Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dainty Dining

The new book Dainty Dining by Angela Webster McRae is a wonderful collection of heartwarming stories, recipes and tea room memorabilia.


Whether you’re a tea enthusiast, history buff, or love to cook, this book is for you.  Dainty Dining explores department store tea rooms in their heyday.  Many of these department stores are now defunct, but their fascinating history and delicious recipes have been passed along for us to enjoy.

As I read their stories and looked at the memorabilia, I wished that I’d had the opportunity to dine at Burdines, Filene’s, Gimbels, Rich’s  or any of the twenty department store tea rooms included in the book.  It’s been great fun to step back in time and visit them by way of the writers extensive research and remarkable collection of postcards, menus, china and more.  I can’t wait to recreate some of their most popular recipes like Chicken a la King, Filene’s Seafood Newburg, Innes Tea Room’s Rum Cream Pie, or Crystal Tea Room Hot Cheese Tarts for a start.

I’d enjoyed Angela’s writing on her fun and informative blog Tea With Friends and been enriched by our friendship.  If you would like to add Dainty Dining to your library, it is available for sale on her blog.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Tea Cubed

There always seems to be something new in tea, doesn’t there?

I think the pyramid shaped silky tea bags are a step up from the square paper bags.


Now Lu Lin Tea has introduced their loose tea in cubes.  This would appear to have the advantage of giving the loose tea leaves more room to expand.

Lu Lin tea cubed

The company has a nice selection of tea in cubes, including Long Jing Green Tea, Jasmine Dragon Pearls, Fujian Oolong, Ginseng Oolong, Puerh, Puerh with Lavender, Keemun Breakfast and Lapsang Souchong.

Right now I have several new teas to try from International Tea Farms Alliance,  so I probably won’t be purchasing tea cubes anytime soon.  I’d love to hear if any of you have tried Lu Lin tea cubes.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Shaving Mug or Mustache Cup

This mug was a find at a local thrift store recently.  I knew that it would be perfect for my future son-in-laws firefighter collection.


It is a bit confusing when comparing the two.  The mustache cup was invented in the early 1800’s because most men in Victorian times had a mustache.  They were waxed and curled and could be quite elaborate.  The problem arose when their mustache would hang into the beverage cup and drip wax into their drink.  The ladies did not find a dripping mustache to be very attractive, and it was certainly not clothing friendly.

The solution was to put a ledge or guard in the cup.


Many beautiful cups and saucers have a mustache guard, but this sturdy mug was used for shaving.  The holes let the soapy water drain back into the mug.  Shaving with a straight razor must have been difficult (and dangerous), so most gentlemen visited the barber shop to get a shave.  Many of them had their own shaving mug which they left at the shop for their exclusive use. 

Some were occupational mugs, like this firemen mug.  Many had the owners name or monogram.


So, I’ll still be on the lookout for a pretty mustache cup and saucer, but I’m glad that I found this shaving mug and learned a little bit about the difference between a shaving mug and a mustache cup.

I’ve only seen one mug with this particular scene online, but it was a slightly different shape.  This one may have been made in Japan.  There are no markings on the bottom.  If you know any more, I’d love to hear it.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Everything Alice

The Wonderland Book of Makes & Bakes (Read-Baldrey & Leech) is a recent addition to my tea library.  This book  makes me wish that there was more time for crafting and baking in my life.


The book began as an idea hatched over a shared cup of tea and the authors then spent months preparing all the projects and photo styling, etc.  The terrific photographs were taken by Tiffany Mumford.


There are so many lovely projects and recipes that it is hard to pick some to share with you.  I thought the Time For Tea jewelry was really cute.


I’ve been meaning to make some teacup candles for a while now.


This Vintage Cake Stand is also on my to do list.  What a fab way to repurpose your mismatched china pieces.  I love the mini cupcakes with their fresh flower toppers.  There is also a project that uses fabric to cover an old teapot, much like my friend Angela did at Tea With Friends.


Look at this wonderful celebration Red Velvet Cupcake.


I’m sure some of you talented bakers could make these adorable Wonderland cookies -


or Curious Teapot Cake.

There are many more great recipes and projects using embroidery, applique and more.  I liked the Lavender Dormice, Drink-Me Cordials, Cheshire Cat Hand Warmers, Tweedledum & Tweedledee Shoebags, Wonderland Aprons, Tea Set Invitations and Duchess Macaroons, to name a few. 


Of course, no tea party ensemble would be complete without a hat.  The teacup shape and toile fabric made this my favorite hat project of the book. 

So yes, I’d definitely recommend Everything Alice to my friends.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Masons Friarswood Teapot

This teapot in my sister-in-laws collection is an interesting shape.  I really like the allover textured relief pattern and the fancy knob on the lid.


I don’t know the history of this teapot, but it is probably circa l970.   


This is Masons made in England ironstone in pattern C4856.  Because of its exceptional durability, ironstone is great for everyday use tableware.


It says “guaranteed permanent acid resisting color” on the bottom, instead of dishwasher safe as it would today.  Household automatic dishwashers didn’t really catch on until the 1950’s, although the first practical machine was invented in 1886 by Josephine Cochrane.

I’ve seen other pieces in this pattern on eBay and it seems to be quite popular with collectors.  You can find some of the history of Mason’s Ironstone here.  


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