Wednesday, January 31, 2024

The March/April 2024 issue of Victoria Magazine

I am so glad I subscribed to Victoria magazine last year, because recent issues have been so, so lovely! The soft color palette on the March/April issue's cover immediately caught my eye when it arrived Saturday, and I was just about to read it around 8:30 p.m. when the power went out! There was no storm, the rain had stopped, and the EMC said they had been notified of the outage. Our entire street was dark, so we knew it wasn't just us. An hour passed, so I read a book on my Kindle. Another hour passed, and I read some more. The third hour? I turned on the flashlight app on my iPhone and read this magazine! (The power finally came back on after midnight, and we never learned what the problem was.)

And the magazine is even prettier in the daylight, it turns out, and it's such a tea-ish issue! Look at this gorgeous cherry blossom-themed table with that pretty pink Mottahedeh china.

And oh, these soft blues! Is there any more soothing color than a pale blue?

And if you are thinking this is a dessert cake, you would be wrong! It's actually a savory treat, a Scandinavian Sandwich Cake—the fillings include egg salad and shrimp salad—and I think it is so clever that it's designed to look like a beautiful floral-bedecked cake. But if you'll note, the "flowers" are thinly sliced smoked salmon, and the foliage stems are peas! This was such an enjoyable issue to read, and some of you may wish to look for it, too, if you don't already subscribe.

Monday, January 29, 2024

An easy and delicious recipe for old-fashioned Molasses Bread

Local readers know that I write a monthly cooking column for a free publication called The Weekly, and the latest recipe was so simple and good that I wanted to share it here!

I found the recipe in one of my many vintage recipe booklets, and it struck me as a nice change from the overly sweet, rich desserts that many of us had over Christmas. It's an easy-to-prepare loaf of Molasses Bread that sounded perfect for wintertime, and I had some of this bread right out of the oven with a little jam. You can also serve it lightly toasted and buttered for a breakfast treat. It’s got just enough sugar and molasses to make it slightly sweet, and I can see why this vintage recipe has stood the test of time.

But perhaps the best compliment came from my friend Carolyn, who, after she saw the recipe on my Facebook page, said, "I cooked a loaf of this Friday morning, and it was a big hit!" By Saturday night, she said, "Almost gone and there are just two of us.” Now that's what I like to hear!

Molasses Bread

1 large egg

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1/4 cup melted shortening

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

2/3 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, beat egg until light and fluffy, then add sugar, molasses, and shortening and blend well. In separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture alternately with the buttermilk and combine. Bake in a greased 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan for about 1 hour and let cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Friday, January 26, 2024

"The Friend in Adversity"

I hadn't stalked the Library of Congress for teatime images in a while, and this week, I found one that was a new discovery, "The Friend in Adversity," painted by E. Prentis (1797-1854) and with Henry S. Sadd listed as "engraver" and W. L. (Waterman Lilly) Ormsby (1809-1883) as printer. The Library of Congress Summary says this: "Print shows a man, possibly ill or otherwise in despair, seated in a chair before a fireplace in his bedroom, a woman sitting next to him, comforts him with kind words; a teapot steams in the fireplace and dark clouds pass beyond the window in the background."

The faint type may be hard to read, but it says this: "Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee and thou shalt glorify me." Psalm L, v. 15

Now, unless mine eyes deceive me, I'm guessing this woman is his wife, because that appears to be a canopy bed at right, and surely a single gentleman wouldn't be having a lady "friend" in his bedroom back then. (Well, actually, I'm sure some of them did, but I'm also pretty sure they didn't have the escapade painted and engraved!)

And I have questions. The teakettle is before the fire, but do you suppose that's a bowl of hot porridge and a Bible on the small table/chest near the lady? Maybe she's pointing to heaven and telling him to seek the Lord's help in his illness. At right, that looks like a writing desk on the table. It's got what appears to be a scarf or hankie on it. And what are those two things on the floor beneath that table? At first, I thought maybe they were leaves off a plant, but I don't see a plant. What is the object directly behind the writing desk? It has a handle, but it doesn't appear to be an umbrella. I welcome any observations you may wish to make!


Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Sampling new teas from Taylors of Harrogate

I've been sipping loose teas from Taylors of Harrogate for years, usually purchased at tearooms or found in the wild (at T.J. Maxx). This week, I'm sampling some of their teas in tea bag form thanks to a much-appreciated Christmas gift from my niece Madison!

The packaging is lovely, and even the inside is elegant, which isn't unexpected since Taylors is a name I associate with quality. I'm delighted to have all of these new teas to try. Can you guess which two I sampled first?

I always start with the flavors I haven't had lately, and in this case, that meant the Assam (a brisk blend that was perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up) and the Lemon & Orange, a bright, citrusy flavor that I sure enjoyed sampling on a chilly winter evening.

Also, I'd not noticed before that they have a Royal Warrant as tea supplier to the Prince of Wales, noted by the little feather icon at the top of the tea bags, and now I'm wondering if that's the new Prince of Wales or the old one! 

