Friday, January 31, 2020

"The Suffrage Cook Book" by Mrs. L. O. Kleber

You know how you go online to look up one thing and it leads to another? I was looking up something to do with the suffragettes when I came across the 1915 Suffrage Cook Book by Mrs. L. O. Kleber, and a free digital version of the book is available in just about any format you could want. Go here and pick your fave!

I was surprised to find a recipe for Sally Lunn bread (having enjoyed Sally Lunn buns at Sally Lunn's in Bath, England) as well as interesting-sounding treats like Bride's Cake, Lace Cakes, and Marshmallow Teas. (I don't think the Marshmallow Teas sound very good.)

I'm quite interested in the Suffrage Angel Cake, though, even though "great care must be used in baking this cake to insure success."

I think I'm going to try a recipe or two from the book in honor of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment this year, maybe in time for Super Tuesday here in Georgia. And I hope some of you will be interested in this great free resource as well!

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The March/April 2020 Tea Time … and that tea set!

I know from the comments I've seen online this week that I'm not the only one who was happy to see a new issue of Tea Time land in my mailbox. This is a French-themed issue, and I must say that I have fallen in love with that Bernardaud Brocante tea set on the cover!

Here, the teapot beautifully accents the blue glass serving plate. (I have a similar blue serving plate and made a mental note to use it with some berry dish, as those strawberry and orange blossom scones look so pretty on it.)

Even this teacup from the set just made me swoon, and while it's much more affordable than the $393 teapot, it's still $161, so I don't see myself ordering one anytime soon. (If it comes to T.J. Maxx or Goodwill, though, all bets are off.) Still, it's fun to have a new tea set to dream about. Are you dreaming about any new tea wares lately?

Monday, January 27, 2020

A new Gohyo electric tea kettle

One of the many unexpected blessings of having a blog is that it serves as a tea journal of sorts. So while I've been enjoying a new electric tea kettle and mourning the passing of the old one, I realized I could probably do a search on this blog and find out how long the old electric kettle served me. And the answer? Nine years! But the Hot H20 X-Press started leaking a few weeks ago and never stopped, so I finally, and with much sorrow, tossed it. When deciding which electric tea kettle to purchase next, I started reading reviews on Amazon, and I was surprised to find some of the highest reviews were for one very inexpensive electric tea kettle that I simply had to try for a completely ridiculous reason—the pretty blue-green color of the handle and base.

So with a gift card balance at my disposal, I ordered this Gohyo tea kettle for $15.99, and two days later, I was boiling water faster than I ever have. I love the color, and I love that it's so simple to operate. (I don't want fifteen settings; I'd learned to gauge the temperature of my water for both green tea and black tea, which is pretty much all I need.) My only criticism so far is that the bottom of the stainless steel interior got slightly discolored super fast, and I wish that weren't so, but everything else about this kettle, I love!

I had learned with my previous stainless steel–exterior kettle that I sometimes turned it on without actually having a full mug's worth of water inside. So I knew I wanted a tea kettle with a glass body the next time, and I can't tell you how many times I now find myself standing around the kitchen and watching bubbles form. I like the purplish-blue light that tells me the tea kettle is on.

The water boils so fast (even my husband has commented on this) that it's often ready by the time I've decided on a loose tea, measured it, and prepared an infuser basket or tea filter full of tea.

And the kettle cuts off automatically once the water is boiled, although you do have to flip the button off yourself if you want water that's not quite boiling. I don't find this a problem at all, and once, when I removed the pot early and returned it to the base, the blue light reminded me to turn it off.

My kitchen has only a tiny counter space between the sink and refrigerator, and the space is perfect for this kettle. The cord, by the way, tucks into the base for travel, which made it easy to take the kettle to Callaway Gardens for the family reunion last weekend. So even though I needed a quick replacement tea kettle and didn't do a lot of research before purchasing this one, I must say that I am beyond pleased with it, and I'd love for it to last me nine years!

Friday, January 24, 2020

Spiced Ruby Cider Herbal Tea

A friend who travels a lot was apparently thinking of me when she visited the Spice and Tea Exchange in St. Augustine, Florida, before Christmas, as she gifted me with several new teas from there, including this Spiced Ruby Cider Herbal Tea.

I was at a local coffee shop this week and was in the mood to order hot apple cider rather than more tea, which I've been consuming in copious quantities since it's been so cold and rainy here in Georgia lately. I enjoyed it so much, I decided it was time to try this cider-flavored herbal tea with the ingredients of the traditional mulling mix, hibiscus, and apple pieces.

