Friday, August 29, 2008

TEA OF THE WEEK: PERFECTLY PEAR WHITE TEA


"White tea comes from only the first few tender leaves and new buds of the tea plant harvested in early springtime in the mountains of China. The least processed of all teas from the Camellia sinensis tea plant, white tea is naturally dried indoors for a flavor that most reflects a freshly picked tea leaf and retains the most healthful antioxidants."(From Celestial Seasonings)

Perfectly Pear White Tea by Celestial Seasonings beautifully blends the highest quality white teas resulting in a delicate, flowery taste that’s slightly sweet and very smooth. The natural sweetness of white tea is enhanced with the flavor of delicious pears and a fragrant touch of vanilla. This tea is perfect any time of day and quite readily available...Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

THE SPARTA TEAPOT MUSEUM



As I was browsing the web this morning, I stumbled across the most amazing place called The Sparta Teapot Museum. I had never heard of this place before but recalled that a traveling tea pot exhibit came through Centre College in Danville, KY last year and began to wonder if some of that collection might have been on loan from this new museum. ....The museum, located in Sparta, NC near the Virginia border, has a website( the gallery photo on this blog was taken from there) but it seems to be undergoing some updates and I just discovered some more information from Wiki( below) about this new museum. Have any of you wonderful bloggers heard of this amazing place?

The Sparta Teapot Museum is currently being constructed in downtown Sparta, North Carolina, USA and is scheduled for completion by the summer of 2008.

It will contain approximately 30,000 square feet (2,800 m2) devoted to the history of tea and teapots and to the display of teapots from all cultures and all eras.

The museum will draw mainly from the teapot collection of Gloria and Sonny Kamm. The Kamm Collection comprising of more than 6,000 teapots is the largest teapot collection in the USA and arguably the world.


Hum...I know I'll be making this pilgrimmage!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Thank you Willow!

...Willow has given me another greatly appreciated award...You're the best!....

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

WAITING FOR A VERY SPECIAL GUEST




My mother is on her way to our house for a nice 3 1/2 day visit and I'll be away from the blogosphere for a while. I'll return soon.....

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A BREAKFAST FIT FOR A HOBBIT


It's so funny for me to think that there was ever a time when I did not love breakfast. When I was younger, a cup of coffee and a piece of dry toast was about all I needed ( or thought that I needed) to get me through the day...Oh, how life changes and how I have changed. Now, as I approach the middle years of my life, I think my favorite meal might just be our special weekend breakfasts...Not a doughnut and coffee kind of breakfast mind you but a real Hobbit breakfast fitting for Bilbo, Frodo, Merry and Pippin! I want omelettes loaded with bacon,tomatoes, cheese, scallions, and mushrooms( of course!) with even more bacon on the side and a couple of wedges of wheat toast( this is precisely why we only eat like this on a couple of Saturdays out of the month)...Yes, that would just about do for me...Can't forget the cuppa Irish breakfast tea to go along with that, can we? And of course, speaking of Hobbits, you know they didn't settle for just one breakfast. They were quite partial to "elevenses" and Tolkien mentions that they are quite fond of 6 meals a day if they can get them.....I'm afraid I would be a quite rotund Hobbit if I did that so the one first morning feast will have to do until a lunchtime salad calls me back to reality and out of the much coveted Shire.....

Thursday, August 14, 2008

TEA OF THE WEEK: REVOLUTION SWEET GINGER PEACH




The best description of this tea is that it is truly reminiscent of the delicious aroma of fresh baked peach cobbler. What is not to love about that?...Sweet Ginger Peach is a rich blend of Asam and Ceylon teas and fresh peach flavoring, with the unmistakable addition of ginger root. I think I enjoy this tea best with no milk or sugar.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

THE CAT OF THE HOUSE

( Magic peering through the spindles)



The Cat Of The House

Author: Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939)


Over the hearth with my 'minishing eyes I muse; until after
the last coal dies.
Every tunnel of the mouse,
every channel of the cricket,
I have smelt,
I have felt
the secret shifting of the mouldered rafter,
and heard
every bird in the thicket.
I see
you
Nightingale up in the tree!
I, born of a race of strange things,
of deserts, great temples, great kings,
in the hot sands where the nightingale never sings!


