Monday, September 25, 2017

Celebrating Eleanor Roosevelt

Yesterday was the monthly tea at Shorepointe Assisted Living, and the program was a continuation on the life of Eleanor Roosevelt.  I was also supposed to include a travelogue about the Southern Belle Tea Tour that hurricane Irma so rudely postponed, but there was more than enough information about the 1933 Inauguration [Franklin's first], and Eleanor's White House years as First Lady to easily fill an hour.

The teas, which begin at 2:00 p.m., are very simple and informal because the residents have just finished Sunday dinner.  They consist of a selection of tea bags and carafes of hot water and an assortment of pastries. Since I was elaborating on the Inauguration Day schedule - which included an Inaugural Tea in the State Dining Room and East Room for 2,000 plus guests that followed the Inaugural Parade, I wanted this tea to be a little more special.  

I phoned the activities director to ask permission to bring my silver teapots and tea [made from loose-leaf tea], and my request was granted.  Below are two of the faithful ladies who come every month.   I would love to do a fancy tea for them someday.

While I was never asked to provide a 'favor' every month, I always bring a small one and the residents seem to look forward to them.  Eleanor Roosevelt wasn't big into cooking unless it was a hot dog cookout at Val-Kill [although she did take a cooking class once].  She really didn't need to cook since she had servants to do it, but there was one food she liked to prepare - scrambled eggs!  They were always on the menu at the Sunday night family meal, and she scrambled them in a silver chafing dish. I had hoped to get each resident a Cadbury Creme Egg [a chocolate shell with a white and yellowish fondant filling that resembles a chicken's egg]. After striking out at three different candy stores, I consulted the Internet and discovered Cadbury only brings them out at Easter time to keep them a 'special' Easter treat. So I settled instead on Almond Joy miniature candy bars since Eleanor brought 'Joy' to so many people. She was also a tough nut to crack in her mature years, saying any woman in public life had to develop skin as tough as rhinoceros hide!  Many people wouldn't have been able to endure the tragedies she encountered throughout her lifetime and emerge with such greatness.

I put the candy bars in light blue silk organza bags because the gown Eleanor wore to the Inaugural Ball in 1933 was a slate-blue crepe gown.  It was designed by Sally Milgrim, and the color was dubbed "Eleanor blue."  I enjoyed seeing the gown displayed at the Smithsonian with all the other First Lady's inaugural gowns on my visit to Washington, D.C. in 2015.  

The black tea I chose to take coordinated with the candy bars since it had flecks of coconut and almond flakes in the dry leaf.  It's official name is Snowflake Tea, blended by East Indies Tea Company in Lebanon, PA and it's SO good.   The residents enjoyed it.

Last month their favor was a tea bag and packet of chocolate chip 'teddy grahams' in honor of Eleanor's uncle, Theodore Roosevelt.  Her famous quote, "A woman is like a tea bag;  you never know how strong it is until it's in hot water" was enclosed.

My research revealed there were certain duties that Eleanor thought were useless burdens, but later realized their meaning and value.  White House teas were one of those duties.  It seemed futile to her to receive anywhere from 500 to 1,000 people on a given afternoon and shake hands with them, and then have them pass into the dining room to be given a cup of tea [or coffee], but she discovered the White House was a place with deep significance where hospitality was dispensed. So she did it regularly, three times a week during the winter months.  In 1939 she greeted 9,211 guests at White House teas!

The Internet says 59 books about Eleanor Roosevelt have been listed in Good Reads.  That probably isn't inclusive of all the books written about her. She was a fascinating and incredible lady who won the hearts of many people around the world, and gained the title First Lady of the World.

Up next month... Halloween traditions and how it all began.

After my presentation I went home and got my hubby to go to dinner at P.F. Chang's, using the gift card from one of the Southern Belle Tea Tour participants [for a tour that never happened - yet!]. There's never time to eat Sunday dinner before I go to Shorepointe because I go right from church, so this was a treat.

The closest P.F. Chang's to me is at Partridge Creek.  I managed to snap the photo below without any people in it, but it was bustling with people on the unseasonably warm September Sunday afternoon.   We've been having recording breaking temps in the high 80's since 1920.

Jerry and I are very predictable and order the same thing every time:  White Tangerine Tea, Chicken Wraps, and Sesame Chicken.  I forgot to take a picture of the Sesame Chicken, but it was yummy!

Now a new week unfolds...

