Saturday, March 29, 2008

Decor-a-TEA ~ Blog Along with Us!

This week. . .

. . .you are invited to join in the Gracious Hospital-i-Tea Blog-a-Thon. You are welcome to use the Gracious Hospital-i-Tea button on your blog to link your readers to others who have posted in this meme. The topic for week three is:

March 30 - April 5

Share ideas and pictures that incorporate tea and/or tea themes into home decor. Displays, art, prints, fabrics, and collection all count in this category. Do you use teapots and teacups as a part of your home decor? If so, describe how. My post for this week follows --- to read it, please scroll down. Enjoy a great week and happy posting!


It is the season for remodeling projects at our home, so trying to decide what to post this week has been difficult for me. Most of our household decor is packed up so that it can be out of my husband's way as he saws and nails, wires and installs, and works hard to update and make our present home more 'user friendly' for the family. I finally decided to go through my photo file to see if I could find some examples of decorating with 'tea; themes. It was not difficult to find examples, as "tea" is represented daily in our home.

This little vignette is in a corner in a bedroom. Set among the room decor, a chintz teacup and a few cookies are set out for a tea-for-one. This is quite a traditional setting in a romantic sort of way.

An autumn centerpiece takes on a more rustic and cozy appearance. Using items found around the house, the centerpiece is made from a Homer Laughlin platter, hot pads and a crocheted dishcloth, a Yixing teapot, a candle, tea bags, and a few sugar cubes. Simple and inexpensive, it promotes a warm and friendly feeling for those who sit around the dining room table.

An old oak china closet of my mother's is now at home in our living room. It has been designated as the 'lavender china closet' and contains teacups, saucers, plates, and teapots that are purple and lavender. If you look closely, you'll find lots of teacups with themes of lavender, pansies, and violets.

The everyday dishes are Pfaltzgraff's Folk Art. Brown and blue, they are very definitely vintage 1970's and reflect the choices of a new bride --- me! Sturdy, simple, and comfortable; it's the perfect set for daily use and frequently is set upon an oak table between the arm chairs that my husband and I sit upon for tea each day. It's to relaxing to sip and chat as we share the events of the day.

A tea-for-one in violets was a gift from a lovely friend. Thank you, friend! It's nestled amongst a variety of cups and saucers in an oak hutch.

A bouquet of Spanish lavender (with some Grosso tucked into the vase as well) adds fresh appeal to a blue-lavender tea setting which serves as the centerpiece for the dining room table on a late spring day. I wish I could share the fragrance of this lovely lavender candle with you!

A small table in the family room is graced with fresh spring flowers, a small candle, linens, and tea china. The Homer Laughlin teapot is of a pattern and style that mixes well with a variety of teacups and saucers. Here is it paired with teacups in a 'sweet pea' theme for a morning cuppa. The suns rays shining through the window give everything a dreamy feel.

Sometimes my love of tea decor is more subtle and refined. This traditional setting is displayed on a living room table. A traditional (early marriage) lamp is paired with a bouquet of rhododendrons and a paperweight in teapot shape.

A quirky lavender themed teapot and teacup make me smile as they grace an old dresser in the bedroom. Filmy bags of lavender buds fill the teacup to add a sweet fragrance to the room. Did you know that lavender buds improve with age? If they seem to lose their fragrance, simply squish the lavender between your fingers to release the oils inside. Lavender is also wonderful when added to a cup of tea. Next time you make a cup of your favorite black tea, add a pinch of organic lavender to your cup and enjoy!

Thank you for letting me share some of my favorite things with you. Of course, something cuddly and friendly (like a puppy) is always a welcome addition and helps establish a warm ambiance for tea-time! If you look closely, you'll see my Schnauzer pal, Coco, sitting beside the tea table in the post above. She's always ready for a tea party!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Reading Along with Litera-TEA

What a wonderful response to week two's blog-a-thon theme. I'm enjoying the posts so much. It's fun to learn about new books, quotes, and writing traditions. I haven't made it through everyone's posts yet --- but I'm working my way through them and will visit everyone and comment by the end of the week-end. I hope everyone is enjoying the blog-a-thon posts as much as I am! What fun!

