Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A teacup toast to two queens!

Sometimes I wonder why I pay for cable TV, because there's not much on it I care to watch anymore. This winter, however, I finally caved and subscribed to Netflix, so in addition to PBS's "Victoria," I've also been enjoying "The Crown," and naturally I had to order the companion books that go with each series. 

I love history, and I realize the dramas are not 100 percent true to life, so I enjoy having these books to consult after each episode. I also have a designated teacup for sipping during each show. Is that silly? For "The Crown," the obvious choice was this teacup from Paragon, issued to commemorate the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

On a recent episode of "Victoria," I was sorry to learn that a storyline about Victoria and Albert getting lost in Scotland and seeking refuge in a poor couple's shack was not based on anything recorded. Wouldn't it be fun to think the two showed up like common beggars and requested a night's stay? Still, it's a fun show, and the designated teacup for viewing it is this one I bought at Windsor Castle, the teacup's pattern having come from a Minton dessert stand purchased by Queen Victoria at The Great Exhibition in 1851. Are any of you also watching and/or reading about Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth? Are you taking note of all those great tea scenes (and tea sets) as I am?

Monday, February 19, 2018

Some new shopping buddies!

Most of the time if I write about any weekend tea finds, you'll hear me mention that Aunt Jane is my regular shopping buddy. Once in a while, my youngest niece, Amelia, joins us. This weekend, however, it was my middle niece, Cari, and my sister's youngest child, nephew Matthew, who joined Aunt Jane and me. We had a great time together, and all of us came home with some fun new finds, including the tea and chintzware carafe here.

First we went to the mall in Douglasville, where the good news is that the Hallmark shop's tea I'd had my eye on was 75 percent off. Made for Hallmark Gold Crown, the Crafters & Co. tea was the organic Black Cinnamon flavor, and I believe it's the first tea I've seen with a pull-top can.

The bad news is that the tea wasn't very good. It tasted weak and not very appetizing, but perhaps it was simply old. That's not good, but the really bad news is that the Hallmark shop itself is going out of business! The one in my town closed a few years ago, and now one at a mall can't survive? I'm a little nervous about where I'll get my Hallmark Christmas ornaments for all the children in our family this year, but I guess there's always (Right?) I'm curious how many of you have a Hallmark store near you. Very many of you?

After we ate lunch at Chick-fil-A and finished up at the mall, Cari asked if I would *mind* going to a new antique mall nearby so she could look for vintage clothes. (Are you finished laughing yet?) Of course, good aunt that I am, I obliged. And to my surprise, I came upon something I'd been looking for but didn't expect to find anytime soon, a new carafe. I'd been looking for a simple water carafe for my bedside table, but the only ones I found online didn't appeal to me at all. This one, chintz and just $11.50, will do quite nicely!

Cari, by the way, bought a lovely pink vintage gown. She explained to me that she just loves all things vintage, and I was surprised (but delighted) to learn that my niece shares my love for old stuff, including this carriage at the entrance to Ben's Antiques.

And just in case I need to taunt him with it at his rehearsal dinner one day, here's a picture of me and Matthew. What a fun Saturday!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Breaking news: Sugar bowl reunited with teaware family!

Remember when I found that pretty blue-accented teapot and creamer at T.J. Maxx in Marietta last month? Well, I looked at my T.J. Maxx in Newnan, but they didn't have the sugar bowl. I looked at the store in Carrollton, but they didn't have it. Then I just knew I'd find it at the store in Rome, but they didn't have it, either.

Then last Friday, I had lunch with a friend and decided afterward that I'd run over to Peachtree City and see if their T.J. Maxx had it. I'd never actually seen this sugar bowl, mind you, yet I somehow believed it existed. Logic told me that it did. My heart told me that it did. And guess what? There it sat. (No creamer, by the way, just the sugar bowl.)