Friday, September 22, 2017

An Afternoon in Detroit

I've been in my office a lot this week working on my monthly presentation for Shorepointe Assisted Living this Sunday.  At the resident's request, the program last month was about Eleanor Roosevelt, but I didn't have time to finish the entire presentation, so they asked if I'd finish it this month. Rather than picking up where I left off, I decided to begin this presentation with the 1933 Inauguration and Mrs. Roosevelt's years as First Lady in the White House.

Her 78 years of life were so full, and so many books have been written about her that it's hard to decide what to share.  Trips to three different libraries yielded 16 books to skim through.

When I received a phone call yesterday from a woman working on a project [undisclosed at this time], asking if I could meet her at the former home of J.L. Hudson, founder of Detroit's iconic Department Store, I was more than happy to set aside my research and join her this afternoon.

The time was set for 2:00 p.m.  When we arrived at the house, Sister Rosemarie was sitting on the front porch waiting for us.  The house has been owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit since 1926, and the Sisters, Home Visitors of Mary presently live in it.

I first met Sister Rosemarie in December 2014 when I toured the house for the first time. Then I returned in February 2015 to do a program about J.L. Hudson as a fundraiser for their work in Nigeria.  The tree-shaded house looked much different today since the leaves haven't fallen yet. On this fall day our temperature was a hot, unseasonable 86 degrees!  Iced tea, anyone?

~ Today's Visit ~

~ December 2014 ~

Sister Rosemarie allowed me to take her picture as we sat in the living room chatting.  The tiles on the fireplace in the background are original to the house from Detroit's Pewabic Pottery.  Elizabeth, the lovely lady who met with us was camera shy.

We were only a few streets away from the house that Henry and Clara Ford had built from the profits on his Ford Models N, R, and S, so we decided to pay it a visit [from outside since it's a private residence]. It was exciting to actually see the house I've read about in books. Can you imagine living in a house that Henry, Clara, and Edsel Ford once lived in, or J.L. Hudson and his niece, Eleanor Clay Ford?  If only those walls could talk to us!

140 Edison Avenue - in Detroit's Boston-Edison Neighborhood.
[northeast corner of Edison and Second Avenue]

The Italian Renaissance Revival style brick house was built during 1907-o8 on several adjoining lots. It features Tuscan columns and windows with balustrades and limestone arches.

Henry had a well-equipped machine shop built over the garage [pictured below] for his son, Edsel, who was 14 years old when they moved into the house.

Clara's pergola and gardens are still there 102 years later.

The house became a Michigan Historic Site in 1986.

It was a fun afternoon.  Now I'm back at my computer, sipping a cup of tea, and getting ready to hit the books again!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tea Tasting at The Rendezvous With Tea

I received an e-mail invitation to attend a September 18th tea tasting at The Rendezvous With Tea, but declined because I was scheduled to be in Savannah, GA on the tea tour [which hurricane Irma cancelled].  While Teresa [one of the tour participants] was still in Michigan following our meet-up at the Royal Park Hotel last week, she visited The Rendezvous With Tea.  When owner, Naszreen Gibson, discovered I was still in town she called to extend a second invitation, and I'm so glad she did. The last time I attended one of her tastings was December 2016, so I was long overdue.

The shop carries over 350 fine teas from around the world, plus beautiful tea equipage.

~ Naszreen Gibson, Owner ~

The set-up area for the tea tasting has been changed, and it's lovely.

Naszreen began by telling us the tea shop is her third child - the first two were biological. ;-) She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer 12 1/2 years ago, so she wanted to share tea as a wellness solution.

She introduced six new signature teas to her shop this year [2 black, 2 green, and 2 herbal], and it was so interesting to learn how each tea derived its name.

There were eight attendees - two of which were young women, and one man.  I always enjoy seeing the younger generation interested in tea, and men too because in the U.S. far too many men perceive tea as a "ladies' beverage."  We were introduced to eight teas - 4 blacks from Ceylon [Sri Lanka], one purple tea from Kenya, 2 green teas from China and Fuji, and 1 herbal from her signature collection.

In the photo below, Naszreen is giving her opening presentation.   I was glad to learn that she is now doing library presentations to enlighten library patrons about the many benefits of tea.

We began with the black tea Harangalla, from a tea estate in Kandy.  It's grown at a mid to high level elevation.  

The dry, uninfused leaf was graded as a FBOP - Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe.

 I wrote in my notes, very brisk, but good.

