Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A corner of the Halle Bros. Co. Tea Room

Photo courtesy of the Michael Schwartz Library at Cleveland State University

Some of you know that I collect images and recipes and memorabilia from old department store tea rooms. Most of my collection was acquired as I compiled a book on the topic back in 2011. I occasionally get the urge to write a second book, and so I've begun researching again. This week, I came across a postcard image I'd never seen before, for the Halle Bros. Co. in Cleveland, Ohio. I'm surprised by how very spacious the tea room looks, especially by today's tea room standards.

I know I've asked this before, but it's probably time for me to ask it again: How many of you can ever remember going to a department store tea room? If you did, I'd love to hear the name of it, because it might be one whose history (and recipes) I need to explore!

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Barnes & Noble shopping alert

Some tea mugs are worth making a new spot on the shelf for, like this one I found at Barnes & Noble last week. It quotes the always-brilliant Jane Austen: "I would rather have nothing but tea." The tea bag–looking graphic is what caught my eye initially, but …

Then I saw all those little teacups and saucers and was completely smitten! The mug is $14.95, and I had gotten a 15 percent off coupon by email and considered it providential timing, so I saved a few pennies on my purchase. (And I also tend to look for a digital coupon anytime I know I will be shopping there.)

But the real reason I'm writing about Barnes & Noble today is to let you know, if you didn't already, that the Royal Wedding Tea from Harney & Sons is back at B&N. The tea was good, as I recall, but I mainly just wanted a commemorative tin, which I have kept and enjoy decorating with on occasion. I believe it is now priced at only $5 at B&N with the purchase of any other tin of tea. So if you missed it on the occasion of William and Kate's wedding, please do not miss out with Harry and Meghan's!

Friday, April 13, 2018

A surprise in the May/June 2018 Tea Time magazine

 So, I told myself that fifteen years' worth was quite enough Tea Time magazines and that I was going to a) stop collecting them and b) list my old ones on eBay, keeping only the books from Tea Time magazine instead to provide with me some much-needed shelf space for books. Let me just say, "Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha." That bright idea lasted about five minutes before a friend on Facebook mentioned a new Tea Time article I hadn't seen because I had decided not to get any more issues. Regretting my delay, I went in search of the March/April issue, which I found, and days later I happened upon the May/June issue as well.


And I'm so glad I did. For one thing, I don't believe I've ever before seen a tea sandwich styled quite like this simple, pretty-as-a-package design, and that alone was worth the price of the magazine. I love pretty things, and this is so pretty!


But then I turned a few pages over and was delighted to find that Susanna Reppert Brill, sister of my tea-loving friend and fellow tea blogger Nancy Reppert, has an article in the new issue titled "A Feast of Flowers." Now I've not (yet!) had the pleasure of meeting Susanna, but I feel as if I know her because of Nancy. I greatly enjoyed this article, which had some terrific new ideas for using flowers at teatime, and I plan on trying some of them very soon. (And I'm so very glad I decided to keep adding to my Tea Time stash. Maybe I'll get rid of some craft magazines instead!)


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The joy of a handmade gift!

I don't believe anyone appreciates a handmade gift quite as much as those of us who like to make handmade gifts ourselves. For that reason alone, I was so delighted when Sandy G. sent me this surprise package in the mail last week! You know the package is going to be something you love when it has a teapot on the mailing label and a tea-themed card inside, don't you?

This reversible teacup hot pad is a crochet design I've never seen before (I would have had to make it!), and I absolutely love it! Larger than a potholder, it's large enough to actually use beneath a hot dish on the serving table, but it's so pretty with that lovely stripe of shell crochet that I wouldn't want to cover it up. Can't you practically feel the cozy texture from this photo? It's such a beautiful and unexpected gift … and it inspires me to go make something to give away myself! Do any of you give handmade gifts? If so, what's the last handmade gift you gave?

Monday, April 9, 2018

On teapots and style


I will, I suppose, always love those sweaters with teapots or teacups on them. I've had a few, but I haven't had this one from Talbots, and when I saw it for $5.99 at a Goodwill store recently, I immediately knew I would be working it into next fall's wardrobe. For about a half second, I thought, "But is a sweater like this even in style anymore?" Immediately, my more sensible self answered, "Who cares if it's in style? You like it, and you'll actually wear it, so get it."


