Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Christmas Reflections by Candlelight

I always love to get invited to one of those events where the ladies of a church decorate their own Christmas tables, so I was happy when my friend Kristin invited me to attend Monday night's event hosted by her church, Newnan City Church. It was such a peaceful, soothing evening, with four ladies (including Kristin) each sharing the story of how her relationship with Christ has brought peace and joy to her life, especially in some turbulent times. It was the perfect way to kick off contemplations of the Christmas season—and reason!

Considering the name of the event, I shouldn't have been surprised, yet I was so pleased when I walked in and saw all of the lovely candlelit tables. I'm sorry to say that I didn't have time to get photos of the other tables, but I was busy visiting with friends, and I don't regret that at all!

Kristin's friend Leslie had used some of her own pieces to create an elegant red-and-white candy-cane-looking table. And as much as I love vintage decorations, I have to say that I was quite smitten with the beautiful contemporary pieces used on this table. Along with the candles and fresh greenery and lovely linens, the effect was just so pretty.

This was a dessert event, and we were treated to cookies, brownies, chocolate-covered strawberries, petits fours (my favorite), and other sweet treats, which I enjoyed along with some hot mint-flavored tea!

The music, too, was a delight, and two of my favorite Christmas songs were part of the program: "Mary, Did You Know?" and "O Holy Night." Is a ladies' event or tea on your Christmas schedule? If so, I'd love to hear about it!

Two more days for cookbook giveaway!

In this first of two posts today, I just want to remind everyone that you have two more days to enter the giveaway (originally posted on Black Friday) for a signed copy of The Vintage Christmas Cookbook for you or a friend! And if you haven’t entered a giveaway here before, you may not be aware that you need to be signed in to your Google (or Blogger) account in order for your name to show up as the entrant. Don’t have a Google or Blogger account? Then you are welcome to email me at angelamcrae at charter dot net and just type “Enter me” and you’ll be entered to win. Feel free to go back and check to see if you were entered as “Anonymous” on the original post, and if so, you can either sign in or email me in order to make sure I have a name to go with your entry. I hope that helps, and good luck!

Monday, November 27, 2023

Reading a life through recipes

While browsing a local antique store the other day, I came across yet another of the vintage recipe boxes I love to collect (when they're cheap!), and this $3.50 cardboard model fit the bill. I prefer the old metal recipe boxes, but since the price was so good, I decided to add this one to my growing collection. I have so much fun poring through the old recipes and trying to conjure up the woman who once cherished them.

I wish sellers wouldn't tape their prices atop the graphics of old collectibles. I've had books and other items lose part of their image this way, but again, this time, I was interested in the old recipes more than the box itself, so the tape remains on this box's padded lid.

And this collection of recipes did not disappoint! I love seeing things like this old paella recipe from Burhop's Quality Seafood in Chicago. Typewritten, even!

This particular handwritten recipe made me smile because of the title. Check out the second ingredient and you'll understand where it got its name.

This cook even saved a Coco Lopez can label with recipes on the back, and I was delighted to find a date—1949.

This Family Circle magazine recipe card (did these once come inside the magazine?) is dated 1966, and I was happy to see that it was a treat said to be "just big enough for a teatime treat." This isn't the first time I've seen an old recipe calling for envelopes of "liquid chocolate," which I gather can be hard to find today.

Finally, this handwritten recipe for "Honolulu Cooler" is basically a pineapple-and-citrus punch recipe that includes tea! I haven't made it yet, as I don't have a need for a big batch of punch anytime soon, but I decided to share it here in case any of you are willing to give it a try. I love reading these old recipes, and I hope you've enjoyed seeing some of them too!

And a final note: If you missed Friday's post, please revisit it so you can enter to win a copy of The Vintage Christmas Cookbook for you or a friend. And please, please, please make sure I have a way to contact you if you're the winner. I think the Blogger settings must have changed for some readers since I have so many entries from "Anonymous" this time! 

