Wednesday, March 30, 2022

A shopping alert for fellow stampers

I realize that not everyone here is into scrapbooking and card making, but I believe that enough of us are that it behooves me to tell you about bargains on tea-themed craft supplies when I come across them. And I recently came across a clearance on this Pop Rose Teacup stamp set from Stampendous at Hobby Lobby. Regularly $15.99, the set was on sale for just $3.99. Sold!

I have a similar set from Stampendous and was trying to talk myself out of getting this one, too, but with the pretty flowers and roses, "myself" wasn't hearing those do-not-buy messages.

I haven't even had time to use my new set yet, but I wanted to go ahead and tell you about it since these clearance items tend to disappear pretty quickly. Here's a sample card shown on the back of the package. I love the idea of using the sentiments to send a cup of courage, love, gratitude, etc. to the recipient. So today, I just wanted to share a cup of savings!

Monday, March 28, 2022

Sampling new teas from Charbrew

When I was at a HomeGoods store with Aunt Jane on Friday, these two teas from Charbrew caught my eye. I've certainly heard of "bottled tea" before, but it never looked like this! They had several blends that all sounded appealing, but the ones I got ($4.99 each) were the Mint Peach Tea and the Apricot Jasmine Tea. Aren't the labels lovely?

This is the Mint Peach Tea, and it contains green tea, mint leaves, rosebuds, blue mallow buds, and peach and mint flavor. I thought that was an unusual combo and was curious enough to try it, and when I sipped this tea, I liked it! Somehow, the peach and mint flavors are both evident but subtle, making the blend neither too minty nor too peachy. I fear, though, that this tea may have ended up at HomeGoods as a remainder type of thing, because I wasn't able to find this variety for sale online except for one place in Costa Rica! 

Now the Apricot Jasmine Tea is one I thought sounded quite good, because I don't believe I've seen many flavored jasmine teas. The flavor was outstanding! As I took my first sip, I got that classic whiff of jasmine, and the fruitiness of the apricot flavor made it even better. This tea contains green tea, sunflower petals, rose petals, marigold petals, and apricot and jasmine flavors. Have any of you tried these teas before? And are you ever swayed by a tea's pretty packaging? Please tell me I'm not alone!

Friday, March 25, 2022

The winner of “Rough Draft” is …

 Frances L.! Thanks to all who entered. Alex is getting some great reviews on the new book!

Recommended Reading: Flea Market Garden Style

So many lovely new magazines are on the newsstand these days, and one of my favorites is the annual issue of Flea Market Garden Style. An old metal patio set with teacups on the table? Yes, please!

With this particular magazine, I always find so many ideas that I can use in the garden as well as indoors. Here, I'm intrigued that they used the rusty old bedsprings as a coffee table, but that tray with the tea pitcher and glasses is something I've never thought of styling. I have several vintage tea pitchers, including one with roses and matching glasses, but I've never used them in decorating. Now I will!

The projects in this magazine range from the simple to the elaborate. This idea for a hanging teacup planter looks pretty easy to achieve.

And this wonderful "Garden Party" spread had lots of cute decor as well. So whether you garden or not, if you're a tea lover, I think you would probably enjoy this new magazine.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Serendipity with a tea towel

The other week, my friend Ann texted to say that she'd been invited to tea and was asked to wear a "tea party hat." Did I have any idea where she could get one? Ann is also my Bible study leader on Thursday mornings, so I told her I had several and would take them to class for her to check out that week. She liked the rose-colored wide-brimmed hat and said it would be perfect with the outfit she planned to wear. Now that was certainly no big deal to me, and I imagine many of you, too, have loaned hats and all sorts of tea wares over the years. Ann said the tea was lovely, and when she returned the hat, she mentioned that she had tucked something in the bag with it. Probably a thank-you note, I thought. Only later that day did I remember what she'd said and looked inside the bag to discover this charming tea towel she stitched for me! Did you notice how perfectly it matches my new Sadler mug from the Salvation Army?

I love a handmade gift so much, and I was just so touched that Ann would make this for me. I knew from her Facebook posts that she has one of those fancy embroidery machines that she uses to make darling clothes for her young grandchildren, but I don't guess I realized she also made goodies like this.

