Saturday, October 31, 2020

Happy Halloween!

The Whitney had a Halloween party Wednesday night for the staff.  It wasn't mandatory to wear a costume, but it was suggested.  I took pictures of some, but didn't get everybody.  They provided entertainment with a magician and special music [singers].  It was a fun night.

Tony - General Manager

Darren - Supervisor

Raegan - Reception Desk Hostess

Jess who was just hired this week as a server.

Samantha - Events Manager

A server dressed as Alf - television sitcom from 1986-1990.  My son, Jeremy, loved the show when he was young and had a stuffed Alf .   I gave it to him after he had children of his own, but they were afraid of it so I'm pretty sure it got pitched.  ;-)

LaKeitha - Server

Debra is a server.  She's pictured below with her husband.  She conducts our paranormal tours, because The Whitney has a reputation of being haunted, but no Whitney ghost/spirit has ever bothered me.  ;-)

Me as a maid.  I wanted to be Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, but the outfit had to be ordered and wouldn't have arrived in time.  Maybe next year.

Dave - Director of Operations [the head honcho].  He's my boss and who I answer directly to.

Today our normal Afternoon Tea was suspended so we could host a "Spirited" Haunting Tea.  We served 41 guests, which was down from what was anticipated, but it was still a good group.  It kept me busy as we served three different teas throughout the meal.   I put in 6 hrs. non-stop so I'm feeling my age tonight.  ;-)

An area of the prep room where I make the tea.  I had all five of my urns going today.  I bring my own because they've never been used for coffee.

It was a special menu.  I was busy and missed taking a photo of the soup served in a pumpkin, but I got a picture of the savories and desserts.  The pumpkin was surrounded by dry ice so it gave the effect of a cauldron on an open fire. Chef Natasha and Pastry Chef, Eric, outdid themselves with their creativity.

Before the final dessert course was served, the guests were treated to a paranormal tour in the Carriage House and a magic show in another adjoining building, so I was able to take a picture of one of the tables in the Drawing Room while we waited for them to return.  Each guest received a gift bag containing a bottle of Witches Brew from Leelanau Cellars [Red Wine spiced with Cinnamon, Cloves and Nutmeg] and assorted chocolate candies.

Steve, a server who always works with me on Afternoon Tea.

Annie, a server.

Debra in a different costume today for her paranormal tour of The Whitney Carriage House.

And here's my cute granddaughter, Ellie, all ready to go trick-or-treating.

Our son Steve's annual neighborhood Halloween party that he hosts in his garage with Krispy Kreme donuts, Hot Chocolate, Coffee, Cider, video games and music was greatly curtailed this year due to COVID-19, but he still gave out candy bars.  My hubby went over to help like he does every year, but was home by 7:30 because trick-or-treaters were much less this year.

Granddaughter, Brooke, came home for the weekend from Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, IL.  She brought some friends with her, and my hubby said they were working on costumes to wear tonight, but as yet I haven't seen any photos posted.  

Hope you had a Happy Halloween!  Don't forget to set your clocks back tonight to claim that extra hour of sleep!

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

A Bittersweet Day

Yesterday I woke up thinking about my middle child, Steve.  51 years ago on that day, the Lord blessed us with his life, and it hardly seems possible the years have passed so swiftly.  In the photo below I was holding 8 lbs. of happiness and joy.  I can't physically hold him in my arms anymore, but he still brings us happiness and joy.

He loves Italian food, so we took him and his wife, Sharon, out to dinner last night at Da Francesco's.   When we arrived for our 6:30 reservations, the restaurant was full.  Aside from guests arriving and leaving wearing face masks, fears of COVID-19 seemed to be left outside the door.  In a world filled with care and turmoil, it was a nice escape if only briefly.  We had a nice quiet table in the corner.

While I celebrated the life of one loved one, I mourned the death of another.  I received a text from my cousin yesterday morning telling me my aunt went to be with Jesus at 6:15 a.m.  The good news is there's no COVID-19, rioting, social unrest, intolerance or hatred in Heaven!  My aunt was a happy person, and her and my mom used to laugh together a lot.  When I got the news of her passing I thought to myself, "She and mom will be giggling together in Heaven." 

I'm sharing photos of my sweet aunt that her grandson posted on Facebook yesterday.

This is probably the last picture we have of her as she neared the end of her earthly life, and she was smiling.  You can do that when you have hope of an eternal life that's better than anything imaginable on earth.  Scripture tells us Eye has not seen, nor ear heard... the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.

