Wednesday, December 29, 2021

2021 tea gifts from family

Some years, I get tea gifts for Christmas, and some years, I don't, and I'm just grateful for any gift someone gives with me in mind. At my family celebration on Christmas Day, I got several gifts that actually work pretty well together!

My niece Cari has now joined the grown-ups in buying gifts for everyone, which was a pleasant if unexpected surprise. I was so touched that she got me this pretty white pearlized teacup! I love the scalloped shape of the saucer, and I think of her whenever I use this set.

I was shopping with Aunt Jane at an antique mall last month when she spotted this Sadler teapot and asked if I would like "this pretty teapot with the roses on it" for Christmas. Before answering, I checked the price, which was quite a bargain, and said why yes, that would be lovely, and she was so happy when the clerk offered to wrap it for her in a pretty gift bag. I'm a little concerned that *she* spotted a Sadler before I did, but hey, she found me a lovely gift!

And my oldest niece, Madison, gave both Alex and me cup warmers to use at our desks, which I thought was a clever idea for two writers who like their coffee and tea. So did you receive any tea gifts for Christmas? I'd love to hear about them.

Monday, December 27, 2021

"Twisted Tea Christmas" by Laura Childs


Did you all have a nice Christmas? We did, and one thing I enjoy about the time between Christmas and New Year's is a little extra time for reading books and watching old movies. On Christmas Eve, Alex and I watched the 1947 movie The Bishop's Wife with Cary Grant, David Niven, and Loretta Young, which was quite enjoyable. And over the weekend, I also finished reading the latest tea shop mystery from Laura Childs, Twisted Tea Christmas.

I believe this is the first time Childs has released two books in the same year, and I would be delighted if she makes this a habit. I greatly enjoyed reading this book at Christmastime, and boy, could I relate to tea shop owner Theodosia's busy schedule, trying to keep work afloat while she shops for Christmas gifts and enjoys a few holiday social events. 

The story begins at a fancy Christmas party Theodosia is catering at the home of Drucilla Heyward, a famous philanthropist in Charleston, but before the night ends, Miss Drucilla ends up on the floor with a syringe in her neck, murdered before she could even announce the names of the nonprofits who were going to benefit from her largesse. Some expensive rings are missing from her body, and a Renoir she had purchased is missing from the home as well. Naturally, Theodosia finds herself right in the middle of the murder investigation, and the list of suspects is long: Miss Drucilla's personal assistant, the executive directors of the various nonprofits who were hoping for a gift, an art dealer, her nephew, and more.

Christmas is just days away, and Theodosia's sleuthing happens in spurts between some of the many delightful teas that she is hosting with the help of her chef, Haley, and tea sommelier, Drayton. I greatly enjoyed reading about the food and decor for the Nutcracker Tea, the White Christmas Tea, the Old-Fashioned Southern Tea, and the Victorian Christmas Tea. My mind started churning with ideas for a themed tea of my own next Christmas.

As ever, the town of Charleston is a character in its own right in this book, and their tourism board ought to give Laura Childs a key to the city since she makes so many of us want to go there and book a stay at a B&B—along with afternoon tea, of course.

This mystery was a tough nut to crack, and the red herrings were plentiful, making it even more fun to try to solve. If you haven't already discovered this book, it would make some particularly fun reading this week!

Friday, December 24, 2021

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Tea gifts for grammar nerds

I was expecting several packages to arrive yesterday, including some vintage Christmas tea-and-toast sets that I am eager to receive, but the big box outside the door last night didn't contain them as I'd expected. Instead, it was a totally unexpected gift from a writer friend who lives in the North Georgia Mountains, and I can only wonder where she shops, because these were things I absolutely would've wanted had I known about them.

Check out this tea towel with proofreaders' marks! What a clever idea for a tea towel. There's also a fun game featuring "Dreyer's English," which also happens to be the name of the fun book I read a while back by Benjamin Dreyer, the copy chief of Random House. It was definitely enjoyable reading for grammar geeks, so I know the game will be a fun one for Alex and me. (Hoping I'll win!)

But this mug, y'all. I've seen mugs about the Oxford comma but never one with "Tea, Novels, and Oxford commas." That's one of the best mugs I've ever seen! (And I would like to report that I have not set foot in a store in four days. Yippee! I'm happy to stay home and read and drink tea!)

Monday, December 20, 2021

The last of the thrifting/antiquing for 2021 (maybe)

On Saturday, I helped Aunt Jane finish up her gift list, and I was very glad when the "have-to" shopping was complete. Stores have reached that crazy point where stock is low, chaos is high, and nerves are shot. I don't care for that kind of shopping, so we also headed to an antique mall and a thrift store, where kinder, gentler shopping may be enjoyed. And the antique mall is where I found a Royal Winton Welbeck dinner plate and this cute vintage Santa figure. The eight vintage silver plate pastry forks, a wish list item, were fun finds at a local antique mall last week for just $1 each!