The second tea we tasted was Inverness - a single estate tea grown 6000 ft. above sea level in an area of Sri Lanka known as Little England.  It's amazing how subjective teas are to different palates. While I thought this tea was less brisk than the first one, a few of the other participants felt it was more brisk.  I ended up purchasing 50 grams of it to take home, and am enjoying it as I type this post.

The dry leaf was longer and more needle-like.

The third black tea was Halpewattle and had a smooth taste, while the fourth black tea, Rotumba - grown at a lower elevation - had very large rolled leaves.  

Then we moved on to a "Purple" tea - yes, you read that correctly!  We're all aware of the more common teas - white, green, oolong, black, and puerh teas, but purple tea was a new one to me. I should have known about it because I receive The Daily Tea e-newsletter, and they featured an article about it in January 2015, but somehow I missed it.

The leaves on the tea plant are actually purple, and Naszreen steeped it in a clear teapot so we could see the faint purple hue of the brewed tea.  She steeped it at a lower temperature and used fewer leaves, and it produced a mild tea that was quite good.

A genetic mutation makes the tea plants have higher levels of anthocyanin [an antioxidant] which gives the leaves an unusual purple appearance.  It's the same antioxidant that gives blueberries their deep blue color.  Some studies have found the plants are resistant to drought and frost, so purple tea could be an alternative to older cultivars.  It's from the Camellia Sinensis plant and is not a separate category of tea, so the leaves can be processed into any variety.  

Presently it's grown in China, Kenya, Japan, and India.  The Kenyan Purple Tea has taken 25 years to cultivate.  The Japanese Purple Tea is said to be very bitter. You learn something new everyday! I bought 25 grams.  

From the purple tea we moved on to the two green teas - Dragonwell from China, and a Sencha from Fuji.

The last tea was called Relax Blue - an herbal tea made from Chamomile, Peppermint, Lemongrass, Lavender, and Blue Pea Flower which makes it turn a beautiful shade of blue.

At the conclusion of the tasting Naszreen served a delicious homemade savory [Artichoke and Cheese Quiche] and two tea infused sweets [an Earl Grey Lavender Shortbread Bar Cookie] and Pumpkin Cake with Butterscotch Ganache.  All were delicious.  I oped to eat mine with a cup of Inverness tea.

Thank you for an educational and delightful tea tasting, Naszreen.  For local readers, The Rendezvous With Tea is located at 20792 Mack Avenue, Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236.  

Friday, September 15, 2017

Southern Belle Afternoon Tea - Part II

Continuing on with yesterday's post about Afternoon Tea at the Royal Park Hotel... When we finished our tea meal my girlfriend, Lori, and I distributed our gift bags to the ladies.  The post I wrote about the items in the gift bags can be read here.

The ladies presented me with gifts to express their appreciation for putting the tour together, even though it never happened.  They were SO good to me, I knew this trip needed to be rescheduled in the spring for them.

Below are the thoughtful and generous gifts they gave me.  Louise follows my blog, and she remembered my May 30th post about my collection of violet teacups - the flower for February, my birth month, so she gave me a beautiful Shelley teacup that's called Violets.

She too graduated from Roosevelt High School in Wyandotte, MI, and in her gift bag was also a lovely gold ornament of the high school. [The pictures below can be enlarged for better viewing by clicking on them.]  What a lovely keepsake!

Another gift bag contained two blue Deco Jasperware mini-vases.  They fit in perfectly with my collection of Wedgwood Jasperware.  I love that the color is a deeper blue than the Wedgwood.

Another gift bag contained a bone china cup and saucer commemorating Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee in 2002,  An'TEA'quers club cookbook, and inside that little box with the bow was a "It's a Snap" necklace.

Are you familiar with the jewelry that has snap on jewels? I tried to show how they work in the photo below.  Six snap on jewels accompanied the necklace.

Another gift bag had a crystal sunflower sun catcher to hang in a window.  My favorite flower is sunflowers. Before I decorated my kitchen in a tea theme it was done in sunflowers because they're so cheerful.  Also included was tea-themed note tablet and pen, and a P.F. Chang's gift card.  

And last but not least, was another P.F. Chang's gift card [one of Jerry's and my favorite restaurants] and a gift bag that Teresa prepared for all the participants.

What can I say about Teresa besides amazing?!  Last year on the Michigan Tea Tour she did a fabulous tea and chocolate tasting/pairing for us, which you can read about here.  She volunteered to do it again on an abbreviated scale during this tea tour [she couldn't bring everything in the van that she transported in her car last year].  Below is the individual tea tasting box she assembled for each participant.  It contained three chocolates with three teas to taste with each chocolate - for a total of nine teas.

