Friday, October 29, 2021

Guess who's having tea?

There is so much to study in this photo, from the wide, spacious wraparound porch to the possibly-wicker furniture and the trees in the background and, of interest to us all, I trust, the tea wares at front. But what gets me most? That woman doesn't look very happy, does she? I showed this to Alex, and we agreed that maybe the woman is in mourning. Also, I read somewhere that years ago, folks just didn't smile for the camera like most of us have grown up doing today.

Still, what an intriguing photo. And it's funny that I even found it on the Library of Congress website, because I was actually looking for a certain drawing of President Washington, an image I saved and have lost somewhere in the bowels of my computer. 

So who are these two folks? I'm so glad you asked. According to the LOC, it's "Gertrude Mercer McCurdy Hubbard and Gardiner Greene Hubbard, parents-in-law of Alexander Graham Bell, at tea on (the) porch of their home, Twin Oaks, Washington, D.C." around 1890-1900.

So what's the deal, friends? Is she unhappy or merely "not smiling"? Has she indeed just lost a loved one? And what is Mr. Hubbard reading there? What kind of tea are they drinking? If you'd like to download the original large photo and explore more details, go here and open the 359.3 KB JPEG.

And if, as happened with me, this photo tempts you to go down the rabbit hole looking for info about Alexander Graham Bell and his wife, this is a fun place to start!

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Finally face-to-face with a longtime tea friend!

One of the highlights of my "year in tea" definitely happened yesterday when I had the great pleasure of meeting Marilyn and Jim Miller of Portland, Oregon, for lunch at Just Add Honey Tea Company in Atlanta! I've "known" Marilyn for years via her Delights of the Heart blog, and we both figured out one time that we might have crossed paths at the World Tea Expo in Atlanta in 2007, but this was the first time we can confirm that we met face-to-face, and I couldn't help thinking on my way home that the visit truly was a "delight of the heart" for me!

Since it was a Tuesday, I at first had trouble finding a tearoom that was open that early in the week, but Marilyn was fine with trying out Just Add Honey, more of a casual café and tea shop in Atlanta. We all had chicken salad croissants and various teas (I had the delicious Sweet Auburn rooibos blend), but honestly, I ran my mouth so much, quizzing her and Jim about their trip and every blessed thing that popped into my mind, that I hardly even focused on my meal! We sat outside on a sunny elevated deck with the perfect blend of sun, shade, and breeze, and before I knew it, we'd spent several hours talking and it was time to part. The shop had what looked like a nice selection of loose leaf teas, but I was focused on this precious time with a tea friend, so I'll have to book a "shopping" day there another time!

Marilyn was just as easy to talk to as I knew she would be, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that Jim didn't mind the tea conversation at all (you never know with husbands!) and was equally lovely to visit with. At one point, I was asking Marilyn whether she travels with any tea paraphernalia, and I learned that she does, so Jim thoughtfully offered to go to their rental and get it for me to see. Here, Marilyn is demonstrating the set with its gaiwan, tiny cups, and glass pitcher. It all fit in a tidy little hard-shell case, which I thought was absolutely ingenious. The only thing I didn't like about the visit was that once they left, I realized once again that I sure wish all my tea friends lived close by! Still, what a gift to realize that a tea-loving friend on the other side of the country made time for little old me on her trip to the East Coast. Much as I love my teas and tea wares, I have to say that the tea "collection" I treasure most is the wonderful friends I've made!

Monday, October 25, 2021

A tipping teapot!

From the moment I first heard of a tipping (or tilting) teapot, I wanted one, but the first time I found one online, it was around $250, and I didn't want it that much. Then Aunt Jane and I were in Goodwill last week, and I was turning the corner at housewares and thought, "Hmm. That silver teapot down on that bottom shelf sure is sitting up high." Then I stopped. "Wait a minute. Is that … ?" And it was—and it was just $15.99! I'm taking this Leonard Silverplate teapot on a craft retreat soon and can't wait to use it to serve tea!

There was definitely some tarnish, but nothing looked too scary to tackle.

The interior of the teapot looked so clean that I wondered if this had ever been used.

When I got home, I examined the fuel-holder-thingie (that's probably not the scientific term for it), and the wick looks in pristine condition, so I'm thinking this is a piece that someone never got around to using.

