Friday, May 30, 2014

Tea-themed Napkin Rings and History

I love using napkin rings, and have many kinds.  I don't remember seeing any napkin ring collections shared on blogs, so I decided to share my tea themed sets. If you use them I'd love to know about your collection.

There are eight porcelain blue and white teapot rings in this set.

And eight brass teapot rings.

Below are Pfaltzgraff Stoneware Cloverhill Teapot Napkin Rings.  I was gifted with four, and recently got eight more on E-bay.

The following napkin rings are sets of four, and were all given to me as gifts.  I'm looking for more of the silver teapot rings pictured directly below.  If anyone knows of an online source please let me know.  These were clearanced at a Mikasa outlet, and are no longer on their website.

The place card holders go nicely with the rings above.

The rings below are pewter-like.

These are the only porcelain teacup napkin rings in my collection.

Now for their history:  They're actually a throw-back to the good old days when families ate their meals together, and used cloth napkins at ever meal and at tea time. Because there usually weren't enough cloth napkins between wash days [due to larger family sizes, and no automatic washing machines] there weren't enough freshly laundered napkins for all the meals, so the napkin ring became a sanitary device to save each person's napkin for several usings.  Are you thinking ew?  ;-) 

Napkin rings were highly favored by by Victorians who adored the "table fancies" for keeping their napkins separated.  Each family member had his or her own special napkin ring to prevent mix-ups, and at the end of each meal the napkins were rolled, ringed and laid aside until the next use.  Some napkin rings were engraved with a name or initial, and sometimes given for a christening, wedding, or anniversary gift. Others were embellished with attached objects - a father's might have the figurine of a soldier, hunter, hat or boots, while the mother's might have a bird, goddess or flower.  Children's napkin rings were embellished with cherubs, cupids, or a favorite pet.

Victorians, however, can't take credit for their invention, because they first appeared in France in 1800, and their popularity spread to all the countries in the western world.  Most were made of silver or silver plate, but others were made in bone, wood, pearl, porcelain, glass and other materials.  In the 20th century Bakelite and other newer materials were used.

Today, fortunately, they're only used for tablescape embellishments.  The ring and napkin can be placed on the dinner plate, above the plate, or to the left side of the plate.  Once the napkin is removed, the ring is usually placed above the dinner plate.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Movie "Belle"

Memorial Day my hubby and I went to see a matinee showing of the movie Belle.  If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.  

[Internet Photo]

For Anglophiles, the true story takes place in England, and the movie is filmed there.  For tea lovers there's plenty of tea drinking.  For costumers there's lots beautiful 18th century gowns.

[Internet Photo]

For those who like romance, it's a love story. 

[Internet Photo]

For artists, the movie script was inspired by a 1779 painting that hung in England's Kenwood House until 1922, and now hangs in Scotland's Scone Palace.  The portrait, commissioned by William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, was painted by an unknown artist.  It was one of the first portraits to portray a black subject on an equal eye-line with a white aristocrat.

[Internet Photo]

For history buffs, it's a British historical drama.

For Downton Abbey fans, Penelope Wilton [who plays Isobel Crawley], plays the role of Lady Mary Murray.  

[Internet Photo]

It stars Gubu Mbatha-Raw as Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay; Sam Reid as John Davinier [the vicar's son], and Tom Wilkinson as William Murray 1st Earl of Mansfield.

Misan Sagay is the writer.  The little known facts about Dido Elizabeth Belle gave her 'writer artistic license' to frame the young woman's story within the historical context of a slave-centered economy. 

Synopsis from the movie's website:  The film is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed race daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay.  Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield and his wife, Belle's lineage affords her certain privileges, yet her status prevents her from the traditions of noble social standing.  While her cousin Elizabeth chases suitors for marriage, Belle is left on the sidelines wondering if she will ever find love.  After meeting an idealistic young vicar's son bent on changing society, he and Belle help shape Lord Mansfield's role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in England [Zong Case triumph].

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

600th Post and a Giveaway!

