Tag Archives: Tea

Annotated Jane Austen

In years past, I’ve read Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Northanger Abbey. Her other books (Emma, Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility) I’m familiar with only through films.

But this summer, I’m in kind of a Jane Austen mood, and so am attempting to read the volumes I’ve neglected and possibly re-read the others. I decided to begin with Persuasion.
Grapevine Public Library has several different copies, and I was pleased to find that one is annotated and illustrated.

Front of the bookmark


One of the drawbacks of reading on my own (not in a bookclub) is the inability to share and explore with others the joys and frustrations of a story or an author or a subject. The annotations relieve this somewhat.

Oh, how I’d love to be in a Cozy Bookclub.

In person.

With nice cups of tea and biscuits.

Back of the bookmark


For now I will have to content myself with my hand-made Jane Austen bookmark and lots of sidenotes.

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Filed under Bookmarks, Books, Cozy, Crafts - Paper, England, Femininity, Fiction, Jane Austen, Jane Austen, Tea

Hats and Tea Parties

The most enjoyable parties I’ve ever attended have been tea parties.

Two at the top of the list come to my mind this morning because they were at this time of year. I’ll share one now and later on another one.

The actual photos from the party are put away somewhere, so we’ll have to make do with illustrations from books and magazines and our imaginations.

In 1995 we were attending Bear Creek Bible Church in Keller. A very kind young woman (who had been our younger son’s 4th grade English teacher) and I were talking at church one day about the holiday let down and we decided to plan an evening tea as something special for the ladies to look forward to during that in-between time of Christmas and New Year’s.


She offered her home and it was a perfect setting for such a party, very Victoria Magazine-like. We carefully planned the menu with traditional English tea time crumpets (which I made from scratch), cakes, fruit, 2 kinds of tea and imported Devonshire cream (bought at The British Emporium in Grapevine).

All the ladies of the church were invited and encouraged to bring their mothers and daughters of all ages (the youngest was less than a year old). We requested that the each bring a favorite teacup and saucer and be prepared to tell us all where and when they acquired it.

And we asked that they all wear hats. Surprisingly enough in this modern age, they all did.

Paula – one of the nicest members of the church – brought her mother, who was an English war bride. She presented us with a short program about the history of the candy cane and contributed authentic British homemade fruit tarts to our tea table.

Books by Miss Read seemed to fit in with the program, so I did a short book talk on those novels. Classical music from the stereo played quietly in the background.


Gleaming silver, candles and flowers, lace tablecloths, books, old ladies in hats, china tea cups and Mozart – how could a party be better?

We were dressed up, drinking tea and using our best manners. It was a lovely time.

Townsend's Monthy magazine (?), 1830, Plate 562

Caption below illustration:
“This plate depicts the wonderful high bonnets and lace caps of the early 1830s. Note the lingerie cap, which used to be worn underneath the hat or bonnet, has been replace by tulle ruffles, flowers, and other interior bonnet trim in several bonnets pictured.”

Photo sources for this post are from:

The Hat Book, Juiet Bawden
The Charms of Tea, Victoria
Southern Lady Magazine, Winter 2001
Southern Lady Magazine, Winter 2003
Vintage Hats & Bonnets, 1770-1970, Susan Langley

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Filed under Books, Cozy, Fashion, Fun, Hats, Local Shopping, Shopping, Tea

Two Gentle Lessons

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Let me confess a prejudice: often I jump to conclusions about someone because of their appearance. Probably not in the way that would first come to mind about prejudice; not racially, but affluently. If a person looks … I’m not even sure how to say it … if they look wealthy or glamorous or very professional, I assume they’re unapproachable.

I Samuel 16:7 tells us that “man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”

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The Lord taught me the first of 2 gentle lessons about this on the weekend.  Last Friday I had another really wonderful day with friends. It involved my favorite place in the Fort Worth/Dallas Metroplex – Lone Star Antique Mall – here and here. Map here . My friend, her daughter and I went for lunch at SimpliciTeas. The tea room was full; as we sat on the old church pew waiting for a table, we saw a really beautiful purse hanging from the back of a customer’s chair. All brocade and lace and lovely fabric. My friend’s daughter wanted to ask the lady if she could take a photo of the purse. I recognized the style as a really expensive handmade kind ($400-1200) and told her that people who buy purses like that usually don’t want someone copying it. What I was actually afraid of, was that the girl would be rebuffed by an encounter and get her feelings hurt. The girl was behaving better than me because she wanted to ask for permission; I simply snapped the photo without asking.

