Sunday, May 31, 2015

Birds & Blooms Morning Tea

"I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it is always June."
                                                                                                                                    ~L.M. Montgomery

Happy June Tea Friends!
The month of June has always been a favorite of mine. The start of summer, my birthday and anniversary, and our annual family camping trip all take place during this remarkable month. 
While we don't have the warm weather quite yet, I still enjoy sitting outside on the weekends with my tea even if there is a bit of cold in the air. The singing of neighborhood birds has been symphonic these last couple of weeks. They inspired my post this week along with a special teacup.

Please join me for a Birds and Blooms Morning Tea in the garden.

When we moved into our house almost five years ago, many bird houses hung from the fences that were left by the previous owners. It piqued my interest in bird decor and of course identifying the local birds. 

Today's featured teacup is a red Ridgway Windsor transferware that I purchased on ebay. I have enjoyed seeing fellow bloggers' transferware collections and decided I would like to collect one for myself. It's nice to break out of my usual teacup style.
 I like the saucer's scalloped edges and the floral design.
 This is a pretty backstamp. After some research I believe Ridgway produced this pattern in the 1950s.
 The mythical crane is not the focus of the teacup, but expertly painted into the scene. (I like the extra paint dots above its head.)
Ridgway merged with Booths and Colclough China Company in the 1940s and later became part of Royal Doulton in the 1960s.
If you want to learn more about Ridgway's history, this article has some interesting facts. The history of English potteries reads like a soap opera. 

Let's have some palmier cookies and a white tea called Chinese Snow Leopard. I will review this tea in a future post.

 Fun bird teapot from Home Goods.

The tiled birdhouse is from a garden store in Carmel, California and the pink bird is an after Easter purchase at World Market. Blooms are pink miniature roses from the garden and leftover mums from a bouquet.

I was recently at my mom's house and "acquired" some doilies made by my aunt in Ireland. The handiwork is just amazing! I can't believe how small the holes are in the lace work. 
This small doily looks nice under a saucer. Now I just need to use them and not save them in the linen closet for a special occasion.

As always I appreciate your company at tea. I hope you enjoy your own tea time this week as well. I leave you with some backyard bird chirping via the video below. (I hope you are able to play it.)

Monday, May 25, 2015

Cherry Cobbler with Vanilla Tea for Memorial Day

I hope you are enjoying this three day weekend (to my American friends). This Memorial Day is rather cloudy and chilly so we're going to have a simple family bbq tonight for dinner. My father was in the Air Force and always reminded us to remember the true meaning behind today.

During this weekend, I enjoyed seeing several groups of friends. It's so nice to catch up with old time friends. Because of all of these visits, today's post will be a bit shorter. I'll have a nice tea for you next week.

Recently I have noticed that when people come to visit or join us for dinner, the requests for decaffeinated coffee and tea have increased. I don't drink decaf tea so I thought I better remedy this. Last December I was at Target and was cruising down the tea aisle and was shocked to see tins of Harney and Sons teas! I remember reading favorable comments about their Vanilla Comoro tea so I purchased a tin of twenty tea sachets. Love the roominess of the sachets so the leaves can really expand.
Vanilla Comoro is a mild black tea with a very subtle sweetness to it. According to the website, the decaffeination process has lightened the tea's flavor. I think it is a nice tea choice to complement a light breakfast or dessert for those seeking a caffeine free tea. But overall I need stronger flavor in a black tea especially one containing vanilla.

Speaking of desserts, I would like to share a great start to the summer cobbler. My family went cherry picking at a local orchard last weekend and picked twelve pounds of large amazingly sweet deep purple cherries. Of course I had to make a cobbler and here's the recipe:

I added some store bought Rainier cherries to add some variety to the cobbler.

