Thursday, December 31, 2009


( Twilight Fantasies by Edward Robert Hughes- 1911 )

Ah, another year is on the verge of being born, and so much promise and possibilities lay before each of us to begin again, renew, recreate, or perhaps rediscover our true selves. Though, as many other bloggers have noted, I, too, typically steer clear of your typical resolutions ( dieting, exercising more, etc.) I will, however, challenge myself to welcome this year with nothing but optimism and positive energy, with the knowledge and belief that anything truly is possible.

With all that said, may your New Year be filled with love, laughter, joy, passion, excitement, blessings, courage, tranquility, harmony, bliss, encouragement,wisdom, discernment, forgiveness, positive affirmations, prosperity, and success. May your lives also be filled with beauty, the kind that gives you such pause as to take your breath away and restore your souls.

Wishing each and everyone of you, dear bloggy Tea Society friends, a very Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


This is my offering, Music and Merriment, for Mr. Toast’s Creative Tuesdays:

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been listening to a Celtic Christmas CD with predominately Irish fiddle music (blame it on my ancestors) :), and I must say that the ultimate festive Christmas song for me is I Saw Three Ships. That song was really a catalyst for me to start thinking of Christmases of the past way before Internet, i-PODS, CD’S or even radio was around to entertain. So, my concept is a festive 19th century evening( could be in Ireland, England, or even in Appalachia) with a father playing fiddle for his two young children as they sit opposite one another on stools, clapping along to the lively accompaniment.

The illustration technique is called Scherenschnitte ( German for paper-cuts). It's often referred to as "drawing with scissors". I also added some pen and ink accents. This takes silhouette cutting a bit further by incorporating scenery and also line drawing(outline) into the image. I first drew a line drawing of my subjects, then used the drawn figures as templates to make paper-cuts ( with surgical scissors and a sharp scalpel to cut out/in really small details). I then added the musical notes and scrolling design with a pen…

What a fun theme…I hope you enjoy!

Monday, December 28, 2009


(beginning the processional)

It's been a very busy past couple of weeks for one special little girl( and her mommy, too!). First, she had preparations for her featured role as "the donkey" in the St. Andrew's Christmas Pageant. Wayward, wandering, and ever so adorable in her floppy-eared attire; she sashayed down the center aisle, twirling, smiling, waving, and I dare say flirting with anyone holding a camera. It was such fun watching our priest laugh so much, as he often reminds us how similar she is to his own daughter when at the same age...

As she finally reached the manger, she was not content to rest near the hay( as directed by the children's ministry leader), but insisted on fussing with the baby Jesus' swaddling cloths, desperately wanting to pick up the doll( hum..I mean baby:)..and rock it to sleep. Mary,in her wisdom, saw where that was going and wisely whisked up the doll( It is safe to say ,as just yesterday four people commented, that it was the best Christmas pageant ever thanks to the entertaining antics of the blue-eyed donkey we so affectionately call Rosebud.

Yesterday, said little girl woke for church and by mid morning had sniffles and sneezing. Yet, her spirits remained high throughout the afternoon with anticipation, knowing that both sets of Grandparents were well on their way for an early family celebration just for her.

This year, Rosebud requested pizza for her birthday dinner, and cupcakes, not an official birthday cake. We of course obliged and in spite of her cold, she had a wonderful time. As did we all...

Today is Katherine Elizabeth's actual birthday and she will no doubt be delighted to see her beautiful face gracing the pages of her Mommy's blog. Happy 3rd Birthday my beautiful sweet little Rosebud!

(waving and mouthing "Hi! Mommy"..:))

(waiting as she's being serenaded with "Happy Birthday"..note the already partially eaten ice cream and cupcake..I never said patience was her strong point..Doesn't fall far from the tree)

Saturday, December 26, 2009


( St. Stephen (detail) by Giacomo Cavedone 1601)


The wren, the wren, the king of all birds,

On St. Stephen's Day was caught in the furze,

Although he is little, his family is great,

I pray you, good landlady, give us a treat.

