Thursday, March 27, 2008

Happy Spring!


Tea Decor Galore!












The next Hospital-i-tea http://www.gracioushospitality.blogspot.com/ Blog-a-Thon assignment is Decor-a-Tea
"Share ideas and pictures that incorporate tea and/or tea themes into home decor. Displays, art, prints, fabrics, and collection all count in this category. Do you use teapots and teacups as a part of your home decor?"
Oh my goodness! Do I ever?!? I have so much tea decor that our second home is a "tea house" decorated on a tea theme! I can only post a few photos in the space allowed. The quilt was featured in a previous post I have 3 of the quilts in this guest bedroom. One on each of the twin beds and one on the wall in a quilt hanger. They are from Pottery Barn Kids several years ago. The lamp, the Grandma Tea Bear and the Lizzie High Victorian Tea Doll were gifts from friends and family. The Tim Simpson water colors were purchased at various times at Elmwood Inn. The Royal Worcester tea set was purchased on a visit to Worcester, England in 1998. The top one is a framed photo (using a process I don't understand) by a Lexington photographer of an elderly lady in the window of the Small Talk Tea Shop. We found this at Elmwood Inn and had to have it because we have visited this little tearoom in Bourton-on-the-water many times. The next framed photo is one I took of AJ in the same window when he was 4 years old. These two are my favorites!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Kentucky's Favorite Son


George Clooney came home to Kentucky last night for a premier of his movie Leatherheads. He brought Renee Zellweger with him. Needless to say, it was a special event for the people in the town of Maysville, KY, population 9,000. The photo on top is George with his dad, Nick Clooney, a radio and TV personality. Nick was a KY hearthrob when I was a teenager. Oops, I meant to say when I was a toddler!
Note added later:
Sorry to say, these are not my original photos. I must give credit to the talented photographers at the Lexington Hearld-Leader

Monday, March 24, 2008

Baskets of Tea Books




The Gracious Hospital-i-Tea Blog-a-Thon continues at http://www.gracioushospitality.blogspot.com/ I am enjoying participating and invite you to join!
The theme this week is Litera-TeaShare. The challenge is to Share tea from the perspective of literature.

Part of my tea book collection is "desplayed" at the end of our dining room in baskets (top photo). I have different categories of books including, children's tea storybooks, tea recipe books, tea travel planning books, tea party planning books, miniature books about tea, tea etiquette books, basic tea facts books and many more in various baskets. The first tea book I purchased on the subject of tea was the delightful "If Teacups Could Talk" by Emilie Barnes. See Gracious Hospitality's blog for her nice post on that book and others by the author

The second photo above features children's tea storybooks. The grandchildren and I enjoy reading tea stories and having tea parties. We also like to make up stories about princes and princesses having tea parties. No matter what happens in these stories, they always host or attend fabulous tea parties in beautiful castles and have happy endings!

The third photo from the top is a display of books by Kentucky authors Bruce and Shelley Richardson of Elmwood Inn Fine Teas. Their three recipe books are among my most used books. The two Great Tearooms books and the Tea in the City books are well-worn and marked as I have used them several times to plan tea travels. Bruce's amazing photography and Shelley's thoughtful writings in "Look Deeply into Tea" gives the reader insight into the people who labor to bring the tea leaf to the cup. Every tea lover should have at least one of their books!

The photo at the bottom shows books by Jane Pettigrew, a very experienced and knowledgeable woman in the world of tea. Her books read like fascinating textbooks on tea and are sprinkled with beautiful artwork and photography! Every tea library should have a copy of "The Tealover's Companion" co-written with Bruce Richardson.

I have many"favorite" tea books and publications. I have written about a few in previous posts and will continue to highlight more in the future. Choosing a favorite tea book for me is a bit like the following poem from the children's book "Tea Party Today, Poems to Sip and Savor" by Ellen Spinelli.

Shopping for Tea
Which tea shall I buy today? English breakfast? Earl Grey?
Ginger? Sassafrass or spiced? Rosehip, orange, lemon-iced?
Apple, peppermint, or peach? Oh, just give me one of each.