So now, I begin preparing my tribute to give at her funeral this Friday.  So thankful this parting is only temporary, and I'll see her again someday where we'll live together forever and ever.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Silver-plate Covered Sugar Bowl/Spooner

Last Friday I received an e-mail from Dianne, one of my blog readers from Canada.  She attached a photo of a treasured silver-plate 'spooner' she inherited from her mother. 

Dianne read my post about teapoys and wondered if I had any information about her lovely piece of tea equipage.  Her mom always called it a 'spooner' and kept it well-polished, and in pristine condition in her china cabinet.  

Dianne's silver spooner holds six spoons, but many of them held twelve.  I have seen both antique and reproductions, but I don't own one.

I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon/evening trying to research them, but there is very little written about them on the Internet.  They go by various names including: Master Sugar Spooner; Spooner Sugar Bowl; and Covered Sugar Bowl/Spooner.

To muddy the waters further, 'spooners' were more commonly known as glass vase-like containers that held teaspoons, and were kept on the table for easy access whenever a teaspoon was needed.  One reference said some Victorian hostesses who weren't financially endowed, and didn't have enough teaspoons to put at each place setting, assembled what she had and put them into a glass spooner and set them on the table for use.  Some spooners had handles on the sides, and some didn't as shown below.

Victorians loved having serving accessories for everything, so a glass spooner is very easy to confuse with a celery vase.  They almost look like they could be interchangeable.   Below is my mother's spooner.

There were also rectangular or oval porcelain dishes that were made for serving celery.  Gotta love the Victorians for all their table accessories!

Back to silver sugar spooners...  They were made in sterling silver, but most vintage ones for resale on the Internet today are silver-plated with a bird finial.

Imported luxuries - which sugar at one time was - required decorative containers.  Refined white sugar was a symbol of status, wealth, power, and self-indulgence.  S0 a combination sugar bowl and spoon rack made of silver was an optimal way of containing the luxury as well as being a beautiful piece on a properly appointed tea table.  Silver flashed a beautiful message of hospitality with intentional implications of status and prosperity.  One author referred to it as "Putting a Formal Shine on Teatime." Another called it "Dining in Splendor."  Much more recently Alda Ellis said, "Silver is the table's jewelry."

Silversmiths lavished their artistry on every element of tea equipage, and Victorians saw spooners as a necessary tea [and coffee] serving accessory.  Manufacturing of them began to decline in the 1920's and they went out of popularity after WWII when it became tiring and boring to keep them polished and shining brightly.  I enjoy using silver serving pieces and don't mind polishing them.  Do you use silver pieces at teatime?

For a time sugar spooners were misidentified as jam dishes and were used to serve jam at tea time or with the mealtime dessert course.

This is the extent of what I could find out via my personal library on tea equipage as well as the Internet.  Surprisingly [and regrettably], there's not a lot of information available about them. If you have additional information about silver spooners to add to this post it would be most welcomed.

Friday, October 23, 2020

A New Tea Shop and More

A couple of days ago I went to Partridge Creek, an upscale outdoor mall in Clinton Township, about 10 miles from my house.  Whenever I go there it's usually to Chico's, P.F. Chang's or Sur la table, which sadly closed this spring.  I'm hoping their other location at Somerset Mall is still open since I have gift cards to spend.  

It was a lovely day for walking around Partridge Creek, and I discovered a new tea shop.

I peeked in the windows, and will return when I have more time to go inside and browse. When I got home I went online to find out more about the shop, and discovered two guys in their early 20's opened it in April 2019, as well as a second location at Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi in November 2019.  Similar to now closed Teavana, they sell 60 tea blends, tea accessories and hot tea to-go. 

From there, I popped into J.C. Penney's at Lakeside Mall [near Partridge Creek] and saw a cute Santa.  For the longest time I've searched for a Santa holding a teapot or teacup, and this Santa was holding a teacup. I think it's filled with hot chocolate and not tea though. Could I paint it to resemble tea???  Giving that idea a lot of thought!

After Lakeside, I went to nearby Gordon Foods and right near the entrance was a display of Harney & Son's Tea.  If they carried Harney teas previously I don't remember seeing it.

When I checked my e-mails upon returning home, there was one from tea friend, Laura, with a photo attachment of the Cotswold Cottage at Greenfield Village.  The Village is all decked out for Halloween and the Cotswold Cottage is featuring Alice in Wonderland.  A Mad Hatter and March Hare tea party display is set up outside the cottage.

I went to The Henry Ford website for details, and unfortunately admission tickets are sold out for this weekend and next, but thanks for the heads-up, Laura.

