Monday, November 30, 2020

Some thrifty new plates for Christmas treats!

On Friday, an old colleague had asked to buy some signed copies of my new Christmas book, so of course I was happy to drop them off. Now while I don't do Black Friday shopping, my late mother was fond of visiting thrift stores and antique stores on Black Friday since so many people are usually at the malls and big-box stores. Goodwill, interestingly enough, does temperature checks and requires masks these days, so that's been one of the few places I've been happy to shop lately. There weren't many cars in the lot of one of our two local Goodwill stores, and when I stopped by, I learned that everything in the store was half off through Sunday. While I didn't find anything I just loved at that first store, the discount prompted me to stop by the second store, too, and I went home with several things I just loved. This charming handled plate/tray marked $1.99 was half off? Why, that's Dollar Tree pricing.

This plate (marked "Circus" and "Fragrance Collection") was just 75 cents, and isn't it pretty? I'll line it with a paper doily and deliver treats on it, so this plate may be enjoyed even more than the treats!

And this isn't a plate, but this ceramic tissue box, in mint condition and just 75 cents, may well be the prettiest one I've ever seen. It immediately went into the guest bathroom downstairs.

And it reminds me so much of my sugar and creamer from Fitz and Floyd. The shades of pink are a little different, but I just love a big, bloomy rose. (I also found a pewter bread plate I'd been wanting, and my whole bag of goodies was only $4. Score!)

My other fun "plate" find of the day, from Rockin' B Antiques, is one I'll be using as decor, because I'm not going to plop food on top of Baby Jesus, Joseph, and Mary, but isn't this lovely? I'm always drawn to these old plates with that gold floral design around the edges, and I can't believe I've never seen this design before. I love vintage Christmas decor, but it's rare that I find vintage Christmas items that depict the spiritual meaning of the holiday. This was perfect, and I thought the $10.99 price was reasonable.

This is easily my favorite vintage Christmas find of the year so far.

And it was made in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1956. Its proximity to Georgia is yet another reason I'm surprised not to have seen this design before!

And since it's Cyber Monday, I have one other happy shopping experience to share, one that has little to do with tea—at least not directly, anyway. Fellow blogger and tea lover Michele of The Nest at Finch Rest recently hosted a giveaway featuring her daughter's soap company, Fresha, and that caught my attention because I usually buy fancy soaps for both my daughter-in-law and stepdaughter each Christmas since they like them so much. But this year, I'm not buzzing around to fifteen different boutiques in search of soap, so I'd written that off. I looked at this company's lovely website and was instantly impressed, so I ordered a bar for each of the girls. When the soaps came—quickly, and beautifully packaged—I sure wished I'd ordered some for me … and will once I'm through shopping for others. This Pretty Pink Apple goat milk soap is a work of art. It smells so clean and fresh and not overly perfumy at all, and that frosty swirl on top is even prettier when you're seeing it live!

And when I saw this soap named Cozy Cashmere, I knew it needed to be a gift as well. Those creamy tan and ivory colors just look so rich and smell so luxurious, but not overpowering. (The soaps are carefully wrapped in pretty tissue, but I couldn't help untucking them for a moment to savor the fragrances.)

I do love a pretty package, but most days, I'm just happy if Amazon gets it to me uncrushed, you know? So to receive a package with a pretty, tiny envelope containing the receipt, a lovely thank-you card, some wrapped candies, and a darling little yummy-smelling sample soap for me (oh, what plush lather!) … well, I was just bowled over. I've grown so accustomed to "so-so" customer service that "excellent" customer service and packaging truly gets my attention. So I've said all that to say this: This year, I'm trying to purchase more gifts from people and small businesses that I know (or in this case, whose mothers I know) rather than supporting the same ole big guys who don't know me or care about earning my business. So if you're in the market for some soaps or soap gifts, do yourself a favor and check out Fresha Soap Co. right here. Even with shipping (and you can choose First Class or Priority), the prices are quite reasonable, and for those of you who like a soak in the tub, there are bath teas too! (No affiliation, and I wasn't asked to write this. Just a ridiculously happy customer!)

