Monday, September 29, 2008


Most everyone has seen at least one Lassie movie in their lifetime and if you are a dog lover like me you’ve probably seen most of the ones made. Oddly enough, an enchanted re-telling of this classic tale (or should I say tail?) filmed in 2005 somehow escaped my attention until this weekend.

“This is the 11th movie about Lassie, according to the producers. It is a remake of the 1943 film, Lassie Come Home, and is based on Eric Knight's 1940 novel Lassie Come-Home.[1] The movie was filmed in Scotland, Ireland and on the Isle of Man, and though acclaimed by a number of critics, was generally poorly received at the box office. A New York Times reviewer praised the film, saying it "...balances cruelty and tenderness, pathos and humor without ever losing sight of its youngest audience member" and also exclaimed, "This 'Lassie' exhibits a repertory of facial expressions that would put Jim Carrey to shame".[1] (From Wikipedia)

I can’t believe I missed this movie when it was in theaters. The 2005 version of Lassie, directed by Charles Sturridge, is set in a Yorkshire mining town on the eve of World War II. The Carraclough family, (Jonathan Mason, Samantha Morton and John Lynch) struggling to afford food and basic necessities, is forced to sell their beloved collie, Lassie. The new owner is the Duke of Rudling, played by none other than the splendid Peter O'Toole, often accompanied by his charming niece, Cilla (Hester Odgers). When Lassie is taken from her homeland to live in the Duke's remote castle on the northern coast of Scotland, she is determined to defy the odds and return to her home and to Joe Carraclough, the little boy who loves her. This arduous and incredible adventure for our favorite Collie, who just happens to be Hey Hey II or Lassie the 9th-a direct descendent from the original Lassie, Pal, is set against a stunning series of bucolic British landscapes. Through the ordeal, Lassie encounters human and natural dangers as she finds help in unexpected places while making her way across the country to reach her home. The re-telling of this classic story is heart-warming beyond words and contains the perfect formula for a wonderful movie. The Tea Society and Lizzie the Sheltie highly recommend this version. Click on Lassie to see the wonderful trailer on Youtube.

Friday, September 26, 2008


(Twinings Peppermint Tea served in Harvest Time Tea Cup and Saucer by Johnson Brothers)

My favorite way to make mint tea is by an infusion(tisane) method. This is simply done by pouring boiling water over the herb and then steeping for 3 to 5 minutes. If you don't have fresh mint on hand you can use 1 to 2 tsp of dried peppermint leaf to 8 oz of hot water. However, when I discovered that Twinings has a Peppermint Tea (featured in the above photo) I wanted to at least try it to see if it measured up. Home infusions will always reign supreme for me but this offering from Twinings is quite smooth and tasty. It's a nice alternative to the tisane if you don't have fresh mint on hand. I had two cups this morning as a matter of fact.

Here is a bit of background on peppermint taken from the University or Maryland

Peppermint ( Mentha x piperita ), a popular flavoring for gum, toothpaste, and tea, also serves as a calming agent to soothe an upset stomach or to aid in digestion. Because it has a calming and numbing effect, it has been used to treat headaches, skin irritations, anxiety associated with depression, nausea, and other digestive disorders. It is also widely used to treat symptoms of the common cold.

Peppermint plants grow to about two feet tall. They bloom from July through August, sprouting tiny purple flowers in whorls and terminal spikes. Simple, toothed, and fragrant leaves grow opposite the flowers. Peppermint is native to Europe and Asia, is naturalized to North America, and grows wild in moist, temperate areas. Some varieties are indigenous to South Africa, South America, and Australia

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
3 cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
3 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp allspice
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup oil
1 16 oz can of pumpkin
2/3 cup of water
4 eggs
1 cups raisins (optional)
½ cup nuts (optional)

Mix everything together and bake in greased loaf pans in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Fill the loaf pans about ½ full of batter. To test the bread: insert a toothpick into the center of the loaf and if it comes out clean, it is done. Do not over bake as that will dry out the bread.

