Friday, May 31, 2013

A Jazzy Cream Tea

Sedona, Arizona is known for beautiful red rocks and sunshine. That's how it usually is when we pass through, but the last time we were there we were blessed with a sparkling cover of sticky, white snow. What beauty! It was a chilly day, so a cup of hot tea was in order! Following the instructions of Americana (which is whom we call the voice of our vehicle GPS) we found the local tea room.

The Jazz Bouquet is a combination florist shop and tea cafe. It was a beautiful combination of two  delightful things --- flowers and tea! The shop proprietress is Kim, a gifted florist who added tea to the shop after she found some unique tables and chairs at a vendor show. An idea was born and a tea room was added to the floral shop. The aesthetic beauty and aroma of fresh flowers combines in such a charming atmosphere with scones, tea sandwiches, and fragrant hot tea. It is a friendly and relaxing place. It is truly a spa for the senses!

In addition to floral designs and afternoon tea, unique gift items are available throughout the shop. Kim features charming teapots, imported teas, European bath and beauty products, and high quality chocolates.

The decor was inviting, fresh, and clean. Interesting tea-words were featured as an upper border on all the walls. Prosperi-tea, Generosi-tea, and more gave food for thought while waiting for tea service.

Kim features Tea Forte. The presentation was a tea ceremony unto itself. Tea and accoutrement were presented beautifully on a white platter. A special teacup with cover was filled with water of the perfect temperature and set on an absorbant white napkin. A green ceramic stage was set beside the teacup and a packaged, silken pyramid of loose tea was arranged on the other side. A part of the process of enjoying this tea is the act of preparing it. The tea package is unwrapped and the pyramid goes into the teacup. Once steeped for the proper time, the silk tea bag is removed and placed on the green ceramic stage. A tiny, green, paper left works as a handle for the tea pyramid and fits right through the top of the lid. Such a simple detail creates charm and makes everything seem so ceremonious.

I ordered the cream tea, but Kim generously added a lovely tea sandwich on rye with dill and pickles. The scones were fabulous! A hotel chef with exotic training has retired to Sedona and comes in weekly to prepare scones for afternoon tea. They are frozen until ready to bake and serve (a common practice among tea shop owners). This way they are served fresh and hot out of the oven!

I enjoyed the presentation of tea with scones. The raised glass tray added interest and beauty to the table presentation.

According to their website, afternoon tea is served daily, between 2:00 and 4:00 by reservation. They serve "cream tea" which includes a scone with cream and fruit preserves, a "light tea" which includes two tea sandwiches, one canapé, and a scone with cream and fruit preserves, and "full tea" which consists of four tea sandwiches, one canapé, scone with cream and fruit preserves, and a selection of pastries. Additionally, elegant chocolates are available individually. The teas are a selection of many available from Tea Forte.

It was interesting to observe Kim arrange flowers as I enjoyed my cream tea. I felt it was unique and added to the experience.

Chocolates. Cookies! So many tempting, tasty treats!

All in all, this was a wonderful experience! The cream tea was beautifully presented and prepared to perfection. The ambiance could not be beat! It was inviting, modern, and welcoming. If you are ever in Sedona, I encourage you to stop by for a lovely cup of tea!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cordial Words of Flowers

The artist is the confidant of nature, flowers carry on dialogues with him through the graceful bending of their stems and the harmoniously tinted nuances of their blossoms. Every flower has a cordial word which nature directs towards him.

Auguste Rodin
Enjoying peach colored miniature roses paired 
with tiny white "snow in the summer" blossoms and white alba lavender.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Cup of Tea

A Cup of Tea

When the world is all at odds
And the mind is all at sea

Then cease the useless tedium
And brew a cup of tea.

There is magic in its' fragrance,
There is solace in its' taste;

And laden moments vanish
Somehow into space.

And the world becomes a lovely thing!
There's beauty as you'll see;

All because you briefly stopped
To brew a cup of tea.

Author Unknown


Teacup and saucer: Old Country Roses, Peppermint Damask
2002 Royal Albert, Ltd.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mini Yellow Roses & Snapdragons Bouquet

I hope you had a wonderful holiday week-end. Our family enjoyed a relaxing time together. The weather was breezy and cool. We even had several days of rain showers. This evening the rain stopped and the breeze was mild. It was so pleasant. I walked around the garden, looking at the flowers and how they have been growing and blooming. The yellow miniature roses drew me in. Although most of them are pure yellow, some have tinges of dark pink and a few are light cream-colored with pink shadowing the edges of the petals. I had to pick some to enjoy inside. 