Santa here was my fun find of the day on Saturday.

Apparently, this is what some of the snow globes of yesteryear looked like. It still has the frosty glitter that shakes around, but I'm wondering if it ever had liquid inside. Does anyone happen to know?

One of my best finds of the season, however, was these two boxes of "A Cup of Christmas Tea" napkin rings. A local woman listed them on Facebook Marketplace last week, and a mutual friend saw the listing and tagged me so I would see it.

About twelve hours later, I was meeting her at the garden center at Lowe's and bought these for just $12 a set, which I thought was a great price. Have any of you bought anything on Facebook Marketplace before? I had not (I was a little leery), but my sister and my girlfriends have been doing so for a while. This week, though, I think I'm shopped out and ready to stay home, bake cookies, and let my heart "prepare Him room" before Christmas. What are you all up to this week?

Friday, December 17, 2021

Some early tea gifts!

My stepdaughter's family in Wisconsin always treats us well at Christmas, and although we would prefer they just send us family photos and call it done, that is never the case. This year's treats arrived this week, and in addition to a big box of goodies including the locally made chocolates and coffee we love, I also received two tea-ish gifts. This delightful tea towel is from Door County, Wisconsin, which Alex and I had the pleasure of visiting a few years ago.

We did indeed go to some of these sites, including the restaurant with goats on the roof, and we enjoyed a fish boil, too, so I absolutely love this tea towel and its vintage look.

Heather always has yummy scented hand soaps at her house, so I was quite happy to receive this White Barn hand soap with white tea and sage. The smell is divine, and it's fun to have a new tea-scented soap to use at Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

A tea-themed desktop Christmas tree

It dawned on me that I might enjoy my fourteen-inch-tall tea-themed tinsel tree even more on the desk where I actually spend many of my waking hours, so this year, it’s displayed to the left of my computer, and I must say I’m liking it here—and haven’t knocked it off so far (knock on wood). When I pause during my workday to consider something that I’m writing or editing, I find myself staring at the tiny ornaments and “seeing” them even more.

Last year, I added this Twirling Teapot from Hallmark, and I guess I still have an inner child because I do indeed twirl the knob and watch the mice twirling on their teacup ride.

And I believe it was tea friend Michele who informed me last year that other tiny teapot ornaments were for sale on eBay, and that’s where I got this one. The whole thing is just about an inch tall!

Now, I have to make up rules for myself when it comes to collecting. I vowed last year that I wouldn’t go nuts and buy every mini ornament on eBay. Instead, I would look for them on my usual thrift store and antique store jaunts. Well, I found nary a one this year, so I gave myself permission to buy one on eBay, and I got this little silver teapot from 2004.

Here it is on the tree!

And if you have a tabletop tree as well, you might like to know that I found the cute little pink, gold, and white ornaments …

For just $3 a box at Target. Do any of you have a miniature tabletop tree? If so, where do you display yours? I read about someone who had a tabletop tree in the bathroom, but I don't think I'm going there just yet!

Monday, December 13, 2021

Holiday Teas from Carolina Parakeet

Two years ago, I had the pleasure of traveling to Anderson, South Carolina, to speak at Carolina Parakeet Tea & Gifts. Afterward, I was delighted when owner Donna Siemen wanted to carry my books in her shop, so we've stayed in contact and touched base on several occasions. On a recent Saturday, I "visited" her shop again virtually to speak with customers about The Vintage Christmas Cookbook (which was a new marketing opportunity and one I enjoyed). While preparing for that event, I happened to notice they had boxed sets of gift teas on their website, so I ordered this one, and it came on Saturday.

The blends in this set include Christmas Market, Visions of Gingerbread, Noel, and Oh, Christmas Tree.

I haven't sampled them all yet, but one of the first teas I wanted to try was this Oh, Christmas Tree blend. I love that it's a green tea with the flavors I associate with Christmas, and it's pretty, too, with its orange slices and pink peppercorns. This tea was naturally sweet and had some zip from the peppercorns, and I sipped many cups of this warm, cozy tea over the weekend.

And here's what the Visions of Gingerbread blend looked like after I steeped it. This black tea blend includes apple pieces, cinnamon pieces, freeze-dried yogurt granules, sliced almonds, mandarin sections, whole star aniseed, cardamom, and more. This was another winner thanks to all the spices and fruity flavors, and it definitely tastes like a good Christmas tea should. And the scent of these teas is divine!

I'm so glad I got these new teas to try in time for Christmas, and if you'd like to check out their offerings, too, click here. I hadn't tried Carolina Parakeet's Christmas teas before but certainly plan to remain a customer from now on!

Friday, December 10, 2021

The giveaway winner is …

Sharon S., and I've just contacted her, so hopefully, she'll be enjoying the ornaments and soap very soon. Congrats!