Today marks my 600th post since I began blogging on January 24, 2012.  Just for fun I hastily categorized the topics I've written about: 
  • Teas and Tea Reviews
  • Tea Equipage [Tea Chests, Caddies, Tables, Curate Stands, etc.]
  • Tea Education
  • Tea Parties and Theme Teas
  • Michigan and Out-of-State Tea Rooms
  • Hotel Afternoon Teas 
  • 2012-2014 Movies that Include Tea 
  • TV Series With Tea 
  • Recipes suitable for Tea Time
  • Tea Travels 
  • Michigan Destinations/Places
  • Holidays 
  • Celebrated People and Tea
  • Family and Special Occasions
  • Devotions and Sunday Reflections
  • Tea Clothing/Fashions
  • Tea Jewelry
  • Department Stores and Tea
  • China/Dishware for Tea Time [Transferware, Depression Glass, etc.]
  • Teacups/Teapots/Trivets
  • Silver Tea Equipage
  • Antique Stores/Malls and their Teawares
  • Tea-themed Figurines
  • Tea-themed Stationery and Cards [Birthday and Christmas]
  • Tablescapes
  • Tea Books and Magazines
  • Tea Towels
  • Tea-themed Lighting
  • Blogging Friends 
  • Historical Events 
  • Giveaways 
Sometimes I wonder what's left to write about, but something always surfaces. Having my own blog has given me the deepest gratitude and respect for bloggers who have been blogging for years.  Only a blogger knows the level of commitment and time required, and the gratification it provides.

A heartfelt thanks to all my followers and readers.

So here's my 600th post giveaway - a hard-cover, spiral bound cookbook with a year of theme teas and recipes to go with the themes, and a pair of Avon gold tone teacup pierced earrings. 

The giveaway is open to all my blog followers and faithful readers residing in the U.S. and Canada. Simply leave a comment between today and Sunday that you would like to participate in the giveaway, and I'll announce the winner on Monday morning, June 2nd. Good Luck!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Michigan, My Michigan!

Last Wednesday when I was at the shop, The Rendezvous With Tea, the owner said the flavored Motown black tea that she's having blended for her shop will contain apple blossoms. I had forgotten that apple blossoms are Michigan's State Flower. I think that might justify purchasing a Royal Albert "Blossom Time" teacup, don't you?

Since last week was Michigan Week [May 17-24], I decided to write a post about my state [even though slightly past due] and share a few interesting tidbits, while refreshing my memory on a few of them at the same time.

Michigan consists of two major peninsulas of land [upper and lower], separated by the Straits of Mackinac.  Those who live in the U.P. proudly refer to themselves as "UPers," and gave to us who live below the Mackinac Bridge the name, "Trolls." 

The state's name is taken from the Indian word Michigama, meaning great lake. Four of the five Great Lakes border our state:  Lake Superior, Michigan, Huron, and Erie.  So it's no surprise our official nick-name is the Great Lakes State.  We're also dubbed the Mitten State due to our shape, and the Water-Winter Wonderland. 

We "Michiganders" use our hand to show someone where the city we live is located.  Who needs a map?

We were the 26th state to enter the Union, and our statehood was granted on January 26, 1837.   Detroit was initially the State Capital, but was moved to Lansing in 1847.

I sorted through my childhood pictures to find a photo taken with my classmates inside the capitol building in 1957.   Lansing is only 92 miles from my home, but I've only been inside the capitol building that one time.  I think I need to make it a priority to return!

[I'm standing in the second row, right side]

Our state bird is the Robin.  The state tree is White Pine.  The state stone is the Petoskey Stone, and despite the fact that the animal isn't native to Michigan, the state animal is the Wolverine. There are a couple of legends as to how that came to be.   Our state motto is:  "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you!"

Michigan leads the nation in the production of several crops including cherries [this year's famed cherry festival is July 5-12 in Traverse City], and blueberries [1/3 of all blueberries eaten in the U.S. are grown in Michigan].  Apples are also one of our largest and most valuable crops, and we rank 3rd in the nation for Christmas trees harvested.

I recently met Miss Michigan 2013, Haley Williams, at the Miss America Roses and Royalty Tea.  The 2014 Miss Michigan pageant will be June 10-14.

And last, but certainly not least, I'm happy to say there are about 40 tea establishments spread across Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas.  I have blogged about several of them. It would be fun to have tea at every single one.  Hummm... should I make that a goal?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Happy Memorial Day!

Because food is a part of all of life's happenings, I baked a Memorial Day cake to share on my blog today.  The cake directions came from Kraft Kitchens, and the frosting recipe is from a 2009 Family Circle magazine article.  The strawberry flower design came from a Pinterest photo.

The cake's patriotic colors are perfect for Memorial Day or the 4th of July.

And best of all, the cake tastes as good as it looks!  Cake directions are provided below.

God bless our Armed Forces and America!

Directions for Red, White, and Blue Cake:
You will need 2 white cake mixes. I never use anything but Duncan Hines.  They're the best!
  • Grease 2 9-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper.
  • Prepare one cake mix according to package directions and divide into two bowls [approximately 2 cups for each bowl].
  • Add 3 tablespoons red Jello to one bowl of cake mixture and blend well.  [I used cherry, but strawberry or raspberry would work too].  Pour into cake pan.
  • Add 3 tablespoons berry blue Jello to other bowl of cake mixture along with a few drops of blue food coloring.  Mix well and pour into cake pan.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until cake tests done.  Cool 10-15 minutes before removing from pan.  Then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Bake second white cake mix according to package directions.

