Monday, November 20, 2017

November Giveaway: The Collectible Teapot & Tea Calendar

For the November giveaway, I thought I'd choose something that is a favorite item for many of the tea lovers I know, the Collectible Teapot & Tea Calendar! So if you don't have the 2018 edition yet, don't order it until you enter this giveaway and see whether you've won.

If you'd like to be entered in the giveaway, just leave an "Enter me" to this post between now and 7 a.m. Friday, November 24, making sure I have a way to contact you if you're the winner, and you'll be entered to win. (US entries only, please.) Good luck!

Friday, November 17, 2017

"When the Bishop Needs an Alibi" by Vannetta Chapman

Emma heated the kettle on the gas-powered stove. As they waited for the water to boil, she told Sophia about her family, hoping to put her at ease. She'd made it through all of the grandchildren when the kettle let out a whistle. She jumped up to pour the hot water over bags of herbal tea. "Gut for the nerves," she murmured, setting a mug in front of Sophia.

— "When the Bishop Needs an Alibi," Vannetta Chapman

Did you ever think about what the Amish eat and drink? I didn't until I happened to read this new Amish cozy mystery that I so enjoyed, I thought some of you might want to check it out as well! To be honest, I've never read an Amish mystery. I know there's a slew of them out there, but the topic never appealed to me. But when I came across this title on NetGalley and saw the intriguing cover with its old-fashioned diner stools, I downloaded it.

Henry Lapp, a widowed Amish bishop in Colorado, keeps finding himself in the middle of murder investigations. This is the second book in the series and frequently references a "Monte Vista arsonist" he helped find previously. This go-round, the bishop is drawn to help a young waitress in the  local diner he frequents. Sophia seems nervous and on edge, and Henry feels drawn to help her, even getting his lady friend, Emma, involved. They sense something very dangerous is going on in Sophia's life, but she won't reveal what it is. Still, Henry and Emma feel compelled to help, especially when a body is found.

It's quite fascinating to consider how Amish people might help solve a murder. They are definitely not much help when it comes to technology (a subplot involving a flash drive is quite fun), yet their common sense and people-watching skills more than make up for what they lack in modern-day know-how. Henry and Emma's faith, naturally, is a big part of this story, and the author does a fine job of weaving in the spiritual elements without seeming preachy. Her characters come across as authentic—and authentic in their struggles—and watching these Amish folks solve a mystery was more delightful than I could have imagined. I'm hooked and look forward to reading other books in this series!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

"Suited to a T — A Christmas Story for the Little Ones at Home"

Want a nice little pre-Christmas treat? I found "Suited to a T — A Christmas Story for the Little Ones at Home" on the Library of Congress website, and it's a darling tale in which tea features quite prominently.

In this scene, we're told that "Dear grandmamma" was a woman who "often sipped her tea and smiled when listening to the happy child."

And I won't spoil the story by telling you what "Dear grandmamma" got from Santa Claus, but since this booklet was published by the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, I'll bet you can guess! Click here if you'd like to read this tale for yourself.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Victorian London Fog from Harney & Sons

Tea companies are wise to send out emails about their new offerings. I got one from Harney & Sons last week about their new Victorian London Fog tea. Now, they had me at "Victorian London Fog," but when I also got an offer to receive $5 off plus free shipping, I started clicking like mad, knowing full well I was going to place an order.

First, a few words about this thoroughly delightful new tea. I've had "London Fog" drinks in several tea establishments over the past few years. Harney says this tea was the winning blend in their Tea Blend Sweepstakes (how did I not know about that?), and that "the beverage called London Fog originated during the Victorian era. It is traditionally an Earl Grey served with steamed milk." So I added milk to mine and loved it!

As you can see from the loose tea, this tea has lavender buds blended in, along with bergamot and "hints of vanilla." If you like Earl Grey with a twist, this is definitely a great tea to try.

Harney is also offering a new line of Madison Bay transferware teacups and saucers. I ordered the blue and white set (it's really more of a blue and creamy ivory color), and I think the patterns are lovely. You can see all five colors by clicking here.

Have any of you tried this new tea? I'm a fan, and if you haven't tried it yet, I bet you will be too!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Mama said there'd be days like this …

Thought y’all might appreciate this. I am on the tail end of a horrible cold, the kind that first sent me to Walmart for a new space heater for my office, an electric blanket, off-brand Thera-Flu-like product (green tea and honey lemon flavor!), zinc tablets, and vitamin C lozenges.

