Thursday, August 30, 2018

1,600th Post Giveaway and Ellie's Turn

This is my 1,600th post since I began blogging in 2012, so I'm offering a giveaway:  A tin of Harney & Sons Earl Grey Imperial Tea [30 sachets] and a Gracie China teacup. To enter just leave a comment between now and Sunday. I'll draw a winner and announce it on Monday. Thanks to everyone for following my blog over the years, and for your comments.

Our youngest granddaughter, 6-year-old Ellie, got her turn to spend a few days with us, arriving yesterday.  She's the last of the younger grandchildren to visit before school starts back.

The first activity on the agenda was back-to-school shopping with Papa.  When she got home and was looking at all of her things she declared, "This is the best day of my whole life!" ;-)  It doesn't take much to make a six year old happy.

Showing off her new backpack.

Today we went to the indoor pool and water park.

And after dinner to the park.

Not sure what we'll do tomorrow.  Maybe a movie.  How are you spending these last few days of summer?

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Birthday Celebrations

Birthdays in our family begin in June and go through November.  This month we had two - granddaughter Brooke's Sweet Sixteen on Aug. 20th [which I blogged about], and my daughter Lori's birthday, today.  We celebrated both of their birthdays together last night at my son and daughter-in-law's house.

Sharon always decorates so festively.  

Do you remember your 16th birthday?

We enjoyed a grilled al fresco dinner.

~ Jerry and Lori ~

~ Daughters-in-law Sharon and Samantha ~

Granddaughters Brooke and Isabella and Brooke's friend, Abbey [they opted to eat inside].  Izzy will become a teenager next month.   Milestone birthdays are extra special.

The kids had fun playing croquet, and later when the party moved indoors we played Catch Phrase and Sequence.  Great fun!

Time for presents.  Granddaughter, Brianna, next to her sister, Brooke.

Cake and ice cream time!

So grateful for the opportunity to celebrate those we love on their birthday!  Raising my teacup to Lori and Brooke!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Weekend Review

I receive e-mails from the Whitney restaurant in Detroit when something special is happening, and last week an e-mail arrived stating they were having a charity estate sale to get rid of old dishes, glassware, candelabras, furniture and other miscellaneous "treasures" that had been stored away.  The sale was scheduled for last Saturday morning beginning at 10:00 a.m., with all proceeds going to the Cass Community Social Services.

It sounded like a fun thing to do on a Saturday morning.  The only problem was we had torrential rain showers last Saturday.  I didn't think they'd proceed with the sale, but shortly after 10:00 a.m. I called to inquire, and was told it was being held inside an old storage building behind their property.  So off we went.

The interior of the building looked like something you'd see on American Pickers.  The windows were all boarded up and the only light was from two open doors.  I'm not a good "picker". I don't like to dig through boxes and crates, or things covered with dust and cobwebs.  But there were several people who were finding all sorts of "treasures" and having fun rummaging.

We were just about to leave when I spotted a box sitting on the floor.  Amazingly no one had torn it open.  On the outside it read 12 oz. Lion Head bowls.  So I opened the box and found three smaller boxes inside, each containing four Lion Head bowls still in their original wrapping, and never used.

These definitely piqued my interest!  I asked one of the workers how much they were and was shocked when he said $6 for the dozen.  I promptly paid him and walked out happy with my Whitney treasure.  Soup will definitely be served in these bowls this winter!

By now the downpour had subsided to a light rain, so we walked around to the front of the Whitney mansion for a few pictures.  Below is the original carriage house at the back of the mansion's property.

Pictured below is the front of the beautiful mansion.  Construction was completed in 1894 for lumber baron, David Whitney, Jr.

You know how I love history details, so I have to tell you the mansion is 22,000 sq. ft. and has 52 rooms including 10 bathrooms, 20 fireplaces, 218 windows [some with leaded windows crafted by Tiffany's of New York], and it was the first residential house in Detroit to have an elevator.  It was built at a cost of $400,000 in 1894 - about $9.5 million today.  It's one of Detroit's landmarks that thankfully has been preserved.