My box would speak, if it had but a tongue,

And two or three shillings, would do it not wrong,

Sing holly, sing ivy--sing ivy, sing holly,

A drop just to drink, it would drown melancholy.

And if you draw it of the best,

I hope in heaven your soul will rest;

But if you draw it of the small,

It won't agree with these wren boys at all.

The Celebration of St. Stephen's Day( from Irish

St. Steven's Day( The Feast Day of St. Stephen the Martyr), as mentioned in the carol Good King Winceslas( see sidebar link), is an official holiday in Italy, Finland, Ireland and various other countries. It is also celebrated as an official or unofficial holiday. In England and the English speaking Commonwealth countries it is known as Boxing Day and celebrated as an official holiday under that name.

"In Ireland, December 26Th is celebrated under the name of St. Stephen's Day or sometimes referred to as Wren Day. Today the holiday is celebrated in Ireland very much like Boxing Day is celebrated in nearby England. But much of the lore of the day centers around a little bird known as the wren. In rural Ireland in times past, groups of young men and boys would dress in old clothes and blacken their faces. They would then capture and kill a wren, and march from house to house, carrying the dead wren on the top of a pole, and asking for a treat or money to bury the wren. In some places the custom was to give a feather from the wren in exchange for the money or treat. Today the practice of killing a wren has ceased but the marching and singing of the Wren song continues."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


To all the blogosphere followers and random visitors to the Tea Society, may you have a very Merry Christmas and a blessed Holiday Season...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009



Given that the celebratory Christmas season is upon us, it seemed fitting to explore the history of a time honored tradition, as well as an interesting decoration, to mark Theme Thursday this week. So, I chose to delve into the peculiar history of mistletoe.

Mistletoe’s historical origins in America can be traced back to the 17Th century, but its genesis and tales of discovery and mystical stories of tragedy and redemption have much more ancient beginnings.

One of the earliest associations with mistletoe can be found in Norse history through mythology. The lore begins with Frigga, Goddess of beauty and love. When her son, Baldur was born, she sought out all the species in the plant kingdom, save one, mistletoe, to insure that her son would never be harmed. Due to her neglect, the god of evil, Loki, found Baldur and killed him with a mistletoe-laced spear. In Fridda’s despair, she wept tears of tiny white berries comparable to the ones found on mistletoe. When Baldur was eventually brought back to life, Fridda made a vow that she would kiss anyone who walked under the mistletoe.

( Druids Cutting Mistletoe)

The second association is found in the history of the ancient Druids. When the warring clans would come in contact with mistletoe, they would cease to do battle and call a truce, if only momentarily. Some historians suggest that this act of peace, instead of the Norse account, may have actually been the precursor to traditional associations with kissing when standing underneath the balls of berry -laden greenery.

Though some cultures have made the association of mistletoe with marriage, when a man kisses a woman while standing underneath, most merely see a person there as stumbling upon the chance encounter for a kiss and an embrace.

On a much less romantic note, mistletoe’s botanical history reveals that not only is the plant poisoness, but it is in fact viewed as a “partial parasitic plant”. It can actually survive on its own, through photosynthesis, and will attach its roots into trees, robbing them of nutrients.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly prefer the romantic Norse or Druid ‘Histories’ to the Botanical one…

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Erato, Muse of Poetry, 1870 Sir Edward John Poynter

As I have written in past posts, every December I go through the very time consuming ritual of selecting the perfect Christmas Card. I am never content to merely browse the sale items, and I never go for glittery offerings. No, I gravitate towards rich, emotive art which speaks to me with its beauty, in hopes that it will do the same to the recipient. After searching for weeks, I finally met the one.

I was out in the city for an afternoon of shopping yesterday and saw the image, securely isolated away from the plethora of other paper spectacles, shining brightly as if to say,
“Rebecca, choose me! I am the one for you!”…
When I moved closer to the display table and reached to make the treasured selection, I heard the voices of two women. Their conversation fascinated me in the irony of that moment because, just as I was marveling in my festive celebratory quest and discovery, I heard one voice ponder to her friend, “Does anyone really send those anymore? It’s just such a waste of time and they just add to the clutter. Why bother?”