Monday, January 22, 2024

Some special snack sets that arrived from Arkansas!

My friend Melissa and I have known each other for more than thirty years now, and back when we were single, I sometimes traveled home with her to Arkansas to see her parents. I immediately hit it off with her mother, Elizabeth, who took me to my first tearoom, the Crumpet Tea Room, and who loves antiques as much as I do. Elizabeth has long collected beautiful pink Depression glass and has always told me, “Now Angela, when I go, don’t let Melissa sell all this for a quarter apiece at a yard sale.” I have assured her I won’t. So when Elizabeth sent word that she was sending Melissa home from a recent trip to Arkansas with something for me, I knew it definitely wasn’t her prized pink glassware, but I did suspect it would be something lovely. And it was!

As longtime readers know, I have collected snack sets for many years, and frankly, there just don’t tend to be many of the vintages ones that I haven’t seen before. Yet I sure hadn’t seen any like these that Melissa presented me with this weekend!

Made by Lefton, these snack sets are unusual in that each set is a different color, and the inside of the cup and the inside of the indentation feature the same pastel color of the teacup's flowers! I am quite smitten with these beautiful pieces and immediately made room for them in my kitchen cupboard.

Each set is so pretty. The pink is my favorite, but I also think the blue set is dreamy.

Then again, the yellow one seems perfect for using at Easter.

And this one with both pink and yellow roses has highlights of mint green that bring out the color of the leaves.

Some of the pieces even have the original Lefton sticker on them. Can you imagine how excited I was to receive these snack sets? My friend Melissa, bless her, is not a fan of teatime and tea wares at all, so I think Elizabeth and I both were quite relieved when this china made it safely into my hot little hands here in Georgia. My favorite tea wares will always be those that came from dear friends, and I am so tickled to have received these from my vintage-loving friend in Arkansas!

Friday, January 19, 2024

New cookies and a new teacup!

If there's anything better than one surprise, it's two surprises! On Wednesday night, my friend Kathy was visiting from out of town, and she and our friend Karen and I got to enjoy dinner together at a local restaurant. Kathy had brought along crafting goodies for us both, and she also brought me this gorgeous box of Lemon Curd Biscuits she found at a shop in her town.

The package is so, so pretty, and the cookies are as good as they sound and definitely have a great citrusy flavor from the lemon curd. Have you ever heard of Lady Joseph's Biscuits? I hadn't but am happy to have made their acquaintance.

And this teacup? My friend Vickie brought it to me at Bible study yesterday! Isn't the pattern pretty?

It's from Royal Albert's Blossom Time series, and this is the Orange Blossom pattern. I just love it, and sipping from a new teacup while enjoying some new teatime cookies was certainly a most delightful way to end my week!

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Twinings Peach Flavoured White Tea Superblend


Whenever I see a new Twinings blend at Ollie's, I have to try it. And at just $1.99 a box, it's not a very risky purchase.

The ingredients in this herbal tea include "Organic White Tea Leaf, Organic Honeybush Leaf, Organic Lemongrass (Aerial Parts), Organic Peach Flavour With Other Natural Flavours, Organic Peppermint Leaf, Organic Liquorice Root, Organic Stevia Leaf, Citric Acid, Organic Ginger Root, Organic Natural Flavour, Vitamin B7 (As Biotin)."

I'm always happy to add new Twinings tea bags to my stash, and I did enjoy this tea, but it didn't taste very peachy. The lemongrass and other citrusy notes are what I detected most, so it was still a nice departure from the spicy Christmas teas I've been busy drinking up, even if it wasn't exactly a peach of a tea!

Monday, January 15, 2024

A new kind of glass teapot!

My niece Madison turned 28 on Saturday, and yesterday after church, the family met up at her mom's house for her birthday party. My sister made some tasty Mexican casseroles and salad and chips, and Daddy made a strawberry cake at Madison's request. From left are my sister, Rhonda, and nieces Cari, Madison, and Amelia.

But the surprise for me was that my Christmas gift had arrived! Madison told me on Christmas Day that she'd ordered something for me and it would be late. She asked if I wanted to know what it was, and I told her that no, I'd like to be surprised. Well, the gift finally arrived, and it was this new teapot and some new teas, which I'll share later once I've tried them.

I had a small glass teapot years ago but think I must have broken it, so I was quite happy to receive a nice big new one, but what surprised me is that this teapot (minus the glass insert) can be used on the stovetop. The teapot is dishwasher, microwave, and stovetop safe, and that's definitely a new type of glass teapot to me!

Of course, the real beauty of a glass teapot is that you can see those pretty blooming teas as they steep. I haven't had one of these teas in years, so again, I was delighted to be sipping this tasty Rising Spring tea flower with its refreshing jasmine flavor. I do believe this is the first time I've ever gone to someone else's birthday party and left with a gift for me! (And I kinda liked it.)

Friday, January 12, 2024

The winner of the vintage Royal Vale teacup is …

 Susan K.! Congratulations!

