Friday, June 30, 2023

Dear Dior …

Dear Dior,

The new issue of Town & Country has arrived, and I wanted to thank you for making the magazine such a pleasure to read. It had some actress on the cover, but alas, I've lost all interest in Hollywood. While this young lady is probably a lovely person, I haven't cared about a celebrity since the great Elizabeth Taylor passed away. I was, however, quite intrigued to read the article about your new Rouge Premier Lipstick in Shade #8 ($540, including one refill). Why, I asked myself, would the good people of Dior be selling a lipstick for $540? (Really, with the refill that's included, I suppose one could argue that it's only $270, but let's not split hairs.)

I read every word of this fascinating article, and I have to tell you that I absolutely love knowing that you have housed your lipstick in "a ceramic cylinder handcrafted by 160-year-old French porcelain house Maison Bernardaud." I adore porcelain! I also adored this line: "The lipstick looks like velvet in the tube and feels like satin on the lips." Ahhh. What woman doesn't want that! I was also impressed to learn that the lipstick is "infused with hibiscus extract and 24K gold." Brilliant! (Literally, maybe?) Now I'm starting to see the justification for the price tag. But then I read this: "It smells faintly of rooibos tea and bergamot." Are you pulling my leg? A lipstick that smells like rooibos tea and the citrus that gives my beloved Earl Grey tea its legendary taste? Why, this sounds divine!

It was even fun to read that the shape of the bullet (I did not know that the business end of a lipstick is called a "bullet") "resembles a pearl drop earring." By golly, it does! Of course, after I read that there are "only a few thousand" of these ceramic cases "on the planet," I realized I've probably waited too late to get one, but I will wish you well with your sales and salute the lucky ladies who land one of these pretties. Besides, I have enough lip cosmetics at my house to get by. I'm pretty sure I have an old ribbed-gold case of Estée Lauder lip color circa 2006 somewhere in my bathroom cabinet, and I keep a tube of Lip Smackers (Fanta Strawberry flavor) in my purse at all times. So don't you worry about me. I'll be just fine.


Angela McRae

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Tea trolley with a patriotic flair

The tea trolley was in need of a seasonal update, and while I don't have a lot of red, white, and blue things for teatime, I pulled together a few pieces that I thought will work nicely for next week's celebration!

I'm so glad I bought this simple white ceramic teapot with a rosebud handle on it years ago. It works in all seasons and for all reasons.

And those safety-pin baskets I started collecting for Christmas and Valentine's Day will work for July 4 as well, I realized.

The blue plate I used features a scene from the Boston Tea Party, which is so important in our nation's history.

And the back stamp (which was printed in an unusually blurry fashion) had me pondering the fact that Wedgwood, a well-known British company, manufactured this Boston Tea Party commemorative plate for a department store in a country that rebelled against it. Now I'm on a quest for more blue and red teacups, and I keep hoping that one day, I'll find a teacup with an American flag on it. Wish me luck!


Monday, June 26, 2023

Gardens, gallivanting, and teacup plants

Friday, I took the day off work to enjoy a long-awaited day of gallivanting and catching up with my friend Deberah. She’s a Master Gardener, so I had no problem selling her on my idea of visiting some local nurseries and enjoying lunch somewhere. I didn’t remember to take a picture of us, but I did take lots of flower photos, and I thought you might enjoy seeing some of them!

Our first stop was Mill Pond Gardens in Brooks, which had lots of statuary and plenty of flowers, trees, and shrubs. I’ve decided that in addition to tea-themed plants, I should have some literary-themed plants, too, so when I spotted this pretty ruffled ‘Fairy Tale’ daylily, I had to have it!

This nursery also had lots of great succulents, and Deberah I both bought some. You know that giant vintage teacup I bought earlier in the spring? Well, the Walmart succulent I’d bought for that had gotten kind of “leggy,” and it wasn't attractive anymore. So when I saw these hens and chicks, I thought they might be a good fit for that teacup, and they were!

Clearly, I’m not the first to consider plopping succulents into a teacup, because they also had this mini teacup planter for sale.

After a great lunch at City Café in Fayetteville, we headed back to Newnan and visited Morgan’s Market, where we admired even more gorgeous plants, planters, and hanging baskets. My favorites were these huge patriotic arrangements with celosia.

The bees were certainly enjoying themselves too!

I was also fond of these child-sized table-and-chair sets. I don’t have any children in my family small enough to use them, but maybe one day I will!

And the 'Iced Tea' dahlia I shared last week has made me a real dahlia fan, so I was delighted when Deberah gifted me with some gorgeous dark-pink dahlias from Morgan's Market. It was such a fun day, and we decided to schedule a quarterly garden-gallivanting day from now on!

Friday, June 23, 2023

A hybrid tea towel from Hobby Lobby

When cute tea towels are on sale at Hobby Lobby, I can't seem to pass them up. At my local store, this tea towel was in a different area from the one I recently shared in a giveaway, so it's a wonder I didn't miss this one. It says "My cup runneth over," a Bible verse I just love, Psalm 23:5.