After an extensive restoration it became a restaurant in 1986 and was dubbed "An American restaurant in an American palace."  I've blogged about having Afternoon Tea there five times, with lots of pictures, so if you're interested in seeing those posts you can type "The Whitney" in the search box of my blog.  It's the only place in downtown Detroit that serves Afternoon Tea.

On another subject... I didn't take any pictures at Sunday's tea at the assisted living facility, but the program was well received.  We had three men who attended this month which is unusual - it must have been the subject of a train that brought them out.

Air travel was the demise of the Orient Express.  It made its last run on May 20, 1977.  An auction was held in Monte Carlo for the Wagon-Lits coaches, and American, James Sherwood, purchased several of them.  He realized the Orient Express possessed great nostalgia from a more gracious age.  He formed Belmond Ltd., and restored the luxury trains and steam engines, and staffed the dining cars with Michelin star chefs.

Presently there are designated Sunday trips where Afternoon Tea is served on board the luxury train for £280 per person [departing from London traveling through the English countryside].  That's $357 in American dollars.  Would you pay that to have Afternoon Tea on the famous luxury train?  At the website I noticed all the teas were 'sold out,' so there are people willing to pay that price.

Friday, August 24, 2018

All Ready for Sunday!

I'm ready for Sunday's program at Shore Pointe Assisted Living's monthly tea, with a couple days to spare.

Book read, movie watched, script written:  

Printed faux boarding passes for residents:  

Purchased treat bags and candy bars:    

Only 100 Grand candy bars would be good enough for the wealthy passengers traveling on the luxury train!  The cute railroad crossing treat bags came from Oriental Trading Company.

Assembled treat bags:  √  

Ordered, sampled and approved the tea to serve on Sunday:     

Engineer's hat and scarf purchased and ready to wear on Sunday:  √  

In actuality, an Orient Express Engineer would have worn a fine uniform and hat, but mine will at least put the residents in the spirit of train travel.  I'll let you know how Sunday's program goes.

This will be my 43rd program at Shore Pointe Assisted Living since I began in October 2014. During that time I've covered a wide variety of subjects and never repeated one. It's been a great learning experience for me, and hopefully for the residents as well.  

September's theme will be The Three R's - Reading, Riting, and Rithmetic!  Perfect for the 'back to school' month in Michigan.

With this post, I've written 1,597 posts - just three away from 1,600.  It hardly seems possible! I've been thinking what I could offer as a giveaway when I write #1,600.  Keep reading to find out!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Tea of the Day

I was supposed to drive to the city where I grew up today to meet-up with a few high school girlfriends for lunch.  But the power went out at my house and didn't come back on in time for me to get ready.  I don't realize how dependent I am on electricity until I don't have it!

I just read a devotion yesterday about having a grateful heart even when things don't go as planned, so I thanked God that the connection to Him never goes down.  We can reach Him anytime, anywhere, no matter what the conditions around us may be. 

The first thing I did when the power came back on was make myself a cup of tea [which I use my electric kettle for].  Today, as I'm enjoying my tea, I'm thinking of my tea friend, Joy, in Georgia who gave me a bag of Savannah Grey loose leaf black tea when I visited Georgia on the Southern Tea Time Getaway last May.  

Savannah Grey: China black tea with Bergamot, Lavender, and Cornflowers.  I've often thought it would be fun to do an Earl Grey tea tasting to compare a few of the many blends that abound of one of the world's most popular teas.  Every tea blender has at least one Earl Grey, and it's available in black, oolong, white tea and decaf.

Bergamot has a very distinctive taste.  It's a citrus fruit [about the size of an orange and the color of a lime], and is grown in southern Italy and France.  It is said you either love it or hate it, but judging by its popularity, a lot more people love it than hate it.

Yesterday I finished a bag of loose leaf tea that my girlfriend, Sandy, gave me, and I had thoughts of the friendship that exists between us.  Amazing how tea connects people even when they aren't together.

