Monday, March 28, 2022

2,000th Post Giveaway

I've finally arrived at my 2,000th posts.  When I began blogging in 2012 I didn't realize I'd still be blogging 10 years later, and I definitely didn't think about a milestone of 2,000 posts.

It often seems like blogging has run its course in today's busy society with newer and quicker  communication platforms replacing it.  Like several other blogging friends, I've been tempted to stop, but it's become a journal of sorts and an invaluable reference resource while working on Shutterfly albums, etc.  I've referred back to it many times.

I think I have a couple of followers who have been with me from the beginning and one in particular has always been so faithful leaving a comment [yes, that's you, Joy!].  

I have met many wonderful people through my blog, and that is another good reason to keep writing.  So if you've been with me a long time or a little while, you have my heartfelt gratitude. Your support is greatly appreciated.

As I approached this 2,000th post I began thinking about a meaningful giveaway that would be connected to my blog, and I came up with the idea of a writing or stationery basket.

So here's what's in the basket...  A Hallmark desk set [tablet, pen, and notecards]

A magnetic refrigerator notepad and a teapot rubber stamp and ink pad.  Back in the day, craft stores had an abundance of tea-themed stamps, but the selection today is almost nil, so I went online and ordered one from an Etsy vendor.

And lastly, I went through all my posts and selected a few pictures to have made into blank notecards.  The basket will contain 8 notecards and envelopes.

To enter the giveaway leave a comment sometime between now and Friday, April 1st [no joke!]  ;-)  Names will be put in a basket and I'll draw a winner on Saturday and post it on my blog when I get home from work.  Regrettably, due to the high cost of postage this giveaway is limited to US residents only.  Good luck!

Friday, March 25, 2022

Lunch at Edsel & Eleanor Ford House

The last time I was at Edsel & Eleanor Ford House was in 2018 when they were building a new Visitor Center.  It opened in May 2021, but I'm just now getting around to going for a visit.  My girlfriend, Lori, picked me up yesterday [Thursday] at 11:00 a.m. and we traveled the 11 miles to the destination.  

It's been wet, dreary weather in southeastern Michigan the past few days, but the rain and overcast skies didn't dampen our spirits.

Beautiful new Visitor Center - much larger than the old one.

Lobby with Edsel & Eleanor's portraits above the fire place.

Entrance to the new Continental Restaurant.  The name of the former restaurant was Cotswold Cafe, in keeping with the architecture of the mansion.  Guess they decided to go with an automotive name this time since it was Edsel's vision for the Lincoln Continental. 

Interior of restaurant.  When we arrived there were hardly any guests dining, but by the time we left almost every table was filled.

We both ordered the Maurice Salad with a Popover and Cinnamon Butter.  Their tea source is Tea Forte and I ordered Herbal Citrus Mint.  I had just had a Maurice Salad the day before, but I wanted to see how their's was prepared.  It's not surprising a Maurice Salad is on their menu because Eleanor Ford was the niece of J.L. Hudson, founder of the iconic department store, and the salad was the store's signature dish.  It was a bit on the sparse side - almost like Macy's Lakeshore Grill's half salad, but it was good.

~ My girlfriend, Lori ~

We had a nice time getting caught up with each other's news.  We browsed the gift shop and then headed for home.

I don't have any details yet, but there will be a tea celebrating Eleanor's 126th birthday on June 5th [her actual b-day is June 6th].  Details will be on the website the first part of April. That's a Sunday, so I hope I can attend.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

A Black and Gold Tablescape

Yesterday [Tuesday] I had four lovely ladies over for a tea luncheon.  It was the first time we had all been together since the COVID pandemic prevented gatherings.

With my recent blog post about black teacups in mind, and two of those teacups were gifted to me by two of the ladies who were coming, I decided to go with a black and gold tablescape. Those colors were a first for me, but I was quite pleased with the dramatic and elegant look.

I really wanted to fold the napkins into bows, but the night before when I sat down to work on them, I just couldn't get the hang of it - even though the tutorial said it was very easy! When I finally got one made, the teapot on the napkin ring wasn't in the upright position and I was too tired and frustrated to continue.  I ended up just putting the napkins through the rings the same old ordinary, uncreative way.  I'll practice for next time!

