Friday, February 16, 2018

Three Is Charm

As the week winds down and I take the weekend off from blogging, I have three unrelated things I wanted to share.  The first was a surprise envelope I received in the mail from a local blog follower.

Laura had read about the Valentine's Tea/Luncheon at Samaritas Senior Living last Sunday from a newspaper article promoting it.  She had planned to come until the snow storm made travel foreboding.  So instead she sent a Valentine card with the newspaper clipping, a coupon for P.F. Changs, and some tea bags/sachets.  The newspaper article was actually the same invitation that was placed on each table at Samaritas the day of the tea luncheon.

She mentioned in her note that Fraser Tea was blended locally in Livonia, MI.   I had never heard of Fraser Tea before, so the tea packets definitely piqued my interest. I immediately went to their website at, and found the story of three brothers and their adventure into the world of tea very interesting.  Of course, I had to brew a cup of their tea.  The packet I sampled was Watermelon Oolong.  The steeped sachet produced a pale greenish/faint amber hue, with a wonderful watermelon aroma. The taste was light and refreshing, and was just as good on the second steep as the first.

Their website gives the description "a virtual summer picnic in a cup!"  Watermelon Oolong Organic Tea combines fresh blueberries and tropical flavors [coconut, mango, papaya, and pineapple] with lemongrass, osmanthus and cornflowers to produce a delicate, fruity taste.  I highly recommend this tea, and I will definitely be contacting Fraser Tea.  I couldn't find when their company was founded, but I'm thinking it's relatively new.  Thanks so much, Laura, for introducing me to this local tea purveyor/blender!

Secondly, I received my DNA results from on February 8th.  The DNA kit was a Christmas present from my son and his family.  Steve received a kit as a Christmas gift from his wife in 2016, and he was anxious to compare his DNA to Jerry's and mine.  Jerry is still waiting for his results to come back.  No wonder I love Great Britain so much - it's in my blood!  I had always been told by paternal relatives that I had some American Indian and German in my blood, and some French from my mother's side, but there's not a drop of  any of those nationalities in my DNA! ;-) The 28% Ireland wasn't surprising because my maternal grandfather's surname name was Sullivan. Thanks for the kit, Steve.  Now I know for certain my earthly ethnicity.  As a side note: even though it doesn't show in my DNA [but I hope it's visible in my lifestyle] when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, I became a child of God. And that ancestry - available to everyone - is the only one that truly matters.

Last, but certainly not least, my daughter went to visit her grandaughter [my great-granddaughter] yesterday, and Tiffany posted the picture below of Evie and Lori on Facebook this morning.  It was so cute I just had to share it.  Evie is 9 months old now and crawling.  A visit to Grand Ledge to see her is on the horizon! Isn't she adorable? Of course, I'm very prejudiced! ;-) 

Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Afternoon Tea at Royal Park Hotel

My hubby and I had 12:15 reservations for Afternoon Tea at the Royal Park Hotel, thanks to my girlfriend Lori's generous birthday gift.  It was a gray drizzly day, so Afternoon Tea was the perfect pick-me-up!

We arrived a few minutes early, so waited in the library until they were ready for us.  Mary, the hotel's tea hostess, fell and broke her wrist, so Trevor capably filled in for her.  Below is the corridor leading to and from the gallery where Afternoon Tea is served.

Trevor explained our tea choices from the Mighty Leaf tea chest.  I chose Pear Caramel, and Jerry chose Earl Grey - both black teas, and both very good.

Our table was beautifully set.  The Royal Tea comes with a glass of champagne or sparkling cider.  We chose sparkling cider, which hadn't yet been brought to our table.

Teapot of Pear Caramel tea. 

Three course tiered server. 

Their menu hasn't changed from previous posts.  Savories from 12:00 o'clock position:  Egg Salad Tomato Bruschetta; Rosemary Puff Pastry with Roast Beef, Cheddar and Horseradish Cream; Smoked Salmon BLT on Rye; Aged Cheddar Cheese Creme Brulee with Orange and Date; Cucumber with Herb Cream Cheese on White; and Hickory Smoked Chicken with Pear Chutney. 