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After we were seated, I could see the lady clearly. She was beautiful. Model beautiful. Really thin, long blond hair with highlights, a lace blouse, cream colored wool skirt, a knee length crocheted jacket, white boots and lovely jewelry. I’m a fairly friendly person, but I would never approach someone like that. Been burned too many times in the past. A few minutes later, she was passing our table and my friend’s daughter spoke to her. After the initial look of surprise, she was so gracious and friendly and we chatted for a couple of minutes. She mentioned that she was going to Branson, Missouri and I asked her if she read blogs (she does); I asked if she had ever read Warm Pie, Happy Home which is now Sugar Pie Farmhouse because that blogger lives in Branson. She said no, but that one of her favorites is Cherry Hill Cottage.

Now that’s ironic for 2 reasons. First: on Thursday one of my favorite blogs, Sweet Cottage Dreams, featured Cherry Hill Cottage as it’s most recent post. Second, when I went to Cherry Hill Cottage, I saw that she listed Sugar Pie Farmhouse in it’s list of favorites.

Second Lesson:  Friday night and Saturday morning was the annual District Singing convention in Decatur.  I look forward to this all year.  (I plan to post more about it later this week.)  One of the songwriters who attends is another beautiful woman who wears lovely clothes.  Now here’s another ugly thing about my prejudice.  I thought her husband looked like a humorless, cold person.  Now I realize that I based my judgment solely on how serious he looks when he’s singing in the quartet.  This was crazy and wrong on my part!  On Saturday, they sat down next to us at the lunch table and were both very friendly.  He said that they had never even seen those songs before they sang them that day.  No wonder he looked serious – he was concentrating.

How gracious the Lord is to me in the way he showed me this sin. Not with harshness and embarassment, but lovingly, in a beautiful place and eating wonderful Orange Cream Cake. He showed me that it isn’t enough that I don’t condemn a person because they look disheveled or odd. Years ago I learned that lesson from our sons’ friends. Our older son had punk friends. Red mohawks, piercings, awful clothes but they were never rude or disrespectful to me.

How thankful I am that God’s ways are not my ways.  Oh, to be like Jesus!

Here are a few photos from the booths at Lone Star Antique Mall. (I asked for permission.) I hope to take a few more next time I go.

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Timeless Treasures, a Review

Timeless Treasures - The Charm and Romance of Treasured Memories

Timeless Treasures - The Charm and Romance of Treasured Memories

Thinking about my favorite cozy books this week caused me to look around on my shelves and dust off a few of my old friends.  Some of my favorite non-fiction books about home and hearth are by Emilie Barnes.

Published in 1996, this slim volume has 7 chapters with topics such as the importance of family heritage, caring for heirlooms, collecting and storage.  Emilie writes that she inherited very few material goods from her family, but she is rich in stories and tradition and says that these are some of the most important family heirlooms.  The beauty of antique and vintage items are appreciated even if they came from someone else’s family.  She has several suggestions on where to look for them, her rules for acquisition (#1 is to only buy what  she loves) and what to do with the new treasures, and how to store the things that cannot be left out on display. However, she does encourage daily enjoyment of as many things as possible. And if something becomes a little tarnished from love and usage: “Those signs of aging are evidence of contact with real people and real lives. In place of that flawless, factory-bright finish, your timeless treasure will have the sheen of love and grace and character.

And, like a human being, your treasure will be all the more beautiful for having lived a little.”

Artwork by Sandy Lynam Clough

Artwork by Sandy Lynam Clough

She places particular importance on handmade things, whether it was the shelf made by your  grandfather, the lopsided clay pot made by your kindergartner or a crocheted doily you bought at an antique mall or thrift shop.  The importance of recording the origin, names on old photos and family stories is illustrated by many personal stories sprinkled throughout the book.

One story that particularly spoke to me was by her brother-in-law, Kenneth Barnes:

“All the years that I was growing up, a picture hung in my bedroom.  It depicted two small puppies napping on a table and a tiny kitten with its smiling face raised high in between them.  The caption read “Suzie.”  Many nights I went to sleep looking at Suzie and her companions.  The frame was old and hung from a nail by twine that wrapped around two thumbtacks, one mounted in each upper corner of the frame.
When I married and left home, I left “Suzie” behind and never thought to wonder what would happen to her.  She  was simply part of my childhood life, along with a ship clock with tin sails I had won for selling newspaper subscriptions.  After my  father died, Mom had a garage sale and part of the departed treasures included “Suzie” and the clock.
Thirty-two years later I was asked to speak at a meeting some four hundred miles from home.  I asked my wife, Paula, to join me on the trip, and she agreed to do so under the condition that we spend a few days afterward roaming the territory.  (I’m not really much for shopping and sightseeing, but she loves to browse in old shops.)
After the meeting I was driving down a divided road in a rainstorm.  Suddenly to my left I saw an antique shop that pulled at me like a magnet, tugging on me to make a U-turn and come back.  This I did.   As I roamed from table to table looking at all of the discarded treasure, my eye traveled to a picture leaning on a fireplace mantle.  The frame was very old.  The twine that hung from two corner thumbtacks was dark from years of collecting dust.   And there, in the center of the picture between her two sleeping companions, was my old friend Suzie.  On the same mantle sat my clock ship with its tin sails.
There was no doubt in my mind of the authenticity of my find!  The merchant made a sale, and I then realized the meaning of the phrase, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”  In this case, a timeless treasure because all those years in between faded quickly and, for a brief moment, I was that ten-year-old looking at my smiling friend Suzie, which I still cherish to this day.”