Easter Weekend Adventures


The cold weekend temperatures in Kentucky could not keep the Easter Bunny away!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Bunny Time

AJ, PJ and KJ are into Webkinz so it seemed appropriate for Gma and Gpa to give them these bunnies for Easter along with some favorite snacks.
God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die.
John 3:16 ~ Contemporary English Version Bible

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Boys Are Fun!



I'm not sure which one of these "boys" has the most fun when they get together!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Just A Few More Teacups



These are a few more vintage teacups in my collection. I took these photos a few weeks ago. Thanks to Gracious Hospitality's challenge of "Teacup-a-Story" I see them as more than a grouping of pretty teacups. Each one has a story. Two were gifts from a dear friend, one was my mother's, one was my Aunt Mary's and the others were Aunt Ida's. I will never know the details of how, where or why my aunts and mom acquired these particular teacups. But, I do know this, these teacups are lovingly displayed reminders of very special ladies in my life.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Another Teacup Story


Yesterday's post to Gracious Hospitality's Blog-a-Thon about thrift store shopping for teacup trios in England brought back memories of my trip to London with "tea ladies" last March. The photo above is me standing in front of a thrift store in Windsor with a big smile on my face because one of those bags is holding 5 inexpensive matching English china tea trios. I love the colors and floral design on these trios, also pictured above. My friend and roommate, Nancy, took this photo. She was happy to find bargain tea trios at the same thrift shop to use in her PA tearoom.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Teacup-a-Story


La Tea Da at http://www.gracioushospitality.blogspot.com/ is hosting a Gracious Hospital-i-Tea Blog-a-Thon through the end of May with at different theme each week. The directions and topic for the first week: Teacup-a-Story Share a picture of your favorite teacup and saucer; describe it and tell it's history (or make up a story about it's past). Why is it meaningful to you? This would be a good place to share about the details of your teacup collection if you have one.
Oh my! Do I ever have a teacup collection with many stories! My journey in teacup collecting began as a young adult when my Aunt Ida gave me 12 assorted beautiful French, Bavarian and English antique teacups and saucers. She is a very special aunt, now age 94, who had given me an Emily Post Etiquette Book for my 15th or 16th birthday and started me on the path of gracious southern hospitality and hosting and entertaining. I will be forever grateful to her!
As my teacups and saucers grew into a collection, friends and family began adding to it on birthdays, Christmas and other special occasions. I began collecting English china teacup trio sets in 1995 on our first trip to England. A trio is made up of the cup, saucer and plate (a bread or salad plate) and is perfect for serving afternoon tea. On every trip to England, I search at thrift stores, boot sales and tabletop sales for trios. I also search antique malls, flea markets and yard sales at home for vintage English china trios. I have lost count of how many trios and cups and saucers I have, but they are all special because each one has it's own story, it's own special memory.
The top photo shows the 1959 Emily Post Etiquette Book given to me by Aunt Ida. The teacup trio in the bottom photo was purchased in Chipping Campden in the beautiful. Cotswold area of England.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

AJ, age 8, went off to school today in a festive mood wearing his green shirt. I received a "Happy St.Patrick's Day" phone call from our little 3 year old angel, PJ. A gift and card should arrive in the mail today for 6 year old KJ who lives much too far from Grandma and Grandpa. Friends used to tell me that having grandchildren was the best thing ever. I just couldn't imagine it being that wonderful.... It is one of those things in life you can not understand until you experience it!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Birthday Tea in Cincinnati






The family took me to tea at the Cincinnati Netherland Plaza Hotel on Saturday in celebration of my birthday. Afternoon tea is served in the elegant Palm Court. The hotel, a French Art Deco structure built in 1931, is listed in Historic Hotels of America. http://www.historichotels.org/ We voted it as the best “hotel tea” we have experienced. The price was a real bargain at $27 (inclusive) per person. The tea sandwiches, scones and pastries were delicious and the service was excellent. Our server, Michael, was knowledgeable about the selection of teas offered and the set menu being served. He provided friendly, excellent service and answered all our questions.