PS: I read everyone's posts for this week and enjoyed it so much! My book list has increased with all your great suggestions! Thank you for the verses, book referrals, and other literature related tea talk. And thank you, Kat, for the idea about creating "Tea Moons" on paper! I love that idea and will be starting my "Tea Moon Journal" soon!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Gracious Hospital-i-Tea Blog-a-Thon

Blog along with us for week two of the Gracious Hospital-i-Tea Blog-a-Thon. Please feel free to use the 'button' above on your blog. Happy writing!

PS: The white strip that showed up at the bottom of the 'button' on some posts has been removed. This one should be without the annoying white base. Our apologies for the error.


This week. . .

. . .you are invited to join in the Gracious Hospital-i-Tea Blog-a-Thon. Scroll down for more information. The topic for this week is:

March 23 - March 29

Share tea from the perspective of literature. Post a tea quote, a verse or poem, or story. Tell about a favorite tea book. This would be a good time to share how you use tea to encourage others. Do you minister to others by sending them tea themed cards to friends and shut-ins? Or another way you use 'tea' to share joy with others? I know some of you do --- so tell your story!

If Teacups Could Talk

This week's Gracious Hospital-i-Tea Blog-a-Thon topic is "literature" as related to tea. It was really difficult for me to decide what to write about, as I enjoy gathering many things in written form that pertain to tea and the tea experience. Stationary, scrapbooks of tea-themed verses, tea cookbooks, and a shelf or two filled with tea related books are all within my scope of 'enjoyment' and 'collection'. As I thought about this post, I decided that I really must start with the book that got me interested in this fine art.

Emilie Barnes wrote a now well-known book in 1994 called "If Teacups Could Talk". In it, she shares her love for teacups and the hospitality associated with tea service. She states that if teacups could talk, her house would be full of conversation. . .because her house if full of teacups! She tells how even cracked and chipped teacups in her collection are precious to her, as they represent a memory of an occasion or of someone who is special to her. Her book includes many topics where she shares how tea has helped to fill her with serenity, friendship, tradition, memories, courage, comfort, beauty, celebration, and imagination. Scattered throughout the book are tea quotes, bits of information for serving a cozy tea party, tea recipes, and many beautiful pictures! Emilie never runs out of great ideas, and this book is filled with them! Have you ever thought of having a tea in the moonlight out on the lawn? Or how about asking a tea guest to bring a yard of wallpaper to a tea party, and then having them cut-out a placemat from the paper for the tea table? Unique, special, and creative --- Emilie Barnes has thought of it all with this delightful and classic book on tea!

With the first book so successful, Emilie Barnes continued the tea tradition with several other tea related books. The "Twelve Teas of Friendship" is another lovely book in which she gives ideas for a year of monthly teas with friends (2001). Tea topics range from celebrating with new friends and old, cozy relationships, caring, having fun together, milestones, togetherness, nature, shared work, laughter, memories, stories, and family. Delicious recipes, teatime tidbits, quotes, and a plethora of ideas fill this book!

In "Friendship Teas to Go" (2006) Emilie Barnes shares ideas for specific themed teas. Great recipes, ideas for decor, quotes, beautiful pictures, and prose are included for themed teas such as Country Tea, Heart-to-Heart Tea, Remembrance Tea, Neighbors Tea, Tarts and Tea, Princess Tea, Lilies Tea, and more. In this book Emilie continues her trait of writing as though she was sitting in your living room and chatting with you personally. This book totally draws you in!