And I kid you not, as I walked to the store's checkout counter, Hebrews 11:1 sprang to mind. It says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." I realize that's a frivolous application of one of the great truths of the Bible, but I somehow felt it applied. Do you believe God can speak to us in a T.J. Maxx? I do!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Amazon gift card goes to …

Frances Lamparter! Congrats, Frances, and happy shopping!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The winner of the signed copy of "Dainty Dining" is …

Terri of the "At the Maple Table" blog! Terri included her email address so that I could contact her, and this book will soon be on its way to Vermont. Congrats!

Valentine's Week Giveaway #7

Happy Valentine's Day, friends! Today I conclude this annual week of sharing my tea-themed vintage valentines and offering tea-themed giveaways to readers! Today's valentine features a sweet little girl having tea and cookies, which I personally think is always a fine idea.

I love the old-fashioned font on the inside of this card, and I also love that it is signed "To Samuel, From Carl, Mary and Irena, 1931." Charming!
And while most folded valentine cards I've seen have blank back sides, this one features a young suitor taking flowers to his valentine. So please consider this post your "flowers" from me, dear reader! 

And for our last giveaway of the week, I thought I'd give a $10 Amazon e-gift card to the winner so she (or he?) can purchase whatever they like, whether that's a few e-books, a paperback, or even a box of tea! If you'd like to be entered to win, just leave an "Enter me" to this post between now and 7 a.m. EST on Feb. 15 and you'll be entered to win. Good luck!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The winner of the socks is …

Mary! And I've just sent you an email so that you can send me your snail mail address, and I'll get the socks headed your way. Congrats!

Valentine's Week Giveaway #6

I tend to collect valentines that are for children, but I found a "grown-up" valentine card on the UK eBay site that I had to have! And does the gentleman remind you of Darrin Stephens (actor Dick York) on Bewitched?

He looked kind of cranky on the front of the card, but I'm glad the tea appears to be perking him up as we get a glimpse of his tearoom visit on the inside of the card! (Which is unsigned, by the way.)

Since the gent was possibly dining at a tearoom, I thought I'd give away a signed copy of my book of tearoom recipes, "Dainty Dining." (I know some of you already have a copy, so if you'd like to win a copy for a friend or family member, feel free to enter and I'll sign it to them.) Just leave an "Enter Me" comment to this post between now and 7 a.m. EST tomorrow, Feb. 14, and you'll be entered to win. Kindly include an email address or have a link for me to contact you if you're the winner. US and Canada only, please. Good luck!

Monday, February 12, 2018

The winner of the Emilie Barnes devotional book is …

Daniele K.! And I've just sent you an email so that I can get your snail mail address and get this on its way to you. Congrats!

Valentine's Week Giveaway #5

Today's valentine is one I was delighted to come across because it introduced me to a type of valentine card I'd never seen before, one with a doily design embossed right into the card. I also learned there is apparently something desirable about cards with "silvered" designs, and in this one, you can see that the teapot and teacups being used by these little elephant teagoers have silver finishes to them.

I bought this card on eBay, but what I did not realize until it arrived is that the spoon is actually a tiny metal spoon! So this quickly became one of my favorite new vintage valentines.
And here's the inside of the card, which, interestingly enough, was left blank, while …

Grandma and Grandpa signed it on the back, not the inside. Did folks used to sign the backs of cards? I can't remember ever seeing one signed that way before. But wow, look at that penmanship! Doesn't it give you a warm, cozy feeling to remember such sweet sentiments of yesteryear? I hope so, because "warm and cozy" is the theme for today's giveaway, which is actually something I bought a while back and have been saving for this week.

Some of you may remember a few weeks ago when I found these teacup socks on sale at Charming Charlie. Well, I bought an extra pair that I stashed away for a Valentine's Week giveaway, so that's today's gift! If you'd like to be entered to win these cute socks, just leave an "Enter Me" comment to this post between now and 7 a.m. EST tomorrow, Feb. 13, and you'll be entered to win. Kindly include an email address or have a link for me to contact you if you're the winner. US and Canada only, please. Good luck!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The tea stickers go to …

Loralie! And since I've got your snail mail address already, I'll get these headed your way. Congrats!