Louise sat by the teacup she gave me, and Barb by the teacup from her.  Louise told me afterwards that her teacup sat in her china cabinet ever since her grandmother passed away in 1988, but she had never had tea in it.  She was grateful for the opportunity to drink from it in honor of her grandmother.  As for Barb, she didn't remember giving me the teacup, but said she really liked it and I was lucky she gave it away!  ;-)

Since these were ladies who all had fond memories of Hudson's Department Store and the famous Canadian Cheese Soup and Maurice Salad served in their restaurants, I made those items my menu.  The recipes were in The Marshall Field's Cookbook that devoted a section to Hudson's.

Hudson's used to serve popovers with their soup and salad, but since I didn't have a popover pan I went with another item on their menu - blueberry muffins.

We were so busy chatting and enjoying each other's company that I forgot to take a picture of the soup, but Linda took a picture of the salad and sent it to me.  I served two black teas from The Tea Room in Savannah throughout our meal - Emperor's Bride and Asher's Georgia Peach.

Dessert was Hot Fudge Ice Cream Puffs - also a Hudson's specialty.  I have made the cream puff pastry from Julia Child's cookbook several times with success, but for whatever reason... like the napkin bows... the recipe met with resistance this time.  I thoroughly read the recipe before starting, and accurately measured, but the pastry paste wasn't stiff enough.  So I pitched it and started over and got the same results!  I decided to bake them anyway to see what would happen.  With 'creamy' paste instead of stiff paste, they spread out on the baking sheet like a small pancake, but did manage to raise a little.  After baking, I cut a slit in the side so the insides could dry out a bit, then removed the excess egg-like mixture.  I sampled one and they tasted like a cream puff so I decided to use them, and like Julia Child always advised, I made no explanations or apologies!  ;-)  My guests must have enjoyed them because they all ate the whole thing, but what went wrong with the pre-baking pastry paste will definitely be a question for pastry chef, Eric, at The Whitney the next time I see him.

It was such an enjoyable afternoon.  It was Linda's birthday and we all had an opportunity to reflect on the gift of friendship.  I made a chocolate mound cake for Linda, and was glad she got to take it home to enjoy with her family in its entirety, rather than part of it being served as 'Plan B' at our luncheon.

Back row L-R:  Me, Louise and Barb
Seated:  Linda and Joanie

I requested no hostess gift because the luncheon was my gift to them, but Linda brought a 1,000-piece teacup jigsaw puzzle.  Can you believe I have never put together a jigsaw puzzle before? Jerry and I decided it would be a fun project to work on together.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Happy St. Paddy's Day

I hope you've been enjoying St. Patrick's Day.  It's been a busy day and I realized I better get my post written before the day is over.  

I enjoy St. Patrick's Day not only because it gives me an opportunity to celebrate my Irish heritage, but it also gives me a chance to celebrate the missionary who helped spread Christianity throughout Ireland, and used the clover to illustrate the Trinity.  I recently read a prayer St. Patrick prayed on his missionary journeys and it's a prayer I want to take to heart. "Christ above me, Christ in front of me, Christ to my right, Christ to my left, Christ below me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ in my every thought, Christ in my every word, Christ in my every deed."

It was just my hubby and I for dinner this evening, but we enjoyed an Irish tablescape and menu.  I used all my emerald green dishes with the exception of the clear glass shamrock dishes and dessert plates.  I was so happy to be able to use the small green vases I've been collecting.

We began our meal with Reuben Soup and Rye Croutons.

I made Irish Soda bread last night, and cut it into wedges today and served it in the clear glass shamrock dishes.  

I got out all my Irish cookbooks and thought seriously about making corned beef and cabbage [something I've never made before], but then reverted to a tried and true favorite - Shepherd's Pie.  

Dessert was a new recipe - Key Lime Cake.  We liked it, but I wish I would have gone with Pistachio Cake instead.  Next year!  We each drank our favorite tea.  My hubby had Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice and I had Citron Green.  The Irish love their tea.  They are second in world-wide consumption per capita, out-ranked only in recent years by Turkey.