And here it is cleaned up! It may need one final round with my beloved Wright's Silver Cream, but boy, am I thrilled with my bargain tipping teapot. While I've seen them online and in magazines before, I don't remember ever spotting one in the wild. Have you? (And if you're looking for one, I found vintage ones on eBay that are much more affordable than $250. Who knew?)

Friday, October 22, 2021

Some napkin rings I just had to have!

Can I just say that I think this may well be the prettiest little teapot napkin ring I've ever seen? From the soft cream coloring to the pretty pink rosebuds, everything about it is just delightful.

A local antiques shop, Treasures Lost and Found, had them for just $8.99 for the set of four, so I didn't have to think twice about that. They're from Mudpie, a company that's produced several of the cute tea wares I've had over the years. In fact, one of their Mudpie teapot ornaments was a treasured gift from my friend Susan years ago, and when I got home, I searched this blog to see if I still had a picture of it since I didn't want to go pulling out the Christmas decorations just yet.

And yep, it's the same design as my new napkin rings! This was one of those purchases that was just meant to be, don't you think?

I've enjoyed some really great thrifting lately, and on Monday, I'll share photos of one of my holy grail tea items that I found last week, something I certainly never expected to find in a thrift store. The silver needs a little more cleaning up, and then I'll be ready to share it. Any guesses about what it might be?

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

More fall flavors from Adagio Teas


I'm usually skeptical enough that I don't fall for "fake news" online, but last week, I ended up clicking on a post about a "pumpkin spice manicure." It was just a teaser for a nail salon, but it made me smile, because I do love me some pumpkin spice, so I was delighted to try this Pumpkin Spice blend I recently received from Adagio Teas!

I like it when a tea looks like its flavor, and these gold and orange bits are a good hint of the warming, naturally sweet flavors in this tasty black tea blend. It features the traditional pumpkin spice "spices" of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and cardamom. I like pumpkin spice things only from October 1 through Thanksgiving, so I'll be drinking this Pumpkin Spice tea right up very shortly.

And I'm still enjoying using this fall-themed infuser mug from Adagio. I'm not sure why, but this infuser basket cleans up a lot quicker and easier than other infuser baskets I own. (Maybe because it's newer?)

Now if I've ever had a fall-flavored green tea before, I don't remember it, so I was delighted to discover their Autumn Mist green tea.

It's a blend of gunpowder green tea (you probably recognize the little balls) and apple pieces, cinnamon, rose hips, marigold flowers, and rose petals. It's definitely a lighter taste than the Pumpkin Spice and other fall blends I've tried, and it was a nice change. If you've tried any new fall teas that are worth sharing, I'd love to hear about them since I've still got time to try a few more!

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Alex's column on Rockford, Alabama

Since some of you were curious about the "celebrity" that Alex and I went to see in Rockford, Alabama, the other weekend, I wanted to share the link here:


Monday, October 18, 2021

Some teatime stamps that are perfect for fall

I have some crafting friends in the Savannah area, and not long ago, they were all talking about a new rubber stamp store, The Stamper's Boutique, that had opened up nearby. When I was doing a search for new teacup stamps this fall, I was delighted to find that their line of Sweet 'N Sassy stamps had a fall-themed set that would be perfect for tea-themed fall cards, and these are two of the first cards I've made with the set.

The set is called Fall Breeze, and I ordered both the stamps and the matching dies. They arrived super fast, and they were even in a turquoise mailing envelope. (How did they know I love turquoise?)

And while the set does mention coffee and not tea, I'd say these are still plenty versatile for those of us who love teatime to enjoy. If you're a crafter who likes to make fall and/or teatime cards, check them out here. (No affiliation, just a happy customer!)

Friday, October 15, 2021

A bucket list for tea lovers!


Do you like lists? I do. And fortunately for me, reader Diane M. often sends me links to interesting lists and articles about teatime, including this one on "15 Places Every Tea-Lover Should Visit Before They Die." The link is here.

I've been to only two of them so far, #10 and #12, but I do believe I would enjoy a visit to all of them!

Because I like to visit old graveyards and cemeteries, the first place I'd like to visit is #14, Sir Thomas Lipton's Grave in Glasgow, Scotland. (We could explore the Macrae family's castle while in Scotland too.) And I cannot believe I'd never heard of #8, Teakettle Junction in Inyo County, California before. Had you?

Just curious: How many of these places have you visited, and which ones would be tops on your bucket list?