I finally ended up going to the doctor, who told me I did have an ear infection but, otherwise, just a bad cold that had to run its course. So naturally I’ve been sipping lots of hot tea. One morning, I decided to use my lovely pink Adagio strainer mug to prepare some loose tea. But alas, once my electric kettle had the water boiling, I poured the water into the vessel on the right, not the vessel on the left. Eek! I actually stood there for a moment wondering why my cup was leaking when I realized what I’d done. Hope your week has gone better than that. Have a great weekend and stay well, friends! 😊

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Teavivre's Organic Nonpareil She Qian Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea

This week I sampled a new Dragon Well I received from Teavivre, their Organic Nonpareil She Qian Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea. As always, I enjoyed the Dragon Well's appearance, scent, and flavor, and it was so good that I wasn't surprised to go online and learn that this is a "very supreme" grade of Dragon Well, with leaves from the spring's first flush!

Whenever I have Dragon Well tea, I enjoy the distinctive look of the long, flat leaves. It's even fun to watch them steep, and I inhale the slightly vegetal scent while the tea is doing its thing. But the taste, of course, is what's best. This is one of those green teas that has a nice smooth mouth feel, and I look forward to sipping more cups of it this week as a change from the spicy fall teas I've been drinking.

To learn more about the many great teas from Teavivre, click here.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Fun finds in fabric

I have a confession to make. You know that sacred Susan Winget Tea Time fabric I acquired (after much searching and the kindness of two readers) over the summer? I haven't settled on a pattern to use it yet. I've found several patterns that were contenders, but when I pulled out the fabric and my rotary cutter, I just couldn't do it. One of my life mottoes is "When in doubt, don't," so I didn't. But that hasn't stopped me from continuing to collect other fabric and patterns—or from sewing something else in the meantime! So here's what I've been up to. This pretty set of fat quarters by Whistler Studios for Windham Fabrics is so lovely, I had to order it from Missouri Star Quilt Company (and I have absolutely *loved* ordering from them because of their great customer service, witty communications, and speedy shipping).

So why was I so smitten by this fabric? Perhaps it was the name. 

This piece of fabric is my favorite in the bundle, and it seemed appropriate to seek something with fall hues at this time of year.

This one's great too, isn't it? The fabric arrived only the other day and I haven't even planned what to use it for yet, but I am learning that if I see a tea-themed fabric, I'd better get it now, because by the time I *finally* decide on a pattern, the fabric will no longer be available. Despite my slow-as-molasses approach to selecting a design, I have been sewing, but I've been using fabric that is so absolutely unlike me, I can't even explain why I love it so.

I've been making what they call "hexies," these English-paper-pieced discs in hexagon shapes, which are then sewn into flowers. (And okay, this Anglophile probably likes the fact that this is English paper piecing.) From what I've read, this pattern is also known as Grandmother's Flower Garden and was one of the most popular quilt patterns of the 1930s, which makes sense since Depression-era women could make it with fabric scraps. But wow, the colors in these Kaffe Fassett fabrics (found at a quilt shop in Rome) are wayyyy out of my comfort zone. They don't match a thing in my house. I can't imagine what I'll do with this throw/quilt/spread when I finally finish it, but I don't care. Making these is so fun, and when Alex and I have been binge-watching "24" with Kiefer Sutherland on the weekends (because we have pretty much forgotten the plots from watching the show the first time around), these are what I work on.

I originally thought that when I have enough of these stitched, I'd like to just sew them all together edge to edge like this, with no rhyme or reason to the psychedelic coloring.

But then I saw a Pinterest photo of such a quilt with white hexies surrounding each flower. This gives you an idea of what that would look like, and I do believe it would highlight the colorful fabrics even more.

So, crafty friends, what all are you working on this fall?

Friday, November 3, 2017

Some tasty new herbals from BOH Tea

Last month I wrote about receiving some new samples of BOH teas, a brand that was new to me. I tried and enjoyed the flavors on the top row of teas to begin with, all of which I enjoyed, and this week, it was time to try the herbal teas on the bottom row.

The taste and quality of herbal teas can vary widely, but I enjoyed each one of these varieties! The Lemon Myrtle had a bright citrusy taste that wasn't quite like any other lemon-flavored tea I've tried lately. The Peppermint had a nice bold peppermint flavor (I sometimes drink it in the afternoon because I've heard the scent of peppermint makes you more alert), and the Camomile was the classic camomile taste so familiar to those of us who enjoy this herb. I greatly enjoyed sampling all of these BOH teas. You can find out more about these teas here, and if you happen to be doing some early Christmas shopping, now through December 31, 2017, you can use the code TFRIENDS to get 10 percent off your order of these and other BOH products on Thank you again to BOH Tea for the samples and for the great discount for my tea friends!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Glass teapot ornament from Joann

I know, I know. I don't like to rush the holidays either, but here's the thing: if you don't shop for Christmas decorations now, the good stuff will be gone by the time December rolls around!

