Monday, August 31, 2020

Lipton Tea + Probiotic to "Glow From Within"

I'm not usually drawn to "ground tea" products that make health claims, but I happened to spot a new product at Kroger the other evening that caught my attention, Lipton's "Tea + Probiotic" line. Actually, what caught my attention was the price—$5.99 for twelve "sachets"—which seemed a bit pricey when I thought it was just powdered tea packets. But this one says it has "probiotics and collagen supporting Vitamin C for a delicious and convenient way to add more probiotics to your day!" This one was a blend of hibiscus, mate, and Goji berry, so I thought I'd give it a try.

The box says to mix one packet with twelve ounces of cold water, then shake or stir. The box notes, "Some sediment at the bottom of your cup is expected," but I found that it blended quite well.

I prepared mine in this favorite old "TEA" glass.

And while I expected something that tasted tart and perhaps a little bitter, this was a light, fruity drink, more like flavored water than tea, but I really enjoyed it! So I'm going to follow their advice and drink two cups a day for a while and see what happens. This "Glow" blend was the only blend I saw at the grocery store, but when I looked online, other blends are titled "Soothe Your Tummy," "Cleanse," and "Immune Support." I generally prefer loose tea that's simply a pleasurable beverage, but I'm certainly not opposed to drinking tea for its health benefits too. Have any of you spotted these blends in the stores where you live?

Friday, August 28, 2020

An old magazine sparks some new ideas

Sometimes I marvel that I continue to keep thirty-year-old magazines, and yet, even as I try to get rid of some things in my library, my back issues of Victoria remain precious to me. This week, I thumbed through the August 1990 issue to see what I was reading about back then. But I noted with interest that this issue's label says "P.  Mason" of Smyrna, Georgia, and I think maybe this is is one of the issues my late grandmother found for me once she knew I was trying to complete a collection. A sweet memory!

In these old issues, I don't have to turn very many pages at all before I'm oohing and aahing over old lace …

And teacups! I like the tall shape of these, but they weren't listed in the shopping information. Anyone have a clue about this maker or pattern?

But the most fun thing I found was a recipe section titled "An Occasion for Iced Teas." I was all ready to follow their advice and prepare my own blend of iced mint tea and lemon tea, but would you believe I'm out of mint tea? Now how did that happen! Oh well, at least I'll have something tea-ish to look for on my next trip to the grocery store. And thanks for the memories, Victoria!

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

"Edwardian Cooking: The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook" by Larry Edwards

I do love a bargain, so when my friend Joy emailed to say that Edwardian Cooking: The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook by Larry Edwards was currently *free* on Kindle, I grabbed it. And I checked last night to be sure, and it was STILL free for Kindle, so if any of you don't have this one, please check it out!

Like me, you've probably read that during the pandemic, home cooking has soared. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why that is, and I think it's actually a plus from this whole thing!

Edwards has an entertaining writing style, and the recipes include lots of things that caught my eye: King Edward Coronation Toffee Shortbread, Grantham Family Crumpets, Estate Oat Bread, and Lobster Pudding, for instance. So if you haven't downloaded your free copy, please check it out. (And as a fellow writer, I always like to remind folks to please leave a review after you're done and make an author's day!)

Monday, August 24, 2020

A tea trolley taste of fall

Are you all as ready for fall as I am? I spotted my first yellow leaves on a flowering cherry tree in our front yard last week, and I wanted to cheer. That's always one of the first signs that fall is on the way. That got me to thinking about fall decor, and I decided to add a few "pre-fall" touches to the tea trolley in hopes it will speed things up. And yes, I'm ridiculously proud that my avocado plant is still alive!

Something about the yellow and gold in this rose design teapot makes me think of fall.

And I don't have very many fall-toned teacups at all, so I gathered some in peach, burgundy, and wine colors and plopped them on the teacup stand. I think they'll work until I (slowly) gather some fall-themed teacups. The pretty lace coasters, a gift from a blog reader friend years ago, tie them all together, I think.

My grapevine wreath teapot is a favorite piece I always pull out each fall.

And this taupe-colored filet crochet doily was another gift from a blog reader some years ago. I still love it!

Finally, the message on this (store-bought) greeting card, which I liked so much that I framed it, is a great reminder. It's interesting to me that just before the pandemic hit, in February, I started recording in my bullet journal each day a single blessing. I'd never been very good about keeping current with a gratitude journal, but one line a day? I can do that. Some days, I'm aware of so many blessings from the Lord that I have a hard time deciding on just one to write down, and that's a blessing, too, isn't it?

Friday, August 21, 2020

Stamping teapots … and teapots … and teapots …

I really ought to pay more attention to the descriptions on eBay. I ordered a tea-themed rubber stamp on there recently because it was just a few dollars and featured a design I didn't have (a retired one from 1996).

