Friday, December 21, 2012

On the Road Again

Today the Traveling Teapot and I are heading to south Florida, to spend the Holidays with my sisters and their families.

I have an adult, special needs niece, and Mindy has been wanting to try to live alone.  Her mother just remarried a month ago, and now lives only about 3 miles from their home, so the decision was made that Mindy could stay in the house until it is sold.  [I don't think she is capable of living alone permanently, but she's wanted to try.  She is very social, so I don't think she'll like living alone -- and so this is a good solution, she can discover that for herself, rather than us dictating to her].  And so I am to be her very first houseguest! 

My sister tells me that Mindy has a full agenda scheduled for me, and I am sure that it will include Tea!  Mindy works part-time for the Marriott Corporation, setting up the salad bar, plating desserts, etc.  When she visits me, she is my "sous Chef" for preparing Tea.  So I'm looking forward to surprising her with her first Tea in her new, independent home.

I expect the roads to be busy today, so prayers for safety are appreciated!  And for anyone else who is traveling, be careful!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happy Birthday Celebration

Yesterday [December 18] the Traveling Teapot and I went to the Assisted Living Center, to celebrate the birthday of my dear friend, Mrs. Virginia Dean.  Mrs. Dean has just obtained the age of 97!!

We have been friends now for 22 years, sharing common interests in music, travel [especially to England, she is an anglophile] and, of course, Tea.  When I am traveling abroad, she receives a daily postcard, and when I return, she is the one most eager to hear all the adventures, look at all the photos, and asks questions for more details.

Our Tea/Birthday Party was a delightful surprise.  We enjoyed cucumber sandwiches and salmon sandwiches, scones [made from the recipe of "Two Fat Ladies"] with clotted cream and kumquat butter [made from the microwave lemon curd recipe of The Teawife, Kathy], and ended with trifle.  I had made the trifle especially because I knew that she had a sweet tooth and loved it.  Once, after hosting a tea, I had brought her a HUGE bowl of trifle along with other goodies; I figured it would last her at least 3 days. ... She called me that evening to say that she had devoured the whole thing, that she could not have stopped even if the devil had stood in front of her!  For tea, we drank English Breakfas Tea I had brought home from a Tea at Claridge's in London.

And so we had a delicious Tea and enjoyed swapping tales from visits in London over the years.  And Mrs. Dean sends greetings and thanks to you all. 

Speaking of "Two Fat Ladies" [Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson], how I miss their cooking program!  Rarely did they prepare something which I thought I would do, but I always enjoyed their banter, and especially enjoyed the glimpses of the countryside, visits to the markets, etc.  And while I said that I rarely was interested in their recipes, one of their books had a super easy scone recipe:

Two Fat Ladies Scones:

1 2/3 cups self-rise flour
small pinch of salt
4 tablesppoons butter
2/3 cup milk, fresh or sour, or buttermilk

Mix the flour & salt in a large bowl.  Rub in the butter with your fingertips until it all resembles crumbs.  Mix in the ilk.  Form into a soft dough with a metal spatula.  Knead lightly on a floured board, then pa out into a round 3/4 inch thick.  Cut into 2-inch rounds with a cutter or little cup.

Place on a greased & floured baking sheet and brush with milk.  Bake in a preheaded oven at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, until well risen and brown.  Col on a rack, but eat when still warm, with lots of butter, clotted cream, and jam.

sweet scones:  add 1/4 c sugar to the dry ingredients.
fruit scones: add 1/3 c dried fruit and 2 tbl sugar
savory scones: add 3/4 c grated hard cheese and 1 tsp dry mustard, or 1/3 c inched olives, anchoives, or whatever you fancy.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Arrival in Florida

The Traveling Teapot arrived safely, bringing a note of cheer while I was under the weather.  Thanks for brightening my day!!

Its introduction to Florida was at my annual Cookie Exchange Party on Sunday.  A dozen ladies gathered, all bearing [bad pun!] assorted cookies.  We happily munched on cookies and sipped Candy Cane Tea [a black tea flavored with peppermint] from The Baron's Tea house in Crestview FL.

We already have 2 more events scheduled, and hope to have many more.  Details and photos to come soon!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thanks for the Memories….. 

The little plum pot is traveling to its next adventure in Florida.   