And so I did. I'm picturing it with jeans and a white or navy three-quarter-sleeve T-shirt, perfect for junking in the fall. But who knows? Maybe I'll find some pretty new navy slacks and dress it up with a blouse and some nice jewelry. Or maybe I'll find a navy dress and wear this to church. The point is, whether it's "fashionable" or not, it's going to be "my" fashion, and here in my almost mid fifties, I'm finally comfortable enough with who I am to not give much thought to whether what I wear has the approval of others.


Yet I am still curious where you all stand on fashion, since most of you readers, from what I can gather, range from perhaps the late thirties/early forties to the sixties and seventies. I can't see a forty-something wearing this. A fifty-something, maybe. Sixties and seventies? Depends on the person, I guess. Many years ago, I had the opportunity to hear lifestyle expert Alexandra Stoddard when she was speaking in Atlanta. She wore a gorgeous suit with a colorful, all-over floral print and, if memory services, fuchsia shoes and blue tights. She even commented on her colorful fashion choices, noting that a friend once told her that her clothes made them smile. She thanked them and said she appreciated the compliment but that she would wear such clothes even if others didn't much care for them because they made her happy. I thought that was a lovely way to think about fashion.

So I consider that philosophy as I look into my closet and see about a half dozen rose-print dresses, multiple aqua and turquoise knit tops, and simple sweaters that I wear year after year because I like them so much. Do you have a "style" philosophy? Has it changed over the years?

Friday, April 6, 2018

The One Bowl Baking magazine winner is …

Dianne V. in Canada! Congrats, Dianne!

A U.S. Secretary of War … having tea

While perusing the digital images of the Library of Congress, I've come upon quite a few scenes of women having tea, but I haven't found that many images of men having tea, much less men who happen to be the Secretary of War! Here's the caption on this circa 1918 photo: The Secretary of War, Newton D. Baker inspects Red Cross activities at the American hospital in Dartford, near London. Sunday afternoon "tea" at the hospital is a regular function, not only for the patients, but also for the staff. Mr. Baker and the Commanding Officer of the hospital, Major E.H. Fiske of Brooklyn, have their tea on the doorstep of the Administration building.

I believe Secretary Baker is on the right and Major Fiske is at left.

This image was a gift from the American Red Cross, and I'm grateful they gave photos like this one so that we could all enjoy them and learn from them!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Some great new teatime surprises!

Thanks to "Informed Delivery" from the U.S. Postal Service, I now know what to look for in my mailbox each day. Magazines are still a surprise, and largely a joy, but every bill, postcard, card, and letter gets scanned and its image sent to my in-box every morning. Packages, though, are still rare and a surprise. So when I recently received a small Priority Mail box from tea friend Frances in California, I was both surprised and delighted! Inside were several wonderful treats, including this reusable teapot-and-teacup shopping bag she found at her local grocery store. Isn't this darling? It's now transporting a quilting project and supplies.

And the oven door is now sporting a new tea towel, which Frances tells me came from World Market. Since I don't have one of those stores in my neck of the woods anymore, I was especially happy to receive this tea towel, which is an absolutely brilliant design for Anglophiles!

Here's a detail. It's darling!

And last but not least, my package included this new tea bag rest, which also came from World Market. This is also the perfect size for holding one of my cup-size stainless steel tea infuser baskets, and I have been getting lots of use out of this most welcome and most thoughtful gift! So unless you are fortunate enough to have Frances as one of your friends, as I am, you might want to check out World Market (and perhaps even your own grocery store) next time you're out and about!






Monday, April 2, 2018

April Giveaway: One Bowl Baking magazine

I came across a new special issue from Hoffman Media that I decided would be perfect for the April giveaway! It's called "One Bowl Baking," and it features lots of yummy-looking recipes that would be perfect for springtime. The two pictured to the right of the magazine cover are a Lemon Matcha Tea Loaf and Vanilla Chai-Spiced Mini Loaves, so I'm quite certain this is an issue any tea lover would enjoy.

And there are so many tempting treats in this issue: Strawberry Coconut Cake, Kahlua Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Mousse, Apple Butter Pull-Apart Loaf, Lime Shortbread Bars, Blood Orange Madeleines … are you drooling yet? If so, just leave an "Enter me" to this post between now and 7 a.m. EST on Friday, April 6, making sure to include an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner, and you'll be entered to win. US and Canada only, please. Good luck!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Tea Lovers' Book Club: "Plum Tea Crazy" by Laura Childs


Summary: In the 19th (!) tea shop mystery from Laura Childs, we find Theodosia and Drayton at the Charleston mansion of historical society bigwig Timothy Neville. They’re among the guests gathered to view the Gaslight and Galleons Parade in the harbor, and as they watch from the widow’s walk of Timothy’s house, a fellow guest, Charleston banker Carson Lanier, falls to his death. They soon learn he was shot—and by a crossbow.

