Monday, November 29, 2021

Tea-themed tree #1 is up!

I know some of you probably have the whole house decorated for Christmas by now, but I don't. It takes me a while to ease into Christmas decorating after Thanksgiving, and I've been as late as December 15 in putting up a tree. This weekend, I started going through some of my thrifted finds of the past year and rediscovered a whole new tree that I purchased five months ago at my friend Maxine's moving sale.

She sold me the metal tabletop tree and 25 tea-themed ornaments for $20, and that's probably the best $20 I spent all year.

Some of the ornaments have a cloisonné look, like this pretty blue one with Christmas trees on it.

Lots of the ornaments are Mary Engelbreit designs, and I don't believe any of these are duplicates of other Mary Engelbreits I've collected over the years.

Maxine even included two tiny little English chintz teapots with removable lids, and while they're not ornies themselves, I decided to display them around the base, just as she did.

I'm sure I'll add a few more things to this display to fill it out, but first up was a Santa picture I found on clearance at Kroger, of all places, after Christmas a few years back. So who's finished decorating already? I hope at least some of you are like me and just getting started!

Friday, November 26, 2021

Thanksgiving tea-mwork

Thanksgiving prep seems sooo much easier since my sister and I decided years ago that each of us would make half the meal. We alternate hosting the gathering, and somehow, having to make only half the dishes seems like a piece of cake (or pie, in my case, since Daddy brought a cake this year). But one thing I have never been able to get exactly right is how to label the pitchers of sweet and unsweet tea. For a few years, I had chalkboard labels about the size of a business card that I tied to the pitcher handles, but those were clunky. This year, I just used some pretty place cards a friend of mine gave me years ago. Still, the cards eventually got lost in the kitchen shuffle, and I got asked, "Now which is sweet and which is unsweet?" Not a huge deal at all, but I keep thinking there's got to be a simple solution to this that I'm missing. Pitchers with "sweet" and "unsweet" printed right on them would be perfect, but alas, I've never seen such a thing!

For those of you who've kept up with my nieces and nephew over the years, I thought you might enjoy seeing a family update. I always take a picture of them opening their new Christmas ornaments at Thanksgiving, and here Amelia, now 16, gets an ornament featuring a stocking full of animals since she's the big animal lover in the family.

Cari, 22, who adores all the superheroes, got a Wonder Woman ornament. (I was tickled when she texted me on Thanksgiving eve to ask whether I had made the chocolate chip pie she loves—and I had, of course!)

Matthew, who just turned 13, got a Spider-Man ornament and has quite a few of them.

And Madison, 25, did so many fun things this year that I got her a picture frame ornament that says "A Beautiful Year" so that she can choose which photo to feature.

It was definitely a blessing to have everyone together again this year, and I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving too. (And if you have a sweet/unsweet-tea-identification solution, I'd seriously love to hear it!)

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

"Good Wishes for Thanksgiving Day"

I was looking through my stash of vintage postcards recently and would have sworn I had already scanned this one and shared it here before, but as I scrolled back through years of Thanksgiving posts, I couldn't find it, so here's the story: first, I had to have this card when I saw the pretty blue-and-white teapot on the mantel and also because it says "Good Wishes for Thanksgiving Day."

The message, though, makes this card even more fun. The back of the card is addressed to a Miss Maud Whitesides of La Salette, Ontario, Canada, and reads, "Hello Maud, How are you these days? Have been looking for a letter. Try and not eat too much turkey on Thanksgiving day. Eliza." 

Unlike Eliza, I'm not going to tell you not to eat too much turkey tomorrow, but I do wish you all a very, very Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2021

A fun night sampling Christmas treats — and spotting teacups!

Last week was a busy one with two different book signing events on the agenda. I'm aways grateful for opportunities to speak with those who are interested in my books, but the event I attended last Wednesday night was definitely one of a kind! The Senoia Area Historical Society hosts something they call "Cook the Book" each month, where a cookbook is selected and the members all make a recipe from that book. This month, the featured book was the cookbook I wrote last year, The Vintage Christmas Cookbook, and Alex and I were invited to be their guests, and I was to say a few words and sign some books. Here I am with Beth Young, their program coordinator, who is always a pleasure to work with.

It was so much fun (and quite an honor) to see all of those sweets and realize that they came from my own cookbook!