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

A Christmas-themed cozy I just loved

“I’ve got everything I need right here,” Cookie answered, stuffing a generous bite of pot roast into her mouth. “I brought my special tea.” She patted the large quilted bag at her side. Cookie’s “special tea” was one part Earl Grey and ten parts peppermint schnapps. I’d learned from experience not to let the sweet flavor fool me. The concoction had enough alcohol to kill germs, clear sinuses, and start campfires.

— From Slashing Through the Snow by Jacqueline Frost

Jacqueline Frost writes Christmas-themed cozy mysteries that are a delight to read all year long, and her newest one, out yesterday, is exceptionally well-done, with loads of fun Christmas activities underway at Reindeer Games, the family Christmas tree farm in Mistletoe, Maine, where the property's new inn is now being run by Holly White. An influential B&B critic pays a visit and quickly wears out her welcome, and soon, the critic's body is found in one of the town's toy-donation boxes.

The murder weapon turns out to be a nutcracker that one of Holly's friends, Cookie, gave her, and although Cookie is naturally under suspicion, no one seriously believes she committed the murder. That in and of itself ends up being a fun subplot. But the critic, it turns out, was on the naughty list of plenty of local folks, and Frost keeps readers hopping as they try to solve the crime.

The festive Christmas atmosphere in these books is hard to beat, and Frost's well-developed characters and thoughtful plotting shine in this one. With an ending that's as warm and sweet and cozy as a cup of hot peppermint cocoa, Frost has gifted readers with the perfect cozy mystery to bring on all the holiday feels. And even though it features a tad more cocoa than tea, I do believe many of you will enjoy this book as much as I did!

Monday, October 11, 2021

A weekend trip to Rockford, Alabama

This year, Alex decided to devote some of his weekly newspaper columns to the topic of small-town road trips within a two-hour drive of Newnan. He usually likes to take these trips by himself, which, as a writer, I totally understand (there’s nothing worse than having someone yapping at you when you’re trying to think about what you’re going to write). But this week, he invited me along on his trip to Rockford, Alabama, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see the changing leaves between here and Rockford as well as the charming and welcoming town itself. Alex’s goal was to learn more about a local celebrity and former columnist, and if you’re interested, I’ll share that link on Saturday. We enjoyed a terrific lunch at the newly opened Twenty-Two and Crew restaurant, which is located in the town’s old Rexall Drugs building (and where we got to meet the sheriff, whose lovely young family was also having lunch). I had a tasty chicken salad croissant and pasta salad and sweet tea. Alex had the Have It Your Way sandwich with chips and Coke Zero.

The owners of the restaurant are Jenny and Ronnie Joiner, and we learned that she’s a retired court reporter, and he is an Iraq war veteran and currently serves as a county commissioner. A history buff, Ronnie opened up his museum next door to the restaurant for us, and it was wonderful to see Civil War memorabilia and old and recreated uniforms of both Union and Confederate soldiers and all kinds of historic artifacts from the town. We saw a building where Hank Williams once performed, and we learned about the local fish camp that was visited by President Dwight Eisenhower.

Ronnie and Jennie collect old Alabama pottery and have an amazing collection of it.

We also learned that Ronnie specializes in historic restorations, and when he buys old houses, he often buys the contents and preserves all that he can from inside. This is an old Royal Cup Coffee glass jar he found that was used for packaging coffee during World War II when metal was so precious that coffee began to be sold in glass containers.

Can you see the teacup (well, okay, coffee cup) in the design?

How about this old Hershey’s jar? I love the design of a sundae on the glass.

He had several vintage stoves, including this one with an old cast-iron kettle on it, and I believe he said this stove was an old family piece. He and his wife couldn’t have been nicer, and we hope to go back one day and see what else they’ve restored or built in Rockford.

One of the more historic sites in town is the old jail, which is three stories tall and seems like a fortress. We learned that all the cells were originally on the top floor, and there’s a spiral staircase inside.

The new courthouse is next door, and it has a lovely community garden that features both flowers and vegetables. I hope someone uses that pepper!

Jenny also pointed us a few miles up the road to Sears Chapel, a beautiful Methodist church with an incredible family graveyard out front. We thoroughly enjoyed our day in Rockford, and if you’re ever out that way, I would highly recommend a visit to this friendly town with some fascinating history.