All was not lost with a day at home. I'm nearing the end of my book about the Orient Express, and finding the train was just as suspenseful as Agatha Christie's book!  In 1929 it got stuck in a snow drift that left the passengers stranded for six days before help came.  Hmmm... looks like Agatha borrowed a real-life occurrence for her mystery novel.  I hope they had plenty of tea on board to keep them warm and to soothe their nerves.

When I checked my mailbox, the postman had left a box of tea I ordered from a new-to-me vendor, Silk Road Teas in San Rafael, California.

I'm working on a program about tea in China so I ordered 1/4 lb. of China Caravan.  Will let you know how I like it in an upcoming post.

What's in your cup today?

Monday, August 20, 2018

Happy 16th B-day to Granddaughter Brooke!

Brooke is our fifth grandchild in order of birth.  It hardly seems possible she's 16 today.  The years have passed so quickly.

On her 8th birthday [2010] I took her to Tea Party Castle to make a very fun memory.  

Happy Birthday to our Princess - then and now!

We love you, Brooke, and are so proud of the young lady you're becoming!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Tea and a Sweet Visitor

Yesterday I cloistered myself in my office to begin some serious study and preparation for my upcoming program at the assisted living facility.  I decided to open the tin of Harney & Sons tea, Murder on the Orient Express Blend, so I could sample it before serving it to the residents.

The website [as well as the tin] lists what's in the blend - black tea, oolong tea, jasmine tea, bergamot oil and natural flavor, but doesn't include Mike Harney's rating with details. Normally jasmine and bergamot are very easy to detect, so that's what I was expecting.  I was very surprised to get a mild, smoky taste, but no pronounced jasmine or bergamot.  I liked it, but wondered if my taste buds were skewed, so I went to the reviews to see if other customers had picked up a smoky taste.  Yes, they had.  It's a fun, surprising tea and the mild smokiness is reminiscent of the ancient Orient.  The tea provides a surprising twist just like the murder mystery for which its named.  Out of 92 reviews, 74 gave it five stars.  If you count me, it's 75 with five stars!

While I was at Harney's website I ordered a tin of their Goji Berry caffeine-free fruit tea.  Goji berries grow in northwest China, and have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries.  Supposedly they improve liver and kidney function as well as eyesight.      

It's said all work and no play makes a dull person, so I had the pleasure of my daughter stopping by late in the afternoon with sweet little Evie [my great granddaughter]. Lori's babysitting her for five days while Tiffany and John are away on a trip to Boston to celebrate their third wedding anniversary.

I got rid of the highchair after my 'confirmed' last grandchild, Ellie, was old enough to sit up at the table, not thinking about great-grandchildren who would need it.  Evie's still small enough, and was perfectly content to sit on top of the table while Lori fed her.  We enjoyed their visit.

We received the good news from Tiffany recently that another great-grandbaby will be joining our family the end of March 2019.  I love the saying, "Babies are God's way of saying the world should go on."

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Strawberry Cake for Bible Study

Today was Bible study at my house, and we studied the Church in Sardis [Book of Revelation, Chapter 3].  Our Lord wrote a very sobering letter to this church [via the Apostle John], but in his grace and mercy, He provided the ways the people could be forgiven and revived. 

After Bible study I served a cake that I assembled rather piecemeal [no one particular recipe].  I had an unfrosted white layer cake in the freezer that my granddaughter, Izzy, and I made when she came to  visit, so that was my starting place. This was definitely not a picture-perfect cake, but since it was a very informal gathering it didn't have to be, and I'll provide corrective solutions if you should want to try making it in your kitchen.

Not knowing if the cake was still moist or had become dry from freezing, I opted to poke it with strawberry jello.  One 3 oz. package Strawberry Jello dissolved in 1 cup of hot water and then 1/2 cup of cold water stirred in.  With a dinner fork I poked holes in the tops of both layers and spooned the Jello over the top, then refrigerated it for three hours.  

I purchased a can of Strawberry Pie Filling and spooned it between the layers and refrigerated it overnight [covered in plastic wrap].  This morning I frosted the cake with a delicious Strawberry Frosting recipe I clipped from Southern Lady magazine by Swans Down Cake Flour.

