, 2019

Would you like a porcelain pantry?

I was catching up on my magazine reading the other night and was pleased to see that the new issue of House Beautiful is spotlighting kitchens. I've actually entered a few kitchen-remodeling giveaways online lately (a girl can dream, right?), but until I win, I'll keep collecting ideas for my perfect kitchen.

And boy, was I dreaming big-time when I turned to the page with this castle-inspired porcelain pantry! Is this not the most magnificent design ever for storing teacups? I couldn't stop staring at it!

Happily, the story is also online (and the pictures are clearer there), so if you're drooling already, check this out!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Loyd Green Tea with Orange & Mandarin

When I was at Tuesday Morning on Monday evening (ha!), I spotted a new brand of tea that looked good, this Green Tea with Orange & Mandarin from Loyd. Have you ever heard of this brand? I had not.

I liked that these were pyramid-shaped tea bags, as they do seem to allow the tea leaves to expand more. At $2.99 for 20 tea bags, it seemed well worth trying.

Now I love a good citrusy-tasting tea, and I have to tell you that this orange-flavored green tea is terrific, and I've had multiple cups of it already. As soon as I took a sip, I could practically taste and see the orange wedges in my mind's eye. Also of note: I do believe this may be the first time I've tried a tea made in Poland! Are any of you familiar with this tea vendor? If so, what flavors do you recommend?

Monday, October 7, 2019

Finally, it's fall!

Alex and I were thrilled when we stepped outside to go to church yesterday morning and found temperatures had finally dipped! Considering that it was 97 degrees just a couple of days ago, we are genuinely delighted to finally have some fall-like temps in our neck of the woods. And it occurred to me that the Welbeck chintz still sitting on my tea trolley needed to be switched up with something more fall-like.

So, these are a few of my favorite fall things: darker-colored teacups, for one thing. I don't have a lot of spice-toned teacups, but this top one seemed to fit my theme. It's a Royal Albert Prairie Lily set, part of their Provincial Flowers series.

Much less precious but no less loved, this grapevine teapot was a gift from a friend years ago, and I have had it on display somewhere in my house ever since I received it.

This golden-yellow teapot was one of my summertime purchases from a friend who is downsizing.

And this is what I'm sipping this week, a fresh new tin of Pumpkin Spice tea from Harney. What are some of your favorite fall things?

Friday, October 4, 2019

Finding tea in unexpected places … yet again

Recently, I ordered a copy of a 2015 book I'd read good things about online, Stitch Stories by Cas Holmes. Printed in the UK, this cloth-covered hardback book is packed with examples of unique textile art and was just the sort of thing I was hoping for to get my creative juices going.

I've been thinking of trying my hand at creating some sort of altered book, and I liked the techniques and pages and threads I found in this book, including this spread about printing with a gelatine plate. I love those messy threads for some reason!

And though I did see an image of a bowl that reminded me of a tea bowl, I did not expect to see this, Judith R. Shamp's The Zen of Tea, which is made of pleated tea bag paper and recycled bamboo. Isn't that amazing! I continue to be delightfully surprised by how many artists are inspired by tea, and I believe some of you would enjoy this book as well.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The sweet taste of fall

A friend who was recently in Highlands, North Carolina, brought me back some herbal tea from the Spice & Tea Exchange there. I've been to that shop before myself and was delighted to receive this Cinnamon Plum Herbal Tea.

This tea contains organic cinnamon, organic hibiscus flowers, organic currants, organic licorice root, and natural plum flavor.

When steeped, the tea has a nice dark wine color, and the taste is a refreshing plummy one with just a hint of cinnamon and a pleasant bit of tartness. My taste buds were ready for the fall flavors of tea, and this one was a great way to kick off the season. What's your favorite tea to sip in the fall? I'd love to have some new recommendations!