And those colors! I don't believe we've ever had an occasion to talk about our favorite colors, so I'm a bit mystified that she chose a color palette featuring my favorites. What a great gift!

Monday, March 21, 2022

March Giveaway: Debut novel from another McRae!

It's been a busy few weeks at the McRae household, and last week was busy for a very fun reason: my husband, Alex, had the book launch for his debut novel, Rough Draft, at our beloved Carnegie Library here in Newnan!

Here are some images from his event there last week, which had a huge draw. (#jealous)

While his book has absolutely nothing to do with tea, its author is married to your blogger here, so I thought that some of you might be interested in checking out the other writer in the house. (He's definitely the better writer, but I happily claim to be the better editor, and together, we make a good team.)

What's Rough Draft about? Well, it's got flying bullets and dishonest journalists and a female character named Tink that I just adore! Here's the blurb:

Alabaster Cash clawed his way to the top of the investigative journalism heap by being unafraid to ask the hard questions and unwilling to take “no comment” for an answer.

His stories have sent celebrities running to rehab and politicians to prison. The only person he’s never interviewed is himself. He doesn’t mind the questions. He just doesn’t have the answers. All he has is a name he can’t explain and a mother who abandoned him on the eve of his thirteenth birthday.

When a woman claiming to have information about his mother—and his name—is shot while knocking at his front door, Cash must choose between uncovering a past that haunts him and saving the small-town newspaper that launched him to fame and fortune.

A wrong move could doom a publication Cash loves. It could also put him in the grave.

So if you'd like to win a copy of Rough Draft signed by Alex (whose birthday is today, by the way!), just leave an "Enter me" to this post between now and 7 a.m. Friday, March 25, making sure I have a way to contact you if you're the winner, and you'll be entered to win. We'll send it anywhere in the world. Good luck!

Friday, March 18, 2022

This tea is the bomb—really!

When I went to the Destination Tea tea party a few weeks ago, I was delighted when the caterer, The Cheeky TeaCup, gave everyone a tea bomb as a favor to take home. You've probably heard of hot cocoa bombs, right? This is the same idea but with a tea bag enclosed in some type of sweet sugar shell. I had never even heard of such a thing until an exceptionally thoughtful tea-loving friend sent me two in the mail last summer. Alas, the mail carrier had smashed them *and* squeezed them inside a hot, dark mailbox all day, so the sugar shells had both exploded and melted by the time they got to me. Still, I was tickled that a) my friend had thought of me with such a wonderful gift and b) that I learned about a new type of tea experience! So when I got this bomb, I knew to treat it as carefully as a real one!

I made it home with the tea bomb just fine and wanted to cheer when I got it into the teacup without incident!

The moment the boiling water hit the tea bomb, it started melting away, just as it was supposed to.

And the end result was a delightful cup of Earl Grey tea sweetened by whatever tasty sugar shell was used. Have any of you ever had a tea bomb? Or made a tea bomb? I discovered plenty of how-to articles and videos online, but so far, I've resisted buying all the supplies to make these myself!


Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Taylors of Harrogate Rose Lemonade Infusion


A Rose Lemonade tea? Why, yes, thank you very much!

I saw this pretty package at a T.J. Maxx over the weekend. I like rose-flavored teas anyway, and this box of Rose Lemonade tea bags was just $3.49, so I decided to give it a try. And I must say that I love absolutely *everything* about this tea!

The pretty-in-pink individually wrapped tea bags are such a charming color!

And as I've noticed with some British teas before, this blend has the tea bag string tucked neatly inside the bag, so you just extend it when you're ready to make your tea.

And while I've enjoyed plenty of rose-flavored teas before, I don't believe I've ever had one as citrusy as this! This tea contains: Hibiscus, Rosehip, Apple Pieces, Sweet Blackberry Leaves, Lemongrass, Natural Lemon Flavoring, Lemon Peel, Rose Petals, and Natural Flavoring. The lemonade flavor brilliantly complements the rose flavor, and I'm quite smitten. I did find this tea on Amazon, but I sure hope I can find some more for this bargain price at T.J. Maxx. It's a new favorite that's perfect for (almost) spring!

