Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Winning Purse Luncheon at Churchill Downs

I attended a delightful fund raiser luncheon today at Churchill Downs with Mary and Leona (second photo). It was a benefit for Mom's Closet Resource Center in Louisville. Mom's Closet was founded by Sheila Day (wearing silver hat in third photo), wife of retired jockey Pat Day (bottom photo). It is an organization to help single mothers in the Louisville area.
We did not come home big winners on the horse races, but had a great lunch and a fun day with new friends and old friends.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Kentucky Derby Party Time

This is a newly released cute little book, "How to Throw a Great Derby Party" by Sue Wylie, a long time Kentucky broadcaster and derby party guest. She covers the basics of hosting a derby party from decorating tips (red roses, of course), invitations, menu ideas and a few recipes for fancy dinners and casual lunches, party favors and even fun betting pool ideas. Kentucky well-known socialites are famous for their derby-eve party celebrity guest lists. Several KY charity organizations hold fund raiser Derby parties and many community organizations hold fun family events with games and children' stick-horse races. It is definitely a festive time in Kentucky this week.
Have you received your invitation to the Kentucky Governor's Derby Breakfast (top photo) to be held 7 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 3 at the State Capitol? No, well move to Kentucky and you will next year! All Kentuckians are invited,...but most of us stay home to avoid the crowds!
Kentucky Derby Trivia:
The fastest Derby time was set in 1973 by the famed Triple Crown winner Secretariat. His record time was 1:59 minutes and 2/5 seconds for the 1 1/4 miles.
In 1952 the Kentucky Derby was covered on national television for the first time. In 2007, more than fifty-four million TV viewers in the United States watched Street Sense win.
The governor of Kentucky is the only person permitted to present the Kentucky Derby trophy to the winner.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The White, Green, Black and Herb of Tea

This week's Gracious Hospital-i-tea Blog-a-Thon assignment is:

The White, Green, Black, and Herb of Tea
"Tell about your favorite tea. How do you prepare it and serve it? Milk and sugar? Plain? What are some of your best memories of serving or sipping on this tea? Share a picture if you can. Tell the health benefits of the tea(s) you prefer. Where do you purchase your tea? Is there someplace you enjoying purchasing tea from? Who from and where?"
I drink loose leaf black tea, white teas and some Oolongs. I drink my tea plain, without milk or sugar. I rarely drink fruit flavored teas and do not drink floral flavored or floral scented teas or herbal infusions.

The tea I drink every morning (and several times a day) is Bruce Richardson's Elmwood Inn Fine Teas Mayor's Cup, a blend of single estate black teas from Ceylon, Darjeeling and Assam. Bruce was the mayor of Perryville, KY for several years therefore the name "Mayor's Cup." When visiting tearooms, I usually order White Tea by the pot with afternoon tea. The delicious white tea in the bottom photo is Tea Palace Snow Buds.

I purchase teas when visiting tearooms/teashops and I order tea online. Currently I have teas on my shelf from Elmwood Inn, Harney and Sons and Culinary Teas. I also have black tea blends I picked up at Twinings, Whittard of Chelsea and Harrod's last March and a White Silver Needles tea from a Knoxville tearoom. A tea I served to guests that received many compliments was Eastern Beauty, a Formosa Oolong from the Red Blossom Tea Company in San Francisco. I purchased it after participating in a tea tasting when we visited the shop. (top photo)

By the way, we keep Twinings decaf English Breakfast and Earl Grey (tea bags) for GJ and AJ who take milk in their tea.

Kentucky Derby Mint Julep

The Mint Julep is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. There are a multitude of recipes in various Kentucky recipe books for mint juleps using bourbon from different Kentucky distilleries. It has long been debated as to whether you use shaved ice, crushed ice, distilled water, tap water, soak the mint in the bourbon or in a simple syrup for 15 minutes or overnight, whether it should be served in a chilled sterling silver julep cup and on and on. I think you get the picture. Apparently, it is a fine art to make a perfect mint julep. Personally, I believe you must acquire a taste for bourbon and the Mint Julep. I have not not acquired a taste for either! But, if you are at the Kentucky Derby, you "must" have one in your hand when the U of L band plays "my Old Kentucky Home."
Just give me a tall glass of "unsweet" iced tea and I will be happy. I prefer the use of the mint julep cup as shown in the bottom photo above. A silver (or silverplated) mint julep cup is quite often used to hold a bouquet of flowers and/or as a table centerpiece. I took this photo last August at a Danville, KY afternoon tea.
Kentucky Mint Julep Trivia:
Churchill downs buys 900 dozen branches of fresh mint and 60,000 pounds of ice, estimated to be enough for 150,000 mint juleps.
The owner of the Kentucky Derby winner receives a special-designed sterling silver julep cup.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Kentucky Race Day Pie

