Friday, April 30, 2021

Celestial Seasonings Probiotic English Breakfast Tea

After taking a round of antibiotics for an ear infection, I've been looking to add more probiotics to my diet, going for yogurt, sauerkraut (which I love!), and other foods. I know very little about probiotics except that they're good for us and are useful after taking antibiotics. So when I saw this Probiotic Tea at the grocery store, I knew I wanted to try it.

The packaging caught my eye, and then the bold words "Probiotic Tea" sealed the deal. I find it interesting that "English Breakfast" is in much smaller letters, which tells me that the "probiotic" factor is a bigger selling point. And hey, it worked for me!

The tea tastes like pretty much any brisk black tea (which is to say, fine but not the variety I would normally reach for first). What I am most intrigued by is the fact that this tea is being made with probiotics, and I hope that I'm sipping something that's extra good for me. Have any of you tried this (or another) probiotic tea, and if so, what did you think? Could you tell that it made any difference?


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Finding "tea time" when I'm not even looking for it!

A few weeks ago, I was passing by a cosmetics aisle at Walmart when I noticed a pretty pink nail polish that stopped me in my tracks. It was by L.A. Colors and was only a dollar or two (I didn't save the receipt), so I tossed it in my cart simply because it was The Right Shade of Pink. I'd been looking for a hot pink that wasn't too red or too fuchsia or too wine — just a nice dark pink. This color matches the interior of the roses on the front of this Emilie Barnes book. Perfect.

Since I work at home and from a computer, my hands don't get a lot of wear and tear during the week, but still, if a nail polish can make it through the week without chipping, I'm impressed, and this one did. A single coat can last me nearly two weeks! When it was finally time for a redo one evening before bedtime, I suddenly had the thought, "I wonder what the name of this color is?" It's usually something like Lipstick or Pretty Peony or Rosebud. And the name of this polish color?

Tea Time. So if you want a cheap tea party favor (or tuck-in gift) for your girlfriends, wouldn't this be a fun one? 

Monday, April 26, 2021

A thrifted teapot and tea pitcher

Even when thrifting, I normally stick with my traditional floral teapots, but this whimsical one caught my eye at Goodwill recently. I've met four new little girls in my neighborhood in the past few months, now that the neighbors are all walking close enough to chat with each other again, so I'm loosely keeping in mind that if we get to know each other better, I may need to have a tea party for the girls one day. And this is the kind of thing I wouldn't hesitate to use on a table outdoors!

The teacup is missing a handle, but the rest of it rather makes up for that.

And the price was right!

The same day I found that teapot, I found another piece, a medium-sized enamelware pitcher in pristine condition, which I thought I recognized as Mackenzie-Childs. I turned it over and sure enough, it was, and it still had the original stickers. Goodwill wanted $5.99 for it, and since it currently sells for considerably more than that here, I decided to splurge. (By thrift store standards, I mean.)

I'm no floral arranger, but I think any old roses plopped in a pitcher are pretty, so I was happy to find this one!


Friday, April 23, 2021

"American Cake" by Anne Byrn


Cookbooks: I can usually resist buying a new one, but the other weekend, I was at Ollie's when I came across a bargain book whose title and one particular recipe immediately made me realize I needed this book by Anne Byrn, the former food editor of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. First, the title American Cake and the words "stories and recipes" told me there would be some history inside, and there was.

And the first recipe I turned to? It was this Hot Milk Sponge Cake with Lemon Filling from the old Frances Virginia Tea Room in Atlanta, so I just closed the book and headed to the checkout counter. I knew I didn't even need to complete my normal rule about finding at least three things I was interested in reading or making before purchasing a new book or magazine!

Mary Lincoln's White Almond Cake appeals to me because a) Mary Todd Lincoln is said to have made this for Abe and b) I love anything with almonds!

And who knew there was something called a carrot tea cake! I did not know that cooked carrots were once used as an inexpensive sweetener in place of the more costly sugar. There are also fascinating stories about everything from Lady Baltimore Cake and Lane Cake to Pineapple Upside-Down Cake and Red Velvet Cake.

