Monday, June 29, 2009

Iced Tea

Last week Kroger had Honest Tea in their 10 for 10 promotion.  I picked up several flavors including Green Dragon, Peach Oo-La-Long, Mango Acai, Moroccan Mint, Community Green and Lori’s Lemon.    So far I have only tried the Green Dragon which was light, refreshing and not too sweet .  Their teas are sweetened with a hint of organic cane sugar or honey. 


I found this rather unusual quote about iced tea  on my  “Tea Calendar 2009”.

Iced tea may not have as much wisdom as hot tea, but in the summer better a cool and refreshed dullard than a steamy sweat-drenched sage – leave sagacity to the autumn! – Linda Solegato

Nevertheless, with temperatures in the nineties, I’m still enjoying my hot tea throughout the day.  I think the rest of my Honest Tea will be saved for road trips.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Royal Grafton cup and saucer

My yard sale find today was this Royal Grafton bone china cup and saucer.  I was delighted with the pale green and pink color, as well as the $3 price.


It was made by  A. B. Jones & Sons from the Grafton works in Stoke-on-Trent, England. 


The china mark on the saucer was used between 1957 and 1961.  This company was in business from 1900 – 1972.  So far I have been unable to find this pattern online, but it is fun to research these bargains. 

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Tea Bush

Isn’t it interesting that the tea plant, which is an evergreen shrub, can grow to a height of sixty feet or more.   I only picture it as those lovely tiered green rows of tea bushes growing at a height of about three to five feet (for ease of harvesting).

Those Camellia sinensis bushes thrive in tropical and semitropical climates with abundant rainfall.  The best teas grow at high elevations of 3,000 to 6,000 ft.  When the new leaves and buds sprout it is called a flush and early spring first flush teas can be expensive.


It is also interesting to me that there are around 2,000 sub-species of tea.  Tea connoisseurs can actually identify the different varietals.   I’m afraid my palate will probably not develop past discerning whether the tea pleases my taste buds, but that’s okay.  As long as I have a good cuppa to enjoy – I’m good.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

British Tea Attitude

Tea reached England around 1645 and by the 1700s it was the nation’s favorite beverage.  However, it wasn’t until the 1800s that tea came within the financial reach of the masses.  


It has been said that next to water, tea is the Englishman’s proper element.

This little rhyme by Rudyard Kipling says it quite well:

We had a kettle; we let it leak;

Our not repairing it made it worse.

We haven’t had any tea for a week.

The bottom is out of the Universe.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bruschetta or Grilled Bread


This tasty bread has been enjoyed in Italy since the 15th century.  Lately I have had a craving for bruschetta, so today I decided to make some for my lunch.   I started with a slightly stale baguette sliced 1/2 inch thick.  I pressed some fresh garlic and mixed it with olive oil, then brushed this mixture onto the bread slices.    Make sure to spoon any stray garlic pieces onto the bread.  Broil quickly until the bread is nice and crisp.

I then made a mixture of chopped tomatoes, chopped fresh basil, salt,  pepper  and a splash of aged balsamic vinegar.   Spoon this onto your bread slices and let the juices soak in.  Delizioso!

Since I don’t drink wine, I enjoyed this treat with a cup of Darjeeling tea.   

For those who would like to see the traditional method of preparation I’ve included this video.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tea Break

Tetley tea is not a brand that I drink much anymore, but it was my favorite tea for many years when I lived in Toronto.  Everyone knew the Tetley Tea Folk and the commercial jingle.


I grew up making pots of hot tea with the little round teabags.  Brewing loose tea was something that would come much later, as my appreciation for tea developed.  My parents were both coffee drinkers, so my tea was enjoyed solo or during visits with my best friend Louise.

Joseph Tetley & Co. was founded in 1837 in the United Kingdom.  Tetley is now a subsidiary of Tata Tea – the world’s second largest manufacturer and distributor of tea.    It is the second largest in the United States.  I think most of the Tetley Tea here in the South is blended for brewing iced tea.   

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Book Bonanza

Sometimes not sleeping well can have its rewards. I awoke early this morning and decided that I would check out a local community yard sale. This subdivision had half a dozen houses that were participating in the sale. However, I came away empty handed and so I drove around a little to look for new prospects. After several more duds, I turned into yet another subdivision with a yard sale for one final try.

Well, for a book lover like me, it was the mother lode. A media specialist from a local elementary school was selling thousands of children’s books. What an opportunity to update my grandsons library.