Friday, November 24, 2023

Black Friday Giveaway: Signed Copy of "The Vintage Christmas Cookbook"

Ever since I wrote The Vintage Christmas Cookbook three years ago, I've been pleasantly surprised at how well it's been received. I always see a spike in sales starting in about October, and I have to make extra trips to restock at Corner Arts, the gallery in downtown Newnan that sells signed copies. So I was thinking about what I might do for a Black Friday giveaway today, and it hit me: I'll give away a signed copy of the cookbook, and if you happen to already own one, then I'll happily sign it to your favorite sibling/neighbor/girlfriend, and you'll be ahead on one gift this Christmas while helping me reach new readers with my book! How's that?

If you'd like to win a signed copy, for you or for someone else, just leave an "Enter me" comment to this post by 7 a.m. EST next Friday, December 1, making sure I have a way to contact you if you're the winner, and you'll be entered to win. You can also enter via the Tea With Friends Facebook page or by emailing me at  Good luck!

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Let's talk turkeys!

I've been all about turkeys this month. A few weeks ago, I zipped over to the open house at one of my favorite antique stores in Fayetteville, and when I was checking out, I learned that since I'd spent over $75, I could have a free frozen turkey if I wanted it. Now, I don't know about you, but the Tea With Friends household does not turn away free groceries these days, so I ran home to pop that free turkey in the fridge and then returned to my regularly scheduled shopping. One of the things I bought that day, appropriately enough, was the $6 turkey planter at left on this distressed table.

Here's a close-up (a bit dark since it was gray and rainy yesterday and I had to photograph it indoors; sorry!). While I was happy to find this planter, I couldn't remember where I'd stored the other two vintage turkey planters I've had for years. Finally, I remembered that in my Christmas journal, where I jot things like gift lists and my Christmas card record, I had also started writing down Where I Stored Stuff each year. And lo and behold, I'd written, "Turkey planters-cardboard box that electric teakettle came in, bottom of bedroom closet." And that's right where they were! My goal this year is to get everything stored in clear plastic containers and in the garage. We'll see if that happens.

This is one of those "missing" planters. They have a sort of teal-blue cast to them, and I love them! 

After I dropped off the frozen turkey at home and resumed shopping on that Saturday, I came across what I thought was a beautiful vintage turkey platter. It's got a pretty moss-green border that somehow softens the turkey.

This past Saturday, I found yet another vintage turkey platter, a giant 16 x 20-inch plastic one, for just $5 at a thrift store. It was perfect for holding the turkey sandwich fixings that our family enjoyed on Sunday, and I like its kitschy quality, and I now consider it my "casual" turkey platter.

The one thing I haven't quite found the right spot for yet? My turkey teapot! It's the only turkey-themed tea ware I own, and I'm going to have to use it on Thanksgiving. If nothing else, I'll use it to serve iced tea! And I hope you all have a very happy and turkey-filled Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 20, 2023

Thankful for family … and thrifting!

Early bird readers will have noted that, for I believe only the second time in the history of the Tea With Friends blog, I forgot to write a post this morning! Suffice it to say it's been a busy weekend around here, hosting kids and grandkids and then getting ready to host my side of the family on Thursday. And we are blessed to do so! I'm reminded of a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote that "the ornament of a house is the friends ("and family," I would add) who frequent it." I agree! And here we are with all four grandkids, who are growing up so quickly!

On Saturday, in between visiting with Daddy and Aunt Jane, I managed a run by a new favorite thrift store in Cedartown, Our House, where I found several great goodies. First, I'd been looking for a cream-colored teacup and saucer so I can do a "Winter White" teacup rack in January. I had three and needed four, and this Mikasa set (50 cents) fit the bill.

Vintage Santas for 50 cents each? Yes, please!

Now, I have a 1980s version of The Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, but I'd wanted one of these older versions in a ring binder, but the ones I've seen were either too pricy or too shabby. The cover of this one shows a little wear, but the inside is amazingly pristine for a 1968 book, and for 25 cents, well, this was definitely a score.

In looking for vintage Christmas tablecloths on eBay (the ones I want are so expensive!), I've noted that even old paper tablecloths are becoming collectible. Is a Chinet tablecloth collectible? I dunno. But I like the poinsettia design, which could also be a craft supply for decoupage one day if I decide not to use it as a tablecloth.

And my final goodie from Our House? They're selling T-shirts for $15 to help raise money for their domestic violence shelter, the beneficiary of the thrift shop, and I absolutely needed this one. 

So, are you ready for Thanksgiving? I'm getting there!

