Thursday, April 29, 2021

Anniversary Wishes and More

It hardly seems possible that 10 years have passed since Prince William married Kate Middleton.  I vividly remember watching it on TV.  So today in honor of their 10th Wedding Anniversary, I got out my royal memorabilia:  A china teacup from their engagement, a Royal Worcester commemorative wedding plate, and two commemorative tins of tea. 

Here's to many more anniversaries to celebrate!

[Internet Photo]

It's been a busy week.  Monday I was all settled in my office ready to begin writing the script for an upcoming Hudson's Department Store presentation on May 4th when the power went out. Since there's very little you can do without electrical power [we're so spoiled!] my hubby and I decided to go to Cracker Barrel for lunch.  During our wait to be seated, I spied French Macarons on the shelf.  The sophisticated, luxurious, high-end tea time dessert seemed rather out of place in the homey, down-to-earth Cracker Barrel restaurant, so I had to photograph it.

Tuesday was an early morning dental appointment, then I drove to the city where I grew up to have lunch with some of the girls I graduated from high school with.  I navigated through countless orange road construction barrels and my GPS took me on three different expressways due to all the construction, but I finally made it.  Four girls couldn't join us, but there were four of us who could make it.  It's the first time we've been together since the COVID pandemic began.  We ate on the patio of the restaurant and it was so nice to get caught-up again. 

I enjoy going back to the city where I grew up.  I belong to a Facebook Group called All Things Wyandotte where pictures of people and places in the city - past and present - are posted. Recently a mid-1950's photo [below] was posted of Fort Grove Shopping Center which was right near my house.  You can see the houses on my street on the right beyond the parking lot. A & P Food Store, Grove Drugs, HFC [Household Finance Corp.], and Ben Franklin Dime Stores no longer exist.  And look at those old cars that were actually new back then.  As the saying goes, nothing is forever!  As a kid, I loved Ben Franklin's candy counter with its compartmentalized candy bins and scales to weigh the candy on.

Yesterday was lunch with our son, and our daughter-in-law joined us.  Afterwards I came home and went to work on my Hudson's project.  I haven't done a Hudson's presentation since 2017 and I'm so enjoying the review.  It makes me want to resume my research that had fallen by the wayside, crowded out by life's situations.  The year of COVID quarantine gave me plenty of free time, but the libraries were all shut down, so that eliminated the opportunity to do any Hudson's or Whitney research.  

The beloved block-long department store was imploded in 1998, but Dan Gilbert and his real estate firm, Bedrock Detroit, have plans to honor the store in the new Hudson's Building and Tower.  Ground was broken in 2017, but progress has been slow.  It's not targeted for completion until 2024, and will consist of a street level market, retail space, office space, event venue for 1,250 people, hotel rooms and residential units.  A photo of what the completed building and tower will look like is below.  Oh how we wish Mr. Gilbert would have been around in 1998.  He would have saved the iconic 25-story Hudson building from implosion. He has done so much to preserve the buildings that remain in downtown Detroit.

I'll be sure to post pictures of next week's presentation as I endeavor to renew the cherished memories of J.L. Hudson's Department Store for attendees.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

In the Movies...

On April 19th I read that a Downton Abbey 2 movie will be coming out in two separate blog posts.  I am subscribed to Downton Abbey Cooks blog, and that's where I first saw the good news, but then later in the day I opened Lady Carnarvon's blog and she shared the good news too.  If anybody knows for certain that it's true, it's Lady Carnarvon.   She stated how happy they are to have the cast back at Highclere Castle again.

Since then I've seen several articles on Facebook.  According to Oprah it will be in theaters on December 22nd and with the original cast, including Maggie Smith, as Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham!  

Interesting, but not surprising, the picture that circulated on Facebook promoting National Tea Day on April 21st was from the Downton Abbey series.  There were so many beautiful tea scenes in that series.

News of a movie sequel prompted me to get out some of my Downton Abbey books and teacup I purchased when I visited Highclere Castle in 2015.  It has a teapot, cream and sugar bowl to match, but they weren't within my budget.  ;-)  

The trip with my daughter was wonderful.  We also went to Byfleet Manor for tea - the house used in the series as Violet Crawley's Dowager House.  I bought a bone china mug there with a quote of Violet's on it:  "Why does every day involve a fight with an American."

When the movie series was in progress, Cost Plus/World Market had Downton Abbey promotions a few times.  The first was a replica of Spode Stafford White china that was used on the set of Downton Abbey.  I didn't get the luncheon plates, teapot, sugar and cream pitcher or tiered server, but I did get the set of four teacups.  Later there was also a series of Downton mugs that I didn't get.

The last promotion they had was another teapot, cream and sugar set, which I did get.  The teapot has a quote of Lord Grantham's on it:  "Golly gumdrops, what a turn up!"

Cost Plus also partnered with Republic of Tea and came out with several flavors of tea dedicated to Downton Abbey characters.  I like Republic of Tea blends, but I mainly wanted the Downton Abbey tea tins. I have all 16 of them, but only photographed a few.  Are you a Downton Abbey fan, and did you collect memorabilia at the height of its popularity?

I got out my Downton DVD's too and have started watching them again.

In Oct. 2019 I did a Downton Abbey tea at The Whitney when the first movie came out.  Maybe I'll do another one when the second movie comes out.  It was so much fun!

Lady Mary even joined us thanks to our Detroit PBS station.

Speaking of movies... Have you seen the recent Hallmark movie "As Luck ☘ Would Have It"?  

