Monday, May 31, 2021

Memorial Day 2021

All gave some, some gave all …
Wishing you a blessed and peaceful Memorial Day.


Friday, May 28, 2021

Teatime reading: some coming attractions!

Reading is my favorite hobby, and I imagine it always will be. A few times a year, I like to prowl the upcoming tea-related titles on Amazon to see if there are any interesting-sounding ones in the pipeline, and I was delighted to find quite a few. Here are some I'm watching for.

Green with Milk and Sugar: When Japan Filled America’s Tea Cups by Robert Hellyer (October 12, 2021)

"Today, Americans are some of the world’s biggest consumers of black teas. In Japan, green tea, especially sencha, is preferred. These national partialities, Robert Hellyer reveals, are deeply entwined. Tracing the trans-Pacific tea trade from the eighteenth century onward, Green with Milk and Sugar shows how the interconnections between Japan and the United States have influenced the daily habits of people in both countries."

Twisted Tea Christmas
by Laura Childs (A Tea Shop Mystery #23) (October 27, 2021)

Yes, you read that correctly: we get a second tea shop mystery from the delightful Laura Childs this year, so Merry Christmas to us!

"Tea maven Theodosia Browning and her tea sommelier, Drayton Conneley, are catering a Victorian Christmas party at a swanky mansion in downtown Charleston. Drucilla Heyward, the hostess, is one of the wealthiest women in town.

As the champagne flows and the tea steeps, Drucilla is so pleased with the reception by her partygoers that she reveals her secret plan to Theodosia. The Grande Dame has brought the cream of Charleston society together to reveal that she is planning to give her wealth away to various charitable organizations. However, before she can make the announcement, Theodosia finds her crumpled unconscious in the hallway. It looks like the excitement has gotten to the elderly woman—except that there is a syringe sticking out of her neck."

The Tulip Tea Rooms
 by Pam Evans (November 11, 2021)

"The Second World War is finally over when Lola Brown meets Harry Riggs at a dance. It is love at first sight but when Harry tells Lola that he is a policeman, her heart sinks. Lola's father is a petty criminal, and if Harry ever finds out and turns him in, it will destroy her family...

Harry reluctantly accepts that Lola doesn't want to see him again, and eventually starts to find happiness without her. In the meantime, Lola encounters the eccentric Pickford sisters and sets about transforming their run-down tea rooms in London's West End, only to find her own life transformed as well. Despite everything, Harry and Lola continue to feel drawn to each other, but the truth about Lola's family can't stay hidden for ever..."

Tea for One 
by Alice Taylor (December 4, 2021)

"Many of us spend the later years of life living solo when children have grown up and moved on. Others choose this lifestyle. But 2020 brought new challenges to this solo lifestyle. We rose to the first challenge thinking that it would all be over in a matter of weeks. But no. Instead came a series of on-again off-again lockdowns of different levels … Then, gradually, a realisation dawned that maybe there were things to be learnt from this unique situation? Might we discover a new understanding and appreciation of things previously ignored? Alice began to wonder how best to handle this new, solitary experience, and to document her progress though this most extraordinary year. This is her journey."

Pride, Prejudice, and Peril: A Jane Austen Tea Society Mystery Book 1 by Katie Oliver (December 7, 2021)

"Phaedra Brighton is perfectly content with her life of lecturing college students, gossiping with her best friends, and dreaming of Mr. Darcy. As a young, respected (if somewhat peculiar) English professor, her expertise lies in all things Jane Austen—but she knows that the closest she'll ever get to being a real-life Elizabeth Bennet is in her dreams. When Who Wants to Marry Mr. Darcy, a new reality TV show, starts filming at her best friend Charlene's estate, Phaedra is intrigued. And when the producer asks her to lend her Austenian knowledge as a consultant on the show, she's over the moon. But on the first day of filming, when Charlene's new husband is found electrocuted and Charlene herself is accused of the crime, Phaedra comes crashing back to reality."