The tea selection included 10 loose-leaf teas. We each selected a tea which was prepared and served in 2-cup teapots and refilled with hot water as needed. The first course of savories was served at each guest’s plate on mini 2 tier servers and consisted of 5 sandwiches, Egg Salad with Dill, Smoked Salmon with Crème Fraiche and Capers, Cucumber with Cream Cheese and Tomato, Duck Breast with Apricot Chutney, Prosciutto on Crostini with Dijon Mustard and a pastry shell with Chicken Salad with Curry and Cranberry. Next, a large 3 tier server, loaded with pastries and sweets made by Pastry Chef Kathleen Kessler was set in the middle of the table. The top tier was filled with cranberry scones, black current scones, mini blueberry muffins, banana bread and orange cranberry bread accompanied by REAL Devonshire cream and a selection of preserves. On the middle tier were lemon tarts with berries, delicious pecan bars, chocolate dipped macaroons, petit fours and a raspberry spice bar. The bottom tier had Russian teacakes, chocolate cookies, sesame lemon cookies, madeleines, mini bundt cakes, a mini pyramid garnished with chocolate and dried apricot, strawberry mousse in chocolate shells and chocolate dipped strawberries. At this point we were lost on the details of the descriptions. The food was so plentiful we brought the entire last tier of sweets home in “to go boxes” with the exception of the strawberries which were devoured by our 8 year old!

The excellent service, décor and classical guitar added to the ambiance and enjoyment of this tea experience. Tea at the historic Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza Palm Court is served on Saturdays, October – May, with sittings at 2 and 3 PM. Reservations are suggested. The family enjoyed it so much they voted to return in December for our annual family Christmas tea! We will confirm there is no parade scheduled in downtown Cincinnati on that day!

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Afternoon Tea





My family planned afternoon tea in Cincinnati on Saturday in celebration of my birthday but did not realize the St. Patrick’s Day parade was being held at tea time! Many streets and intersections were blocked. Therefore, we could only drive around a couple of blocks in circles! GJ, who worked in downtown Cincinnati, for several years, was convinced we would not make it to tea at 2:00 PM when he stopped and told a police officer of our situation. At the time, the officer and another were in the process of issuing a parking violation citation. The very nice officer said it would be too difficult to give directions around the blocked streets but for us to follow him and he would take us to the Hilton Netherland Plaza Hotel. A personal police escort certainly added a bit of excitement to our afternoon tea experience! After winding around the outskirts of downtown to avoid the parade and a construction detour (and running a few traffic lights) we made it to the hotel at exactly 2:00 p.m. We thanked the officer, whom I will not identify, and after valet parking, we were only 10 minutes late for tea. We were certainly impressed with this officer and member Cincinnati’s finest!!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Special Gift for a Friend

This is a special bracelet designed and made by my daughter, Melissa at http://www.mjenningsdesigns.com/ and http://www.mjenningsdesigns.blogspot.com/
If you look back at 1/17 on this blog, you will see a photo of six very special "old" girlfriends from elementary and high school on a weekend trip to the Biltmore. The seventh friend missed the trip due to surgery and life's complications. This bracelet was designed and made for her. She is a breast cancer survivor. We wanted to give her a special gift to let her know of our concern and our love for her. She wears a lot of black clothing so Melissa designed the bracelet with the black, clear and pink Swarovski Crystals. Each of he sterling silver charms has a special meaning. The Cross is a symbol of our friend's Christian faith which has given her the courage to remain strong. The cancer ribbon, engraved with "survivor" on one side, is a symbol of her fight against breast cancer. The heart, placed as the center charm, is a symbol of the special friendship shared by our group of "old" girlfriends. This beautiful bracelet is the perfect gift for our friend! We all love it. Thank you, Melissa!