My favorite, I quickly realized, was the Peppermint Chiffon Pie. That light filling practically melts in your mouth, and frankly, I enjoyed it even more since I didn't have to make it!

Several of the attendees made these old-fashioned Market Bulletin Orange Balls (so named because my grandmother cut out the recipe from Georgia's old Market Bulletin years ago). Quite a few of us mentioned what a nice surprise it is to bite into something citrusy like these treats at the holidays.

What made the evening even more delightful was all of the vintage decor that they shared, from vintage Santas and old Christmas hankies …

To angels …

And the thing I was most excited about sharing here, vintage Christmas figures in teacups!

Remember beaded ornaments? I seem to recall making a few of these back in the day.

I must confess that it hadn't occurred to me to do anything with my Christmas teacups other than display them on a teacup stand, and this gave me a whole new outlook on that.

Can you stand one more teacup photo? I spotted this one in a museum display and naturally had to stop and read about its significance.

I'm sure the museum has frequent visitors from The Veranda, a lovely B and B just a few blocks away that is meaningful to me for quite a few reasons. I hosted my old roommate's bridesmaids luncheon there in the late nineties, and my stepdaughter's wedding reception was held there in 2009. It's a beautiful place, and back when it was known as the Hollberg Hotel, Margaret Mitchell interviewed Confederate veterans on the steps there as she was researching Gone With the Wind. It's always fun to visit with friends in Senoia, and I always learn something new at their museum!

Friday, November 19, 2021

Twinings Probiotics Tea With Peppermint & Fennel


Another tea with probiotics? Yes, and I gather these are here to stay. 

I spotted this new Twinings Probiotics Peppermint & Fennel Herbal Tea the other night at Publix and decided to give it a try. I happen to like that licorice/anise flavor in fennel, and it's probably good for us, so why not?

I could smell that licorice scent even through the box. When I opened it and pulled out a few tea bags, the scent was even stronger. Oddly, though, the tea just tastes like a regular peppermint tea, which is to say fine but nothing unusual. But I like the idea of adding probiotics to my daily sipping, so I'll probably keep a box of some probiotics tea on hand simply for the "gut health" factor. Have you tried any probiotics teas? If so, got any recommendations?

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

An early teatime Christmas gift

I did some Christmas shopping at a friend’s antique store last week, and when I got home, I found that she had tucked a wonderful gift inside the bag for me, these five vintage tea bag caddies!

The old ones are so elegant, but I have very few truly old ones. How did I know these were old?

Because the maker signed them! My first thought: “Erna Murphy ’64? That makes these vintage!” My second thought: “I was born in ’64. That makes *me* vintage. Yikes!” (And didn’t Erna have a pretty signature!)

Monday, November 15, 2021

A tea trolley Thanksgiving

This year, I've found so many great vintage Christmas goodies that I am itching to get started on the decorating. But I'm also hosting my side of the family for Thanksgiving, and I want it to look like Thanksgiving. But this week, I had the great fortunate of buying two vintage ceramic Christmas trees from a local friend who knew I was looking for some at a good price. I got a large green one for $15 and this huge (eighteen-inch) white one for $30, and when I went antiquing later in the week, I was shocked at how much similar trees cost. I liked them but wouldn't have paid $100+ for them, so I lucked out with my friend's great prices. And I'm so enamored of this white tree that I decided I would go ahead and have it grace the Thanksgiving tea trolley.

It was a little plain to start with, though, right? Then it occurred to me that I could pop in *just* the orange, yellow, and white lights, as shown in the top photo, and the problem was solved!

My tea trolley always looks a bit cluttered because I simply don't have the eye for styling that so many others do, but oh well. I like looking at these goodies, like the $1.99 sugar and creamer I found at a Goodwill in Wisconsin over the summer. They will get some use at Thanksgiving!

And my Mackenzie-Childs enamel pitcher, another Goodwill find, has the right color palette as well. So who has been decorating for Thanksgiving? Anyone got their Christmas decorations up yet? No judgment here, and I may just put up a Christmas tree or two by the time Thanksgiving actually gets here!

Friday, November 12, 2021

"Rubies and Revenge" goes to ...

Heather of Blue Jeans and Teacups! I'll be signing a copy and getting it headed your way ASAP. Congrats!

When tea wares were "escorted" across the pond!