There are lots of interesting quotes throughout the book, such as this one by Jane Austen: “Her plants, her books…her writing desk…were all within reach…she could scarcely see an object in that room which had not an interesting remembrance connected with it.” Or this one from Flavia Weedn: “Some of its mane is gone, the paint is chipped, but that’s what makes it so wonderful. Don’t you just know it was well loved!”

Sandy Lynam Clough

Sandy Lynam Clough

The artwork by Sandy Lynam Clough, is romantic and evocative.

Timeless Treasures would make a nice gift for someone you know who loves family and vintage treasures.  It makes a nice gift just for yourself, too.

A quick search on the internet showed a lot of copies available, starting at $.01 +shipping.

It’s a lovely book and I highly recommend reading it with a nice cup of tea.

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Filed under Books, Cozy, Faith, History, Scripture, Tea

Cozy Reading

100_8353Brenda over at Coffee, Tea, Books and Me is asking her blog readers to submit their favorite books and movies that are in the Cozy category. She defines them as ones that make her feel all warm and cozy in the winter weather. Partly because we live in the south, my definition would be a little different – books and movies that me feel contented. There’s more to it than that, but when I start trying to nail it down, it gets elusive.

For instance, Agatha Christie mysteries are considered cozies, but they almost always involve murder. No gory details or horrible unpleasantness – but murder, none the less. I struggle with my affection for her books. Surely a Christian shouldn’t be so fascinated with sin. If I’m wanting to rationalize, I could say that it’s actually the intricacies of logic and justice that intrigue me.

Cozy books of all types make up a good deal of my reading. I also read a lot of challenging non-fiction: political, Alzheimer’s tales, biographies, but I find that after a few of these books, I need to read something that calms me down a bit. Because, even though I believe those topics to be necessary and important to my life, they can be a bit stressful.

Anyway, here’s some of my list. It isn’t complete because I’m sure that I’ll remember an omitted favorite this afternoon.

I’ve used Brenda’s format, to help me compare my list to hers.

AUTHORS
M.C. Beaton -mostly mysteries: Edwardian, Scotland, Cotswolds
Elizabeth Caddell – light mid-20th century novels of England
Agatha Christie – mysteries
Emily Kimbrough – reminiscences of very early and mid-20th century
L.M. Montgomery – Anne of Green Gables series
Miss Read – very light and pleasant novels of an English village school
D.E. Stevenson – light English romances
Gladys Taber – journal-like books about living in New England
Laura Ingalls Wilder – Little House books

FICTION
+Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder
*Absolutely any of the Miss Read books
*Mrs. Miniver, Jan Struther (disclaimer: there is a chapter on fortune telling which I skipped. I don’t think witchcraft/occult is harmless fun.)
*The Gown of Glory, Agnes Sligh Turnbull (one of the reader reviews on Amazon compared it to Our Town.)
*The Nightingale, Agnes Sligh Turnbull (same town as The Gown of Glory, different people)
*Half Crown House, Helen Ashton (post WWII England)
*Owl’s Castle Farm, Primrose Cumming (mid-WWII English farm life)
*Now That April’s There, Daisy Neumann (English children returning home from America 1945)
SERIES
*Fairacre series by Miss Read
*Thrush Green series by Miss Read
*Some of the Mitford books by Jan Karon
*Reminisce Magazine books – collections of short personal stories from very early to mid-20th century

NON-FICTION – HOME ARTS
*A Thousand Ways to Please Your Husband with Bettina’s Best Recipes, Louise Bennett Weaver & Helen Cowles LeCron (either 1917 or 1932 edition)
*The Little House Cookbook, Barbara M. Walker
*If Teacups Could Talk, Emilie Barnes
*The Charms of Tea, by Victoria Magazine
*Beautiful Home on a Budget, Emilie Barnes & Yoli Brogger
*Timeless Treasures, Emilie Barnes
*Sew Pretty Homestyle, Tone Finnanger
*Crafting Vintage Style, Christina Strutt
*Creating Vintage Style, Lucinda Ganderton

BIOGRAPHIES & AUTOBIOGRAPHIES
*Farewell, Horton Foote
*In My Father’s House: the Years Before the Hiding Place, Corie ten Boom
*Agatha Christie: an Autobiography, Agatha Christie
*A Fortunate Grandchild, Miss Read
*Time Remembered, Miss Read

FASHION

*20th Century Fashion, John Peacock
*Fashion Accessories, John Peacock
*The Costume Collector’s Companion 1890-1990, Rosemary Hawthorne Air

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Sour Cream Pound Cake with Chocolate Marble

Five O'Clock Tea, by Mary Cassatt

Five O'Clock Tea, by Mary Cassatt


My friend Merrily gave me this recipe over 35 years ago. It’s absolutely wonderful and would be perfect with either tea or coffee. My husband thinks that an icy glass of milk is the only suitable drink for cake, pie or cookies.
( Posted below this one is the half recipe which is just right for a loaf pan.)