Thank you to everyone who left such nice comments and for the many private notes letting me know you enjoyed your virtual visit.  It has made it all worthwhile and I am thrilled beyond words that it was enjoyed by many of you.   

We traveled 3,068 miles together during the month.  It also logged 5669 air miles from Paris to The OC and 2056 air miles from The OC to Florida for a total of 10,793 miles for the little plum pot. 

As I gather herbs and edible flowers from my kitchen garden each day, the little plum pot stepping stone will bring many memories. 

When we recall the past, we usually find that it is the simplest things - not the great occasions - that in retrospect give off the greatest glow of happiness.
Bob Hope

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sunset Farewell at the Montage Resort


We started our virtual visit to The OC with Lotus tea at Saddleback Mountain at Sunrise.  I am choosing to close it with champagne and a tisane with the Sunset view from the beautiful Montage Resort grounds.

Thank you for joining me for this virtual adventure exploring The OC  with the little plum teapot.  I hope that you have enjoyed visiting our beautiful mountains, canyons, historic places, resorts, shopping, ocean and other little surprises.   It was fun to share many different teas and chocolates along the way. 

The little plum pot is steeping a lovely Mary Louisa tisane made from snips of fresh lemon verbena, lemon balm and French thyme from my kitchen garden to sip from a 19th century loving cup for our farewell celebration together.
Godiva chocolate ganache.

Great love affairs start with Champagne and end with tisane. ~Honoré de Balzac

Monday, November 26, 2012

Golden Celebration

Hohin  (or Hobin) is a small Japanese teapot without a handle and is used  together with a Yuzamashi  to cool the water to the proper temperature for steeping.  The tea is served in Yunomi cups.  The small size is suitable for the slow brewing of highest grade teas for a deep, mellow, and full flavor.   Hohin means "Treasure Jar" or "Magical Jar" in Japanese.

The little plum pot poured water for the Japanese Hohin set which is steeping our *Golden Celebration Gyokuro* tea leaves grown in Uji in Kyoto.


The smooth flavor of Gyokuro creates a peaceful atmosphere, and the lovely glimmering gold flakes as they float on the surface of the tea delights and occupies the mind.

Godiva Raspberry Truffle

 Meanwhile, let us have a sip of tea.  the afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos,
The fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle.
Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things.”

Okakura Kakuzo (1863-1913), The book of Tea

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Stacked Tea     

Mission San Juan Capistrano is a historic landmark and is considered to be the birth place of Orange County.
Visiting this historic Mission is captivating.  I always gaze in amazement at the beauty of the carefully stacked hand-made adobe bricks created so many years ago.   Stacked, these little adobe bricks also remind me of bricks of tea stacked high in some far away land waiting to be shipped. 

Stacking or layering brings many things to mind such as stacking books, layering tablescapes or favorite mini desserts in french verrines.  Do you stack or layer something special?  Please do share. 

Today the little plum teapot  carefully poured  hot water around the glass of *stacked tea* to warm it.   Layers of red tea, black tea and white tea float on top on one another to create a curious adventure in the taking of tea.     


It has taken me many, many hours of experimenting to successfully create my *stacked tea*.    

Enjoy it with Godiva’s creamy coconut filling accented with coconut flakes milk chocolate truffle. 

Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow~
Ralph Waldo Emerson



Thursday, November 22, 2012

Tea Pets ~

Who would have thought?  .  I was fascinated with the idea and would like to introduce you to the two that have taken up residence here….Sir Lancelot and Miss Piggy. 

These are made of Yixing clay in China.  They need to have hot tea poured over them now and then which results in a change color over time.  Sir Lancelot sprays a stream of tea about two to three feet.    

Tea Pets are a fun and interesting addition to any Tea Set. They are small works of art which are normally placed on a tea tray during the Tea Session and tea is poured over them. In China it is thought that having a particular shape will bring you luck, money, or many children. There are many different subjects for Tea Pets and many people have a large collection of them and choose a particular pet for each Tea Session. 

I wanted to include the Tide Pools at Dana Point for your virtual visit to The OC and I thought it would be fun to take Sir Lancelot and Miss Piggy along to see some marine life.

It was nearly low tide so we saw some beautiful things.  Check the collage for the large orange California Starfish and the lovely lavender Sea Anemone. 

