Wednesday, August 31, 2022

An oversized Christmas teacup

Over the weekend, I visited two antique malls and started seriously looking for vintage Christmas decor. I know we celebrate Christmas in July sales and events, but in my experience, sellers start getting serious about Christmas in August. I bought my first Christmas magazine Saturday, and it's fitting that I found a Christmas teacup and another collectible that day as well. This teacup packaging is marked Ridgefield Home, which sounded vaguely familiar. The teacup and snack plate themselves are marked Gracie China, a brand I've found at T.J. Maxx and HomeGoods many times.

It was only when I unpacked it that I discovered something unusual about the cup. It's that large breakfast size, which I thought was unique, but there was something else too.

I hope you can tell from this aerial view, but the teacup is oval and not round. That's a new one on me, and I thought I'd seen it all in the world of teacup shapes. Guess not! It was $12.99, and I've learned that when I see Christmas things, I'd better go ahead and get them now.

And just for fun, I thought some of you might enjoy seeing the bargain "knee-hugger elf" I found. I've been wanting one of these vintage ones for a few years now, but they have been $25 plus at Christmas, which just seemed too much, so I was very, very pleased to find this one for $6. Any of you started scouting for Christmas decor yet?

Monday, August 29, 2022

Aunt Jane and a Cracker Barrel birthday celebration

I've written about Aunt Jane so much on this blog over the years that I thought you might like to see us out enjoying her birthday lunch at Cracker Barrel on Saturday! If you're new to this blog, Aunt Jane is my late mother's younger sister, who turned 74 last week, and Aunt Jane will not ever let you forget her birthday. Even though (or maybe because) she is mildly mentally retarded, Aunt Jane starts talking up her birthday weeks in advance. She'll say things like, "Yes, I'm going to be an older woman next month" or "How old will I be on my next birthday?" Hint, hint! Here, we're eating our chicken finger meals, and I wanted to report that you can indeed order an Arnold Palmer (half sweet tea, half lemonade), which made me very happy.

There was about a thirty-minute wait to get a table, and that was fine with both of us because we enjoy looking around at all the offerings in the country store. Aunt Jane found some sterling silver earrings she wanted, and I spotted this adorable tea towel. It was $6.99 but on sale for 60 percent off.

So did I get it? You bet I did. I bought a journal and some maple-flavored candy, too, and I'll go back soon when all of their Christmas decor is out. I've found many tea-themed Christmas ornaments there over the years (like these), and fingers crossed, I'll find some again soon!

Friday, August 26, 2022

"Revitalizing a Japanese Tea Town"

Reader Diane M. has shared some of the most intriguing tea-related links with me over the years, and a recent one features a subject I’d not heard about, a plan to revitalize a small Japanese green tea town that has some aging farmers who weren't quite sure about young "outsiders" coming in to save the town. This is a 24-minute video, but I learned so much from it that I wanted to share it here, perhaps for your weekend viewing. It was well worth the time I spent viewing it, and I plan to watch it again!

(And just in case you need it, here's another link to the video:  


Wednesday, August 24, 2022

"Tea Parties" Magazine

Now let me just say that I do not normally discover new tea magazines at the CVS checkout, but I did yesterday, so there you go. Tea Parties is an interesting title, published by the same folks who publish Woman's World and First for Women magazines, so that explains the rather thin paper.

The issue includes ideas for such teas as a Fairy Tale Tea, a Victorian Tea, a Harry Potter Tea, an Under the Sea Tea, a Bridal Shower Tea, holiday teas, and more. 

Despite the name, this magazine is not just about tea parties. It has information on the various types of tea…

And quite a few recipes that will please tea enthusiasts, like this one for Earl Grey Tea Cookies. While it's a little pricy ($12.99), I was so intrigued by the thought of a new tea magazine that I had to have it, and some of you may want to look for this issue yourselves—even at CVS, apparently!


Monday, August 22, 2022

"Murder Spills The Tea" by Vicki Delany

Vicki Delany's third Tea by the Sea cozy mystery has been released, and Murder Spills The Tea is my favorite in the series so far. The popular "America Bakes!" cooking show is coming to town, and Lily Roberts's Cape Cod tearoom, Tea by the Sea, will be competing with other local bakers to see who can wow the judges. Lily doesn't actually want to be in the competition, but her best friend and her grandmother persuade her to sign up anyway, so when Hollywood comes calling, Lily is less than impressed and simply hopes to survive the ordeal with her tearoom and her sanity intact.