Valentine's Week Giveaway #4

"You Suit Me To A T" says this sweet little lass, happily sipping out of her teacup, as we all so often do. This card wasn't signed, and it's a pity, because I'm sure someone would have enjoyed receiving this one!

And since today happens to be the Lord's Day, I thought a perfect giveaway would be something I myself was delighted to receive a copy of as a Christmas gift, "The Tea Lover's Devotional" by Emilie Barnes. I checked and was happy to see it's still available on Amazon, so I'm going to have a copy sent to the winner. If you'd like to be entered to win it, just leave an "Enter Me" comment to this post between now and 7 a.m. EST tomorrow, Feb. 12, and you'll be entered to win. Kindly include an email address or have a link for me to contact you if you're the winner. US and Canada only, please. Good luck!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The notecards winner is …

Joy! And since I have your address already, Joy, I'll get these headed your way. Congrats!

Valentine's Week Giveaway #3

I haven't found too many valentine postcards, so I was happy to pick up this one this year! I think this image is so sweet, and I love the thought that such sweet sentiments used to sail so openly through the mail!

Originally sent in 1920, this card reads: "Dear Aunt, I am well and hope you are the same. I am sorry my birthday is so near. from Leo." I wonder why Leo felt he needed to apologize to his aunt for his birthday being so near … Valentine's Day, presumably? Thoughts?

For today's giveaway, I thought I'd give one of you something that was a real hit when I shared my own copy of it the other day, this "I Love Tea! Stickers" booklet by Teresa Goodridge. If you'd like to be entered to win it, just leave an "Enter Me" comment to this post between now and 7 a.m. EST tomorrow, Feb. 11, and you'll be entered to win. Kindly include an email address or have a link for me to contact you if you're the winner. US and Canada only, please. Good luck!

Friday, February 9, 2018

The tea infuser goes to … Misty!

And I've just sent her an email, so hopefully she'll soon be sipping tea with the assistance of this new infuser. Congrats, Misty!

Valentine's Week Giveaway #2

One of the things I most enjoy about collecting vintage valentines is that they don't take up a lot of room! I'm out of storage space for many more teacups and teapots, but I don't think I'll ever be able to pass up a sweet valentine like this one that was once sent to someone's teacher!

I had a teacher named Gayle years ago, and I can easily picture her as a little girl, sending this card to a favorite teacher. I have no way of knowing whether this could possibly be true, but it's fun to imagine!

And while I don't give away my vintage cards, I'm happy to share a package of brand-new ones! These cute teacup thank-you notes were one of two boxes I found at a T.J. Maxx the other day, so I got one box for me and one for one of you! If you'd like to be entered to win it, just leave an "Enter Me" comment to this post between now and 7 a.m. EST tomorrow, Feb. 10, and you'll be entered to win. Kindly include an email address or have a link for me to contact you if you're the winner. US and Canada only, please. Good luck!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Valentine's Week Giveaway #1

Welcome to my annual Valentine's Week of giveaways! Every year I think I've probably discovered the last of the tea-themed vintage valentines, and yet each year I seem to find more. I found quite a few new ones this year and already have a head start on next year's valentines, so I'm hopeful that we'll have at least one more year of Valentine's Week giveaways. This valentine appealed to be because of the Kewpie-like little girl holding the tea tray next to a tea trolley like mine!

And it is signed "Bobby" on the back. I love the signatures and invent stories to go with all of them!

And for the first giveaway, I have a heart-shaped tea infuser I found on eBay and ordered from China weeks ago! I got the one on the left for me and the one on the right for one of you. If you'd like to be entered to win it, just leave an "Enter Me" comment to this post between now and 7 a.m. EST tomorrow, Feb. 9, and you'll be entered to win. Kindly include an email address or have a link for me to contact you if you're the winner. US only, please. Good luck!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Getting ready for Valentine's Week!