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Country Living Vintage Home British Edition Issue #1

So, I have picked up this magazine at Barnes & Noble probably three or four times over the past few months, but I just could not bring myself to pay $24.99 for a magazine. But then I found it second-hand in a local antique mall for just $9.95 over the weekend, and I said yep, I'll do that. When I flipped through it at the store, I did my test of looking for three things I was interested in, and yes, they were there. But when I got home with the magazine … Oh. My. Goodness.

It is packed full of florals, and I absolutely love these plates, which I learned are available here. (I can afford the plates but not the shipping from the UK, alas.)

I had wondered if the magazine would have teacups inside. Boy, did it!

This spread is about shopping for vintage fabrics, but check out the tea wares and the bud vase. Lovely!

And finally, the magazine offers tips on how to shop for vintage "crockery." Now I wish I'd bought this magazine much sooner, and I'll definitely be on the lookout for Issue #2. So if you're like me and kinda chintzy with the magazine purchases, you might want to bite the bullet and get this one. It is absolutely gorgeous!

Monday, May 24, 2021

Racking up some new decor

One of my recent antique mall finds was this $8 teacup rack, which now has a new home in a corner of my small dining room. I'm planning to switch out the teacups each season, and I am so happy to have found this piece.

I don't know about you, but I thought $8 was a great price for this rack. Furthermore, I don't often find these for sale at *any* price, as they're usually marked NFS, meaning Not For Sale. Not long ago, I left a tabletop teacup display stand for just $3 at Goodwill because I have two just like it, but later, I wondered whether I should have gotten it for some teacup-collecting friend who might be in need.

Are sellers just holding on to their teacup displays here in my neck of the woods, or do you see them for sell where you live? If there's a shortage, I'll be happy to be on the lookout for anyone who needs one!

Friday, May 21, 2021

How Tea Is Enjoyed Around The World

Tea and TV are on the brain this week, and I found a fun video about tea from Food Insider that explores tea, tea rituals, and tea ceremonies from around the world.

Some of the teas—puerh, yerba maté, a London Fog—are ones I was familiar with. And while I'm familiar with bubble tea, I didn't realize that it dates to only the late 1980s, so that was fun to learn.

But the most interesting thing I learned was that Hong Kong's "silk stocking tea" is actually made using a tea sock that resembles a stocking. If you're not one to watch a whole video (I rarely do), you can catch it at about the 6:00 mark. I hope you enjoy this little taste of tea as much as I did!

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

British TV Streaming Guide - US Edition, Spring 2021


I don't watch much TV except the evening news during the week, but on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, my husband and I enjoy tuning in to two or three episodes of a British TV show. Now that everyone binge-watches TV, of course, we can view a show much faster, and that means we're soon searching for a new one. To make this task easier, I Heart British TV has started publishing a printed streaming guide, and I love mine. I ordered it here and got it about a week or so later. (It's also available on Amazon but was initially more expensive there, so you might want to do some comparison shopping before ordering.)

I've enjoyed skimming the brief descriptions and putting a red check mark next to shows I want to watch or marking shows that I tried but that didn't cut the mustard. It feels so "old-school" to have what amounts to a large-format version of the late TV Guide. (Remember when we used to buy those?)

Since I forgot to write about this guide sooner this spring (sorry!), I would suggest waiting until the Summer 2021 edition comes out to snag a copy. Currently, my favorite British TV show remains Father Brown, and after finishing up with a new crime show, we recently decided to start from the beginning and watch it all over again. In one early episode, I was delighted to hear Lady Felicia comment on a particularly fine oolong she was enjoying. There's lots of tea in this show, and I'm always studying the tea wares.

Father Brown also has a recurring bit about the award-winning strawberry scones of Mrs. McCarthy, the father's secretary, and I recently found a recipe for them on Facebook here (screen grab is above). 

The guide also lists movies and documentaries, and two are on my list. First, there's one from BBC Select, "The Birth of Empire: The East India Company," and then "The Story of Tea" from something called Tubi, which is said to be "free with ads." So there you go! If you're looking for some British TV shows to stream, you might want one of these streaming guides as well.