I really wanted to arrange them with blossoming stalks of lavender. The hybrid lavenders are so perfect and pretty as they grow in bunches. But, I didn't really want to spoil the effect by picking any of them. Instead, I decided to pick some pretty orange and yellow snap-dragons to go with the roses.

Each rose is so different, yet each is perfect in its own way. I love observing how each petal spirals from a central point and how they flair in wider and larger semi-circles.

Arranging them was relaxing. I found a place to display them in the dining room where the family can view them all week long. I've enjoyed a cup of Adagio Yunnan Gold tonight as I edited photos and created this post. I hope you enjoy a wonderful week! May will be gracing us a few more days and then the warmer, sunnier days of June will appear. May your week be blessed with many good things!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Blueberry-Lavender Jam

Blueberry-Lavender Jam

2 Tbsp. dried, organic lavender flowers
12 ounces frozen white grape juice concentrate
3 cups fresh (or flash frozen) blueberries, washed and drained

Make a lavender sachet by cutting a piece of cheesecloth into a 6" square. Place the lavender in the center and tie into a bundle with kitchen twine or twist.

Place the lavender sachet, grape juice concentrate, and blueberries to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Stir constantly to prevent sticking. The berry mixture will 'jell' after about 20 minutes. You can test if the mixture has jelled by placing a teaspoonful of it on a place and allowing to cool at room temperature. After cooling, lightly touch the berry mixture with your finger to see if it has the consistency of jelly. If necessary, cook for 10 more minutes. When done, cover and steep for 2 hours. Then, remove the lavender sachet and discard.

Divide the jam between two pint jars. Cover and store in a refrigerator for up to one month.

*The mountain in the background is Mt. Adams*Can you see it?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Tea in Bisbee

We found tea in Bisbee!
The thought of tea rooms might seem foreign in a place like the desert southwest, but tea is a beverage that can be consumed and enjoyed wherever you go. But, sometimes it takes a bit of work to find places that distribute or serve quality teas. That makes the search all the more interesting.

Houses built on Bisbee hillsides.
Bisbee, Arizona is a small town of a few more than 6,000 people and it's located in southeast Arizona, not far from the Mexican border. It was founded in 1880 as a mining town. Copper, gold, and silver were largely mined there, with by-products like turquoise, cuprite, aragonite, wulfenite, malachite, azurite, and galena being found as well. The town was named after Judge DeWitt Bisbee who was one of the financial backers of the famous Copper Queen Mine. The town is built on hills, with layer upon layer of houses and buildings gracing all levels of the community. Long sets of stairs are used in many places to reach houses on the higher levels. It seems like Main Street is the only level place in town.

Grandpa walking on Main Street
Main Street winds one-way through town, with Clawson Avenue running back the other way. It's a fun loop to walk, as the buildings are old and quaint. The mines are now closed, although tourists are now taken deep into a mountain that contains the Copper Queen Mine. Each guest is given a hard hat, a miner's headlamp and a yellow slicker before they are set aside small rail carts that go 1,500 feet into the mine. Tour guides are former employees of the now-closed Phelps Dodge Company who owned the mine. It's all very authentic and exciting, especially when the tour guide has everyone turn off their headlamps and you see how dark it really is underground!

Narrow streets and many tourists make walking single-file necessary.
Now days, Bisbee is a haven for artisans and retired folk. It was once named quirkiest city in American, a title that I believe is well deserved. Quaint shops with interesting things to see line the streets. Antique stores, art galleries, small cafes, used bookstores, museums, and quirky clothing stores can be found. Beads, gauze and tie-dye, and flashy cowboy boots all meld together into a fashion-sense that seems completely normal there. Away from the shops of town, beautiful old hotels and homes can be seen and appreciated.

Quaint and pretty southwestern tea shop.
It was along Main Street that Divine Teas & Novelties was found. Proprietor Lilith claims to have the only blending tea store in the state. She creates blends with organic teas and medicinal ingredients. Lined behind the counter are gallon jars filled with these delightful blends of black, green, white, herbal, chai, rooibos, and medicinal teas and tisanes. A spicy fragrance fills the air and customers are allowed to breath deeply of the ingredients in the jars of tea they are most interested in. 

The door is open and invites everyone inside.
Unfortunately, a cup of tea could not be purchased in the shop, as the only teas and tisanes sold were by the scoop, then bagged to be brewed at home.

Tea ware, both old and new.
The novelties were mostly tea related accoutrements, teacups, and teapots. Some were antique and others were new.