Also inside the bag was an Ohio tea towel, an Ohio buckeye candy, and mints.

Teresa creatively put together a booklet for each participant that included a day-by-day break down of the itinerary: a brief history [with pictures] of each place we were visiting, menus of tearooms we were visiting with a sheet to review it, a daily summary sheet: My favorite thing today; The worst thing today [as trip coordinator I hope that would have been blank every day ;-)]; A magical thing that happened; The funniest thing today; and a space for general comments, a devotional from Emilie Barnes The Tea Lover's Devotional for each day of the tour, and a couple of games to play while traveling in the van.   What a wonderful keepsake! Thanks for your labor of love, Teresa!

Watch for more posts about the same tour being rescheduled for April or May 2018.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Southern Belles Take Tea in the North

Eight of the ten Southern Belle Tea Tour participants met at the Royal Park Hotel in Rochester, MI today for Afternoon Tea at noon.  Had it not been for hurricane Irma, we would have been in Marietta, GA touring the Gone With the Wind Museum and having Afternoon Tea at the Vineyard Café before departing for Charleston, S.C., but Mother Nature's agenda trumped ours.

Only two of our group couldn't join us and for good reason - one lives in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada, and the other lives in Marquette, Mi - in the Upper Peninsula, nine hours away.  I'm sure they were with us in spirit.  Teresa drove from Napoleon, Ohio to be with us, and treated herself to a two-night stay at the beautiful, luxurious Royal Park Hotel.

It's a custom at the hotel to wait in the library before being taken to the gallery where the Royal Tea is served.  While we waited for everyone to arrive we took some pictures.

[Lori and Teresa]

[L-R: Lori, Me, Teresa, Barb, Linda, and Louise]

Tea hostess, Mary Kuhn, escorted us to our own private tea room - much cozier than being out in the gallery.

Mary explained our Mighty Leaf loose-leaf tea options.  We got to pick three for our table - Pear Caramel Black Tea, Green Tea Passion, and Masala Chocolate Truffle Herbal Tea. 

Mary took a group photo for us.  Sandra is on the far left and behind her is Cheryl.  Since Cheryl got hid by the hat brim, I'm glad I got one of her by herself. 

There's something about a hat/fascinator that appeals to people. While we were having tea and chatting away, two different people [a man and a woman - both young], stepped inside the room to compliment us, and asked if they could take our picture.  The man even wanted to be in the picture with us!

The food on the three-tiered server tasted as delicious as it looked. 

~ I selected Green Tea Passion ~

Savories were Smoked Salmon BLT on Rye; Hickory Smoked Chicken with Pear Chutney in a Phyllo Cup; Cucumber with Herb Cream Cheese on White Bread; Rosemary Puff Pastry with Roast Beef, Cheddar and Horseradish Cream;  Egg Salad Tomato Bruschetta; and Aged Cheddar Cheese Creme Brulee garnished with a Date.

Hot Hors d' Oeuvres were Chef's Pear-Almond Brie En-Croute and Spanakopita.

Freshly baked English Fruit Scone with Clotted Cream, Lemon Curd, Honey and Preserves.

Desserts were: Orange Cheese Cake Pop; Raspberry Tart; Shortbread Cookie; Dark Chocolate Decadence; Cranberry Orange Bread; and Chocolate Covered Strawberry.  These went home in a carry-out container for my hubby, because by now I was stuffed.

We sat around the table from noon until 3:30 when Mary politely nudged us out.   We had such a lovely afternoon together which I'll share in tomorrow's post. One of the ladies in our group called our time together "magical."  We would have had fun on the tea tour too because this was a very compatible group.  Tea lovers are the nicest people!

I pray everyday that I won't sin in word, thought [which includes covetousness], or deed, but every time I'm around Teresa it's difficult. ;-)  When she came on the Michigan Tea Tour last year she had an adorable blue and white felt purse that a lady in Poland makes and sells on Etsy.  Since Teresa lives in Ohio and goes to different tea functions than me, she graciously gave me the contact info and I ordered one.

Now look at the adorable beaded teapot purse she came with today!  My prayers are really being tested. ;-)  I won't be ordering this designer purse because it's beyond my budget, but I'm happy for Teresa and glad we all got to ooh and aah over it.  

To be continued...