Monday, March 14, 2022

World's Easiest London Fog


Well, okay, maybe "World's" Easiest London Fog is a slight exaggeration, but it's certainly the easiest one that I've ever made! This story begins when I was in California last month and some website I was visiting showed an Aldi ad one day, and the ad featured some special buys coming in soon, including a cute beige throw pillow that reads "Stay Cozy." Now for someone who writes cozy mysteries, that was a must! As soon as I got home, I went to my local Aldi and got a "Stay Cozy" throw pillow for me, one for a giveaway when I release my next cozy mystery, and while trying to figure out where the pillows were located in a grocery store I rarely visit, I came across this Simply Nature London Fog Tea Latte mix. 

I'm glad I still have a glass tea mug so that I could show you what this mix looks like: just black tea. 

Do you like London Fog drinks, the ones typically made with Earl Grey and steamed milk? I do, but I don't purchase by-the-cup hot teas that often since I have a nice selection of teas at home. This whole carton of mix was just $2.99, which I remember thinking was much less than the cost of a single London Fog at a coffee or tea shop. And it's been cooooooold in Georgia this week. So cold that when I volunteered at a tree giveaway event in downtown Newnan early Saturday morning, there were *snow flurries* while we gave away trees. This Georgia girl does not do well in the cold, so I spent the rest of my weekend thawing out, and this rich London Fog drink was perfect for that.

To make it, you mix equal parts of the concentrate and milk, and you can either heat it on the stovetop or microwave it (I microwaved). So who are my fellow London Fog fans? If you happen to be one, have you tried this mix? I'm a fan, and they have a chai latte mix, too, so I may have to try that one as well. (But sparingly since this drink has 18 grams of sugar per 3/4-cup serving. Still … mmm!)

Friday, March 11, 2022

Organic Mango Pineapple Green Tea from Whole Foods

Whenever I'm near a Whole Foods, I have to stop by so I can check out the tea selection. On my most recent visit, I didn't find any new brands of tea, but I did find a couple of new varieties of brands I'm already familiar with, one of which I've been sipping this week. It's the Whole Foods Organic Mango Pineapple Green Tea.

I think I'm becoming something of a collector of mango, pineapple, and mango-pineapple blends. I still haven't found any pineapple tea that tops the yummy pineapple flavor of the Emperor's Bride black tea I adore (it's sold here, and I have an order headed my way from Savannah), but this Whole Foods blend wasn't bad. It's got a little of that grassy green tea flavor, but it does have distinct pineapple and mango flavors too.

And of course I give points for packaging the tea bags individually since this makes them both portable and shareable! Have any of you tried any of the Whole Foods teas? Got any recommendations?

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

A vintage Sadler tea mug … and some random thrifted treasures

With the busy month I just had, I almost forgot to share some of my latest thrifted finds! The one I'm most proud of is this Sadler tea mug. I've got quite a few Sadler teapots, but I don't recall ever seeing a Sadler tea mug before. I was perusing the wares at Salvation Army in Carrollton the other weekend when I spotted this behind some coffee mugs. I thought it was bone china, and it was.

And when I saw the Sadler back stamp, I decided to part with the 50 cents they were asking for it!

I realize most of us who like vintage china also have a weakness (some might view it as a strength!) for old glassware. I've never really been that wild about Goofus glass, but I've always been intrigued by it. And the last time I was out thrifting, I was thinking about ideas for the vintage valentine's cookbook I plan to write (like the Vintage Christmas Cookbook but with lots of pink and red and roses and hearts among the vintage recipes). As soon as I saw this $4.99 plate, I realized it reminded me of some gold-embellished vintage postcards I've got, and it would be perfect for a valentine's feature, so I decided this needed to come home with me as well. (If you're curious about Goofus glass, there's a helpful article on it here.)

Another book idea I've had steeping for years has to do with alligators, of all things, and when I saw this piece at the thrift store, I went back and forth about whether to get it. It was just $3 and some change, but did I need it? Well, no. I left it. Then I remembered that I have regretted the things I didn't buy much more often than the things I did buy, and something told me to go back and get this, as it may end up in one of my books one day. I'm not sure when and where or why, but at least I won't regret leaving this sweet alligator behind. Besides, it can be a pen or paper clip holder, I decided. I can't think of a teatime use for the alligator piece just yet, but give me time!

