Tuesday, September 27, 2016

My Computer is Down

Good Morning Friends, 
I woke up bright and early this morning with every intention of writing my next post about the Michigan Tea Tour, but to my dismay I couldn't get Internet access on my computer. I'm typing this note of explanation on my hubby's laptop, but all my photos are on my computer, so the laptop will do me no good for posting.

I have a call in to our repairman, but until he fixes it there'll be no more posts.  I don't know his schedule, so I can't make any prediction about when I'll be up and running again.

So sorry!  In the meantime be sure to read the posts of the other bloggers who went on the tea tour: Friendship TeaRosemary's Sampler and Lavender Cottage.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Staybridge Suites - Day #2 MI Tea Tour

After our fabulous Afternoon Tea at the Royal Park Hotel, we went back to our reserved rooms at Staybridge Suites.  

At 7:30 p.m. we all congregated in Linda P.'s and Joanie's room for a fun game and time of fellowship. There are 42 teacups in the picture below, and we were given five minutes to find them. Linda had five prizes for the ladies who found the most teacups.  

~ Everyone intently searching for teacups. ~

Tea wasn't the entire focus of our Michigan Tea Tour - I brought Vernor's pop and Better Maid potato chips for the ladies to enjoy too.  Both are Michigan-made products.   Vernors is a ginger flavored soft drink created in 1866 by James Vernor, a Detroit pharmacist.  It's the oldest surviving ginger ale brand in the United States.  Despite the name, a Boston Cooler is a Detroit original - it's Vernors with vanilla ice cream floating in it, and it's SO good.  We enjoyed ours without ice cream, however.

Better Made Potato Chips Inc. was founded in Detroit in 1930.

[Photo courtesy of Linda J.]

You wouldn't have thought we'd be hungry after our wonderful Afternoon Tea, but we managed to eat two pizzas with our potato chips and pop.

[Lori and Nancy]

We retired to our rooms for a good night's rest because after breakfast on Friday we were to be in the hotel lobby at 11:00 a.m. with our luggage ready to depart for Saginaw, MI.

Below are three  ladies in our group - Judith, Lori, and Gloria - ready and waiting for departure. 

~ Inside group picture of the tour participants ~
[L-R:  1st row Teresa, Joanie, Me, Linda P. and Barb
2nd row Gloria, Lori, Judith, Linda J. and Nancy]

Below is the 15-passenger, Mercedes Hightop Sprinter Van that transported us to Saginaw and then on to Mackinaw City.  With just over 900 miles on the odometer, it ran perfectly the entire trip [except for the television].

Here we are ready to leave Staybridge Suites.  My hubby [far right and the only guy in the photo] was our willing and capable driver.

After a short prayer asking for God's protection on the highway, we were off for the Japanese Cultural Center in Saginaw, MI where the Tea House and Gardens are located.

[Photo courtesy of Linda J. Missing from the photo are Linda J., Nancy and Me]

Japanese Cultural Center, Tea House and Tea Ceremony next post...

Friday, September 23, 2016

Afternoon Tea at the Royal Park Hotel

When I began planning the itinerary for the Michigan Tea Tour I wanted the best venue for Afternoon Tea that my area had to offer, and that is the Royal Park Hotel.  My choice was confirmed when I received my copy of Taking Tea, a newly released book by Hoffman Media, and saw the hotel featured in their publication. Only 9 hotels in the entire United States were selected, so it's quite an honor for the Royal Park to be among the select group.

The English manor-style boutique hotel opened in September 2004, and Afternoon Tea is served in the Gallery Wednesday - Sunday beginning at 2:00 p.m.  The Royalty Tea is $41 per person and includes tax and gratuity.

Below are the ten Michigan Tea Tour Participants from Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Canada, and Southeastern Michigan.

[L-R front row:  Linda J., Teresa, Joanie, Me, and Linda P.
Back Row:  Nancy, Lori, Gloria, Barb, and Judith]

~ Main Lobby ~

With reservations made months in advance, we arrived promptly at 2:00 p.m., and Mary Kuhn, the hotel's Tea Hostess, greeted us and took us to the Gallery.  My girlfriend, Sandy [not pictured], opted not to be a part of the tea tour because of another commitment, but joined us for Afternoon Tea at the hotel.  

~ The table was ready for our arrival and was a visual delight. ~

Mary explained their nine loose-leaf tea offerings from the Mighty Leaf Tea chest, and we chose three.

Because four of us are tea bloggers, and three are scrapbookers, we were like paparazzi giving Mary a glimpse of what it's like to be a celebrity! ;-)

Below is my place setting.  In all my years of going to Afternoon Tea at many U.S., Canadian, and British hotels, this is the first time I've seen beautiful Shelley teacups used for serving. Only the best will do at the Royal Park!

~ With sparkling cider we made a toast to friendship and the tea tour. ~

~ Delicious three-tiered tea tray. ~

There were six savories/sandwiches: Roast Beef on a Rosemary Puff Pastry with Cheddar and Horseradish Cream; Smoked Salmon BLT on Rye; Egg Salad Tomato Bruschetta; Cucumber with Herb Cream Cheese; Aged Cheddar Cheese Cr√®me Brulee with Orange and Date; and Hickory Smoked Chicken with Pear Chutney in a Phyllo Cup.