Taking a deep breath, I turned and smiled at her, clutching the box as I walked away. Mentally, I answered her question with,

“Yes, Ma’am, of course they do. Because there are still a few of us out there in this oh so ‘modern world’ who deeply cherish sending and receiving cards, taking the time to write letters (email or handwritten), and hold dear the sentiments of fondness, gratitude, and affection, no matter how small. “

Though you may not receive something directly in the post from me this year, due to existence in the blogosphere being what it is, I offer my carefully selected Christmas card to you. As the card reads inside, I am sincerely wishing each of you, “Blessings at Christmas.”


Wednesday, December 09, 2009


One of the most vivid memories of snow for me comes from the first moment I read of Lucy Pevensey, stepping further up and further in, into the wardrobe and through the snow laden mystical world of Narnia. As a young girl first becoming introduced to the brilliant C.S. Lewis’ mystical imaginative story, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, I felt Lucy’s wonder, her fascination, and marvel as she looked beyond the fur coats, to the hemlocks adorned with weighty white heavenly powder. Through Lewis’ words, I could feel the cold wind on her face as she moved through the woods to reveal the world that would be forever winter.

Lewis’ inspiration is said to have been a desire to see his beloved County Down covered in snow, therefore, he imagined it was so through the pages of his Chronicles. Though the world of Narnia was under a curse to be forever winter, I see this present season of snow as a blessing- a time to question and explore one’s thoughts fantasies and imagination. Whilst often bound indoors, my mind is pressed to explore hidden ideas, welcoming fantastic realms that are often hidden from plain view in the midst of the warmth of summertime and its outdoor reverie. Snow –filled evenings woo me to settle indoors in front of the fire, with little more than my soul for companionship, to explore places in my mind which have been untapped, to create, to love, and to dream…..

Lyrics by Archibald Lampman (1861-1899)
Music by Loreena McKennitt

White are the far-off plains, and white
The fading forests grow;
The wind dies out along the height,
And denser still the snow,
A gathering weight on roof and tree,
Falls down scarce audibly.

The road before me smoothes and fills
Apace, and all ahout
The fences dwindle, and the hills
Are blotted slowly out;
The naked trees loom spectrally
Into the dim white sky.

The meadows and far-sheeted streams
Lie still without a sound;
Like some soft minister of dreams
The snow-fall hoods me round;
In wood and water, earth and air,
A silence everywhere.

Save when at lonely intervals
Some farmer's sleigh, urged on,
With rustling runners and sharp bells
Swings by me and is gone;
Or from the empty waste I hear
A sound remote and clear.

The barking of a dog, or call
To cattle, sharply pealed,
Borne echoing from some wayside stall
Or barnyard far afield;

Then all is silent and the snow falls
Settling soft and slow.
The evening deepens and the grey
Folds closer earth and sky
The world seems shrouded, far away.

Its noises sleep, and I as secret as
Yon buried stream plod dumbly on and dream.

Monday, December 07, 2009


(Natalie, Denise, and Mary)

Sunday afternoon we held our annual Christmas Tea and teacup exchange. This year, Darleen opened her home to hostess the event and we were all so grateful for her hospitality and the warmth of her festive decor. I must say that her Christmas tree was spectacular with hundreds upon hundreds of ornaments, extending all the way through the tree's branches, filling it out to become a show place of sparkling jewel tones, making for one spectacular blown glass ornament extravaganza. Tea was served at 3PM, or perhaps more like 3:30 since we were all rather caught up admiring one another's hats and attire. After all, it was Afternoon Tea and why rush something so beautiful and lovely? Our Tea menu was as follows: artichoke and roasted red pepper tarts, cranberry scones served with lemon curd and Fayette Cream( our mock Devonshire Cream), chicken olive tea sandwiches, olive-nut tea sandwiches, pimento cheese tea sandwiches, chess bars, chocolate chip banana nut bread, chocolate chip cookies, pineapple cake, and Victoria Sponge Cake. Our teas were: Ceylon, Elmwood Inn Black Rose, and Earl Grey.