Monday, May 17, 2021

"To a Tea" by Vera Dodge

In a lovely bit of serendipity, tea friend Suzette in South Carolina sent me a birthday gift without knowing she was sending me a birthday gift! Her lovely package just happened to land in my mailbox just in time for my birthday, and I was absolutely thrilled to receive one of these Tearoom Mysteries from Guideposts. I'd been wanting to check out the series and had them on my radar but hadn't ordered one yet. To a Tea by Vera Dodge is the third book in the series, and it can easily be read as a standalone novel.

Cousins Elaine and Jan have a booming business at their Tea for Two tearoom in Maine, and they cautiously agree to allow a bride to use the tearoom as her wedding venue. This first wedding hits a major snag, however, when the groom suddenly disappears, leaving the anxious bride imagining all sorts of terrible things that might have happened to her fiancé.

The town gets some further excitement in the form of a bank robbery, and with this news comes the unsettling realization that the robbery and the groom's disappearance might be related. As if all that weren't enough to keep this cozy mystery plenty busy, there's also the matter of hiring more help for the growing tearoom business—and there's a new romance for one of the cousins as well.

This inspirational story was an absolutely delight to read, with characters I enjoyed getting to know, and now I'm going to be on a mission to read the rest of the series. I know many of you will enjoy it too!

Friday, May 14, 2021

Teresa B. wins a book!

Thanks so much to all of you who entered this week's giveaway, and the winner is Teresa B.! I'll make a note to do another giveaway like this later in the year since you seemed to like the pick-your-prize option. Thanks!

New tea trivets - part two

The old tea trivets are just so, so pretty, and I'm especially happy that my friend Ruth has passed along some of hers. Ruth grew up on an island in Maine, so I can definitely see why this pretty design appealed to her.

Here's a close-up detail. The colors are so soft and quietly elegant. I may have to display this tea trivet somewhere besides under a teapot one day!

And this one? It just made me smile! I've never seen such an ornate tea trivet with frogs on it before! My sister's mother-in-law loves frogs, so the next time she comes over for tea, I'll be sure to use this in honor of her. And speaking of frogs, there's a new little girl in the neighborhood, and when I was on my afternoon walk the other day, she called out, "Hello there, Neighbor!" (I've introduced myself as Angela, so I was rather amused that she addressed me as "Neighbor.") I said hello back, and she asked if I wanted to see her frog. "Sure!" I said. "What's his name?"

"Jerry," she said.

"Jerry." Of course it was. (Some of you will get it. Ha!)

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

A tea trivet with a past …

My friend Ruth, who is in her eighties, had said for years now that she had some tea trivets she wanted me to have when she passed away. Naturally, I dismissed that notion immediately, as there's no tea ware on earth that I want to gain by having a friend pass away! But Ruth, who is one of the kindest and most practical women I've ever known, said she told her daughter there was no sense in waiting anymore (and Ruth is to our knowledge not about to kick the bucket or anything), so why not just give them to me now? And so it was that she called recently, and I stopped by her house last week to pick them up along with two fun teapots (more on those another day). There are six of these trivets, and this silhouette design is one of my favorites.

I love the simple black design and the fact that it shows a couple at dinner. Is the gent holding a pipe?

But what intrigued me most was the back stamp: "Hotoven Harker, The Oldest Pottery in America." Really? I'd never even heard of this company. Have any of you? Naturally, I had to go look it up and found a bit of history here. What a fun discovery, and a what a thoughtful friend!

Monday, May 10, 2021

May Giveaway: Choose one of my books!

I don't usually keep very many of my own books "in stock," as it were, because readers can easily get them from sellers online. Thanks to requests I am getting from some local book sellers who want signed copies, however, I now find myself trying to keep at least a few of everything on hand. The other day, I realized that for the first time in possibly ever, I have at least a few copies of all my books available. So I thought it might be fun to give one away, and since I know that some of you have read everything I've written so far (and bless you!), feel free to enter to win a book that I can sign to someone else and get you ahead on your gift giving for the year. My debut novel, Emeralds and Envy, is also available in Kindle format, and that's an option as well.