Hot Hors d'Oeuvres were Pear-Almond Brie En-Croute, and Spanakopita.

Freshly baked English Fruit Scone with Lemon Curd and Clotted Cream.

Desserts from 12:00 o'clock position were:  Dark Chocolate Decadence; large Chocolate covered Strawberry; Orange Cheesecake Pop; Shortbread Cookie; Cranberry Orange Bread; and in center Raspberry Tart. 

Currently, Afternoon Tea is served Thursday thru Sunday from 11:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.  Reservations are required.

*  *  *

I thought I'd also include the photos from our Valentine's dinner last night at Andiamo's Italian Bistro.  Between my birthday and Valentine's Day I've been doing some nice dining.  ;-)

Jerry and I made it very easy on our server and both ordered the same thing - Chicken Marsala.  I got the Italian Wedding Soup and Jerry got a salad.

For dessert we shared a piece of Cassata Cake.  It was a very nice evening.

What did you do on Valentine's Day?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day!

Today seemed like the perfect day to get out my heart-shaped waffle maker and prepare some chocolate waffles for breakfast.  It was a new recipe from the Internet because I couldn't find where I put my other recipe, but it worked just fine.  I'll include the waffle recipe at the end of this post.

It was also the day to get out my Valentine placemats and teacups.

Our tea was Courtship Tea that I order from Donna & Ron Lasko in Osterville, MA.  It's a black tea with an essence of ginger, blended for them by Harney & Sons.

My honey gave me a beautiful bouquet of flowers to enjoy on this special day.  We've known each other for most of our lives, meeting in the 10th grade.  Tonight we're going out to dinner at Andiamo's - a restaurant we only visit on special occasions.

Our daughter-in-law sent us two pics of our youngest grandchild, Ellie, at her kindergarten Valentine's party this morning.  In the picture below she's holding the box she made to contain the Valentine's from her classmates.

In the second photo she's holding her handmade Valentine.  

I especially like the 'Valentine' I read in God's Word last night:  '"Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor My covenant of peace be removed,' says the Lord who has compassion on you."  [Isaiah 54:10]  Someone has rightly said the Bible is God's love letter to us.  The prophet Jeremiah said in Lamentations 3:22-23 "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness."  [English Standard Version].  I'm thankful God's 'love notes' are not only for Valentine's Day, but every day of the year!

I also enjoyed the article Elyse & John: The Love Story Behind Harney & Sons Tea that is in the March/April issue of Tea Time Magazine.  It's worth getting the magazine for that one article alone, although the magazine contains many other good articles too.  This was Tea Time's first ever French issue.

The article was written by James Norwood Pratt and is the first in a series of the romance of tea.  I liked their quote "There's a great deal of romance in a chest of tea!"  We lost a great tea ambassador when John Harney passed in 2014, but so glad his family is continuing his legacy.

Chocolate Waffle Recipe
[Makes 3 Waffles]

1/2 cup melted butter [1 stick]
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk

Mix all ingredients together.  Drop batter onto a hot waffle iron.  Cook until waffle maker indicates waffle is done.  [Mine makes a chirping sound].  The batter is a bit stiff, but the waffles turn out perfectly.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Tea Tasting at The Rendezvous With Tea

Last Saturday I received a call from Naszreen Gibson, the owner of The Rendezvous With Tea inviting me to a tea tasting yesterday.  In going over previous posts I discovered this was my 14th tea tasting at the shop spanning June 2014 until now.

Below is a photo of the shop, but it wasn't taken yesterday.  I parked in back of her shop and didn't want to walk around to the front in the cold to get a current picture, but it hasn't changed much.

I arrived a little before the tasting began at 11:00 a.m., so took some inside photos of her shop.  She has a lot more tea merchandise displayed since I was there last September.

~ One of the signs displayed in the shop. ~

Retail area at the front of the shop.  The snow covered tree is most appropriate for right now.

The Beatrix Potter/Peter Rabbit teapot and teacups captured my attention.  Mugs are easy to find, but it's rare to find full-size teacups, so you won't be surprised the two teacups came home with me.  It was a splurge, but I told myself I had birthday money to spend.  With Easter right around the corner on April 1st, I've decided to put together a Beatrix Potter/Peter Rabbit presentation for the residents at the assisted living facility.  That teapot will probably nag at me even though I already have one Beatrix Potter/Peter Rabbit teapot.