(In deep conversation...actually, I think this was about Master and Commander and the Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian..LOL!!)

(Polly and Caroline)

(I did manage to stop making pots of tea long enough to at least get a shot of Natalie's wonderful Victoria Sponge Cake, as shown here in the photo with Polly in front of the beautiful tree. As you can see, we had already begun to devour this treat:)

(Darleen, our lovely hostess for the afternoon)

(Denise and her large tea cup which we all agreed would be perfect for a huge cuppa English Breakfast)

(LHTS: Bottom row-Mary, Polly, Darleen~ Back row- Denise,Rebecca,Natalie and Caroline so graciously took the photo.)

After we spent two hours chatting,laughing,eating,laughing some more, and relishing just being in the company of friends, we retired to the living room with a pot of Earl Grey and had our teacup exchange for the final hour. It is quite a treat to anticipate that each year you will be getting a special teacup from a friend. We do so look forward to this particular event.

Now, on to planning the Tea Blending for January, and St. Valentine's Tea...

Friday, December 04, 2009


Congratulations to FireLight for winning the tea drawing! A special “tea package” will go out to her next week. I want to extend a very special thank you to all who posted. Thank you for your continued support in your most kind and thoughtful comments. Please raise your teacups with me in a Tea toast to another 200 posts at the LHTS!

Thursday, December 03, 2009


"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born."- Anais Nin

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”
Saint Thomas Aquinas

When thinking of friends, I think of tea. A leap? Absolutely not. When you think of the care and special attention that goes into making a cup or pot of tea, it is quite easy to compare that with the care and nurturing that goes into a friendship. Friends, like tea should always be treated with the greatest degree of tenderness. They must be savored, appreciated, and nurtured. It matters not if they are near or far, just that you share an undeniable bond.

For my dearest friends

Let’s be friends forever,
Let’s not care that there is space between us.
Let’s make a special kind of friendship
That’s better than the past.
Let’s use creativity and invent ways to make our friendship grow.
Let’s love for love’s sake
And continue to overlook mistakes.
Let’s dream and reach higher and be
Stubborn in our determination to see
The other one succeed.
Let’s be friends forever.
( from A Cup of Friendship)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


I am about to leave my new accomodations, one of the spectacular cabins reserved by MMM. After a quick power nap,I am refreshed and ready to drink tea until my heart is content. For this special event, I chose a black Edwardian Tea Gown, with a long black velvet Opera Coat to keep me warm, and of course I had to wear a hat to complete the ensemble!...Now, to visit with the charming guest of honor, hobnob and mingle...

MY 200th POST

To help commemorate today's 200th post here at the Tea Society, I will have a special drawing to announce a winner of some wonderful Tea-related items. Just post a response to this entry, over the next few days, and I will announce the name of the winner on Friday! You have until midnight EST on Thursday to enter your name. This is just a very small token of gratitude to followers of the Tea Society, for allowing me to share my love of historic tea culture with the entire world. Thank you for the indulgence.

Below is just a glimpse of one of the teas included in the package...There will be a special Ladies' Historical Tea Society Blend also included. Be sure to specify loose leaf or teabags with your post...Good Luck!

I'll see most of you later at Christmas Tea with Mr. Toast, and will be posting my attire for this splendid event, later today.

The Kentucky Blend from Perryville's very own Elmwood Inn is a blend of black Chinese teas from Yunnan. "This full-bodied tea is a wonderful cup for breakfast or afternoon tea." It calls to mind a morning walk in the misty Kentucky countryside, among the stone walls and Thoroughbred farms.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Well, after a very long and successful day hitting the antique shops in the downtown area, I will be ready to unwind at 7:30PM(CO time of course) with some wonderfully charming guests, a delicious dinner, glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, and perhaps a brief appearance from our charming host if we are very lucky. He is indeed a busy man, though.

We will be dining at the elegant Century Dining Room at Hotel Jerome and we can meet here in the lobby. I'll be standing next to the fireplace dressed in this:


See you there:-)...


(Here I am( in red of course) waiting at the station with a lovely lady who shared a lunch car with me on the train.)

