Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Chatsford Teapot

The teapot in the photo is a 2-cup Dutcthess English Bone China Chatsford Teapot. The pattern is “Tranquillity.”
I became acquainted with the Chatsford teapot while traveling in England in 1995. My husband and I were chaperones for a group of teenage folk dancers, including our youngest daughter, on a 17 day dancing tour of England, Scotland and Wales, but, believe me, that is a story for another day!*smile*

The Chatsford® Strainer Tea System is a custom fitting removable fine mesh nylon strainer (infuser). It makes loose leaf tea as easy to brew as teabags! I prepare loose leaf tea several times every day. If I don't want to prepare an entire pot, I use the small infuser from the 2-cup pot in my special Bone China mug to brew one mug at a time.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Springtime Teacup Trio Collection

As I was growing up in our small Kentucky town, my mother displayed a few “antique” dishes in our home. Those dishes were “treasures” my brother and I were not allowed to touch. One in particular I admired and loved was this teacup trio. My mom did not drink tea. Coffee was her beverage of choice. She probably did not know what a scone was, but she sure could make a fabulous cream pie! I don’t know where she got this beautiful English Bone China Crown Staffordshire teacup trio. Did it come in a box of detergent; did she get it at the local grocery store with a purchase of a certain amount in the 1950’s, or was it a gift? I wish I knew. I have long admired the pretty delicate multi-floral pattern with the scalloped gold edging. An online search revealed the pattern is Crown Staffordshire Springtime. I have not been able to locate the dates of production. This teacup trio is mine now, and is on display in my dining room. I have searched antique malls, junk stores, consignment shops and online and have added enough of these pretty trios to set a table of six for afternoon tea.
Hmm…I think I will plan a “Springtime Tea.” OK, let’s see -- I can use this special spring floral china, use spring flowers as the center piece, invite my gardening friends and now for the menu…..
Tea party planning has brought a ray of sunshine and a little "springtime" into this dreary, rainy Kentucky day!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Tea Time Magazine

Yahoo! My March/April issue of Tea Time Magazine arrived in the mail today! I always look forward to receiving each issue, but I was especially anticipating the arrival of this one because I knew in advance it has a lovely article written by a New York online tea friend and an article with beautiful photographs of a fabulous tea party given by a California online tea friend. A bonus I was not expecting, is the cover photo of delicate French Macarons (macaroons). Oh, I have delightful memories of tasting these delicious macarons in London at Laduree, the French cafe in Harrods last March. My photograph of the macarons is not quite up to magazine cover quality, but it is special to me.

Join me for a cup of Harrods English Afternoon Blend as I ease into my favorite recliner and savor this special magazine for the next hour. After all, it is tea time, isn't it?

A Fun Weekend

I left the the home responsibilities on Friday to my DH and spent the weekend visiting the elder daughter and her family. The weekend included some of my favorite activities -- playing with the grandson, shopping, eating at nice restaurants and attending a Broadway Across America show in Cincinnati. Before the matinee performance of Wicked at the Aronoff Center in downtown Cincinnati on Saturday, my daughter and I enjoyed lunch in the Cricket Lounge of the historic Cincinnatian Hotel. The hotel serves a very nice afternoon tea in December but we were disappointed we were unable to work it into our schedule this Christmas season as we had the past two years. To make up for our loss, we decided have lunch there before the play. We both ordered pumpkin soup, a Reuben sandwich and iced tea. Lunch was delicious! The theater is just a short walk from the hotel. The performance was delightful! It was a memorable day. We both concluded we need to schedule more special days together, just the two of us!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tea Reading

I am currently reading Chicken Soup for the Tea Lover's Soul. This little book has provided soothing bedtime reading for me. In the tradition of the Chicken Soup books, this one is filled with heart-warming stories. The stories in this collection are centered around tea, whether it is a cup of tea, a pot of tea, breakfast tea, afternoon tea or anytime tea. The main theme is taking time for tea and taking time for others through tea. In addition to the delightful stories, included in the book are tips on choosing, buying, storing and preparing tea and a few tips on how to host a tea party.

If you find comfort in drinking a cup of tea, I believe you will enjoy this little book.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My New Teapot

The newest teapot in my collection is a Christmas gift from my very dear friend, Lynn. For now, the pretty floral teapot sits in a place of honor on my living room mantle waiting to be filled with a special blend of tea at a future tea party.
Lynn and I met and became friends when our children were young. She and her DH had two boys close to the ages to our two girls. When the children were older, Lynn and I worked together in the same office. We share several common bonds. We were both “Daddy’s girls” growing up in small Kentucky towns. Our dads loved Bluegrass music. We lost our dads to cancer. We experienced similar, sometimes difficult, relationships with our mothers. In 2007, within months, we lost our mothers to Alzheimer’s.
Sometimes, due to different schedules and responsibilities, Lynn and I don’t have an opportunity to talk for several weeks, but when I call her or she calls me, it is as though we pick-up in the middle of a discussion from the day before. Over the years, we have shared many pots of tea. When I host a tea party, I know I can always count on my good friend Lynn to bring cucumber sandwiches.

“We have been friends together in sunshine and in shade.”~Caroline Sheridan Norton

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

My First Teapot

I received a teapot from my Aunt Hazel many years ago as a Christmas gift. It was the first of many teapots I currently own. At the time I received it, probably in the late 1970’s, I drank “hot” tea in the winter, especially when fighting a cold or the flu. I can’t even remember if I used the plain, functional, white ceramic “made in Japan teapot” with its own copper cozy back then to brew a pot of tea. If I did, it would have been tea made from tea bags because it was not until many years later that I learned of loose leaf tea. I have fond memories of my special aunt who gifted me with that teapot and think of her often as I enjoy a cup of tea.