And so I bought a lovely new ornament at Joann last week. It was $14.99, which is high by Joann standards, but with my 40-percent-off coupon (thank you, iPhone app), it was only $8.99. And this ornament is rather large, about 3 inches by 4-1/2 inches, so there's that.

The details are very nice, including the color of the "tea" as seen in the spout. My store here in Newnan had three of the ornaments, so after I bought one, there were two left. The cashier who rang me up asked if any were left because she wanted to get one for a friend, so I'm guessing these will disappear fast. (And as always, please holler if you come across cute teapot or teacup ornaments this year!)

Monday, October 30, 2017

Another Power of the Purse is in the bag (so to speak!)

Last year, so many of you seemed to enjoy my photos from our local community foundation's purse-themed fundraiser, the Power of the Purse, that I thought I'd share some photos of the latest event, which was held last Thursday. Our event photographer took the "official" photos during the event itself, so I don't have any of our speaker, Minda Dentler, but she was the first woman handcyclist to complete the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. She was absolutely amazing and left us all in tears! Born in India, she developed polio as an infant, and as a result, both her legs were paralyzed. Although she was left in an orphanage, she was later adopted by a US family and came here at age 3, eventually having surgery and learning to walk with the help of crutches. She told of growing up in an athletic family and of her journey to the Ironman competition. I'm pretty sure every woman (and a few men!) in the room left feeling quite motivated!

This event benefits the Coweta Community Foundation's Women's and Children's Fund, and since it's called "Power of the Purse," purses are used in the theme and decor. This year, they had a fun oversized purse that lots of folks posed with, including my friends Phil and Monica.

Monica, by the way, is our local balloon whiz, and look what she designed for this event! Foundation board members Mike and Will were good sports and agreed to pose with the balloon purse when I told them prior to the lunch that I needed some people to stand next to it to show the size. I told Monica that, once again, I'm so impressed with her creative work, and she said she'd just gotten back from "balloon university." (Who knew?)

Our luncheon meal this year consisted of a lovely salad plate and …

Cupcakes with fondant purses on them!

Of course, the *real* purses are always quite the draw, and this isn't even half of the ones that were in this year's amazing Silent Auction.

If I had deeper pockets, I would have bid on the Tiffany package ...

... or perhaps the Chanel package. (Maybe after I write that best seller!)

The other fun part of this event is that the Foundation annually names a "Woman of the Year," and this year it was my friend Nancy (turns out I have a lot of friends named Nancy!), who is a tireless advocate in the fight against pancreatic cancer. I was thrilled to see her recognized for her hard work. It was another fun event for a great cause, and I was so honored to get to be a part of it.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Butterscotch Blondie tea from Tazo

Tazo has a new line of dessert teas out, and I decided to give them a try when I saw them at Kroger this week.

This one is the Butterscotch Blondie flavor, which is a great idea for a tea.

The tea has a bit of astringency that I need to figure out how to soften (milk? sweetener? I don't like to add things to my tea), but I did enjoy the pronounced vanilla flavor and agree this is more of a dessert type of tea than other Tazo teas I've tried. Have you tried this new line yet?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

"Mrs. Corey pours tea for a visiting colonel"

The Library of Congress seems to have digitized a heap of new American Red Cross photos, and this one from September of 1918 is so charming!

Here's what the site says about the photo: "Mrs. Corey's A.R.C. Officers Convalescent Home No. 8, Chateau de Villequeis, Verrieres de Buisson. (S.E.O.) Afternoon tea on the terrace. Mrs. Corey pours tea for a visiting colonel. The daily Bridge game at Chateau Villegenis. Mrs. Corey and some of the officers. Chateau Villegenie or as it is known now AMERICAN RED CROSS Officers Convalescent Home No. 8, was given to the Red Cross by Mrs. Corey for the duration of the war. It has accommodation for 60 officers and with its beautiful building and spacious grounds makes an ideal convalescent home. It is situated at Verrieres only 18 Km. from Paris."

You can find the image online here if you'd like to bookmark it or enlarge it!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Announcing the Tea Lovers' Book Club!

I love book clubs, and I've been in several over the years, so I don't know why it only recently occurred to me to launch The Tea Lovers' Book Club! Here's how it will work: If you want to join, just read the book. That's it. I plan to announce each month's book at least one month in advance, and I'll let you know the day I plan to post my own thoughts and ask for others to share theirs.