The Copper Queen Hotel
A cup of hot water and a tea bag could be found in the restaurant at the famed Copper Queen Hotel. 

Main Street winds through Bisbee.
Our tea picnic.
Or, in enjoyed in the back of our pick-up where thermos' of hot, brewed and decanted tea were enjoyed with our picnic lunch. If you ever have a chance to visit Bisbee, be sure to allow enough time to explore this wonderful little gem!

It was a pleasant day in a pretty town.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Blogging Friends

White miniature roses with the first of this season's lavender.

I would like you to invite you to visit some of my blogging friends. I have two different listings of blogs that I enjoy. I think you might too! 

The first is a list at Tea Gracious Hospitality. The other is Friends of Gracious Hospitality. I've tried to include everyone who links to Gracious Hospitality or those who frequent my blog and leave a message telling me they've visited. Since blogging is a fluid and dynamic process, it may be that I have missed some favorite blogs unintentionally. . .or there may be a few broken links in the listing. If you'd like to be added to my blog roll, please leave me a message with this post. Alternatively, if you find a broken link that I've missed, let me know and I'll make necessary adjustments.

Thank you for visiting Gracious Hospitality! I am also happy to visit you! Just let me know where to find you!

Ruffly white miniature roses in a Shelley teacup.

Pasta Con Faggioli

Fresh, savory, and quick to make --- Pasta con Faggioli is great for a crowd. 
Serve with sandwiches and enjoy the fellowship of family and friends.

Pasta Con Faggioli

6 cups water
4 - 5 medium garlic cloves, peeled and diced
1 sweet onion, medium
8 ounces crushed tomatoes, canned
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/4 Tbsp. chili pepper, crushed
1 Tbsp. parsley, fresh and chopped
15 ounces cooked Great Northern White Beans
8 ounces quinoa spaghetti, broken

In a skillet, sauté sweet onion and garlic until 
soft. Add seasonings, tomatoes, and beans. 
In a kettle, bring water to a boil. Add spaghetti 
and cook until tender. Add bean and tomato 
mixture to the spaghetti. Add fresh parsley 
and stir in gently. Adjust seasonings as needed. 
Cover and allow to sit for 2 - 3 minutes before 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Flowers as Art

There are many objects that can be used for media when it comes to art. Flowers, with their variety in shape, color, and texture, come to mind when I get the urge to create something. Sometimes it is fun to experiment with new shapes and ideas. As a general rule, I feel most comfortable with traditional and symmetrical shapes, especially when it comes to flower arranging! But, with the beautiful flowers this May, I thought it might be time to try something a bit more challenging, so I ordered a floral frog and putty. What an experiment! I immediately learned of several things that I did wrong! But, since it is "art" I've decided to appreciate my first attempt and count it as a happy experiment. Arranging on a low plane changes the entire structure and formula for floral design. There's so much to learn, both artistically and mechanically.

But, although this arrangement has fatal flaws, I also appreciate the casual lines and the natural form and shape that flowers provide. Each kind has its own unique droop and flair. It didn't seem fair to try to coax them into a way that was unnatural to how they grew, so I let them be.

This picture replicates the effect that occurs when you squint your eyes and look at something in order to see what pops out at you! What do you see in this picture? Purple? Red? Or are they equal to you? My desire was that the red compliment the purple, but I really think it worked out to be the other way around.

Flowers represent such uniqueness. Just like human faces, each is special in its own way. I will keep working on my asymmetrical, floral frog arrangements until I get it right. But, just for fun I'm sharing my first attempt with you today. Breathe deeply and imagine the fragrance. See the colors, shapes and sizes. Look for radiation, repetition, and gradation. Imagine the harmony and unity that could be there but is yet not seen. See if there is a fragment of harmony and unity already there. Search for dominance in size and color. And seek the balance in the whole. Tomorrow is another day. I will try again.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Seeking Tea in Tombstone

Grandpa in Tombstone

It's always pleasant to visit friends and family. And it becomes even more fun for me when I have the opportunity to search for tea! Grandpa spends several months of each year in Arizona and invited us to come and be his guests. It was an enjoyable experience and we visited several interesting sites nearby. Today I'm sharing about a stop in Tombstone. Have you ever been there? It is one of my favorite places. While most are interested in the story of gunfights and the wild west, I have enjoyed seeking out little things that interest me, like a museum of historical costumes and clothing, the local guild quilt museum, finding places that sell sarsaparilla so I can bring it home to the (now adult) kids, and browsing the antique shops. Pioneer life and the wild west interests me so.
Tour guide at Bird Cage Theater

