Afternoon Tea Part One

September 4, 2014 at 8:43 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

P1000339Title: Gunpowder Green

Author:Laura Childs

Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Length: 244 pages

With autumn in the air, it’s back to hot afternoon tea (as opposed to iced sweet tea) and my dive into cozy mysteries.  Even though in Texas, fall tends to be more of a state of mind than an actual weather change.  Post Labor Day it’s still in the nineties, but there’s rain and I made a trip to the grocery store just for tea bags.

Many of my afternoon teas happen on the back deck.  My backyard table is actually newer and nicer than my kitchen table and it’s where I prefer to take my meals and spend time journaling and reading, if the weather allows.  It’s nice to spend time, even if it’s in a book, with people who feel the same way:

“I think it’s time we thought about lunch.  Margaret Rose baked cranberry bread yesterday, and I threw together some chicken salad earlier.  Why not fix trays and eat out here where we can enjoy the view?  It’ll be ever so much nicer.” – pg. 149

Laura Childs, The Indigo Tea Shop, and Theodosia Browning aren’t just about tea though.  There are gardening elements, I am finding, in each of her tea shop mysteries.  (Apparently, the gardeners in town tend to be a murderous bunch, and the tea shop sorts the sleuthing kind.)  I love hanging out in small towns with historic districts, antique dealers, garden extraordinaire, and party goers.

“Timothy Neville adored giving parties.  Holiday parties, charity galas, music recitals.  And his enormous Georgian mansion, a glittering showpiece perched on Archdale Street, war, for many guests, a peek into the kind of gilded luxury that hadn’t been witnessed in Charleston since earlier times.” – pg. 212

Reading this inspired me.  I am an event coordinator and I adore bookish parties, cozy festivals, people gathering in gardens, and atmospheres that allow for coffee, wine, or cups of tea, and quiet conversation or a people reading books.  Fall is a good time for these sort of events, and though my Fall is already planned, not everyone’s is.

A lovely lady at Fuller’s Country Store has agreed to guest blog for me soon about tea parties she’s hosts.  I don’t know the details, but I’m pretty excited to find out and scroll through photographs of the upcoming event.  Stay tuned for “Afternoon Tea Part Two” for the details, the pictures, and a review of Laura Childs’ third Tea Shop Mystery: Shades of Earl Grey.

 

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A Tea Shop Mystery

June 4, 2014 at 2:46 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

death by darjeelingTitle: Death by Darjeeling

Author: Laura Childs

Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime Mystery (Penguin)

Length: 242 pages

The best thing about cozy mysteries is generally not the mystery, but the cozy.  The whole point of reading them is to sink luxuriously into a world of soothing smells and comforting sensations.

I find myself completely suckered by any paperback with the familiar palm labeled “Berkley Prime Crime Mystery,” knowing full well I’ll be in for a delightful dive into a two hundred page world.  Usually part of fun serials, Berkley corners the market on the cozy mystery genre with this logo.

Laura Childs pulls the cozy serial off beautifully with her Indigo Tea Shop run by one Theodosia Browning.  Such a delightful name! When I read or hear it I immediately think of Theodosia Burr Alston.  Childs doesn’t stop there, though, the Indigo Tea Shop also features a dog named Earl Grey!

Tea preparation tips, recipes, and delightful garden descriptions will have you wishing you lived in South Carolina amidst a caddy historical society sampling tea blends.

For a more thorough review and a Darjeeling Cashew Cream Cheese recipe, click the photo I borrowed from the Kahakai Kitchen.  It will take you to their blog.

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Lessons in Fleabane

April 22, 2014 at 9:10 pm (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Book - Wildflowers Of TexasMy favorite thing about homeschooling is hitting the books and walking in the woods.  All of our lessons involve those two things in some combination or another and it’s so invigorating.  Fresh air, sunshine, open spaces, trees, and good books – I don’t understand how I learned anything in any other fashion. With spring upon us, we’ve been going headlong into Wildflowers of Texas. We love this book. This book has already enabled us to identify Bull Thistles (& Yellow Thistles), Herbertia, and a number of other plants we’ve seen popping up along the trails in the last month.  We like taking the book with us, so if the little girl has a question we can pull out the book right away and discover its name.  The flowers are sectioned off by color to make it easy to do quickly. This weekend, we identified Philadelphia Fleabane, which apparently is an edible weed.  Roots, stems, leaves, flowers, every part of this plant can be made into teas and poultices.  Today, we made tea out of the flowers (making it from the root is more traditional, but the flowers work for a quick tea). P1010739So on our trail walk today, we collected fleabane flowers.  (Kiddo likes to pick them anyway, so if we’re collecting flower baskets, I’d like to get good use out of them.) There are a whole host of lessons that come into foraging.  Identify the plant, spell the name of the plant – with a three year old we get to talk about phonics and how the ‘ph’ in Philadelphia makes the same sound as the ‘f’ in Fleabane.  I wonder if in the long run the F sounds will always bring to mind images of white sunflower-like-daisy flowers and the smell of fresh, nearly summer tea. We learned that “fleabane” is a common name for Erigeron and is part of the Asteraceae (sunflower) family. P1010741  Once home, another science lesson ensues.  Boiling water on the stove.  After all, boiling is the rapid vaporization of a liquid with occurs when heat is applied.  We get to discuss the words ‘rapid’ and ‘vaporization.’  Rapid ties into our synonyms lesson (from the Bryan P. Collins’ Words are Categorical series that we’ve been reading since birth.)  Kiddo’s eyes light up when she sees the water get hot enough to cause steam and bubbles. P1010742We’ve used the strainers before, and the measuring cups, but becoming a pro in the kitchen is something to strive for daily.  Making tea this way is the perfect opportunity to practice reading our measurements and understanding what those mean… two cups, one cup, half cup, etc.  Understanding these concepts visually before setting fractions in front of them when they’re older is essential, I think.  Plus, there are some practical life skills gained from knowing how to make fresh food from fresh sources. P1010743 I also like her growing up knowing that food has purpose beyond pleasure and satisfaction.  This tea, for instance, has very little flavor.  It is a bit floral, obviously, having been made from flowers, but without honey tastes a bit like fancy water. It is a natural insecticide but is edible.  You can treat headaches with it as well as inflammations of the nose and throat.  It cleanses the kidneys and can aid against gout.  Be warned, like chamomile and licorice root, fleabane tea made from the roots can induce miscarriages and was commonly used for menstrual issues and birth control by Native American tribes.  Now, we’re diving into history… P1010744 The picture came out a little blurry.  But now, we’re enjoying our tea and a game of Name That Continent. Happy Earth Day.

