Friday, February 26, 2021

When you want some bunny to love …

Usually, I prefer vintage decor, and usually, I am pretty good about talking myself out of buying anything new in the way of cutesy home decor that I don't need, but then this happened.

While looking for vintage images of Easter bunnies on eBay, I had come across a bunny-in-teacups figurine but thought it was overpriced. Plus, it looked like something you would find at T.J  Maxx or Tuesday Morning, so when I was out running errands yesterday, I decided to stop by the T.J. Maxx in Peachtree City. They had lots of cute bunny decor but no bunnies in teacups. (They did, however, have some of the most beautiful bunny-and-roses plates I've ever seen, and for just $3.99, but there was only one salad-size plate and three dinner-size plates, so I knew better than to give myself the task of trying to make either of those become a set of four. If you're in need of such plates, however, you may want to be on the lookout.)

So when T.J. Maxx didn't prove fruitful, I decided to run by Tuesday Morning, where I found this little resin guy (8 inches tall, $12.99), who immediately made me smile! Both Alex and I love bunnies, and quite a few of the real ones seem to make their way to our home each spring.

The teacup bunny has apparently befriended the butterflies…

Because several of them managed to wing their way onto the scene. Have you seen any cute tea-themed spring decor? If so, please share!

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

A new teatime treasure from Talbots

I've owned several teapot scarves over the years, but I don't believe I've ever owned one that was 100 percent silk. But thanks to Frances L., who kindly sent me a shopping alert a few weeks ago, I own one now! This Pure Silk Teapot Scarf was on clearance at Talbots, marked down from $59.50 to $19.99, which I thought was a great deal. (And of course I always check Retail Me Not and other sites before I buy anything online, because I almost always find a coupon code for free shipping that way, and I did this time too.)

As soon as I placed my order, it said the scarf wouldn't be in stock until late February, but I didn't care when it arrived as long as it eventually arrived. Frankly, I suspected it would sell out online (and it did), but I'm thrilled that thanks to Frances, I got in on the deal. 

My scarf came yesterday, and I couldn't be happier! This will go perfectly with some turquoise knit tops I already own, and I have a navy-blue dress that it would work with as well. Since it looks like *maybe* the pandemic is finally on its way out the door, I am actually starting to think about new clothes again after going almost a year without buying much of anything. I don't know about you, but I still have things I bought early in 2020 that I never got a chance to wear anywhere special.

Maybe it's the springlike temperatures we're having in Georgia this week (the seventies!), but I'm starting to get excited about spring and the possibility of a return to normal. Are you?

Monday, February 22, 2021

An old recipe for some new Raspberry Squares

Last week, I started testing recipes for my second book of department store tearoom recipes, and this one is perhaps the richest dessert I have ever made. It would have been lovely to be able to order a single slice of this at a tearoom, because then you wouldn't have it sitting there in the fridge at home to tempt you. This recipe comes from a booklet I bought on eBay years ago titled Holiday Treats and Elegant Buffet Dishes, and it comes from the tearoom at Halle Brothers Co., an old department store that was based in Cleveland, Ohio.

I do love raspberry-flavored treats, so once I discovered that this recipe calls for raspberry pie filling and that said pie filling can be purchased at Walmart, I was all in!

The taste was all I hoped it would be. The cookie-type base added the structure needed, and the tartness of the raspberry pie filling … well, I should just buy the pie filling and eat it straight out of the can. But that topping … when you take a look at all the fattening stuff that's in it, you'll see why this is so good! (I did a drive-by and dropped some off with friends to get it out of the house quicker, and it got great reviews.) And a bar of about 1 x 3 inches would sure be a fancy addition to a tea tray—at the holidays or anytime. So here's the recipe if you're interested in trying it!

