Friday, April 28, 2023

"Return to Pretty" by Caitlin Wilson

I must admit that this title, Return to Pretty, is what grabbed me when I first heard of this book. The book is by a young designer, Caitlin Wilson, and she's evidently part of that grandmillennial-style movement. An antique-seller friend of mine explained the term best: They're younger women who've just discovered the joys of decorating with vintage and traditional decor. Bring it on, I say!

Wilson's palette features lots of white and cream, pale blue, and a touch of pink, and it's a very soothing, peaceful palette. I've been savoring the photos in the book, and when I got to this one with some tea wares, I felt like I'd stepped into one of those lovely Victoria magazine spreads of the 1980s and 1990s.

But then, this photo at left seems very modern with its bright-pink palette, yet I love it too. Wilson writes, "Your home is meant to tell your unique story, and that story can't be told in an empty or meaningless space. Meaningful design incorporates your history and traditions. That's one reason why the grandmillennial revival went viral: we all desperately need that nod to our sweet grandmothers and the lost art of creating and seeing beauty all around us. Rooted in the warmth you felt at your grandmother's house, it's characteristically pretty and over-the-top feminine—truly cozy and one-of-a-kind." I may not be Wilson's target audience, but she's definitely a kindred spirit, and I'll bet many of you would enjoy this book too!

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Adagio's Rohini First Flush Darjeeling Tea


Adagio Teas offered to let me sample some of their new first flush Darjeeling tea, and being of sound mind and body, I of course agreed. Don't all tea lovers enjoy a good Darjeeling?

As I knew it likely would, this one even smelled fresh, and it's quite amazing to think that these leaves were plucked last month in India and have since been processed and made their way to Newnan, Georgia.

I steeped a teaspoon of the tea in an infuser basket to give the leaves plenty of room to expand.

And oh, this tea was simply divine! At first, I sensed some slight floral notes, reminiscent of gardenia, maybe, and then the taste deepened into something richer and darker, with almost sugary maple notes. I was intrigued to read the tea's description, which noted that, "This very early first bud plucking is called jethri kupi, which translates from Nepali to the honorable designation 'Eldest Daughter,' denoting the very first growth of the spring season." Since I'm an "eldest daughter" myself, I thought this was quite fitting. And I must confess that I liked this tea and enjoyed my multiple steepings so much that I've already ordered some more so that I don't run out too soon! If you think you might like it, too, go here to learn more.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Saturday's thrifting success!

I hadn't been thrifting in a while, so maybe all the good deals were just waiting for me to discover them on Saturday! In the first store I went in, I spied a vintage box that said it contained a punch set. Now, I've been wanting a vintage punch bowl set to make tea punch (I'm giving a shower soon), but I had several requirements for it. I wanted it to be smallish, not heavy cut glass or silver, and I really wanted it to look old. When I saw this set in the box marked $10, I couldn't open it fast enough.

I looked down into the box and saw that the punch bowl itself was perfect, with no chips or cracks.

So was the pedestal, which was protected by a special cardboard insert in the box.

And the 12 cups were indeed right there in the bottom of the box as well. Sold! Then I got to the counter to check out, and the clerk said, "That'll be $5.35." I must've looked dumbfounded. "It's on sale?" I asked, and she said yes. So … score!

Then at the next store, a Goodwill, I found an old German teapot in one of those boxy shapes for $2.09. Do you see that pretty ombre green shading on the lid and at the bottom? I got very interested in green tea wares for my St. Patrick's Day decor this year and wished I had more, so I know this little purchase will make me extra happy next spring!

The next store turned up all kinds of treasures, including an old-fashioned wooden magazine rack I will soon be spray painting ($2.97, so worth a try), and this dingy-looking teacup for 49 cents. I didn't know if it would clean up well, but for the price, it was worth a try too.

Now, I'm not normally wild about fruit plates, but I love grapes and roses, so I loved this one! And it was just $1, so I loved the price too.

