Friday, October 30, 2020

How to use a not-so-great tea …

We've all done it: bought a tea that disappoints. Fortunately, my most recent disappointment, the Apple & Cranberry flavor of Tevive from Dollar Tree (don't judge) didn't set me back very much. And it didn't taste bad at all, it just didn't taste like apple or cranberry but rather like a regular old tea bag tea. My options are a) give it to my husband (plain tea is fine with him) b) use the tea for dying old linens (always a good option) and c) save the tea bags for an art project since so many folks are making tea bag art these days.

I had hoped this tea would be as good as the Blueberry & Honey flavor I found at Dollar Tree, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but alas, it was not.

And it's a pity, because I love having individual tea bags to tuck into cards. Oh well! But my other favorite way to salvage a plain-old tea is to simply drop a peppermint candy into the cup. It sweetens and flavors the tea all at once, and voila, you have your very own blended tea. (And a save!)

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Who's ready for Christmas?

I was so happy to find the November/December issue of Tea Time at Books A Million when I stopped by the other day. Like a lot of people, I'm already looking forward to Christmas 2020 ("We need a little Christmas," to say the least), and one friend said on Facebook that she's putting up her decorations on November 1. This year, I salute her for that!

Once again, Tea Time is featuring a silver pattern that's new to me. This time, it's this Schofield Baltimore Rose teapot, which I think is possibly the most gorgeous silver teapot I've ever seen. (I know some of y'all are rushing to look online so you can surprise me with it for Christmas, but really, don't. The $8,499 price tag for the tea set seems a wee bit steep.) 

If anyone would like to stop by and practice social distancing while dropping off some of these elegant raspberry tartlets, however, I won't object at all.

And check out this Christmas-tree-shaped cherry Danish. Is that not adorable? It's made with puff pastry and is actually a recipe I'm likely to attempt to make, so this was fun to see.

When will you decorate for Christmas this year? Have you even thought about it? I'm thinking about decorating the week of Thanksgiving, which would be early for me, so we'll see!

Monday, October 26, 2020

Finding tea at Serenbe

Yesterday, Alex and I were going a little stir crazy, so after Zoom church, we headed up the road where we figured we could safely social distance and enjoy a walk at Serenbe, a planned community in neighboring Fulton County. When I was a reporter many moons ago, I interviewed the founders, Steve and Marie Nygren, who got the name "Serenbe" from a combination of the words "Serenity" and "Being," and Serenbe has drawn accolades from all over the world, including Oprah, for its "New Urbanism" development in Chattahoochee Hills. (Fun fact for tea lovers: Marie Nygren is the daughter of the late Margaret Lupo, who owned Mary Mac's Tea Room in Atlanta.)

Many of the homes we passed had lovely fall displays.

I didn't expect to see so many flowers at this time of year, and these camellias were particularly lovely.

One home had lavish beds of daisies out front.

And I wasn't the only one enjoying them!

We stopped for snacks at the Blue Eyed Daisy, where I got a chocolate cupcake and some excellent loose tea, listed as simply a black tea with rose, cocoa, and cloves. The cupcakes were buy one get one free, and Alex wanted a brownie instead of a cupcake, so we got the extra one to go, and they packaged both of them in upside-down plastic cups. What a great idea for how to package a cupcake!

And the cupcake was excellent, by the way. I think the chocolate cupcakes my friend Susan makes are the best I've ever eaten, and this one tasted exactly like hers: moist cake and creamy frosting.

When Alex and I were seated outside and I told him I really wished I knew what kind of tea that was, he said, "You want me to go ask?" I said yes, and he did. The helpful clerk came and shared the name with me. Anyone ever heard of August Uncommon Tea? I had not, but I sure plan to check out their teas now. 

When I told Alex I would blog about the tea, he said, "You want to show them what I had?" and I said, "Sure!"

It was fun to get away from home for a few hours, and finding a new tea was the icing on the (cup) cake!

Friday, October 23, 2020

Some 'Tea-rrific' new fabric

Now that darker evenings and (slightly) cooler temps have arrived, I'm enjoying more time for crafts and sewing, and I recently got a tip from my friend Joy about a new-to-me fabric vendor, Hawthorne Supply Co., that had this fun blue tea-themed fabric called "Tea-riffic."

Here's a detail of the fabric, which I ordered and just love. I have a hankering to piece an all-blue teapot quilt, but I don't have nearly enough blue fabrics, so I was quite happy to learn about this one.

When I'm watching my British TV shows on the weekends (lately, I'm catching up on "Father Brown" episodes), I'm cutting out triangles from some flour-sack prints and hand piecing them into diamonds. I'm not yet sure whether I want to just join all of these diamonds or intersperse them with strips of white, but I'm so enjoying the soothing rhythms of stitching my way through a TV show or two. Are any of you fabric lovers? If so, I'd love to hear what pretty prints you've found lately!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Granny Chic Washi Tape ... with teapots!

