Monday, July 31, 2023

I (Heart) My New Cake Pan!

I made a favorite pound cake over the weekend, and although it was tasty as always, I was most excited about the pretty design of this cake!

For my birthday this year, my friend Susan gave me this beautiful heart-shaped Bundt pan featuring roses, and I just now got around to trying it out.

Even the interior is pretty!

I love the floral details of the cake, and it’s safe to say I now have a new favorite Bundt pan. I do love all my Bundt pans, but this one is so pretty that I imagine it will see much use in the years ahead!

Friday, July 28, 2023

Seven Teas Georgia Peach Iced Tea

 Yesterday afternoon, I had some errands to run, and it was so hot and humid out that all I wanted to do was get back home to the air-conditioning. But a trip to the grocery store was in order before I could return home, and during my run through Publix, I spotted a brand of tea that was new to me, Seven Teas.

This Georgia Peach Iced Tea was calling my name, and to be honest, I didn’t have high hopes for it, because most canned teas I’ve tried have been absolutely dreadful. Still, the skinny can with the pretty graphics was so inviting that I had to give it a try. And I’m happy to report this tea is quite tasty!

One likely reason it tasted good? The first ingredient was "Craft Brewed Organic Fair Trade Black Tea Leaves." And after the water, it listed "Organic Fair Trade Evaporated Cane Juice," which likely gave it the sweet-but-not-too-sweet flavor that was perfect for quenching my boy-is-it-hot-out-there thirst. (When I was in and out of stores yesterday afternoon, the car's temp read 115 degrees at one point!) This tea was $2.99 a can, which is a little pricy, but certainly a nice treat now and again. Have any of you tried Seven Teas teas before?

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

"Christmas in July" reminders

Christmas in July reminders are welcome at my house, because they make me aware that Christmas will be here before we know it, and I know I need to craft now and shop now (or at least *think* about shopping now!) if I want to avoid that rushed feeling once December gets here. And so I was happy when some mysterious algorithm showed me an ad for this Impressed Obsessions stamp it predicted, accurately, that I would want to purchase.

When this Christmas teapot stamp arrived, I was surprised to see that it was a nice thick red rubber stamp, as so many of the stamps are clear these days. I like the clear ones for positioning, but I've heard (and sometimes agree) that the rubber ones give a crisper image.

And of course I had to go ahead and make a card to try it out. So far, I've made two whole Christmas cards, but at least they're on my radar. If you're a stamper, too, I found my stamp here, and while it's just gone out of stock, it looks like they'll notify you once it's back in stock. Mine arrived quickly, and I was very impressed with the service!

Monday, July 24, 2023

Teacups, a "teapot," and a tole tray

Saturday morning was a rainy one, so I decided to stick close to home and visit a local antique mall that’s just a few miles up the road, Treasures Lost and Found. I ran into an old friend whose mom I used to work with in the newspaper business, and it was so fun to catch up with her. And despite the rain, I spotted a few outdoor things that caught my eye, like this pretty teacup chandelier. 

They also had a more colorful one that I think would be perfect in someone’s garden. 

My fun find was this odd teapot-shaped piece, and I wasn’t even quite sure what it was until I turned it upside down and saw the PartyLite sticker, meaning it was some sort of candle-related item.

Then I realized the bowl-like portion up top was designed to hold wax melts, which I happen to love, so I decided to get this. When I got home and looked it up online, I discovered that this piece originally had a lid! Oh well, at least mine was just $9, and I do plan to use it for wax melts, not use it as another teapot on display, so that’s fine. 

And the back of the piece made me smile because it looks like it's overjoyed that I bought it!

My best find, though, was probably this vintage tole tray. I’ve collected a few of these over the years and enjoy decorating with them, and I never, ever see them for just $10 anymore. Score!

It's in great condition, and the green colors will be perfect to decorate with around St. Patrick’s Day next year. Not a bad haul for a rainy Saturday!

Friday, July 21, 2023

Celestial Seasonings Watermelon Lime Zinger Cold Brew Iced Tea

I don't know who invented the technique of cold-brewing tea, but I'd sure like to thank them! I've been cold-brewing up a storm lately with all the hot, humid weather we've been having, and when I tire of ice water (or ice water with lemon), it's nice to be able to plop a bag of herbal tea into a glass and have a light, refreshing beverage just minutes later. Like this Celestial Seasonings Watermelon Lime Zinger I spotted at the grocery store this week.

The Celestial Seasonings website says the tea contains "hibiscus, natural watermelon and lime flavors with other natural flavors and rosehips." The bright-red color is so pretty in my old thrift store glass, even if it's not truly "sweet" tea.

This is the second of their cold-brew teas I've tried, and I'll probably sample them all before summer is over. In fact, I plan to make a real dent in this box this weekend. However you spend yours, stay cool, friends!

