Monday, July 30, 2018

Cristy Bennett's "Monet's Garden"

My last tea at Cristy's was the April 2018 Downton Abbey tea.  Last Saturday, my girlfriend, Lori, and I returned to East Lansing, for 'Monet's Garden' theme tea. This made our 26th tea from April 2011 until now.

Claude Monet's famous gardens in Giverny, France [approx. 26 miles west of Paris], is one of France's biggest attractions.  Two ladies at Saturday's tea had actually been to his gardens.

Monet aspired to document the French countryside on canvas, and in so doing became the founder of French impressionist painting.  He is quoted as saying, "I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers" and, "My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece."

Cristy is also a gardener so we arrived a few minutes early to admire her gardens before the tea began.

In addition to her gardens, her front porch also beautifully welcomed us to Monet's tea.

Cristy said she had never been to Monet's Garden, but she knew they would be colorful, so bursts of color inspired her decorating. 

We sat at the main table in the living room, but her dining room table was set for four guests too.

~ The Tablescape ~

~ My place setting  ~

The beautiful personalized menu card, vase of flowers, and bag of candy were ours to take home.

The tea began with a toast of chilled sparkling French Berry Lemonade.

Our tea was Cherry Berry Green Tea from Tealightful Teas.

The high tea menu began with chilled Mixed Berry [strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, and black berry] Fruit Soup, and French Lavender Pinwheel Scone and Cream.

The main course was French Onion Chicken Noodle Ramekin, Roasted Tomato & Bacon Salad with White Wine Vinaigrette, and Frozen Fruit Salad.

~ Dessert was Sunshine Lemon Tea Cake ~

Everything was delicious, and it was a lovely afternoon.  I wore a  floral dress in keeping with Monet's Garden, and Lori beautifully complimented the teal colors in the palette behind us.

Our next tea will be Celtic Christmas in December.  Cristy said she needs a rest since she's been doing these teas since 2010, so the teas in December will be her last.  They truly have been a labor of love.  Thank you, Cristy!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Next Sunday...

This will be an exciting day in the history of our young church.  Come join us if you are a local reader and would like to be a part of this special day.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Porch Swings

Do you have a porch swing?  When I was growing up my paternal grandmother had one on her front porch that I always liked and associated with her house.  

When we moved into our house [40 years ago], my parents bought us a porch swing for our housewarming gift. [Remember the days when they had housewarmings?] The swing's still hanging on our porch.  It's been painted a few times, and some boards have been replaced over the years, but it's still holding up.  Since the porch is covered, we leave it hanging year 'round. 

In 1997 a watercolor artist did a painting of our house and mistakenly left the swing off. When he delivered the finished painting, our youngest son noticed immediately the swing was missing and said it wasn't an accurate portrayal of our house without it.  The artist kindly added it.  ;-)

 My hubby took it down a couple of weeks ago to sand it and give it a fresh coat of paint.  

To go with its fresh coat of paint, I ordered a new cushion and pillows from They're on sale right now and there's no shipping charge.  It definitely gave the porch a face lift, and the red cushion matches our red front door.

It's a nice summertime place to rest a bit and enjoy a glass of iced tea while observing the activities of the neighborhood.

Our son and daughter-in-law [Steve and Sharon] also have a porch swing, and so does our granddaughter Tiffany.  Four generations of porch swings in the family!   Below is Steve and Sharon's swing in Washington Township.

Tiffany and John's Porch Swing in Grand Ledge.

Tomorrow is a tea at Cristy Bennett's in East Lansing - "Monet's Garden", so I'll definitely post pictures afterwards.  Have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

New Tea Books

I recently received notification that Hoffman Media has two new tea books.  The first one is Jane Pettigrew's World of Tea.  

I've heard Jane speak several times, and she's very knowledgeable about tea.  I have seven of her books already, so I wondered how much new information this book would contain beyond what she's already written.  It's a pricey book - $59.95 plus shipping.