Will work for tea

Earlier this week, I went over to my friend Kathy's to craft for a few hours. As usual, I walked over to "my" desk and seat in her studio, which is brimming with yummy stamp sets and dies and paper and markers and crafting machinery that I can only dream about. When I got there, this cute little bag was waiting, decorated with a tag featuring a Boston terrier like the beloved pets my friend has had for many years.

When I opened my gift, this cute card from The Gray Muse was inside, and can you tell what that is at left? I knew immediately, because I'd seen these online but never splurged on one for myself.

It's an adorable little enamel lapel pin (just over an inch wide) with a rose-patterned teacup on it that reads, "Will work for tea," and that is so true! Isn't this just the cutest thing? I was delighted! And if this is your cup of you-know-what as well, you can find the maker's website here.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Completing a collection


I was so happy to find a box with an eBay label on it land in my mailbox this week. Why?

I'd been collecting these Hallmark Keepsake Tea Time ornaments by Tracy Larsen since they first appeared in 2016. Last year, however, the local store sold out of the Tea Time ornaments before I could buy them. Amazon was sold out, too, I believe, and when I looked on eBay, they were selling for much more than the original price. I decided to wait.

When I started pulling out ornaments this year, I remembered that I was missing the 2020 Tea Time ones, the final set in the series, so I looked on eBay again last week, finding them this time for just $7.95, still new in the box!

Collection completed! (And Tracy Larsen and Hallmark, please design some more of these cute teapot and teacup ornament sets!)

Monday, December 6, 2021

A tea lover's Christmas giveaway!

While out shopping last week, I came across some treats I got for me, and I got the same things for one of you! I must say I'm surprised that I'm just now finding out that Target has tea-themed ornaments this year. The good news is I found some, and they were just $3 each. The bad news is these two teacup designs were all I found at the store in Hiram, Georgia, and I learned online that both of these have matching teapots that I've been unable to find. (But I'll keep looking. I'm no quitter!)

So would you put felted ornaments on your tree? I did.

And these would be darling on a baby's tree as well, though I have happily added mine to the living room's tea-themed tree.

And as they say on TV, "But wait, that's not all! The Dallas Markets had a booth with some soaps that smelled so yummy they stopped me in my tracks. Any tea ones? Why, yes, they had this lovely White Tea & Ginger soap, which I've been enjoying ever since. It's got a nice clean scent that I love.

So if you'd like to win these goodies for yourself or to share with others, just leave an "Enter me" to this post between now and 9 a.m. Friday, December 10—making sure I have an email address, a blog link, or another way to contact you if you're the winner—and you'll be entered to win. And because it's Christmas, I will mail this gift anywhere in the world. Good luck!

Friday, December 3, 2021

Thai Chai from Adagio Teas


I didn't quite make my self-appointed November deadline to finish sampling the new fall teas from Adagio Teas, but I'm happy to have saved one of the best for last this week. This blend contains black tea, cinnamon, ginger, coconut, cardamom, lemon grass, and natural coconut flavor. The name?

Thai Chai! I so enjoyed my tea sampler from Adagio this fall and have learned to appreciate the nuances of flavor in different chais, which I had assumed would all taste pretty much alike. This one, especially, changed my mind, and in the future, I'll be paying more attention to the variations in the chai teas I try.

I even liked watching this one steep. Doesn't that blend look warm and cozy? Although it's in the seventies in Georgia this week, the fact that it's December has me sipping lots more hot tea, and the naturally sweet taste of this one was quite enjoyable. Do you have a favorite chai?

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

An early Christmas gift I just love


Before the calendar even rolled over to December, I had received a few Christmas gifts, including this one dropped off by my friend Liz after she went to see the Downton Abbey exhibit in Atlanta. I haven't been yet but am hoping to go before it leaves town in mid-January. So she had already told me that's where she found something for me.

Liz loves to take her time wrapping gifts, so I enjoyed admiring the wrapping on this one. Under the pretty ribbon were some paper doll-type figures that appeared Downton Abbey-era-appropriate. Lovely!

Now, I must say that it always makes me nervous when I realize someone has given me a book, because I already have so many books, especially tea books, and I've gotten a few duplicates over the years (although I always try to be gracious and hide that fact if I can!). But this time, I was delighted to realize I didn't have this book! And a Downton Abbey tea book? Well, I needed this.

The foods look yummy, including these lemon tarts, which would be a good excuse to use the miniature tart pans I recently came across while cleaning out the pantry.

And of course it's absolutely delightful to remember all the fun tea scenes from the TV show, especially the ones with Violet and Isobel.

And oh, Mr. Bates! Didn't we all love Mr. Bates!

And poor Edith. How we fretted over her fate for all those years. I believe that's a portion of a tipping teapot at the photo's far-right edge, isn't it? This is a book I will no doubt keep and use for many years, and it also reminded me that a new Downton movie is coming next year. I can't wait! Have any of you seen the Downton Abbey exhibit when it was in another city? Your thoughts?