I sliced fresh, large strawberries and drained them on paper towels, then began laying them in a circle working from the outer edge toward the center.  Strawberries are 91% water, so my first mistake [which allowed the liquid to run down the side of the cake] was putting them too close to the edge.  Also, I should have piped a frosting border around the edge to create a barrier to keep the strawberry liquid contained. And the strawberries should have been more layered or overlapping - not single rows. 

Now that I think about it, my life is kind of like the cake.  I'm not picture-perfect either and God continually makes corrections to develop me into the person He desires me to be.

Back to the Strawberry Cake... lastly, I melted a small amount of strawberry preserves, and lightly brushed it over the tops of the strawberry slices to seal them, give them a nice shine, and add a little sweetness.  Then I refrigerated it until it was time for serving.  The taste more than made up the mistakes. The chilled cake is perfect for summertime, and I will definitely make it again.

Our tea was Marco Polo by Mariage Frères [a black tea] that I ordered from The Cultured Cup in Dallas, Texas.  Marco Polo tea description:  Fragrances of Chinese and Tibetan flowers lend a uniquely velvety taste to this medium to full-bodies Chinese black tea with strawberry and floral [orchid] notes.  Marco Polo is the "Chanel No. 5" of tea and Mariage carefully guards the recipe which has never been successfully duplicated. The red fruit [strawberry] flavoring made it the perfect accompaniment for our strawberry cake.

It was a wonderful afternoon of study and fellowship.  When the ladies went home I got out my informative Mariage Frères book for some serious tea study.  There's so much to learn about... the Bible... tea... and so many other things.  Learning is lifelong process.

~ Chapter Two ~

Monday, August 13, 2018

"A Star-Studded Affair"

Today was the annual fundraiser tea for the Taylor Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

It was a beautiful day with temperatures in the mid-80's and a nice breeze.  Perfect for an outdoor tea!

I was happy to see a sweet friend, Joanie, in the parking lot.  She had the misfortune of breaking her leg a few months ago, but you can't keep a good woman down.

Louise Doute, a Conservatory staff member and friend, greeted guests on the red carpet.  As always, she was classy and gracious.

Joanie with her beautiful granddaughter, Ashton.  You can't tell in the picture, but Joanie's top was filled with little gold, sparkly stars.

I don't own anything glitzy as you can see in the picture below - too much clothes for a Hollywood affair, but I don't own anything risqué either.  I was a good portrayal of Angela Lansbury who is matronly and usually well covered! ;-) 

Every lady who wore a hat or fascinator was given a raffle ticket, and one lucky lady received a prize when her ticket was drawn. 

The Red Carpet and Walk of Fame.  The committee covered every detail.

Pavillion where the tea was held.

The tea was catered by Victoria's Tea Salon.  That's Vicky O'Neil in the pink chef's jacket [below].

~ Tea Station ~

The tables were beautifully set in keeping with the theme.

~ Program ~

~ Silent Auction Items ~

~ Popcorn for the Afternoon's Activities ~

Jennifer and Linda dressed in their Hollywood glitz. 

~ Sandy and Barb donned their bling too.  ~

~ Sandy's fancy shoes that even lit up.  ~

~ Tea Savories ~
Turkey w/Basil Parmesan Mayo on Tomato Herb Wrap; Cucumber finger sandwich with Herb Cream Cheese on Italian; Roast Beef triangle w/Horseradish Sauce on Light Rye; and Cheddar Mango Chutney round on Oatnut bread.

~ Pineapple Cream Cheese Cream Scone with Lemon Curd and Devonshire Cream ~

~ Desserts ~
Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache and Gold Stars; Lemon Crisp Cookie; and Cinnamon Raisin Bread Pudding Cups.

The two teas served were Berry White Tea and Raspberry Panache Black Tea.  As always the teas and food were delicious. 

~ The entertainment for the afternoon was by Taylor Dance. ~

They had a magician scheduled to come too, but he mysteriously disappeared [pun intended].  ;-)  Thank you Taylor Conservatory for a delightful afternoon!  Another theme tea well done.