Way back in 2008, I posted this photo of a teapot that had recently been given to me by my mom, who was redecorating and decided to get rid of it. Well, time marched on, and I got prettier teapots and got rid of this one myself. I had assumed it was Japanese, but from the old blog post, I apparently didn't take a photo of the back stamp, so who knows.

But what I do know is that I was most intrigued when reader Diane M. emailed me a link to this article from, featuring a similar teapot that has the fascinating back stamp, "World War II, Made in England, Escorted to United States by the Allied Fleets." I'm quite sure my old teapot didn't have that mark, because I certainly would have latched on to that story, and I would love to come across such a teapot with the original hang tag!

If you enjoy WWII history as much as I do, be sure to click on the link above and read the full entry, as I learned a few things that I definitely did not know before!

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Sipping tea and making cards

Before I left for the craft retreat last Thursday morning, I ran by Publix for paper tea filters since Kroger didn't have any. And of course any new teas on the tea aisle always catch my eye, so I had to try a box of this Twinings Lemon & Ginger Tea with probiotics. I never get tired of a good lemon and ginger tea, plus …

The individually packaged teas are always great to travel with. This tea was excellent, with just enough ginger to give it that bit of a peppery bite, and I kept my tea mug filled with this tea for most of the trip!

And let me just tell you what an experienced card maker I am. I'm *so* experienced that I ordered two colors of brown ink that were so similar, you couldn't tell that the pine cones of this Stampin' Up stamp were supposed to be two different colors. And naturally, I didn't bother to open the ink and test it until I got to Pine Mountain. Sigh. My intention was to make this Christmas Season design from Stampin' Up the primary design for family and friends' Christmas cards this year, so this ink thing presented a problem. Happily, I had packed the gold leaf I learned to embellish cards with earlier this year, and voila, we now have gilded pine cones. I could totally live with that!

In fact, I love to stamp designs and then cut them out with my dies, so I cut out a *lot* of pine cones this weekend. The challenge is, I don't like for any two cards to be exactly alike. So then I decided red plaid might be nice.

Or green! Who doesn't love green?

After a while, though, I got bored with gold leafing everything and wondered if I could glitterize my pine cones with glittery pink embossing powder. The answer is yes. Yes, I can.

And when I got through with all of that, I started making a few tea-themed cards with this delightful Cozy Cupfuls stamp set by Marcella Hawley for Power Poppy. I still have plenty more cards to make, but I got a great head start thanks to the retreat and the encouragement of my crafty friends.

And I thought those would be all the Christmas card designs I make this year, but then my retreat friend Vicki shared these new *stitched* designs using the Merry Stitching dies from Spellbinders. Oh. My. Goodness! I ordered the dies immediately so that I can try my hand at making cards with these gorgeous embellishments. Have you started on your Christmas cards yet?

Monday, November 8, 2021

A taste of teatime at the craft retreat

Last night, I got home from a wonderful four-day craft retreat at the chalets in Pine Mountain, and my mind is definitely filled with happy memories and new craft projects I want to try!

It rained on the trip down but cleared up soon afterward, and this sunny fall weather was what the ten of us enjoyed most of the time, which was great. My local friend Kathy and I went down from Newnan, and the other eight women were Savannah friends Kathy made when she lived there years ago, and after enjoying a retreat with them in March of 2020, I claim them as *my* friends now, too, and I couldn't wait to see everyone again!

Kathy and I decided it would be fun to have a simple "welcome tea" waiting for everyone as they arrived at different times throughout the afternoon, so that's what we did. She even made cute little floral candy treat boxes that were placed above everyone's tea and toast set.

I took my own lace tablecloth and a few tea wares from home (including my new tipping teapot) to dress things up, and everyone seemed so appreciative!

We had homemade chocolate cake slices, pumpkin spice shortbread, and fruit ...

As well as several flavors of mini scones from the grocery store, which were super easy to travel with.

When we got there on Thursday afternoon, the only things I had to "make" were pimiento cheese ribbon sandwiches and teapot-shaped cucumber sandwiches. I served a pineapple and strawberry green tea as well as the Spiced Apple Chai I recently received from Adagio Teas, and while a few ladies liked the green tea, the chai was definitely a hit with the group. So it was nice to know that tea can so easily go on the road, and I was happy to add a little touch of teatime to our craft retreat. On Wednesday, I'll share some of the cards I made and a new tea I enjoyed while there!