"The Twelve Teas of Christmas" (1999) is a book filled with not only the essence of tea, but the true meaning of Christmas. Filled with wonderful thoughts on hospitality, this book contains a wealth of recipes, decorating and gift ideas, and much information on using tea to celebrate the holiday season. She does a great job of sharing the true meaning on the holiday in this book.

I know that this book has been a major influence in many who love and enjoy the art of afternoon tea. If you were planning on sharing about Emilie's tea books for your post this week, please do! We each come from a different viewpoint and field of experience. I would love to know how Emilie's books have influenced you. Write on!

Friday, March 21, 2008

New Additions

Thank you to those who posted recent additions to our Teacup-a-Story meme. There were five or six new postings today. . .so be sure to scroll down the page and take a look. I don't want you to miss out on any of the fun!

Enjoy a blessed Easter week-end!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Commenting Ease

Hi friends,

Today I received a plea from a participant regarding their ability to comment on some blogs. So for your consideration, I will pass on a portion of an email I received from one of our Teacup-a-Story participants. As a Blogspot user, I didn't realize this problem and some of you may not either. Here is a portion of the message:

There are a great many bloggers who use Blogger/Blogspot/Google for their blogs who do not know that they need to make changes in their comment settings to allow more people to leave comments. I'm getting really tired of writing a nice comment on someone's blog only to find when I go to post it that they have not adjusted their comment area to allow WordPress, Typepad, and other non-Blogger users to leave comments.

If I really want to leave the comment, I will go to the trouble of using the Google/Blogger sign-in that I have only for that purpose so I can tell them about changing the settings. I then have to leave them my blog URL in the comment so they can find me.

It is a simple matter to tell Blogger to allow comments from Open ID users and people who will enter their name and URL. This will link the posting back to the commenter's blog. Anonymous comments can also be allowed, but I would only recommend this if they require comment moderation before a post goes online.

Thank you for your consideration. I hope this helps ease the commenting situation. Thank you for more excellent posts today. I am really enjoying reading your teacup stories!

Beautiful Stories

Please be sure to check the new links in the Teacup-a-Story post (below), as new people are sharing their teacup stories every day. Each story is unique. I am truly enjoying reading how teacups illustrate so much more than just a beautiful piece of china. Beautiful they are, but the love, hope, and ties to relationships they represent are what makes the true essence of 'tea'. Thank you again for sharing. Each story is a little piece of brightness in my day. I hope they are the same for you.

Have a blessed day!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Teacup Stories

Thank you to everyone that has participated in the Teacup-a-Story meme for this week. I've really enjoyed visiting your blogs and learning about what makes your teacup special to you. The teacups you've each selected are so pretty! Each one has its own character, but it's the story behind each cup that represents people or events that you cherish that makes each and every teacup meaningful to the bearer. If you have just 'found' out about the Gracious Hospital-i-Tea blog-a-thon and would like to add your teacup story, it's not too late! I would love to add you to the blogroll (in the post below). If you have already posted but haven't had time to look through all the posts of others --- go pour yourself a cup of tea and sit down for some enjoyable and relaxing reading! You will be glad you did!

Sunday, March 16, 2008


This week. . .

. . .you are invited to join in the Gracious Hospital-i-Tea Blog-a-Thon. Scroll down for more information. My regular weekly posts are below this message.

The topic for this week is:

March 16 - March 22

Share a picture of your favorite teacup and saucer; describe it and tell it's history (or make up a story about it's past). Why is it meaningful to you? This would be a good place to share about the details of your teacup collection if you have one.

My Teacup at a Girlfriends Tea

Have you read the book If Teacups Could Talk by Emily Barnes? It's one of my favorites and started me on the pathway of delighting in all things 'tea'. A teacup can be a favorite for many reasons, and the favorite teacup can change from day to day. Sometimes I really do wish they could talk! Yesterday I enjoyed the favorite teacup shown in the center of this montage, not because it's especially beautiful, but because it was mine for a special afternoon tea with girlfriends. If it could talk, it would tell you that we had a great time. The experience reminded me of a cute little quip by cartoonist Aaron Bacall where he says "Do you want sugar, milk, or juicy gossip, with your tea?" Hmmm, juicy gossip, please (the good kind, of course) and lots of tasty tea and delicious food as well. There's something so relaxing and calming about an afternoon tea with girlfriends on a Sunday afternoon.