You could accurately say it was a tea-lightful day!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

October Musings From My World

I'm looking for a vintage buffet/sideboard to antique and put on a long wall in my family room for all my table linens.  Currently they're stored in four different places and I'd like to have them all together. In searching for the buffet/sideboard I went to Facebook's Marketplace. Have you ever shopped there?  I haven't found the right one to bring home yet, but I did find a like-new Farberware 36-cup stainless steel urn.  

I use my own urns at The Whitney because I don't want to brew tea in a vessel that was preceded by coffee.  Yuck!  I have four Farberware urns already [I love them!].  We've got a Halloween Tea coming up on Oct. 31st where I'll be serving three different teas, so another urn will be great.

On Monday, my hubby and I drove out to the small rural-like community of Leonard, Mi [about 32 miles away] to purchase the urn for $40 - a good price considering they're over $100 new.  We enjoyed the beautiful fall scenery along the way, including pumpkin patches.  Did you know Michigan ranks fourth in the US in pumpkin production?  I do my part to bolster pumpkin sales by putting 1/4 c. pureed pumpkin in my oatmeal every single morning.  I'd have a hard time eating oatmeal now without it.  It's yummy and healthy - rich in Vitamin A.

I gave my new urn a baking soda cleansing and it's all ready for use on October 31st.

On the way home, we stopped for an early dinner at P.F. Chang's.  They no longer serve White Tangerine Tea but our server recommended Dragon Eye Oolong.  It was so-o-o good!  We each ordered their Signature Chicken Lo Mein [a first for us] along with Lettuce Wraps, and it was a very enjoyable meal.  My fortune cookie said, "You will live a long life and eat many fortune cookies."  ;-)

Merchandise sales seems to be abounding everywhere.  My sale order from Harney Tea arrived on Monday - one bag [50 sachets] of Citron Green Tea and one bag [50 sachets] of organic Green with Citrus & Ginkgo Tea.  I think I'm set for green tea for awhile.  Green tea is all I drink anymore.  At the recent virtual World Tea Summit, one of the presenters said tests show that green tea prevents the formation of kidney stones.  Since I take cranberry capsules daily for UTI issues - and cranberries can contribute to the formation of kidney stones - drinking lots of green tea is a must for me.  I love that it yields multiple steeps too.

I'm looking forward to sitting down with the two newest publications I received from Hoffman Media over a cup of tea.  Can you believe the Christmas issue of Teatime magazine is out!  While I hate to think of it, Christmas is right around the corner!

Speaking of sales... I had two $50 gift cards for Chico's, and I'd been receiving e-mails from them highlighting flash sales, so I decided to make some online purchases.  I'm very pleased with what I got.  I wore this leopard print jacket to work last Saturday.

I'm saving these black and gold scroll print ankle pants for Christmas.  They so comfortable and very slimming [I'll take all the optical illusions I can get! ;-)].  Last year at Christmas time I purchased a gold sequined jacket at Chico's to wear at the Christmas teas at The Whitney, but I found a dress I liked even better, so the jacket is still hanging in the garment bag with the tags still attached.  I think it will go perfectly with these slacks.

It's a bit glitzier than what I'm accustomed to wearing, but hey!  It's Christmas, and we can sparkle at Christmas, right?

While in Sam's Club yesterday I found a warm fleece Eddie Bauer hoodie jacket and long sleeve tee to wear at home this winter.  The two together came to only $25.  They were out of the pants in my size, so I'm off to another Sam's Club as soon as I finish this post.  Hopefully I'll find them.  I get so cold in the winter months [can't convince hubby to put the thermostat above 70 degrees], so this ensemble will keep me nice and comfy.

That brings you up to speed with life in my world.  Hope all is well with you and yours!

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Happy Sweetest Day

The day kind of snuck up on Jerry and me this year.  I didn't realize its arrival until I went to the grocery store yesterday [Friday] and saw the floral displays.  Jerry's a fan of dark chocolate so I got him Sea Salt Almond Bark and Sea Salt Caramels.  He got me flowers.

It was busy at The Whitney today.  We served 39 for Afternoon Tea, and they had many dinner reservations for Sweetest Day.

I was curious about the origin of Sweetest Day, so I looked it up.  It is not a second Valentine's Day. It began in Cleveland, Ohio in 1922 when Herbert Birch Kingston decided to bring a little happiness into the lives of orphans, shut-ins and others who were often forgotten.  With the help of friends, he distributed candy and small gifts to Cleveland's underprivileged.

