Friday, March 31, 2023

A very special new tea mug

On the Thursday mornings when I'm not swamped with work deadlines, you can usually find me at First Baptist Church here in Newnan, participating in a great Bible study with a wonderful bunch of women who are "real" and enjoy sharing life's ups and downs while learning about the Bible together. And when I showed up to class yesterday, my friend Donna pointed at a nice big group of mugs she had made *for the entire class* and told me to go select one!

I wish I'd thought to take a photo of all of them, because she had different sayings and verses on the mugs, which I believe included blue and yellow ones, too, but the pink ombre one was calling my name and will serve as a good reminder to "pray without ceasing." And for those of you who are crafters, she made these with her Cricut machine. I don't own one (although goodness knows I've been tempted), but I thought those were strictly for making vinyl to go on things. I had no idea you could make mugs with a Cricut!

Several cups of Lady Grey tea were enjoyed in the new mug last night, and I honestly do believe that tea tastes better in a new mug or cup. Don't you? Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

The little tea filter that couldn't …

So I've made a couple of visits now to our new Publix. It's probably a sign of middle age when you get excited about a grocery store opening, but there it is. So on a recent visit, I was surprised and delighted to discover a package of 100 individual tea filters for just $2.99, and by a vendor I'd not heard of before!

Fill 'n Brew, it said.

But … but … but. If you fill these little guys, you're gonna be picking up tea leaves! See this opening? That's it. There's no way to close these tea bags. They don't fold over upon themselves like some do, and there's no extra-long filter to hang over the side of a cup. My rowdy little tea leaves were soon plotting their escape, and I ended up just hanging the (wet and messy) tea bag over the rim of the cup and letting some liquid dribble down the side while my tea steeped, which was not exactly what I'd hoped for. I must have bought a dozen different types of tea filter over the years, but my goodness, this is the first batch I've ever bought that aren't designed to close! Who knew such a thing existed? (I do now, alas.)

Monday, March 27, 2023

Some teapot jewelry (and a jewelry designer!) that I just love

Two years ago, I was at a book signing in downtown Newnan when a beautiful young woman wearing a gorgeous rhinestone necklace stopped by the table. I asked to take a photo of her necklace, and I learned she was a Ukrainian woman now living and working here in the US, and she is also a jewelry designer! I explained that I write cozy mysteries about a jewelry designer, and before you know it, a mutual friend and I were having tea at the home of Yana and Yegor, and we've been friends ever since. So when she asked if I would help her write a few words of verbiage for an upcoming exhibit of her work as part of an art display titled “Ukraine in Bloom,” I was happy to help. When I got to the event, I wasn’t the only one wearing a "Yana original," as I was wearing a pearly dragonfly pendant-and-earrings set of hers I’d bought at a pop-up shop last year.

It was so fun to see her and Yegor again. Are they not the cutest couple!

I spent some time admiring her work, and before I left, Yana said she had “a little something” for me. The “little something” was this sparkling teapot necklace she'd made for me, with a little "joy" and "love" on the side!

Fashioned on a lush black velvet ribbon, the necklace was tucked inside this beautiful tin that says “Earl Grey Tea” on it! I know that I will treasure both of these items forever.

Here are some of Yana’s jewelry creations on display at the Peachtree City Library.

Her friend Mia was also displaying her artwork, including lots of sunflowers (often used as a symbol of Ukraine), and sales of the art will benefit a family back in Ukraine that has been unable to leave their home near the Russian border.

Last Sunday when getting ready for church, I made sure to choose a dress and other jewelry that would coordinate with my latest (and most favorite) "Yana original." (And I believe this is the only selfie I've ever shared here. I'm much more comfortable sharing shelfies than selfies!) If you like dreamy, romantic jewelry as well, you can see more of Yana's creations at

Friday, March 24, 2023

The puzzle winner is …

 Sandra! I've just sent her an email, so this puzzle will be headed her way soon!

"Afternoon Tea in the Park" … circa 1906

The Library of Congress website seems to have added a lot more tea images since I last pored over them. This one, a stereographic image from 1906, is titled "Afternoon Tea in the Park, Kensington Gardens, London, England."

Here's a close-up of the image. It's kind of hard to tell, but I think maybe that's a floral design on those umbrellas. Or do you think it's lace? At any rate, I'm impressed by the fancy dress and by the lengths they went to for "tea in the park" that day. And wouldn't you love to know what was on the menu!

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

In search of an 'Iced Tea' dahlia!