Friday, November 17, 2023

Luzianne Southern Blends: Mint & Rose Blossom Green Tea

After polishing off a box of that tasty Honeyed Peach Herbal Tea from Luzianne that I tried a few weeks ago, I found myself curious about their Mint & Rose Blossom blend, so I decided to give it a try.

If there was a message printed inside that first box of tea, I didn't notice it, but this one certainly made me smile!

And now let's talk about rose-flavored teas. I happen to like foods with a rose flavor (tea and jelly come to mind), but I may be in the minority. Some tea drinkers have told me they find it like drinking perfume, but I like perfume so much that the idea of drinking it is just fine with me! Still, I enjoyed the subtle rose taste of this tea, and while I wasn't sure how well it would pair with the mint flavor, I found the combo quite cozy. I'd say the flavor was 75 percent mint and 25 percent rose. I sip much more hot tea in the colder months, so this flavored green tea was a surprisingly lovely find to add to my fall and winter tea stash. So where do you stand on rose-flavored teas? Yea or nay?

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

A Christmas magazine roundup

Remember when you could visit your local newsstand and get a whole stack of magazine for under twenty dollars? Well, those days are gone, aren't they? But I love me some magazines, and Christmas magazines are some of my favorites. For that reason, I thought I'd give you a quick review of some of the ones I've bought so far. First up is one I've been buying for years now, the Christmas issue of Flea Market Décor, and it's definitely my favorite because of all the vintage and thrifted items. Inside: loads of Santa mugs, bottle brush trees, creamy white wares, and for us tea lovers, the occasional teacup, transfer ware, and teapots!

Cottages & Bungalows
is another magazine I've been buying regularly for the past year or so. Their Christmas issue is beautiful, and it includes features on a Christmas kitchen, ironstone and transfer ware, decorating for a Victorian Christmas, and more. Lovely photos!

Cottage Style Christmas
from Better Homes & Gardens is a magazine I had to purchase because it features lots of pieces owned by a local collector, Emily Baker. Even though Emily lives in my town, I've never met her, but I stalk her Instagram feed daily at the holidays because she is both a buyer and a seller of vintage decor, and I pretty much want everything she's ever shown. I bought some tiny vintage ornaments at her booth in Fayetteville just this past Saturday. (Her Instagram handle is @myweatheredhome if you'd like to check her out. She is currently my favorite celebrity.)

Country Sampler
is a magazine I buy occasionally because of the seasonal vignettes it includes. It's definitely a more country/primitive/darker style of decor than I prefer, but the ideas are often things I can easily translate into a more Shabby Chic or traditional style. And since I'm writing a cozy mystery series about two junkin' sisters, I am very interested in articles about things made with junk. This issue includes, among other articles, one on Christmas trees made of such things as old keys and butter molds! So this issue quickly became a resource I'll be using when I write the Christmas book in my series.

Now, those are my recommendations! Have you picked up any Christmas magazines? I'd love to hear about them!

Monday, November 13, 2023

A Spiced Pear Cake that tastes like fall!

I don't always share with you the recipes I include in my column for The Weekly, a local publication that's delivered to all the homes in my county, but this spice cake is so good, and I think some of you will enjoy making it as a teatime treat!

Earlier this fall, I was thrifting one Saturday when I came across an old 1961 spiral-bound cookbook published by the Haralson County Home Demonstration Council. Well, Haralson County is where I grew up, so of course I had to grab this one-dollar find. Tucked into its stained pages was an old cake recipe that caught my eye because it called for pears and not apples. Having recently tried an apple cake that didn't quite meet my expectations, I spiced up the pear cake a bit, and Alex and I loved the result.

In fact, this cake is one we'll be serving at Thanksgiving this year. I recommend enjoying it along with a cup of brisk black tea!

Spiced Pear Cake with Caramel Glaze

4 Bartlett pears, peeled and diced fine (1/4-inch to 1/3-inch cubes)
2 cups + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided use
3 large eggs
1-1/4 cups vegetable oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ginger
I teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-3/4 cups chopped pecans, divided use
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Caramel Glaze (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine pears and the 1 tablespoon of sugar. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the remaining 2 cups of sugar, eggs and the oil at medium speed until well blended.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, salt and baking soda. Add flour mixture to egg mixture, beating on low speed until combined. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold in the pears, 1-1/2 cups of the pecans and vanilla. Batter will be very thick. Pour into a greased and floured 10-inch Bundt pan (or spray with Baker’s Joy). Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cake cool for 10 minutes in pan before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling, then drizzle with Caramel Glaze.