~ My hubby ~

I got a new tablecloth, napkins and apron to match this year at Marshall's/HomeGoods Super Store.

I added a pair of shamrock leggings to my wardrobe this year.  I got brave and wore them to work last Saturday with the sweater I got last year. I wondered if I'd be pushing the boundaries, but everyone enjoyed the festivity.  Wait 'til you see the Easter Egg dress I ordered to wear to work next month!  

I left the hat at home but they told me I should have worn it too.  I didn't get a chance to have my picture taken wearing the complete outfit, but you get the gist.

How did you celebrate St. Patrick's Day?  I was hoping Hallmark Channel would show As Luck Would Have It, starring Allen Leech and JoAnna Garcia Swisher, filmed in Ireland.  I saw it a couple of times last year, but it would have been perfect to view on St. Patrick's Day.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Giveaway Sneak Peek and Thrifting

After today's post I'll be just three away from my 2,000th post, so I decided to give you a sneak peek at one of the items that will be in my stationery giveaway.

I had notecards made from four of my pictures [below].  The set will include 2 cards of each picture plus envelopes packaged in a nylon gift bag.


Be watching for details of the entire giveaway and when you can enter.

It's not often that I go thrifting, mainly because I don't take time for it and because I seldom find anything to bring home when I do go, but I scored twice this week.  Yesterday when I was at a local craft supply store, there was a Salvation Army store close by so I decided to go in quickly and take a peek at their dishes.  To my surprise and delight I found one of the glass shamrock dishes that I've been collecting for $2.99.  This makes four that I've found now - just two more to go.  I plan on using it in my St. Paddy's tablescape tomorrow.

And my eyes stumbled upon a Valentine's plate to match several I bought years ago when Hudson's Department store was still open.  I didn't buy the matching mugs, but they were selling it as a set yesterday so I had to take the mug.  It's always good to have an extra plate in case of breakage [perish the thought!]  My total bill was $5.28.

This morning my hubby and I went to another Salvation Army store a little bit closer to our house to donate three large bags of clothing [we've been cleaning out our closets] and two kids bikes that are too small for our grandkids.  Since I had such good luck yesterday, I decided to go inside to see what dishes they had.

I don't know if I'll ever be asked to do another Gone With the Wind presentation, but I bought a commemorative plate that I didn't have and a Princess Diana plate.  It's amazing that I've never been asked to do a presentation about Diana, yet I've been asked to do Queen Elizabeth II, several times.  Everyone seems curious about all the Royals, so I'll have the plate in case a request about her life ever arises.  Today's bill was $6.34, and I'm pleased with my thrift store finds.

It looks like spring has finally come to southeastern Michigan [though not officially until the 20th].  It's supposed to get up to 61 degrees today and 69 degrees tomorrow, but I remind myself that we had snow on the ground when we woke up last Sunday so you never know! Fortunately as the day progressed and temps climbed into the 40's it all melted. We had to give up an hour of sleep, but it's so nice having daylight into the early evening hours.  It was a good trade-off.  

I'll be back tomorrow with a St. Paddy's Day post, so until then I'll bid you farewell!

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Sweet Tea Dreams

I love a good story and if it includes tea, it's even better!  My daughter came over yesterday and told me about Ben & Erin Napier's newest episode on their HGTV program, Home Town, on Discovery+.  She knew I'd be interested because it's about a tea farm three miles outside of Laurel, Mississippi, where Ben & Erin renovated and transformed a 1926, six generational, farm house into a Tea House or "Gathering Place" for tea tastings and tea events for the Longleaf Tea Company.

I know you'll enjoy watching it too so I wanted to share it here.  It's Season Six, Episode 8 that just aired a few days ago on March 6th.  It's called Sweet Tea Dreams, hence the title of today's blog post.

[Internet Photos]

The company was formed in 2018 when owners, Thomas and Hillary Steinwinder, planted 1,500 tea plants on property Hillary inherited from her family. The farmhouse had been vacant for several years until the couple decided to turn it into a gathering place for their tea farm.