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Teapot storage solutions

After Christmas last year, I found a cute "toy" wicker teapot and teacup set on sale at T.J. Maxx. I thought it would be ideal for planting herbs in the spring, and it would be, but every time I thought about doing that, I realized I was concerned about dirt and water ruining the wicker, as would be the likely outcome. So instead of just moving the tea set around some more, I decided I needed a solution that would be less likely to sully it, and so … it's now sitting on my craft table, but that's only a partial solution. The teapot, it turns out, is great for holding the larger markers I've been acquiring for coloring cards.

I thought the cup would hold a few of the smaller markers, and it would, but it's so lightweight that it tips over! Another idea I've had is that I can simply use the cups to store those small paper bits that pile up when I'm crafting: tiny leaves, small flower buds, and that sort of thing.

Another thought is that I could hot glue the teacup to the saucer, and maybe that would provide some stability. Any of you crafty friends have other ideas? I'd love to hear them! (But I have found no crafty uses for wicker teaspoons!)

Monday, July 17, 2023

Goodwill glass & more

There's a Goodwill near me that is a real dud. They've rarely had anything interesting in there, and yet I keep stopping by every now and then, thinking, "This may be the day." Well, it was the day last Thursday, as I found several treasures there and spent less than $10 for them all.

The first thing that caught my eye, as ever, had roses on it. It was a seven-inch bowl with this odd, irregular shape but some of the most gorgeous roses ever.

It was just $1.99, and I love to find pieces like this that I can use for styling photos, for creating pretty displays, and even for using as a candy dish sometimes. I also thought the blue-green shading of the leaves was unusual.

Now, I have a question for you. Have your tastes changed over time? Mine sure have. A friend who is a professional interior designer once told me that our tastes are said to change every seven years. Mine don't change that often, but one thing that *has* changed is that I didn't used to like etched glass but now I do. So when I saw this cute glass compote with shamrocks etched on it, I knew this $1.99 piece would be going home with me. Further research revealed that it is Eamon glass engraved in Ireland, and these pieces are currently selling for $20-$25 on eBay. I can't wait to decorate with this next March, and I'm also thinking this would be a pretty serving piece for some sort of mint-green pudding for St. Patrick's Day.

But my best find was the Peacock Pyrex pie plate at left. Since I collect Peacock Pyrex but almost never see it "live," I at first didn't believe that was what I was actually looking at. Last summer, I finally found a Peacock Pyrex pie plate I could afford on eBay (I'd been outbid for years), and I seem to recall it was $35 or so. When I saw this one marked $4.99, I grabbed it. Did I need two pie plates? Well, I got home and realized it was the basketweave pattern, not the plain one that I purchased last year, so yes, I needed both. Thrifted finds are the best, and as long as my tastes keep changing, the thrift store is a great place to shop!

Friday, July 14, 2023

Recommended for teatime: Nutella Biscuits

Are you a Nutella fan? I am. I think I first really became aware of the famous hazelnut spread when Giada De Laurentiis began featuring it on her Food Network show years ago, and ever since, I love it when a dessert has a filling/topping/dollop of Nutella. So yes, I had to try these Nutella "biscuits" when I spotted them at the grocery store this week ($4.79 for a bag of 20).

And oh my goodness, these cookies are so wonderful, and a serving of two is plenty. I'm a bit amazed that the cookies are all flopping around loose inside the bag yet are largely intact (I think only one was in pieces). The bottom part of the cookie is almost like a thin, tiny tart shell, then there's the hazelnut filling, and then a smaller cookie is inset perfectly on top of the filling. It doesn't ooze out, and even in the warm weather we've been having here in Georgia, the cookies didn't threaten to melt at all (and we do not keep our house at meat-locker levels of iciness like some of our Southern brethren and sistren do).

Since these cookies were called "biscuits," I of course had to photograph them on my sole "biscuit set," which is much closer in size to a cup and saucer than a snack set (aka "tea and toast set"), and the biscuit set was truly the perfect size for these delicious treats. If you're a Nutella fan, too, I definitely recommend giving them a try!

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Tea with Toast & Jam — really!


The other day, I was visiting one of the online tea groups and saw this Yorkshire Tea that, intriguingly, was said to taste like Toast & Jam. That was a new one on me, so off to Amazon I went.

It arrived, and for some reason, I was expecting individually wrapped tea bags. I *always* expect individually wrapped tea bags. I didn't detect any "jam" smell at first, but hope springs eternal … The ingredients are simply black tea and "natural flavorings," so your guess is as good as mine there.

The tea bags are made like those Celestial Seasonings tea bags I'm not so fond of, and it didn't look like there was a perforation anywhere on these, but I tugged, and they did split easily, so that was a good thing.