It gave me that rich cider flavor I was hoping for, and only after I'd tried it straight from the bag did I follow their instructions to steep some in hot apple juice. Ah, even better! And now I'm wondering why I haven't ever thought of steeping some of my spicy teas in juice before now. If you've tried this tea-and-juice combo and have any recommendations, I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

A vintage cookbook with some intriguing tea & coffee tips

I'd learned of Betty Crocker's Good and Easy Cook Book some years ago but never got around to actually searching for one. Then, I came across this copy of the 1954 cookbook in great condition for just 99 cents at a thrift shop in Rome the other day. Sold! When I got home and started reading it, I was especially intrigued by a chapter titled "The Fourth Meal." What is the Fourth Meal, you ask? According to this book, "It is the meal that people eat for fun. For breakfast, lunch and dinner, you eat the things you think you should eat. But in between, you eat the things you like."

Happily, their Fourth Meal suggestions include "Afternoon Teas," with some suggestions for sandwiches, salads, and other treats.

Now, when I got to these beverage recipes, I thought the Hot Tea recipe was pretty simple. No quibbles there. But check out the first ingredient in the coffee recipe. I was flummoxed. What on earth? Surely they didn't mean to put a raw egg in with the coffee. But indeed, that's exactly what they meant. In fact, I found this article online which rather explains the why and the how. But I'm just shocked that as much as America loves its coffee, I had never heard of this before. Have any of you? Have any of you tried egg coffee? I'd love to hear a review!

Monday, January 20, 2020

Cousins, cookies, cupcakes, and Callaway

For about the sixth year in a row, Alex and I joined the McRae side of the family for their annual "cousins reunion" at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia. Everyone pitches in and brings something for the meal or dessert, and this year, I was asked to help with a light "welcome tea" consisting of simply tea and cookies. I said to count me in, especially when reunion-organizer whiz Berta said she would provide the china teacups and sterling teaspoons, so I just needed to provide the actual tea and a couple of  teapots.

Berta (shown here wearing her McRae plaid skirt) had the much harder job, yet when I got there, she gave me a gift she'd picked up for me in London, some tea from my favorite department store in the world, Fortnum & Mason. How awesome was that! And it was some of their delicious Royal Blend Tea. I told her I even love their bags, and she smiled and said, "I know." Ha!

Two of the younger generation, sisters Sophie and KK, always look forward to the simple tea, and I am quite happy to assist in their love of teatime.

Here, I'm pouring some Orange Creamsicle tea, one of the varieties I suspected (accurately) would be a crowd favorite.

One of the cousins who is a, well, magnificent baker make some lavish chocolate chip cookies with flakes of some exotic type of sea salt on top. They were wonderful! I had offered to make my trusty brown sugar shortbread cookies in the shape of teapots, and they all disappeared too.

My other contribution was to make chocolate cupcakes for dessert following the Saturday evening barbecue dinner. I've made these so many times that I'm quite comfortable whipping these up, and this time, I even liked the way my icing looked. I started using the "1M" size Wilton tip, and by holding it vertically and piping one big swirl from the inside out, I got that "rose" look I was going for. Best of all, the entire batch of 30 cupcakes got eaten, so I didn't have to bring any home with me. It's become a delightful custom to meet up with my husband's cousins from all over the country each January, and I'm so glad we were able to join them again this year. (And since I was busy pouring tea and forgot to get photos, I'm also grateful that my sweet stepdaughter, Heather, took most of these photos and shared them with me!)

Friday, January 17, 2020

A salute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Can you believe it's about to be the 25th anniversary of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday? This photo of Dr. King with a cup and saucer before him caught my eye when I was at the LBJ Library in Austin over the summer, and I'm glad I remembered it in time to post before the MLK holiday.

In this photo, President Johnson discusses civil rights strategy with Dr. King (left), James Farmer, and Whitney Young on January 18, 1964. If you're at all interested in our nation's civil rights history, as I am, I highly recommend a visit to the LBJ Library and also, not that far down the road from my house, The King Center in Atlanta.

I often wonder what else he could have accomplished if Dr. King had lived longer, but I'm grateful for his life and legacy and am so glad that we have an annual holiday in his honor.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Deluxe Autumn Chai from Plum Deluxe

This is the rainiest January I can remember in recent years, and when I come in from running errands, nothing warms me up like a nice hot cup of tea. My latest new tea to try was this lovely Deluxe Autumn Chai from Plum Deluxe. 

I love that this blend combines black tea and rooibos, and the cinnamon, ginger, clove, and cardamom flavors are there but not overbearing. I also detected a sweetness from the almond flavor, which I love—and which gives this chai a distinctive taste.

A chai requires a spice-toned teacup, so I chose this Royal Albert Prairie Lily-patterned cup for this new chai, which I very much enjoyed. And if you're interested, you can check out the latest chais from Plum Deluxe by clicking here.

Monday, January 13, 2020

How to enjoy roses in January

Most years, my January tea trolley has been decorated in a palette of cream and white tea wares. I started to do that again this year, as that's what I've always done, but then I thought, hey, the tea trolley police are probably not going to come after me if I add a bit of color this year, right? And if they do, so be it!

 So, inspired by the lovely Jane Eastoe and Georgianna Lane book Vintage Roses, I gathered a few pink things … 

 … and was quite happy with the result!