In preparation for Valentine's Week, which kicks off here tomorrow with seven days of giveaways, I thought I'd share a few of the pink and heart-themed goodies I've displayed on my tea trolley for the month. I was delighted to realize that family and friends gave me almost everything in this display, from the teapots and beautiful handcrafted cards to the teacups and even a teacup stand. (A friend who is downsizing had that in her car at Christmas and said she wondered if I wanted it or if she should just throw it out. I'm trying to downsize a little too, but let's not be ridiculous about it!) At any rate, please be sure to check back in the coming days as I share vintage tea-themed valentines as well as some goodies I'm so excited about giving away this year. The fun begins tomorrow!


Monday, February 5, 2018

"Kitchen Sink" Chocolate Chip Pan Cookies

Have you ever made chocolate chip cookies where you tossed in everything but the kitchen sink, as the saying goes? I experimented with a mash-up of several recipes this weekend, and the result was so good ("Perfect!" in the estimation of Mr. Tea With Friends) that I was asked to hurry up and write down exactly how I made these so that I can (perhaps) duplicate this success again! This recipe was actually prompted by two things. One, I had a lot of partial bags of baking chips left over from Christmas baking and …

Two, I had a pretty new cookie sheet I wanted to break in! This was a $5.99 find at T.J. Maxx the other day, and because of the pretty mint green color, I decided this pan might find its way into one of my future columns for The Coweta Shopper. (Which technically makes this a business expense. Ahem.)

So I decided to try to bake chocolate chip pan cookies, which I don't believe I've ever actually made before. They were quick and easy because I didn't have to take pans out of the oven every 10 minutes, and they were absolutely delicious!

I definitely suggest trying one (or two) of these cookies while they're hot from the oven. Oh. My. Goodness! If you'd like to try these for yourself, here's my recipe. I had my cookies with a nice strong cup of hazelnut tea, and it was a perfect afternoon tea treat!

"Kitchen Sink" Chocolate Chip Pan Cookies

3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, softened
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1-1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-3/4 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups chocolate chips or other flavored chips (I used a combination of semisweet, milk chocolate, white chocolate, and caramel chips)
1/2 cup pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 10 x 15-inch cookie sheet with aluminum foil, or prepare with cooking spray. In large bowl, cream butter using an electric mixer. Add eggs and combine using high speed of mixer. Add sugars and vanilla and combine. Next, use a spatula or large spoon to add the flour, soda, and salt, and combine well. Then fold in chocolate chips and pecans. Spread mixture evenly in prepared pan and bake for 23-25 minutes, just until edges are beginning to brown. Let cool for a few minutes (if you can wait that long!) and cut into cookie squares of desired size. Enjoy!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Some Varsi-tea from the Varsity

The Varsity is an Atlanta institution. Founded in 1928, it's said to be the world's largest drive-in restaurant, although I've always dined in when I have visited. The Varsity is part of the city's culture, the kind of place where sports fans love to go on game day, but celebrities and politicians know to go there as well. The Varsity is known for its cries of "What'll ya have? What'll ya have?" at the order counter. The other night, Alex and I were headed back from Atlanta when we decided to stop by for an early dinner.

In warmer weather, I get the Frosted Orange, a creamy orange milkshake, but on this visit, I was surprised to find a new Peach Iced Tea on the menu.

A chili dog, onion rings, and a drink is my go-to meal here. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever ordered anything else, and when I see someone at the Varsity who is ordering something like a chicken salad sandwich or, heaven forbid, a salad, all I can think is, "Amateur." Their chili is perfection, and the onion rings are lightly breaded and crispy, the kind where you get more onion than breading. In my none-too-humble opinion, there's not much reason to order the abominations known as onion rings anywhere else. And I have to report that the new Peach Iced Tea is quite sweet but quite good, a very nice accompaniment to a classic meal.

And we got fried pies to take home for dessert—the peach pie for me, the apple for Alex. So, friends, who all has eaten at the Varsity? If you're from Georgia, I assume you have, but I'm curious whether non-Georgians know about the Varsity as well!