Our first stop was at the Bird Cage Theater. A tour guide beckons tourists in from the door and once a crowd has gathered, explains the history of this historic theater. She names famous people who have been guests there in a list that is a mile long! And many of the names are those that are familiar from history books. This small, but interesting theater was opened in 1881 and was named for the fourteen "boxes" that were placed on two balconies on either side of the main central hall. Although there was a stage and an orchestra pit, the theater is best known for its gambling and the ladies of the night who entertained there. It really was a fairly unsavory place, although now it's interesting to visit and see the historical items on display. It's said that the longest card game ever took place in this location, lasting eight years, five months, and three days. The New York Times, in 1882, declared that "this theater was the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast". More than 120 bullet holes can be seen throughout the building, and our tour guide was quick to point out several right there in the lobby. But let's move along, shall we?
Stagecoaches steal the show on Main Street

Tombstone was founded in 1879 and is in the southeastern part of Arizona. It was a silver mining town and grew from one hundred people to 14,000 in a few short years. It was a bustling little town! By 1881 it had not only a bowling alley, four churches, a school, two banks, three newspapers, and an ice house --- it also had 110 saloons and 14 gambling halls as well as numerous dancing halls and brothels. There was nothing quiet, nor proper about Tombstone!
Common attire of the day!

Tombstone is famous for the shoot-out at O.K. Corral. It is an event that is re-enacted daily.  A deadly conflict between a gang who stole cattle from ranchers and law enforcement has given Tombstone a place in history. The Earp brothers all assumed roles as lawmen and ended up in a confrontation with the Cowboy gang. Wyatt is probably the most famous of the Earp brothers. Interwoven into the history of the area is a love affair between Doc Holliday and Big Nose Kate. If you see her picture, you can tell she was aptly named! An interesting and generally unknown fact is that Doc Holliday was a cousin by marriage to Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With the Wind. The longer one spends researching the history of a place like Tombstone, the more connections can be made with other famous Americans of the day.
Crystal Palace Saloon

Of the 110 saloons in Tombstone, the Crystal Palace Saloon and Big Nose Kate's Saloon are probably two of the most famous. Both are still a part of the Tombstone scene, open daily and frequented by dozens of curious tourists who visit there. The ambiance and decor of each of them is much the same as it was in the late 1880's. Authenticity reigns in Tombstone.
Cowboy Garb
In the present time, Tombstone holds connections that tie our family together with memories. A cousin of eight years old visited the town on a girls trip with me and my mom and mother-in-law. A few years later, she was married in true western style at a Tombstone church. And an interesting man we knew from a church nearby played an authentic role as an actor in scenes from the town's history. Trips with our kids to this western community have proven fun over the years. Lessons in history are much more easily learned with such colorful object lessons.

Wooden boardwalks line Main Street
But, where does the tea come in? As we walked along Main Street, I was surprised to see a small little shop at the entrance to a shooting gallery. Inside was a friendly woman who was dressed in frontier garb. Teapots and baked goods were displayed at the back of her small eating establishment. Could it be? Would it be possible to have tea in Tombstone? Yes! And she was happy to share about her experience.

Opening day of Buns & Guns

It just happened to be the opening of her very first day in her quaint little cafe and bakery. She'd earned her way, carefully dressing with authenticity and baking homemade treats in a rented space in a commercial kitchen. For two years she was a walking bakery, carrying baskets of her home-baked goodies up and down the boardwalks, selling them to passers-by. A city committee oversees each business, making sure they meet the standards of authenticity that they require as part of the historic portions of their town. She worked carefully to meet the requirements and after her years of hard work, she was finally able to rent a space where she could open her store-front cafe. She told me that she was the first bakery in 100 years in Tombstone.
Favorite teapot
Buns & Guns

I admire her hard work and enthusiasm for her tasks! And I hope that the next time I am privileged to visit Tombstone, that she is still there and that her business is thriving! It's wonderful that a cup of tea can now be found in Tombstone!
The soda bar

I've shared pictures from the bar at a Tombstone saloon, and a bakery bar that serves tea just down the street. It's only right that I share one last bar before the tour of Tombstone is over. Down at the end of the street the soda bar was filled with kids, enjoying sodas and ice cream. It appears that Tombstone has something for every one's taste! If you ever have a chance to visit Tombstone, I recommend it. And be sure to take time to go off the beat and track. Sometimes the best places are those that are not the most touristy places, but rather the nooks and little places along the way. Some day I will share about the time we took tea and a picnic in the Tombstone city park on New Year's Day. Explore and enjoy!