My favorite pink teapot. 

A Fitz and Floyd (I think) creamer and sugar, collected at different times.

The sugar paste flowers from my wedding cake.

Turned a bit peachy over the years, but still hanging on …

A teacup stand, something that's always out on display.

 An old, old antique mall find.

 A gift from my old landlord.

An estate sale purchase last year.

 A favorite teacup, a gift from my friend Beth.

 A tiny little pedestal of china roses that belonged to the late mother of my friend Ann.

A tea trivet I found … somewhere.

I'm already plotting spring in my mind, and these lovely vintage tea wares brimming with flowers are one way I cheer myself up on the rainy, gray days of winter. That and a nice cup of tea, of course. Is there anything you do to keep things sunny through the winter? Tips are always welcome here!

Friday, January 10, 2020

Oliver Pluff & Co. Gunpowder Green Tea

I received a number of new teas as gifts over Christmas, so this week, I tried this gunpowder tea from Oliver Pluff & Co. This tea company is based in Charleston, S.C., which always makes me think of Theodosia Browning's tea shop in the Laura Childs cozy mysteries.

I'm pretty sure I could pick gunpowder tea out of a lineup because of its tight little balls of tea that resemble gunpowder pellets.

 I always think, "What if the tea leaves don't expand?" And yet they always do.

I had sipped a lot of flavored tea this week, so this nice green tea (which doesn't look like green tea in the cup) was a most welcome change. I liked the slightly roasted flavor I detected in this tea, and I got multiple steepings of it. I'm hoping to try a new tea each week of January since it's National Hot Tea Month, and this one was a winner!

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Tea Time … for your skin!

After having oily skin for most of my life, I find in middle age that I am, of all things, reaching for moisturizer. I ran out of the Clinique moisturizer I've been using, so when I was in Walmart the other day, I decided to see if they had anything that looked worth trying. And when I saw this Tea Time White Tea Day Cream from Earth to Skin, a new "cruelty-free" skincare line from Walmart, I decided to give it a try.

All of the products in this line are less than $10, which I found surprising. This four-ounce jar of day cream was just $8.94.

And I'm pleased to report that I absolutely love this day cream. I've used it after cleansing my face at night as well as under makeup during the day, and it works beautifully in both instances. It has a light floral fragrance that I was pleased to discover, as I don't like a medicinal-smelling skin cream. This one moisturizes without feeling at all greasy, and I couldn't be more pleased, especially since it contains camellia sinensis leaf extract. Have any of you tried this line? If so, are there any other products you'd recommend? I'm eager to try more!

Monday, January 6, 2020

Planning … for tea and other occasions

It's the first Monday of the new year, and I thought it would be a good time to talk about planning. I love getting new calendars for the new year — desk calendars, wall calendars, magnetic mini calendars for the fridge — and this year, I'm trying my hand at bullet journaling (also known as dot journaling), where you basically make your own planner in a blank journal designed just for this purpose. (I attended an Authors Guild workshop last January and received an emerald-colored Leuchtturm journal whose creamy ivory paper I immediately fell in love with, so this Nordic Blue model is a Leuchtturm journal as well.)

I'm strictly an amateur, but I managed to create my year-at-a-glance page without too much difficulty.

I have a Pinterest board devoted to bullet journal layouts I like, so I tried this snowflake-themed layout (my very rough version is based on this pretty one) for January. I haven't finished lettering "January" and need to up my skills, but hey, baby steps. (I also should mention that I'm hoping to see some *real* snowflakes this year, as 2019 was a bust in that regard.) And please note my little pink teacup sticker, which I'm using to mark the day whenever I'm meeting a friend for a cup of tea. (I'm also following the advice of Joanna Penn of and going to make a note of my accomplishments, even small ones, on a regular basis in 2020. I got to the end of 2019 and thought about all that I *didn't* get done, because I wish I could write my books faster, but instead, I'm going to focus on the small achievements along the way—"Wrote 10,000 words this week" or whatever. I like focusing on the positive!)

Back to the stickers, I found another one that I used to remind myself that January is National Hot Tea Month. There are usually some fun blog posts and giveaways online this month, so this is a reminder for me to check those out.

I found the little pad of stickers from Sweet Kawaii Design on clearance for $1.97 at Michaels last week. The critters aren't really my cup of you-know-what, but I'm going to pass those along to some kiddos when I'm finished using up all the tea-themed stickers.

Like some of these. And the heart flags are cute, too, aren't they?

The "Tea Time Me Time" stickers will have to be used for something important, although I'm not sure what just yet.

And these tiny little teacups will certainly come in handy. Are you cracking open a new calendar this week? I'll bet some of you have one of those pretty teapot wall calendars that Workman Publishing has produced for many years. Alas, I've never seen a tea-themed desk calendar/planner (although I have actually thought of publishing one, but I have too many other projects competing for attention right now). However you choose to plan your year, I hope it's a great one!