Halle's Tearoom Raspberry Squares


3 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup cold margarine (I used butter)

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla


2 cups raspberry pie filling (I used Duncan Hines brand)


1 cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup marshmallow creme

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese

1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar

Garnish: 1 cup coconut

Combine flour, salt, baking powder, sugar, and butter and blend well, just as you would a pie dough. (Following a tip I read in Southern Living years ago, I use a cheese grater and *grate* my cold butter when I need to blend it into biscuits, scones, etc. It's so much easier to get those "pea-sized" pieces that way.) In a small bowl, beat egg yolks, milk, and vanilla and add to dry ingredients, and combine all with a fork until well blended. Chill dough for one hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out a little over half of the dough, rolling it quite thin. (I rolled mine between two pieces of wax paper, and the colder the dough, the better.) Place on a large (15.25 x 10.25-inch) greased cookie sheet. Spread with pie filling, almost to edges. Roll out the remainder of the dough very thin and place over the filling. Bake about 25 minutes or until light brown. Cool completely.

For icing, whip all ingredients together using an electric mixer and, when pan of cookies is completely cool, spread on top. Sprinkle with coconut. Cut into squares of desired size.

Recipe notes that “blueberry pie filling is equally delicious.”

Friday, February 19, 2021

Pukka Womankind Organic Herbal Tea

I know that many of us enjoy receiving tea bags in our mail and sending tea bags in our mail. Earlier this month, I was looking for pink ones to include in the pretty valentines I was going to send to a few tea friends. Well, I ended up not liking the cards I made (just a dud of a design on my part) and decided not to send them. That's the bad news. The good news is, I've been sipping the tea I had bought to include in them, and I'm really enjoying this new herbal tea!

This blend contains cranberry, rose, and vanilla flavors, and while I don't detect the rose flavor, I'm very happy with the rich, sweet-tasting cranberry and vanilla flavors.

I have this thing about matching my tea bag tags to my teacups, so I used my Lady Diana teacup from Hudson & Middleton for this tea. It's been rainy and cold a lot lately, so a yummy new tea in a cheerful teacup has been a great coping mechanism!


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Nancy Drew and the tearoom

Here's a question for you: If you could instantly recover one lost item from your childhood, what would it be? I was thinking the other day that I really, really wish I still had my old set of Nancy Drew books! The only Nancy Drew book I currently own is this one, The Clue in the Jewel Box, which Alex bought for me as a gift some years ago. I finally pulled it out and started rereading it this week, and I don't remember much of the story at all, so it's like I'm discovering Nancy and friends all over again.

I was so excited when I read the words "department store" in the very first sentence. And then …

Lo and behold, I see "tearoom" on page 2! I think I'm going to enjoy looking for old Nancy Drew books and rereading them with adult eyes. Were any of you Nancy Drew fans? (And I'd seriously like to know what item from your childhood you wish you still had. I'm always collecting ideas for my books, and it dawned on me that it would be fun to know what other women wish they still had!)

Monday, February 15, 2021

The teacup winner is …

 Terri in Vermont! And I've already contacted her about getting her new teacup headed her way. Thanks to all who entered, and stay tuned for more fun giveaways in the days ahead!

Valentine's thrifting, roses, and a mental health day!

On Friday, I decided I needed to get out from behind the desk and go have what I call a "mental health day," just a day to leave work behind and go do something fun for myself, and that often involves meandering through an antique mall. I knew a rainy Friday morning would probably be a safe time with few people out and about, and it was. I headed to an antique mall in nearby Fayetteville, Georgia, and I was one of only about three or four people in the place, which was absolutely delightful. I actually got some ideas for my books (even though I wasn't originally thinking about my writing), and that was a nice bonus. But the goodies I've found over the last week or so seem to have had a theme, and I thought I'd do another "loot shoot" today! (If you can read backward, you'll note that my little $2 antique mall cookie cutter above reads "Be My Valentine.")