Another odd purchase for me? A stained and crackled old pitcher, and the "flaws" were part of the charm. I looked at it and immediately saw a vase and a story. Can't you just picture someone using this because Mama or Grandma used to display flowers in it? (This is one of those pieces that is probably going to turn up in a future book, so if you happen to read my novels, you'll know where the inspiration came from.)

And voila! While there's one little spot at the back that just will not come off despite everything in my bag of tricks—bleach, toothpaste, a soft paste of baking soda and water—I still like the way this thin little Japanese teacup with violets on it turned out. And to have gotten all of these dishes for less than $10? Priceless!

Friday, April 21, 2023

Teatime surprises times two!

Last week, I got not one but *two* surprises in the mail from tea friends! First, Frances L. surprised me with this adorable tea towel! I've never seen this design or saying before, and I love it, especially since I'm overdue for an eye exam. (This will be a good reminder to make that appointment, ha!)

And then Sandra D. sent what quickly became my new favorite bookmark, just because it's so beautiful and she personally stitched it! I do love surprises, and when they come from thoughtful tea-loving friends, they're absolutely the best surprises of all!

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Test-driving a new tea infuser spoon

When I was shopping at the Funky Shack Mercantile in Fayetteville a few weeks ago, I found an infuser spoon that I decided to buy for two reasons: 1) It was gold, and the ones I've always used are silver. 2) The bowl was so large that I thought it might give the loose tea leaves more room to expand.

The bowl part of the spoon is about 2 inches in diameter.

I filled it probably less than halfway full of tea leaves, and yes, I snuck a peek inside and saw that the expanded tea leaves still had lots of wiggle room.

A small bit of debris escaped into the cup, but nothing I couldn't handle. So I'm pretty pleased with the dandy new tea infuser spoon!

Monday, April 17, 2023

Preparing for the Coronation

A friend at church yesterday asked if I had decorated for the Coronation yet, and to be honest, it hadn't occurred to me to do so, but then I realized I could probably pull a few things together. And so while I'm not doing a "shelfie" this month, I did decide to update my tea trolley!

My Coronation Tea from Harney & Sons has arrived, but I haven't sampled it yet. I may try to hold off until Coronation Day.

Most of my goodies are, of course, from the last coronation 70 (!) years ago, including this plate …

And this postcard.

And this teacup, a gift from a dear friend who follows the Royals as much as I do.

She also gave me this little Irish Guard doll, which seemed appropriate to use.

I included the teacup I got as a souvenir when I visited Windsor Castle.

And I thought this little dish was a Coronation piece but later realized it was from the Queen's Silver Jubilee, though I decided it can stay. I would really like a "Charles" teacup and saucer to celebrate the Coronation, but the one I want would be about $125 with shipping from England, and while my husband seemed to think that wasn't too bad, I'm holding out for a better deal (of course). Meanwhile, I've been busy reading about preparations for the big event, including who's invited and who's not, who's attending and who's not, and I must admit I'll be eagerly watching on May 6. Will you?

Friday, April 14, 2023

For the love of roses (and tea)

I was reading a magazine article this week that claimed that growing roses is "trendy" again. Really? I guess I wasn't aware that roses weren't always trending. All I know is that I have adored roses from the moment I knew what they were, and I always will. And I make no apologies for succumbing to the lure of that well-targeted Facebook ad I saw last week for this new tea steeper cup from Tea Forté. (But I bought mine on Amazon because it was cheaper. I guess you can say I like a cheaper steeper.)

I've had some of these steeper cups before and enjoyed using them.

But c'mon, isn't this design absolutely gorgeous? I saw on the package that it was "curated with the New York Botanical Garden." Well-done, folks!

And when you're finished steeping your tea, the stainless steel basket can rest on that pretty pink lid. It was just the splurge to celebrate springtime… and those "trendy" roses!

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Organizing all those tea bags!


Over the years, I have had many of those pretty wooden tea bag chests for organizing tea bags, but they all took up too much space in the kitchen, so they eventually got passed along. But after finding so many new Twinings blends in tea bag form over recent months, I realized my plastic bin with tea bags going this way and that just wasn't cutting it. So when I saw this tea box at T.J. Maxx over the weekend, I grabbed it.