This is wonderful served with Yorkshire Gold, Darjeeling or English/Irish Breakfast. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


The Song of the Michaelmas Daisy Fairy
by Cicely Mary Barker

"Red Admiral, Red Admiral,
I'm glad to see you here,
Alighting on my daisies one by one!
I hope you like their flavour
and although the Autumn's near,
Are happy as you sit there in the sun?"

"I thank you very kindly, sir!
Your daisies are so nice,
So pretty and so plentiful are they;
The flavour of their honey, sir,
it really does entice;
I'd like to bring my brothers, if I may!"

"Friend butterfly, friend butterfly,
go fetch them one and all!
I'm waiting here to welcome every guest;
And tell them it is Michaelmas,
and soon the leaves will fall,
But I think Autumn sunshine is the best!"

In the spring of 2007, the Tea Society had a delightful Fairy Tea and plant exchange. At this tea we each contributed an herb or flowering plant to exchange with one another. The theme was that of Victorian Fairies and of the life of English Illustrator, Cicely Mary Barker. I’ve been a fairy enthusiast for many years and have had a fascination with Barker’s artwork and writings. I have a collection of her flower fairy figurines, which I tuck in wreaths, plants, arrangements, and even the Christmas Tree. My daughter’s Baby Book is even the Cicely Mary Barker Flower Babies Book and I dare say, The Black Bryony Fairy, reminds me very much of our sweet Rosebud. Below is a bit of background information on Barker as well as some wonderful images of her art work as well as vintage photos from various stages of her life in England.

The children's classic books of Flower Fairies are what made Cicely Mary Barker famous. She had already received considerable praise during the first world war for her pictures of children at work and play, and in religious, literary and national themes.

Cicely Mary Barker was born in Croydon on 28th June 1895 and died in 1973 in Worthing. From 1907 she lived at No 17 The Waldrons and in 1924 she moved to No. 23 where her sister Dorothy eventually opened a small kindergarten school.
Cicely suffered epilepsy and was in poor health for much of her childhood. She was educated at home and this was where she taught herself to paint and draw. At this time she was greatly influenced by the illustrations of Kate Greenaway. She believed in recreating the beauty of nature in art. The plants and flowers she created were completed with total botanic accuracy and the fairies were all based on children she had observed, not only at her sister Dorothy's kindergarten but from all walks of life. Cicely’s principal artist influence has been credited to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. She appreciated and shared their philosophy of being true to nature in her dedication to accuracy in depicting flowers and plants and in the manner in which her fairies represented the spirit.

Supported by her family and attending evening classes at Croydon School of Art she began by making postcards - a good way of getting public recognition for her art. At the age of 16 the Croydon Art Society awarded her second prize in a poster competition and she was elected to life membership of the Society - the youngest person to receive this honour.

Cicely had strong Christian beliefs and illustrated Christmas cards, hymns and bible stories. One of her commissioned works 'The Parable of the Last Supper' is housed at St Georges's Church in Waddon and the seven sacraments decorate the front of her own church St. Andrew's.

(So much like my daughter...)

( Cicely is seen here with her elder sister Dorothy.)

(A later photograph of Ms. Barker. She died on February 16, 1973 at the age of 77. Coincidentally, it was the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of her first ‘Flower Fairy’ book that year.)

Monday, September 15, 2008


The hot summer is at an end and so is the wearing of all those straw garden hats. During Fall Hat Month (September), men and women are encouraged to put aside their straw hats and begin wearing felt or fabric hats that are seasonal for the fall. Hat-related activities are also encouraged too.


Who celebrates this holiday?

Both men and women wear hats and hats have been a part of our history for years.

A hat may be worn for protection against the elements, for religious reasons, for safety, or as a fashion accessory. In the past, hats were an indicator of social status. In the military, they denote rank and regiment.

There are hats for men and hats for women, as well as hats worn by both sexes. Purveyors of men's hats are called hatters and purveyors of women's hats are called milliners.


Origin of this holiday?

This holiday is referred to as a "National" day. However, I did not discover any congressional records or presidential proclamations for this day. Nevertheless, this is still a holiday that is publicized to celebrate. So have fun with it and celebrate it!


How can I celebrate this holiday?