Based upon quite a few excellent recommendations, I've chosen The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See for the first Tea Lovers' Book Club selection. Several tea friends have already read the book, so I hope you'll come back the first Monday of December, December 4, and join in the discussion! My hope is that others will be encouraged to read more books on a theme we all know and love.

AND ... to make this even more fun, I am planning some special giveaways and prizes *exclusively* for those who participate in the book club. I've already been thinking of how fun it would be to have, say, a bookmark exchange for those who participate in The Tea Lovers' Book Club.

So there you go. I want to keep it simple with no official sign-up, not a lot of rules, and just an easy way to be inspired to do a little more reading. And if you want to join in the fun, start reading The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane now, and I'll see you back here to discuss it on December 4.

Got suggestions for other tea-themed books the club should read? Ideas for more ways we could have fun with a book club? Just let me know!

Friday, October 20, 2017

New tea-themed cards from Walmart

Sometimes, the best time to find tea-related cards is when I'm not looking for them! I was at Walmart and looking for a birthday card when I spotted these two.

I love this card with all the pretty teacups on the front, and I especially like that it's a blank card, so it can be used as a thinking-of-you card, a thank-you card or whatever I need.

And I saw this one with a kettle on it and remembered that I could use a Thanksgiving card for a friend. This kettle is probably the size of a coffee kettle, but we'll say it's for tea! Have you spotted any tea-related cards lately?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

"Forgotten History" by Pam Hanson and Barbara Andrews

Miriam went to the oven and took out the pan of crusty croissants, sliding them into a basket lined with a blue-checkered linen napkin. "Do you like iced tea? I don't remember you as a tea drinker."

"I am since I learned there are no calories in tea," Bess said with a chuckle.

Forgotten History by Pam Hanson and Barbara Andrews

I was browsing in a Goodwill store recently when I came across this Guideposts book, part of their Chesapeake Antiques Mysteries. It's the story of Miriam Maxwell, who inherits an antiques business from her late sister Ruth. Miriam returns to her old hometown on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland to decide what to do with the store, and there she reconnects with quite a few people from her past. There's Bess Watkins, an old high school friend, and also Samuel Bentley, whom Miriam dated many years ago.

Although no one wants to lose a sister (at least I hope you don't!), I think many of us might not actually mind inheriting an antiques business. Miriam, however, is no antiques expert and finds herself overwhelmed at all the furniture and antiques her sister managed to pack into her cluttered building. One of her earliest customers happens to be her old flame, Samuel, who buys an antique desk that once belonged to Miriam's family. When he gets home with it, he finds an old letter from Miriam's ancestor in a hidden compartment inside, and that kicks off an intriguing subplot that is woven throughout the book.

I enjoyed meeting Ruth and her friends, and it was fun to learn about antiques through the eyes of someone new to the collecting scene. In fact, I found myself reaching for my iPhone so I could look up things like Westmoreland glass, which I'd never heard of before. The only negative about this series is that there appears to be only one more title, according to the Guideposts website, but I have it and am ready to see what's in store for Miriam next!

Monday, October 16, 2017

The gift card winner is ...

Gabie at the beautiful Tea End Blog! Gabie, I've sent you an email to let you know how to claim your prize. Congratulations, and I so appreciate the book recommendations of everyone who entered. Thanks to you all, I have a terrific new list of books to read! :)

A most delicious new holiday tea from Palais Des Thés!

Palais Des Thés in Paris wrote to see if I'd like to sample one of their new holiday blends, and since I have long enjoyed their teas, I naturally said yes. I was expecting perhaps a small envelope of this Thé des Gourmets, so I was quite surprised when a box arrived at my doorstep containing this beautiful ruby-red tin of tea.

Pretty, isn't it?

And don't you love that starry teacup? Lovely! But look at the flavors in this black tea: almond, cherry, and cranberry—my favorite holiday flavors! 

The minute I opened the tin, I was in tea heaven. This tea has a delightfully fruity scent and a taste that definitely seems like dessert in a teacup! The almond, cherry, and cranberry notes are there in equal measure, and it's a tea so sweet and rich that it definitely needs no sweetener. Normally I'd wait until the holidays to tell you about the tea I'll be drinking over Christmas, but since this is a limited edition, I thought I'd better go ahead and mention it now so it will be on everyone's tea radar. 

I'm going through this tea like crazy and wanted to order another tin, but it's not available yet. The minute it is, I'll be sure to mention it here, because I definitely have a new holiday favorite—and I'm pretty sure some of you will as well!