Friday, June 28, 2024

A delightful new teacup card

I'm learning to work smarter, not harder, so when my friend Kathy shared photos of the teacup-themed dies she'd recently ordered, I quickly asked, "Can I use them next time I visit you?" And as expected, she responded with an enthusiastic yes. But what I didn't know was that she would be sending me a beautiful card she'd made with them as well!

Kathy is a perfectionist when making and mailing her cards, so she pays extra for hand-cancellation, but I'm too cheap—uh, thrifty—to do that, so if your card from me gets a little smashed in the mail, well, I tried.

But the other surprise was that she went ahead and sent me some of the die-cut teacups so I can start practicing with this card design! (If you're interested, too, she got these from The Greetery here.)

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Some Tetley Tea history I never knew …


A few months ago, I was at a local antique mall to spend a gift certificate my husband had given me. I spotted a neat vintage Tetley Tea tin that I thought I might use to decorate with one day, so I came home with it. Well, I've been gathering some red, white, and blue items to decorate with sometime before July 4, and it occurred to me that this could work.

I just love knowing that this tin once contained "100 tea bags." I wish tea came in such tins today. Don't you?

But I clearly didn't pay close attention to all the words on the tin when I bought it, because only this week did I note that "Savannah, GA" was printed on the tin. Excuse me? So I googled some Tetley history, and lo and behold, the Tetley entry on says, "Across the ocean in the United States, Tetley Tea Incorporated was continuing to grow due to the popularity of the tea bag. In 1950 the company opened a plant in Savannah, Georgia …" Who knew? I did not, and from now on, I will do a better job of actually reading *all* the words on the tea tins I purchase!

Monday, June 24, 2024

Are you ready for Leon Day tomorrow?

Did you know that tomorrow is Leon Day? Leon, of course, is "Noel" spelled backward, so we Christmas collectors like to celebrate Leon Day because it marks the halfway point to Christmas. For that reason, when I was at the Goodwill in Fayetteville on Saturday, I was happy to find some goodies I can use to decorate at Christmas. I am planning (and praying!) to make it as joyful as I possibly can, perhaps hosting a few teas for the many friends who have been so kind to me this year. The red-velvet heart-shaped candy box at back (just $1.09) is actually for my Valentine stash, but it occurred to me that a red velvet one might have a use at Christmas, too, so we'll see.

These little porcelain cupcake stands ($3.09 for two) struck me as something it would be nice to have on a tea table.

And these vintage-looking Santa Claus napkin rings ($2.09) don't appear to have ever been used. I think they are adorable!

So I was already in Christmas-planning mode when my friend Patty, another Christmas-decor collector, handed me a gift bag at Sunday school yesterday. She knows I don't always have access to the new Hallmark Christmas catalog, so she brought me the new one along with an ornament in memory of Alex, which I thought was incredibly thoughtful. He'll certainly always be a part of my Christmas celebrations, and I was so touched to realize that others are still thinking about him too.

Have you bought any gifts or decorations for Christmas 2024?

Friday, June 21, 2024

A trick for viewing those old stereographic images …

I've shared quite a few of the Library of Congress's stereographic images over the years, especially after I developed the skill of looking at them properly. (You can Google articles online that tell you the basics, but it's rather like looking out a window at the horizon and ignoring the windows themselves.) But when I discovered this LOC image the other day, published in 1902 and titled "The preparation of tea in Japan. Firing tea," I stared and stared but just couldn't get it to work for me.

Then I had the thought, "What if I pulled the image up on my iPhone instead of my laptop?" And that worked! In fact, it became one of the best, most detailed 3D images I've viewed yet. So I hope that perhaps viewing it on a phone instead of a computer will work for some of you!

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

A new way to dispense honey

Isn't this place setting lovely? My friends and I oohed and aahed over the pretty dishes at the Emerald Chandelier last week and especially these gorgeous pink scalloped chargers and rosy dessert plates.

We were quickly served hot tea, and it was so refreshing to get tea that was properly prepared and piping hot! Marie and I had the Snowflake Tea, a coconut and almond tea, and Peach Gingersnap Tea, both quite delicious, while Cynthia opted for a black tea instead.

It's rare that I come across something new on a tea table, but this honey dispenser was so nifty that I asked if I could buy one to take home with me, and I was delighted that the answer was yes! (Both friends did so as well.) The teas I had were both quite tasty without honey, but as soon as I saw this gadget, I wanted to try it. The dispenser sits above a small bowl of hot water, and I could see immediately that this would be a great way to keep the honey pourable. One quick press of the handle and I had a little honey come out the bottom of the dispenser and into my teacup!

When you're done, owner Teresa explained, you empty the hot water from the bowl on bottom and can plug the dispenser to have it ready to go next time.

I thought this was such a brilliant and easy way to serve the honey, and I'm looking forward to using my dispenser with many cups of tea!