Buy yourself a new fall hat! - Department stores will pack in the fall and winter hats that are just perfect for the season. Better yet, visit my friend and wonderful hat designer/milliner, Polly Singer, for an original couture hat.

Note* I had never heard of the observance and was so tickled to discover this.

Friday, September 12, 2008


A wonderful way to welcome fall is with Ashby's Vanilla Spice Tea. This is a fine blend of black teas from Kenya, Ceylon, and Indonesia flavored with authentic South American vanilla, freshly ground cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. The deep, rich vanilla is perfectly balanced with just a light touch of spice. The aroma of this tea is absolute heaven. I can't think of a more perfect tea to have when cuddling up with a good book on a crisp autumn evening.

Ashby's Of London Tea
Exquisite English quality. Sublime flavor.
James Ashby, a traditional family man, established the Ashby's Tea firm in London in 1850. Importing and packaging only the highest quality teas from the most prestigious tea growing areas of the world, Ashby's Tea has become a standard among English teas. They offer quality, freshness and packaging that reflects the heritage and reputation that the English have come to expect of a great tea.

( From )

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I've been tagged by Willow to list "6 Unspectacular Quirks"
about myself. I've got tons of them but I'll try and narrow this down a bit.

1. I have been obsessed with rocking chairs for as long as I remember. If I'm in a room with one I have to seize it and rock away. I also used to rock back and forth when I would listen to music. My son does this, too and we catch ourselves laughing about this quirk.

2. Feet annoy me!...If a person touches me with their feet I get very antsy. Call it a foot phobia but I can't stand another person's feet even brushing against me.

3. You'll probably never catch me in blue jeans. I hate wearing them and they make me very uncomfortable.

4. I'm a bit OCD...I recheck locked doors and other appliances over and over again. I also wash my hands constantly.

5. I have to wear lipstick or I feel naked and get quite irritable.

6. I can't get enough of "Ghost Stories!" We believe our house to be haunted and though I've never seen any apparitions, there have been more than a few strange occurrences here. We smell lilacs and roses in February and my husband always smells cigarette smoke yet we have a smoke-free home.

There you have it...Some quirks about me...Now, I'm tagging Lavinia, Betsy, Kalianne, Natalie, and MMM.....

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Betsy at My Five Men blogged on the most wonderful topic of bookplates today and she inspired me to search for some that really jumped out at me. Being an artist myself, and devotee to 19Th and early 20Th century illustration, I am drawn immediately to anything with a hint of Pre-Raphaelite or Symbolist movement influence so these two plates really grabbed my attention. Please check out Betsy's blog for more reading on this fascinating art form and some lovely images to inspire.

Background from Wiki...
A bookplate, also known as ex-librīs [Latin, "from the books of..."], is usually a small print or decorative label pasted into a book, often on the inside front cover, to indicate its owner. Simple typographical bookplates are termed 'booklabels'.

Bookplates typically bear a name, motto, device, coat-of-arms, crest, badge, or any motif that relates to the owner of the book, or is requested by him from the artist or designer. The name of the owner usually follows an inscription such as "from the books of . . . " or "from the library of . . . ", or in Latin, ex libris ....

In the United States, bookplates replaced book rhymes after the 19Th century.

Monday, September 08, 2008


(Autographed from the author- A lovely surprise from my in-laws)

To begin this blog entry, I wish to thank tea society member, Polly Singer, for hosting this event at her home in Lexington. She created a lovely back drop with era-inspired music and a slide show of Carnton Plantation. She also contributed delicious Jasmine, rose and peony, and chocolate mint iced teas along with Benedictine tea sandwiches, and bourbon balls. Add those delicacies to ham, broccoli and Swiss quiche, olive nut tea sandwiches, and mini pecan tartlets and we were all feasting like queens!......To continue introducing you to Polly, we were no doubt the fortunate ones to be welcomed into her home and to get a glimpse at her hat creations. Polly is an internationally recognized and well-respected milliner and owner of All You Need Is Love Hats and Veils. She is incredibly humble about her accomplishments and that makes her even more exceptional, IMO....So, to give you a glimpse at her amazing talents, look no further than the Autumn issue of Victoria magazine, pictured below, with a feature of Polly’s creations and visit her site under the links portion on this blog. Thanks again, Polly....

