Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Did you know the origin of Halloween comes from ancient Ireland? Ireland is also one of the biggest per-capita consumers of tea in the world [four cups per day per person with many who drink six cups or more].  Please join me in a cup of tea as we go on a Halloween journey together!
In ancient times, Celtic farmers believed there was one day a year where the season of life met the season of death, and spirits rose from their graves to walk amongst the living. That day was called Samhain, the Celtic word for summers end. 
On a day when so many spirits lurked, Druid priests tried to foretell whether their villages would survive the winter. The Celts lit great bonfires and disguised themselves to confuse the spirits. In the 8th century, an attempt was made to distract the Celts from their pagan practice when Pope Gregory III established All Hallows Day - a day honoring all saints, known and unknown on November 1st.   Europeans accepted the new holiday, but saw no reason to cease enjoyment of their traditional rituals as well.   Soon Samhain became known as All Hallows Eve, which evolved into modern day Halloween. 
The pagan tradition was of no interest to America's first Puritans and the custom was left behind in Europe. When the mid-nineteenth century potato famine drove over a million starving Irish to America, the immigrants brought their traditions and folklore with them. The roaring bonfires shrank to lanterns carved from turnips and gourds - the first jack-o-lanterns - while the Celtic disguises became the costumes of modern day Halloween.
Despite Halloween's ancient pagan origins, our family looks past what was, to what is, and enjoys a fun-filled evening together, as you can see by the family Halloween photos below.  Grab your teacup, and have a look...
This is my brother and me when I was three years old and he was eight.

Jeremy [our youngest] as "The Jolly Green Giant" - two years old.

 "Gold Crayola Crayon" - three years old.
A Cowboy at four years old.
And a Clown at eight years old.
Now fast forward 19 years.  He's all grown up, married, and a father himself!   The photo below is with his wife, Samantha and their first-born daughter, Isabella, a cute little lady bug.
 She's just Ducky in 2007! 
A Fairy Princess in 2008
In 2009 she was Toy Story Jessie, and her baby brother, Landon, was a little giraffe!
Jeremy, Landon the Pirate, and Izzy - 2010

Jeremy, Landon [Spiderman], and Izzy [Super Girl] 2011

My daughter's three children - Brandon, Old McDonald; Tiffany, Rapunzel; and Marissa, a sunflower.  [They're now 23, 21, and 17 years old!]

Brandon a Combat Soldier; Tiffany, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz;  and Marissa, Raggedy Ann.

Our middle son, Steve, with his wife, Sharon, and their daughter, Brianna as Madeline, and baby Brooke is a sweet little pumpkin!   [Nana and Papa got in the picture too!]

  Brooke grew from a pumpkin to an angel in 2011, with her Mom as Wonder Woman.

Marissa, Tiffany and Brianna [one cute Banana!] 2011
Our son, Steve [below], started a tradition when he moved into his home nine years ago.  He hosts a neighborhood "open garage" every year with donuts, hot chocolate and hot cider for all the trick-or-treaters, and coffee for their parents.   When it's cold outside they really appreciate stepping inside his garage, or warming their hands from his portable fire pit just outside the garage.   The neighbors look forward to it every year, and all our family congregates there too.
Jerry [my hubby] manning the Krispy Kreme Doughnut table!
Wishing everyone a fun, safe, Halloween, and prayers for safety to those on the East Coast.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Victorian Mourning Tea [Halloween]

When I worked at Tea by Three tea room, Victorian Mourning was the theme of one year's Halloween Tea.

Jackie, the guest speaker, is pictured below wearing a Victorian mourning outfit.  She is a re-enactor and has her own vintage costume business, Past Reflections.   
Victorian mourning fashion was aimed mainly at women, widows in particular, for a minimum of two years and up to four years, and some widows wore black for the rest of their lives.  For the first year and one day [referred to as deep or full mourning], a woman was not allowed to exit her home without full black attire and a weeping veil of black crepe.  Mourning crepe was a hazardous material of either silk or wool, and caused respiratory problems and sometimes blindness since it was in close contact with the eyes for long periods of time.  Mourning garb was entirely black, including undergarments, and  since arsenic was used in black dye,  mourners were often poisoned when it was absorbed into their skin.   Yikes!

Guests were offered a glass of hot spiced cider upon their arrival to the tea room.
The menu was:  Ghostly Apple Cinnamon Scones with Cinnamon Butter; Wicked Witch Pumpkin Soup; Quirky Quiche; Spider Broccoli Salad; Skeleton Calzone; Curry Chicken Balls; and Pumpkin Roll.
Curry Chicken Balls
6 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
2 Tbsp. orange marmalade
2 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
3 cups cooked white chicken meat, finely chopped
3 Tbsp. minced onion
3 Tbsp. minced celery
1 cup almonds, toasted and finely chopped
In mixing bowl combine first 5 ingredients.  Beat until smooth.  Stir in chicken, onion, and celery.  Shape into 1-inch balls and roll in almonds.  Chill for two days or freeze up to one month.  Yield: 42 balls
To toast almonds:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Toast in oven for 5 minutes. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Old Black Witch! [And the Tea Room]

