Friday, February 29, 2008

"London"



Just a year ago I was making final preparations for a dream trip to London, England. The "Tea in London" tour was led by an online tea friend, Denise LeCroy at http://www.teainlondon.com/ I have so many fabulous memories of that trip. We were a group eleven ladies with a common interest in tea who became good friends. The March 3 - 10, 2007, trip to London was one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I appreciate my family for making it possible for me to go!
Believe it or not, I actually purchased the fun "made in England" teapot in the photo above a few years ago at a yard sale in London, KY, a little less than an hours drive from here. Last year when I told local folks I was going to London for "tea" I got several funny remarks like "I didn't know there was a place in London (meaning KY) to have tea!" I will be reminiscing about my special trip over the next few days and showing photos of some of the best places in London (England) to enjoy tea!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wash Day


A couple of times a year I take the time to wash all the teapots, teacups and glass knick knacks in my living room and dining room. Today was the day for that. The process goes like this: I lay out two clean bath towels on my kitchen counter and proceed to hand wash and dry the gazillion of "treasures" I have collected. Some of them are from my mom and my aunts. Many are from travels in various countries. I would like to say there is no dust in my house, but unfortunately, there is. And, if I were the housekeeper my mother trained me to be, I would take the time to wash these things more often. These photos show the first half of the fruits of my labor this morning. I forgot to take a photo of the second half as it was afternoon before they were dry. I stepped out on the sun porch to gather all the teapots and tea collectibles on the shelves thinking I would wash them today, too. Oh my, maybe tomorrow....

Snow Day

We had just enough snow to cancel school today. By afternoon most of it had melted and there was barely enough left on the deck to make a mini snowman. Mugs of tea and hot chocolate were ready and waiting when the "boys" came in from playing.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Collecting All Things TEA




These photos show a few items in my ever-growing collection of "All Things Tea." I began collecting teapots, tea cups and saucers in the 1980's and later branched out to collect what I call "all things tea." Well, almost ALL things tea. There are a few tea things I can pass up, but not many! I buy tea things while traveling, at antique malls, online and more. I am always looking for tea decor and collectibles. Several friends and family members tell me they think of me when they see anything to do with tea! As result, I have received many tea-themed gifts. I love them all! Earl Grey Bear and Lady Grey Bear were purchased several years ago from Twinings by my husband as a Christmas gift. The teapot quilt on the bed in the photo is from Pottery Barn Kids and is no longer available through them. I was thrilled to find it on Ebay. The throw pillow was given to me by a friend. These are just a few things in my "all things tea" collection. I will share more later.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Aunt Mary's Teapot

The only mark on this sturdy teapot to indicate its origin is a stamped “USA” on the bottom. This teapot resided for many years in my Aunt Mary’s kitchen until I brought it to my home shortly before she died at age 87 in January, 2000. Aunt Mary was one-of-a-kind, made in the USA just like this teapot. She was a school teacher, having taught in one and two room schools in Kentucky and later in an elementary school in Florida where she and Uncle Aden lived for about 15 years. My uncle was well known as one of the best auto mechanics in the area. Only a few people knew he only had a second grade education. After retiring, they moved back to KY to be near our family, as they had no children. Uncle Aden passed away a few years later. Aunt Mary was a widow for 23 years. She was a hard-working Appalachian lady and a strong Christian. As a school teacher, she was very influential on the lives of her students. She was strict, but she truly cared for her students. Many people have told me how important she was in their young lives, even providing them shoes to wear to school when they had none. She was my mother’s sister and was very important in my life, too.