First and foremost, I was beyond thrilled to find a vintage pink Whitman's valentine's candy box. Do any of you collect them? I have wanted to, but they are usually out of my price range. I was following a turquoise one on eBay, and it sold for $171. So, yeah, that wasn't happening. Pinterest boards are full of the pretty vintage ones, but I just figured it might be a while before I came across one that was affordable.

And then, as I entered the last booth at that antique mall in Fayetteville, I found this one! A little spotty, but in lovely vintage condition, really, and just $8—and then a 14 percent Valentine's Weekend discount off that, so $6.88!  I was, as the guy on Duck Dynasty used to say, "Happy, happy, happy!"

I was also near a new-to-me Goodwill, and I picked up another plate for my Christmas 2021 cookie giving, for just $1.29. Since this is rather large and has handles, I guess it's technically a tray. Isn't it lovely? And Dollar Tree prices, I'm tellin' ya! I hope to convince more folks to shop thrift stores for their gift-giving plates. 

Oh, how I love those pretty pink roses. (Okay, I'll admit that I'm starting to think I should keep it!)

Another Goodwill find was a $1.99 Jell-O mold featuring roses. Actually, you can cook cakes in these as well, and that's what I plan to try. Would a rose-embossed cake not be lovely on the tea table once we're all back to having teas? I've already warned my husband that I intend to entertain much more often once the pandemic is behind us. He looks a little concerned, and he probably should be. I'm not even kidding.

Then to cap it all off, I took Aunt Jane thrifting on Saturday and found this pretty heart-shaped candy dish with roses in the design for 50 cents. I'd been looking for a heart-shaped candy dish, and this was perfect.

And to go inside of it … Did you know that the good people of Hershey's now make *rose* kisses? They're chocolate with "meltaway" centers, which  taste almost like a truffle, and the foil wrappers look like roses. Highly recommended if you come across some Valentine's Day candy on clearance!

Friday, February 12, 2021

Valentine's Week Giveaway #3: A vintage teacup with pink roses!

It wouldn't be right to conclude our Valentine's Week giveaways without offering a teacup, so today, I'm giving someone "roses" in the form of this vintage cup and saucer by Royal Vale!

Hopefully, you will sip from it and think only happy thoughts! If you'd like to be entered to win, just leave an "Enter me" to this post between now and 7 a.m. EST Monday, February 15, *making sure to include an email address (if not already on file) so I can contact you if you're the winner* (very important), and you'll be entered to win. US only, please. Good luck!

Thursday, February 11, 2021

The winner of the "Faith" necklace is …

 Laura L.! Congrats, and I'll get this headed your way soon!

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Valentine's Week Giveaway #2 — A "Faith" necklace

So for today's giveaway, we have another of my great bargain finds from Barnes & Noble. Isn't this lovely? With spring and Easter just around the corner, I decided this pretty cross necklace would be a fun gift to help encourage someone through these dark, cold days of winter! (I also like that it has the name "vintage" in there, of course.)

If you'd like to be entered to win, just leave an "Enter me" to this post between now and 7 a.m. EST tomorrow, February 11, *making sure to include an email address (if not already on file) so I can contact you if you're the winner* (very important), and you'll be entered to win. US only, please. Good luck!

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

The lunch tote winner is …

 Susan K.! And I've got your address already, so I'll get this headed your way. Congrats!

(And there will also be giveaways on Wednesday and Friday, so please visit and enter again!)

Monday, February 8, 2021

Valentine's Week Giveaway #1 (1 of 3)

Those of you who've been reading this blog for a while know that I like to celebrate Valentine's Day, so this week, my Monday, Wednesday, and Friday posts will be giveaways, and I've found some fun goodies as prizes this year! Today, I have a cute insulated lunch tote that I picked up at Barnes & Noble for a song the other day (and $24.99 marked down to $2 is my kind of deal, so I got one for me too). I hope that one of you will use it to pack a teatime lunch one day! 

Helpful hint: Don't forget to remove the little plastic covering over the gold tag when the tote arrives. One time, I carried a new purse for months before I discovered that I hadn't removed the plastic off the "feet" along the bottom of the purse!