I was able to buy a total of 64 like new books on a wide range of subjects for just $l6. I must admit that I am planning on reading many of them (history and science) myself.


Here is one that I plan to use right away. It is a terrific cookbook divided up by Countries and what their food specialties are, including recipes, food tips, interesting facts and great photos.


There is a simple scone recipe in the England section which I will be trying. I also plan to make good use of the internet link which ties in with this book.

Now, if only I could find a yard sale with loads of teapots or cups and saucers. Maybe next time.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Teapot Use and Care

P2070306 - Copy - Copy

These suggestions for teapot use and care are from  Mrs. Isabella Beeton’s Book of Household Management, published in 1860.

-  have several teapots for different occasions

-  avoid using aluminum or enamel; aluminum may discolor the tea; chipped enamel may effect the flavor of the tea

-  ceramic or bone china teapots retain the heat best

-  check the glaze inside the pot for cracks and crazes

-  check the handle for finger and knuckle room to avoid burns

-  look for a hole in the lid to allow air to pass into the pot to avoid dribble and a mess from the teaspout

-  a lug should be part of the lid to hold it in place so the lid doesn’t crash into the cups as the tea is poured

-  avoid using detergent inside a teapot as this will affect the taste of the tea

-  remove tannin stains inside the teapot by filling and soaking the pot over several hours with a solution of hot water and four tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda – rinse thoroughly.

Funny how this advice was given nearly 150 years ago, but it is just as relevant today as it was then.  The only thing I do differently is using a paste of baking soda to clean the inside of my teapot, instead of soaking it and this is only because I don’t want to wait for several hours.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

America’s Tea Sage

"America's new tea lovers are the people who have forced the tea trade to wake up," Norwood says. "Elsewhere, tea has meant a certain way, a certain tradition, for centuries, but this is America! The American tea lover is heir to all the world's tea drinking traditions, from Japanese tea ceremonies to Russian samovars to English scones in the afternoon. India chai, China green, you name it and we can claim it and make it ours. And that's just what we are doing. In this respect, ours is the most innovative and exciting tea scene anywhere."


Mr. Pratt has a new book “James Norwood Pratt’s Tea Dictionary” which is on my wish list.  I know it will be an excellent addition to my tea library.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


Don’t you just love chocolate cake – don’t you hate the calories? This piece-of-cake takes care of that problem.


Chocolate with strawberry cream cheese icing.

P6060680I really had a lot of fun with this project. I first saw it at my local quilt shop (A Scarlet Thread) and knew I’d have to buy the magazine with the pattern.

P6060676This pincushion is filled with crushed walnut hulls to help keep needles sharp.

P6060674You can find the pattern in the Spring 2009 issue of Quilts and More.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sewing Machine Giveaway

Sew, Mama, Sew is having a giveaway on their blog with lots of great prizes, including a terrific sewing machine. They are asking readers to answer several questions and post answers on their blog. So here are my answers.

What brand and model do you have?
- Elna, Quilter's Dream

How long have you had it?
- Around 9 years.

How much does the machine cost (approximately)?
- back then $800-$900

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)?
- I like to sew quilts, tote bags and small gift items.

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?
- Sometimes I sew a lot and at other times the machine can sit unused for weeks.

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?
- I like my machine, but not enough to give it a name.

What features does your machine have that work well for you?
- The needle down feature is wonderful and I'd be lost without my 1/4 inch sewing foot. It is also very handy to be able to set the speed that the machine sews at - I use turtle speed a lot.

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?
- Having nice features that I have no idea how to use can be frustrating.

Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped in on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper? Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.)? We want to hear it!
- This is the first computerized sewing machine that I have owned. I bought it for myself with some money that I inherited from my Mom. One thing that happened when the machine was quite new was pretty bad. I was sewing at the dining room table and the cord was strung across to a wall plug. I went a few feet away to the living room and didn't notice my grandson riding his little trike right into the cord. Instead of stopping he just pulled the cord and the whole machine off the table.

- I heard a thunderous crash and whirled around just in time to see lots of little pieces and buttons flying everywhere. After a good cry, I took the machine to be repaired. I think it came back almost as good as new.

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?
- I would recommend this machine for its nice features and variety of fancy stitches. Also it is easily portable for taking to classes, etc.

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?
- I guess you need to decide what type of sewing you will be doing (regular, embroidery, heirloom, etc.) and what machine features are best suited for this.