Old Black Witch! is a cute children's story book that doesn't delve into the dark side of witchcraft.  It's about a boy [Nicky] and his mother who purchased an old house in New England to turn into a tea room.   On their first night in the house Nicky builds a fire in the fireplace, only to find he had awakened the Old Black Witch who had been asleep there for a hundred years.   They promise her she can remain in the house if she stays up in the attic.
The day finally arrives when the tea room ["The Jug and Muffin"] opens for business.  One day the tea room was so busy that Nicky's mom went upstairs to seek the help of the Old Black Witch in the kitchen.   Even though it had been a hundred years since she had cooked, she discovered her blueberry pancakes were simply wonderful.  Soon she was not only making them in the kitchen, but serving them to the guests as well. 
In the end, she saves The Jug and Muffin tea room from a calamity.  I'll let you get the book from to read to the children in your life, and find out "the rest of the story!" 
On the back cover of the book is an illustration of the Old Black Witch standing in front of the stove making blueberry pancakes.  The recipe is provided.
Bewitching Blueberry Pancakes
1 1/4 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup washed blueberries
As you stir in the blueberries [this is the magic part] say three times:
Gobble dee gook
With a wooden spoon,
The laugh of a toad
At the height of the moon!
Pour on a hot griddle and watch.
You can make things disappear just like Old Black Witch.
Put three pancakes in front of any hungry boy or girl and watch them go!
Note:  The plates in the above photo are by Debbie Mumm which happen to go perfectly with the story book. 


Friday, October 26, 2012

Victorian Tea Parlor in Berkley, MI

Another place I visited  while I was in Berkley recently was Victorian Tea Parlor.  It is located less than a mile from KrisTea's.   I didn't have tea there [since I already had tea and a scone at KrisTea's], but I did look at all the gifts, antiques, and tea accessories inside the tea room/gift shop.

I introduced myself to Lillian, the owner, and she granted permission to take photographs.  There were three guests having tea,  so I was selective about where I photographed. 
Lillian told me her Berkley location has been open for seven years.   She offers 62 tea varieties from Harney & Sons, Davidson's and her own blends.
It's a small building and every inch is packed with merchandise, displays and tea tables.  I didn't ask the seating capacity, but I'm guessing 15-16.  
I saw lots of lovely dishware [vintage and new], but I didn't make any purchases this visit.
Below is a room beyond the dining area that is set up for children's tea parties, although it can be used for other events as well.
My girlfriend and I visited Victorian Parlor's first location in Grosse Pointe Park, MI in December 2003.  It too is a small, crowded building, brimming with tea wares and gifts, but it's been there for 13 1/2 years so the clientele obviously enjoys and supports it.   The bright yellow color scheme in both tea rooms, with shabby chic fixtures and decor, make it easy to tell the they belong to the same owner. 
Below are photos from my December 2003 visit.   Our table was right by the front door.
It must have been a cold December day since we didn't want to part with our coats!  ;-)
But we finally did!
The building doesn't have a commercial kitchen so desserts are ordered in and kept in a refrigerated display case.
Isn't it fun to see tea room varieties and variations?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Visiting KrisTea's in Berkley, MI

Wednesday, Oct, 24th, was a beautiful, 79 degree, sunny, Indian Summer day in Southeastern Michigan - much too pretty to stay indoors.   So I drove over to the quaint City of Berkley - a distance of about 15 miles from my house.   I could easily spend an entire day in Berkley browsing in their gift shops and antique stores, and having tea in a tea room or  restaurant that I just learned serves Afternoon Tea every Tuesday [which definitely calls for a return visit in the very near future]. 
The first place I stopped was KrisTea's - a wonderful shoppe!   If I remember the history correctly, the owner, Kristy, is a retired registered nurse, who always wanted to open a gift shoppe of her own.   So  throughout her nursing career she acquired merchandise, and stored it in the basement of her home.  When she retired, she had enough stock  to open  her doors.  KrisTea's is open Tuesday - Saturday.
As you can see from the signage on the windows, KrisTea's sells vintage and new home decor, unique gifts, fine teas, and tea accessories.   Definitely my kind of place!
The entrance
KrisTea's is not a tea room per se, but the shoppe sells a variety of Harney & Sons Fine Teas as well as custom blends by one of the employees named, Mary.   A cup of freshly brewed tea and  a scone is offered FREE to all customers.   What amazing customer service!  Below is a photo of the tea prep area.
Below is the cup of tea and scone that I was served during my visit.   It's such a lovely treat and "pick-me-up" for shoppers.  Although I have never attended any [yet], KrisTea's hosts Tea Tastings and Lunch on select dates and times.
Retail tea section
Don't you love this tea-themed sampler?  It's not for sale even though it could have been sold many times over [trust me, I asked!].
This is the linen room - vintage tablecloths, bedspreads, doilies, aprons, etc. are all neatly arranged for easy viewing.
Displays throughout the shoppe.
Meet Mary, the Tea Blender... She knows tea, and is  delightful to talk to.  She sells her teas at Detroit Eastern Market, and three other local Farmer's Market.  She's one busy lady!
I parked my car behind the shoppe, and smiled when I noticed KrisTea's  teapot awning over the rear entrance door.   What a charming shoppe!   I highly recommend it.

And what did I purchase while visiting KrisTea's [because it's almost impossible to leave without finding something you can't live without ;-)] ?

A Spode Blue Room Collection teacup titled "Girl at Well," first introduced in 1822.   My blue transferware collection is growing!