Today the tea pets are keeping company with the Little Plum Pot which is steeping leaves from the Alishan area of Taiwan which is famous for its high mountain oolongs.  Don’t miss Sir Lancelot’s greeting of a spray.

Fannie May Trinidad Chocolate 

 “Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.” ~ George Elliot

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Informal Victorian Dessert Course


The Victorian informal dessert course (most likely fruits arranged on a pedestal server with nuts in the shell scattered on the table) after formal Victorian dinners has always intrigued me.  It seemed the perfect thing for Thanksgiving this year. 

I’ve read that after a formal dinner everything would be removed from the table including the tablecloth.  Then the maid took the finger bowls, (which had been previously arranged on a plate, protected by a doily, with rose petals floating on the warm water and the fruit knife and nutpick on the plate) and placed one at the left of each guest, removing her pie or pudding plate if she has finished.

Nut crackers and grape scissors are laid in convenient places, and when all have finished with the pie or pudding, the maid retires and leaves the guests to the informal enjoyment of the fruit and nuts.

Each person removes the plate from under the finger bowl, leaving the doily under the bowl, and uses this plate for the nuts or fruit.

I think it is a lovely way to end the evening and to introduce some Victorian fun traditions to the little plum teapot which is steeping Charleston Tea Plantation First Flush for Thanksgiving Day.

Why not seize the pleasure at once? How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation!
~Jane Austen

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Stepping Stone


Heart shaped stepping stones in my rose garden and kitchen garden are such lovely daily reminders of friends who have been my houseguests.   I ask them to make a handprint and add their name and the date.   

The little plum teapot is a very special houseguest so naturally I wanted a stepping stone as a reminder of its visit.  It proudly poured the water to mix the concrete.  

 After washing up, it graciously steeped a pot of Glenburn Estate tea .  Will you join me in a cup while I finish working on the stepping stone?
French Macaron today in lieu of chocolate......

“Every now and then one paints a picture that seems to have opened a door and serves as a stepping stone to other things.”
Pablo Picasso

Monday, November 19, 2012

Flaming Oolong

Sometimes we are gifted with an object that introduces us to something that is exciting, special and so good!  That is how I felt when a friend gifted me with a special silver spoon to use for flaming oolong tea.  I am forever grateful and I love to share the ritual with friends and I want to share it with you today.

The little plum teapot is steeping a purple oolong from the Art of Tea.  99% oxidized purple oolong steeps a full, rich brew that delivers a full roasted dark purple infusion with solid notes of cinnamon, musk, and amber.  A rare treat from Sumatra, Indonesia.

It would be enough by itself for dessert but I just have to enjoy a “Mr. Kipling French Fancies” with it.  Have to LOVE those Brits for coming up with such delightful tea treats!

The chocolate…..Cadbury Dream White Chocolate from England! 

 “Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa around,
And while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.”
18th century poet   William Cowper.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tea – Cat’s – 1950’s

I know it sounds like an odd combination.  I know you like tea….. do you love cats and/or the 1950’s?  I thought it would be fun to combine these things today.

Cats have a way to seemingly be able to be everywhere at once and being a part of everything going on in a household.   Our dear Cleo enjoyed drinking his milk from a stemmed glass. But if disturbed during this daily ritual, this is what you could expect!  (notice the milk on his whiskers)


The little plum pot is steeping a special black blend from Babbington’s Tearoom located at the foot of the Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy.  Babbington’s logo is a black cat. 

A fifties martini glass, rimmed with honey pearls sounds fun to me today.  I’ve topped my tea with non-fat milk foam to honor all pet cats.   I’m becoming quite fond of this tea/foam combination.  

The Fifties were filled with such fun times.  Many younger than I find it fun to use the 50’s as a theme or to  dress in the period.  The  fifties was one of the most fun decades of my life.    I thought it would be fun to share this website with you.  Enjoy a Belgian dark chocolate with tea while you watch it.


What greater gift than the love of a cat? ~Charles Dickens



Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mountain Canyons

Mountain Canyons

Orange County’s tallest peak is just under 6,000 feet.  While we can drive just a few miles beyond our county lines to higher mountains and wonderful mountain ski areas and cabins, I enjoy taking short hikes in our local mountain canyons.  There are many beautiful canyons here to be enjoyed.  I can’t hike the real steep ones anymore but I still manage to find plenty of trail heads that I can take for a ways and enjoy.

