Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Curious Savage

[Internet Program Cover]
The Curious Savage is a comedy play written by John Patrick that opened in New York in 1950.

It's about a lady named Ethel P. Savage, whose husband died and left her ten million dollars [which she wants to use to set up a memorial fund to help average people pursue their dreams].  Her three step-children have her committed to a sanatorium, called The Cloisters, so they can take the money from her.   Unbeknown to the step-children, she stashes the fortune [which is in the form of half-million dollar negotiable bonds] inside a teddy bear that she carries around with her constantly.  Besides Mrs. Savage, there are five residents at the sanatorium, who become close-knit friends. 
The play is a contrast between the residents [who supposedly need psychiatric care] and Mrs. Savage's step-children [who consider themselves normal].  By the end of the play it's questionable who the crazy ones really are!  ;-)
My sixteen year old granddaughter, Brianna, portrayed the character of Fairy May - one of the five residents.   Fairy May was a disheveled and messy  lady who believed herself to be stunningly beautiful, and was obsessed with having others love her.
Our family went to see the performance this week, and this proud Nana had to share photos of Brianna, who was awesome!
[Cast Photo - Brianna second from left.]
Have any of you seen The Curious Savage?
Granddaughters Brooke [Brianna's sister] and Tiffany at Intermission
Thank you for granting me grandmother's bragging privileges!  ;-)  Raising my teacup in tribute to you, Brianna, for a job well done!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Honest Tea

I love reading success stories and Honest Tea is one of them.
Ready-to-Drink [RTD] Teas account for more than 50% of tea's market share and has experienced the largest growth.   Co-founders Seth Goldman and Barry Nalebuff teamed up to create Honest Tea in 1998.  They arrived at the name because their tea is made with real tea leaves, not lower quality dust and fannings.
Seth began brewing batches of tea in his kitchen.  Five weeks later he brought thermoses of tea and a recycled bottle with a mock-up label to Whole Foods Markets and the buyer ordered 15,000 bottles, and as they say, the rest is history!
In 2011 the Coca-Cola Company purchased Honest Tea, bringing them into the Coke family as an independent operating unit.
I recently read an article about an experiment Honest Tea conducted, called the "Honest Cities social experiment."   The question was posed, "Where do the most honest Americans live?   To find out, Honest Tea sat up unattended beverage kiosks in 12 American cities across the country.  The stands had boxes where people could deposit a dollar bill into, in exchange for an Honest Tea beverage, but there were no consequences if they didn't pay.
[Internet Photo]
Chicago was named the most honest city after 99% of its residents paid for their beverages.  New York was the least honest city with only 86% of its residences paying for the beverages.
Turns out, Americans [or at least Americans who like Honest Tea] are pretty honest.
Full results:
Chicago:  99%
Boston:    97%
Seattle:    97%
Dallas:     97%
Atlanta:   96%
Philadelphia:  96%
Cincinnati:  95%
San Francisco:  93%
Miami:    92%
Washington, DC:  91%
Los Angeles:  88%
New York:  86%
Hummm... I wonder where Detroit would have ranked had they placed kiosks there???
Honest Tea donated all of the money collected, nearly $5,000, to two worthy endeavors,  and matched the amount.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tea Towels

On November 13th I wrote about my visit to Jeffrey's Antique Mall where I purchased two vintage tea towels.   The purchase prompted a look at my other tea towels, which I've decided to share today.  
Some are vintage and hand embroidered...
Some are souvenirs...
[Empress Hotel, Victoria, British Columbia]
[Irish Linen Store, Victoria, British Columbia]
[Harrods, London, England]
Some are collectible...
[Sandy Clough]
Some are gifts...
[Laura Ashley, London, England]
And some are purchases from here and there...
 [Cracker Barrel]
[World Market - Cost Plus]
Some references claim tea towels came into use during the 18th Century, while other sources link them to the early 19th Century.   Either way, they originated in England and were a special linen drying cloth used by the mistress of the house to dry her precious and expensive china tea equipage.   Tea towels were also wrapped around  teapots to insulate and keep the pot warm in place of a tea cozy, and either wrapped around, or laid on top of a serving basket or bowl to keep fresh tea scones, tea cakes or muffins warm.  They were sometimes used to take care of  tea-time spills and clean-up too.
Linen was the fabric of choice because it was lint-free and wouldn't scratch fine china or glassware.  The 18th Century servants hand hemmed and embroidered the tea towels as well as ladies of the home.  The embroidery was done with such great skill and care that  tea towels often became family heirlooms.
Tea towels are mass produced today and can be easily purchased in many stores, so their importance has diminished unless you're a tea lover who likes to collect anything associated with tea.
Do you collect tea towels?