I doubt this beautiful teapot was used to make a pot of tea. There are no tea stains inside it to indicate it was ever used. I presume the teapot was a gift, because I can not imagine Aunt Mary spending money to buy something she would not use. She drank and served coffee and iced tea daily, but never hot tea. She was an excellent Appalachian cook. Fried chicken, homemade biscuits, cornbread, shuck beans and jam cake were among her specialties. During her later years, as her health failed, she became blind. It was my privilege to be able to care for her when could no longer. I am honored to have this beautiful, sturdy teapot in memory of Aunt Mary.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bargain Crown Staffordshire Teacup Trio

What do you do when you find a Crown Staffordshire tea cup trio in perfect condition at a local flea market for only $12.50? Well... I felt like jumping up and down for joy, but I just walked to the counter with the very dusty trio heavily wrapped with packing tape. I politely paid, came home, removed the tape and sticky residue, washed the trio and congratulated myself on this great bargain! It was a fun find!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Kentucky Women


Kentucky woman
She shines with her own kind of light
She looks at you once
And a day that's all wrong looks all right
And I love her
God knows I love her
Lyrics by Neil Diamond

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Fun Evening in Kentucky


The Kentucky Music Hall of Fame held an induction ceremony last night at the Bluegrass Ballroom at the Lexington Center. Nearly 800 people trekked through freezing rain and sleet to attend the gala event, which included a fund raising silent auction, dinner, induction ceremony and performance. The 2008 inductees included Les McCann, jazz artist, Norro Wilson, songwriter and producer, Florence Henderson, TV and stage entertainer, Crystal Gayle, crossover singer and Dwight Yoakam, singer, songwriter and actor. Other KY performers included Dale Ann Bradely, the current IBMA (bluegrass music) female vocalist of the year, Sam Bush, John Michael Montgomery, Jerry Chesnut and Loretta Lynn. This was the 4th induction ceremony for the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame since 2002 honoring Kentucky musical achievers. The Hall of Fame and Museum is located at Renfro Valley, just off 1-75 in south central KY. Go to http://www.kymusichalloffame.com/
I was invited to attend by my friend Mary along with five of her special friends. We met for lunch at Lexington's Flag Fork Farm just as the ice storm began. We chatted and became acquainted over lunch and dessert. Note: My dessert choice was their homemade Lemon Geranium pound cake accompanied by English Breakfast tea. After lunch we carefully made our way into downtown and checked into the hotel for a fun-filled special afternoon. We changed into our glitzy attire and enjoyed a nice dinner and an evening of entertainment. What a fabulous girl's night out!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

An Everyday Tea Set

Yesterday I shared photos of tea sets I consider too fancy to use. Today I am sharing an "everyday" tea set. This is Johnson Brothers Summer Chintz English china "every day ware." I have served many pots of tea to friends and family using these teapots. I found my first two sets of Summer Chintz trios in an antique shop in Durango, CO. Since then, I have purchased additional pieces online and at outlet stores. My daughter, Melissa, has been along on several of those shopping excursions. I currently have 8 trios, a creamer and sugar and 2 teapots. At what point is a collection complete? Is a service for 8 enough? Or do I need more to make it a service for 12 or 16? Oh my, decisions, decisions!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Special Gifts


These are two special tea sets in my tea collection. Both are gifts from my wonderful husband and best tea buddy. He hand carried them in his back pack from different business trips. The top set is the first he brought back from Armenia. He brought the bottom set from Moscow a year later. He purchased both sets at open markets without interpreters so I really don't know anything about either except that being typical of the region they are baroque in style. Both tea sets have six cups and saucers, a creamer and sugar bowl. The set from Moscow has some additional pieces, but I'm not sure how they would be used. I don't serve tea with these sets. They are displayed in our dining room.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Morning Cup Of Tea

My Saturday morning tea time is a little more relaxed than the rest of the week, but the tea accoutrements and the ritual are the same. I've used various electric tea kettles for about 15 years. I like this Chef's Choice® because the handle is on the side and not on the top. I bring fresh, drawn, cold water to a rolling boil. We are very fortunate to have great tasting, good quality tap water! After warming my 2-cup Brown Betty Chatsford teapot with hot water, I measure 2 spoons of my favorite blend of morning tea, Elmwood Inn Fine Tea's Mayor's Cup described as "a classic blend of single estate black teas from Ceylon, Darjeeling and Assam", into the infuser basket using the "1 cup of perfect tea" measuring spoon. I pour the boiling water in the teapot and turn over the "perfect tea timer" with individual timers for 3, 4 and 5 minutes. Instructions on the back of the Mayor's Cup tin say to brew 3 - 5 minutes, or to taste, and remove the tea leaves to prevent over brewing. If I'm lucky, the phone doesn't ring to interrupt this delightful ceremony, and I brew my perfect pot of tea for 3 minutes. Ahh..sip, savor and enjoy!