I think this floral pattern is so pretty and feminine, and I hope one of you will enjoy using this tote! If you'd like to be entered to win, just leave an "Enter me" to this post between now and 7 a.m. EST tomorrow, February 9, *making sure to include an email address (if not already on file) so I can contact you if you're the winner* (very important), and you'll be entered to win. US only, please. Good luck!

Friday, February 5, 2021

Green Tea Morning Mask from Tonymoly

Today, I wanted to let you know about a new tea product I've been using to combat dry skin. It's this I'm Green Tea Hydro-Burst Morning Mask from Tonymoly. It's another of the tea goodies I bought with a Macy's gift card recently, and I found it here.

I haven't often used gel masks, but I was willing to give this one a try. I used to love the old peel-off masks of my youth, but when I was in college, two of my best friends in my journalism classes happened to work part-time at Belk, and one was an Estee Lauder consultant and the other a Clinique consultant. They were horrified that I used peel-off masks and insisted I was peeling off a layer of my facial skin. They would be pleased to know that I went with a "rinse-off" mask this time, one I chose because it has camellia sinensis leaf extract as an ingredient.

I've used it a couple of times already, and it does indeed leave my skin feeling refreshed. The gel is very lightweight and has a pleasant, slightly floral fragrance, and it rinses off easily with no traces remaining. But I have to tell you that it reminds me for all the world of Dippity-do, the old hair-setting gel! It even *feels* like it. Do any of you remember that product? If so, Dippity-do tell!


Wednesday, February 3, 2021

A sweet new Winter Blend

Isn't this herbal tea blend pretty? It smelled so sweetly fragrant when I first opened it that I knew I would probably like it, and I was also smitten by how pretty it is!

This is another of the teas I recently got courtesy of a Macy's gift card, and this tea was on sale for half off. This Winter Blend from Tealish Fine Teas is an herbal tea that includes vanilla, almond, hibiscus, orange zest, cinnamon, and clove flavors. It is such a rich and sweet tea, it truly tastes like it's got sugar in it. And when I came in from my 40-degree afternoon walk yesterday, I made another big mug of this tea and devoured it!

Do you drink tea to stay warm? I do. I mean, yes, I drink hot tea all year round, but when the temperatures fall, my hot tea consumption definitely goes up. Does yours?

Monday, February 1, 2021

The Best Banana Bread — really!

Do you have some go-to recipes in your files? I do. I have a brownie recipe I love, a lasagna recipe that never fails, and of course, the basic scone recipe I have always favored. But as I looked through past blog posts, I can't find where I've ever shared the source of my favorite banana bread recipe. It comes from a 1987 cookbook published by a local woman, Monica Norred.

She had self-published it at the request of friends and family, and as a young newspaper reporter, I was assigned to write a story about the book, and Monica thoughtfully gave me a copy. As I recall, she used laminated wallpaper for her cover, which I thought was quite clever.

Her banana bread recipe is the best, most reliable one I've ever used, and the splatters across the pages would seem to indicate that I've made it a time or two. Last year, when eggs and butter were hard to find at the beginning of the pandemic, I made some substitute banana bread that was entirely edible, but as soon as I could, I went right back to this recipe. I've made several tweaks/substitutions over the years depending on what ingredients were on hand (omitting the pecans and adding chocolate chips, for instance), but my most recent version is my favorite yet, and I made it in one pan (one large loaf) rather than the two pans stated in the original recipe.

If you like a banana bread that's exceptionally moist and is good hot or cold, and absolutely perfect for teatime, this is it. 

Banana-Coconut Bread

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 large; I use old ripened bananas saved in the freezer)

1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut

1 (6-ounce) container low-fat peach yogurt

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine ingredients in order listed and mix well after each addition. Pour batter into a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan prepared with cooking spray and bake for an 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Refrigerate any leftovers. YUM!