Friday, April 29, 2022

It's beginning to look a lot like … well, you know

I know I beat this drum all year long, but Christmas wares really are much more affordable when you find them off season! In recent weeks, I've found several new Christmas goodies, and my favorite was this pedestal plate, a $1.99 find at Goodwill. I have four tea-and-toast sets in this pattern, and one day, I hope to come across a matching teapot. But the great thing about Christmas tea wares is that they mix and match so well.

At a thrift store in Carrollton, I found this large, pitcher-sized Santa. I used to display my Christmas cards in one, but mostly, I just like to display pieces like this on a table or mantel, especially when they're $2 like this one was.

Finally, I was tickled to find a vintage boot vase for $1.59. There's a ton of this green design out there, and I've got several pieces of it now thanks to friends and family who send alerts (or gifts, in some cases!). I've seen these boots used to display silverware at Christmas, a fun idea for any teas or other gatherings you may have planned. So if you go thrifting this spring, please don't neglect the Christmas aisle!

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

A cake artist that my town is proud of …

I can't believe I almost forgot to share this with you! I know this group loves magazines, and this is one I've been stalking here in Newnan for weeks now, the May/June issue of Cooking with Paula Deen

Why? you ask. Because you see that pretty cake on the cover and inside? Well, you're probably asking, "What cake?" That gorgeous blue-and-white bowl with flowers spilling out of it is a CAKE. And I know the lovely young woman who made it!

Bonne Bedingfield is something of a legend here in Newnan. She's been in Food Network baking competitions twice, turning out some amazing cake creations, and I follow her on Instagram just to see what she'll come up with next. (Bonne's dad, by the way, is one of my husband's BFFs.) A few months ago, Bonne shared with those of us who follow her on social media that she'd been to Savannah to drop off the cake that was a surprise for Paula's 75th birthday. Bonne made the cake, and her friend Elaine made these incredible flowers. I'll bet there's not a one of us who wouldn't love to have this cake on the table at our next tea party. I know I would!

Monday, April 25, 2022

When the handwriting's on the wall (or the tea mug)


Ever since finding that yummy-tasting rose-flavored tea from Taylors of Harrogate a few months ago, I’ve been checking T. J. Maxx for it every time I go in. The Taylors box I spotted on Saturday wasn’t the rose tea but a sweet rhubarb blend, but I was still happy to find it. (And yes, I bought a new tea mug. Sigh.)

Like the other tea, this one comes in beautiful bright-pink packets. I wasn’t sure whether I’d be a fan of rhubarb, but this tasted like a lightly sweet strawberry-flavored tea without the puckery quality I sometimes find in berry teas. This was another tea that’s perfect for the lighter, sunnier days of spring.

And of course I can’t be expected to say no to a $3.99 tea mug with handwriting on it. (And roses. But especially handwriting.)

Isn’t this perfect for springtime sipping? So what was *your* latest teatime find? Please share!

Friday, April 22, 2022

A Jane Austen Cream Tea


On Tuesday afternoon, I had the pleasure of attending a Jane Austen Tea Party at the Old Moreland Mill in nearby Moreland, Georgia. (If you haven't heard of it, Moreland is the hometown of famous novelist Erskine Caldwell and Southern humorist Lewis Grizzard.) Here I am at the tea along with my friend Kathy!

The tea was presented by the Gathering Place, a new business that brings people together to "connect, explore, create." Upcoming events will include a flower-arranging class and a Titanic-themed dinner.

This is Jennifer of the Gathering Place, who told everyone about the menu that we would be enjoying at our cream tea.

Those chocolate digestive biscuits are always welcome!

Each table had a theme, and mine was the Pride and Prejudice table.