Monday, June 17, 2024

The Emerald Chandelier tearoom in Griffin, Georgia

When my friend Marie (seated) called a few weeks ago to say that she and another friend, Cynthia, wondered if I would like to join them in visiting the Emerald Chandelier tearoom in Griffin, I said yes! It was a beautiful day, and perhaps not surprisingly, this was one of the most enjoyable afternoons I've had in months.

As soon as the tea tray came out, I quickly remembered why I have always enjoyed going to tea.

Our tea started with this Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup. Knowing I would be having afternoon tea at 4 p.m., I had skipped lunch. Considering all the food we got, I should have skipped breakfast too! I was quite hungry by the time we arrived, and this soup was fabulous with its thick, creamy texture but not so much of it that it prevented me from enjoying the rest of the meal.

Here you can see the Salmon Pizza on Pumpernickel, Cucumber Canapés with Lemon-Basil Butter, and at back, the Peach Soup.

Here are the Empanadas and Ham & Apricot Pinwheels. 

And these are the Pimento Cheese Gougeres. The sandwiches were plentiful and tasty. And I couldn't help thinking of that old adage about how "we eat with our eyes first," because my eyes were definitely impressed by the presentation here. I enjoyed all of the sandwiches, but the salmon and the cucumber, as always, were my favorites, although that flaky gougere oozing cheese was a close runner-up.

By the time we got to the sweets, I was quite full, but I did manage at least a bite of everything, from the House Scones to the Blueberry Pearl French Macarons, butterfly-shaped White-Chocolate Lemon Linzer Cookies, and Petit Fours. The macaron was my favorite, as I am quite the fan of these little confections.

I was so busy chatting with my friends that I forgot to get a picture of the exterior of this adorable tearoom, but fortunately, I later realized it was pictured on this banner in the entryway.

We were impressed by the food, the service, and the pretty dishes, and the rooms were so lovely that we had to wander around and check them out.

This emerald-colored wallpaper was charming. The menu at this lovely tearoom changes every two months, so now I'm thinking perhaps that's a sign of how often I need to go.

Tomorrow, I'll tell you about the teas we had as well as a new-to-me teatime gadget that I used that day, a contraption I'd not come across before!

Friday, June 14, 2024

Finally trying my "Battle Buddy" tea

Life has, of course, been very different over the past two months as I’ve been adjusting to life without Alex here. The other day, I discovered some tea that I hadn’t tried yet, a tea that I clearly remember buying on our visit to see family in late March. The name “Battle Buddy” struck me as meaningful, because Alex was my husband but also my “Battle Buddy” in life. We had the same slightly warped sense of humor and lots of the same thoughts about things in the news, and I can’t tell you how many times over the past two months I’ve thought, “I need to remember to tell Alex that such and such happened” and then remembered that oops, I’ll have to wait and tell him in Heaven, assuming I still care about the tidbit once I get there. So this tea had seemed a little “precious” to me because it was the last one I bought on a trip with him. This week, though, I looked at it and thought, “Just drink the tea!” I know he would tell me it was stupid to save this tea just because it was the last one I bought when he was still here on earth. And so I tried the tea.

This is the second tea I got that day from Skirted Soldier, a female-veteran-owned company, and I had already forgotten that their teas appear to be hand-packaged in this nice drawstring tea bag. It had a lovely vanilla scent, and I had a feeling the flavor would match.

I’m happy to report that the taste was as yummy as the scent! It was a rich black tea with lots of vanilla and a hint of the spearmint, orange peel, and bergamot flavors, so it was quite a complex blend and one I thoroughly enjoyed. I’m glad I went ahead and tried it, and I think my "Battle Buddy" would be too. (I'm also grateful I have so many good tea memories with him. They're a blessing to have!)

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The July/August 2024 Tea Time Magazine

The annual British issue of Tea Time is always one of my favorites, and this one does not disappoint! The recipe I'd most like to try is the chocolate Opera Cake on the cover, "made by layering two types of sponge (almond and chocolate) with coffee-infused buttercream. A shiny and smooth ganache decorates the top." Doesn't that sound divine?

The tea wares in each issue are as important to me as the recipes, and I must say this purple transfer ware is lovely!

As are these blue-and-white dishes. Blue and white are the classic colors of summer, so this is very fitting.

And I also enjoyed Jane Pettigrew's article about taking tea in the Berkshires, especially since I hadn't heard of any of the tea places she featured. If you're an Anglophile who loves tea, this issue is one you don't want to miss.

Monday, June 10, 2024

A busy weekend and a new tea vendor in town

I'm part of a group of local writers called the Hometown Novel Writers Association, and as a member, I was one of some thirty-five authors who set up shop in downtown Newnan Friday evening to kick off Litfest, a literary-themed weekend sponsored by our Newnan Carnegie Library Foundation.