The book also answered a question I'd had. I used to wonder why very old recipes called for a "teacup full" of something, but the simple answer is that a teacup was the equipment that was on hand for measuring back then. While I haven't yet made a thing from this book, I must tell you that I have been "devouring" the stories and history in these pages, and I believe many of you would enjoy this book too. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

A sweet new mango tea

I cannot pass by a mango or peach tea if it's one I haven't tried before, and I recently found a new mango-flavored herbal tea that was the next best thing to having a sweet, juicy mango right in front of me!

Alex and I made a trip over to Sprouts grocery store in Peachtree City, and this Good Earth Tropical Mango & Moringa herbal tea was calling my name.

The blend inside the silken tea bags even *looks* fruity, doesn't it? I found it interesting that while this tea is categorized as an herbal tea, the ingredients include green tea. The ingredients are "Apple, Carrot, Sweet Blackberry Leaves, Moringa, Red Rose Petals, Green Tea, Natural Flavoring, Mango Pieces." I had to look up info on the moringa plant, which has lots of medicinal uses, but of course it was the word "mango" on the box that sold me on this tea, and while I've been enjoying it as a hot tea, I'm sure it would be good iced as well. Do you drink your teas both hot and iced? Especially when the weather warms up, I do!


Monday, April 19, 2021

Remembering Prince Philip

I knew that on Saturday morning, I would be glued to the TV so I could watch Prince Philip's funeral. At first, I wondered whether it was unseemly to use my royal commemorative teacup (made for Queen Elizabeth's coronation), but I had her on my mind, and that seemed the thing to do. And then I read that people across Britain would be having tea or visiting the pub in honor of the late prince, and I thought why not? So I grabbed some of these mini cranberry-orange scones from the store, and Alex and I watched the ceremony, which I thought was absolutely perfect. I loved how it honored his wishes, his naval experience, and his family. And I couldn't help thinking that even if you're the Queen (maybe especially if you're the Queen), it's still got to be devastating to lose a husband. I so admire the Queen and how she always seems to know how to handle both good times and bad.

And Philip … what a life! That new People Royals magazine has a nice article on him, and I wonder what it must have been like for him to be the queen's consort for all those years—and married for longer than some of us have been alive!

The magazine has a photo of him in 2003, shortly after he came to Newnan in 2000 to open the US division of Slumberland, the UK-based mattress company that was opening a plant in Newnan and whose owner was a friend. On Friday, I was the guest speaker at the local Rotary Club, which wanted me to talk about my books. While there, I ran into an old friend, a local businessman who was part of the group that got invited to a private dinner with the prince on the night before his visit to Newnan. Someone at his dinner table was dying to meet the prince, and my friend spoke up and said, "Well, we can make that happen." (He laughs now about the propriety of that, but I'm sure his heart was in the right place.) So when the prince headed to the back of the room and appeared to be headed his way, John caught the prince's eye and prepared to make the introduction, only to hear Prince Philip pause long enough to plainly (but not unkindly) say, "Actually, I was headed to the loo." Ha! It seems there are lots of great Prince Philip stories out there, and I was delighted to hear this one.

Later on Saturday, I drove down to Pine Mountain to meet some out-of-town friends who were there for a craft retreat. After lunch, we went shopping, and I bought some "Shortbread House of Edinburgh" shortbread fingers from a shop I visit whenever I'm in Pine Mountain, Sweet Home Antiques. The shortbread seemed a fitting (and delicious) tribute for us to try in honor of the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh, and while I was in the shop, I spotted a wonderful antique stationery box that was once a gift from another member of the royal family, Queen Victoria!

So this was a gift from Her Majesty Queen Victoria that somehow landed in my little corner of Georgia. Isn't this wonderful?

I also spotted this very large teapot that is like no other teapot I've seen before!

And if anyone collects miniature antique teapots, they sure had some lovely ones. 