Every spring, it seems, I get a bee in my bonnet to go looking for plants with “tea” in the name. I’d been reading a new book that mentioned that dahlias are not that hard to grow, so I told myself, “Self, let’s go find a dahlia with tea in the title!” And before I knew it, I was chasing down an “Ice (or Iced) Tea” dahlia tuber. Now Swan Island Dahlias is apparently the granddaddy of dahlia purveyors, with a beautiful website, and that’s where I first saw the image of this dahlia. Its gorgeous ombre coloring reminds me of my "grombre" hair when I was growing out the gray a few years back, a topic dear to my heart since the #grombre movement (seriously! it’s a thing!) is a topic in my next cozy mystery. So this ombre dahlia was one I had to have, only … "Sold out! Out of stock!" the website said.

Do you know where I found this dahlia, though? Etsy! Would you have thought to look on Etsy for plants? Only a random Google search led me there. My two dahlia tubers have arrived, and they're the sort of things only a mother could love, but I'll be doing my best to nurture them and keep them alive!

And, of course, if you spot any plants with “tea” in the title while you’re at the garden centers this spring, I would sure love to hear about them!

Monday, March 20, 2023

Don't be puzzled by this giveaway!

Even if you've bounced around from winter to spring like we've been doing here in Georgia lately, springtime officially arrives this week. Depending on whose timeline you use, it arrives today, tomorrow, or Wednesday, and since March 21 is Alex's birthday, that's our chosen date for the beginning of spring each year. So to celebrate the arrival of spring, I'm giving away this puzzle I spotted at Barnes & Noble this week titled Japanese Tea Garden!

The cheerful spring colors caught my eye, and of course the pagodas always make me think of Blue Willow tea wares.

The puzzle has just 300 pieces, so hopefully, it won't be too taxing for the winner to complete! If you'd like to win, just leave an "Enter Me" comment to this post sometime between now and 7 a.m. EST time on Friday, March 24, making sure I have a way to contact you if you're the winner, and you'll be entered to win. (US only, please.) If you're one of those who has difficulty leaving a comment via Blogger, please feel free to enter via this post on the Tea With Friends Facebook page here. Good luck!

Friday, March 17, 2023

A St. Patrick's Day "shelfie"

I'm probably the last to learn this, but apparently, the new word for pictures of home decor shelf displays is "shelfie" (sort of like "selfie"), and today, I'm sharing some "shelfies" from my St. Paddy's day display in the kitchen!

Having rearranged this poor little cabinet three months in a row now, I have to be honest and tell you it is way too much trouble to pack up china once a month, fun though it may be to rearrange things, so this is the last shelfie you'll see here for a while. One of the only new things I bought for it was this little shamrock-shaped ceramic planter from Kroger, which I think looks rather vintage! (Say a prayer for the plant inside.)

Still, when I read somewhere to "shop your home" for decor, I remember thinking, well, I just don't have very many green things to "shop" from. But then I looked around and remembered a few teapots with green in them, an adorable carnation-filled "egg" from my tea friend Michele years ago that had pretty green leaves, some Depression glass sherbets, a Jadeite cake plate I got on clearance after Christmas, a green butter pat I picked up at an estate sale last year … and it turned out I did have a few green things!

I love to smell this basil plant when I'm near it, although I wish the weather would stay warm so I can get this bit of green in the ground!

And one of my favorite green pieces is this chubby Sadler teapot I found in a junk shop last year. Lord willing, the slow cooker will cooperate today, and by this evening, Alex and I will be enjoying our annual corned-beef-and-cabbage meal. Oh, and I plan to have some Irish Breakfast Tea too! However you spend the day, I hope your St. Patrick's Day is a lovely one!

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

A swanky new glass

As I was packing up all of my red decor from Valentine's Day/Month, I found the Swanky Swig I acquired earlier this year and realized I'd been meaning to ask you all an important question! I've *known* about Swanky Swigs for years but had never seen one in the wild (at an antique mall or thrift store). When I came across this one at a local antique mall for just a few dollars and it had a teakettle on it, I had to have it. Turns out, this one is named the Bustlin' Betsy.

I got home and looked up this article about Swanky Swigs and read, "Most Americans have heard the term Swanky Swigs and typically apply it to all vintage, decorated tumblers." Yes? Do you think it's true that "most" Americans know the term? Do you?

These small (3-3/4-inches tall) vintage glasses used to hold Kraft cheese spread, and I think the designs are just charming. This is the other side of the glass.

And I do believe there's a teacup pictured! So had you heard of Swanky Swigs? I'd love to know!

Monday, March 13, 2023

The sharing of the green

I guess I had St. Patrick's Day on the brain when I was out antiquing the other day, because I spotted several new green things that wouldn't normally have been on my shopping radar.

My favorite find of the day was this sugar and creamer set with the shamrocks. I have only one shamrock teapot and one shamrock teacup, so it was lovely to find this set for just $12.