(Three of our members: Darleen, Polly, and Denise)

At our book discussion on Saturday we concluded that this first novel by former Carnton Preservationist, Robert Hicks, was masterfully engaging and thought-provoking. The author successfully orchestrated a complex glimpse into and an interesting blending of lives of the historical and fictional characters. The book moves you profoundly and at times even to tears. The admiration that we felt for Carrie McGavock only grew as we witnessed her personal and spiritual growth and awakening throughout this novel. I have blogged about Franklin, TN in the past and how it’s one of my favorite towns because of the rich history and how it has this overwhelming energy that permeates throughout the cemeteries, homes, and even the ancient trees near Carter House and Carnton. It is truly a place that has been imprinted by the horrific magnitude of lives tragically lost on her soil. This book taps into that in a very powerful way. If you have any interest in Civil War History, The Battle of Franklin, or in Historic Fiction, I would highly recommend this novel. It is certainly graphic at times( How could it not be given the nature of the story?) but that all serves to create the authentic horror that was no doubt witnessed within the walls of Carnton Plantation and throughout the people of Franklin but perhaps specifically among the Union and Confederate soldiers so tragically killed there.

From the Jacket
In 1894 Carrie McGavock is an old woman who has only her former slave to keep her company…and the almost 1,500 soldiers buried in her backyard. Years before, rather than let someone plow over the field where these young men had been buried, Carrie dug them up and reburied them in her own personal cemetery. Now, as she walks the rows of the dead, an old soldier appears. It is the man she met on the day of the battle that changed everything. The man who came to her house as a wounded soldier and left with her heart. He asks if the cemetery has room for one more.

In an extraordinary debut novel, based on a remarkable true story, Robert Hicks draws an unforgettable, panoramic portrait of a woman who, through love and loss, found a cause. Known throughout the country as "the Widow of the South," Carrie McGavock gave her heart first to a stranger, then to a tract of hallowed ground - and became a symbol of a nation's soul.

The novel flashes back thirty years to the afternoon of the Battle of Franklin, five of the bloodiest hours of the Civil War. There were 9,200 casualties that fateful day. Carrie's home - the Carnton plantation - was taken over by the Confederate army and turned into a hospital; four generals lay dead on her back porch; the pile of amputated limbs rose as tall as the smoke house. And when a wounded soldier named Zachariah Cashwell arrived and awakened feelings she had thought long dead, Carrie found herself inexplicably drawn to him despite the boundaries of class and decorum. The story that ensues between Carrie and Cashwell is just as unforgettable as the battle from which it is drawn.

The Widow of The South is a brilliant novel that captures the end of an era, the vast madness of war, and the courage of a remarkable woman to claim life from the grasp of death itself.

Please visit this Youtube clip for a short Tour of Carnton with author, Robert Hicks.

Friday, September 05, 2008


Saturday, September 6, 2008, The Ladies' Historical Tea Society will have an Iced Tea Social and book discussion of The Widow of The South by Robert Hicks. This book takes an interesting look at the life of Carrie McGavock of Franklin, TN. Carrie begins the story as a regular southern woman caught up against the backdrop of the tragic Civil War. In the midst of all the mourning of personal losses, death and devastation, she is transformed from the mere ordinary to extraordinary and reaches the status of legend. I will be posting pictures and comments next week from this event and welcome any bloggers who have read this book to post their comments and thoughts as well.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Our Rosebud has Chicken Pox....
(Illustration by Hanako Wakiyama from the book Goldilocks's has Chicken Pox by Erin Dealy)

We've been hit with the dreaded Chicken Pox at our house. Our poor little 20 month old daughter, Katie( AKA Rosebud) has been bombarded with the itching, fever, irritability and more itching...The Calamine lotion and Dr. Mom is fast at work...Our son had the vaccine when he was a toddler but Katie had yet to have that so wouldn't you know it hit with a vengeance...I remember my bout with this when I was 5 years old and still have a faint scar on my left shoulder to remind me of all that scratching!