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Homeschooling / Life With a Toddler

March 28, 2013 at 12:34 am (Education) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Tea Time
We have tea parties with our geography lessons. She knows her southern states and can identify North America on a world map. No matter what, she can always find Texas, even when all its borders aren’t clearly drawn on… she looks for the Gulf of Mexico.
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Card Games
She loves to play cards… these are first word matching puzzle cards. The nice, straight rows are all her doing. She’s quite the neat-nick.
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Arts & Crafts
Painting is the best. Featured here is an acrylic on canvas piece.
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Story Time
Story time at Half Price Books cannot be missed. It is an essential part of our weekly lives.
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Book Love Art – Ophelia’s Quote Mugs

April 29, 2012 at 2:58 am (The Whim) (, , , , , , )

Previously featured as Book Love Art was the fabulous photography of Joel Robison.  In that post I mentioned Ophelia’s Quote Mugs, and in this post I’d like to share with you Ophelia’s Literary line.  From C.S Lewis to Ray Bradbury, Ophelia’s Quote Mugs combines beautiful art work, meaningful quotes, and the practicality of something in which to drink your coffee or tea.  Priced roughly at $14, they are comparable in price to Starbucks merch, but offer so much more.

And an even cooler feature… the art doesn’t stop on the outside of the cup.  Take a close look at the insides of these:

Buy one for your cozy reading time from Ophelia’s Gypsy Caravan on Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/OpheliasGypsyCaravan.

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Coffee Dating and Honey Shacks

January 22, 2012 at 9:31 pm (In So Many Words) (, , , , , , , )

The Coffee Date

Love Coffee by Ahmed Rabea

I’ve been watching a lot of comedians on Netflix lately, and inevitably each one will have a few minutes devoted to dogging the Coffee Date.  Women will comically lament: Shouldn’t a man spend money on dinner? What’s with only shelling out a few bucks for coffee? Men talk about how it’s the worst idea ever because you’ll both have bad breath and diarrhea.  And so on.  I always laugh, because I see their point – kind of, and of course, they say it in a way that forces one to laugh – which is why they get paid to do what they do.  But when all is said and done, I think: I love coffee dates.  I loved them when I was dating, and I love them now that I’m married.

See, the coffee date is the perfect date.  You just met someone; you don’t know them well enough to know whether you’d like to suffer through dinner.  You can dodge out of a coffee date 10 minutes in, and its no big deal, you only met for coffee after all. Not so with a dinner date, where you have to at least wait for the bill to be dropped off, or you’d be considered an absolute jerk.  Or, if things are going well, you can sit for hours and no one cares, you can have intimate conversations in typically comfy chairs in a very cozy environment.  And with most coffee shops, if you get hungry while you’re there, its easy to order something to snack on for a bit without gorging yourself on food.  It also offers the easiest chance to turn coffee into something more than coffee: We’ve enjoyed this coffee, let’s take a walk.  After dinner walks tend to be a bit awkward and anticlimactic.  You’ve already eaten too much,  your outfit doesn’t fit the way it did when you got in, and you’re more likely to have to pee halfway through the walk, because you already sat through dinner and now you’re digesting.

I find coffee dates exceptionally more interesting and better for ‘dating’ than even the movie date.  The movie date, to me, is the worst kind of date.  This date is the date that says, ‘I don’t want to talk, I don’t want to know you, I just want to put in two hours of time so I don’t look like a slut when I make out with you.’  It says: I don’t put much time into thinking, and just want to sit with you in a dark room, where I can cop a feel.  It says: my thoughts on dating haven’t progressed passed high school.  Movie dates are for married people, who don’t need to talk, and just want to get out of the house for a change of pace, not for people just starting out.

But if you’re truly trying to get to know someone, which is what ‘dating’ is supposed to be, getting together for coffee is awesome.  It’s possible that it’s just the book nerd in me, and we tend to be coffee/tea folk, but I just really feel like half ofAmericalooks for the wrong thing when they date. ‘How much money is he spending on me?’ is just not a suitable date night criteria.

 

Side Note for My Tea People

Image from http://www.dreamstime.comI was contemplating this blog rant on my way home from church today when I stopped at my local honey stand.  As a huge coffee and tea drinker, I go through a lot of honey.  What’s tea without honey?  And in doing so, I’ve chosen to “support my local bees” as Bob’s sign proudly announces at the bee shack on Kuykendahl and Spring Cypress.

The bees are from A.C. Bees, here in Spring, and the stand is Bob’s Local Honey.  The honey is the best you can buy, and when you bring his glass jars back, he’ll give you a $1/ jar cash or towards a purchase.  My family goes through tons of this stuff, so I wanted to share.  He’s there at the stand Tuesday through Sunday and his phone number is 713-628-4774, call if you have any questions.

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