Yesterday was a very sad day around our house...We had to say farewell to our old black cat, Magic....Magic was somewhat of an enigma. He adored my husband but merely tolerated the rest of us but we loved him in spite of this. We adopted him from Petsmart when he was two or three years old. A stray scraggly little lethargic thing he was but he sprang to life with vigor when we brought him home and attended to him. We had many years with him and he was nearing 14 or so but steadily spiraling downward...It's so hard to see your pets in this state...The above poem by Ford Madox Brown epitomizes how Magic would've been most happy....He was a house cat though and was rarely able to venture outdoors to enjoy such antics( we live in a downtown area near a very busy street) but he would watch by the window as the birds would taunt and tease him. He was so desperate to get through the glass window to pounce...My favorite memory of him was to see how his whiskers fluttered rapidly and twitched with fervor as the autumn leaves from the back maple tree fell to the ground in a rhythmic dance. He was most funny to watch during this little "Leaf Ritual."...He will be missed and the house is strangely empty without him but he is at peace now and no longer ailing so that gives us great comfort...And, I can't help but think he's in heaven chasing birds, leaves, squirrels and butterflies to very little avail...

Monday, August 11, 2008

TEA WITH C.S. LEWIS


"You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me."
~C.S. Lewis

Have you ever been asked who you would like to meet in heaven? Well, I would like to ask, who would you like to have tea with in heaven?...Not counting Christ, family members, the saints, martyrs, etc.,I think at the top of my list would have to be C.S. Lewis...What a magnificent mind he had and his writings of fiction as well as his Christian Apologetics, serves as a constant inspiration to me in life and in art...Recently, as I put the movie, Shadowlands, on my Netflix queue, I began to ponder what it would be like to have tea with “Jack” and to truly know what he found pleasing and enjoyable in his life...Fortunately, his stepson Douglas Gresham has provided some insight into his famous step-father ......


“Some of Jack's favorite things; good tobacco, good beer, good tea, strong Darjeeling or Ceylon tea, good friendships good, conversation, good literature, good food, a good fast walk in the countryside, preferably, anything of beauty, anything finely crafted well constructed. I think that Jack enjoyed what was well done. Everything God does is well done. So he enjoyed all of nature, because God did it well. I don't think he had much time for shoddy things, for planned obsolescence, things of that nature. Jack enjoyed good quality anything, in a sense, those things that display the beauties of God's creation to the best of their advantage, whether they be the artisanship of man bringing those out, like finely crafted woodwork, furniture and so on, or whether they simply be a beautiful oak tree”....
Douglas Gresham

Reading about his simple pleasures, all of which many of us enjoy, makes me so glad that the world was given such a gift in the life of C.S. Lewis...Though quite pale in comparison to his achievements, knowing just what kind of tea Jack preferred truly thrills me.... I am not the least bit surprised that he was a Darjeeling man. A more fitting tea for his character, I can not imagine...




"Jack and his beloved Joy "

Thursday, August 07, 2008

TWININGS IRISH BREAKFAST: FEATURED TEA OF THE WEEK



Being of Irish decent, I am deeply drawn to the country and people of Ireland…Dare I say, I don’t fully understand the tug and pull of my very soul to a land I’ve never known. Yet, it exists within me and I know that I will not be truly content until I see Ireland, someday very soon……

What I find very interesting is that Ireland has the highest per capita tea consumption in the world at 3.2 kg (7 lb) per head per year. Hum… my English ancestry combined with the Celts just might explain my obsession with all things tea and British Isle- related …With all that in mind, the featured tea of the week is Twinings Irish Breakfast. This is of course a blend of many black teas with Assam perhaps being the most prominent. According to James Norwood Pratt’s Tea Lover’s Treasury, there is believed to have once been a very strong preference for Assam among the Irish... Just why this was so remains a bit of a mystery. Also interesting to note is that the Irish are in fact among the most discerning tea drinkers in the world and in “regards to taste and leaf appearance, quality is an obsession.” Hum…and you thought I was joking about my ancestry playing a part in my own obsession……

In Ireland of course, the tea is not referred to as “Irish Breakfast”, just merely “tea” and is enjoyed throughout the day and evening. The taste is of a brisk full-bodied malty brew. It is often served with milk and sugar or sometimes only with lemon or with nothing added at all.

Since Ireland is on my mind these days. I want to share a song by my favorite vocalist, the Irish-Canadian Nightingale, Loreena McKennitt…The song, that you hear on the play-list, is a traditional Celtic one called Bonny Portmore…It is about the mourning over the destruction of the ancient Great Oak of Portmore…The words and music to this song are so haunting and melancholy …

BONNY PORTMORE
Traditional Music and Lyrics/ Arrangement by Loreena McKennitt

O Bonny Portmore I am sorry to see
Such a woeful destruction of your ornament tree
For it stood on your shore for many's the long day
Till the long boats from Antrim came to float it away.

O Bonny Portmore you shine where you stand
And the more I think on you the more I think long
If I had you now as I had once before
All the Lords in Old England would not purchase Portmore.

All the Birds in the forest they bitterly weep
Saying "where shall we shelter or where shall we sleep?"
For the Oak and the Ash they all cutten down
And the walls of Bonny Portmore are all down to the ground.

O Bonny Portmore you shine where you stand
And the more I think on you the more I think long
If I had you now as I had once before
All the Lords of Old England would not purchase Portmore.