Taking Time for Tea



A friend gave me a small tin of Tea forte' for my birthday. I have read about this tea, but can't remember drinking it before today. The information on the back of the tin of Ceylon black tea with jasmine flowers says: Unwrap a silken tea infuser and smell the fresh tea harvest. These revolutionary infusers are filled with the freshest whole-leaf teas and rough-cut herbs. Turn a simple cup of tea into a celebrations. Tea Forte infusers create a memorable experience for all the senses. Indulge. www.teaforte.com I don't know the price of this tea as it was a gift. And, I agree it can turn a simple cup into a celebration, but other loose leaf teas do that as well. That is the beauty of tea. It takes time to heat the water and prepare a nice cup or pot of tea. And, it takes time to enjoy a nice cup of tea. That is why tea has been described as a "cup of serenity." Tea is more than a beverage, it is all about taking time out of your busy day for yourself!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tealightful Week


My birthday celebration began yesterday evening with 5 "old" high school girlfriends, P, T, J, K, and me going to Outback for dinner. We had a great time visiting and catching up since our last outing. This morning Mary invited me to Cracker Barrel for breakfast and this evening GJ and AJ took me to Red Lobster for dinner. Another friend called to invite me to lunch on Thursday and daughter, Melissa, has arranged afternoon tea in Cincinnati on Saturday. One thing about it, I am being well fed during this birthday celebration! I love it!!!

A special thank you to my friends and family for the cards, tea gifts and ecards! I received many nice comments in the cards and from the girlfriends about this blog and I really appreciate everyone who visits here!

The following quote is from Tammy's blog at http://www.thepinkmagnolia.blogspot.com/

"Blogging can be viewed as the twenty-first century equivalent of traditional pen pals."

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Fun Day at School

National Reading Week was celebrated at the elementary school last week with various activities. Friday was "costume day" where the students and staff dressed as book characters. There were many princesses, Harry Potter's, Fancy Nancy's, Things # 1 & 2 and others. But, I saw only one King Bidgood from the cute children's book, "King Bidgood's in the Bathtub." It is a story about a king who would not get out of the bathtub and had many exciting adventures while there including a battle, lunch with the queen, fishing and more. Therefore, the reason for the bath towel as part of the costume. I concluded if an 8 year old boy was to wear a bath towel to school, I was sending the darkest colored one I could find in the linen closet!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Snow in Kentucky

Yep, we were victims of the March ice and snow storm that hit the Ohio Valley last night and today. The "boys" took advantage of it this morning to build a snowman and this afternoon for a major snowball battle. My job was to heat the water in the tea kettle for cups of tea and hot chocolate.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Tea and Girl Scout Cookies

Tea and Girl Scout Cookies, a great combination! Unfortunately, I have eaten more than my fair share! My favorite this year is the Lemonades™ described as lemon iced shortbread slices and in my opinion, perfect with a cup of tea. The only problem is that I can't stop at one cookie as they are addictive! I ordered 6 boxes from a sister of soccer teammate and my husband ordered 6 boxes from a girl on the basketball team, plus 2 boxes from a dad at work. Neither of us knew the other had ordered so we have an abundance. But, that is OK. I was a Girl Scout and a Leader for our daughters and volunteer in several positions for many years. It is an excellent service organization. There were times I questioned my sanity as a volunteer when I was unloading trucks of cookie cases, on camping trips, using the latrine, cooking over an open fire and dealing with girls who had never been away from home at night. It's more fun these days to just order and eat the cookies!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Book Fair Week



I have been volunteering at the elementary Book Fair this week. It has been exhausting but fun! I enjoy working at the at the spring and fall book fairs for several reasons. My "old" friend Jennifer is the librarian so it gives us a little time to visit. I have lunch with the teachers and that provides me an opportunity to have communication with them. I get to see the books which are popular with the elementary children. This week I "met" a character named Fancy Nancy. She is a little girl in the Fancy Nancy book series by Jane O'Conner. Fancy Nancy loves dressing up in fancy clothes including fancy hats, fancy boas, lots of fancy jewelry and fancy everything! I couldn't resist purchasing the Fancy Nancy Loves! Loves!! Loves!!! reusable sticker book about Fancy Nancy preparing for the fanciest tea party ever! The reader will use the stickers to help Fancy Nancy make fancy invitations, fancy clothes for herself and her guests, prepare fancy food and decorates a fancy table. I believe my granddaughter, who loves playing dress-up and having fancy tea parties with Grandma , will enjoy this little book as much as I do!
 

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