Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Peach Black Tea from True Honey Teas

When I attended my friend Nancy's Open House at Carriage House Country Antiques and Gifts a few weeks ago, I was delighted to discover some new teas, including these single-serve tea bags from True Honey Teas.

I got the Peach Black Tea, and I hope you can tell from the huge, thick tea bag that there's something very different about this tea. It includes granules of 100% natural honey right there in the tea bag!

I don't usually sweeten my tea, but this honey-sweetened tea was every bit as rich and delicious as it sounds! And I did get several steepings out of one tea bag, which was a nice bonus! You can learn more about these teas here.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Readying for December with Christmas teacups

Over the weekend, I started pulling out our Christmas decorations and Christmas tea wares, including some of my Christmas teacups. I always like the look of a stack of teacups, so I may try to figure out a way to include a stack or two in the decor this year.

My newest one came from an estate sale over the summer. I believe the woman who painted this was in her eighties or nineties, an avid golfer and china painter. I love the bows on the cup and saucer.

This pattern is "Noel" by Princess Anne Fine Bone China. Around the holidays, I always try to think about those who've lost loved ones during the past year and may be hurting, and curiously enough (or maybe not), I found myself thinking about Princess Anne and her family. I imagine Christmas will be very different for the royal family this year.

This Duchess (no relation to the royals) cup and saucer is titled simply "Winter," and I love it because it has a softer color palette along with the holly and berries and pine cones.

Finally, one of my more recent Christmas teacup purchases is a Gracie cup and saucer I found at T.J. Maxx a few years ago. I think the pattern is pretty, but mainly I love that the cup is oversized, and since I drink lots more tea in colder months, I like this size a lot.

I enjoy collecting random patterns of Christmas teacups rather than complete sets of dishes, though I do have a dessert service for four in the Spode Christmas Tree pattern as well as a few Christmas snack sets. Do you all have Christmas china/dishes? If so, what pattern(s) do you collect? I'd love to know!


Friday, November 25, 2022

The winner of the Christmas throw is …

 Loralie M.! Congrats, and I'll get this headed your way ASAP!

Thanksgiving traditions

Family traditions … I love them! One of my favorite traditions is presenting Christmas ornaments to the children in our family at Thanksgiving, including our three nieces and nephew, who were all at my sister's house yesterday. Since one of them got married this year and one will be getting married the week before Christmas, I was extra happy to see them there!

The newlywed and the bride-to-be got "Our First Christmas" ornaments since they will both be married by Christmas.

The youngest niece started a very successful pet-sitting and dog-breeding business this year, so in honor of that, I saw this canine Christmas tree ornie and knew that was the one for her. Nephew Matthew still likes Spider-Man, so his was an easy selection too.

We eat the traditional foods of turkey and dressing, green bean casserole, broccoli casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potato casserole, mac and cheese, cranberry sauce, olives, and my oldest niece has added seven-layer salad and macaroni salad to the menu, which was great! 

Daddy made a strawberry cake, and I made the chocolate chip pies that the girls always request. (See those homemade rolls, the few that were left? They were contributed by the future bride's future father-in-law and were some of the best rolls I've ever had!)

Aunt Jane was recently hospitalized following a bad fall, so we were all very happy to have her home for Thanksgiving.

And although I love all of our traditions, one I like best is enjoying my sister's fabulous sweet tea. I sure hope your Thanksgiving was as yummy as ours was!

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

On Cranberries and Clipper Ships

This is the week where I'll eat cranberry sauce for the first time this holiday season, and a vintage tea towel I bought the other day had me delving into a unique connection between tea and cranberries … perhaps.

This tea towel came from my friend Nancy's delightful Carriage House Antiques and Gifts in Senoia, where I always attend the holiday open house in early November. This piece caught my eye since it featured cranberries and seemed perfect for Thanksgiving decor.

It says cranberries were "first cultivated in Cape Cod, 1816," and indeed, it appears that was the year that Captain Henry Hall, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, became the first person to be successful at cultivating cranberries in the US (bless him!).

But my goodness, were cranberries really served aboard clipper ships, those speedy ships that became known for quickly delivering tea from China? According to an article on the site, "During the days of the clipper ships, captains kept barrels of cranberries on board to prevent scurvy." Who knew?

And I read in several places that yes, New Englanders in 1677 sent ten bushels of cranberries back home to King Charles as a diplomatic gesture. How delightful that a simple tea towel had me exploring cranberry history!