So seeing some fine English antiques was a fun end to a day that began on a somber note, but I'm glad I watched the service for Prince Philip, and I wish the Queen and the rest of the royal family well. Did any of you watch the funeral?

Friday, April 16, 2021

The winner of the springtime tea giveaway is …

 Loralie! Congrats to Loralie, and thanks to all of you who entered. Stay tuned for more giveaways!

A delightful gift from a new friend!

I received an unexpected gift from a new friend this week and thought that you would enjoy seeing it here! Claire B. lives in my county here in Georgia, and while I've known her name for years (she was very active in local civic life back when I worked for the newspaper), I'd never met her face to face. Turns out, she and her cousin like cozy mysteries, and after Emeralds and Envy came out back in 2019, she asked if we could meet for lunch one day and if I'd sign copies for her and some friends. Of course I said yes, and we hit it off immediately. We stayed in touch on Facebook, and this week, we again met face-to-face for lunch. She'd told me she had something for me, and it was this teapot tissue holder she made from plastic canvas. Isn't it beautiful?

I've haven't done any needlework that involves counted stitching in a long time, so I know and greatly appreciate the amount of work that goes into a gift like this. And as I told Claire, with the blue of the teacup and the pink of the roses, this design looks tailor-made for me. Claire says she is happy that she is personal friends with a cozy author, and I'm happy that I'm friends with a lovely lady who stitches up such gorgeous needlework!


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

A bit of serendipi-tea

Do you ever have those days when all your devices need to go on a diet? This week alone, my laptop, desktop computer, and iPhone are all telling me that they've gotten too fat with photos and need to slim down, so I've had to spend a little time going through photo files, and I came across something on my iPhone that I meant to share last month. I was sewing at the dining room table one day, and the scene looked like this.

I was about to pick up this teacup-shaped needle book when the strangest thing happened. I saw that tea bag tag and thought, "Wait a minute! I didn't sew a tag onto the handle of the teacup, so how'd it get there?"

And then I realized I was looking at the fabric on the table runner, and I had to laugh at myself as I reached for a needle! This beautiful table runner, a gift from reader Nancy C. in Iowa in 2017, is a piece I treasure, and I use it every spring, but the way the teacup and tea bag happened to align threw me for a loop! (And it doesn't take much.) Have you ever had a bit of serendipi-tea like that?

Monday, April 12, 2021

A springtime tea giveaway

Isn't it amazing how well advertisers know us? I'm increasingly finding ads for tea companies in my Facebook and Instagram feeds, and silly me, I'm *buying* the teas. They're only going to keep this up! But I saw an ad for a sampler from Oteas, a Canadian company I'd never heard of before, so when I ordered the sampler and got 12 tea bags in the mail, I decided it might be fun to have one of you sample half of them. So here you go!

And just for fun, I'll add some cute teatime stickers I found at Dollar Tree. If you're not a crafter, you can use them on the back of envelopes when you're mailing something to a fellow tea lover! So if you'd like to win this springtime tea sampler, just leave an "Enter me" to this post between now and 7 a.m. on Friday, April 16, and you'll be entered to win. Good luck!

Friday, April 9, 2021

Sweet Peppermint Tea Drops

I enjoy getting delayed presents anytime (it extends whatever the occasion was), so when I got this unexpected Christmas gift of tea recently, I was delighted!

I love the pretty packaging on these Sweet Peppermint Tea Drops, and while caffeine doesn't bother me, I imagine the fact that they're caffeine-free will appeal to a lot of people.

I remember trying Tea Drops when they first came out some years ago, but I don't believe they were individually packaged like these. Very handy!

And in the shape of hearts! Who doesn't love hearts?

I took a photo before the tea was fully steeped just to show the sediment that lands in the bottom of the teacup ("expected and drinkable," they say, but I still try not to drink it). While I've never been completely sold on the sediment factor with Tea Drops, I must tell you that the *taste* of this spearmint-peppermint tea is divine! It's probably one of the only teas I've tried that has calories (25 per cup) because it's sweetened with organic cane sugar. And when I added water for a second cup, I still got lots of flavor. So as an occasional indulgence, I'm enjoying this new tea, and it was sure fun to receive such a pretty and sweet gift!