This tea was … interesting. Once it was steeped, the scent reminded me of, well, slightly burnt toast, and the astringency—despite brewing this for a bit less than the time recommended—made this a mouth-puckering drink! After I polished off that cup, hoping the taste might grow on me (it did not), I boiled more water, plopped the tea bag right back into the cup, and this time, the tea was much more palatable. With a shot of honey, even more so. Maybe it's just too hot and humid here for me to enjoy hot tea right now, but this wasn't the exciting new flavor combo I'd hoped for. So there you go. I continue to try all the oddball teas so that you don't have to!

Monday, July 10, 2023

On mint and roses

When my friend Deberah and I were out visiting garden shops a couple of weeks ago, she mentioned that she'd had to pull up a bunch of spearmint that was taking over and had dried some of it to make tea. Would I like some? Why, yes, I would, I said. So when she dropped off some of the dried tea leaves recently, as well as a couple of mint plants, I was delighted.

While I've had plenty of teas that contained spearmint as an ingredient, I don't believe I'd ever had a tea that was nothing but spearmint. It was rather nice to look into my infuser basket and know precisely what was in there and precisely who grew it. Deberah also happens to be a Master Gardener, and her green thumb has made me jealous for years.

The tea? It's absolutely delicious! I really like mint-flavored teas, and I've been enjoying this spearmint herbal tea both hot and iced. Assuming I manage not to kill the spearmint and peppermint plants she brought over, I will try to save some of the dried leaves as well.

And as a bonus, she brought me a gift of this Belinda's Dream rose from Petals from the Past in Alabama. I've long heard of this nursery—well-known for growing hardy heirloom roses that don't require any babying—and after we got some rain Friday night, this gorgeous bloom was awaiting me the next morning. I think the color is absolutely heavenly!

Friday, July 7, 2023

An Afternoon Tea in 1891


It's too hot and humid to do much of anything very industrious here at the end of a holiday week in July, so if you're so hot that your eyes are glazing over, that's the perfect time to study one of these stereographic images from the Library of Congress, and this one, titled "An Afternoon Tea," is from 1891.

Click here to see it even larger on the LOC site. This one was a fairly simple scene and seemed easy to view in 3D. And if you're new to how these work, you just let your eyes sort of loosely stare at the line in the middle of the image until the two images eventually start to blur, and then lo and behold, the combined image does indeed begin to look dimensional, as if you're right there having tea with two little girls in 1891. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Some new Bucket List teacups

While I didn't do much shopping over the long holiday weekend, I did have some successful shopping on eBay last week with two longed-for teacups that were both spotted, ordered, and received by July 4, and I was happy to check these off my teacup Bucket List!

I've been searching for a patriotic teacup for years, and this Princess Anne bone china teacup from England (ironically!) was just what I'd been looking for! It arrived just two days after I purchased it, so I've had plenty of time to sip from it this week.

I love the symbolism on both the cup and saucer, including the shield the eagle rests on, the cloud with thirteen stars, the olive branches, and the "assaulting forward" (or backward-looking) flag.

Fast-forward a few months, and you'll probably see another teacup that's long been on my wish list, this Queen Anne "My Valentine" teacup. I actually found this from an eBay seller in Canada who ships out of New York, and I bought it last Wednesday and had it on Monday!

I thought this teacup would be perfect for when I get around to finishing the valentine book I'm working on, and I finally found it at a price I was willing to pay. So two fun teacup finds were part of my July 4 celebration this year. I hope yours was enjoyable too!

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Monday, July 3, 2023

A baby shower tea to welcome Ezra!

On Saturday, family and friends gathered in Tallapoosa for a bridal shower tea to help my niece Cari (and hubby Blake) celebrate baby Ezra, who is expected to arrive later this month. He will be my first great-nephew, and I can't wait to meet him because it's been a while since we've had a baby in this family! Cari received lots of lovely gifts, but I must say that my favorite was the bandabibs, which are bandanna-style baby bibs for little boys. So cute!

My sister and I split the menu, which we have discovered makes things so easy for both of us. Rhonda made cucumber and pimiento cheese finger sandwiches, cheese straws, and mini cupcakes, and I made shortbread, chocolate-peanut butter truffles, mini quiches, and punch.

I thought her mini cupcakes were so cute!

And I finally got around to using a cookie stamp set that I bought a few years ago, and I used it to stamp the "Ezra" shortbread cookies.

Even though I brought loose tea and teapots, I had a feeling no one would want hot tea since it was nearly 100 degrees here on Saturday (and I was correct), but fortunately, the Peach Tea Punch (and even the Milo's Sweet Tea that I used to make it) met with everyone's approval.

Sliced strawberries and grapes were a hit as well, and I think it's always a good idea to have fruit on the tea table (plus it's pretty).

Watching Cari open all of those adorable baby outfits made it seem even more real that our little Ezra is about to join the family, and whether he prefers outfits with footballs or teddy bears or dinosaurs or Star Wars on them, I have a feeling this little guy is always going to be greeted with lots of love!