Thank you, Janet, Diane, Linda, and Tari for a purely delightful afternoon!

The Martha Teacup

It is very difficult to select a favorite teacup from my collection, so my favorite changes from day to day and from mood to mood. Today I'm selecting what I call my "Martha Teacup" as my favorite to post about. A dear friend, Martha, gave this teacup to me for my 50th birthday. Isn't it a beauty? It's dainty, delicate, and very translucent. It's hand-painted in mostly gold, but there are touches of color in the flowers and leaves that adorn the teacup and saucer. It has no mark on the back, making me believe that it was crafted as a unique piece rather than as a part of a set. According to the information Martha sent me with this teacup, it is very old. I love it's fragile nature, reminding me that even on days when I feel like I don't have enough strong enough to cope with the details of life, God gives me strength enough to face each day and situation.

Do you have a favorite teacup? I would love to see it and I hope you can share.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Finally. . .I found some wildflowers in my neighborhood! I can now post my last entry in the Wildflowers in Winter event which called for pictures of a wildflower from one's own locale. My walk around the block this afternoon was filled with many treats for the eye. Flowering apricot trees and bright yellow forsythia bushes looked cheerful against the intense blue of the sky. Friendly critters were curious about anyone passing by. And found along a grape vineyard and a blueberry patch were four different kinds of wildflowers in full bloom! Shepherd's Purse and Common Chickweed were offset by tiny purple blossoms in two varieties that grew in huge batches along the roadside. My quest is complete --- and now I can put Wildflowers in Winter to rest. It's time for spring!

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Cream Tea

"The tea party supposes neither appetite nor thirst, and has no object but distraction, no basis but delicate enjoyment."

Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

"When one has tea. . .one will have many friends."

Chinese Proverb

"Do you want sugar, milk, or juicy gossip, with your tea."

Aaron Bacall

Thank you, Janet, for the lovely birthday tea!

Seeking Color

Journaling Spring in My Garden

Today has shifted from sunshine to shadows, but I am in the mood for color, so ignored the blustery breezes and decided to add as much color as I could to my world. Three clay pots now sit on the front porch with sweet pansy plants and colorful primroses. How inviting they look!

I tucked two gazing balls next to the base of the Weeping Norway Spruce. The bright blue colors are most welcome next to the vibrant hues of the evergreen. The gazing balls are some I made several years ago when I was dabbling in ceramics. As long as I remember to take them in before the cold of winter, they survive well. Otherwise they crack and break. I learned my lesson the hard way.

Pretty pansies are now planted in a second Radio Flyer wagon. They side near one another in the front yard shrub bed, reminding me of a wagon train or happy parade.

Spring Cacophony

By this time of year, most of us are wishing for bright sunshine and clear days. But have you taken time recently to enjoy watching nature as the seasons change from winter to spring? The sky is sometimes a cacophony of breezes and shadow which can jangle the emotions, but sometimes those shadows are interspersed with bright sunshine. Huge puffy clouds are change from white and bright in a moments notice to a dark and angry black and gray. Passing showers water the earth and a few minutes later rays of sunshine beat down, triggering chlorophyll production in plants just starting to turn green. Sometimes I have to remind myself to live in the moment, enjoying each stage of the passing season. And to do my part in bringing cheer to garden and home by doing the little things that facilitate newness. Take a minute to look outside and enjoy the view. Even if spring hasn't quite arrived at your house, enjoy the moments along the way.