I don't have a black-and-white kitchen, but if a tea towel actually has something tea-ish on it, then I don't mind whether it matches or not.

And what I found interesting about this particular tea towel is that it is a hybrid towel, according to the hang tag, and has a flat side for drying glassware and a terry cloth side for drying dishes. I usually hang new tea towels on our oven door and don't actually *use* them until they get splattered with something like spaghetti sauce (it's inevitable), so I can't tell you whether this works or not, but it sure sounds like a good idea. And these $8.99 tea towels are half off right now, so if you're intrigued as well, you might want to visit your local Hobby Lobby to check them out!

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

The Iced Tea Dahlia blooms!

Back in March, I mentioned my quest for an Iced Tea dahlia. Swan Island Dahlias was sold out of them, but I found some tubers on Etsy and ordered them. And I'm happy to report that I now have my first bloom! This photo was made on my iPhone using that new technique where you hold down the image for a second and the background is omitted. Cool!

IRL (in real life), this dahlia is about three inches in diameter, and it seems pretty happy growing in a large pot on my deck. I have a second plant that isn't quite as far along, so I'm hopeful that it will perform as well as this one has.

I love to take close-ups of the interior of flowers. I marvel at God's design, and I'm thrilled that my Iced Tea dahlia has bloomed during National Iced Tea Month!

Monday, June 19, 2023

Father's Day 2023

I was so happy to enjoy another Father’s Day with Daddy yesterday, and after various branches of the family went to our various churches, we all gathered at my sister’s house for a delicious lunch. In addition to sweet tea (of course), she made a ham, dressing, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, sweet potato casserole, and deviled eggs.

All I was asked to add was rolls (King's Hawaiian Butter Rolls, which I purchased) and a dessert, and I chose to make a sheet-cake-style Hummingbird Cake. I used a recipe from Southern Living (it's here), and it was easy and delicious! (But without the dried pineapple rings on top. I didn't think those were necessary!)

I was glad to see everyone digging in as soon as we all had our lunch. And with bananas, pineapple, and pecans inside, any cake is bound to be delicious, and I was grateful for the good reviews!

And although our late mother didn’t particularly like to cook, Daddy, Rhonda, and I do, and Daddy (at age 84!) had mentioned needing new pots and pans, so that’s what Rhonda and I got him for Father’s Day this year. Here's to many more family meals to enjoy together!

Friday, June 16, 2023

The tea towel winner is …

Vernona! Congrats, and I've just sent her an email about how to get these headed her way!

Cold Brew Raspberry Black Tea from Celestial Seasonings

Cold-brewed tea is a favorite summertime sip for me, and when I saw some new cold-brew blends from Celestial Seasonings at the grocery store the other day, I had to try one and selected this Raspberry Black Tea.

And I'm happy to report that the flavor is terrific! After only five minutes in the fridge, a glass with one tea bag looks like this. The raspberry flavor shines through and makes this tea taste so refreshingly sweet, even without adding any sugar. Such a treat—and just in time for summer!

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Some tea mugs from Cave Spring

So my newest teacup is not actually a teacup. It's a tea mug. An enamelware tea mug, to be precise!

I love old enamelware, but it's sooo expensive! When I found this colorful vintage enamelware bowl at a thrift store for a few dollars last year, I was thrilled. And when I spotted this greenish-blue bowl at an antique store this year, also for a great price, even though this bowl was new, I was equally thrilled. So when I was out shopping on Saturday and spotted two mugs that I was pretty sure matched it, I grabbed them—and they do indeed match! My only beef with enamelware mugs is that the handles can get so hot, but these did not, so we're good. These are great mugs for sipping tea outdoors or anywhere that I want a spot of tea but don't want to risk breaking a china teacup.

Saturday's finds were in Cave Spring, Georgia, which Alex and I had decided on a whim to explore. The town's website didn't list anything much to do there, but it sure looks like someone would have mentioned that the town's arts-and-crafts fair was being held! The day was beautiful, and temperatures were mild for early June in Georgia, so we had a lovely time.

I always enjoy seeing what's sold at craft fairs, especially since a fall festival is central to the plot of my new cozy mystery coming out in the fall, and since my main characters are Alabama and Auburn fans, I imagine these signs would have caught their attention! (Is it weird that I think about shopping for my characters now? At least imaginary shopping saves me money!)

Craft fair food is always fun to see, like that at the Hillbilly Café, where you could get a quart of sweet tea for $5.

We ended up eating lunch at a great restaurant called Local Joe's, where I had a barbecue pimiento melt (never heard of such a combo) and Alex had a turkey BLT. We both thought our sandwiches were delicious. We were too stuffed to get some of the hand pies, but aren't they pretty? We did, however, take home some tasty fudge—peanut butter for him and chocolate-and-sea-salt-caramel for me. 

And as someone who also writes cozy mysteries about a woman who upcycles junk jewelry, can you imagine how delighted I was to spot this in one of the many antique shops? We had a great time in Cave Spring and hope to go exploring there again soon!