Signs of spring …

I'm not feeling too great about our chances of seeing any snow here in my part of Georgia this year, so for that reason, I'm ready to go ahead and skip to spring. And the Spring 2024 issue of Country Sampler magazine has me thinking about spring even more!

The reason I bought this issue was that I'd seen on Instagram that they had a feature on vintage valentines, and of course I love Valentine's Day and enjoy decorating for it each year. Now I've got my eye out for a vintage striped cup like that red-and-white one in the photo at right.

Another clever idea? I loved how this woman used a vintage transferware platter to display her cameos. Stunning!

But my favorite idea in the whole issue wasn't even related to Valentine's Day at all. It was this glass cloche highlighting a stack of vintage chintz teacups, and you can bet I'll be recreating this design come spring!

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

A thoughtful tea-themed Christmas gift

Last year, my friend Susan got to make a "bucket list" trip to Paris, and she brought me back this gorgeous tote bag as part of my Christmas gift, which also included two wonderful books on tea gardening.

Isn't this design delightful? I absolutely love it and plan to really "baby" this bag so it will last a long, long time!

I'm also excited about using these gardening books to up my game with tea gardening this year!

The tea plant in my backyard has gotten way too big, so I hope to figure out how best to prune it and propagate other plants from it. On these gray, rainy days of winter, I just love reading gardening books. If we can't play in the garden right now, at least we can be armchair gardeners for a while! 

Monday, January 8, 2024

A New Year's giveaway: Vintage Royal Vale Teacup!

It's been a while since I've had a giveaway, and because I've been gathering my "winter whites and blues" (partly to help avoid the wintertime blues!), I thought it would be appropriate to give away a vintage blue teacup! This one is English bone china by Royal Vale.

I think the design is quite cheerful, and if you're the winner, I'll tuck in a selection of tea bags for you to enjoy since it is, after all, National Hot Tea Month.

If you'd like to win this teacup, please make sure you're signed in to your Blogger or Google account so that it won't say "Anonymous" is entering. Then, leave an "Enter Me" comment to this post by Friday, January 12, at 7 a.m. EST, and you'll be entered to win. Don't have a Blogger or Google account? Then feel free to email me at angelamcrae at charter dot net so that I'll have your email address and can notify you if you're the winner. And if you're a follower of the Tea With Friends Facebook page, you can enter there. Good luck!

Friday, January 5, 2024

Winter whites and tea lights

A few years ago, Alex commented on how he missed all the cheerful Christmas decorations once I took them down for the year. I agreed, and ever since, I've made an effort to keep some "winter decorations" up to add more light and keep things looking cheerful during these colder, grayer months. The tea trolley got an all-white makeover, and it was a great place to use the tree-shaped rosemary plant I found at the grocery store in December.

Thanks to a thrift store find last fall, I now have four cream-colored teacups on this rack.

I've had this Wedgwood tea light holder for years now, and it remains one of my favorite wintertime decorations.

The metal teacup tea light holder here was a fifty-cent thrift store find.

Last month, this white ceramic tree was on the tea trolley and had colored lights. Now, it's in the living room and has blue and white lights.

I found these vintage ones on Etsy last year, and they're now a happy part of my after-Christmas decor.

And this white tea set seems very happy enjoying its place in the sun. (The new snowflake tablecloth was on clearance for $7 at T.J. Maxx the other day, and I thought it was perfect.) Do you decorate for winter? And are any of you, like me, residents of warmer climes yet still hoping for some snow?

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

The first new tea of 2024 …

New Year's Day found me at the T.J. Maxx/HomeGoods store in Peachtree City, where I enjoyed using some gift certificates and browsing for items without the mad rush of holiday shoppers. I found a snowflake tablecloth for my January decor, some new rose prints for the house, and my first tea purchase of the year, this Raspberry Truffle flavor of Pinky Up tea.

This tea contains yerba mate, roasted elderberry, white chocolate pieces, almond, strawberry leaves, blueberry, raspberry pieces, natural and artificial flavoring, and stevia extract.

I like yerba mate and haven't had any in a while. I come across the Pinky Up brand in gift shops sometimes, usually for around $15 or so, but this tin was just $4.99 at T.J. Maxx, and I'm glad I found it, because this tea is such a delightful blend of flavors: the distinctive taste of the yerba mate and the sweetness of the fruit flavors and chocolate. This is definitely a dessert tea, and it was a great way to kick off "the year in tea."

On another note, thank you so much for your kind comments and emails about the passing of Aunt Jane. Her funeral was yesterday, and while it was a sad time for our family, we are comforted by the fact we will see her again in Heaven and by the thought that her body (and even her mind, this time!) is now whole. And here's something only you tea friends will appreciate. My sister's husband is also a pastor, and a lady at their church had offered to host our family for lunch after the service, so we headed to a charming little antique shop and restaurant that's quite close to the cemetery. It looked like a lot of tearooms I've been to over the years, and even my nieces commented that Jane would have found this quite "fancy," and it seemed a fitting way to mark her homegoing. Now … here's to a brighter 2024!