Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Year in Review

I've enjoyed going over the many year in review posts, and thought I would try my hand at one of my own.  Below we have my favorite posts from each month of 2014:


January, Each cup represents an imaginary journey (my very first post)

February, Happy Valentine's Day

March, Happy St. Patrick's Day

April, Journey to Kensington Gardens, London.  This was the first of a series of posts over two weeks that featured my trip to the UK and Ireland in 2013.
May, Disney Tea adventures (the first post of a series about my May trip to Disney World).
June, America's Tea Garden (my visit to the Charleston Tea Planation during my vacation in Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA in June.  This is the first of a series of posts on this trip)

November, Tea at Biltmore Inn, the first of a series of posts about the Biltmore in Ashville, NC

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Eggnog & scones

So, one of the most important after Christmas questions--what to do with extra eggnog?  I have quite a bit still left from the tres leches & eggnog cupcakes (see here for more on that).  So, as a tea addict, when life hands you eggnog, make scones! 

I used a recipe from from Allrecipe (here) with some changes, so I will write it here.  This recipe is different than the norm-it has cornmeal in it, which gave it a really interesting texture.
Cranberry Eggnog Scones
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbls baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
6 tbls butter
3/4 cup craisins
3/4 cup eggnog
1.  Preheat oven to 375.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2.  Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg with a whisk.  Using a pastry blender, cut in butter.  Add craisins.
3.  Add eggnog and mix until just combined.  Using a spoon, drop large spoonfuls on cookie sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes.


Now, what tea should I have with these scones?  I recently bought Bigelow's Eggnogg'n tea, which I have never tried before (it was buy one get one free on the holiday teas).  I'm not sure whether I liked it or not.  The smell was not appealing, but it wasn't too bad with some cream.  I did not like it without the cream though.  It was definitely different.  

(picture from Bigelow's website)

Monday, December 29, 2014

We'll Take a Cup of Kindness Yet

For this last tea party of the year, I have a bit of mood music:

This version of Auld Lang Syne sounds of sad yet hopeful reflections as we "take a cup of kindness yet" and look back on the year as the last few days of 2014 pass by.  My cup of memories I've placed under my silver tree--a winter wonderland to bring to mind what is to come, but filled with ornaments as reminders of years past. 

Here is a better look at the tea service, which was a Christmas gift from my parents:

The creamer really drew me in--I love the wavy top!  I haven't seen anything like it before.

As you can see, the set has lots of gold embellishment as well as multi-colored flowers.  I purchased the tea trio earlier this year and was really excited to see the whole set while I was at the Biltmore in November.

This set is based on a Vanderbilt tea service dating to 1888--pieces from the original set are on display in the house as well as in the museum on the  Biltmore grounds.  The Biltmore offers a reproduction of the set for sale in its gift shops.

(the original set)

(I saved this beverage napkin with the Vanderbilt insignia on it from the trip)

I can just imagine the "real" cups being used by ladies in beautiful dresses at the turn of the century, with candlelight reflecting off the cup--one last warm brew before the end of the year.

Here are a couple of other pictures of the decorations that are also in my loft (the same room as the winter wonderland tree).

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

~Robert Burns, Auld Lang Syne

I'm joining these tea parties this week:

Bernideen's Friends Sharing Tea

I downloaded a free watercolor app to my Kindle ( if you are interested) after seeing the beautiful pictures posted on Tea With Friends (although she used a different app, I went with this one because I have a Kindle and it was free).  I think it turned out really cool! 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

After Christmas adventures

I figured I should start my after Christmas wanderings post first with Christmas day itself.  My gifts were wrapped in some lovely teapot themed Christmas paper--I was rather sad I hadn't found any for myself so I could wrap gifts in it!

I did get some tea related gifts as well, including a teapot calendar for my kitchen.

Here is a picture of the back with all the different scenes for the year.  

One thing I typically do on December 26 is check out the after Christmas sales to see if there is anything I would like left, especially now that it is cheaper!  While out, I stopped in Old Town Manassas.  In addition to the sales, I enjoy going around while the decorations are still up to stretch the season just a bit longer.  Here are some of the prettiest things I saw this year:

(now I wish I had at least looked to see how much this cost)
(this pretty red and white tablescape is in the Opera House Gourmet, which is particularly known for its wine selection)
I also stopped into one of my favorite Old Town Manassas stores, The Things I Love.  This store also serves tea (see here for my post from this past summer), but at Christmastime it transforms into a winter wonderland.  I didn't get to this store until the afternoon, so many of the ornaments were gone from the trees, but I did get a shot of the afternoon tea themed tree (of course!)
She also had some fun tea themed gifts:

There was a whole wall of these picture frames, and the sayings were too cute to pass by without taking a picture to share.


    I'm just enjoying having time now to relax and visit different places.  I should take off more time before Christmas!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Fiestas and carousels

This past week just flew by!  I had a bunch of last minute things to do before Christmas (I procrastinate way too much) and did not get a chance to post my Christmas party to the tea parties this week, so I figured I should post it now, before Christmas week is over.  This week's tea party features my dining room, which has a carousel themed tree.

Here is a better look at some of the décor:
(my Asian china cabinet with its Christmas finery)

(my new acquisition from a couple of weeks ago.  I've been wanting a teacup rack that I could display teacups in for years, and finally found one in a local shop.  Do three of the cups look familiar?  This is the home of the three English bone china cups on the left that showed up in my Williamsburg tea party last week.  The cardinal cup and saucer set on the end is Gracie China I found at Homegoods).  

We are here to party though, so here is the table made up for a late lunch/early dinner I held for some friends last Saturday.

I found a whole set of paper products (dinner plates and napkins, dessert plates and napkins) of the pretty Spode design in Marshalls.  If you look closely, you can see punch cups at every place setting, which I bought to hold sangria.  You might be asking why I made sangria--I had a Mexican Christmas fiesta!  I served pre-dinner snacks of chips and layer dip, salsa and guacamole.  For the actual dinner, I served Mexican lasagna, salad, and homemade cornbread.  For dessert I had a buffet of different goodies:

tres leches cupcakes with eggnog

(so I guess that makes them quatro leches cupcakes?  I found the recipe for these cupcakes on the Growing up Bilingual blog, although I used plan whipped cream for the topping instead of the buttercream frosting called for in the recipe)
brownies and magic bars

and assorted cookies from my neighborhood cookie exchange.  

But back to the tree.  My carousel tree is gold, purple, and red, with large gold stars and purple and red balls.

I've been collecting carousel ornaments since I was a child, and was really excited when I realized I had enough to fill a full sized tree.   The tree is topped with a multi-colored star topper.  This is my only tree with colored lights, which I think goes along with the carnival feel of the tree (since it is full of carousels!).   
A couple of birds perch on the tree's limbs, adding more texture and flare to the tree. 

The carousel ornaments are everything from the expected horses,

to the exotic,
to the fantastic.  

This Christmas was great for the tree--I received nine new ornaments from my sister and my parents, including this beautiful Pegasus by Nene Thomas from my sister.
There were some beautiful horses, 

and some additional wild animals.

I had just broken my giraffe carousel ornament at the beginning of the season, and my sister made sure that she ordered me a new one as one of the set of new ornaments.
I had a wonderful Christmas especially since I had a chance last week to get together with my friends and family.

Feliz Navidad

 Prospero Año y Felicidad