The tables featured assorted china teapots, teacups, and saucers, and we had English Breakfast Tea and White Hibiscus and Peach green tea, both of which I enjoyed. We all had a place card awaiting us along with a menu that was cleverly affixed to a page from a Jane Austen novel. And while I failed to get a picture of it, the clotted cream was a huge hit at my table! We all ate it on our scones (shown in first photo), and I enjoyed learning about Jane Austen and taking tea with an old friend and meeting some new ones.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

A fresh order of Emperor's Bride Tea

At times in my life, I have no doubt been "penny wise and pound foolish," as the saying goes, fretting over small purchases and not thinking nearly enough about larger ones. One example? How many pineapple teas do you suppose I have purchased because I was too cheap to pay for shipping on my favorite tea in the world? I'll tell ya: plenty. Recently, I'd spent maybe thirty minutes online looking for pineapple teas, and I nearly laughed when I thought of all the pineapple teas I've tried that just didn't measure up to my all-time favorite one, Emperor's Bride from The Tea Room in Savannah. So I decided what the heck and ordered a small package. Yes, the shipping was almost as much as the tea, but I felt like having a party when that package arrived in the mail and I was able to enjoy this tea again. Then I realized that if I'd just ordered a great big package of it, I would have had enough to last me a while and won't need to even worry about shipping. Lesson learned.

Those little pineapple bits in the tea make me so happy, and I can get several steepings out of each serving.

For my favorite tea in the world, it seemed appropriate to use my favorite teacup pattern in the world, Royal Winton's Welbeck chintz. I pull this out every spring, and every spring, I'm grateful for the friend who stalked T. J. Maxx years ago and helped us both acquire sets of this. I'm so enjoying my Emperor's Bride this month, and if I could take only one tea to a desert island with me, this would be it. What would yours be?

Monday, April 18, 2022

The best estate sale I've been to (so far!)

Do you go to estate sales? I didn't until some years ago when a friend suggested that I check them out. Something about the word "estate" put me off. It wasn't the idea of someone having died (I think about eternity a lot, so I'm perfectly fine with that). But the word "estate" made me think that estate sales were just for the very rich to attend. After I started going to them, I realized they're more like pop-up antique stores held in homes, and prices can vary as widely as they do in antique stores. But as you can see from this loot shoot, I got quite a haul at the one I attended last Thursday. I'd seen this Peachtree City estate sale advertised online and knew it was my kind of sale. I was headed there after Bible study wrapped up that morning. Since the sale had started at 9 a.m. and I wasn't getting there until after lunchtime, I knew that not everything I was hoping to check out would still be available. To my delight, the vast majority of what I wanted was still there!

Because I'm gathering things for a valentine's cookbook (I think), I knew this reticulated heart bowl with roses on it would be perfect for that book. It was painted in 1987 by the woman whose estate was being sold, and I loved that reticulated heart pattern. I can just see cookies or bonbons or pastel macarons heaped in the little bowl. It was still there when I arrived, so I could only assume I was meant to have it.

And this? Well, I've bought three of these in the past year, and I'm a little obsessed with vintage recipe boxes now. I thought about writing a novel based on someone's old recipe box, but apparently, that's been done already, so I'll need a new idea. In the meantime, I just love poring over old recipes and imagining the woman who gathered them. Which was her favorite? Did she share these dishes with friends or family or both? One recipe noted that she was going to bake a certain cake on Saturday night and take it to the church on Sunday morning. Lovely!

Funny thing about this old pig-design notebook: I'd bought a binder with the same design at a Newnan estate sale a few years back, but then I got home and realized most of the pages were blank! So this time, I made sure to look inside.

Isn't her handwriting pretty?

And a recipe for Lane Cake filling! I've been wanting to make a Lane Cake, so yeah, I needed this.

And here's a cautionary tale of "unbuyer's" remorse. I was in Goodwill a few weeks ago when I saw a funny-shaped vintage Nordic Ware tin that was supposed to be some kind of Christmas tree design, but I thought it looked more like the spade on a playing card. It was just a dollar or so, but I simply couldn't picture how the cake or gelatin or whatever could possibly look like a Christmas tree, and I left the pan there. This little flyer was in the notebook, so guess what I'll be looking for now?

The online photos for the estate sale had shown lots of china, but I didn't realize until I wandered through the house that the woman who'd lived there had been a china painter herself. While this teacup and saucer set doesn't have her initials and must have been made by a friend, I still thought it was gorgeous and was happy to add another Christmas teacup to my collection. At $15, it was my priciest purchase of the day, but I would happily have paid that in an antique mall. (I also have an idea for a novella involving Christmas china, so let's see if that comes to pass now!)

