Monday, August 30, 2021

A bowl full of fun

One day last week, I stopped by a Goodwill store and found some great goodies that were fun for several different reasons.

First, I've been bored with my current selection of tea mugs. I use "mugs" in my office and "teacups" when I'm downstairs, but I've got so many mugs already that I couldn't see buying another one. I even have a gift card from T. J. Maxx that is unused from my birthday back in May, but still, I can't see using it on a tea mug. These blue florals at Goodwill, however, caught my eye, and this Nikko French Country pattern tea mug was just 79 cents. Perfect!

I'll bet some of you are familiar with this Depression glass pattern, Iris and Herringbone. My mother collected this at one point (like me, she collected a lot of stuff "at one point"), and my little sister called it "Irish Hambone." For that reason alone, I thought this saucer, in perfect condition, was worth the 59 cents I paid for it.

Another odd collecting interest: I like *reticulated* things, which is a fancy word for china with piercings in it. These little 4-inch Schumann Bavarian dishes look like future jewelry trinket dishes to me, and at 99 cents each, the price was right.

Finally, I've been drooling over the photos of some vintage Christmas wares online, and I love the old Pyrex dishes I've seen in red and green that are being used as Christmas decor in the kitchen. This Hazel Atlas mixing bowl was just $2.99, and I will save it to use only at Christmas. I look forward to the day I can tell you that I've found something similar in red that was just as good a deal! (I've told myself no going on eBay, either. That would be cheating.)

Friday, August 27, 2021

Tiesta Tea's Fruity Pebbles Tea

I found a great new fruity green tea at Publix this week, and I believe this is the third or fourth blend from Tiesta Tea that I've tried. All of them have been winners, but this one shot to the top because it has pineapple in it!

LOTS of pineapple! Just look at those big, pretty chunks!

It's their Strawberry Pineapple Green Tea called Fruity Pebbles, which I must say is a misleading name for a tea, as it is nothing like the sugary children's cereal of the same name. In fact, I almost passed it by when I saw the name Fruity Pebbles, but then I read the ingredients, shrugged, and threw it in my cart anyway.

And I have to say that I'm a big fan of the package design. This little pull tab makes the package a breeze to open then seals securely once you've scooped out some tea. Brilliant! So there you go. If you, too, are a fan of pineapple teas, ignore the name Fruity Pebbles and give this delicious tea a try.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Enchanted with Holly China

Earlier this year, I ponied up my dues and became a member of the Golden Glow of Christmas Past, a group for those who love vintage Christmas collectibles. While I've started receiving the group's wonderful bimonthly magazine, The Glow, I've also made it a mission to collect back issues, and the one I wanted most was the June 2020 issue with its features on Holly China.

I have several English bone china teacups with holly and berry designs, but I had no idea there were so many beautiful old French versions of holly-patterned china. And this punch bowl, y'all!

And when I saw all of these green patterns, I was completely charmed. I'm pretty sure my eye will go to green wares the next time I'm in a thrift store or antique mall.

But the set I liked best was this 1890 Limoges tea set with holly and berries. That's got to be one of the most gorgeous Christmas sets I've ever seen.

This is the back cover of the magazine, and I love how it features holly-patterned wares as well as holly-patterned silverware. As you all know by now, I'm a thrifty collector, not someone who ever plans to drop hundreds of dollars on random dishes, but boy, will I have my eyes peeled for some of these lovely wares! (And if you're as intrigued by the idea of vintage Christmas collectibles as I am, you can learn more about the Golden Glow here.)


Monday, August 23, 2021

Strawbridge and Clothier Chocolate Madeleines

Now that my latest novel is finished and I'm back to working on the next one, another cozy mystery, I'm thinking about my next nonfiction project, the sequel to Dainty Dining. So over the weekend, I tried another recipe associated with a grand old department store, this one the Chocolate Madeleines from the food hall at Strawbridge and Clothier in Philadelphia. These madeleines were easy to make and came out great, so I thought I'd go ahead and share the recipe here. I love to serve madeleines at teatime, but I've always made the traditional lemon-flavored ones. These chocolate ones were perfectly light and cake-like, sweetened with the tiniest sprinkling of powdered sugar, and I'll bet some of you would like them too!

The recipe comes from the book Food Hall Strawbridge and Clothier: Just Desserts, which appears to have been self-published by the store in 1984.

My teacup, by the way, is a Limoges, France teacup and saucer marked Strawbridge and Clothier that I found online when I started researching these old stores more than a decade ago. I don't know whether it was ever used in the store or simply sold in the store, but I thought it was appropriate for using with my tea (Venetian Tiramisu from Harney) and these madeleines!

Chocolate Madeleines

2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 stick + 2 tablespoons melted butter, divided use
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Beat eggs well, then add sugar and beat again. Add cocoa, baking powder, vanilla, and the 1 stick of melted butter and beat for one minute. Sift flour directly over the egg mixture and beat by hand for one minute, just till combined. Spoon by heaping tablespoons into cavities of madeleine pan greased with the 2 tablespoons of melted butter.* Bake for 10-12 minutes, until madeleines are slightly cracked or dry. Remove from pans and cool on racks. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving. Yields 18 madeleines.