I often take books to look through while enjoying a snack and a tea break, Today’s snack is a dark 85% organic and fair traded bittersweet chocolate bar with a deep fruity intensity.

The tea is a new favorite of mine, *Squirrel Nutkin*,  from Miss Spenser’s Special Teas.  It is a wonderful green walnut tea and was the perfect choice to enjoy while sitting under the canyon trees today. The aroma and the flavors are so inviting. 

Miss Spenser’s website shop describes it as “Green tea with candied pineapple, coconut rasps, almond flakes and walnut pieces. Smooth green tea with a touch of sweet flavor.”


“But in every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.”  
John Muir

Friday, November 16, 2012

Four O'Clock

Four O’Clock….most afternoons

Isn’t it just wonderful to look forward to a special time each day to know that you will enjoy a cup of tea and maybe a treat to go with it!    Sometimes to be enjoyed while watching the hummingbirds. There are hummingbirds year round in my gardens and sometimes I even find a nest with baby hummingbirds in the yard.  I love to watch them come up to drink from the fountains.  They seem quite fond of the Hibiscus flowers.  
Isn't the bird foot handle on this antique cup that we will enjoy our tea in today special? 

I love chocolate and can’t even imagine not loving it.  That said, I love anything lemon too.   Especially my homemade French Lemon Tart. 

Today the little plum teapot is brewing a pot of Harney’s Satishpur Broken Assam tea.  According to Harney’s it is a garden we rarely see since most of the production goes to Japan.  Satishpur is located in northeastern Assam.  It is an intense tea with dark honey and malt flavors.  I’ve grown to like it a lot. 

Godiva’s Pineapple Hummingbird Cake Truffle by Duff Goldman seemed the perfect thing to enjoy with it along with some extra sour lemon drops. 

“A lemon drop.  They’re a kind of Muggle sweet I’m rather fond of.” 
J. K. Rowling

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Beaches ~ Oh, the excitement today!

When houseguests arrive, they want to go to the beach and they want to learn to surf! 

The little plum teapot was no exception!

What better place could there be than Huntington Beach which is known as Surf City. The U.S. Open of surfing is held here each summer,

Bike rentals are plentiful here, but many also bike to this famous beach to enjoy it. Enjoy the view of Catalina Island across the water as we wait……

for the little plum pots first board lesson!  Oh, the excitement!!!  The surfers all cheered!  We brought a big Hershey’s Almond Bar to share.The little plum teapot is now officially the little plum surfer dude!

Safely back on shore, it was time to head home and get back to the business of steeping tea.

 *Calming* is my thought as I sip the fragrant *Ammo* botanical of hand tied cinnamon bark with star anise and licorice from the Art of Tea.  Its shape suggests a surf board to me.

 “Out of water, I am nothing”
Duke Kahanamoku

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fashion Island

Fashion Island ~ Shopping

Shopping is a huge recreation in the OC.  We have South Coast Plaza, The Irvine Spectrum, The District, The Camp and more   AND  the *premier open-air retail center, Fashion Island that boasts specialty shops, world-class department stores and a vast array of restaurants and cafes, in a sophisticated yet relaxed atmosphere that is distinctively Southern California*.  

Bracing for a day of shopping, the little plum teapot steeped a pot of Elmwood Inn Kentucky Blend to start the day.  This was sipped from an antique copper luster baby cup c. 1877 that is a family heirloom.    I love to drink my tea from special and fun things. 

A handful of Andes Mints will be tossed into the purse to help keep energy up today.

A new upscale grocery opened at Fashion Island recently and The Tea Hive made its national debut – a fusion café and tea bar.  It offers tea frosted, frozen, sparkling or steamed.  The little plum teapot wanted to check it out but decided to sneak into the store in costume and  hiding in an “Orla Kiely teapot fabric handbag”  from a Fashion Island store.  It kept peeking to see what was happening and I think it was just a bit envious. 
 “If men liked shopping, they'd call it research.”
Cynthia Nelms

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Starry Night

Starry Night 

On a clear night, I love to sit out in the spa and look up into the sky and enjoy the stars.  I especially love to look for ones that we have had charted and registered with the Library of Congress that are named for loved ones.   