The judges on the TV show are familiar characters: the nasty gent with the huge fan following, the airhead beauty queen, the beloved cookbook author. But when a judge goes over the top by tripping one of Lily's employees just to get a rise out of her during taping of the show, Lily and her colleagues are ready to see the taillights of those TV trucks. Before they can hit the road, though, one of the judges is found dead in the kitchen of the tearoom, and two of the tearoom employees quickly become prime suspects.

Delany does a phenomenal job of keeping us guessing who the killer is in this tale. So many people had a reason to want the victim out of the picture, and when the killer was revealed, I was surprised. And while I don't think I've ever heard of a TV cooking competition that included a tearoom offering up its best treats, I do think, after reading this book, that it's a splendid idea, and Delany certainly makes it a believable one.

Review copy courtesy of NetGalley


Friday, August 19, 2022

A cup of "Comfort" from Twinings

Last week, I stopped by an Ollie's store to see if they had any more of that Twinings vanilla-and-fig-flavored tea I love (they did), and the clerks happened to be opening some new cases of Twinings tea and shelving some flavors I hadn't yet sampled. Since they're only $1.99 a box, I'm certainly willing to give all of these a try!

Coconut and ginger are always welcome ingredients in tea, and turmeric seems to be enjoying a very long 15 minutes of fame as well. 

I liked this tea a lot, and I found it has a lot of "heat" for a coconut and ginger tea. When I checked out the ingredients, I learned it also contains black pepper, so that must be where that peppery bite came from. I'll probably save the rest of this tea for fall, when I can't seem to get enough of warm, spicy teas, and I was happy to add this flavor to my growing stash of Twinings tea bags!

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

A history lover's bonanza at the thrift store

When Aunt Jane and I last went thrifting, I had one of my best days ever with some particularly fun finds that warmed my history-loving heart!

As much as I love rose garlands, I don't often find them on teacups, so when I saw this English bone china cup and saucer set for $3.99, it was definitely going home with me. The back stamp says Radfordian, which is a name I don't believe I've come across before.

Because this thrift store supports several ministries, they get some unique donations, and someone had donated several old tea strainers. The others were chippy china, but this lightweight metal one caught my eye because it was obviously well loved …

And also because of all the marks on the back. I definitely need to do some research to see if I can determine the maker. I thought this piece was worth the $2.99 just for the research. You'll also see above a vintage maple leaf pin from Avon, another $2.99 treat that I'll enjoy wearing this fall. (Or writing about if I decide to feature vintage Avon jewelry in a Junkin' Jewelry mystery one day.)

Some of you may remember that a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I've gotten into cross-stitch again. Well, this particular thrift store has added a "vintage" section featuring more upscale items donated by supporters of the store's ministry, and many items weren't yet priced. I've been checking on this sampler for months, but they still hadn't priced it. I figured I probably couldn't afford it anyway since genuine antique samplers usually have pretty hefty price tags. I mentioned to the nice man who runs the store that I sure hoped they would price it one day, and I told him that I stitch samplers myself. That interested him, and he told me that he'd recently sold another sampler for $250. ("Ah," I thought. "Fair price, I'm sure.") But then he surprised me by saying, "You know, since you make samplers, look, I'm really big on items going to the right person. No pressure or anything, but if you want it today, I'll sell it to you for $50." I couldn't pay for that sampler fast enough!

I'm having so much fun studying the stitches. This portion from the upper right corner looks like a flag to me. Do you agree?

And this tree is so faded that it blended into the fabric, but when I used the flashlight app on my iPhone to study it one night, it practically glowed. Interesting!

The store manager and I think this sampler is dated 1816. Wow!

The big mystery: What is the maker's name? These faded stitches are difficult to read, but the first four letters look like "Cari," which is curious since that's how one of my nieces spells her name. (Alex thinks I'm seeing things, and he may be right.) Those first three letters are stitched in a very pale blue, though, so maybe CAR stands for the maker's initials and the last part is something else? 