Derby Pie® is a well-know Kentucky pie trademarked by the Kern Company in Louisville. You can read about the history of this pie at the link provided. There are many versions of a similar recipe in most Kentucky recipe books. These pies are called Chocolate Chip Pie, Run for the Roses Pie, Kentucky Bourbon Chocolate Pie, Kentucky Race Day Pie and more. A version of this pie is very often served at Derby events and parties. My favorite local caterer makes this pie tart sized which is great served at afternoon tea or as a pick-up dessert at a reception. The following is my Aunt Mary's recipe for this delicious pie. Note (for my daughters who might read this) Aunt Mary did not add the optional bourbon.

Aunt Mary’s Kentucky Chocolate Chip Pie
1cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. KY bourbon, optional
3/4 cup English walnuts (I use pecans)
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Combine sugar, flour, butter, eggs and vanilla in a bowl. (Add optional bourbon.) Fold in pecans and chocolate chips. Pour in an unbaked 9" pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees until light brown, about 35 to 40 minutes until top is golden brown. When it cools, it will be thick and chewy. This is a very rich pie, slice into small pieces and serve with fresh whipped cream, may garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
Note added later: The above photo is from the new book "Derby Entertaining" by McClanahan Publishing, Kuttawa, KY. However, versions of the Kentucky recipes I post on this blog are found in many recipe books and personal recipe boxes in kitchens throughout Kentucky and their original sources are unknown.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Counting Down to the Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is held on the first Saturday of May at Churchill Downs in Louisville (Lou-a-vull). The 134th KY Derby will be held next Saturday, May 3. Tickets are expensive and scarce. Churchill Downs can pack in more than 150,000 fans, but the majority of Kentuckians have never attended. Most Kentuckians enjoy watching the Derby on TV at home while hosting or attending a variety of parties from dressy to casual backyard gatherings. Louisville and Lexington media are full of Derby news, the Kentucky Derby Festival is in full gear and department stores are featuring Derby fashions as seen in the photo above. It is a fun time in Kentucky! The next few days I will be sharing a little Derby trivia and tidbits.

Benedictine Sandwiches are served at many Kentucky Derby parties, wedding receptions, afternoon teas and ladies luncheons. Benedictine is named for the Louisville caterer, Jennie Benedict, who developed the recipe around 1920. The recipe is found in almost every Kentucky cookbook. The spread can be purchased already prepared in the refrigerated section of many Kentucky grocery stores. The recipe follows:

Benedictine Spread
1 medium cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 small onion
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
Dash of salt (to taste)
Green food coloring

Finely grate cucumber and onion (may use food processor). Drain well in a strainer, pressing down with back of spoon to remove all liquid. Add a dash of salt. Add drained cucumber and onion to cream cheese and mix well in food processor. Add 1 to 2 drops of green food coloring and mix to distribute color (should be pale green). Use on white bread as a sandwich spread, to make canapés or for a dip with vegetables or crackers.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What is a Cream Tea?

A "Cream Tea" is a pot of tea served with scones and clotted cream and strawberry jam. These are offered in tea rooms throughout England, especially in the South West. This is a photo of an Arthur Wood English tea-for-one teapot. What a treat you receive when you drink to the bottom of the cup!

Monday, April 21, 2008


April 20 - April 26 Gracious Hospital-i-Tea Blog a Thon Assignment:
"Share your favorite teatime recipe for sweets or savories. Tea sandwiches, scones, and dainty desserts all count in this category. Give credit to the originator of the recipe if possible. Post a picture if you can. This is sure to make everyone hungry for a delicious tea time treat!"

GJ is a plain scone guy. He wants no fruit, nuts or flavorings added. He likes English non-sweet scones, not the American flavored cake-like version and he does not want sugar or icing on top. This recipe is one I adapted from Diana Bloomer's recipe at Lady Marpelet's Tea Room in Cookeville, TN after GJ declared her scone to be the best American scone he had eaten.