The pieces are marked Royal Tara Fine Bone China, Made in Galway, Republic of Ireland. I don't believe I have any other tea wares from Ireland.

I also found a chintzy (but cute) little plastic shamrock pin and an old metal cookie cutter in the shape of a four-leaf clover. It's okay with me to mix the two shapes, but the three leaves on the shamrock are said to represent the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, so I like it best!

Other fun finds at this particular mall: some small footed sherbet dishes (maybe?) that I spotted more than a month ago and forgot to pick up on my way out. I didn't want to carry them around with me and just knew I would remember to go back for them, but alas, I didn't. Since they were only $2 each, I just knew someone would have grabbed those, and I was quite happy when I returned and they were still there. These are great for serving chicken salad or fruit at a tea party.

The upturned base/foot/pedestal (I'm not sure what to call it) is so wide that I'm wondering whether the pieces had some particular use, like maybe being paired with a saucer or something. I even looked up the photo with Google Lens, yet I never saw a similar dish with this wide of a base. If you happen to have any ideas about this design, I'd love to hear them!

Friday, March 10, 2023

Bigelow's new Cold Water Infusions

I realize that some of my fellow tea lovers across America have been experiencing ice and snow, but here in Georgia, it's already flip-flops-and-T-shirt weather. (Although I hear it's going to return to winter by the weekend.) Still, the warm weather made me pick up this Bigelow Peach Lemonade Acai Cold Water Infusion at the new Publix that opened near me on Wednesday, the fifth one in my county!

While "Bigelow" means "tea" to me, this cold water infusion contains no tea but rather "chamomile, rosehips, hibiscus, licorice root, natural peach and lemon flavors with other natural flavors (soy lecithin), lemongrass, lemon peel, citric acid, peach pieces, (and) acai juice granules," according to the package.

I've actually been cold-brewing tea for years now, but it's nice to see the technique get the stamp of approval from a company like Bigelow, and the light peach taste of this infusion was so refreshing. They had several other flavors as well, so I'll be adding them to my must-try list!

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

The joy of a new tea shirt!

Last year, I donated or tossed a bunch of old T-shirts, so when warm temperatures arrived in February this year, I wasn't exactly well-stocked with new T-shirts to wear on my afternoon walks. I decided to browse the offerings when I was in Walmart over the weekend, and I was quite pleased with a cute design I found there for just $14.95!

The large design is on the back of the shirt, and this small design is on the front.

Interestingly, it was only after I'd worn the shirt for the first time that I realized there was a Bible verse reference on the back, Ephesians 2:8. The full verse says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." I believe with all my heart that salvation is a gift from God (the absolute best gift!), so I was happy to be wearing that verse, although, to be honest, anyone close enough to read it would no doubt be invading my personal space, which probably wouldn't involve me exhibiting a lot of grace—ha!

Do you ever wear T-shirts? If so, do they have graphics on them or not? I wear both kinds, and other than T-shirts I've received when volunteering with various groups, I've probably had more tea-themed T-shirts over the years than any others!

Monday, March 6, 2023

There are teacups … and then there is THIS cup!


Saturday was a gorgeous day, and Alex I drove over to Anniston, Alabama, to visit his sister and brother-in-law. We ate lunch at a Mexican restaurant that happened to be right next door to an antique mall that my mom and I used to visit, so after Alex and I said goodbye to them, we stopped by for a little shopping. I bought a robin’s-egg-blue enamelware pan that may make an appearance on here later this spring, but my greatest find was the world’s biggest vintage teacup!

I’ve seen oversized teacups before, but never one this large that was obviously old. Here it is next to a normal bone china teacup for comparison. So how large was it?

Well, the set measures about 4-1/2 inches tall.

And the saucer is 7-1/4 inches in diameter.

Just for fun, I got out a measuring cup to see how much liquid this Big Gulp of a teacup would hold, and the answer is … 22 ounces! I could barely pick it up. I asked Alex to try, and he agreed with me that there’s no way you could fill this with liquid and comfortably drink from it. So what was it designed to hold? Cheerios? Marshmallows? Popcorn? I can’t imagine. I’ve read that some “breakfast cups” were this large to accommodate large servings of coffee, but again, I don’t see how you could hold this one. There's lots of crackling, so it's probably a good thing I don't actually intend to drink out of this.

The cup is unmarked. The saucer is stamped Dresden China. As soon as I saw this set, I knew I wanted it, but I thought yeah, that’s probably gonna be out of my price range. When I saw $5 on the sticker, I couldn’t get to the register fast enough.

And here’s what I’m using it for: a planter!