The tasting area at the back of the shop was ready and waiting.

There were nine attendees.  As usual, Nazarene presented eight teas to taste.  One white [called Blush from China]; one  white/green blend [called Silver Leaf  Rings from Sri Lanka]; one oolong [called Champagne from China]; one purple tea [called Purple Reign from Kenya]; two black [Zhen Qu Golden Buds from China and Hot Chocolate - one of Naszreen's blends from Sri Lanka with pieces of chocolate and red chili flakes]; one green tea and herbal blend [called Calm, Soothe, De-stress, a blend of Naszreen's]; and one herbal [Relax Blue also a blend of Naszreen's].

Naszreen showed us a compressed Pu-erh cake, even though it wasn't part of the tasting.

She always gives a very informative presentation telling about tea's history, the different types of tea, how they're processed, etc.  

I only took photos of loose tea from two of the teas we sampled.  Silver Leaf Rings because the tea is literally rolled into circles by hand, and Zhen Qu Golden Buds because of its wiry black and gold buds.

Zhen Qu was one of the teas I had tasted before and really liked.  I purchased some to take home, and wished later that I had done the same yesterday.  It has a very smooth taste, with a lovely aroma.

I had also sampled the Relax Blue herbal tea previously.  It's a blend of chamomile, peppermint, lemongrass, lavender and blue pea flower, which turns the infusion into a beautiful, tranquil blue color when steeped.  It's her best selling herbal tea.

We tasted the Hot Chocolate black tea two ways.  First as a normal infusion without any additions, which was very good.  You could definitely smell and taste the chocolate pieces.  Then as a literal hot chocolate with milk [or half and half] added and a bit of cayenne pepper for an extra bit of heat.

As always, at the conclusion of the tea, Naszreen served some delicious refreshments.  A slice of Smoked Gouda Cheese and Herb Quiche; a Chocolate Caramel Bar on Scottish Shortbread made with green Earl Grey Lavender tea; and a slice of Red Velvet cake made with her own Temasek Splendour black tea blend that contains Raspberry pieces and Hibiscus petals.  The raspberry came through very nicely.  Everything was homemade by Naszreen and was delicious.  The goal, however, is to showcase the fine teas, not the food.

As you can see, I wasn't the only shutterbug in attendance.  The other shutterbug posts her photos on Instagram [TheDtrtr which means The Detroiter.  Her photos are all things Detroit].

As a take home treat Naszreen made the cake into individual roses and put it into adorable takeout boxes complete with a tea phrase on the back.

I took mine home to my hubby since I had already eaten a generous piece at the tea shop.

In addition to the two bone china teacups, I also purchased 8 individual sachets of Naszreen's Michigana tea.   Besides enjoying at home, they're perfect for enclosing in a card to someone, particularly if it's someone out-of-state and you're wanting to convey greetings from Michigan.  They are 8 sachets for $8.50.

If you have never visited The Rendezvous With Tea, it's located at 20792 Mack Avenue in Grosse Pointe Woods, MI.  The shop is open Monday thru Saturday.  Phone 313-332-0787

On a totally unrelated subject, Happy Paczki Day!  Have you had your paczki [pronounced PUNCH-kee] yet? It's a Polish jelly [or custard] filled donut that's a huge tradition in the Detroit/Suburban area.  Paczki day is also known as Fat Tuesday, the last day to 'indulge' in feasting before Lent begins tomorrow [Ash Wednesday].  I think I'll pass since one paczki contains anywhere from 300 to 450 calories each and has 15 to 24 grams of fat.  Tea is much better for me!

It's also Mardi Gras - the last day of the Carnival Season [which began on Epiphany, January 6th.] I'm sure things are hopping in New Orleans and other areas.  Below is a picture of a King Cake I made in 2013.  I haven't been that ambitious since!  ;-)

Today is also known as Shrove Tuesday in Great Britain.  A day for eating pancakes!