For today, I wore the red and black dress with red cloche on the train ride.. Amazingly, the dress didn’t wrinkle at all;)….It was quite comfortable, actually…The green number on the left is what I’m about to slip into for an elegant formal dinner and cocktails later this evening. My ,it is much colder here than in KY, but I trust our host to make sure there is a fire blazing to keep those of us used to a bit warmer climates, nice and toasty.

This is what I’ll be wearing as I venture to some antique shops tomorrow, and the formal gown is what I'll wear for dinner…Oh, perhaps our host, Betsy, Willow, and the charming Bach and his lovely Lady Cat might accompany me to dinner on Monday? Anyone else care to join? It would be splendid, don’t you think?

Stay tuned on Tuesday for a surprise for the Tea Society followers, to commemorate my 200th post, and the unveiling of my special attire for the actual day of Mr. Toast's Christmas Tea...:)


(Part 1)

As the sun is shining brightly on this final chilly Sunday in November, I find myself eagerly waiting at the train station for my long journey westward to Aspen. I have packed my last hat box and finalized my wardrobe selections for the tea event of the season, Christmas Tea with Mr. Toast. As many followers of the Tea Society will no doubt make an appearance on Tuesday, I am so looking forward to chatting and hobnobbing with each of you. Can you think of anything more lovely? If by chance there are some of you who have not yet registered, you still have time to do so.

As for tomorrow, well, it would be a perfect time to explore the city and perhaps take in a few antique shops? I just might find a lovely vintage tea cup and saucer to bring home with me.

Until we meet in Aspen,


Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Happy Thanksgiving to all the wonderful followers of the Tea Society. I hope you have a lovely holiday celebration...

I shall leave you with this suggestion: Instead of having coffee with your pumpkin pie, try a nice Assam or Ceylon( Kenilworth OP No 317). They pair splendidly with most foods and will truly warm your soul.

Monday, November 23, 2009


C.S. Lewis said, " You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me". That quote has always spoken to me, resonating on a near spiritual level, as I suspect it has with more than a few tea and classic literature lovers. Sadly, I seem to have a difficult time finding a modern work of fiction that will hold my attention span long enough to bewitch and captivate me or worthy to apply such a brilliant quote to. That is, until I stumbled across a gem of a book called The Thirteenth Tale. This Gothic suspense novel cast its spell and entranced me from the first page until the very last one. The book is set in atmospheric Yorkshire, against a mesmerizing backdrop of Heathcliff-esque moors and the grey skies of a wintry Northern England. With this particular setting, the Bronte associations manifest from the beginning and strengthen with repeated references to Jane Eyre. This book is actually the first novel by English writer Diane Setterfield and the eloquence of her writing transported me into a time where words truly had the power to weave a tapestry in the imagination of the reader. I dare say I had to remind myself, repeatedly, that I was indeed reading a modern work by an unknown author and not one of my much cherished classics from Dickens, Bronte, or Du Maurier. Ironically, one of the very few critical comments I have read about this book is a rather shallow complaint that it was not 'modern' enough: that the eccentric characters and lyrical language hearkened one back to classic English literature. Said critic was then quick to note that she in fact loathed the classics. I found it quite amusing how in direct contrast to the critic's analogies, Setterfield's nostalgic, intellectually stimulating writing style and vividly intoxicating descriptions courted and romanced me, securing that a hard bound copy will be purchased for years of repeated readings. I shall slip a copy into my book shelf, perhaps between Wuthering Heights and of course Jane Eyre. It is also worthy to note that there are plenty of wonderful tea references in this book. Given that added treat, what tea might I recommend to drink whilst cuddled in your favorite chair by the fire with this book? Yorkshire Gold, of course!

