Sunday, January 06, 2013

Downton Returns...

...and I couldn't be more thrilled!...Oh, the excitement of having something of good quality to watch on television again. After Call The Midwife ended a few weeks ago, I had to continue to feed my addiction to good British television so I began watching To The Manor Born from the beginning through to the 2007 25th anniversary special. What a wonderful series that one was and one that I think Tea Society readers and Anglophiles in general would adore!

I am so grateful to PBS for bringing the best in British programming to American audiences who are longing for a bit of escapism from the realities of modern society. We could certainly take a lesson or two from our British friends in this area( and a few others as well). Do we really need yet another singing competition or so-called "Reality Series" where people make complete buffoons of themselves before all the world to see? Perhaps the real tragedy in that is that they are actually
rewarded by society for their lack of manners, morals and decency...Not my cup of tea at all, thank you! ;-)...

Come 9PM this very evening, I will be firmly planted in my chair in the family room, tartan throw wrapped for additional warmth, and a piping hot cup of Russian Caravan tea to indulge( actually, make that a glass of Pinot Noir ;-)...I will be watching in delicious anticipation of what will become of Mr. Bates and Anna. Will the real murderer be revealed? I wonder if Matthew and Lady Mary will finally wed and I truly hope that Thomas and O'Brien will finally get what's coming to them. But most of all, I cannot wait to watch Dame Maggie Smith trade delightfully witty banter with Shirley MacLaine. What a laugh that will certainly be!

Until next time...Enjoy the season three premiere. If you have not yet begun to watch, get thee to Netflix or PBS streaming straight away! You truly are missing out on an addiction which is nothing short of marvelous...:).

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas from the Tea Society

Wishing everyone in the Blogosphere a very blessed and Happy Christmastide!

Most Teafully,

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December Tea of the Month

The tea for December is one of my favorite teas for winter in general. A couple of years ago when I was visiting Bath for the first time, I tasted a wonderful blend at the Jane Austen Centre. The server in the tea room informed me that it was one of most popular blends there and I quickly discovered why. The blend is called Russian Caravan and is produced through Gillards of Bath. This tea has a magical quality. It transports the drinker to another place and time. This tea is a heavy blend of  black teas with the addition of Lapsang Shouchong to create the delicious smokiness. The aroma conjures the imagery of gypsies and Eastern Mystics. My mind drifts to caravans of nomadic tradesmen and their wagons of perfumes, herbs, spices, and teas. It is a fine tea to sip alone with a splash of milk and a cube or two of sugar. It's equally at home with a savory meal.

Image from Google " Russian Caravan"

Monday, November 19, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is going to be a very busy week but one I have looked forward to for a very long time. I absolutely love Thanksgiving. I love planning the menu and cooking the meal. I thoroughly enjoy the anticipation of selecting a turkey and finding all the key ingredients to make the meal a time honored feast.

I must say that it saddens me to see how this day of gratitude seems to have been delegated to the status of  "that pesky day before Black Friday". What does it say about our culture when a day set aside to collectively honor all that each of us has been blessed with, where no monetary gifts are expected or exchanged, has become an inconvenience to those who would rather camp out in a parking lot to save a few dollars on a television or the latest I-product? Sadly, it speaks volumes of what we have become.

Thanksgiving will get its much deserved attention at our house. I will begin the morning prepping the celebratory bird and assembling the plethora of side dishes that will all battle for the much coveted space in the oven. I will watch the Macy's Parade with my daughter and embrace the warmth of harvest time. And when the table is set and the sideboards are filled with dishes of traditional fare, we will sit down together as a family and give thanks to our Creator for how we have been so richly blessed. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all in the Blogosphere! May we all have peace and prosperity!

Thursday, November 08, 2012

November Tea Of The Month: Orange and Spice Black

I'm a bit late posting this. It's been such a busy month already and with Thanksgiving getting very close, it's about to get a lot more hectic. I sometimes despair by this approaching frenzy of our own making from Halloween on through Christmas. Sadly, we tend to put so much pressure on ourselves to live up to everyone's expectations that we lose sight of the quietness that can be found when contemplating what it truly means to be thankful. This year, I simply refuse to miss the deeper meaning. In spite of the seasonal social events and obligations that are sure to be approaching for most of us, I fully intend to enjoy the contemplative moments of this season and to stay focused on the message of peace, gratitude and joy.

To help usher in November, the tea I've selected for this month is Orange and Spice Black.  This wonderful tea instantly conjures the blissful imagery that is the essence of autumn. The comforts of cinnamon and essence of orange invade the air as they marry and release during their steeping dance. A variety of companies make delightful blends of Orange Spice but I would like to suggest the loose leaf blend offered through a Kentucky Tea Shop called Mon Tea. I am especially partial to this blend because it comes from my home state but more importantly, because it was recently given to me when my good friend, Polly, and her husband, Keith, came for a visit last month. I've asked this question many times before but it begs to be asked once again. Is there anything better than good tea from home and friendship? I think not.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wishing One And All A Happy and Safe All Hallow's Eve!

(Nevermore by Rebecca Chamberlain)

The Raven

by Edgar Allan Poe
(published 1845)

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door-
Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;- vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow- sorrow for the lost Lenore-
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me- filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
"'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door-
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;-
This it is, and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you"- here I opened wide the door;-
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!"-
Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice:
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore-
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;-
'Tis the wind and nothing more!"

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door-
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door-
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore-
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning- little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door-
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore."

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered- not a feather then he fluttered-
Till I scarcely more than muttered, "Other friends have flown before-
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said, "Nevermore."

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore-
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of 'Never- nevermore'."

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore-
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee- by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite- respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted-
On this home by Horror haunted- tell me truly, I implore-
Is there- is there balm in Gilead?- tell me- tell me, I implore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us- by that God we both adore-
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend," I shrieked, upstarting-
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!- quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted- nevermore!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Ball at Willow Manor

It's that time of year again! I am excited to be attending the wonderful ball at Willow Manor. It's been a couple of years since I attended the last one so I am really looking forward to meeting some new bloggers and their illustrious companions.

As for me, I have the honor of attending the grand event this year with the alluring Michael Fassbender.

Since this year is a masquerade event, I will be adorned with this:

I chose this dramatic gown from Dior :

This should be a most memorable night with "Frankenstorm" looming up here in the Mid-Atlantic!
On second thought, with this guy as my date for the evening, I'll somehow endure a pesky Nor'Easter...
Time to kick off my shoes
and have another glass of Cabernet Sauvignon...