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Celebrating Valentine's Day with Third Graders



Happy Valentine's Day


Happy Valentine's Day! I recently purchased this teacup and saucer at a local flea market. It is Royal Standard English Bone China. The pattern is "Three Red Roses." Since I am allergic to roses, the roses on this cup and saucer are about as close to the real thing as I will be on Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A "No Brainer"




While visiting Orlando, we drove an hour to the southwest to the winter home of our Kentucky neighbors, Marie and George for a nice visit and a lovely dinner. It did not take us long to realize why so many of our retired friends and neighbors have become Florida "snowbirds." Compare the photos of our neighborhood today and us enjoying the Sunshine State just a week ago. We have consumed many cups of tea at our house since returning home on Sunday.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What criteria does an 8 year old boy use to rate a hotel?













A nice selection of restaurants with great food?
An indoor Key West with stingrays and other sea creatures?
An indoor Everglades with live alligators and turtles?
Lots of fun places, including an indoor castle, to sit and play your Game Boy Advance?
Or, an absolutely awesome arcade?
Well... let's put it this way... it's a good thing we took a supply of Band-aids with us because he wore a blister on his finger from playing arcade games!!

Monday, February 11, 2008

More Grand Floridian Tea Photos




Afternoon Tea at Disney's Grand Floridian






One of our favorite activities when traveling is to have afternoon tea in local tea rooms. While in Orlando, we enjoyed tea at Disney’s Victorian themed Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.
Entering the hotel lobby was like stepping back in time. We were greeted by the sound of classic Disney tunes being played on the grand piano. We immediately noticed the crystal chandeliers, stained glass ceilings, mirrors and fresh floral arrangements. As we walked along the outer edge of the lobby, I was fascinated by several arrangements of child-sized furniture, each consisting of a table and chairs, a small console TV and a sofa covered with teapot fabric.
The Gardenview Tearoom is in the end of the lobby with the back wall of windows overlooking the flower gardens. There were families and couples of all ages enjoying tea when we arrived for our reserved teatime on Thursday. It was fun to see several little girls dressed in princess costumes trying to sit still with grandmas, moms and dads. One little gal just couldn’t resist a twirl or two in her pretty dress and a wave of her magic wand. Oh, how it made us miss our own little princess granddaughter! (But, never fear, a beautiful pink sleeping beauty costume and tiara, which set grandpa back more than a few bucks, is ready to go in the mail to her today!)
For a hotel tea, the Grand Floridian afternoon teas were very reasonably priced, in my opinion. GJ and I chose The Buckingham Palace Tea ($19.50 per person). The first two courses were served plated. The first course consisted of triangular shaped tea sandwiches on different breads, cucumber with watercress, Shrimp salad with dill, chicken salad with almonds, grilled pear with Gorgonzola and egg salad and a mini tart of caramelized onion and a cheese (forgot the name, but it was a bit sweet and very nice.)
AJ, our 8 year old, chose the Mrs. Potts Tea ($10.50). He is an experienced tea drinker, but couldn’t resist the teapot of chocolate milk (called Mad Hatter tea) that accompanies this children’s favorite. His sandwiches were tuna salad, ham and cheese and peanut butter and jelly on white bread. We ordered extra ham sandwiches (additional cost) for the hungry boy to wolf down while we enjoyed our second course of a raisin scone with Devonshire cream and raspberry jam and a raspberry jam tart. The final course was a choice of fresh strawberries and cream or a selection of freshly baked pastries. A difficult choice, but we went for the delicious fresh strawberries and cream. The 8 year old selected 2 chocolate dipped, decorated strawberries from the pastry tray.
I selected the “exclusive signature tea, the Gardenview Blend”, a blend of black teas served in a 4-cup teapot. GJ, being the non-caffeine drinker in the family, chose the Princess Breakfast Tea, an organic rooibos “flavored with vanilla bean and a hint of strawberries.” The entire tea was served on beautiful Royal Albert Old Country Roses china. The service was excellent. We were pleasantly full after this delightful, relaxing afternoon tea experience in the elegant but family- friendly Disney atmosphere
Comments from Linda: (1) I knew this afternoon tea was a big hit when on Friday afternoon GJ suggested we go back (we didn’t). (2) AJ’s chocolate and caffeine frenzy has come to a screeching halt now that we are safely home from our travels!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Fun Trip to Florida