The soft green butter pat (I think?) and soap dispenser were other fun finds. Only when I got home and washed them up did I realize that the soap dispenser pairs really well with the bowl I bought. They're in service in my bathroom now.

Much as I love vintage Christmas decor, I spied just a corner of this box and knew I wanted it whether anything was inside or not. Vintage cookie cutters in the box for $3? Yes, please.

Prior to the sale, I'd gone on their website and used my phone to take screen grabs of all the things I wanted to be sure to look for once I got there. I'd spotted a vintage metal Stylecraft Christmas card box, which has been on my vintage wish list for a few years now. I'd seen them online for $40 and up, but I didn't want one that bad. I didn't see it anywhere, so I assumed it had gotten scooped up already. When I checked out with all my goodies, I asked the young woman manning the table if she happened to remember selling the Christmas card box, and I showed her the photo. She said she didn't recall it selling and that from the photo, the shelf pictured looked like one in the garage. I went out there and looked in a cabinet, and voila, there sat my Christmas card box. What fun! This probably ranked as the best estate sale I've ever been to because of all the fun finds. Do you go to estate sales? If so, I'd love to know what they're like in your neck of the woods!

Friday, April 15, 2022

The winner of the springtime kitchen towel is …

 The Victorian Girl! Congratulations!

A new Easter collection

For many years now, I've been sharing my vintage postcards featuring chicks and teapots at Easter, but I didn't find any new vintage postcards with those designs this year. Last year, though, I found this postcard, the first time I'd found one that combined teapots and chicks with a cross in the image, which was a particularly delightful find. This year, I've gathered a small collection of vintage Easter postcards and bookmarks with crosses on them, and I think they are some of the most beautiful pieces I've seen yet. (Thrifty too. Some of these were just $1 at the antique mall.) And since it's Good Friday, I just wanted to share some of these sweet images and wish you all a very Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

"The Nature of Fragile Things" by Susan Meissner

"Her maid can't even so much as make her a cup of tea. Her entire set of Royal Doulton is in pieces on the floor, and on top of that, the toilet isn't working."

— The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner

I finished a book over the weekend that I enjoyed so much, and I wanted to share it with all of you in case it's one you haven't read yet. Susan Meissner's The Nature of Fragile Things takes place around the time of the San Francisco earthquake in April 1906. A young Irishwoman named Sophie, still new to life in the US, is living in poor conditions in New York when she sees a newspaper ad by a California widower who seeks a new wife to help raise his five-year-old daughter.

Sophie answers the ad, corresponds with a handsome but mysterious gentleman named Martin Hocking, then travels to California and immediately marries him and becomes a mother to young, quiet Kat. All is not smooth sailing, and before some circumstances regarding her marriage can get sorted out, the earthquake strikes. Meissner makes it easy to visualize the disaster relief efforts in San Francisco, and of course I find such efforts all the more heroic in a time when they didn't have the internet and mass transit and cell phones. It was also easy to be concerned for Sophie and her new family, and the author does a terrific job of weaving together a mystery with a natural disaster.

It dawned on me that just as I love vintage things, I even like vintage news, and this book taught me quite a few things I didn't know about the San Francisco earthquake. If you, too, would enjoy a book that's equal parts history and mystery, give this novel a try. And if you've already ready it, I'd love to know what you thought of it!

Monday, April 11, 2022

An April giveaway: a kitchen towel for spring

Don't these terry cloth dish towels look like spring? I saw them at Kroger the other day and decided to get one for me and one to give away to one of you!

That aqua background caught my eye, but with birds and roses and a teacup …

And even a teapot, well, I couldn't leave these for just any ol' body to get when I knew one of you might need one! So if you would like to brighten your kitchen just a wee bit this spring, simply leave an "Enter me" to this post by Friday, April 15, *making sure I have a way to contact you if you're the winner* and you'll be entered to win. Good luck!