Southern Cream Cheese Scones
3 cups self-rising flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 stick of butter, cubed
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp. Heavy Cream (or milk) to brush tops
Mix flour and sugar. Cut in butter and cream cheese until coarse and crumbly. Add vanilla and buttermilk. Stir until well blended. Turn out on a floured surface, knead until easy to handle. Roll or pat to 1 inch thick circle. Cut with a 1 1/2 inch biscuit cutter or to desired shape. Place on a greased cookie sheet. (Instead, I use parchment paper on a cookie sheet.) Brush tops with heavy cream or milk. Bake at 400 degrees 15 minutes until lightly brown on edges.
Serve with Clotted Cream (mock clotted cream in the USA), Strawberry Jam or Lemon Curd and enjoy!
Note: We enjoyed scones from a very similar recipe (same ingredients, different amounts) by Brenda Rowell, of the former A Time Remembered Tearoom in Thomaston, GA. Both Diana and Brenda use more sugar in their scone recipe and brush with a thin icing made from 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract and water, adding 1 tsp. at a time until it reaches a spreading consistency. Brush or drizzle with 1/2 tsp. the icing while the scones are warm.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Shake, Rattle and Roll

This morning at 5:37 AM a 5.2 magnitude earthquake hit southern Illinois. Reports are that it was felt from Alabama and Georgia to Michigan and Ontario. Yep, we felt it here in Kentucky! GJ was sitting on the sofa reading the newspaper and said he thought I was stomping through the dining room making all these dishes and teacups rattle. At 5:37 in the morning? Get real man! I may stomp every once in a while, but not that early in the morning! Did you feel it where you live or did you sleep through it like AJ did?

Teapots in the Bathroom?

Several years ago GJ, my wonderful husband, decided to enclose the unused patio off our bedroom to make a large laundry room. I love it. It is the most convenient location for a spacious laundry room. But, by doing so, I lost the window in my bathroom. After some consideration, the hobby carpenter concluded the easy solution to closing off the window would be to make a shelf from it. When the shelves were completed I pondered over what to put put on them and he said, "surely you have some teapots or baskets you can put on them!" Teapots in the bathroom? That sounded a little impractical, but as I looked around at my many teapots, I realized several tea-for-one teapots received as gifts were just sitting around here and there. I don't use these for tea, but they are pretty to display, and yes, even in my bathroom!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


This week's assignment for the Gracious Hospital-i-tea Blog-a-thon is:
"Share ideas for dressing up for afternoon tea. Is your favorite tea-time outfit a silk caftan, flannel jammies, or a dress with proper hat and gloves? Do you enjoy wearing tea prints to tea? Or do you prefer something more elegant? Lace and ruffles? A feathered hat? Long pink gloves? Satins and silks? Cotton comfort? Jeans and a t-shirt you say? That's okay --- share it all here.Pictures of you in tea-time costume are welcome! But, if you are not brave enough to share a picture of 'you', simply share something you think would be FUN to wear to tea. Remember, a tea can be anything from a formal afternoon tea --- to tea in the park with a friend. It's whatever it means to you!"

OK, the subject is dressing for tea. I don't know where I heard or read way back in my early years of learning about afternoon tea that "a lady should always wear a skirt or dress to tea." I admit I have broken that rule more times than not. My style of dress for afternoon tea is "tastefully casual" usually basic black pants or Capri's with a nice top and often a sweater or jacket. I enjoy wearing tea-themed jewelry. The photo above shows some of my teapot lapel pins. The whimsical one in the center of the bottom row was made by KY crafts person Robbie Moriarty and is one of my favorites. On Feb. 5 I posted photos of beaded tea-themed items made by daughter Melissa and on Jan. 19, gold teapot earrings made by Estelle.
The top photo is KJ, our Princess. She loves to have tea with Grandma. This photo was taken at Mrs. Teapot's Tea Room in Bellvue, KY when she was 5 years old. She will soon celebrate her 7th birthday with a tea party for her friends (her choice). Her mom and I have planned the menu and activities and she is counting down the days! The sad news is they live too far away for Grandma to attend. I'm counting on seeing lots of photos!

Monday, April 14, 2008

It's That Time Again — Soccer

It is Spring Soccer Season for the MUSA Red Rockets. Can the team have the same great season as Fall '07 and be the U-10 league champs again? It has been a rainy spring and they have only played one and a half games, but won them both. Practice sessions have also been rained out. We can not complain too much about the spring rains in Kentucky after the severe heat and drought conditions of the fall as shown in the dusty photo above. However, I must admit during yesterday's half game of rain, snow and sleet, this soccer mom stayed home and drank multiple cups of tea!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Trash or Treasures?