My thoughts: I must confess it’s hard for me to even pretend to be objective about Laura Childs’s tea shop mysteries, because discovering the first book in the series, Death by Darjeeling, back in 2001 is what turned me from a nonfiction-only reader into a fiction fan! And I enjoyed this latest installment for the reason I have enjoyed all the others: terrific characters, plenty of red herrings, and lovely tea room plots and imaginative tea party menus. (And while I am well aware that traditionally published authors don’t often get much say in the look of their book covers, I must say that this one is glorious—my favorite so far. From the silver teapot with pink roses to the macarons in the teacup, it hits all the right notes.)

The judgment: This one's definitely a winner, and one of my favorite things about this book was the new characters it introduced, including Jamie, Hailey’s cousin, and Alexis, the owner of a new Japanese art gallery. In my town, the retail life waxes and wanes just like this, with new faces constantly coming and going, and I like how Theodosia and company are always welcoming to the newcomers. Even one who calls Drayton “Dude,” which cracked me up!

For discussion:

• This story literally started with a bang, and I was surprised (but not bothered) to find an early focus on the actual murder, since most cozy mystery murders occur offscreen. What did you think about the opening scene?

• Who are you favorite characters in this series? Mine are definitely Theo and Drayton. There’s a haughty yet somehow likable fellow in my town who reminds me so much of Drayton that I picture him every time Drayton is mentioned. Do you have strong mental images of the characters?

• All those mentions of plums made me want to try a new plum tea. The one I used to adore was called Snow Monkey Plum, and I don’t know who made it, only that the tearoom that served it is now closed. Do you like plum-flavored teas? Have one to recommend?


Next Month's Book: I’m going with another tea-themed mystery next month, simply because I’ve read so many good things about Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes by Karen Rose Smith that I have to check it out for myself. I hope you’ll join me in reading it, and we’ll discuss it here on April 27.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Easter issue of Daphne's Diary

I've been a fan of Daphne's Diary since I first discovered it in 2014. In fact, my husband gave me the Valentine's issue on Valentine's Day this year, and I used a Barnes & Noble gift card to treat myself to the Easter issue, which I simply had to mention here, because …

Bunny-in-teacup stickers! Need I say more?

And I think it would spoil the surprise if I showed you the page on how to draw a teacup, but what a fun feature to find inside the latest issue. These magazines don't seem to stick around long in my neck of the woods, so if you want those bunny stickers, I suggest you hop to it and get thee to a newsstand ASAP. Happy reading!



Monday, March 26, 2018

Decorating for Easter

I love the Easter season! We had a great Palm Sunday service at church yesterday (one of the little rug rats poked me with his palm frond as he made his triumphal entry into the children's wing), and when I got home, I realized I needed to hop to it if I was going to bring Easter to my tea trolley!

It's the time of year I usually first pull out my Royal Winton Welbeck chintzware. This year, I decided the teapot would be "pouring pearls" for a while.

Do any of you remember when the JoAnn stores carried "chintzware" fabric some years ago? My late mother made these napkins for me to go with my Welbeck pieces, and I would let go of my chintzware itself before I would part with these napkins. And I will always be grateful that after my mom passed away, her first birthday happened to fall on Easter or "Resurrection Sunday," as we say. It is one of the Lord's many mercies to me that the calendar fell the way it did in 2014!

A new addition to my collection of yellow linens this year is this lovely mug mat made for me by my pen pal, Sandy, in New York. I'd been using it in my office at my desk, but then I realized it needed to have a starring role on the tea trolley for a few weeks.

 
The piece with the Easter chicks spelling out "Easter" at the front of the cart was a recent T.J. Maxx find. I'm quite amused at them, because if you look closely, they all have different expressions. The one at left looks mischievous, and the one at right looks like she's dreaming of her next selfie.

This frame was a gift from my friend Susan, and I thought it was perfect for displaying a vintage Easter postcard of chicks spilling out of a teapot. "EASTER Joys be yours" indeed!

Another touch of yellow comes from a tin I saved after ordering the Harney & Sons Royal Wedding Tea years ago. (Do you suppose we can look for another wedding blend in honor of the wedding of Prince Harry and Ms. Markle?)

So that's this year's speed-decorating of the tea cart. I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you all have a wonderful Holy Week!