Washi tape. I have yet to fully explore the world of this fun, colorfully patterned Japanese adhesive tape that began showing up in the crafting world a few years back. But when I see some with teapots on it, I'm getting it, and I found this adorable Granny Chic Washi Tape on Amazon and placed an order. 

This cute package has four rolls of tape, and of course you can guess which one I like best!

Ever since COVID arrived, I've been hearing not to lick envelopes and to tape them instead, so I also think washi tape is a cute way to seal an envelope. But I mostly use my washi tape to secure dies in place when I'm running them through my die-cutting machine. Are any of you fans of washi tape? If so, what are some of the things you're using it for? I'd love to know!

Monday, October 19, 2020

A sip of fall


I don't know whether this fall is prettier than I ever remember or whether it's just that I'm so happy for a change of seasons in this otherwise unpredictable year, but I'm enjoying this fall so much and hope it stays with us for a while. Like many of you, I imagine, I reach for different teacups in the fall, and one of my favorite fall teacups is this Royal Albert Centennial Rose teacup, which was a Christmas gift from my husband one year.

Any spice-flavored tea seems suitable in this cooler weather, and I've been enjoying the Pumpkin Ginger tea from Republic of Tea. And to make it even more pumpkin-y, I added one of my pumpkin spice candy spoons from Melville Candy. I usually see these flavored spoons at Barnes & Noble, and they have occasionally turned up at T. J. Maxx as well.

The combination was extra spicy, which I liked, and it even reminded me a little of red hot candies.

I'd love to know what you're sipping this fall. Got any recommendations, friends?

Friday, October 16, 2020

The winner of the Chicken Soup book is …

 Janet P.! So thanks to all who entered, and watch this page for more book giveaways in the coming months!

Hallmark's new Mini Tea Party Twirl-About Ornament

After finding the perfect miniature silver tinsel Christmas tree at Goodwill in the past year, I am so excited about collecting new mini ornaments to go on the tree, and I just got a new one in the mail, this Hallmark Mini Tea Party Twirl-About Ornament. I immediately grabbed the little ball at the bottom to see if the tiny teacup-riding mice really did twirl, and they did!

This piece was designed by artist Edythe Kegrize, and it's under 2 inches tall and has so much charm in this tiny package!

After my twirling session (and I haven't twirled like that since I was a ballerina at age 6), I turned it over to put it back in the box and realized even the back is decorated. If you're a fan of Hallmark ornaments, too, I highly recommend this one, which is perfect for the tea lover's tree.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Win a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul's "Christmas Is in the Air"


Last year, I had an essay published in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book, and it was a story about walking that appeared in the title Running for Good. This year, I had an essay called "A Priceless Nativity" selected for another Chicken Soup title, which is now available, and it is Christmas Is in the Air!

It's available here, but would you like to win a signed copy? If so, just leave an "Enter me" to this post between now and 7 a.m. on Friday, October 16, and you'll be entered to win. (US only, please.)

And please make sure I have a way to contact you if you're the winner! Good luck!


Monday, October 12, 2020

"Becoming Elisabeth Elliot"

The late missionary Elisabeth Elliot is one of my all-time favorite authors, and her writings, particularly about singleness and godliness, made quite an impression on me during my years as a young (and then not-so-young) single woman. I still quote her to this day, and here are just a few of her jewels:

• "Action that is clearly right needs no justification."

• “The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian makes me a different kind of woman.”

• “Remind me that not everything needs to be said, and that there are very few things that need to be said by me.” (One of her pleas to God)

Many people know Elisabeth's name simply because her husband, Jim Elliot, was one of the five missionaries speared to death by the Ecuadorian Indians they were trying to evangelize in 1956. I'm told the story made headlines around the world and inspired many others to go into the mission field. The part of that story that has always stuck with me most, however, is that after her husband was killed, Elisabeth went back and spent two years ministering to the very people who had killed her husband. I don't believe I could have done it! Could you? 

She's one of the few authors whose every book I own, and I even had the privilege of hearing her speak on a couple of occasions, so when I learned an authorized biography of her was coming out, I was thrilled that NetGalley sent me a copy. But what I did not expect was to find quite a few tea references! Author Ellen Vaughn tells of researching the book: "I knew, standing in Elisabeth Elliot's home, with her favorite books, her piano, her teacups, and the wild ocean she loved just beyond the picture window, that those long-ago deaths were just part of her story."

