Monday, April 27, 2015

Orange Blossoms

"There is no glory in star or blossom till looked upon a loving eye; 
There is no fragrance in April breezes till breathed with joy as they wander by."

~ William C. Bryant

Hello Tea Friends,
I thought this was a fitting poem as we end the month of April. It just seems like yesterday I put away the Easter decorations. 
Today's theme is the lovely fruit- the orange. We were fortunate to move into a house with some established fruit trees with one of them being an orange tree. The tree wasn't well cared for, so for the first two years the oranges were extremely sour. With some pruning, removal of another tree and organic fertilizing, the tree now produces delicious and tasty Valencia oranges which are great for juicing. Our tree blossomed in March and still has one orange hanging quite high. The blossoms (shown in the photo) are extremely fragrant when in bloom. The whole side of the backyard is wonderfully scented.

Well, now onto our featured teacup...Orange Blossom by Royal Albert. This teacup is part of the Blossom Time Series which I shared in my March 22 post. I inherited the Lilac teacup in the series and purchased this one on ebay. (Don't worry I won't feature each teacup in the series.) I connect with the lilac and orange blossom teacups because we have those trees in our backyard. I'm still on a quest to collect the rest because I think they will make a fine set for a party.

This teacup is in the Shelley shape and was produced between 1966-1970's in England. Looking at the photos online of the series, I thought this particular teacup would be the least attractive of the set. I was happily surprised when I opened the mailing package. It is prettier in person. The fine details of the blossoms and the addition of mint green adds beauty to this cup.

When I acquire my teacups through flea markets or online sources, I do wonder about their history. First owners? First country? Displayed or used?

Click here to see the rest of the teacups in the Royal Albert Blossom Time Series

This teacup needed an authentic orange-based tea and I have just the one: Market Spice Cinnamon Orange Tea. It is a strong black tea with natural orange flavorings and a whole lot of cinnamon! The scent is incredible and it's a great autumn tea-probably would make a great iced tea. It can be a bit strong for me in terms of spices, but has been a widely popular item at Seattle's Market Spice.

Market Spice is located in Pike Place in Seattle. Whenever I am in Seattle, this is one of my favorite foodie places to visit. I love their salmon rub too. Click here for online ordering and product information. 
I know some of you live in or near Seattle so you may be familiar with their other items.

Thank you for visiting today and
have a great tea week!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Tulip Teacup and Mendocino Muffins

Welcome and thank you for stopping by. 
(Sort of a strange combination in the title, right?)

Please join me for tea in a vintage tulip teacup and carrot pineapple muffins.

Tulips are my favorite flowers. I just love their shape and glossy color. Only one of my tulips bloomed this year. Five others sprouted but no flowers. Our crazy warm weather threw off tulip season for many. Even the local florists didn't have any tulips available for Easter. Hence no tulips in these photos.

One day I was thinking that you hardly ever see tulip designs on teacups. Traditionally you see pansies and roses. Hmm wonder why this is? While tulips are enormously popular and grown in the Netherlands, perhaps they were not "exported" to England during the early to mid twentieth century which was a lucrative time for the bone china pottery industry.

So I was on a quest to find an English teacup designed with tulips. After some online searching I found this beauty on ebay for four dollars! It is a vintage Foley.
I like the thin lime green line at the base of the cup as well as on the bottom of the handle.

The petals appear to be hand painted.

Foley teacups are mistaken for Shelley teacups at time. Foley was a pottery region in England. Some Shelley back stamps include the word Foley on them. You can tell just by picking up this Foley that it is not a Shelley. It lacks the thin translucent bone china of a Shelley. Here is an article explaining briefly the history.

Now this brings us to the muffins! For part of my honeymoon (many years ago) I went to beautiful Mendocino in northern California. It is a coastal artist community. While there I purchased this wonderful cookbook titled Mendocino Mornings. We didn't stay at this Inn, but this has been my go-to cookbook for breakfast and brunch recipes. Every single one has been a winner. I want to share with you a really moist carrot muffin recipe that oozes with the sweetness of brown sugar. These muffins are quite large and perfect for a morning tea.

Carrot Muffins from Mendocino Mornings

2 cups of flour
1 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup oil
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup crushed pineapple

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine flour, brown sugar, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.
Set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine oil, eggs, carrots and pineapple.
Stir into dry ingredients and mix until just moistened. Spoon into oiled muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

Makes about 18 muffins
*I made twenty muffins and baked for 24 minutes because the muffins are dense.

Some scenes from Mendocino:

(photo from wikimedia)
Mendocino Headlands

(photo from tripadvisor)
Headlands Inn
This is where my husband and I stayed for our tenth anniversary. Delicious breakfasts!

(photo from free internet images)
Glass Beach
Glass Beach in nearby Fort Bragg
From 1906-1967 this was a dump site where the pounding waves tumbled pottery and glass into smooth jewelry like pieces. The beach is almost depleted of glass nowadays, but I still found some green and white pieces which I keep in a glass jar.