Friday, November 27, 2020

'Tis the teacup season …


It's time to begin using my Christmas teacups, and the first one I'll be using this season is a new one I recently found at T. J. Maxx. It's slightly larger than the typical bone china teacups I favor, and that's perfect for all the Christmas tea I plan on sipping this year!

I think one reason I like this set so much is its soft color palette. While I like bright colors in all of that vintage and retro Christmas decor I collect, when it comes to tea wares, I like a more subdued color palette, and this one is perfect with its soft reds and mint greens.

And of course, the price was right.

Naturally, this tea is peppermint, a flavor I will all but wear out in December. (Note to self: Don't forget to get a Peppermint Chip Milkshake at Chick-fil-A soon. I forgot last year until it was too late!) Are you pulling out your Christmas teacups yet? Putting up your tree? I'm just *relaxing* this weekend. I've worked hard, cooked hard, and now I plan to simply lollygag over the next few days. What about you, friends?

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Reasons I'm thankful for tea!


I'm really enjoying the posts I'm seeing on Facebook this week where everyone is sharing what they're thankful for. As a variation on that, I started thinking about all the reasons I'm thankful God made tea. Here are the first three things that came to mind:

1) I'm so thankful for the many wonderful teatimes I've enjoyed around a tea table (mine or someone else's) with family and friends. Some of those friends and family members are in Heaven now, and how wonderful to have happy teatime memories to enjoy.

2) I'm thankful that tea has facilitated my friendships with so many amazing women! I now have friends all across the country, and a few across the world, who share my love for tea and teatime. I've met quite a few of them in person, and our mutual love of tea turned us into friends so quickly that it's rather astonishing. (Have you ever heard of, say, a group of Mountain Dew or Dr Pepper enthusiasts who can claim that? I think not.)

3) I'm thankful that plain tea has no calories. Seriously.

What about you? What are you thankful for about tea?

Monday, November 23, 2020

Some fun Christmas finds

On a recent Saturday morning, I was out running errands early and decided to stop by Treasures Lost and Found, a local antique shop that I gather is the latest iteration of an antique mall that recently closed, Treasures Old and New. I like the new shop even better than the old one, and it almost seemed to have *more* stuff and was more intimate. I arrived early enough that I was the only customer there, which made me happy during these mask-wearing, social-distancing days of ours. I had barely made it in the door before I spotted this Ruby Damask Old Country Roses teacup and saucer for just $8. I knew that was going home with me. I'm not sure this is actually a Christmas pattern, but it looks Christmasy to me, and the price was right. Plus, it had the original Royal Albert sticker still on the bottom, so it's possible this lovely set was never even used.

As I always keep my eyes peeled for vintage Christmas decor, I was delighted to come upon this set of fun little bendable "Annalee Mobilitee" dolls from 1971. They seem so familiar. Maybe we had these when I was a little girl? (I would have been seven.) Or maybe I saw them somewhere else back then? The nostalgia of such items gets me every time.

I love the whimsical style, and I was happy to see a tag on the back so that I could research them.

Their faces are so expressive! And just $6 for the set was a good buy, so I was happy with that as well.

I'm trying to hold off on using my Christmas teacups until after Thanksgiving, and since this one isn't technically a Christmas teacup, and I was sipping the India Wilkes (from Gone With the Wind) blend from Adagio Teas, I decided that using this teacup was okay, especially here at Thanksgiving week. While 2020 certainly hasn't looked like any of us thought it would, I find myself thankful for many things this year, and that certainly includes all the wonderful tea-loving friends who read this blog!

Friday, November 20, 2020

The winner of "The Vintage Christmas Cookbook" is …

 Ginger C.! And I'm headed to the post office again today, so that book will soon be on its way. Congrats, and thanks to all who entered!

Dollar-store deals … for tea lovers!

Last week, I was disappointed in my Dollar Tree washi tape, but this week, they made up for it by offering great plastic platters, 14-inch ones that say "Have a cup of cheer!" I bought two and will reserve these for friends who love teacups and teatime!