I do seem partial to Twinings these days, don't I?

I hoped there wouldn't be an issue with the lid fitting once all the tea bags were inside, and I'm happy to report it worked beautifully!

I'm also happy to report that this handy organizer box was just $6.99! Now if only they had a box I could shove my entire office into to get it organized …

Monday, April 10, 2023

Sightseeing … close to home!

I don't often have reason to write about it much on this blog, but we are a real TV and film mecca in my area of Georgia. My county alone gave the world gems like Driving Miss Daisy and Fried Green Tomatoes, and loads of zombie lovers came to town when The Walking Dead became a hit. In more recent years, Trilith Studios in neighboring Fayette County saw films including Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Black Panther, and Avengers: Infinity War. A live-work-play community called Trilith has been built there as well, and that's where Alex and I spent a recent Saturday afternoon. It was fun to see all the homes and shops, and I was delighted to find teas for sale at The Funky Shack!

The one I got was Edith Grey from Big Heart Tea Co. I'd never heard of Big Heart Tea before. Have you? It was a lightly rose-flavored Earl Grey tea, and I loved it! 

Alex and I are both big stationery fans, so we enjoyed checking out Archer Paper Goods, home of fine pencils and pens and notebooks, and we came home with quite a few new goodies.

I thought this rhinoceros statue was quite interesting!

And so was this flowery mural.

Lots of pretty flowers were blooming, and we had a perfectly lovely afternoon just twenty minutes from home.

If you're a movie lover and see Trilith Studios or the Town at Trilith mentioned…

… perhaps you'll remember that it's located right here in the Hollywood of the South, my home state of Georgia! (And don't you love those doors on one of the gorgeous Trilith homes!)

Friday, April 7, 2023

Happy Easter!


On this Good Friday, I just wanted to wish you all a very Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Coronation Tea from Harney & Sons

Okay, it's not here yet. I merely ordered it the minute it went on sale on Monday, but … I have a feeling some of you would like to order this Darjeeling Coronation Tea, too, and I wouldn't be surprised if it sells out (or is on backorder) before May 6. 

Normally, I would hesitate to even mention a tea I haven't yet tried, but this is Harney & Sons, after all, and they've never put a foot wrong, as the Brits say.

Fortnum & Mason and other UK vendors have coronation blends as well, but the shipping makes ordering them cost prohibitive (and Harney's shipping is free). Are you planning to watch King Charles's coronation? I sure am!

Monday, April 3, 2023

Tea at a countryside tearoom!

Last week, I had the great pleasure of attending one of the most delightful—and exclusive!—tearooms that I've ever been to! I've known Susan, a retired science teacher, for years now, and we go to church together. She'd mentioned that she sometimes hosts teatimes for friends at a little place out in the country that was once her husband's family home. I began to hear about this place from friends at church, and Susan even asked me to join them, but my schedule never worked out to visit until last Wednesday, and I was so happy to be able to join her and her Sunday School class for tea! Every room in the home is now a dining room, and she has decorated with the items she used to have for sale at antique stores.

All the ladies brought a treat to share, and when I got there, women were busily arranging the three-tiered servers.

These pretty "blossom cookies" were a big hit with everyone because they were tasty and pretty!

And we had a nice variety of finger sandwiches, including cucumber, pimiento, and chicken salad on both raisin bread and marbled rye.

A classic cucumber sandwich will probably always be my favorite. Susan had a huge selection of loose teas as well as tea bags for us to choose from, and I opted for some caramel-flavored tea from Republic of Tea, which I enjoy and hadn't had in a while. We also had cheese straws, several different types of cookies, and dessert bars. Somehow, this lovely teatime managed to be both casual and elegant!

Susan was the perfect hostess, making sure every table had plenty of all the treats.

I so enjoyed seeing all of her vintage linens and collectibles.

The weather was sunny and warm, and it was such a treat to drive out into the countryside and discover a private little tearoom.

Don't you wish you had such a place in your family? I sure do!