American Greeting Card Co. said people from Northeast Ohio have been taking the holiday with them when they move to other parts of the country, but Ohio is still the top state for Sweetest Day sales, followed by Michigan and Illinois.  Texas, California and Florida are also among the top ten.  It is always celebrated on the third Saturday in October.  [Incidentally, Boss's Day preceded it by one day on Oct. 16th.]

My Aunt's grandson drove up from Nashville, Tennessee area to spend some time with her this week.  He'll be going home tomorrow, but he posted this beautiful picture on Facebook holding his Nannie's hand.  It just seemed appropriate for Sweetest Day.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Virtual Tea Summit, "What Now?"

COVID-19 has changed the way we do many things.   Virtual meetings have replaced 'in-person' ones.  Such is the case with the three-day Tea Summit sponsored by World Tea Conference/Expo and Questex Hospitality.  I recently received an e-mail inviting me to register for the summit free of charge, so I did.

Monday was the first day of five sessions with informative speakers, and it continued yesterday and will conclude today.   I have enjoyed it immensely.  Approximately 2,000 people are attending from around the world, so the sponsors are very pleased with the response and success.

Prior to the start of the summit, Matcha Organic Japan, Co. Ltd. offered free samples of their high grade Matcha to US attendees who requested it so they'd have it to accompany their presentation on day 1.  I requested a sample, and mine arrived via Elmwood Inn Fine Teas in Danville, KY.  I'm hoping that means they'll be a source for this tea.

During the 2016 Michigan Tea Tour, we visited the Japanese Cultural Center in Saginaw, and were part of a Japanese Tea Ceremony.  That was my first time to taste Matcha and it definitely wasn't love at first taste.  I concluded it must be an acquired taste.  But after tasting Matcha Organic Japan's delicious tea, I now know it's all in the quality of the tea.

Matcha Organic Japan is a group of tea farms in the village of Nabeshima in Shizuoka, Japan that came together to form a cooperative.  Matcha [or Tencha as it's called before the leaves are ground] needs to be grown in the shade and requires a lot more effort than other teas.  The tea is organic and is not grown with pesticides or herbicides.  The founder of the company was the 4th presenter on Monday, and showed how to prepare Matcha [quantity, water temp., whisking, etc].  

I have a Japanese Tea Ceremony gift set that contains a chawan [tea bowl] and chasen [whisk], but I put it in such a safe place, I couldn't find it to prepare my tea sample for Happy Hour on Monday!  Even without proper whisking, it was still delicious.  

We learned that tea consumption is up during COVID-19 for health purposes as well as comfort.  And Millennials lead tea demographics with 87%, and Baby Boomers close behind at 80%.

Yesterday's summit began at 2:00 o'clock and the first presenter was Sebastian Michaelis, Head of Tea at Tata Consumer Products [home of Tetley Tea].  Tata is the second largest tea packer in the world.  As a professional tea taster, Sebastian was incredibly interesting and I enjoyed his presentation very much.  Did you know your taste buds are more astute in the morning, and they regenerate every two weeks?

Fortunately, each day's sessions will be available for attendees to watch online after the summit has ended, which is good for me since I was only able to watch the first session yesterday.

As mentioned in my last post, my 93-year-old maternal aunt is dying of cancer, and I decided I should visit her yesterday while she's still alert.  The cancer is spreading rapidly [it's now in her lungs as well as liver and bones] and she's very frail.  I'm not a tower of strength when it comes to these kinds of situations, and I was really concerned about keeping my emotions in check while in her presence.  But I needn't have worried, because she was happy, smiling and upbeat the entire time I was there and her mood was contagious.  She's the perfect example of what every Christian should strive to be like during their last days on earth.  We sang hymns together and had the best visit.  If this is what's meant by "dying grace" then it's what I want when my time comes - perfect peace, perfect rest, no worries or fears - just ready to meet Jesus.  She's always been a big tea drinker, and I'd like to give some credit to the calming virtues of tea, but in reality it's all about her personal relationship with Jesus Christ and knowing she's ready to spend eternity with Him.

We're continuing to have some beautiful fall weather.  Last Sunday after church we drove by the church property and I took the photo below of a tree across the street.

The windows arrived and are installed, so now the brick can go up.  The architectural design of the building will be Mission style and this is only phase 1.  It's designed so it can be added to when numerical growth and finances increase.

It's time to get ready for day 3 of the virtual tea summit, so I'll sign off for now with wishes that all my readers have a wonderful day!