I think I've seen it four times since it first aired on April 10th.  It's one of Hallmark's best movies [in my humble opinion].  Allen Leech [who played the chauffeur, Tom Branson, in Downton Abbey] stars as Brennan O'Brian in the Hallmark movie.  As always it has romance and a happy ending.

Without giving any significant spoilers away, the setting is the fictional town of Kilabbey, Ireland.  It was filmed in Ireland at multiple locations including Howth Castle on the outskirts of Dublin, and Lismore Castle in Waterford.  Ireland is the homeland of Allen Leech, so he was very familiar with all the locations.

If you haven't seen it yet, check the Hallmark movie schedule and watch it the next time it airs.  You'll be glad you did.


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Happy Birthday, Your Majesty!

Around 9:30 this morning I received a text from a co-worker at The Whitney.  A picture of a teapot and four teacups accompanied the text which read, "Happy National Tea Day!" I responded it was fitting for National Tea Day to fall on the Queen's Birthday. Tea rituals at Windsor Castle are certain to help commemorate her 95 years, while observing the mourning period for Prince Philip and COVID-19 restrictions. It's her first birthday without her beloved husband by her side in over seven decades.  Many descriptions summed up what her birthday will be like this year: subdued, low-keyed, somber, scaled-down and private, with her corgis close by.  

I decided to gather my commemorative china pieces together and photograph them for today's post.  But first I'm sharing a cute bobblehead of the Queen.

I have two teacups and a luncheon plate from the Queen's coronation in 1953

Two teacups from the Queen's Golden Jubilee 2002

Diamond Jubilee [left] 2012

The trio below is from the Historic Royal Palaces collection - Kensington Palace.  I got the teacup during my 2007 visit to London, and the luncheon plate during my 2015 visit.  Unfortunately I've never been in London when Buckingham Palace was open to the public for touring, but I've toured Kensington Palace on three different visits.

If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you know I've blogged about the Queen many times.  She's such a remarkable lady, and has been the subject of several presentations I've given.

I'll close this post with a few photos I took featuring a tea I gave for the ladies of my church in 2011.  It was titled, "A Royal Tea Fit for a Queen."  I wrote the Queen and told her we'd be honoring her at our tea, and to my delight she sent a letter [via one of her ladies-in-waiting] to read and display at the tea.

A sweet lady [retired minister's wife] from our church was proxy for the Queen.

A trio of readers shared snippets of the Queen's life.  She truly is the subject of global fascination.  It was an enjoyable and fun tea.

May God bless the Queen and grant her peace, comfort, health and at least as many birthdays to celebrate as her mum had [she lived to be 101].

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Adagio Teas and More

Near the end of March a representative from Adagio Teas contacted me about tasting some of their 'first flush' oolong teas from Darjeeling, India. The two teas I received are part of their Masters collection.  The link to read about them is:  

The package arrived on April 9th, but I've been so busy making molded chocolates I haven't had a chance to begin sampling/tasting until today.  

Both teas are from the Rohini Tea Estate, and were harvested in February of this year. The tea leaves were produced by hand with outdoor withering and minimal oxidation.  Below is Debi, one of the pluckers at the Rohini Tea Estate.

[Photo courtesy of]

I decided to begin with the Rohini First Oolong.   The description on the tea package read, "A very early Darjeeling First Flush oolong.  Aromatic, with fruity notes of pear and lingering lily-of-the-valley and pear blossom.  A soft, smooth, and light bodied tea."

The dry leaves were long and curly without an earthy or grassy smell.

I steeped the tea at 180 degrees [love my Breville electric kettle with temperature settings] for three minutes.  

It produced a light golden color, and the steeped leaves expanded significantly in size.

Since this was a special tea, I decided to enjoy it from a fine bone china teacup [Shelley] instead of drinking it from the mug.

A little research revealed first flush teas usually contain more nutrients, antioxidants and caffeine.  The early spring leaves are usually more delicate, tender, lighter, fresher, and more floral with mild astringency.

I found the first sips of the hot infusion to have a mild vegetal taste, but as the tea began to cool, the flavor profile changed with the vegetal taste fading into the background and the fruity pear taste coming forward.  I personally didn't taste any floral notes.  I liked the second infusion even better than the first because the vegetal taste was almost undetected.

I will sample the other tea in a day or two and write a review on it soon.  Thanks Ashley and Adagio Teas for letting me sample some of your quality teas.

Today has been a crazy day here in Southeastern Michigan - snow flurries off and on all day, with a high of only 36 degrees.  Fortunately the ground is warm and none of the snow is sticking.

My son, Steve, called and wanted to go to lunch with my hubby and me today, so we went to a place that's been around a long time, but a first for hubby and me - Fuddruckers.  Ever heard of it?  They specialize in burgers.

About a month ago, Steve started a new tradition with his dad and me - a weekly lunch together.  He said he'd been watching the decline of his in-laws [who are a few years older than us] and realized how quickly time passes.  He decided he wanted to enjoy quality time with us now while we're still healthy so he doesn't have any regrets later when our health - be it physical or mental - imposes restrictions.  

We always see him at church functions, and of course at family events [birthdays, holidays, etc.] but these lunch dates have been so enjoyable.  Life in ministry is busy and demanding, so I don't know how long he'll be able to keep it going, but we're enjoying it while we can.  I recently read the most important thing you can give to aging relatives is your TIME!

Steve had a meeting with the builder of our new church today just before lunch, and he shared these photos that had just been taken.  Things are finally starting to come together.  If all goes well, we'll be in by July or August.  Hooray!  It's been a very long time coming.

I saw on Facebook this morning that Hoffman Media is coming out with two new books that I think I'm going to have to pre-order.  They'll be out in July.