AJ and I tagged along with GJ on a short business trip to Orlando and just returned home today. I've been catching up on mail, emails and phone messages between loads of laundry. We stayed at the very nice Gaylord Palms (location of meeting) and had a great trip. And, yes, we scheduled some play time between business. Don't let anyone tell you February is not crowded at Magic Kingdom because it was!!! Lines were long at all the rides, but the weather was perfect! Austin is a big fan of the Disney Pirates of the Caribbean movies. As you can see from one of these photos, they don't make Mickey Mouse ears like they used to!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Tea Beaded Jewelry and More


Our daughter, Melissa, began beading as a hobby a couple of years ago and turned her hobby into a business when she stopped teaching high school after 11 years to become a stay-at-home mom for our adorable grandson. She specializes in personalized name bracelets and custom designed beaded items. Check her out at http://www.mjenningsdesigns.com/ and http://www.mjenningsdesigns.blogspot.com/
Since Melissa began the beading I have been the lucky recipient of several beautiful bracelets, earrings, watches, necklaces, key rings, book marks and phone charms for my birthday, Christmas, Mother’s Day and other significant and not-so significant occasions. I love them all! What girl doesn’t like to wear her “bling”?!? The beaded items she designed and made in this photo are all tea-themed. I’m off to a tea party today. OK, let's see, I have my cell phone with the tea set charm, the house key on the teapot keyring, my journal with the teapot book mark, I'm wearing my birthstone and teapot earrings, now, to decide which bracelet to wear....

Monday, February 4, 2008

Chatsford Brown Betty Teapots


The teapots I most often use when brewing tea for myself and my family are these simple, classic design Chatsford Tea System Brown Betty teapots. The 2 and 4 cup teapots in this photo are authentic Brown Bettys are made by The London Teapot Company in England. The Brown Betty is know for better heat retention and better tasting tea because of the red clay and glaze used in making these teapots. I purchased these teapots in a tea shop in Tewkesbury, England in 2002. After having cream tea, I chose pretty white "betty" teapots to purchase. The gentleman server/sales clerk was wrapping my purchases when the lady cook came out of the kitchen and advised me to buy the brown ones instead. Her reasoning was they don't show tea stains and would be more sensible than the white ones. Although I felt badly about it, I informed the gentleman I had changed my mind and he put aside the bubble wrapped white ones and began wrapping the brown ones. He was a thin, tall and very British gentlemanly looking fellow. He probably remembered this American family for quite a while after our visit to his tiny shop because, in addition to the double work caused by me, Austin, who celebrated his 3rd birthday just a few days later, "taught" the gentleman while he was serving our tea, a person should say "you're welcome" after someone (in this case, Austin) said "thank you." Oh my, that was one of those "I want to drop through the floor" moments for this mom! We laugh about it now as we sit and sip our tea made in these special teapots.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Football Is Not My Cup of Tea

Today is Super Bowl Sunday. Although football is not my cup of tea, I put on my jeans and tee shirt and made a couple of snacks to take to a Super Bowl party later today at the home of friends. This will be a family party with the children outnumbering the adults.
Here are the easy recipes I made:

Sausage Balls
3 cups Bisquick
1 lb. sausage, mild or hot
1 lb. grated cheddar cheese
Mix ingredients by hand.
Roll into small balls, place on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.
Makes 64 sausage balls

Shrimp Spread
1 8 oz. cream cheese
1 8 oz. jar cocktail sauce
1 4 oz. can tiny shrimp, drained well
Spread cream cheese thinly on a serving platter.
Spread the cocktail sauce on top of the cream cheese.
Drain the shrimp and sprinkle over the cocktail sauce.
Serve with crackers (I use Triscuits or Wheat Thins)

Most people who know me very well know that I love trival information. Karen, who lives in Ada, Ohio, the home of Wilson Footballs sent me these tidbits.
Every point scored in a Super Bowl Game since the first one in 1941 has been scored with a Wilson's football
There were 12,600 footballs made for this year's game - 282 game balls and the rest will be sold as souvenirs or given as special awards.
They sell for $130 each.
Wilson's is the only football factory in the United States.
Several years ago they (the NFL and others ) were going to buy from China and everyone from the local mayor to the state legislature fought to keep the sale and production the footballs in Ada, OH - USA!!
Wilson's produces between 700,000 and 800, 000 footballs a year. Many are special orders.
They also produce "junior" footballs. The juniors weigh 5.6 pounds each and the NFL/college balls weigh 6.4
In 1976 they made red, white and blue footballs.

Thanks, Karen for the Wilson's football trivia! Armed with this "valuable" information and the names of the teams playing (hubby just told me), I am much better prepared to watch the commercials, er, I mean football game.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Can you believe it is already February?


This morning I turned the page in my COLLECTIBLE TEAPOT & TEA CALENDAR 2008 to the month of February. This month the beautiful teapot in the photo is an 1805 Miles Mason oval decorated with black and gold. The February page also tells a little about the history of sugar and sugar tongs. This calendar by Joni Miller with photography by Martin Brigdale is more than a calendar with beautiful photos of teapots. It is also a resource of tea information and tea quotes. In addition, twelve bonus postcards are included in the package. The 2008 calendar is special to me because it is a gift from Linda B., a Kentucky lady, who lives in Washington, DC.

From the back cover:

"Tea is mankind's oldest established most loved beverage because a cup of tea is good to the taste and because it makes life more pleasant by the feeling of well-being that is gives to mind and body."
~ Gervus Huxley, TALKING OF TEA, 1956

Lunch with Mary




I had a fun day today! I met my friend Mary at one of our favorite places for lunch, The Garden Café at Flag Fork Herb Farm in Lexington. The café and shop are located in an historic cottage built circa 1800. In 2007, Southern Living named Flag Fork one of the top 200 places to shop in the south. The Garden Café features homemade soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts.

Today we were seated in the Sun Room overlooking the butterfly/flower garden. We watched the birds and squirrels on the many bird feeders as we enjoyed lunch and visited. Mary and I had the soup, side and sandwich plate. I had a cup of Kentucky burgoo, a chicken salad sandwich and the penne pasta salad with asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, grated Parmesan cheese, fresh basil and olive oil. Mary’s sandwich choice was Kentucky country ham. Mary drank sassafras tea and I drank Bigelow English Breakfast (yes, a tea bag). The homemade desserts are a must have! Mary chose black walnut chocolate pie and I chose buttermilk lemon pie. The Garden Café is a very popular place for ladies (and a few men) to have lunch.

After lunch we drove to a favorite consignment home furnishings store. We didn’t find anything we couldn’t live without today, but we have purchased a few "treasures" there in the past. Next, we went to Barnes and Noble for a little book browsing and another cup of tea (Harney this time). We sat in the café, sipping tea with our calendars open, scheduling future fun outings.

Mary is a very special friend and an extended family member. She and my first cousin were married on the same day and my husband and I. (That is another great story!) The past few years Mary and I been an informal support group to each other as we have been caregivers and only daughters of mother’s with Alzheimer’s. Mary is one of my best tea buddies. She is the only person I know willing to drive three hours (one way) with me to try a new tea room!
 

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