In one part of the book, Vaughn writes of the time Elisabeth and a fellow missionary traveled a few hours away from their post in Ecuador and were invited to lunch by two Brits, and Elisabeth and her friend were served spinach soup, rice, fried eggs, and tea. "There was a proper pitcher of cooled boiled milk for the tea, covered with a scalloped doily weighted around the edges with glass beads. Civilization, in the jungle." Doesn't that image just make you smile?

Any of you who are also Elisabeth Elliot fans will no doubt want to read this book, too, and finding tea within its pages—while certainly not a focus at all—was nevertheless a delightful surprise!

Friday, October 9, 2020

Finding tea in Somerset Studio Magazine …

I find so much creative inspiration from flipping through the gorgeous pages of Somerset Studio. I've had this August/September/October 2020 issue for over a month now, and I finally had time to start poring over the pages the other night. The cover image is so lovely with those impressionistic roses, and I learned they are the work of Renee Mueller, a classically trained dancer. If you love roses and portraits of women, pick up this issue and you'll definitely be inspired!

And while I wasn't  looking for tea in this issue, I couldn't help smiling when I came across this teacup in some artwork by Renee Zarate. I love the colorful inks of the background too.

And yet another colorful and creative teacup showed up in artwork by Monica Berridge. I am always heartened to see a teacup in artwork, and I'm also inspired to continue inserting teacup imagery into the things I create, from books and needlework and stamped cards to—one day, maybe—some fancy artwork of my own.

This magazine is one that never fails to inspire me. What inspires you to create? I'd love to know!

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

A Dollar Tree shopping alert

I'm always grateful for those of you who alert me to new tea goodies, so I thought I'd report on a few tea-related things I found at Dollar Tree over the weekend. First, the Christmas wares are quickly appearing, and I love the design of these plastic containers with cups on them. I bought some zip-lock bags with this same design on it at Dollar Tree last year.

Now, I'm picking up a few of these containers to use when giving Christmas treats. I often like to give things on vintage plates, but not everyone appreciates vintage things, so I like to have a contingency plan for giving food gifts.

The book section at Dollar Tree was especially fun to visit this time. I bought a mixed media book I like, and behind it, I found this book of coffee cozies. I have a tea press in this same shape, so I flipped inside the book to see if any of the designs appealed to me. 

This teacup did …

… and so did this coffeepot (too tall to be a teapot, but it's still pretty).

And who knew there was a whole book of madeleine recipes? Somebody at Chronicle Books should have gotten the word out to the tea lovers, because I *know* we would have wanted this when it came out in 2012. Still, waiting a while and getting it for one dollar is pretty nice too. Happy shopping, friends!

Monday, October 5, 2020

My new "I LOVE Tea" mug

Aunt Jane and I went shopping in Carrollton on Saturday, and in recent weeks, there has been a line to get in T.J. Maxx. There's nothing I need in there that would warrant standing in a line just to get in, so I've skipped on shopping there. There was no line when we passed by on Saturday, though, and I'm glad, because we both went inside and left with new mugs. She got one with butterflies on it, and I found this delightful Lisa Kaus latte mug that I simply had to have. I normally would never buy myself a mug that says "I love you, and you love me," but since my husband has never to my knowledge stepped into a T.J. Maxx on his own, I'm just going to pretend that the *tea* is saying, "I love you, and you love me." Problem solved!

I am choosing to focus on the "I LOVE Tea" message of this cute mug.

And since I used to work for a newspaper, I still love things with newsprint on them.

This little detail shows several things I love: a pretty pink teacup, the color turquoise, newsprint, and handwriting.

I also loved the nice, sturdy box this mug came in, and frankly, I would have bought just the box if I'd seen it for sale by itself. (I have some crafting items that will be very happy inside!)

More handwriting!

And if you happen to like this mug and want one for yourself or a friend or loved one, here's how it looks on the shelf. Cheers!


Friday, October 2, 2020

Tea plantations, the old and the new


I'm so glad a blog reader taught me how to look at those old stereographic images on the Library of Congress website so that I began to see them in 3D. This week, I came across this old image of a tea plantation in Japan, and I'm amazed at how the hills seem to come alive. Are you able to stare at these until you see them in 3D? If not, here's an article that explains the technique. Once you learn how to "see" them, it's like having a built-in View-Master available at all times. 

Here's an enlarged image of one panel.

Tea plantations were on my mind for quite another reason this week when I came across a new china pattern, Gardens of Lyra by Paul Scott, on the Fortnum & Mason website. "Designed exclusively for Fortnum & Mason, Gardens of Lyra takes inspiration from tea plantations around the world and their surrounding landscapes." (Click here to see a detailed view of the plate.) The only tea plantation I've had the pleasure of visiting so far is the one in Charleston, South Carolina, but I've sure enjoyed seeing the ones in Japan and on these tea wares in the UK!