Monday, November 26, 2012

An "Official" Collection

Thanks to a recent E-bay purchase I now have my third piece of red transferware - which constitutes a collection!  ;-)   The seller described it as an "oversized" teacup, but I didn't realize how oversized it was until it arrived in the mail.    It holds 16 oz.    I've seen large teacup planters in garden centers before, but I've never  seen an actual oversized drinking teacup until this purchase.  Have you?
To put its size into perspective I sat a standard 6 oz. teacup next to it.  I doubt I'll ever find another oversized red transferware teacup to go with it, but I'm happy that I at least found one.
Like my other pieces, it's made by Alfred Meaken in Staffordshire, England, in the Tonquin pattern [the same pattern as the teapot I acquired].
"The Collection"
Something else that's "official" - wintry weather in southeastern Michigan!   After  balmy 60 degree temperatures on Thanksgiving Day, it was quite a contrast to lift my bedroom window shade this morning and see snow.   There's nothing like snow to  provide atmosphere  for the upcoming holidays.
View from the backyard doorwall.
It was just a light dusting of snow, but I couldn't resist taking a photo of our first snowfall this season.
 *  *  *
Today I'm linking to Tuesday Cuppa Tea at Antiques and Teacups blog.

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Cozy "Black Friday" at Home

The day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday [the busiest shopping day of the year], is  fun for many people, but I'm avoiding the crowds and staying home to begin decorating my house for Christmas.
I recently found this cute teapot that expresses my feelings about frenzy shopping, and I'm doing exactly as the teapot recommends. 

The first Christmas decorations to unpack and display are my porcelain lighted tea houses.  I'm grateful to Linda at Friendship Tea blog for the heads-up on Melinda's Scone & Tea Shop  by Lemax, available at Michael's Arts & Crafts Store this year.  It's the newest tea house to join my collection [far left in photo below].  

I'm not sure what year I started collecting porcelain lighted tea houses, but it's been a few years, and my collection has grown to 19.  I display them on top of the built-in bookcases in the family room.   I love the coziness they provide at night.

I group them by manufacturers.  There are four Department 56 tea houses in my collection:  Mrs. Brimm's Tea Room; Potter's Tea Seller; Russian Tea Room; and Joseph Edward Tea Shoppe.

I have four Santa's Workbench tea houses [sold by JoAnn Fabric & Craft Stores]:  The Tea Cozy [which was the first tea house that began my collection - a gift from a dear friend]; Elevenses Tea House; Lady Anne's Tea Room; and The Terrace Tea Room. 

For four years Big Lots sold Norman Rockwell tea houses - a different house each year with Norman Rockwell's Oct. 22, 1927 Saturday Evening Post scene, "Tea Time" visible from the front window.   I have all four houses.

[Internet Photo]

The rest of the houses are by assorted manufacturers:  Lamplight Tea Room [Thomas Kinkaid]; Wayside Tea Room [Lemax]; Rosie Mae's Tea Room [Kohl's St. Nicholas Square]; Copperfield Tea House; Mistletoe Tea Room; and Haley's Tea Shoppe.


I think I've about reached my maximum capacity, but will I have the willpower to walk past one in a store?    Time will tell!  ;-)


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday at this time of year that's set aside to count our blessings!  

And reminisce about Thanksgivings past...
The first Thanksgiving that usually comes to mind is the one that took place in October 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts, with the Pilgrims and native American Indians.  It was held after the first successful harvest to give thanks.  After that first Thanksgiving, the custom spread throughout the colonies, with each region choosing its own date.

President George Washington proclaimed the first nation-wide Thanksgiving celebration on November 26, 1789 to acknowledge with grateful hearts the many favors of Almighty God.  Tea was probably part of his Thanksgiving celebration.  Unfortunately,  it was a one time only celebration because his successors failed to keep it going.  Thomas Jefferson opposed the proclamation of holidays, so he paid no attention to Thanksgiving, although some people did continue to celebrate it on different dates, in different states.
The idea of a national Thanksgiving holiday was slow to catch on.   Thanksgiving as we now celebrate it, was largely the creation of Mrs. Sarah J. Hale, editor of one of the first women's magazines.  It took her almost forty years of persuading public officials all over the country to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday.  She used her magazine to editorialize the subject and print recipes.  She also wrote letters to hundreds of influential people [including presidents and governors] asking them to support her cause.
When she presented her idea to President Lincoln, he issued a National Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1863 [during the Civil War] setting aside the last Thursday of November as the official day, thinking it would help unite the nation.  He called on the "whole American people" wherever they lived - north, south, east or west - to unite "with one heart and one voice" in observing a special day of thanksgiving.  He urged prayers in churches and in homes to "implore the interposition of the Almight Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and union."
From that time on Thanksgiving was proclaimed annually by  U.S. Presidents.   In 1939 President Franklin Roosevelt changed it to the third Thursday of November, causing many people to be outraged by his "change of national tradition."  In 1941 Congress  declared  Thanksgiving would fall on the fourth Thursday of November, where it has remained to this day.

Over the river and through the woods
to Jeremy's house we go...
We celebrated Thanksgiving at my youngest son and daughter-in-law's  house this year, in Chelsea, MI.   They moved into their new home in July, which is situated on 2.5 acres of wooded property.  15 family members enjoyed the day together.  I cooked the meal, my daughter made the pies, and my daughters-in-law provided munchies to enjoy throughout the afternoon and evening.  Jeremy built a bonfire in the rear of his property later in the evening [for those who were willing to leave the comforts of  indoors to enjoy it].   I'm so thankful for my wonderful family!