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Cherry Blossom Afternoon Tea

Please join me
for a
Cherry Blossom Festival inspired tea.

Each year Cherry Blossom Festivals take place throughout the world. In the United States the first festival took place in 1912 with the gift of 3,000 trees to Washington D.C. from the mayor of Tokyo. The gift along with subsequent annual celebrations has honored the friendship between the U.S. and Japan. Today is the final day of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. 
Were you able to attend a local festival? 
Unfortunately I wasn't so I decided to host this afternoon tea.

Here's the tablescape.
 It's a pretty hazy humid day so not ideal for photo taking. Where are you sun?

Of course, cherry blossoms should be the centerpiece. We had an early bloom this year in February. No more blossom branches in our neighborhood nor at the Farmers' Market. The faux cherry blossom branches at JoAnns were disappointing; so I'm sharing these beautiful orchids from my cousin's garden. Their scent is wonderful and they've already lasted a week. I was so enamored with these orchids at Easter that my cousin gave them to me.

Instead of a featured teacup this week, there is a bowl and plate set from Japan. These four sets are the last items my late great aunt passed on to me. They have never been used and were in a Gumps department store bag. Gumps is a high end home decor and jewelry store in San Francisco. I wonder if they were purchased there or she just placed them in that bag. (I have always been interested in the Japanese tea ceremony and would love to travel to Kyoto one day and visit the pagodas.)

The texture and blue glaze is just amazing and each piece is unique.  I'm curious to know more about their age and where specifically were they produced.

Please share any information you may have... (thanks!)

Each piece's back stamp with traditional (old) Japanese characters

The teacups we are using are from my Crate and Barrel dish set. The pattern is Epoch Line and they were made in Japan.
Well certainly not as beloved as my English teacups, the minimal look of these cups goes well with this particular tea party. 

Each place setting has a chopstick rest.

These dog and cat chopstick rests were gifts from a visiting colleague from Japan.

Today we will be drinking Genmai-cha by Yamamotoyama. This is my absolute favorite green tea! In addition to green tea, genmai-cha has toasted rice in it. I love its nutty flavor. 

Today's Afternoon Tea Menu

Miso Soup
Cucumber Salad (recipe below)
Dragon Rolls, Spider Rolls and California Rolls
Dessert: Mochi (sticky rice cake)

Genmai-cha Tea

I really enjoyed the freshness of this Japanese Cucumber Salad.
Click here for the recipe. It's simple to make and a salad that I should include during the summer months with my teas.

Thank you for joining me today...
I will leave you with a gorgeous cherry blossom tree that is in my parking lot at work. This photo was taken on February 18.

 I will be joining the following parties:

Pink Saturday
Ruth's Antiques and Teacups
Bernideen's Friends Sharing Tea
Martha's Favorites

Monday, April 6, 2015

A Springtime Demitasse and Dessert

I hope all of you had a wonderful weekend. As I began putting away the Easter decorations this morning, it occurred to me that we are beginning a long stretch without a significant holiday. It's time to simply enjoy and celebrate all that the season of spring has to offer. 

 Looking at the teacups I've inherited; a good portion are demitasse cups. Perhaps both of my great aunts were drawn to the cups' size. Demitasse is French for half cup. These cups are designed to serve Turkish coffee or espresso (which mine never had). From a practical standpoint as a collector, they take up less space in my curio chest. There is something sweet and delicate about them.

Today's featured teacup is a demitasse Crown Staffordshire from England in the Thousand Flowers pattern. The cup is trimmed with gold gilding and there is gold detail on the handle.

I chose this teacup to feature because the large amount of flowers in the pattern certainly seems to show a springtime scene. Many collectors describe Thousand Flowers as a chintz pattern. I don't immediately think "chintz" when I look at this pattern. Maybe I'm so used to seeing a certain style and color scheme of chintz. Please chime in... do you think this is a chintz pattern? I'm curious to know your thoughts. 

The marked back stamp indicates the cup is from 1930-1956. 
According to the site The Potteries, the back stamp is stretching the truth a bit. Crown Staffordshire Porcelain Company was not established until 1889; so why does the back stamp claim it was established in 1801? The Minerva Works with a number of pottery companies was established in 1801. Eventually these companies turned into Crown Staffordshire in 1889. Showing longevity is a key factor in porcelain sales.
After 1956 Crown Staffordshire produced its wares under the trade name Queensberry.

If you look closely at the large pink flower, you'll notice a faint slanted line running down from the rim. Looks as if the decal or transfer was a bit off. This is partly why I love vintage teacups: their tiny flaws. I love that they were more or less hand crafted. Such an amazing art form!

I want to share with you an easy yet tasty dessert I made for Easter dinner at my cousin's house. It's a coconut pineapple cake and will be a nice addition to any spring tea. It's easy to transport too.
Even though I have many cookbooks, I still look online and in magazines for different recipes. Here is the recipe from Taste of Home's website. Enjoy the week ahead!

"The fragrance of flowers spreads only in the direction of the wind. But the goodness of a person spreads in all directions."