Do you have a dream machine?
- I don't have a particular brand or dream machine in mind, but sometimes I think it would be fun to have an embroidery machine.

National Iced Tea Month

June is national iced tea month. We can thank an Englishman from Calcutta named Richard Blechynden for introducing the beverage in America in 1904 at the World's Fair in St. Louis. Sales of hot tea at his booth were very slow, probably due to the balmy weather. He came up with the idea of pouring the tea over ice and served it in tall glasses. The rest is history.

In this Southern Living magazine recipe, it calls iced tea the house wine of the South. I thought that their recipe for blueberry-lemon iced tea sounded delicious and I was right. It's very simple to prepare.

Bring a 16 oz. package of frozen blueberries and 1/2 cup lemon juice to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and pour through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl, using back of spoon to squeeze out juice. Discard solids. Wipe saucepan clean.

Bring 4 cups water to a boil in same saucepan; add 3 family-size tea bags and let stand 5 minutes. Remove and discard teabags. Stir in 3/4 cup sugar and blueberry juice mixture. Pour into a pitcher; cover and chill 1 hour. Serve over ice.

This has a gorgeous color and a refreshing fruity tang. Yummy.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Perfect Card

One of my favorite places to be is at the beach. My favorite beach is on Sanibel Island, FL. I love to go shelling.

Now where is this guy going in such a hurry?

Oh, I see - the bathing beauty. Well, what does all this have to do with the perfect card. Today I received my first tea swap card and tea bags. Looks like a perfect day for a walk on the beach.

I love the pink sun hat and pink flip flops.

Look at all those shells. Thanks Lisa for this beautiful card and the tea bags. I'm looking forward to trying them, especially the vanilla Chai and the black cherry.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I Won A Whimsy

The Whimsy Kit that I won in a giveaway from Fated Follies has arrived. This particular kit is called The Queen of Hearts Rose Garden.

I love red and this kit has lots of it - red beaded fringe, lace and sequins.

I'm not sure how I will use all these goodies, whether in paper arts or sewing, but there are lots of great ideas and inspiration on the Fated Follies blog. I love the variety of gorgeous tags on display.

Check out the boutique for other Whimsy Kits and the blog for the eye candy.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pretty Pink Day

Most people think of pink as the color of femininity (a soft pretty color), but make it hot pink and it becomes a little aggressive and sensual. I don't give too much thought to what pink means , I just enjoy it.

This Hall teapot has an unusual shape and a gorgeous deep rose color. I like the little gold roses motif.

This pretty pink and white Arthur Wood teapot is very special to me. It belonged to my mother when she was a young bride and was a gift from her sister.

This is an old McCormick pot (made in the USA) which has a pleasing shape and a removable steeping basket.
This delicate botanical style cup with a very pale pink background is a favorite of mine. It was made by Royal Grafton in England.

Here is a stack of cups that all have lovely pink roses. The Table Settings book is by Victoria. I enjoy all their books, whether about tea, table settings, hats or travel, they are exceptional.

More pink pattern cups on a wall rack.

It would be nice to have a history on this glass cup style vase. The little pink floral teapot clock was a gift from a friend who knows my love for anything tea.

There is an article titled Tickled Pink Tea Table in the July/August 2009 Tea Time magazine. It is short, but sweet and such beautiful photos of the tea ware and glasses, floral arrangements, place tags, favors, etc.
If you would like to take part in the fun color posting, check out Steph's blog at

Monday, June 1, 2009

High Tea or Low Tea?

There always seems to be some confusion over what type of tea is being served. Should it be called High Tea, Low Tea or just afternoon tea? Here are a couple of poems that should clear things up perfectly.

High Tea
(Essentially It's Supper)
Beans on toast and leftover roast,
the last meal of the day.
Jeans and shirts, or comfy old skirts,
slippers are quite okay.
Tea that's black, the pot with a crack,
placemats for everyday.
Neighbors, mates, or long-standing dates;
pets won't be in the way.
- J. Camille Korsmo
Low Tea
(Indubitably a Party)
Cakes and tarts and scones shaped like hearts,
an afternoon affair.
Frocks and pearls topped with hats and curls,
perfume applied with flair.
Fine Earl Grey, a fresh bouquet,
the table set with care.
Invited guests (some dear, some pests).
Manners? Beyond compare!
- J. Camille Korsmo
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