Photo: Storm clouds pass over the San Juan Islands on a recent spring day, but they don't slow down those who are enjoying the nature that surrounds them.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Yellow, Purple, and Blue

Little signs of spring continue to pop up in my garden. Flowers in golden yellow, purples, and blue are showing their faces. There isn't much greenery yet, but the color is so welcome! I haven't picked any for a bouquet yet --- I simply don't want to tamper with the beauty in the flower beds.

Happy Spring!

Quiet Delight

"The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

Zephaniah 3:17

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Romantic Stationary Craft Project

Recently my friend, Gwen, sent me pictures of a project she was working on as a gift for a friend. I fell in love with it's romantic appeal and practicality.

Gwen took a scalloped quilted place mat and folded the end over. Then she stitched compartments in the place mat, making a tri-fold stationary holder with a space for a writing pen. Then she added a gross-grain ribbon to tie it altogether.

The final result is a very pretty stationary holder that can be tucked in a travel bag, stored in a pretty basket on a desk, or carried to a table so one could write a note while sipping on a hot cuppa tea.

Thank you, Gwen, for letting me share your nifty craft idea!

Afternoon Tea at the Butchart Gardens

In 1904 Jennie Butchart, a woman of vision, took an exhausted and no longer used limestone quarry and committed herself to refurbishing it. The result are the beautiful Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC, Canada. Today more than fifty gardeners plant more than one million bedding plants yearly to create wild and vibrant color from March through October. Nestled somewhere on the garden grounds is a lovely tea room for the delight of afternoon tea.

Recently a lovely grandmother named Beth Ann and her beautiful granddaughter, Rozzie, enjoyed afternoon tea, relaxing and sharing time together at this tea room. The tea room is a part of the restaurant which is in what was the former home of Robert and Jennie Butchart.

Afternoon tea is served her year around. According to their website the tea menu includes "warm traditional delicacies, savoury tea sandwiches and housemade sweets".

I am drawn to this photo. To me it speaks of the essence and warmth of the tea experience. Obviously BethAnn is relaxed and comfortable as she uses her hands to express a point she is trying to make. Can you see Rozzie's mum, Julie? She's the photographer reflected in the teapot.

Beautiful flowers enhance the relaxed atmosphere in the tea room, providing a homey feeling and a fresh, natural decor; so perfect for a garden tea room.

Tea anyone? May I pour you a cup? Milk or sugar? One lump or two?

Aren't these tiny window panes beautiful? I love the way they help to draw the outside garden into the room. The window ledge plants help to achieve this feeling as well.

The three-tiered tray is well appointed with a variety of yummy sandwiches, sweet treats, and raisin-filled scones with honey. Yummy!

Thank you, Beth Ann and Rozzie, for sharing and allowing me to post pictures of your lovely afternoon tea. Although I've never visited the Butchart Gardens Tea Room, I have enjoyed sharing the experience vicariously through you. I appreciate your willingness to share.

First Wildflower

This is the last week in Elizabeth Joy's Wildflowers in Winter event. It's been fun to complete the tasks she's assigned during the last eight weeks. I've participated weekly, but have had a very difficult time finding a post for the final week. We are supposed to be posting a picture of the first wildflower we've found this spring. So far, I have found none in my locale. The daffodils, snowdrops, crocus, primroses, and apricot trees are blooming. . .but I haven't seen a wild flower. So I am going to cheat just a tiny bit. I did find a flower recently in Seattle. It was right downtown, growing in a crack between a concrete parking lot and a brick building. It was thriving! I believe this is a Shepard's Purse, although I am not sure.

Thank you, Elizabeth Joy, for creating a project that was fun and interesting for us all! I had a great time!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Art Thou Sweet Spring?

The wait for spring has seemed especially long and arduous this winter. The days between white snow and colorful flowers were filled with many days of gray skies and a very dreary garden. How happy I was today to discover daffodils blooming along the south side of the house! The reflection off the siding evidently warmed it significantly and the bright and shining faces of the daffodils made my day! Hope. . .for a beautiful spring not far away!