Currently traditional round English bone china teapots are the favorites in my collection. I also have functional Brown Betty’s I use every day. I especially like the kind with the infuser basket for loose leaf tea. Several teapots in my collection have been purchased on travels in the USA and abroad. I have lost count of how many I own, but each teapot is very special whether it was chosen by me, given to me as a gift or inherited from a dear family member. One of these days my girls will have a lot of teapots!

Monday, January 21, 2008

New Community Theater

Congratulations to our friend and neighbor, Eddie, for fulfilling a lifelong dream of opening a not-for-profit community theater. Eddie has been active in the theatrical arena for over 40 years. He taught English, writing, speech TV broadcasting and theater for 33 years at our local high school. Both our daughters have fond memories of Eddie’s classes and theater productions.
For nearly two years, Eddie and his wife, Norma, have been working on the creation of this theater. A suitable location was obtained through the generosity of the local college and volunteers spent six months renovating, cleaning, etc. Eddie is the Managing Producer/Artistic Director.
The first production, being presented for two weekends, is the Neil Simon play, “The Odd Couple.” Friday night our family thoroughly enjoyed the performance starring several familiar folks from the community including Eddie and Norma.
Five main stage productions are scheduled to be presented during 2008. Additional theatrical events may include stand-up comedy, movie nights, concerts, youth talent nights and children’s theater.
Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Eddie and Norma, we look forward to many fun evenings of local entertainment!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Tea Gift To Myself

Several months ago I asked a local crafts person who makes handcrafted jewelry to design and make a pair of gold teapot earrings for me. http://www.estellejewelrycom/ It took her longer to make them than either of us expected, but she spent a little extra time researching the shape and style of teapot I wanted. I didn't give her very much information other than I wanted a traditional round shaped teapot. I am so pleased with the finished product that I just had to show them off a bit here. She is a very talented artist. I will enjoy wearing these special earrings to afternoon tea with friends and family.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Scones at the Chesterfield Hotel, London

Tea In My Cup from the Tea Palace

I primarily drink black tea or blends of black tea. I also enjoy white tea and some Oolongs. I usually avoid green tea due memories of being required to drink the the frothy kind (Matcha?) on visits to Japan, but that is another story, and I keep promising myself to try different green teas. I avoid herbal infusions because of allergies to several herbs and flowers, especially rose hips.

The tea in my cup today is "Afternoon at the Palace" a loose-leaf blend of Darjeeling and China black teas I purchased in March, 2007 at The Tea Palace in London. According to the description on the pretty purple tin, it has a refreshing light, aromatic taste and is the perfect accompaniment to sweet afternoon treats. I have been drinking this tea the past few afternoons to avoid eating sweet treats! Maybe I would have been better off not reading that part of the description because now all I can think of is sweet treats to enjoy with my tea.

The cup I am drinking from today is actually a bone china mug. my husband and I purchased two of these in 1995 at a little shop in the quaint village of Broadway in the Cotswolds. We experienced our first English Cream Tea on that trip. A " cream tea" includes freshly baked scones served with clotted cream and strawberry jam with a pot of tea. Ahh, clotted cream, there is nothing like it here in the U.S. Clotted cream is a golden rich heavy cream so think that one can stand a spoon in it. The proper way to eat a cream tea is debatable depending on the area of England. Most people split the scone in half, spread the clotted cream across the scone, like butter, and the strawberry jam on top of the cream. In other areas, the jam is spread on the scone before the clotted cream. A gentleman tearoom owner in Bourton-on-the -Water corrected us on the way we spread our cream and jam. His wife came out the the kitchen and corrected him. They were from opposite ends of England, therefore the difference in their methods of scone-eating. In my opinion, scones with clotted cream and jam is a delicious treat either way. So delicious, in fact, that we traveled back to England four times since 1995 for more of the cream tea experience! So much for not thinking about eating sweet treats.... I'm on the way back to the teapot to pour another cup of tea.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tea With Friends in Asheville, NC

Thirty plus years after our high school graduation, I reconnected girl friends for our 50th birthdays for a two night trip to a cabin in the mountains. Since then, we have made an effort to get together once a year for lunch and a reunion of high school friends. We decided it was time for another weekend girl friends getaway. I am the trip planner in the group. I planned a trip to Asheville, NC for the Christmas Candlelight tour of the Biltmore in November. I included tea reservations at Chelsea's Village Tea Room located in the Historic Biltmore Village. This was the first afternoon tea for most of the girl friends. (I just love introducing the tea experience to friends!) A traditional afternoon tea was served including an assortment of tea sandwiches, cookies, cake English trifle and scones with cream and jam. We ordered a selection of teas served in individual pots. It was a delightful afternoon tea and a fabulous weekend with friends. On the drive home, we made a list of destinations for future trips.

YA YA's " A group of 3 or more women whose hearts and souls are joined together by laughter and tears shared through the glorious journey of life."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Afternoon Tea at Aunt Ida's

Afternoon tea is a time to gather for conversation, enjoyment and and chance to linger with friends in a gracious setting. The choice of food depends on the occasion, the time of the year and personal taste. A traditional afternoon tea consists of a selection of small sandwiches and savories, scones accompanied by lemon curd or clotted cream and jam, small sweets and/or a dessert. Tea, of course, is the drink to accompany afternoon tea. The tradition of having afternoon tea is one of life's wonderful pleasures. Sharing tea time with friends and family is one of my favorite things to do.
"There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hours dedicated to the ceremony of tea." Henry James

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