This is also the time to stock up on paper doilies. They can line a plate or tray, but they're also great for crafting and for sprucing up a package or padding tins of cookies and candies. Since I don't always see them in Christmas designs, I bought a pack of these when I saw them at Dollar Tree.

And Dollar General turned up some cute gift bags for $1 each. Again, I'll be saving these for friends who appreciate teacups and teatime. If you see any great dollar-store deals suitable for tea enthusiasts this Christmas, please share!

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

12 Days of Christmas from Adagio Teas


Last week, I wrote about my fun new Tea Advent Calendar from Adagio Teas, and today, I want to share my review of another great gift they allowed me to sample, their 12 Days of Christmas gift set … and I have some fun ideas for how to enjoy it long after the teas are gone!

When you open the box, you immediately see a little card…

… that lists all the teas, which range from Earl Grey Bravo (a nice crisp Earl Grey) to Golden Monkey and Rooibos Pecan Turtle (a rich, naturally sweet dessert tea that I adored).

And look how the teas are packaged! They're in these small rectangular tins just a little larger than a gift card, and the spines when lined up feature an ornament design. How clever is that?

I've long been a fan of Adagio Teas, so I knew the loose tea samples themselves would be a hit, and they were …

… and I also think the tins themselves are so pretty.

Some of them even look like cross-stitch, and if you were generous and willing to share, you could hang one or two on the tree for a friend or family member. (Or not, ahem.)

But my inner crafter went nuts when I realized that these adorably tiny tins are absolutely perfect for crafting after you've enjoyed all the teas. Have you seen the new craft of creating scenes in tiny altered tins, like Altoid tins? Some I've seen on Etsy have featured a nativity, a snowy Christmas scene, and even a vignette perfect for tea lovers. These Adagio tins would require you to either find super-thin miniatures or (my idea) create dimensional paper images, and wow, aren't these perfect for that?

Of course, if you're not a crafter, you could just enjoy the pleasure of trying a lot of great new teas, and that's okay too! This set of teas is just $19, and I predict that I'll be buying these for myself every year from now on. (Go here to check them out now.)

Monday, November 16, 2020

November Giveaway: The Vintage Christmas Cookbook!


It's here! I'm so pleased to announce that The Vintage Christmas Cookbook is now available on, and to celebrate, as always, I want to give away a copy here! I only recently got my proofs and haven't even gotten my own bulk order yet (it's on the way), but the book is already up on Amazon, so I decided there was no use delaying the announcement!

If you'd like to win a signed copy, just leave an "Enter me" comment to this post between now and 7 a.m. EST this Friday, November 20, and you'll be entered to win. I will ship the winner's book anywhere in the world, so feel free to enter wherever you live! 

Here are a few screen grabs of the interior layouts:

I did order about a dozen extra copies because I've learned it's usually wise to do so, so if any of you in the US know that you want to purchase a signed copy, just let me know by emailing angelamcrae at charter dot net, and I'll shoot you a PayPal invoice and reserve you a copy from my bulk order. Books are $19.95 + $3 shipping. (And if you're outside the US, I believe this should be available from your country's Amazon site.)

I'm so thrilled with the design by my talented designer friend Deberah Williams, and I had a lot of fun with this book, so I do hope readers will enjoy reading and using it as much as I enjoyed writing it! Hope lots of you will enter the giveaway, and good luck!

Friday, November 13, 2020

Washi tape — you get what you pay for

A friend of mine used to say, "You win some, you lose some, and some get rained out." Well, this "washi tape" from Dollar Tree would fall into the "you lose some" category. I was so excited to have found a washi tape with a teacup on it for just a dollar.

With cookies and hearts and a shy, smiling teacup, how could I lose, right?

My first clue that something was amiss was that the tape had a piece of clear cellophane holding it in place, which I've never seen on other washi tape. When I removed the clear piece of tape, this stiff stuff practically popped right up. (And if you're not a washi tape enthusiast—yet—just imagine a slightly lighter weight of masking tape. Same idea. So it should definitely be sticking to itself.) It *did* hold my dies in place for my die-cutting machine, which is one of the main reasons I buy washi tape, but alas, it tore the paper when I removed it, so that's a deal breaker. This tape has little in common with the other washi tapes I've used, so maybe I'll use this one to decorate packages or something. On the bright side, it'll force me to be creative!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

A salute to our veterans!