Note: I used a Wilton madeleine pan that makes madeleines about 3 inches tall and 2 inches wide.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Teatime with Dolly

Do you ever find something in your house and wonder how on earth it got there? Not long ago, I realized that it would probably be just fine if I tossed my college journalism newsletters and high school report cards and those tiny little square Hallmark pocket calendars (remember those?) from the '70s and '80s. But somewhere in that late-eighties box of memorabilia was this doll-shaped booklet, and I'm guessing it's something I purchased during my Victorian phase in the late '80s, when I decorated my first apartment with lace teddy bears and inexpensive prints of Victorian women and all things pearl. (I'll bet some of you did too.)

I nearly tossed Dolly at Home ABC until I looked inside and realized it's actually a cute little alphabet book, and when I saw a teakettle on the opening spread, I was intrigued. "I'll bet there's a teapot inside," I thought.

And yes, there is, under "V" for Visit! So this booklet quickly became a keeper. Our grandchildren are now too old for such reads, but I'm hoping a niece or two will get married within the next five or ten years, so I'm thinking about the future great-niece or great-nephew that I hope to see, and of course I'll need books to introduce them to teatime!

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Sipping tea under a blue moon …


I don't believe I've ever before had a tea that you could purchase only on the days of the blue moon (the next one being Sunday, August 22), but that's the case with this delightful Bella Luna Blue loose leaf tea that I recently received as a sample from Adagio Teas.

This tea features dried lemongrass and butterfly pea flowers (which turn the water blue) along with natural blueberry flavor. The tea is naturally caffeine-free, and I was glad since I was enjoying some at bedtime! I've long been a fan of herbal teas, and this one features that lemon-and-blueberry combo that I love but without being tart.

After I steeped it for five minutes, the tea was indeed quite blue!

Here's a close-up view. My husband saw some iced blue tea in the fridge recently and said it just wasn't "natural," but au contraire, my friends, it is quite natural!

And if you decide to up the citrus flavor by adding a few drops of lemon juice, the blue color turns to purple! (I poured mine into a clear tea mug so you can see the difference.) The lemon juice brings out the citrus flavor of the lemongrass even more, but I don't think it's necessary and actually preferred the tea as-is.

Blue tea is a fun and special treat, and if you'd like to get some while you can, you can order it on Sunday right here. Wouldn't this tea be gorgeous served iced alongside some blue tea wares? My mind is full of fun possibilities thanks to this deliciously different new tea.

Monday, August 16, 2021

"Murder in a Teacup" by Vicki Delany

Vicki Delany's second Tea by the Sea mystery is out, and I'm definitely hooked on this fun new series. In Murder in a Teacup, Lily Roberts is busy establishing her new Cape Cod tearoom, Tea by the Sea, while making sure her colorful (in every way) grandmother, Rose, stays out of trouble. Lily also provides the breakfasts for guests staying at her grandmother's nearby B&B. A large family books a stay, and when they arrive with much emotional baggage in tow, it's inevitable that Lily and Rose get caught up in the family squabbles.

For Lily, this would all be mere annoyance except for the fact that the family of malcontents comes to tea one afternoon and one of the male guests—who insisted on drinking his own special blend of tea—ends up dead. Police close the tearoom and cart off the teatime fare so they can investigate the deadly event. Yes, the tea was the culprit, but of course we know that Lily didn't poison the man's tea. So who did? Just when we think we know who the killer might be, Delany delivers a twist that makes us consider someone else.

Returning characters like Lily's aspiring-novelist friend, Bernadette, and single friend and gardener, Simon, are welcome additions and provide a family feel to the cast. Delany also does a great job of making the picturesque Cape Cod setting one we would all like to visit, and her descriptions of the tea menus will make mouths water.

The planting of clues in this book is quite well done, and when I got to the end, I had to smile and say, "Ah! That's why she mentioned x a couple of times!" I love it when the clues are subtle yet significant, and she handles them with a deft touch.

If you haven't yet checked out this series, I strongly suggest that you set aside an afternoon with a pot of tea and give it a try.

P.S. Vicki Delany is also featured in Tea Time magazine's September/October issue, which has a delightful feature on tea-themed cozies!

Friday, August 13, 2021

"Social reunions of a simple kind"

Over the years, I've found quite a few photos of American Red Cross workers at tea, and I recently came across a new-to-me one on the Library of Congress website. This image by photographer Lewis Wickes Hine was created on September 4, 1918, so it was obviously some Red Cross workers who served during World War I.

The description reads, "Saturday afternoon tea party in the new club rooms for A.R.C. Workers (women) at the Hotel Roblin Paris. The Club provides a pleasant place where women workers can rest, read and enjoy social reunions of a simple kind."