The little plum teapot is steeping  “Starry Nights” from the Art of Tea.  ” Pour the night sky into your cup. Organic Assam black tea combined with natural soothing vanilla bits along with star-shaped white tea.”
 Enjoy a Raspberry Star from Godiva with it.

*No sight is more provocative of awe than is the night sky*

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fun in Beverly Hills

Fun in Beverly Hills

The little plum teapot and I spent the day in Beverly Hills today celebrating the birthday of a dear friend.   

Avante-garde is an understatement—from the lighted crystal stag head over the fireplace to the shotgun light stands to the amazing food of a famous Spanish chef.
Indeed a day of celebration for the little plum teapot, myself and my friend!  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

'The & Butterflies

‘The & Butterflies

We have had more butterflies in the gardens this year than ever before.  Butterflies always make me smile.  Friends have gifted me with some fun butterfly *things* like this mechanical butterfly which opens and closes its wings ever so often.  

 The beautiful *Butterfly Teapot Holder * is cleverly designed — slide your fingers inside the wings and they grasp the teapot handle.  This was designed by a friend and gifted to me.

Today these butterflies are keeping company with the little plum teapot while it is steeping a pot of “Melange Angelina” tea from Angelina’s Tearoom in Paris, France.

Break off a piece of the wonderful Salted Caramel Cashew Milk Chocolate Bark (which is made in-house at the local Godiva Boutique) to enjoy with this special tea.  

“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.”
Rabindranath Tagore

Friday, November 9, 2012

Balboa Island

Balboa Island

Newport Beach is filled with miles of sandy beaches and has the largest small craft yacht harbor in the United States. The Wedge, located at the end of Balboa Peninsula, is known as one of the toughest bodysurfing spots in the United States. In fact, it was said to have ruined the football career of a young John Wayne in the 1920s when he sustained a shoulder injury while bodysurfing.  John Wayne is an icon in Orange County. He lived here and harbored his yacht here.  A bronze statue of him greets those arriving at John Wayne Airport. 
The Balboa Fun Zone on Newport Harbor has been a place to get your kicks since 1936.  It is such fun to take the ferry (which only holds two or three cars) over to the Fun Zone. 
Once the ferry landed, we were off to “Balboa Island Treats” to get their famous frozen banana. 
This was enjoyed with *Passion *Fruit Kissettes, a Godiva Salted Caramel Parfait chocolate with lavender buds and a pot of Farmer Zhen’s tea hand carried from his tea farm in Taiwan by a friend.
“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life.  Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday.”
John Wayne



A friend returning from France brought me a tin of *The’ Violette, Jardin d’Elen*  that the little plum teapot is steeping.   The aroma is just like being surrounded by fresh violets in the garden.   Violets are one of my favorite flowers. 

I have some correspondence to catch up on, so took my tea tray to the secretary with the pull out shelf to sip while I write.  Won’t you join me?  Oh my, it tastes just like violets smell…..wonderful!    A violet cream macaron and chocolate covered cashews for Elevenses today.  Enjoy!

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”

Mark Twain

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Beaches - Crystal Cove

Beaches – Crystal Cove

Orange County’s coastline has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.  Serving as the northern gateway of our 42 miles of beaches is Seal Beach with San Clemente being the southern gateway.. There are many, many beaches along this 42 mile stretch to enjoy.  The little plum teapot will be pouring tea for you at a few of my most favorite ones.  I love the ocean and visit these nearby beaches often. 

Experiencing the magic of “Crystal Cove” as it existed in the 1930’s is great fun. The cottages have been historically restored and are available for vacation rentals through our CA. State Parks (if you should be lucky enough to secure a reservation).
Today, the little plum teapot is pouring Söderblandning from the Tea Centre in Stockholm while we enjoy the view from the bluff above Crystal Cove Beach and The Historic District.  This tea is one of my “go to” teas.  It is a pleasant blend of China and Sri Lanka black teas with tropical fruits and flowers. 
Today’s chocolate is a Bissingers  Fleur de Sel  & Kreta Olive Oil Truffle.   
Oh, my!  It’s a good thing I tucked in a Godiva Pumpkin Spice Truffle too as look who else found Crystal Cove today!

*Would you like an adventure now
Or shall we have our tea first?*
Peter Pan 

About Crystal Cove