Caramel Glaze

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup evaporated milk

Add all ingredients to a saucepan and cook over medium heat. Bring mixture to a boil and stir constantly for 2 to 3 minutes. Let mixture cool for just a few minutes until it thickens slightly, then spoon over cake. Sprinkle cake with remaining 1/4 cup pecans.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Thankful for brunch with my friends!

Does this photo make your mouth water? It does mine! This was the scene yesterday morning when my Bible study group met for brunch to celebrate the end of our fall study! I made a breakfast casserole (the classic one with eggs and sausage), but I have to admit that one of my favorite treats was the broccoli salad at left since I never make it. If it's offered at a restaurant, however, you can bet I'll order it!

We also had lots of great sweets, and while some women opted for coffee, you won't be surprised to hear that this Baptist girl had a mixed drink: lemonade and sweet tea, my own little Arnold Palmer, which was delicious with all these offerings, including some peanut butter fudge that was sooo delicious!

Our church has a facility in downtown Newnan called "The Warehouse" that used to be an old cotton warehouse years ago, and it's used for lots of church events and is a favorite hangout of our teens. Yesterday, we had a great time having brunch and hearing from a dear friend from Newnan who is now a missionary in Japan!

Our Bible study, by the way, was this "Ruth" study by Kelly Minter, and it was fabulous! I love the book of Ruth, and her name is particularly meaningful to me since my daughter-in-law, Naomi, chose the name "Ruth" for granddaughter Bella's middle name. So "Naomi and Ruth" have an extra special meaning to me!

I greatly enjoyed the study as well as the brunch, and I was so *thankful* to kick off the season's celebrations with my Bible study pals!

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

A thrifty replacement for a missing Christmas teapot

Have you ever lost something in your house that you just *know* is there somewhere? That's been my theory for more than ten years now. Somewhere, there is a box with Christmas wares including a teapot or two, an "O Christmas Tea" mug, and, I strongly suspect, the Pfaltzgraff Winterberry tea-for-one set that a dear friend gave me one Christmas. Alas, I have turned this house upside down and still cannot find that missing box of Christmas wares. So when I saw this Winterberry set for $1.50 at a thrift store on Saturday, I decided I needed it!

This is something I've seen in stores before, but the cup and the pot were not together. So of course I just plopped the teapot on top of the cup, carried it all to the checkout counter, and told the clerk it was a set but had been priced $1 for the pot and 50 cents for the cup. I make sure to tell them because I don't want to rip off the thrift store, but I do hope to show them what a tea-for-one set looks like so that maybe they'll stop separating these pieces.

And of course I couldn't pass up a 50-cent dessert plate with poinsettias on it since that may be needed in a future photo for this blog (or a future cookbook).

I guess I had Christmas on the brain, as I also found a grab bag of vintage Christmas goodies at an antique mall. Meanwhile, this week, I hope to nab some vintage turkey figurines. Wish me luck!

Monday, November 6, 2023

The "Afternoon Tea" stamp from Woodware Craft Collection

Since yesterday was 37-1/2 hours long because of the time change, or at least it seemed that way to me, I took advantage of the extra time to try out a new stamp I had recently ordered for card making! Soon, I'll be cranking out the Christmas cards for this year, so I knew this was one of the last afternoons I would probably take time to make tea-themed cards for a while.

This is a collage-style stamp from Woodware Craft Collection called "Afternoon Tea," and I like the messy, jumbled look of the type, the teacup, and the butterfly. I've gathered a nice collection of tea-themed stamps by now and probably *could* have come up with something like this, but it would've taken me a while to compile all of these images, so I was happy to find this stamp with all of the hard work already done.

I got my stamp from for $8.49, and I got three freebies for ordering, including a nice set of fall leaf dies and some other goodies that were worth more than the price of the stamp itself! If you're a crafter in need of any supplies, you can check out this stamp and their other offerings here.