Friday, October 8, 2021

A new cinnamon tea for fall

I'm enjoying sipping my way through the fall teas I recently received from Adagio Teas, and one of my favorites so far is this Fiery Cinnamon Spice. I'm a cinnamon fan anyway, and when fall rolls around, I want cinnamon-flavored treats just as much as I want pumpkin spice ones.

One whiff of this tea blend told me it would probably be extra cinnamony, and it was. The tea has an almost peppery bite to it, and I liked that extra zing. It reminds me of those round cinnamon candies in the red cellophane that I used to see at Christmas. (Maybe they're still around somewhere?)

And I happened to find a vintage teacup with mums on it at Goodwill the other day for just $2.99, so I've added that to my small collection of fall tea wares since almost everything else I own has either roses or Christmas greenery on it. If you're looking for a new cinnamon tea to try, I'm happy to recommend the selections at Adagio Teas!

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

A tea-themed tote bag shopping alert!

I don't normally share shopping alerts for products I haven't yet received, but I'm so excited about something I found online yesterday—and it's a company whose quality I trust—that I feel compelled to share it now. Plus, I've been spooked by all those news stories about "supply chain" disruptions this Christmas season, so if I see anything I'm even thinking of getting, I'm grabbing it in the store or clicking that button online the second I see it!

This bag from Thirty-One is the Large Utility Tote in the "Holiday Café" pattern ($38 + tax/shipping) and is actually something for myself. After lugging dozens of books at a time to book-signing events over the years, I have learned the hard way that a good tote bag is worth its weight in gold. I've had the straps on some lightweight bags threaten to snap, but I know from experience that Thirty-One bags are sturdy. When I came across this new design online with the cute teacups and to-go cups and in my favorite Christmas color palette, I remembered that my friend Heather recently became a consultant, so when I discovered the bag, I ordered it through her. (I think you have to order through a consultant, and if you don't have one where you live and want this bag, let me know and I'll be happy to connect you with Heather.)

Online orders are normally shipped in fifteen business days, according to the website, so that's another reason I wanted to go ahead and get this ordered in October. Now I can't wait for it to arrive!

Monday, October 4, 2021

Some tea-themed decor I've never seen before!

Recently, I got a message from Jackie in Florida letting me know that she enjoyed my blog and had a tea-themed something that she wanted to send me if I didn't mind sharing my snail mail address. I happily sent it, and on Friday, a package landed in my mailbox. Inside was something I've certainly never seen before, a gorgeous framed piece of scherenschnitte art made by a woman named Catherine in her crafting group. Isn't this stunning?

Here's another view. The mother-of-pearl frame is absolutely perfect for showcasing this piece. Can you imagine the work it took to make this? I can just see me getting about halfway through and oops, there go the scissors. Nope. No, thank you. I need more "forgiving" forms of creativity, but boy, do I admire artists who can do this!

I'm still "auditioning" it around the living room, and for the moment, it's on this vintage cabinet where I have candles and a small lamp because I love the white-on-white look. It's always so soothing to me, and it always blends with whatever color palette I have going on at the moment.

Jackie is obviously a paper crafter, too, because she included a beautiful handmade card that I've been studying ever since I received it. I'm especially smitten with the pearls in the center of all those pretty three-dimensional hydrangea petals.

Now, have you all ever seen tea-themed scherensnitte before? I haven't and am thrilled to have this lovely gift. (If you're reading today, thanks again, Jackie!)

Friday, October 1, 2021

An interesting and tasty new bottled tea


I was deleting old photos on my iPhone the other day when I realized I had forgotten to share a new "road-trip tea" with you here. When Alex and I were traveling to Huntsville a couple of weeks ago, we stopped at a convenience store for snacks, and as usual, I'm always on the lookout for any new bottled teas I haven't tried before. I spotted this raspberry-flavored Tea of a Kind Yerba Mate and decided to give it a try.

As soon as I twisted the cap, I heard a fizzy sound, and something was obviously happening in the cap that released something into the bottle. When I Googled it later, I read that it's their patented technology that keeps their tea fresh for up to two years.

"Twist, release, drink," it says, and it really couldn't be simpler since I didn't have to do anything except twist off the cap to make this tea ready to drink. The raspberry taste was quite enjoyable, and the tea was sweetened naturally with Stevia and monkfruit. If I come across this yummy tea again, I will definitely be a repeat customer. A fun find!