Monday, February 29, 2016

Postal Surprises

When I returned home from Cristy's Tea Party on 2/20, the mail our neighbor collected while we were out of town was sitting on the dining room table. Two lovely surprises awaited me.

The first was a Marie Antoinette Valentine card and tea from Mary Jane, who I became friends with when we roomed together during a London, England, tea tour.

Marie has a mechanical arm, and when it's extended a cup of tea is poured!

Enclosed with the card was an envelope of loose tea, Nina's Paris Thé de Marie Antoinette - a black Ceylon tea flavored with apples exclusively grown at the Versailles Palace, and sprinkled with rose petals. 

The floral aroma and taste is lovely.  Thank you, Mary Jane!

When I saw the postal box I commented to my hubby that I wasn't expecting anything from E-bay or Amazon, but a look at the return address revealed it was from Michele at The Nest at Finch Rest blog.

On February 14th, Michelle wrote a Valentine's post that included a photo of a pink teacup [pictured below]. When I saw the photo I immediately remembered my mother had a teacup just like it stored in a tote with other possessions that I brought from her assisted living apartment when she passed away. 

I immediately retrieved it from the tote [pictured below], and wrote a post about it on February 15th, which can be viewed here.

In the postal box was Michele's pink teacup because she said the two teacups belonged together. How kind and thoughtful!  Below are the matching teacups sitting side-by-side.

The box contained a lot more than the teacup though. Michele filled it with tea, lavender, a notebook and tablet, candles, napkins, and rose scented soap.  Tea and blogging friends are the BEST!  Thanks so much, Michele!

*  *  *

Today I'm joining Rose Chintz Cottage for No Place Like Home
and Antiques and Teacups for Tuesday Cuppa Tea

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday Reflection...

I received the Lenten Meditations below in an e-mail this week from the General Women's Ministry Director at my church denomination's headquarters.  They are too good not to share.

Fast From and Feast On
by William Arthur Ward

Fast from judging others; Feast on Christ dwelling in them.
Fast from emphasis on differences; Feast on the unity of life.
Fast from apparent darkness; Feast on the reality of light.
Fast from thoughts of illness; Feast on the healing power of God.
Fast from words that pollute; Feast on phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent; Feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger; Feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; Feast on optimism.
Fast from worry; Feast on divine order.
Fast from complaining; Feast on appreciation.
Fast from unrelenting pressures; Feast on unceasing prayer.
Fast from hostility; Feast on non-resistance.
Fast from bitterness; Feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; Feast on compassion for others.
Fast from personal anxiety; Feast on eternal truth.
Fast from discouragement; Feast on hope.
Fast from facts that depress; Feast on truths that uplift.
Fast from lethargy; Feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from thoughts that weaken; Feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from shadows of sorrow; Feast on serenity of sunlight.
Fast from idle gossip; Feast on purposeful silence.
Fast from problems that overwhelm; Feast on prayers that strengthen.

William Arthur Ward [1921-1994] is one of America's most quoted writers of inspirational proverbs.

May God bless your week!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Tea in East Lansing, MI

My girlfriend, Lori, picked me up at 10:00 a.m. last Saturday [2/20], to head to East Lansing for Cristy Bennett's Victorian Valentine's Tea.

The tea didn't start until 1:00 o'clock, but I discovered a French Macaron shop not far from Cristy's house, so we decided to stop there first.

We were thinking they had a sitting area where we could order a cup of tea and a macaron, but it's only a carry-out shop.  They've recently opened a larger shop in Grand Rapids, MI that does accommodate eat-in guests.

I purchased five macarons for $10.   Lori and I sampled one in the car, and I saved the rest to enjoy with my daughter the next night while watching Downton Abbey, episode 8.  We all declared the macarons yummy!

It was too early to go to Cristy's, so we drove a short distance to World Market.  I'm sad we no longer have any of their stores close to my house.  I was surprised to see they still had some of their Christmas Downton Abbey reproduction china left. Knowing I'd be talking about Downton Abbey on the TV show, I purchased a set of four teacups, but passed on the luncheon plates and teapot.

The real china used on the set of Downton Abbey is Spode Stafford White bone china.  One teacup is $205.  Guess I'll be content with my World Market replica!  ;-)

Then we were off to Cristy's.  She had told us in an e-mail the color for the tea was pink with roses, and it was breathtakingly beautiful, delicate, and feminine.