Assemble and frost with your favorite white frosting.

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Today I'm linking to Rose Chintz Cottage for Tea Time Tuesday

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sunday Reflection...

As Memorial Day celebrations approach, my thoughts and gratitude go to all U.S. veterans who have faithfully served, or are currently serving in the armed forces to preserve the freedoms I enjoy in our great country.  Many sacrificed their lives for the cause of freedom.

But there's a higher power who deserves my utmost love and gratitude - Jesus, the Son of God. He sacrificed His life to save the souls of all humanity, offering freedom from sin in this life AND, everlasting life throughout eternity. 

"But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners."  [Romans 5:8]

The hymn writer, Haldor Linnenas, said it best:
Once I was bound by sin's galling fetters;
Chained like a slave, I struggled in vain.
But I received a glorious freedom
When Jesus broke my fetters in twain.

Refrain:  Glorious freedom!  Wonderful freedom!
No more in chains of sin I repine!
Jesus, the glorious Emancipator!
Now and forever He shall be mine.

The grave could not hold our Lord, and He now sits at the right hand of God interceding for us. [Romans 8:34]   Because He lives, every day is a celebration!

May God bless your week!

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Rendezvous With Tea

A friend told me about a tea shop that opened in Grosse Pointe Woods, MI in November 2013, so I stopped there on Wednesday afternoon while I was out and about. The Rendezvous With Tea not only has a website, but a Facebook page as well.

A local television station was just finishing filming the shop when I arrived.

Just inside is a retail gift area where porcelain, caste iron, stainless steel and ceramic teawares are sold.

A silver tilting teapot was beautifully displayed, but is not for sale.

I loved the set below.  The small handleless tea bowls are reminiscent of those from the eighteenth century that were designed for just a few precious sips of tea.

The shop is neither a British nor Asian tearoom where food and tea can be ordered from a menu. It is a retail tea shop selling over 200 types of loose tea, and over 75 varieties of packaged tea.  Below is the interior of the tea shop.   The style is meditative zen.

Cute little baskets are provided to hold sachet selections.  8 sachets for $5.  These teas have been blended in Sri Lanka exclusively for The Rendezvous With Tea.  Eventually there will 12 black tea selections and 12 green.   The owner is proud that there will be three black teas representing the countries where she has lived - Serendib [Sri Lanka], Malaysia Boleh [Malaysia], and Magical Motown [Detroit, MI].

~ Below are the eight sachets I purchased. ~

While the shop doesn't sell food, the owner offered me a  complimentary piece of artichoke quiche and a chocolate raspberry cupcake, with a cup of chocolate flavored black tea to sip as we talked about her shop. 

The cupcake was made with Green Bohemian Raspberry tea which she stocks, so I purchased 25 g. since the recipe will soon be posted on her Facebook page.  Not only was there a fresh raspberry garnishing the top of the cupcake, but a surprise one in the center of the cupcake. It was delicious, and the raspberry tea flavor definitely came through.

The owner [pictured below] was born in Sri Lanka and lived there until the uprising in the early 1970's when her father moved their family to Malaysia.  When asked how she came to Michigan from Malaysia, she said they have a family member who lives nearby and they liked the area when they came to visit, so they made the move here in June 2013.   Now that she has an "empty nest" she decided to open a tea shop where she can share her life-long passion for tea with others.

While I was there, a gentleman came in to purchase some loose leaf tea, and the owner said a lot of young adults also come to the shop for loose leaf tea purchases.  At present, she estimated her sales are about 50% loose leaf tea, and 50% packaged tea, with her own blends being her biggest sellers.

Best wishes to The Rendezvous With Tea for a long and successful business.  The shop is located at 20792 Mack Avenue, Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

"Throw-back Thursday" Treasures

It was a nice day in Michigan yesterday, so I got in my car and drove to a couple of places I've been wanting to visit.

The first stop was Retro Thrift Store, a place my favorite antique store told me about.

As I browsed around the store I spotted a container of souvenir and demitasse spoons priced at $1 each.   I found a silver plate spoon from the 1964/65 New York World's Fair. My high school senior class trip was to the New York World's Fair in May 1965, so I immediately knew the spoon would be going home with me.

The Unisphere is at the top of the spoon, and imprinted beneath it are the dates 1964/1965 New York World's Fair.   The backstamp says Oneida silversmiths.