So if you'd like to win a copy of one of my books for you or someone else, just leave an "Enter me" to this post between now and 7 a.m. EST on Friday, May 14, and you'll be entered to win. I will mail a copy anywhere in the world, so feel free to enter, and please make sure I have a way to contact you if you are the winner (email address; or your blog comment links to your email address; or you have corresponded with me over the years and know that I already have your email address). You don't have to decide which book you'd like right now since I'll ask you that when I send your notification on Friday.

Good luck!


Friday, May 7, 2021


The Jon B. Lovelace Collection of California Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith's America Project, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

I'm used to perusing the Library of Congress files for *old* tea garden photos, but this week, I discovered that some of the newer photos on there were just as inspiring! This one features the Japanese Tea Garden inside Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California, and all those lovely green shades are just delightful. The Library of Congress notes that it was "originally created as a 'Japanese Village' exhibit for the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition. When the fair closed, Japanese landscape architect Makoto Hagiwara created a permanent Japanese style garden as a gift for posterity." What a gift!

And here's another gorgeous view from that same collection of photographs by Carol M. Highsmith.

I'm hoping to do a little gardening myself over the weekend, and while I won't end up with anything like this, it's fun to dream, isn't it!

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Finding tea at Rubber Stamp Fantasy and Paper Arts

Because my husband tucked some lovely green paper into one of my birthday cards yesterday, I got a bee in my bonnet and decided that I would head to Rubber Stamp Fantasy in Marietta to indulge my stamping hobby. I got there just fine, but the bottom fell out within minutes of my walking into the shop. The delightful owners, Gary and Debbie, took great care of me, and having lived through more thunderstorms than I care to count, I simply asked if they had a place to go in the event of danger, and Debbie informed me that yes, they had a lower level to go to, so I was good. Today, I just want you to check out this store with me.

Oh! My! Goodness! Even their windows are full of inspiration.

I last went there years ago at the height of my scrapbooking craze, but I let that go and haven't scrapbooked in years. Card making, however, seems to be my new hobby that is here to stay. And while I love ordering Stampin' Up goodies, I also love all kinds of great stamping supplies, and this store provided an absolute sensory overload. Look at all these stamps!

Look at all these samples!

Look at all these inks and markers and papers!

I'm saving another wonderful tea-themed purchase to share later, once I've made something with it, but I wanted to go ahead and show you this adorable stamp set I found at Rubber Stamp Fantasy. My Sunday school class goes by the nickname of the "bluebirds," so to find a stamp set with bluebirds AND a teacup on it was simply delightful. And when I got home, I discovered that the owners had even included a pretty floral stamp in my bag as a gift—which seemed especially lovely since they had no way of knowing (until I was literally walking out the door and mentioned it) that it was my birthday. So driving an hour away from home with a flash flood warning might not have been my smartest hour, but I'm so grateful to have been re-introduced to a charming shop where I now want to be a regular!

P.S. This store, also on the Marietta Square, was closed when I passed by, but check out these *melamine* plates, including some with teacups on them! Adorable!

Monday, May 3, 2021

A taste of Venice


When I saw that ad for the Harney & Sons honeysuckle tea a few weeks ago and ordered it, I also ordered this Venetian Tiramisu White Tea, and I must tell you that it is just heavenly! I was trying to think of what teacup would be appropriate to use for a tea with "Venetian" in the name, and then I remembered this teacup that I got from a gift shop at the Vatican some years ago. Perfect! 

I haven't had any actual tiramisu in a while, but mm, just the thought of it makes my mouth water. So I had a feeling I would enjoy this tea, especially since it's made by Harney & Sons.

What's in it? Harney says it contains white tea, hojicha, cocoa flavor, vanilla flavor, cacao nibs, brandy flavor, and natural flavors. The cocoa and brandy flavors are what I detect most, and I certainly don't need any sweetener with a tea like this. This blend somehow manages to be both light and a bit decadent all at once, and I'm so glad I tried it. We may not be ready to travel abroad just yet, but I'm sure glad that our taste buds can!