And despite what was going on in the world, they sure look like they're having fun, don't they?

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Weekend thrifting: the rest of the story

When I told my sister about my adventure in finding the two pieces of that butter dish on Saturday, I showed her the little thank-you card taped to it, which still said …

"Enjoy! Adrienne." Rhonda's response: "I guess she didn't." (Since the recipient never even removed the card, apparently.) Ha!

That particular Goodwill had lots of violet-patterned wares that day, including some tea-and-toast plates minus the teacups (I considered but ultimately rejected their purchase). I couldn't help thinking that perhaps some violet-loving woman had passed away and her kids had donated the whole lot. (Maybe?) But this Royal Patrician plate for 99 cents was too great a deal to leave behind, and I do buy plates purely as "props" for staging photos for this blog, my cooking column in The Coweta Shopper, and future cookbooks.

My most expensive purchase of the day was a $1.99 Christmas plate, and I loved the retro look of it!

You can barely tell in this photo, but the design is very obviously a decal, so I'm going to be careful with this plate and will just use it as decor. Can you believe Christmas is less than five months away? And considering the shipping delays of last year, I think I'll try to be finished shopping by early November this year! Have you bought any Christmas gifts yet?

Monday, August 9, 2021

Weekend thrifting: The Butter Dish

The Butter Dish

Here’s the story
'Bout some Royal Albert.
It was sitting at the Goodwill store in Rome.
But the pretty lid was mournful and so lonely.
Yes, it was all alone.

Here’s the story
'Bout a plate with violets
It was sitting at the Goodwill store in Rome.
It had gotten separated from its cover
And it was all alone.

Till the one day when this lady turned the corner
And she knew that it was much more than a wish
That these pieces, they were meant to be together
And that’s the way that they became a Butter Dish!

A Butter Dish,
a Butter Dish.
That’s the way,
they became a Butter Dish!

Friday, August 6, 2021

Bigelow Botanicals Strawberry Lemon Orange Blossom Cold Water Infusion

After learning that some of you have been enjoying Bigelow Botanicals like I have (see post here), I headed to the grocery store tea aisle in search of more flavors. And yay, I found this Strawberry Lemon Orange Blossom flavor!

Even better, it happened to be on sale for half price! I'm not sure how long they'll stock iced-tea type products, but I'm sure enjoying them this summer.

This herbal infusion was as tasty and refreshing as the first one I tried. I love that it really does taste like real-fruit-infused water, and the orange flavor is what stands out most. The first time I had infused water was years ago when Alex and I took Amtrak to Chicago on the way to visit family in Wisconsin. We stayed at a nice new hotel he found for us, and in the lobby at check-in, they offered us some of their orange-infused water from a pretty dispenser. I hope these herbal infusions are here to stay, because I've certainly become a fan!

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Purple Papayaberry Iced Tea from Adagio Teas

This week, I'm enjoying yet another of the loose leaf iced teas I recently received from Adagio Teas. This one is their Purple Papayaberry Iced Tea, and this herbal tea is so fruity that it actually reminded me of a lighter, fresher, healthier version of the berry-flavored Kool-Aid I devoured as a kid. And no sugar!

According to Adagio, this tea is blended with with Hibiscus, Butterfly Pea Flower, Apple Pieces, Rose Hips, Orange, Papaya Flavor, Blueberries, Strawberries & Natural Blackberry Flavor.

I cold-brewed the tea in the refrigerator and soon opened the fridge door and saw a pitcher full of purple—more of a magenta, really—tea.

And a berry-flavored herbal tea is just the thing to quench my thirst on these hot and humid afternoons we've been having. Things have cooled off a little, but I know I'm going to be sipping iced tea for quite a while to come. If you'd like to try some tasty new Adagio Teas for yourself, please click here

Monday, August 2, 2021

Vintage Cottage magazine

I don't get tempted by pretty new magazines nearly as often as I did when I was a magazine editor and was looking for layout inspiration all the time, so these days, a publication has to have a little something extra to really catch my attention. And this soft fall-colored palette on the cover of Vintage Cottage magazine did the trick—with the teacup and roses sealing the deal!

"Tea room" in the title will probably always capture my attention, so I also loved coming across this absolutely charming vintage tea room sign. Now I want one!

Since this is a Hoffman Media publication, I wasn't surprised to find dishes inside, and the Blue Willow pattern always captures my attention, but I'd never seen Blue Willow egg cups before. I have plain white egg cups, and I have decorated them with ribbon and used them to serve small portions of chicken salad at teatime. If I had these blue ones, though, I wouldn't change a thing.

Transferware is also a subject I enjoy reading about, and I loved seeing the variety of red transferware in this home. It was so pleasant to spend a few hours just looking at pretty photos and reading about how others decorate with their vintage things. So Vintage Cottage is the last magazine I bought. What about you, friends? I'd love to hear which magazines (if any) you're reading!