Monday, June 12, 2023

Cute Hobby Lobby tea towel giveaway!

Some sweet friends in Savannah were visiting their local Hobby Lobby last week when they came across these tea towels and sent me a photo to be sure I'd seen them. I had not! Naturally, I had to get a set for me and one to give away to one of you (they're half off right now, so yay!).

I've probably given away more tea towels than any other single item on this blog, but they're so easy to package, and best of all, I don't have to worry about them getting broken in the mail! So I'm offering this tea towel set to one lucky tea lover, and if you'd like to win it, just leave an "Enter me" to this post by Friday, June 16, at 7 a.m. EST, making sure I have a way to contact you if you're the winner, and you'll be entered to win. (And if you have trouble commenting via Blogger, as I hear sometimes happens, please feel free to email me—angelamcrae at charter dot net—or comment on the Tea With Friends Facebook page here so that I can enter your name myself). Good luck!

Friday, June 9, 2023

King of Pops Sweet Tea Lemonade popsicle

Do you ever arrive somewhere too early and then have to kill some time? On a recent weekday, I needed to visit a local shop but, unaware of their hours, arrived downtown about forty-five minutes before it opened. Should I go home and make another trip there the following week? No. So I waited. And while I waited, I decided to visit the local toffee shop, Let Them Eat Toffee, which sells some of  the yummiest toffee I’ve ever eaten, but on this day, I didn’t reach for the toffee. Not once I spotted these popsicles in the refrigerator case! 

These Sweet Tea Lemonade popsicles are by King of Pops, a success story in the Southern business world since they started with a used ice cream pushcart and now have franchises across the South. The popsicle tasted just like you'd think it would—like a delicious but frozen Arnold Palmer drink—and I'm happy to have access to these yummy popsicles. Are any of you familiar with King of Pops?

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Some Georgia-themed stamps from Studio Calico!

Advertising—there's no escaping it. I like it when *I'm* doing the advertising (like running Facebook ads for my books), but sometimes, I get wildly wrong guesses about the sort of advertisement that will lead me to actually purchase an item. The other day, I was shown an ad for a $58,000 Tiffany bracelet. Lovely as it was, what on earth made Facebook (or maybe it was Instagram) think I was their target customer? Alas, no. But the day I was scrolling on Instagram and saw an ad for these state-themed stamps for crafting, somebody hit the bull's-eye with me, and I clicked "Buy" before too many seconds passed! Aside from a stamp of the state of Georgia, which will come in handy when corresponding with friends and family out of state, can you guess which particular stamp made me purchase this set?

If you guessed this one, you're right!

The stamps arrived in just days, much faster than expected, and I was delighted to discover they were packaged in a nice, thick, reusable plastic pocket, not the throwaway cellophane that such sets usually arrive in. I also got 10 percent off my first order, which was nice. If you're a Georgia stamper/tea lover, too, you may like this same set, and if you're a non-Georgia stamper, it might be fun to see what stamps are included in the set for your state! You can find them here. (No affiliation, just a happy customer.) 

Monday, June 5, 2023

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Over the weekend, I wanted to make some banana bread but didn't have the sour cream my favorite recipe calls for. Could I use Greek yogurt instead? And could I add both pecans and chocolate chips?
Yes, I could—and did!

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large ripe banana, mashed
4 tablespoons Greek yogurt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine ingredients in order listed and mix well after each addition. Pour batter into a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan prepared with cooking spray and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Refrigerate any leftovers. 

Friday, June 2, 2023

Inspiration in the new Tea Time magazine


I always enjoy seeing a new issue of Tea Time land in my mailbox instead of more junk mail, and I'm especially happy when tea wares with roses make the cover! But this time, I had to turn only one page before I found something that made this whole issue a treat.

It was this shell-patterned Wedgwood White Dolphins teacup! Isn't this a classy-looking design? I've been looking for something like this for several years now for a very bookish reason. My first cozy mystery series is about a former newspaper reporter turned jewelry maker here in Georgia. My second series (the one just launched) is about two sisters with a junk business in Alabama. But my third series (coming in a few more years) will be about a retired interior designer who lives at the beach in Florida, and for years now, I have been searching for just the right china pattern for her. Most of the shell patterns I've seen just didn't grab me, but this one? I think it's lovely, and it *looks* like an interior designer would like it, don't you think?

All those shells around the three-tiered server really caught my eye! So while I always find teatime inspiration in Tea Time, it's not every issue that can provide some writing inspiration as well.

And in another bit of good timing, I came across a cute tea sandwich idea that I want to make for my niece Cari's baby shower next month. My first great-nephew, Ezra, is expected to arrive later this summer, and I'm helping plan the baby shower. If I've ever seen teddy bear tea sandwiches before, I'd forgotten them, but these will be great for the shower. In fact, maybe I need to go reread some of my back issues of Tea Time and see what other baby shower ideas I can come up with!