Today is Veterans Day, the federal holiday we set aside each year for honoring those who have served in the United States Armed Forces. I'm truly grateful for those who've served our country though military service—including my dad, who served in the Army and whom I'll be talking with later today—and I think it's so important that we let them know that we appreciate them!

In honor of Veterans Day, I found some artwork on the Library of Congress website that I think is perfect for today, even if it does say "boy" instead of "boys and girls," but hey, this was a hundred years ago. The summary says it is a "Y.M.C.A. poster for the United War Work Campaign showing a man in military uniform pouring a cup of tea for a young soldier seated with a rifle across his lap and helmet at his feet; signpost with Y.M.C.A. logo in upper right corner." This poster was published in 1918.

Veterans, thank you for your service!

Monday, November 9, 2020

The Adagio Teas Advent Calendar

Adagio Teas asked whether I'd be interested in reviewing their tea-filled Advent Calendar, and being no dummy, I immediately said yes. I've seen tea-themed advent calendars for a few years now, but this is the first one I've seen that I consider a good value at just $29, and I love that the 24 tea samples are available in both loose tea and tea bag form. (Not sure whether they knew that I would prefer the loose tea version, but yay, because that's what I got!)

After all the challenges that 2020 has delivered, I must say that I think this is a fine year to treat yourself to something special in celebration of the upcoming holidays, and for a tea lover, this is ideal. I went ahead and tucked into a few samples so that I could tell you about them. Behind door number one was a Spiced Apple Chai that was so yummy-smelling that I simply savored the scent for a while before I ever took a sip. This tea was a fine blend of both apple and chai flavors, and I enjoyed it very much.

What tea to try next? My birthday is May 4, so I decided to peek behind door number 4, and oh boy, it held Cherry Marzipan Oolong tea. Now I *love* cherry-flavored teas but rarely find them, except for those cherry-rose green teas, which I also like, but I think cherry-flavored teas are perfect for Christmas. This one had that great naturally sweet "dessert tea" taste and is definitely one I need to order in a larger size.

And finally, I think that after this pandemic year, the number 20 is going to need some good PR, so I decided to give it a shot. Behind door number 20 was this decaf Hazelnut Cinnamon Creme tea, and it, too, had a "dessert tea" taste, so naturally sweet that I didn't even consider adding sugar, making this another fine indulgence.

If you'd like to treat someone else or yourself to a bit of Christmas joy, I'm happy to recommend the Tea Advent Calendar from Adagio Teas (click here for ordering info), and I'm grateful they gave me the opportunity to sample this delicious gift! Ahhh …

Friday, November 6, 2020

Tea and candles … and pumpkin spice!

The other day, I was rifling through a kitchen cabinet in search of this particular blue teacup, which I somehow end up reaching for each fall. I sat it next to a candle I'd tucked away, and it struck me that both the color and the flavors matched, as this is the teacup I've been using when sipping my Pumpkin Ginger tea, a Republic of Tea blend that I've been enjoying for about a decade now.

The candle, I don't remember buying. A gift, maybe? I like candles, although I'm not quite the candle aficionado that some of my friends are. I first realized this years ago when friends began hosting candle parties, which I had not realized even existed! These days, though, I do perk up when I hear about tea-scented candles, so I was pleased when tea friend Michele alerted me to a new Bath & Body Works candle with white tea and sage, which I will be looking for the next time I'm near one of their stores.

Meanwhile, I'll continue to enjoy the lovely scents of my Pumpkin Spice candle and my Pumpkin Ginger tea in a favorite teacup, a gift from a former coworker. I always forget who made it, and I'm always surprised when I see that it was …

Royal Albert! So I'm curious: Are any of you fans of candles? If so, what brands and scents are your favorites? I'd love to know!