For some reason I couldn't explain, I felt compelled to head out thirty minutes early, which would have been way early except that my "low tire pressure" light came on just as I approached a local auto place that Alex and I always used. I slipped right in, and the tire wasn't just low but flat. Late on a Friday afternoon, they were quite busy, but the young man told me to pull my car in and he'd get it patched, and he did. I was out of there in thirty minutes, and he didn't even charge me. Isn't that interesting? (The Lord looks out for me!) So I got to my event and set up my little table in plenty of time. I had found some of Alex's books in his office and decided to take them, too, and was glad I did since two customers, like him, were Louisiana natives and wanted to read his novel. I was also pleasantly surprised that one young girl wanted both Emeralds and Envy and Rubies and Revenge and was eager for me to sign them. I'm always happy to find a new reader of cozy mysteries!

We have a great group of authors, including our past president, Mike Brown, whose latest release is The Last Laird of Sapelo, and here, his wife, Connie, who shares my love of antiques, is setting up a poster to promote his new book.

I've also enjoyed getting to know Dr. Ann Rhodes, who writes children's books and inspirational books, and she is quite savvy on social media, as I always take a moment to view her short inspirational videos when I see them on Instagram.

My friend Chellie Phillips writes award-winning business books, has recently added children's books to her offerings, and just presented at a conference in Las Vegas!

And Sharon Marchisello, whom I met at a Sisters in Crime meeting years ago, writes mysteries and also has a book on finance. And of course there were lots of other authors who write books I'm not even familiar with yet, and I'm looking forward to learning about them all.

During the event, a lady visited my table, and I think it was one of my tea books that soon had us discussing teas and teatime. Turns out, she has teas at a new shop called Baker Bag Company near the Courthouse Square (locals: it's next to Murphey Florist), so I paid a visit the very next day.

And yes, I came home with a few goodies: some locally made pepper jelly, which I'd been searching for, as well as two new Plum Deluxe teas, their Gratitude Blend and the Strawberry Immunity Blend. The Gratitude Blend is the only one I've tried so far, and it is delicious, although it's not what I was expecting. It contains "black tea, orange peels, blue cornflowers, strawberries, raspberry leaves, bergamot oil, strawberry essence, love, and gratitude," so I was expecting something fruity, but instead, this just tastes like a very good naturally sweet vanilla tea. I've had four cups of it already, even though it's getting a little steamy here in Georgia, so that tells you how much I've enjoyed this tea. If you're a local, you might be like me and not know about Baker Bag Company, but it's a cute shop and a place I'll be sure to visit when I need gifts, teas, or a new handbag!

Friday, June 7, 2024

The Amazon gift card winner is …

 Marilyn Miller! Thanks to all who entered, and thank you for the great book recommendations too!

The Garage Sale Mystery movies

When I visited my friend Kathy down in Statesboro last month, she and her husband, John, were in the habit of projecting movies onto a large screen poolside at their home, and that was definitely a habit I could get into, if I had a pool. Because I so enjoyed watching these movies with my friends, I promptly came home and subscribed to Hallmark mysteries, and I just finished watching all of the Garage Sale mysteries. The movies starred Lori Loughlin and aired from 2013-2020.

I subscribed via my Amazon Prime account, which was super easy to do, and it's only $5.99 a month, which is pretty thrifty entertainment, if you ask me.

I spotted tea wares in quite a few of the movies, and a couple of times, the characters referred to a teapot that came "with service." Any idea what that means? I'm assuming it refers to the sugar and creamer (and maybe other pieces), but I was surprised that this was a term I've not come across before in relation to tea wares. Have you? Or maybe it's a regional thing? At any rate, I thoroughly enjoyed these movies and will probably watch them again, as I like to watch reruns when I'm working on needlework so that I don't have to pay that close attention. Are you a fan of these or any other Hallmark movies?

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Fun new flavors for cold-brewed tea

One of my favorite ways to make tea during the summertime is to cold-brew the tea by simply plopping a tea bag into a glass of ice water. And this summer, I’m trying some fancy new tea bags thanks to this birthday gift from my friend Susan!

Out of curiosity, I decided to try this Lemon Honey Green Tea first, and I loved it iced. And to make the teas last even longer, I’ll drink the tea and then simply refill the glass with water and ice and enjoy a second glass of tea!

I had a feeling the Orange Black Tea blend would be wonderful as a cold-brew tea, and it was. Do you ever cold-brew your tea?

Monday, June 3, 2024

Giveaway: $20 Amazon gift card

Since I haven't done a giveaway lately, I thought it would be fun to kick off the week with an old favorite giveaway item: an Amazon e-gift card for $20. I figure that will buy you a new book or some new tea!

Here's how you can win: 1) Tell me the name of the last book you read and enjoyed (I'd rather hear about good books than bad ones!). 2) Be sure to include a way for me to get in touch with you if you're the winner.

You may enter the giveaway now through 7 a.m. EST on Friday, June 7, by commenting here or on the Tea With Friends page on Facebook (US only please.) Good luck!