Friday, March 23, 2018

Ada Mae's Teacup


Just about this time a year ago, my sister and I were getting ready to have a yard sale together, and I learned she was getting rid of some teacups that had belonged to her husband's grandmother, Ada Mae. She told me I could take all of them I wanted, but I showed (for me) great restraint and took only this one, featuring a daffodil design in a shape of teacup I'd long admired.


The pattern is so pretty and springlike, isn't it!


I am now especially glad I accepted the gift, because Ada Mae passed away recently at age 92, and I love having this pretty teacup to remember her by. When my brother-in-law shared this picture of his late grandmother (second from left), I was charmed! I hadn't seen her in at least five years, but I have fond memories of her visits from Texas to Georgia at the holidays back when she was able. She was a pretty white-haired lady the entire time I knew her, so it's fun to see her as a brunette and wearing such a fabulous outfit back in her younger days. And so today, I lift my teacup in honor of … Ada Mae!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Some tea connections you might not have considered

As a writer, I love to come across offbeat books that make me think differently about things and people. Recently, that included the book Correlated: Surprising Connections Between Seemingly Unrelated Things by Shaun Gallagher. (Dollar Tree. One dollar. Score!)

I honestly had no idea a tea connection was in this book, so imagine my surprise when I'm reading along one night and came across this. Now, let me just say that regarding item number one, I do not wish to know your thoughts. TMI and NSFTB (Not Suitable For Tea Blog). But I am interested in the second item. It says 60 percent of people prefer mechanical pencils (to non-mechanical pencils, I assume). But among those who prefer tea to coffee (that includes me!), 71 percent prefer mechanical pencils (and I do *not* prefer mechanical pencils to non-mechanical ones). Do you? Just curious whether this tidbit holds up with readers of this blog!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Time for some teatime herbs

I believe the danger of frost has past, so that meant it was time to get going on some teatime garden projects for the new year. Fresh herbs for teatime sipping and cooking were definitely on my radar, so I made a visit to the Walmart garden center and picked up three pots of herbs to go in my teacup planter. The planter has become cracked on one side and may not make it another year, so I'm going to be on the lookout for another one just like it.

I purchased two mint plants, including this spearmint …

… and this chocolate mint (oh, does it smell yummy) …

And a pot of rosemary. I cannot seem to walk past a rosemary plant without touching it, crushing a few leaves, and sniffing my fingers because I love the scent so much. No wonder there's the saying "rosemary for remembrance."

Have plant tags, will study. Have you planted any teatime herbs this spring? I imagine my friends up north have not, but some of you in warmer climes probably have!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Guylian Matcha Green Tea Chocolates

The cookies and candies for sale at T.J. Maxx, I find, can be iffy. I've bought some chocolate teacups that disintegrated the moment I opened the package, and I've bought some cookies that tasted like slightly sugared cardboard. So while I'm happy to buy teas there, I don't often try the foods. But I decided to take a gamble and brought home these Guylian Matcha Green Tea Artisanal Belgian Chocolates when I saw them there the other day.

I loved the little seahorse shapes!

I turned one over and was surprised to find some milk chocolate along with the white chocolate shell.

Where was the matcha? I had to slice one open to confirm that the matcha filling was inside. (Or I could have just bitten into it, but that wouldn't make for a pretty photo.) And I'm delighted to report that these were absolutely delicious! These chocolates tasted fresh and sweet with just a light matcha taste. The consistency reminded me of Lindt Lindor Truffles, of which I have long been a fan.

There was only one box of these at the T.J. Maxx I visited, for an obvious reason, but if I see more, you can bet I'll be buying them! Have any of you tried these chocolates before? I'd love to have some of these on hand the next time I host a tea!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Some new tea from a new shop!


Several years ago, I learned from tea friend Denise about a new tea company in Huntsville, Alabama, called Piper & Leaf. I've not yet made it to the shop in Huntsville, but fortunately, the tea company has come to me! A new shop called Local Provisions recently opened in downtown Newnan, and they carry Piper & Leaf Tea!


I saw the display and wanted everything on it!


But I'll allow myself only one tea purchase at a time, and I started with the tea I've most wanted to try, their Front Porch Special blend. It contains black tea, spearmint, cornflowers, jasmine, and bergamot.


Think Earl Grey, but softer. I loved the scent of this tea, the sight of this tea, and most of all, the lovely, delicate flavor of this tea. Count me as the newest fan of Piper & Leaf — and Local Provisions!