I love cranberries and homemade cranberry sauce, but my family likes the canned variety, so Lord willing, that's what we'll be having tomorrow. I did, however, buy two bags of fresh cranberries at the store this week so I can experiment with some recipes in these two vintage recipe booklets I've found over the past year. However you like your cranberries (assuming that you do!), I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2022

The Thanksgiving Tea Trolley

Although I collect vintage Christmas goodies all year long, I just can’t bring myself to decorate with them until after Thanksgiving. Over the weekend, I realized I hadn’t updated the tea trolley in a while, so I pulled out my “ease into the season” Christmas decor, this vintage white ceramic tree, which will feature only fall-toned bulbs until Friday at the earliest. I am so thankful for the friend who sold this to me for a great price last year!

As I was searching for other earth-toned pieces, I came across this beautiful vintage tea trivet that was among a whole stack of them my friend Ruth gave me last year. Ruth said she wanted me to have them one day, and she no longer saw any sense in my waiting until after she died to have them, so she asked me to come over and get them. She passed away in September at 83 (which somehow seemed *young* for Ruth), and I am so grateful not only for the many gifts she gave me over the years but also—and mainly—for her incredible friendship. (I’m still getting used to the idea of Ruth being in Heaven. Is she just sitting at the feet of Jesus? Has she resumed her lifelong loves of gardening and sewing? Is she catching up with family? As the song says, I can only imagine …)

“Always be thankful.” This simple little plaque from Dollar Tree (or “Dollar and a Quarter Tree," as a witty friend now calls it) caught my eye a few weeks ago. In my spiritual life, I can tell you that I’ve worked at becoming more thankful over the years, and it has sure made a difference in how I view life. (I hope I don’t whine and moan as much as I used to! I have much to be thankful for.)

This small teacup, with a pattern titled “Tea Drinker,” is cracked, but I bought it anyway on a trip to the beach with Alex years ago. There was a time I never would have bought a piece that wasn’t in absolutely perfect condition, but I’m learning to, if not embrace, at least accept the cracks in life!

This little German dish with roses? The sticker on the back tells me I paid 50 cents for it at the Salvation Army. And to think, there was a time when I didn’t care to visit thrift stores. Now, I prefer them and truly appreciate the joy of thrifting as well as my thrifted finds.

So that’s my Thanksgiving Tea Trolley roundup, and perhaps it will inspire you to think about some of the things that you’re thankful for this week!

Friday, November 18, 2022

More festive fabrics with teacups and Santa mugs

I ran by the Joann store last week and decided to buzz by the fabric aisle to see if they had any Christmas fabric with a vintage look. They did, and I found a few other fun fabrics as well!

My favorite was this cheerful fabric with all the Santa mugs and Christmas cookies. Delightful!

And I know that eventually, I'll want to have a pastel-themed Christmas again one day, and when that day rolls around, this yardage will come in handy. I'm thinking pillows or napkins, because the quilters I know don't recommend Joann's fabric for quilts or heirloom-type projects, but if the fabric is cute enough, I will find a use for it somewhere, and I'm choosing to see these cute pink cups and aqua mugs as vessels for tea latté!

This one will become a table topper for the next time I do a book signing for The Vintage Christmas Cookbook. I've been looking for a fabric that conveys the flavor of that book, and I think this one will do the trick. So if you have any quick sewing projects and need some festive $4.99-a-yard fabric this Christmas, you might want to check out the Joann offerings for yourself!

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

November Giveaway: A Rae Dunn "Tea Mug" Plush Throw!

For years now, I have been searching for a plush throw with teacups on it. I just knew I would find one someday, and when I did, I vowed, I would get one for a giveaway too. Well, I’ve come festively close with this “tea mug” blanket I found at T. J. Maxx over the weekend! I just love these cozy throws and already have several, and when cold weather hits, I could always use one more. Perhaps you can too?

This throw is designed by Rae Dunn, the California artist whose whimsical font is instantly recognizable on all sorts of wares these days.

The mugs on the throw say things like Blessed, Cozy, and Joy, (as well as Bah Humbug if you’re having that sort of day), and curling up under this throw this Christmas season sounds like a grand idea to me!

If you’d like to be entered to win this throw, just leave an “Enter Me” to this post between now and 7 a.m. on Black Friday, November 25, and you’ll be entered to win. You are welcome to enter here or on the Tea With Friends Facebook page (US only, please.) My plan is to mail this throw in time for the winner to have it by December. Good luck!

Monday, November 14, 2022

Adagio's 24 Days of Tea Advent Calendar

When Adagio Teas asked if I wanted to sample this year’s tea advent calendar, I immediately said yes, as I’ve enjoyed having one before and knew it would be a fun treat once again! But I did feel compelled to try a couple of samples before recommending it, and the ones I tried were wonderful!

This would no doubt make a great gift, but I have to tell you that I recommend buying one for yourself, as every woman I know could use a nice, relaxing treat each day to make it through the busyness of the Christmas season!

A normal customer would try the teas sequentially, but you all know I’m not normal, so I chose #3 (number of the trinity, always a good choice) and #22, since the year is 2022.