Sour Cream Pound Cake with Chocolate Marble
(Full recipe – fits tube pan or bundt pan)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place oven rack to center.
2 3/4 c. sugar
1 c. butter
6 eggs
1 1/2 t. vanilla
~
3 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. soda
~
1 c. sour cream
~
1/3 c. cocoa powder (not the drink mix)

1. Pour sugar into mixer.
2. Soften the butter, but do not melt. Add.
3. Break the eggs, 1 at a time into a separate bowl, then add to the mixture. It’s just too difficult to try to get chips of eggshell out of the mixer.
100_8260 Sour Cream Pound Cake
4. Cream together until light and fluffy.
5. Add vanilla. Mix thoroughly.
6. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt and soda.
7. Add about a c. of flour mixture to batter, beat until well mixed.
8. Add about 1/3 c. of sour cream, mixing well.
9. Keep alternating until all the ingredients (except cocoa) have been added.
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10. Set aside 1 c. of batter into a small mixing bowl. Add cocoa & mix thoroughly.
11. Oil or Pam baking pan.
12. Spoon about 1/2 of batter into baking pan.
13. Spoon chocolate mixture on top.
14. Add remaining batter.
15. To marble, use a table knife and drag once around the batter.
16. Bake at 350 on middle rack. (This one took 1 1/2 hours.) Keep checking after 1 hour. Use toothpick test when it looks done.
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17. Let cool slightly and turn over onto serving plate. Absolutely needs no icing.
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Half Recipe
1 1/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter
3 eggs
1 t. vanilla
~
1 1/2 c. flour
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. soda
~
1/4 c. cocoa powder (not drink mix)

Directions same as above. Use loaf pan.

*updated January 18, 2012

Linked to:
Food on Fridays at annkroeker
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed With Grace

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Filed under Baking, Cooking, Recipes, Tea

Mrs. Miniver Comes Home

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“… And there was the square itself, with the leaves still as thick on the trees as they had been when she left in August; but in August they had hung heavily, a uniform dull green, whereas now, crisped and brindled by the first few nights of frost, they had taken on a new, various beauty. Stepping lightly and quickly down the square, Mrs. Miniver suddenly understood why she was enjoying the forties so much better than she had enjoyed the thirties: it was the difference between August and October, between the heaviness of late summer and the sparkle of early autumn, between the ending of an old phase and the beginning of a fresh one.

She reached her doorstep. The key turned sweetly in the lock. That was the kind of thing one remembered about a house: not the size of the rooms or the colour of the walls, but the feel of door-handles and light-switches, the shape and texture of the banister-rail under one’s palm; minute tactual intimacies, whose resumption was the essence of coming home.

Upstairs in the drawing-room there was a small bright fire of logs, yet the sunshine that flooded in through the open windows had real warmth in it. It was perfect: she felt suspended between summer and winter, savouring the best of them both. She unwrapped the chrysanthemums and arranged them in a square glass jar, between herself and the light, so that the sun shone through them. They were the big mop-headed kind, burgundy-coloured, with curled petals; their beauty was noble, architectural; and as for their scent, she thought as she buried her nose in the nearest of them, it was a pure distillation of her mood, a quintessence of all that she found gay and intoxicating and astringent about the weather, the circumstances, her own age, and the season of the year. Oh, yes, October certainly suited her best. ..

…She rearranged the fire a little, mostly for the pleasure of handling the fluted steel poker, and then sat down by it. Tea was already laid: there were honey sandwiches, brandy-snaps, and the small ratafia biscuits; and there would, she knew, be crumpets. Three new library books lay virginally on the fender-stool their bright paper wrappers unsullied by subscriber’s hand. The clock on the mantelpiece chimed, very softly and precisely, five times. A tug hooted from the river. A sudden breeze brought the sharp tang of a bonfire in a the window. The jigsaw was almost complete, but there was still one piece missing. And then, from the other end of the square, came the familiar sound of the Wednesday barrel-organ, playing, with a hundred apocryphal trills and arpeggios, the “Blue Danube” waltz. And Mrs. Miniver, with a little sigh of contentment, rang for tea.”

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