Ben and Erin on the front porch of the newly renovated house.

A brief history on how the tea farm all began... Thomas was based outside of Shanghai as an engineer between 2010-2012.  While there, the couple spent time traveling the countryside sipping the world's highest quality tea.  When they returned to the States, Thomas began researching the process of growing tea for seven years before they decided to try growing it themselves in Mississippi.  

It takes three years for tea plants to mature for harvest, so they got their first harvest in 2021, all plucked by hand.  

Ben and Erin inside one of the rooms before the reveal.

~ Another tasting room ~

Photo taken before the reveal with Thomas and Hillary.

And lastly, a photo of Ben & Erin with Thomas & Hillary in an outdoor gathering place behind the tea house.

We tend to think of tea gardens and plantations in China, India, Sri Lanka and other far-off places, but a quick search revealed there are at least 60 tea farms and plantations in 15 U.S. States, and most of them started since 2000 or later.

Most tea drinkers are familiar with the Bigelow tea plantation near Charleston, South Carolina because it's large and fully mechanized.  But below is a list of other States that are producing tea.  It may not be inclusive since the resource I used is from 2017.

     Alabama [two tea farms]
     California [one tea farm]
     Florida [one tea farm]
     Georgia [two tea farms]
     Hawaii [13 tea farms]
     Maryland [2 tea farms]
     Michigan [1 tea farm]
     Mississippi [3 tea farms]
     New Jersey [1 tea farm]
     New York [1 tea farm]
     North Carolina [1 tea farm]
     Oregon [1 tea farm]
     South Carolina [2 tea farms]
     Virginia [1 tea farm]
     Washington [1 tea farm]

I'm raising my teacup in celebration, and I wish much success to Longleaf Tea Company!

Thursday, March 3, 2022

A Surprise Package and More...

My hubby and I went out to breakfast this morning, and when we got home I noticed a package on the front porch. I didn't remember ordering anything, but the return address quickly revealed it was from a dear tea friend [and blog follower].  I quickly opened it and read the sweet note, then unwrapped the contents - a beautiful square-shaped black floral teacup. My friend said it belonged to her grandmother and was the only black teacup in her collection. What an honor to be given such a treasured keepsake.  Thank you so much, Louise!

Since this is the second black teacup I've received recently, it inspired me to get my black teacups out of storage.  I decided to photograph them to share with you.  

I've been getting several posts on my Facebook feed from designers lately that say china and china cabinets scream "Senior" to those who enter your home, so get rid of them! They don't have a place in today's decor.  Well, to today's minimalist designers my response is, "You decorate your homes and I'll decorate mine."  And since I am a senior, it's okay if mine screams "senior".  ;-)

Black and gold Hall teapot, sugar and creamer.

I'm including my black and white musical tea set in this collection since I've used it many times with black accessories.

It's pictured below in one of my tea time tablescapes at church.

The two German-made trios below belonged to my mother.

All three Japanese-made teacups were gifts from wonderful ladies.

A Royal Albert teacup.

I bought the black and gold teacup on the left in 2018 during a visit to Mackinac Island.  The teacup on the right is a Royal Albert, from The Whitney.  I asked my boss if I could swap it out for another bone china teacup and he graciously agreed.  In truth, I really rescued it, because it would have been broken by now at the restaurant where there's so much breakage.   

~ Floral teacups ~

All 17 of them!

On an entirely different subject, I've been cloistered in my office Monday thru yesterday completing a new Shutterfly album. They had a great unlimited, lay flat page promotion, that I didn't want to miss out on.  

My son, Jeremy, asked me awhile back to give him a list of my top ten, most requested presentations for a project he's working on.  It was no surprise J.L. Hudson Department store was #1, with 14 presentations.  While looking back over my presentations, I was inspired to use the Shutterfly sale to make a photo book of them since I always take pictures.  As I reviewed over 70 presentations, I thanked the Lord for all the wonderful opportunities He's given me, and the beautiful people I've met along the way.  Below is a screen shot of the album cover which features the church at Troy Historical Village.  I can hardly wait for the 111-page album to arrive.