The tea was brought to the table in marked, china teapots of varying styles.

~ My favorite tea throughout the meal was Pear Caramel. ~

Lemon was provided for those who wanted it for their tea.

Freshly baked English Fruit Scones served with Clotted Cream and Lemon Curd.

~ Hot hors d'Oeuvres were Pear-Almond Brie En-Croute and Spanakopita. ~

Six desserts included: Chocolate Covered Strawberries, Raspberry Tart, Shortbread Cookie; Cranberry Orange Bread; Orange Cheesecake Pop and Dark Chocolate Decadence.

It is said a good Afternoon Tea will delight all the senses, and the Royal Park definitely delivered. Special thanks to Mary and the Royal Park Hotel for the wonderful tea experience, and for making Michigan proud! Our group was in complete agreement - it was the highlight of our day!

Our group was too large for the private room below that seats 4-6, but I thought you'd enjoy seeing it.

I snapped the photo of the hotel's beautiful conservatory as we were leaving.

If you've never been to the Royal Park Hotel for Afternoon Tea, do give them a try.  You won't be disappointed.

Tea tour participant, Linda J., blogged about the Afternoon Tea experience on her blog today too. Pop over to Friendship Tea blog to see what she wrote.  Thank you, Linda, for allowing me to use some of your photos in this post.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Day #2 of MI Tea Tour

On Thursday morning [Sept. 15th], we all gathered in the dining room at Staybridge Suites for breakfast, then we left at 9:45 for a day of shopping in downtown Rochester, and 2:00 p.m. reservations for Afternoon Tea at the Royal Park Hotel [also in Rochester].

The Michigan Tea Tour brigade outside Staybridge Suites before departing for Rochester.

When I pondered the best place to take the ladies in suburban Detroit, my #1 choice was downtown Rochester.

For a bit of historical background [I love history], the Graham family were the first settlers in what later became known as Rochester in 1817.  The city was named for Rochester, New York because many of the early settlers were from the state of New York. The Village of Rochester was formed in 1869, and the Village became a city in 1967.  The downtown area is filled with many quaint shops and boutiques - the perfect place to take nine ladies who love to shop!

We decided to 'divide and conquer' and meet in the parking lot behind Sole Sisters at 1:30 p.m. Linda J., Nancy R. and I were a threesome.   Our first stop was my favorite store, Plain and Fancy.

I made three purchases... an engraved spoon by Mud Pie that says "It's Tea O'Clock Somewhere" with a white ceramic teapot shaped tea bag caddy.

A great book on all the places of interest in Detroit [you just never know when another tea tour might begin to take shape]. 

And a cute Halloween scarf that will be perfect for wearing to a Halloween Tea at Nancy's tearoom next month - a trip to Pennsylvania is on the horizon!

After browsing through a few other stores, Nancy remembered the Victorian Rose Tea Room on 3rd Street that I pointed out when we first began our shopping expedition, and asked if it was possible to go in for a cup of tea and a scone.  Sure!  After all, this was a tea tour, and I'm all for serendipitous experiences, so off we went!

The Victorian Rose was the first tea room I visited after I became smitten with tea in 1998. Loretta Curry and her husband opened the tea room in the summer of 1995, and I was sad to learn that she will be retiring in December after 21 years of serving tea. Retirement is well deserved, but we will miss the tea room if it closes.  I'm not despairing yet, however, because our server told us there is the possibility of a buyer, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I ordered blueberry tea and a warm cranberry orange scone with orange marmalade butter. Yum!

While we sat sipping our tea, I noticed several of our group walking past the tea room, so Linda J. went on the porch and invited them to join us.  

[L-R:  Nancy, Me, and Linda J.]

Soon there were nine of us instead of three.  Teresa was off on a shopping spree by herself and couldn't be found.  She did pop in later for a cup of tea and scone by herself, however. 

[Joanie and Lori]

[L-R:  Judith, Linda P., Barb, and Gloria]

Victorian Rose isn't a posh, elegant tea room. It's homey, like going to your grandmother's house.

After our tea and scones, we resumed our shopping.  In Lytle's Pharmacy [of all places] I purchased two fascinators.  One of them will go perfectly with the new scarf I acquired at Plain and Fancy.  

This little gem was only $9.00!

And this one was $13.  How could I go wrong??

My last purchase of the day was a compact.  When I do my Queen Elizabeth II presentation, I always tell what's inside her 'ever-present' handbag.  A mirror happens to be one of the items, but up until now I only had a Dollar Store mirror in the handbag, so this one is definitely an upgrade, although I'm sure not as luxurious as the Queen's!

Then it was time to gather at our meeting spot before heading off to the Royal Park Hotel. It was a toss-up as to who was the biggest shopper of the day - Linda P. or Teresa.  Maybe it was a draw, but we all had fun shopping.

Next post... Afternoon Tea at the Royal Park Hotel