And the stamped design ended up being 5-1/2 inches wide, which is a lot wider than I'd expected.

So I just started stamping and coloring. The design will fit on large cards, and I think if I cut these into narrow strips, they would fit around a jewelry box as a cute decorative "band" the next time I'm giving someone a jewelry gift. I ended up doing most of the rows in a single-color palette, mainly because coloring is what I do when I'm watching a Zoom conference or webinar these days. Oddly enough, I get distracted and don't pay attention unless I have something to do with my hands. Meanwhile, if you have any creative ideas for what to do with 5-1/2-inch wide strips of teapots, please share!

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

"Women having tea" in Budapest

Since August 18 marked the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the one guaranteeing American women the right to vote, I find myself pondering what it means to be a woman voter in America these days. And so I found myself looking for vintage images of suffragists, and I came across this one on the New York Public Library's site.

The image is one I'd not seen before, and perhaps that's because these women aren't in America. The title is "Women having tea," and the information accompanying the photo says it was created in 1913 at the International Woman Suffrage Congress in Budapest. I don't know about you, but this photo doesn't scream "suffrage" to me, and I like it all the more for that reason. (Plus, I love the teakettle on the table.)

Also, note how the women's feet are propped on boxes. I had not thought about this before, but retail historian Jan Whitaker just had an intriguing blog post about restaurant chairs and noted that early ones were too tall for many women. I don't know if this photo was taken in a restaurant or a home, but the chairs (or maybe the table?) seem too tall for these ladies. If you're interested in Jan's latest post on her restaurant blog, you can find it here.

Monday, August 17, 2020

The giveaway winner is …

Ginger! So I'll get the notepad and other goodies headed your way. Congrats!

"Murder on Black Swan Lane" by Andrea Penrose

I'm in an online book club started by a friend of mine a few years ago, and one reason I joined is so that I will be inspired to read something besides the contemporary cozy mysteries I favor. Yet when I saw that last month's book was a historical mystery, I dreaded reading it. I shouldn't have, because I edit historical romances for an author in another country and absolutely love her books, but still … a historical novel wasn't what I was hoping for. So what a pleasant surprise when I discovered that I absolutely loved this book, and now I look forward to reading other books by Andrea Penrose.

This book was a bit edgier than the sugar-and-spice cozies I tend to read, yet it wasn't vulgar or overly violent or any of those other things that can make me put a book down. (Things like profanity, blood and gore, and glorified violence are the deal breakers for me; I can take it if a murder occurs "off-screen," as we say.) This tale had fascinating characters and an intricate plot, and I especially loved the two main characters—a widow and artist with a keen eye for detail, Charlotte Sloane, and a bored nobleman, the Earl of Wrexford, who both have an interest in the murder of a local clergyman—especially when Wrexford himself becomes a suspect in the man's murder. The investigation involves a lot of science and scientific evidence as they endeavor to trap the murderer, and it was fun to try to solve the mystery with them.

Tea lovers will note that tea is frequently offered to young and old alike. Sometimes, Charlotte has a cup of tea with two young urchins she's practically adopted. They go by the names Raven and Hawk, and I grew to love these young fellows and their escapades, especially when they became protective of their protector.

In one scene, Charlotte is treated to ice cream at Gunter's Tea Shop. She was escorted "inside the elegant tea parlor … at a table looking out through the large windows onto Berkeley Square. A parade of fancy carriages rolled by, the wheels clicking smoothly over the smooth cobblestones. Ladies frothed in silk and satins strolled along the neatly raked gravel paths of the central garden, accompanied by gentlemen dressed in the first stare of fashion."

Interestingly, Wrexford and Charlotte are not romantically linked in the book, and I look forward to seeing whether a relationship develops in a subsequent book in the series. Regardless, I found the Regency period details and writing thoroughly impressive, and I'm so glad my book club friend recommended this book. I do believe some of you would like it too!

Friday, August 14, 2020

An End-of-Summer Teatime Giveaway!

I suppose I should check out my "gift closet" more often, because I came across a few goodies I'd meant to give away, so … who could use some cheerful teatime stationery? This gift set includes a sheet of magnets (a few mentions of coffee and lots of tea), a notecard to share with a friend, and a magnetic note pad.

Do you love magnetic notepads as much as I do? I have one on my refrigerator right now and think this is a very useful invention on someone's part.

So if you'd like to win these goodies, just leave an "Enter me" to this post between now and 7 a.m. EST on Monday, August 17, and you'll be entered to win. US only, please. Good luck!