My friend Janet is downsizing, selling her house and moving into a small condo. She is giving away a bunch of "stuff" accumulated over the years. The small etched aluminum teapot was made at The Aluminum Works in Stratford-on-Avon, England according the the inscription on the bottom. The teacup trio is Bavarian and there were four trios and several extra saucers and other dishes in the box of collectibles that made its way to my house. The old saying is true ~ one man's trash is another man's treasure! I just happen to be the lucky recipient of these tea treasures! Thank you, Janet!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

An 8 Year Old Boy and the Camera

These photos were taken by AJ while we were on spring break last week. The tour of Chichen Itza was facinating, but an hour of explanation is little lengthy for an 8 year old boy so I gave him my camera and told him he was in charge of taking photos. He had a great time and took many nice photos. (too many to post and a few to delete) He especially likes the top photo of guess who and bottom photo of the tour guides playing around with him the best. By the way, the 8 year old tolerated the Mexican heat a lot better than I did!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Another Teapot Lamp

I received so many nice comments about the teapot lamp in the Tea Decor post for the Blog-a-thon that I decided to post a photo of this lamp, also. I especially like this one because it is the shape of a traditional round teapot. I've had this one for several years. It sits on the shelf above my desk. I am in the process of removing Longaberger baskets and adding more of my tea collectibles and family photos, thanks to daughter Melissa's cleaning rampage, er, I mean "encouragement" while visiting us over the weekend.

Monday, April 7, 2008


The Hospital-i-tea Blog-a-thon assignment for April 6 - April 12 is Stitches-for-Tea ~ "Share ideas and pictures that involve stitching for the tea table. Any kind of stitches count: sewing, embroidery, knitting, crochet, tatting, quilting, etc. The work can be yours or of someone else, but should be homemade rather than done by factory machines. Ideas are napkins, tea cozies, table linens, and other creations made with tea themes."

The Christmas Tea Cozies and napkins in the top photo were made by my friend, Leona. She loves to sew and is generous with her fabulous talent as you can see! Leona, NG, GJ and I traveled on two trips to Japan. We were guests at Japanese tea ceremonies on both trips. The four of us have taken dance lessons together, but that is another story all together! Leona and I traveled with another friend to NYC several years ago and had tea at The Plaza Hotel Palm Court (at my request). She has become one of my best tea buddies and is always willing to visit tearooms with me when babysitting grandchildren does not interfere! By the way, babysitting grandchildren is another of our favorite activities!

The two beautiful cross stitch bread basket covers in the bottom photo were a birthday gift from my friend, Virginia. She is my neighbor's sister and is a very generous and thoughtful lady. She lived in Indiana for many years and visited MK, her sister, often on vacations and long weekends. She has gifted our family with several beautiful cross stitch pieces! We are so pleased she and her husband, JR, moved to our little town upon retirement!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Tea at the B & B

We enjoy staying in small historic inns and bed and breakfasts when traveling. Last week we stayed at the McKibbon House Bed & Breakfast in Montevallo, AL on the way to Mobile (top 2 photos) and The Mayor's Mansion Inn http://www.mayorsmansioninn/ in Chattanooga, TN (bottom 2 photos) on the way home. As you can see in the photo of AJ, we are always looking for tea!

Tea in Birmingham at Miss Rosemarie's

One of our favorite activities while traveling is to locate tearooms and have afternoon tea where we have not been before. We stopped at Miss Rosemarie's Special Teas Salon & Shoppe in Birmingham on our way to Mobile. Miss Rosemarie's is a "European-style" tearoom. In addition to lunch Monday - Saturday, they serve four afternoon teas, including Miss Rosemarie's Special Tea, Nancy's Full Tea, Edna's Cream Tea and Abby's Dessert Tea. AJ, GJ and I ordered Nancy's Full Tea, a three course tea. Miss Rosemarie's has a very nice selection of over 60 loose leaf teas. Each of us chose a different pot of tea. Supreme Earl Grey for AJ, English Breakfast decaf for GJ and Silver Needles White for me.
The first course of the full tea, was four tea sandwiches, a carrot olive mascarpone on dark bread, almond chicken salad, Swiss cheese (melted) with apple and an open faced ham with chipotle cheese. The second course, the scone of the day, was a delicious apricot scone served with mock Devonshire cream, jam and lemon curd. (I forgot to take a photo.) The last course included a chocolate macaroon tartlet, a mini butter cake with orange glaze, a lemon square (AJ's favorite) and a kiwi slice with 1/2 a strawberry. The price for Nancy’s Full Tea was $14.95++ per person.
We enjoyed the respite of afternoon tea then headed back out in the trafffic to continue our journey to a lovely Victorian B & B for the night.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Spring Break "Fun" Tea

We returned home today from a spring break 5 night cruise aboard the Carnival Holiday. The Holiday sails from Mobile (Mo-beel), AL to two ports, Progreso and Cozumel, Mexico. During the two "fun" days at sea they served afternoon tea in the piano bar. In the "fun" spirit of Carnival Cruise Lines, the server demonstrated a little napkin folding as you can see in the photo of AJ above. I snapped quickly before he saw what it was!

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