Sweet baby Ellie is wearing her "Baby's First Thanksgiving" outfit, held by her great-grandmother [my mother].

Below my second oldest granddaughter, Marissa, is giving Ellie some lovin' [and she's enjoying it!].
After looking through old Thanksgiving photographs, I found a picture of Jeremy's first Thanksgiving [1979] with his older sister, Lori, brother, Steve, and me.   Amazing how swiftly the years have passed!
Fast forward to 1988
 The family grew to include two grandchildren, and a soon-to-be daughter-in-law.
 Now thank we all our God
With heart and hands and voices!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Harvest Celebration

I used to coordinate monthly dinners for the ladies of my church, so  I pulled out  photos and handouts from November dinners for inspiration for today's blog post.  Below are photos from one of the tablescapes that depicted the theme, "Harvest Celebration."
Pumpkins are always a part of the fall harvest, hence the pumpkin candleholder in the centerpiece below.
If you look closely, you can see pumpkin candies in  burlap-lined baskets at each place setting, and a small, clear, plastic cup containing a few pumpkin seeds for each lady to take home  to contemplate the "seeds" [deeds] they have sown, as well as the seeds they'd like to sow in the future.

Did you know there is a correlation between growing pumpkins and successful living?
Growing pumpkins begins with a plan - determining where the pumpkin patch will be located, and what kind of pumpkins will be sown and harvested.   
God has a wonderful plan for our lives too, and when we follow His plan we grow successfully,  reaping a harvest of blessings from deeds that we've sown.
Pumpkins are a versatile crop - they have more uses than just being Halloween Jack-o-lanterns.  They are referred to as "the fruit of many faces," due to their varied uses.
Humans are varied and versatile too - we possess many talents and abilities to enrich the lives of others.
I love the example how native Americans planted pumpkins with corn and beans.  The three crops were called the "Three Sisters," and were planted in a circular garden.  Corn was in the center, surrounded by beans, with pumpkins on the outer perimeter.  As they grew, each of the "Three Sisters" helped each other grow better.  The pumpkin vines and leaves covered the ground like a blanket, crowding out light and preventing weeds from getting started.  They created a prickly barrier that helped keep raccoons, deer, and other critters away from the corn.  The bean plants added nutrients to the soil, helping to feed the hungry corn, while the corn made a natural trellis for the beans to climb.    Likewise we  need each other as we journey through the garden of life.
After the pumpkin seed has been planted, but before the pumpkin appears, the plant bears beautiful blossoms.  It has been said, "If pumpkins were rare, gardeners would pamper them in greenhouses just for their extraordinary flowers." 
We can bloom where we're planted to provide beauty for others.
Pumpkins are a healing fruit - a great source of beta carotene which helps fight disease.
We can be a healing balm to those around us who need encouragement.
In Colonial times, pumpkins were such a favorite food that the Port of Boston was called Pumpkinshire!  And some today still use the word pumpkin as a term of endearment.   While most of us wouldn't aspire to attaining the nickname pumpkin, we can aspire to having hearts [the innermost core of our being] that  produce "fruits" of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control [Galatians 5:22-23]. 
And to bring this post around to tea, it is said that pumpkin tea regulates blood sugar.  So  drink up, as you enjoy your Thanksgiving desserts!  ;-)


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dining in Frankenmuth, Michigan

Eighty-five miles north of where I live is the quaint city of Frankenmuth, commonly referred to as "Michigan's Little Bavaria."  It was settled and named in 1845 by conservative Lutheran immigrants from Germany, with the purpose of spreading Christianity to the Chippewa Indian tribe.

In 1928 the Zehnder family [residents of Frankenmuth] purchased the New Exchange Hotel  and renovated it to resemble George Washington's home, Mt. Vernon.   The new restaurant, called Zehnder's, opened for business on Mother's Day 1929.  Zehnder's is now a world famous restaurant, with capabilities of accommodating 1,500 guests at one time.   Every year close to one million people enjoy their special all-you-can-eat, family style chicken dinners.
We've gone to Zehnder's for Thanksgiving dinner for the past two years, but not this year.
Tiffany & Marissa with the Zehnder's chicken mascot.
Lori [our daughter], with her daughters, Marissa & Tiffany
Across the street from Zehnder's is the Bavarian Inn.  It was once the restaurant of  Fischer's Hotel, and was purchased by the Zehnder family in 1950.   After a vacation to Bavaria, Germany the building was remodeled in Bavarian architecture and charm, and expanded to seat 1,200 guests.
For a while, the Bavarian Inn offered occasional Saturday teas which my girlfriends and I attended.   The photos below are from their 2009 Winter Tea.
 Blooming Tea Centerpiece



The tea was from tea bags and was good, but looked a bit unsightly on the tea table.

Hors d' Oeuvres [including a chicken lollipop]


[L-R:  Sandy, Lori and Me]

A good time was had by all, and it was nice to see men and children in attendance too.