It was a topic of discussion on Facebook's Afternoon Tea Across America group, and those who had read it said it was different than her other books, so I decided to purchase it last week when Amazon Prime had a special.  I got it for $43.48 and there was no shipping charge.

It arrived in last Saturday's mail, and I was amazed at the large box it was shipped in and how much it weighed.  This is no small book that can be read through in a couple of days.  Jane has recorded and described all the tea-growing regions around the world. 

There was a time when the only tea growing area in the United States was South Carolina, but not today.  Below is a map in Jane's book that shows tea being grown in 17 states: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Hawaii, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New York, and Michigan.    

Yes, in Michigan!  It's true we don't have the climate that tea plants thrive in, particularly in the winter months, but registered nurse and horticulturist, Angela Macke, began growing tea on the shores of Lake Michigan in 1999 using a combination of Hawaiian and Darjeeling biodynamic tea seed.  Her tea farm - Light of Day Organics, in Traverse City - now grows more than 2,000 plants inside green house hoops.  She even plays classical music for them!

In the summer the sides of the hoops are covered with tarps for shade, and are rolled up for ventilation.  Ms. Macke makes white, dark oolong, green, and black teas during two seasons:  late March and early August.  

I have never been to the tea farm.  When I coordinated the Michigan Tea Tour in the fall of 2016, Traverse City wasn't included in the tour because of its location, but teas from Light of Day were included in the gift bags given to each participant.

There's a large section on tea growing regions of Japan, including Shiga, the area that owner, Lisa McDonald, of Tea Haus in Ann Arbor, MI recently visited and conducted a tea tasting on.  I think I'll begin reading there first since the tea tasting is still fresh in my mind.

The book is a very worthwhile investment and resource for anyone serious about tea.

Hoffman Media also has another book, Tea Time Parties Around the World that will be coming out August 1st.  I have pre-ordered my copy, and can hardly wait for it to arrive.

The 136-page hardcover book is by the editors of Tea Time Magazine and will highlight 12 different countries and cultures:  China; Japan; India/Sri Lanka; Russia; Argentina; France; UK; The Netherlands; Kenya; South Africa; Australia; and Morocco.  It will sell for $24.95 plus shipping.

Presentation topics for seniors are always in the back of my mind, so I couldn't resist purchasing two books at the train depot last Sunday.  I'm thinking the Orient Express has possibilities.  

Harney & Sons has a black tea based on Agatha Christie's 1934 crime fiction mystery book, Murder on the Orient Express, and the 1974 and 2017 movies of the same name.  I ordered the tin of tea and am going to watch the movie and read the book.

Belmond Trains currently operate the Orient Express, and they offer Afternoon Tea on the train as well as a mystery lunch.  It's pricey but sounds like so much fun if I ever return to London!

I knew Mt. Clemens had famous mineral baths at one time, but I've never researched them. I'm anxious to read up on those too in a booklet that was published by the Grand Trunk Railway System, and reprinted in 2009 by the Macomb County Historical Society.

What's the latest book you're reading while sipping tea?

Monday, July 23, 2018

Isabella's 2018 Summer Visit

For the last four or five years our granddaughter, Isabella, has come to spend a few days with us during her summer vacation from school.  This year she came last Thursday afternoon, and we'll take her back later this afternoon.

Our house is very quiet compared to her's that's bustling with activities from two siblings and friends, so I planned several activities [most that we hadn't done before] to keep her from getting bored or homesick.

It's become a tradition for her and Papa to go shopping for a new backpack and school supplies while she's here, so that was the first thing on the agenda Friday morning.  Izzy did her research and knew exactly which backpack she wanted and the store that sold it.

After the shopping expedition, we went on a 'field trip.'  The first stop was a middle school in Detroit where her Papa has been working this summer with the G.M. Student Corps.  Their first task was upgrading the school playground. Jerry and the students installed new benches, trash cans, and put new mulch down [pictured in the photos below].