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

A Mesh Tea Ball with Cup Rest Handle

I haven't splurged on a new tea infuser in a while, so when I saw this one for $2.99 at T.J. Maxx recently, I decided to give it a whirl.

Following the advice on the package, I filled the infuser only about half full of tea leaves, to give them room to expand, and let it steep. Since the Raspberry Coconut Tea from Tea Forté brewed well, I'm assuming the amount of tea that I used was fine.

But then I realized I'd missed the whole point. The box says, "This unique handle rests over the rim of your cup, while brewing to desired strength." Clearly, if I had perched it there while filling the cup closer to the very tippy top with boiling water, that would be fine, but I still prefer to drop it down into my mug or cup for fully immersed steeping of the tea. So far, so good, and I look forward to seeing how long this infuser will last. Have any of you used this style of infuser? If so, I'd love to know your experience!

Monday, April 5, 2021

Honeysuckle Flower Tea from Harney & Sons

I have loved honeysuckle for as long as I can remember. Growing up in the country, I often would stop and pluck a honeysuckle blossom from the vine before pulling off the green piece at the bottom so that I could sip its nectar. I love the look and smell and taste of honeysuckle, so when I saw that Harney & Sons was offering an herbal tea consisting of simply dried honeysuckle flowers, I had to give it a try.

There was no childhood-memory-inducing whiff of honeysuckle when I opened the tin, but then I wasn’t necessarily expecting one. The spoonful of fluffy dried flowers came out in a clump. I brewed them for three minutes in less than boiling water, and the tea still had a strong vegetal taste (the one some describe as “grassy”).

I re-steeped the honeysuckle flowers, for just two minutes, and that was a much smoother, less grassy-tasting tea, very similar to some green teas I've tried. While this probably won't ever be a go-to tea for me, as a honeysuckle lover, I had to give it a try, and I'm glad that I did! It was also time to begin using a favorite spring teacup, the Royal Ardalt English teacup that once belonged to my brother-in-law's grandmother. It was the perfect teacup for Easter weekend sipping.

Are any of you honeysuckle fans? I'm wondering whether I'm the only country kid who grew up sipping honeysuckle nectar!

Friday, April 2, 2021

A Joyous Eastertide

Some of you may recall that at the end of 2020, I decided that, like a Christian speaker I'd heard, I wanted to be "defiantly joyful" in the year ahead. That is such an interesting goal, because I've had several opportunities lately to put this into practice. As my town recovers from the devastating tornado last week, I've been so moved by the positive attitudes of those who seem to have lost everything in the storm, but really, they haven't. Like a pastor's wife I know. Last week, her home was totally destroyed in the tornado, but she got someone to go back and see if a favorite piece of artwork was still anywhere around, and there it hung on one of the barely standing walls of the house, the sheet music to the wonderful old hymn "It Is Well With My Soul." And she continues to tell everyone that it is still well with her soul! (Sure makes my minor gripes this week seem awfully petty by comparison!) So with that type of "defiant joyfulness" in mind, I want to share another vintage tea-themed postcard I recently found. I have several different versions of this image, but this one against the background of the cross is definitely my favorite!

Dated April 9, 1909, it reads: "Dear Laura, I know it is awful that I have not written but I haven't written scarcely any letters this winter - only to my mother. I got a chicken bone in my throat day after Christmas and had a bad time (with?) I don't feel any too good now. Hope you are all well. How is Clifford? I hope you all will have a very pleasant Easter. I will try and write a letter before long, but really this winter I don't seem to have any time between one thing and another. Write again to us. Lovingly, Ida." (Do I just have a warped sense of humor for finding it funny that poor Ida got ill from choking on a chicken bone but then sends an Easter postcard featuring … chickens?)

At any rate, like Ida and the Easter chicks, I wish you all a Joyous Eastertide!