Below is a picture of the Unisphere from my high school photo album.  The fair's theme was "Peace Through Understanding", dedicated to "Man's Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe."  The theme was symbolized by a 12-story high, stainless-steel model of the earth called the Unisphere.

Below is my girlfriend, Sandy [L], and me [R] on a street in New York City. That was long before I was into tea, so there were no excursions to upscale hotels for Afternoon Tea. Remember when Madras Plaids and wrap-around skirts were the rage in the mid-1960's? Amazing how forty-nine years have passed so quickly!

In the container of spoons was another Oneida silver plate spoon that will be perfect for tea time, and a pewter spoon from the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California.  Spending a night on the Queen Mary and having Afternoon Tea on board the ship is on my "wish list," so I bought the spoon hoping it's an omen that my wish will come true.  ;-)

The back of the thrift store is where the teapots are located. 

I spotted a Hall Aladdin shaped teapot made for the Jewel Tea Company in the Autumn Leaf pattern, complete with an infuser basket. Since I already had a teacup in the pattern [pictured below], and the price [$40] was affordable, I bought it.  The Hall "novelty" Aladdin shaped teapot in the Autumn Leaf pattern was introduced in 1938. 

A short distance down from the thrift store was a vintage, collectibles, and antique store, called Time Warp.  I went in and browsed around, but left without a purchase.  Maybe on my next visit.  For local readers, both stores are on Harper Avenue in St. Clair Shores. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Little Nod to England

The roses that I brought home last Thursday from the Roses and Royalty Miss America Tea are still beautiful.

Yesterday was Victoria Day... the red rose is the national flower of England... tea is the country's most popular beverage... and Royal Albert has been making exquisite bone china since 1895, so I decided to take a picture commemorating all four!

Albert Works [a pottery in Longton, Stoke on Trent, England] took their name in 1895 in honor of the birth of Prince Albert, who became King George VI in 1936.  Their brand name was Albert Crown China, and they earned a Royal Warrant in 1904.  In 1905 they began stamping their pieces Royal Albert Crown China, and eventually just Royal Albert.

Old Country Roses is Royal Albert's most popular pattern, and I couldn't help wondering how many of their patterns include roses.  The answer wasn't readily available in a Google search.

Someday I'll count how many Royal Albert teacups I have.  The two pictured here both have roses on them and each are a part of a series.  The pink teacup is called "Lyric" and is part of the Festival Series.  It was released in the 1970's-80's and there are six teacups in the series. The shape of the cup Gainsborough.

The blue teacup was released by Royal Albert as an un-named pattern in the 1970's as part of the Symphony Series. It comes in six different colors - blue, green, pink, purple, turquoise, and yellow.  The cup's shape is also Gainsborough.  The pattern was first released by Shelley China in the 1940's-50's, and was called "Rose Spray."

Do you collect Royal Albert china?

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Today I'm linking to:  Martha's Favorites and Artful Affirmations for Teacup Tuesday
 Bernideen's Tea Time Blog for Tea in the Garden
and Rose Chintz Cottage for Victorian Tea

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Spring Tea for Open Door Outreach Center

Mary, one of the Miss America Tea committee members, works at the Open Door Outreach Center in Waterford, MI.  She coordinates two teas a year with the proceeds going to the organization.  Yesterday was their Spring Tea Luncheon which I attended.

Next door to the Open Door resale shop is a banquet facility, Roma Rose Garden, where the tea luncheon was held.

Mary and me.  We worked side by side at the registration table for the Miss America Tea.

~ Our table was #3 with a pretty tea-for-one centerpiece. ~

The meal began with a Cranberry-Apricot Scone served with homemade Lemon Curd. 

Followed by a Michigan Cherry Salad with a Grilled Chicken Breast, Raspberry Vinaigrette and a roll.

Denise kept our teacups filled with Sweet Royal Delight, a flavored black tea.

The program was presented by Linda and Sandy from La De Da.  They demonstrated four tablescapes, and showed how household items could be repurposed into suitable items for tablescapes.

~ Wedding Tea using vintage doilies. ~

~ A Garden Tea with Wheatgrass. ~

~ A Fairy Tea ~

~ A Butterfly Tea ~

The tablescape below intrigued me the most because the mini-cloche on the right was a candle holder globe turned upside down.   Talk about creative repurposing!

Beautiful wall mural in the banquet room.

My name was drawn for a door prize - a hand painted wind chime.

~ Our table ~

[L-R:  Linda P., Iora, and Me]

[Linda S., and Cathy]

It was a lovely afternoon, and a fun way to support a charity.