Then we were off to Wyandotte, a suburb south of Detroit along the Detroit River, where Jerry and I grew up and met.  We thought she might enjoy seeing our history.  The first place she saw was the bungalow house Jerry lived in when I met him in 10th grade.  We were pleased the homes we lived in over 50 years ago are still lovingly maintained.

Jerry drove her by his grade school, middle school, and the high school where we met.  Then we went by the 1950's ranch house I lived in until I married and left home.

Behind my house was/is Bob-Jo's frozen custard stand.   I loved going there when I was a kid, so we took Izzy.  It's amazing that it's still there all these years later. 

It was a drizzly afternoon, so we had to eat our frozen custard in the car, but it was still good and just as I remembered it!   I'm sure this was Izzy's favorite part of her history lesson.  ;-)

After showing her the hospital where her Daddy was born, we decided she had seen enough history and reminiscing for one day, so we headed back home.  We played card games together until Papa decided to call it a night, then Izzy and I watched a movie before bedtime.

Saturday was another full day.  Izzy bought some metal shelves for her bedroom that she wanted to paint white before assembly.  So they spread them out on Papa's work bench in the garage, and he gave her a tutorial on spray painting.

Afterwards we took her swimming at the Warren Pool where she loves the water slide.

Waiting her turn in line to go down the slide.

And there she is at the bottom!

Then we were off to the movie theater to watch 'Ant Man and the Wasp' [her choice].  They don't make movies like they used to!  ;-)

Sunday was church, and afterwards she picked Olive Garden for dinner.  I had recently read in the newspaper about train rides offered every Sunday by the MI Transit Museum.  The ride in a 1926 Pullman car is boarded at Joy Park in Clinton Township [$7 for adults and $4 for children].  I thought that sounded like a fun activity since Izzy watched the entire Anne of Green Gables series on Netflix, and there are some train scenes in the series [albeit 1907 setting instead of 1926].

The 1926 Pullman car pictured on our ticket.

We got there in time for the 2:00 o'clock ride.  It was a damp, 66 degree, drizzly day, and Izzy was cold - hence the lap blanket from our car wrapped around her.  ;-) 

The one mile train track used for the ride was built in the late 1890's and ceased operation by the railroad in 1995.  The 10 m.p.h. ride was just under an hour.

It's a popular activity, because by the time everyone boarded both Pullman cars were full.

The conductor gave Izzy a sticker stating she rode the MI Transit train.  [Tomorrow she'll be riding an Amtrak train with her family to Chicago, so I'm sure that will be a lot more exciting.  ;-)]

After our train ride we toured the Mt. Clemens [MI] Train Station that was built in 1859 and was in service until July 17, 1954.  The tracks that run beside it are still in use today by Canadian National Railways.  The city purchased the depot in 1980 and leases it to the MI Transit Museum.  The depot is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places.  

Soon after its opening, the Grand Trunk Western railroad hired 12-year-old Thomas Edison to sell newspapers and candy on the Port Huron/Detroit run.  Edison saved the station agent's young son from being run over by a rolling box car.  In appreciation, the station agent taught Edison to operate the telegraph, spurring his interest in technology.

So glad they didn't tear the station down.  Jerry's waving in the doorway.

~ Interior of the station ~

I found it interesting that the plaque displayed in the depot [below] was presented to the City of Mt. Clemens by the J.L. Hudson Company on the 100th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Edison in Feb. 1947.

It was an enjoyable and interesting afternoon.  When we got home, Izzy wanted to bake a cake.  We were supposed to decorate it today to take to a swimming gathering at her maternal aunt's house near us, but the cool, drizzly weather canceled the outing.  I'll freeze it and we'll decorate it another time. 

Tomorrow I'll rest ;-), but I'll miss her.  She turns 13 next month and enters the 8th grade.  She's growing up quickly and there won't be many summer's left where she'll want to come stay with us, so we enjoy what we have.