~ Antique buffet ~

~ Fireplace mantel ~

~ Teapots on top of the mantel. ~

~ The beautiful tablescape. ~

~ Lori and Me ~

~ Cristy and Me ~

~ Cristy sharing the menu at the beginning of the tea. ~

~ The tea began with a glass of chilled Sparkling Cherry Juice. ~

Followed by her signature Cherry-Almond, Vanilla Pinwheel Scones and chilled, sweet Cherry Soup. The black tea was blended with freeze dried sour cherries, almonds, cornflowers, calendula and natural flavorings..

Main course was Chicken Pot Pie, Frozen Fruit Salad, and a Baked Parmesan Tomato.

~ Dessert was a decadent, triple layer Chocolate Cake. ~

We became acquainted with two lovely ladies at our table - a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law from Bancroft, MI.   The mother-in-law, Beulah Hargrove, is the owner of Grand Oak Herb Farm, and she also hosts tea parties at her herb farm.  Lori and I will definitely be making arrangements to go to some.  

Thanks, Cristy, for another wonderful tea! The next tea is Spring Time in Paris, but unfortunately I have a speaking engagement that day so will have to miss.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Resuming Blogging

Hello Friends in Blogland,

I'm back after my brief blogging break.  My hubby and I were in Chelsea, MI last week Tuesday thru Friday babysitting our three youngest grandchildren while our son and daughter-in-law went on a little get-away.

When I returned home I hit the ground running.  So many fun and exciting things have transpired that I'm anxious to blog about.   

The first exciting activity I want to share is the television tea program I briefly mentioned in my February 12th blog post.  It was filmed yesterday at WBRW TV.

It coincided with the worst winter storm we've had so far this year, and I joked about not knowing which was more nerve-wracking - the drive to and from the station, or the filming of the program!

The set crew worked diligently the day before the filming to produce a mock living room and dining room setting.  This is what I saw when I entered the filming studio.

Since one segment of the program was about Afternoon Tea Downton Abbey Style I brought everything to set the dining room table - food as well as table accessories. The picture below shows the tablescape before we began filming. Obviously my electric kettle and other props in the back right corner were removed from the table, and the napkin in the lower left corner was placed on the plate to match the other one.  Details, details! ;-)

The filming began around 10:30 a.m. and we finished around 1:30 p.m.   It was a wonderful experience - fun and jitters all mixed together.  I was definitely a novice since this was my first time being filmed in a television program.  I found it totally different from my speaking presentations. Just knowing every movement and word spoken was being filmed was a bit unsettling, but Tara, the producer, said editing works wonders, and she promised to make me look good! ;-)  When I saw the station photographs I immediately thought of my mother. Whenever she saw photos of herself she'd jokingly say, "I don't like it, it looks just like me!" I had a similar reaction, but... it is what it is! ;-)  

[Photos courtesy of WBRW]

Below is Nannette [right], the lovely lady who interviewed me.  She is a tea lover herself, so we had an instant camaraderie. 

From the living room segment we moved to the dining room segment.  Initially I had hoped the program could be called Afternoon Tea Downton Abbey Style, but because of copyright laws that wasn't feasible, so the program will be called Afternoon Tea with Phyllis. We were, however, able to mention Downton Abbey.  Below, Nanette and I were chatting between a filming break while the cameramen took some close-up tablescape photos.

~ I think the cameras were rolling in the photo below. ~

I'm not certain when the program will air, but they will send me a link to the program on their website, which I'll be able to post on my blog for anyone interested in viewing it.

After we finished filming, we had a literal tea party with the food and tea I brought. This was a fun and relaxing time.  I am SO grateful to WBRW for the privilege and opportunity of doing this show.  It's an experience I'll always look back on with fondness.

The coconut/white chocolate scones I took are a recipe I created myself.  Nannette and Tara both asked about the recipe, so I decided to share the recipe again on my blog. [I didn't recall posting it back in July 2014.]

Coconut/White Chocolate Scones
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
1/2 cup whipping cream [unwhipped]
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup finely shredded coconut
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine first four ingredients in bowl.  Cut in butter with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add remaining ingredients stirring just until mixture holds together.  Form into ball and wrap in Saran Wrap and let rest in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.  Turn dough onto light floured surface [I roll between two pieces of parchment paper] and roll into 1/2 inch circle.  Cut with a round three-inch biscuit cutter.  Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Brush tops with an egg wash [1 egg and 1 Tablespoon water]. Sprinkle with coarse sugar, and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Enjoy!