Cherry Cobbler by Emeril Lagasse

6 cups of tart red cherries; pitted
1 1/4 cups sugar   **These cherries were so naturally sweet. I only used 1/4 cup sugar.
1/4 cup water
4 teaspoons cornstarch

1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 Tablespoons butter
1 egg beaten
3 Tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a saucepan combine filling ingredients and cook, stirring until bubbling and thickened. Pour into an 8 inch square baking dish. Meanwhile, stir together flour, sugars, baking powder and cinnamon. Cut in butter until it is crumbly. Mix together egg and milk. Add to flour mixture and stir with a fork until just combined. Drop topping by tablespoonfuls onto filling. Bake for 25 minutes until browned and bubbly.

I really like how the topping is not overly sweet. The cherries are able to shine in this cobbler. Enjoy!

Thank you for joining me today for cobbler and see you next week.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Going Green with Aynsley and Mint Tea

Please join me for a cup of homemade mint tea!

A couple of months ago I read an article in Tea Time magazine about making your own tea from backyard herbs. I thought I would try it; even though I'm not a fan of tisanes. 

One of my goals as a blogger is to expand my palate as a tea drinker. I definitely prefer black teas but realize there are so many amazing tastes and health benefits from other types of teas.

This post was inspired by today's featured teacup that I recently received from a relative. It was part of her mother's collection and she knew I would welcome it into my own collection. It's subtle mint green color inspired me to make a "green" tea.

(Excuse the background for the photos. Today is a dreary dark day with very poor lighting in almost every room...except the kitchen.)

It is an Aynsley teacup from England. I really like the white of the outer cup and dramatic curved handle.

A swag of bouquets of flowers repeats itself on the saucer and inner cup.

Many of you know I adore teacups with designs in the inner cup. I know others who prefer not to have any designs inside the cups. Do you have a preference?

1934-1950s marked Backstamp 

Anysley is still in existence in Stoke-on-Trent, England. They currently are famous for their gold and platinum etched designs.

Aynsley Retail Store: photo from Aynsley website
The Aynsley website states there are factory tours, a coffee shop and a retail outlet on site. I don't know if I would have the self control to be in a store like this one.

Mint Tea Recipe

This is really not a recipe but a "procedure."

1. Pull four to five stems' worth of mint leaves.
2. Slightly crush leaves to release oils.
3. Place leaves in an infuser or loose in a teapot.
4. Pour boiling water over the mint and let steep 3-7 minutes depending on how strong you want your tea.
~Add sugar or honey, if desired.

The article "A Garden Steeped in Tradition" can be found in the March/April 2015 issue of Tea Time magazine. The author suggests many other herbs which produce a nice herbal tea.

Overall the tea tasted better than I thought it would. I would prefer peppermint over spearmint. I steeped my tea for five minutes and the tea was quite hearty and rich in color. Good choice of tea for an upset stomach.

Have a great tea week and thank you for all of your wonderful comments last week on my Paris post!

Monday, May 11, 2015

My Parisian Saturday Mornings ~ A Tea Review

Bonjour Tea Friends!

Hope all is well with you. For this post I want to share a simple Saturday tea tradition of mine and my first tea review.

For many years, I have dreamed about a trip to Paris. While there, I would love to go to a cafe, sip tea and enjoy a croissant and other French pastries. Have any of you had this experience? I also wonder what the tearooms are like in Paris. Are they much different than British ones? I'm interested in learning about your Parisian tearoom experiences. Please share.
This image above conjures up many happy emotions for me. I can stare at that photo all day and dream a little.

Well back to reality...Whenever possible I like to begin my Saturday mornings with cups of tea and catching up on my reading whether it's magazines or a novel. This little alone time is something I look forward to all week and is a positive way to begin my weekend. Drinking tea at work is a rushed experience and doesn't compare to steeping quality tea and simply relaxing. Whenever the weather allows, I take tea in the backyard, but this particular Saturday was quite windy so I enjoyed my tea in the living room.