Here's another view. Guesses welcome. Meanwhile, I'll be sipping from a lovely new garlanded teacup as I study this sampler and work on one of my own!

Monday, August 15, 2022

A fun weekend with family!

 It was a family-filled weekend at our house, and we had so much fun seeing our Wisconsin grandkids as well as the ones who live a few hours north of us here in Georgia! Here, Alex is with Owen, Michael, Andrew, and Bella. (As chief photographer, I'm almost never in family photos!)

And here are Heather (my stepdaughter, who lives in Wisconsin) and Hunter (my stepson, who lives here in Georgia) with Alex.

Our grandaughter, Bella, who loves drama, entertained us with a brief monologue from a play she's been rehearsing for.

When Heather's family arrived, they came bearing gifts, including a favorite sweet, the Sea Salt Caramel Kringle from Uncle Mike's Bake Shoppe, a Green Bay bakery that we love-love-love.

Can you taste the sugary goodness from the photo? Too bad this isn't a scratch-and-taste photo!

Did you note that above, Alex was wearing an old Packers T-shirt in honor of our Wisconsin family? We quickly became Packers fans after Brad and Heather got married years ago, and thanks to them, we've even been to a Packers football game at the legendary Lambeau Field in Green Bay. So imagine my delight when Brad, our son-in-law, shared a video from the Green Bay Press Gazette that features a delightful teatime tale about the Green Bay Packers. It's here. Enjoy!

Friday, August 12, 2022

The winner of the tea-themed headband is …

 Cheryl! Congratulations, and thanks to those of you who entered!

Let's talk tea caddies

Tea friend Diane M. sends me links to the most interesting pieces. She manages to come across so many unusual articles, images, and fun facts about teatime, and this week, she sent along a link to a Collectors Weekly article about tea caddies (a screen grab of which is shown here). I've always hoped to come across one of these genuine antique tea caddies, but I don't believe I've ever even laid eyes on one, much less purchased one.

The article notes, "Because the price of tea was so dear in the 18th century, homemakers in the Old and New Worlds alike stored their green and black teas in special containers made of porcelain, sterling silver, and lead-lined wood, some of which were fitted with locks." Can you imagine having to keep your tea under lock and key? Thank goodness we don't have to do that today!

The piece goes on to mention a collector of tea caddies and the book that her son wrote about her collection. I'd never even heard of this book, so it's now on my Amazon/eBay wish list. If you're interested in tea caddies and this tea caddy book, go here to read the article for yourself. (Do any of you own an antique tea caddy? If so, I'm officially jealous!)

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

The Twinings mug from the Twinings Museum


Not long ago, I was preparing a cup of one of my new(ish) Twinings teas when I remembered that in the back of a kitchen cabinet, I had a Twinings tea mug that I purchased at the flagship Twinings store at 216 Strand in London back in 2004, on my solo trip to England to celebrate my 40th birthday.

I don't think I've ever shared these photos here before simply because they're so bad, taken with an early digital camera that had a quickly dying battery and a universal charger that didn't (if you get my drift). So unlike today, when the average cell phone can take excellent photos, back then, I was judicious about what earned a snapshot. And even though it's not a great shot, the Twinings entrance was definitely worth a photo!

If it were today, I would have taken nice close-ups of everything in this display case. So those photos? Your guess is as good as mine about what they're depicting!

Here's a pitcher. Why was it in the Twinings Museum? Don't ask me.

At least I recognize a Brown Betty and a tea clipper when I see them! Coming across these old photos made me want to revisit Twinings and see what I can capture today. Have any of you been to Twinings in London more recently than 2004? I'd love someone's personal update!

Monday, August 8, 2022

August Giveaway: Alice in Wonderland Headband

Whenever I visit a Books-A-Million store, I make a point of looking for teas and tea-themed gifts. Over the weekend, I spotted something there that I no longer need now that I have short hair, but it was so cute that I got it anyway, thinking that one of *you* might need it: an Alice in Wonderland headband with teapots and teacups on it!

This is one tea-themed gift that I don't believe I've ever come across before!