Below is a brief synopsis of the story from Wikipedia:

Vida Winter, the most famous novelist in England and quite possibly the world, has never been forthcoming when it comes to her past. Her entire life is a secret, and for fifty years reporters and biographers have attempted to discover the truth. With her health quickly fading, Ms. Winter enlists a bookish amateur biographer named Margaret Lea to bear witness to the tragic story of the Angelfield family, their eccentric beginnings as well as their demise. Margaret, who has family secrets of her own, must unravel the mysteries of the past in order to reconcile not only Miss Winter with her ghosts, but also Margaret with her own.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Late Warnings:

I was thinking of the phrase "better late than never" and how in most cases it seems innocent enough. However, my mind took a turn to when being late actually results or has resulted in devastation, especially when being precisely on time or even early could have prevented a catastrophe. A great example of this is in the case of the Titanic tragedy of 1912.

On Titanic's maiden voyage from Southampton, England, she cast off and departed precisely on time. That was on Wednesday, April 10, 1912 at noon. On Titanic's second day at sea, the wireless operators began receiving the first of many iceberg warnings from a number of ships in the North Atlantic,some of which reported that they had been forced to cease their voyages due to encountering dense icebergs and ice fields. However,Titanic's Captain Smith ignored the warnings and continued on, powering the vessel at full strength with the ferocity of its 30,000 horsepower engines blazing.

As history has revealed, not all the ice warnings reached the bridge. Tragically, the wireless had broken down on Friday night, and a number of unsent messages multiplied, destined to remain in a sort of limbo until the radio was fixed. As the operators worked to clear the backlog, most of the messages were of little importance- a large number of them from elite passengers sharing the wonders of their trip to friends and family. Consequently, because the operators focused on these mundane messages, late ice warnings were never delivered to Captain Smith or his officers. In fact, the California, a near-by ship, endeavored to contact Titanic as late as 10 minutes prior to impact with the ill-fated iceberg. The response from Titanic? The wireless operators told them to "Shut-up!". At 11:40PM Titanic hit the iceberg. The lookout on duty, Frederick Fleet, was the first to spot the iceberg. Mistakenly,he believed it to be a small mass a mile or so away from the ship. He rang the "three-bell alarm" and then telephoned the bridge. It was then that first officer Murdoch shouted, " Hard a starboard and full speed astern!"...It was too late.

Sadly, we all know how this story ended....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


(Wearing "Elizabeth" with my friend Kimberly seated next to me-click on photo for a better view of the hat)

(The Nonesuch Kiss)

A while back, I posted about “The One that Got Away", the hat that I christened, “Elizabeth”. Well, I did track down the antique dealer and she was more than happy to send “Elizabeth” to me, packaged beautifully with a wonderful clear plastic form so the hat would keep it’s shape during shipping. After the arrival, I waited until the perfect time to wear ‘her’ and that time at long last arrived this weekend. The Tea Society made our annual lunch to Irish Acres and The Glitz located in a very small, quaint little hamlet called Nonesuch, Kentucky. This wonderful place is owned by sisters Jane DeLauter and Emilie McCauley, daughters of Arch and Bonnie Hannigan who opened Irish Acres 22 years ago. Jane, accompanied by her two-year-old border collie/shepherd mix Rudy, oversees the antiques portion of the facility - while Emilie is Grand Dame over the The Glitz.

The virtual wonderland is located in a classically styled two-story structure, built in 1936 and used until 1981 as an elementary school. After an extensive remodel, the building now contains 32,000 square feet of display space, showcasing “American and European furniture, glassware, china, crystal, silver, linens, dolls, jewelry, rugs, and decorative accessories." The cellar restaurant, the Glitz, offers some of the most delectable cuisine in the area. The meal begins with a chilled spiced apple cranberry refresher followed by an appetizer, entrĂ©e, and dessert. You can often find such wonderful dishes as Hungarian Mushroom soup( the best I’ve ever had), Seafood bisque, a chicken puff pie, brie en croute with sugar-coated grapes, beef tenderloin with a remoulade sauce, and for dessert, their signature dish, the Nonesuch Kiss. The latter being a concoction dreamt up in the kitchen of Emilie McCauley. She said that she longed for the taste of malted milk balls from her youth so began measuring, blending, and tasting until she created a meringue shell layered with jamocha ice cream, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, almonds and a cherry on top. And did we devour that delectable dessert? You bet we did! Along with some hot Earl Grey to nourish the soul.