________________________________________
The destruction of old growth forests has become an important conservation issue in recent years, but it is not a new phenomenon. Over the centuries many of Ireland's old oak forests were leveled for military and shipbuilding purposes. Only recently has there been an effort to reestablish these great hardwoods. The Great Oak of Portmore stood on the property of Portmore Castle on the shore of Lough Beg. – Loreena McKennitt

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

HISTORY OF THE CLOCHE
Some favorites from my personal cloche collection


A favorite brown cloche with wider brim


The timeless Louise Brooks wearing a lovely cloche






Evie and Beatrice sporting cloches in The House of Eliott


Are you a hat lover? Do you flock to millinery in antique shops and browse countless websites searching for the perfect hat?

My favorite hat design is the cloche (French for bell) which became fashionable in 1908 and remained so until 1933, hence revealing that the cloche was not confined to the 20’s era, as is sometimes believed. However, it was most certainly at its most popular during that time period. The cloche of that era resembled a helmet and worn properly, would have been nearly pulled over the eyes making it necessary for the wearer to lean her head back in an almost air of superiority. The clever bell shape was meant to add height to the wearer to give off the illusion of grandeur.

The brims on the cloche, when worn in 1908 were close fitting with deep crowns over the brow, underwent a change in later years. Between 1922-1925, the hat was even snugger and the brim was small at the front. The only way to bring an updated look to the hat was to further reduce the brim. The new reduced brim became fashionable after 1926 and completely disappeared by 1928.

Cloches exist in many forms and are often made of felt, making it much easier to form fit closer to the head. Also noted is the influence of the Art Deco movement which may be seen in construction line, appliqu├ęs and zigzag seaming.

And what of the hairstyle most associated with the cloche? By the early 1920’s "the bob" became the rage and when a woman sported a cloche, her bobbed hair was pressed very close to her head most often revealing the cheek sweep of hair which accentuated her cheekbones and created a fresh feminine look.

I’m delighted to find so many cloche hats available today and am always eager to find the perfect one to add to my growing collection. However, to truly pay proper homage to the cloche, one must also adorn her lips with ox-blood red lipstick before daring to venture in public...At least she must do so if she is to accurately recreate the era...

Friday, August 01, 2008

TEA OF THE WEEK- TWININGS ENGLISH BREAKFAST

To pay a proper homage to MMM at Steamed Sponge, I wanted to feature a no frills delicious black tea for him this week. So, MMM, what do you say to a perfect cuppa Twinings English Breakfast Tea? This black tea is a robust, full- bodied, rich tea often served with hearty English breakfasts. The actual black tea blend found in "English Breakfast Tea" is usually a blending of teas such as Assam, Ceylon, Kenyan, and Keemun. The flavor of the tea has been described as having “light floral undertones (sometimes referred to as "coppery"). When blended with milk, it produces a comforting aroma eerily similar to warm toast and honey.” However, it is also enjoyed black with nothing added. Virtually any scone would pair well with English Breakfast.



Some brief back ground information on Twinings:

For many people, Twinings is the epitome of English Tea. Since its inception in 1706 the English Tea company has successfully blended an inexpensive high quality tea which can be found in over 100 different countries across the world. To discover more about the fascinating world of Twinings please visit The History of Twinings Tea Company. To learn more about the Twining family and their estate, Dial House, please visit The Twickenham Musem.

A fun tidbit to remember is that according to her former butler, Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite tea is Twinings Earl Grey. That just so happens to be my favorite as well so if it’s good enough for Ma’am, then it’s good enough for The Tea Society...

EXCELLENT BLOG AWARD



Thank you to Kalianne at Bygone Beauty for this lovely Excellent Blog award...There are indeed countless excellent bloga out there. Many of my favorites have already received this award but I wanted to nominate some of you again just the same because your blogs are so wonderful:

I'm nominating:

Willow at Willow Manor- Need I say anything more? Willow Manor is really the blog that motivated me to actively update and maintain my blog. Willow has the most interesting and thought provoking posts. I always learn something new when visiting the manor. And, did I mention her fantastic photography?

Betsy-My Five Men- Some of the best recipes in Cyperspace seem to land here and Betsy is one of the most inspiring women that I've come across.

Fairmaiden at Sea Cottage- Serenity and bliss are the two words that best describe Fairmaiden's blog. Her cottage by the sea is absolutely enchanting...

Steviewren at A Little Birdie Told Me So- A very diverse and creative artist with a wonderful blog about her life, art, and other musings.

Barb- Stamplicity- A lovely new site with wonderfully creative vintage -inspired crafts.

and.... even though she nominated me for this, I love her blog so much that I'm bouncing one right back to her! So Kalianne, I want to second the nomination for Bygone Beauty:-)

Congratulations to the recipients!