Friday, April 8, 2022

Bath and Body Works Hand Soaps with tea fragrance

After receiving the gift of those new bath products from Bath and Body Works, it occurred to me that I should look online to see if they had any other new tea-ish products. Turns out they have lots of new stuff with tea in the name, and I'll be watching for the lotions and bath washes to go on sale, but meanwhile, that's how I learned that hand soaps are currently on sale for just $3.50, so I ran by my local store and grabbed a couple this week.

The White Tea and Sage scent, I realized, is the same lovely light floral fragrance I tried last Christmas, included in a gift bag of goodies from my stepdaughter. She's great about planning her B&BW shopping and told me she stocks up on these hand soaps when they're on sale in bulk each year, but so far, I haven't been savvy enough to keep up with the sales. So I already knew I liked that fragrance.

The Iced Dragon Fruit Tea fragrance was a new one on me, and I like its clean, fruity scent, which seems appropriate for spring. I realize hand soaps are cheaper at dollar stores and grocery stores, but a $3.50 hand soap is a "cheap luxury," as they say, and it's one I'm happy to splurge on once in a while.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Merry Christmas in March!

Last week, I was able to schedule lunch with a dear friend I hadn't seen in a while. We enjoyed catching up on each other's families and our various pursuits, and since she'd just had a March birthday, I took her a pretty Talbots scarf (I'm addicted to them now) as her gift. To my surprise, she had a belated Christmas gift for me as well as an early birthday gift (strawberry plants!). I like to think I keep up with all the teas and tea-themed body products on the market, but apparently I've missed a few.

This yummy-smelling body wash and lotion from Bath and Body Works is the Eucalyptus + Tea fragrance from their Aromatherapy line. The scent is light and floral, and I think the packaging is pretty too. I love having that nice *glass* bottle of lotion on my nightstand.

And Erica's tea was definitely a new one on me! I found this vendor's name a little ironic since a key character in the book I'm currently writing (book one in another cozy series, not the jewelry one) is named … Erica! I also have a writer friend named Erica, and over the past year or two, I've been following a "silver sister" (i.e., gray-haired style influencer) named Erica on Instagram. So I'm just finding Ericas everywhere these days.

This herbal tea blend is quite delightful. I do enjoy a nice herbal blend, and this Hibiscus Orange Mint flavor had a bold, fruity taste—though happily not as tart as some hibiscus teas I've tried—and held up through several delicious steepings. Have any of you tried Erica's teas before? Am I the last to hear of them?

Monday, April 4, 2022

A fabulous find in Fayetteville

I've been a fan of Sandy Lynam Clough's tea-themed artwork for decades now, ever since I first learned of her when she was illustrating some of Emilie Barnes's lovely teatime books. Some will remember when Sandy's prints and tea wares were sold at home parties (the nineties, I think), and I am fortunate to have some of these items today. I'm particularly proud of an SLC teapot, cookie plate, and two teacups that were gifts from two different friends I met through this blog. These are some of my most treasured tea-themed pieces ever, and they continue to make me as happy as they did the day I received them. So when I saw this signed Sandy print at a Fayetteville thrift store on Saturday for just $8, I was more than a little excited! I'd been out thrifting and antiquing with my friend Kathy, and it was one of our last stops of the day. She found some bargain craft supplies, and I found some kitchen wares. Then I happened to be walking by a stack of artwork, which I rarely look at in thrift stores, when I saw just an edge of this piece peeking out, and I knew immediately whose art it was!

Perhaps because Sandy lives here in Georgia and not too far away from me, I have been fortunate to find several of her signed prints over the years, but rarely at a bargain price like this. The first time I bought one of her signed prints, I remember paying a good bit for the print alone and then well over $100 to have it professionally framed.

And this frame with its elegant curlicues is exactly the sort of style I like. The piece is 17-1/2 x 29-1/2 inches, so it's a nice size. I've had my oldest signed Sandy print in the dining room for a while now (shown here), but since it's pink, it's moved upstairs to a bedroom that I recently redecorated in pink, and now this newest teatime print is in the dining room. I'm curious to know whether you all are fans of her work too. I'm betting many of you also have a print or a book, greeting card, bookmark, or mug featuring Sandy Lynam Clough's teatime art. Yes?