Behind door number three was this delightful Cranberry Nut Muffin Green Tea. As soon as I opened the packet, I inhaled and said, "Aah." 

It smells like a gift shop at Christmas with all the fruity/chocolatey/nutty scents, and when I read the ingredients, I realized I was spot-on, as this tea contains green tea, apple pieces, cocoa nibs, cranberries, raspberry leaves, orange, cranberry flavor, red cornflowers, pecan flavor, and vanilla flavor. Yum!

My next selection was the tea titled simply Christmas. This is a black tea that contains cinnamon, orange, natural spice flavor, cardamom, cloves, ginger, natural ginger flavor, and natural cinnamon flavor.

Though the green tea was my favorite, I liked this tea, too, as it tasted like many of the Christmas spice teas I have enjoyed over the years. This tea advent calendar is such a fun way to sample some new teas between now and Christmas, and if you're interested in ordering one for yourself, go here. By the way, the sample I got contained loose tea, which I prefer, but you can also order it with tea bags!

COMING WEDNESDAY: A unique giveaway and just in time for the holidays! Please do not miss it!

Friday, November 11, 2022

In honor of Veterans Day

In honor of Veterans Day today, I wanted to see if I could find an appropriate historic tea photo on the Library of Congress website, and I came across this one from 1918. It shows "Mrs. W.E. Corey serving tea in the garden of her home, the Chateau de Villegenis, which she lent to the American Red Cross as a home for convalescent American officers." (Mrs. Corey was the second wife of William Ellis Corey, president of U.S. Steel.)

To any of you readers who have served in our armed forces, I thank you for your service!

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Cream puff mix was once a thing. Who knew?

My friend Nancy, who knows I’m looking for old Valentine’s Day recipes, alerted me to a vintage book with lots of old holiday recipes, so naturally, I hopped on eBay and got myself a copy of Betty Crocker’s Party Book. This book was actually printed in 1960, and this is the facsimile version from 2009, which is just so fun to read.

I always look for teatime in any cookbook I come across, and this page features a Mother's Day tea. Most of the foods looked fairly traditional, but I was puzzled about the identity of that purple floral dish on the cake stand at the center of the photo. Can you tell what it is? I couldn't, so I had to read the info: "Top a white glass cake stand with bunches of violets tied with pink net … centered with [a] pink rose and violet corsage." Here's a better idea: Don't try this at home. Some decorating ideas simply don't age well!

It's fun, though, to read the vintage recipes and text, like this comment that "antiques lend charm" to our decorating. Yes they do!

And last but not least, have you ever made cream puffs? I have not. I keep meaning to learn to make them, but I was truly surprised to learn that Betty Crocker at one time made Cream Puff Mix! Now where is that stuff when I need it? If you're curious about what cream puff mix used to look like (and I was), you'll find an old ad for this cream puff mix on Pinterest here!

Monday, November 7, 2022

A tale of tarnish and teatime

On Friday and Saturday, I visited several local antique stores to get a head start on shopping for vintage Christmas collectibles. With the renewed interest in vintage Christmas, it's getting harder to find the old stuff, so I like to look early, and I hit the jackpot at one store, leaving with three big bags of wonderful old finds that I can't wait to decorate with. Not surprisingly, I found a few tea things, too, and one thing I took a risk on was this tarnished snowman tea tray. It's obviously not vintage, but it doesn't look quite new either. It was $18, and I started to leave it, because what if it couldn't be cleaned up? But then I thought of all the times I've regretted *not* getting something and realized I would probably regret leaving this behind.

And this is just the result of my first quick polishing, but I'd say Mr. Snowman Tea Tray is going to clean up just fine! I was so pleased, because I used these tiered tea trays for more than just teatime. I have one in my bedroom to hold jewelry (most of my jewelry isn't in the jewelry box simply because I like to see it so I can remember to wear it). For Christmas and other holidays, I use tea trays to display ornaments, small teacups, or other decor. And if I'm going to a Christmas potluck (and I have three on the schedule so far), it's fun to take some treats on a tea tray simply to have an offering that's a different height than all the others. So … yay for a new tea tray!

Unrelated to Christmas, this pink teacup was calling my name. My inner girly girl loves things with bows in the design, and I've also been collecting frilly-looking vintage goodies to feature in my vintage valentine book whenever I get around to writing it (maybe by Valentine's Day of 2024). This looks like a good Valentine's Day teacup, don't you think?

And I posed this new figurine here just so you can see the small size, but I still can't believe my eyes were sweeping past some old car figurines and spotted this Lipton "omnibus," as it says in the fine print.

It just seemed like something that might be fun to use in a teatime display one day, and the price was right. Now that all of that early-bird-shopping stuff is out of the way, I'm ready to decorate for Thanksgiving!