Monday, March 7, 2022

A new teacup stamp I'm enjoying

After being on the go-go-go for many weeks in a row, I was thrilled to have both Friday and Saturday free, and I spent that time reading, having lunch with a dear friend, shopping (just a little), and crafting. I also realized I'd meant to share with you all a new Stampin' Up stamp that I got recently, their new "Every Chapter" rubber stamp, and the design is one I had to have from the moment I saw it. A teacup and books? Yes, please!

I wasn't sure how often I would need to make a card with this design, I just knew that I would one day. I spoke at a celebration/roast for a friend last month, and since she first got to know me as a local journalist and now as an author (as well as her friend), I realized a card with this design would be perfect to include with the gift I took her!

And just a few days ago, I learned that a friend who writes a local book column and has been very generous in supporting my writing over the years is moving out of town. I'm going to drop a small gift by her house this week, and I realized this stamp design was perfect for her too! So if you're a card-making crafter who likes this idea, you may want to ask your local Stampin' Up demonstrator about this stamp. (And as always, if you don't have a demonstrator but want to order this stamp, feel free to use my friend Kathy here. She didn't ask me to mention her, by the way, but I know she won't mind. And I hate trying to order something like this and not knowing a demonstrator!)

Friday, March 4, 2022

Fascinated by fascinators … and tea professionals!


Photo courtesy of Michael Bradley

What fun it was to see milliner Angela Kang encouraging everyone to try on her
Nabi fascinators during the Destination Tea Atlanta event hosted by Angela Renals on Sunday!

Photo courtesy of Michael Bradley

Here, one of her fascinators is modeled by Angela Avery. She and Dr. Karl Walbrook own a new tearoom, The Ginger Room Alpharetta, that's getting lots of buzz and is on my must-visit list! (Pay no attention to the gray-haired lady in the background. She was busy talking to …)

Lisa Boalt Richardson, seen at left here with Destination Tea's Angela Renals. I've so enjoyed Lisa's tea books over the years, which include Modern Tea, The World in Your Teacup, and Tea with a Twist. I also learned that she is director of the World Tea Academy, and she was very gracious in encouraging me when I spoke with her about my long-held desire to seek tea certification! So if I can ever get caught up on all the books I have in the hopper, it's wonderful to know someone who says it can be done.

But I'm not through with fascinators yet. Have you ever seen so many? And I'll conclude with some close-ups of the glorious details. I was truly fascinated by all the fascinators!

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Making new tea friends in Atlanta!

On Sunday afternoon, I had the great pleasure of joining friends of Destination Tea for a wonderful time of tea and networking! We gathered at the Temmer Marble showroom in Atlanta, and the decor was so beautiful that someone asked me if they do teas regularly there. (Not to my knowledge, but maybe they should!)

I'm glad I got there a few minutes early to get some photos, because I absolutely loved the mix-and-match place settings of the caterer, Valerie Barendregt of The Cheeky TeaCup. Did I like this teacup best?

Or this one?

Or this one? I finally decided they were all equally lovely and didn't mind which one I used!

Valerie had prepared a fine array of tea sandwiches (chicken salad and cucumber tea sandwiches will always be my favorites), scones, and sweets.

Is there anything more inviting than a treat-laden tea tray? I loved the lacy design of this one!

The amazing tea entrepreneur who brought all of us together for this event was the delightful Angela Renals, whom I first had the pleasure of meeting back in 2018 when we joined our Michigan friends for tea during their tea tour of the South, so it was great fun to get to see her again. I so admire the way she's grown her website for Destination Tea—"the U.S. Afternoon Tea Directory." (If you don't know about it, you will want to check it out here so that you can find a tearoom wherever you may travel.)

And that's merely a sampling of the Sunday fun I had. On Friday, I'll tell you about some of the other tea lovers I met, some new tearooms we Atlanta-area folks need to try, and a milliner who makes the most beautiful fascinators I've ever seen. So please stay tuned!