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

"Tea For You" by Lorraine Bartlett and Gayle Leeson

Authors are publishing all sorts of fun things in ebook form these days, and for the first time, I've found on Amazon something billed as a Kindle "cookbooklet." Titled Tea For You, it's a 42-page (that's Kindle "page") book of recipes from cozy authors Lorraine Bartlett and Gayle Leeson. And when I got mine, it was totally free, so those of you who read on a Kindle may want to check it out here.

The book includes recipes for cookies, cakes, scones, soups, salads, sandwiches, and candy. I'm intrigued by the Tiramisu Bundt Cake and the Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup, and I'll bet you'll see a few things to tempt you as well.

Bartlett is the author of the Victoria Square Mysteries, and you can find out more about them here. I just noticed she has a new short story called Tea'd Off, so that's going on my reading list! (Side note: I love the font used on Tea For You, and it seemed so familiar somehow. Then I looked to the right on this web page. Ha!)

Monday, August 10, 2020

Agatha Christie & Cream Tea Scones

It's been an Agatha Christie–themed weekend at my house. Alex and I are always looking for a new TV show to binge watch on the weekends, and we are drawn to British shows set around WWII or the fifties. This time, we settled on "Partners in Crime," a 2015 British miniseries based on Christie's Tommy and Tuppence mysteries. We liked the first few episodes and plan to keep watching. Then, before I could even join my Sunday School class on Zoom yesterday, what lands in my email in-box but my Agatha Christie newsletter featuring a recipe for English scones!

I have used my trusty scone pan to make wedge-shaped scones for most of my baking life. In fact, I cannot recall ever making round ones that I've cut out myself. So this time, I used the recipe downloaded from the newsletter here. They were easy to make (once I figured out that 8 ounces of flour equals a little over 2 cups!), and the fluffy, tasty treats were ready to enjoy by the time I settled in with my Sunday School lesson. They were small, just about 2 inches each, and I liked that.

They fit beautifully on my tea and biscuit set (which I wrote about here in 2011). Since I had some whipped cream left over from testing another Christmas cookbook recipe, I decided to have my scones with both grape jelly (made by my sister) and cream. I learned that the way I eat mine—cream first, then the jelly—is considered "the Devonshire way," as opposed to "the Cornish way," which is jam first. Are you Team Devonshire or Team Cornish?

Friday, August 7, 2020

A test taster in 3D

I just love coming across new stereographic images on the Library of Congress website, and this may be one of my favorites yet! It's captioned "Inspecting and Tasting Tea, Japan,"and is circa 1926.

Here's a closeup of the single image. It makes me wonder what that room must have smelled like with all those tea leaves sitting there and ready for the tasting. The men all look quite serious. The LOC caption says the photo shows four men, and it took me a while to find four. Do you see them?

Here's a link to the original on the Library of Congress website, and if you're trying to view this in 3D, as I did, it may give you the best results. Once I stared at the middle for a while and finally got the right focus, I found this one of the best stereographic views yet. I hope you enjoy it too!

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Some minted ice that's nice

After viewing that "From the Garden" issue from Stampington and Co. a few days ago, I couldn't stop thinking about those pretty resin teaspoons. So, I copied the idea … in ice! I tinted a little water pink with food coloring and filled the cavities of a silicone chocolate mold, adding a few tiny fresh mint leaves, then placed the tray in the freezer for a few hours.

This is a detail of the mold, something I found at a HomeGoods store a few years ago.

If I ever see a mold that is *entirely* teapots and teacups, I will definitely have to have it. I found this a fun idea and something that would be neat to use for a tea party … if I could just make enough of these cute ice cubes for everyone to have some!

Monday, August 3, 2020

A new idea for teatime cookies

I've spent many of my summer weekends testing treats for a cookbook of vintage Christmas recipes I'm working on, and I've also ended up with lots of leftover bits, like sugar cookie dough and egg nog. I learned that egg nog makes good coffee creamer (I hate to see anything go to waste!), and the sugar cookie dough inspired me to try something new with my teapot cookie cutters.

So this isn't really a recipe as much as a good old-fashioned technique. Basically, you use one cookie cutter to cut out your desired shape, then you use a smaller cookie cutter in the interior of your cookie, and in that space, you use a place a small (or crushed) candy, like a Life Saver. The candy melts and fills the space, and then it re-hardens once the cookie cools. (So if you're like me and have a crown, eat these carefully!) I've learned to bake just a single cookie first to make sure I have the right amount of candy inside, and then I know how much it will take to fill up the others.

Here are some of the cookie samples I made for the Christmas cookbook, and I used a medium-sized star cookie cutter, about 3-1/2 inches, with a 1-3/4 inch cutout. A whole Life Savers candy fit perfectly in the space and didn't even have to be crushed. The interiors look like jam here, but they're simply melted and re-hardened Life Savers. It's a fun vintage technique that I enjoyed experimenting with, and I can see all sorts of possibilities for these cookies!