The fleece fabric is wonderfully soft to the touch, so whoever wins this headband will likely enjoy wearing it! If you'd like to be entered to win the headband (for you or a family member or friend), just leave an "Enter me" to this post anytime between now and 7 a.m. EST on Friday, August 12, and you'll be entered to win. US only, please. Good luck!

Friday, August 5, 2022

Kitchens and tea storage

I'm starting to get serious about remodeling the kitchen, so I've been adding to my Pinterest board and collecting magazines about kitchen re-dos. Our kitchen was built in the nineties and looks like it. The cabinets need fresh paint and new hardware (at minimum), the appliances need upgrading, and that strawberry-and-grape wallpaper needs to retire. Though I've long dreamed of a pale-aqua kitchen, I'm currently lusting over a particular design featuring a lavender-and-navy-blue color palette, of all things. (See it here.) So naturally, I'm drawn to new magazine issues that deal with kitchen projects, like this one, Beautiful Kitchens & Baths from Traditional Home magazine.

And I promise you that I was not looking for tea articles when I turned a page and read this: "As an avid tea drinker, Sarah Robertson hated having a cabinet full of partially empty tea boxes. 'They were taking up a ton of space,' she says. Her solution was to design a tea drawer with dividers fit to each bag's dimensions." Isn't that a great idea? I wish the article had included a photo of the tea drawer once it's closed and in place, but still, the idea is just smashing. My tea drawer would need to be deeper and have room for tea tins as well as tea bags, but if you're designing a custom piece anyway, I don't see why that couldn't work.

And when I looked through the magazine and saw this lovely photo, I realized it was a *bathroom* and not a kitchen, although I wouldn't mind a bathroom or kitchen this lovely either. Have any of you ever remodeled a kitchen? If so, got any tips to share?

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

A fun new tea from Chicken Salad Chick

One of my favorite fast-casual restaurants is Chicken Salad Chick. I've gotten in the habit of picking up a container or two of their chicken salad every now and then just so I can enjoy it at home, and since they regularly have a dozen varieties available, there's always one I want. Whether I'm craving something traditional, like the Classic Carol (made with celery and mayo), savory, like the Sassy Scotty (made with ranch dressing, bacon, and cheddar cheese), or something fruity, like the Cranberry Kellie (made with dried cranberries and almonds), there's always a flavor to suit. My go-to is the Sassy Scotty on a croissant, and I like the broccoli salad as a side.

I recently read that they had a new Watermelon Iced Tea this summer, so that's the drink I ordered when I picked up a meal there the other day.

And it was the sweet, fruity splurge I was hoping for, so it's no wonder they call it "a sweet sip of summer in a glass." I hope to order this again soon before it leaves the summer menu, particularly since I'm closing in on having enough reward points to earn a free Chicken Salad Chick Tervis tumbler! If you're a fan of Chicken Salad Chick, too, what's your go-to flavor of their chicken salad?

Monday, August 1, 2022

Enjoying some new (old) stitchery!

I haven't cross-stitched since probably the nineties, and with 58-year-old eyes, I had assumed my cross-stitching days were behind me.

But then I came across a free pattern for this gorgeous Rose Sampler on Pinterest (see it here) and decided to give it a whirl. And thanks to some of the best 3.25-magnification readers that Dollar Tree sells, I am now spending my weekends happily stitching away!

Samplers have long intrigued me since there's so much women's history woven into them, literally and figuratively, and also because they contain alphabets, and I love me some alphabets. But I always thought the vast majority of the schoolgirl samplers came from New England, so I was flabbergasted to discover that not only was there an exhibit about Georgia girls' samplers back in 2015 (how did I miss that?), there was also an exhibit catalog available on Amazon,  Georgia's Girlhood Embroidery: Crowned with Glory and Immortality by Kathleen Staples, and I couldn't order it fast enough.

This sampler from six-year-old Letitia Malvina Mills of Savannah dates to 1826. Now I don't know about you, but I was not turning out work like this when I was six! (I read that "in her seventh year" means she was actually six.)

As I'm stitching, I naturally like to have a cup of tea at hand… 

And it dawned on me that the most appropriate teacup to use while stitching would be this Royal Albert Petit Point China teacup. The design is practically a chart in itself, and if I get tired of samplers, maybe I'll stitch it one day! Are any of you fans of cross-stitch samplers?