Most Saturday mornings I choose my favorite tea: Paris by Harney & Sons. I first experienced this tea at a tearoom and I simply ordered it based on the name alone. The Harney & Sons website describes this tea as "a fruity black tea with vanilla and caramel flavors, and a hint of lemony Bergamot." It is one of their most popular blends.
I'm not a huge fan of Earl Grey and this tea doesn't remind me in the least of it. Have any of your tried this tea before?
The tea is a lovely dark caramel color with a unique aroma. I drink mine straight and on the weak side. You can order this tea here and read more about it. Enjoy!
Today's featured teacup just had to be French! It's my one and only French teacup and I shared it on my Gold Teacup Party post in February. It's a miniature Limoges teacup.

It is marked Delvaux 18 Rue Royale which was a high end shop in Paris that manufactured their own glass. They are still in business today and are listed as a leather goods store. The store probably contracted a pottery in Limoges to produce these cups. Many of these cups were produced in the 1930s. My great aunt must have purchased this at an auction as she had never traveled to Paris.

Here's to a great week of tea and conversation!

"Paris is always a good idea."
~Audrey Hepburn

Monday, May 4, 2015

Dainty Baby Blue Tea

Hello again tea friends and new readers,

Welcome! I hope you had a nice spring weekend. I have been so excited to share today's Shelley teacups with you. When I first became interested in expanding my inherited teacup collection, I began to research workmanship, pattern designs and value of English bone china because I wanted to concentrate on collecting teacups from mainly one pottery. Most paths led me to Shelley. I'm so impressed with the delicacy and designs of their teaware. Of course I cherish all of my non-Shelley teacups and I want to continue to learn more about the different potteries past and present.

While the main focus of my blog will be teacups and their histories, I plan on reviewing teas and tearooms as well starting next week.
We'll enjoy having our tea in two vintage baby blue Shelley teacups. I acquired both teacups on ebay. Most people have predominately pink teacups in their collection. I have blue and gold.

The first Shelley teacup is Blue Rock which was a very popular pattern. It was produced from 1940 until the pottery closed in 1966. 

All Shelley teacups have specific shape names. This is the beloved Dainty shape. Personally it is my favorite Shelley shape. It reminds me of a flower and is perfect for a special tea. Many other potteries have copied this shape.

If you hold a Shelley by its handle, click your finger onto the cup. You should hear a ping which is a sign of an authentic Shelley. (Well, it has worked with some of my other teacups such as Paragon.) 

Some of the more recent Shelleys have the pattern name and number by the back stamp. The orange squiggly lines indicate which artist painted the cup/saucer for salary purposes.

 The second featured teacup is a Shelley tall shaped demitasse. Its pattern is Harebell and it was produced at the same time as the Blue Rock pattern. Both have such sweet baby blue flowers in their patterns.
 Love the inside the cup designs in both teacups!
 I really enjoy demitasse cups.

No tea would be complete without a special treat. Banana bread complements a wide variety of teas and is a go to recipe for me. Volunteer roses were a welcomed surprise in my front yard this week.

Over the years I have tried so many banana bread recipes. This is by far my family's favorite. I get great results every time I bake it. I found it on the Food Network's website. Recipe by Cathy Lowe

The house smells so good every time I make it.

Click here for the recipe.

One of the most useful items I have purchased as of late has been this Shelley reference book by Sheryl Burdess. It's a comprehensive listing of almost all of the Shelley patterns and their dates of production. I purchased it on amazon. Usually I won't pay quite so much for a book, but I must say it's been invaluable.
Not all of the patterns are photographed. Here is the Blue Rock teacup I just featured. The author is British and many have commented that her American values for the teacups are a bit inflated. Perhaps the British values are too as I found this teacup on ebay for $20. Other ebay listings for this teacup are as high as $100.
Without a pattern number or name, it would be very challenging to find specific teacup information. The book is 248 pages long with most pages formatted like the one above.

As always thank you for visiting. I look forward to reviewing a favorite tea of mine next week.
All the best,

This quote reminds me of the small but beautiful blue flowers on these teacups:
"The flower that smells the sweetest is shy and lowly."
                        ~William Wordsworth