Sunday, March 31, 2013

May You Have A Blessed Easter

Priscilla is busy helping with the Easter preparations.
She started by warming up her Easter voice.  This hymn is an Easter favorite.  

She watered the Easter blooms.  We will add an Easter Lily after it finishes decorating our church this morning.

She ironed her dress. . .

packed tea cups for my daughter and I to use at the family Easter. . .

helped get the Easter goodies in the baskets, as well as all the cooking last night - five pies, cornbread, salad, and rice crispie treats.

At this very holy season,
warmest wishes go your way
That Our Lord 
will fill your heart with joy
today and every day.

Have a Blessed Easter

Sips and Smiles,

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Tea With Little Boys

What happens when you have an abundance of frilly little tea things and then you are blessed with little boys?  Who says little boys can't enjoy tea?

At our house, the boys out number the girls.  Over time, we have added some "guy" things to our tea accouterments.   

Hope you enjoy our "What Are Little Boys Made Of" tea.


Little Porker Scones
Strawberry Jam
Fresh Whipped Cream

Snips and Snails Sandwich Rolls
Wormy PB&J
Buggie Bites
Sailing Sammiches
Toasted Cheesy Triangles

Apple Race Cars
Strawberry Bugs
Puppy Dogs' Tails
Mud Pies
Dirt Pudding
Racing Bears

Our milk pitcher is a pig.  We also have a frog and elephant.  I have a lot of little girly teacups with butterflies and flowers.  I ran across these little boy cups several years ago at an antique shop.
When they lift up the cup, the saucer has another little surprise.
The mark under the cups and saucers are in a hunter's cap with a whip below it.  Copeland Spode England #4, "well cleared" and "first over" marks one set.  The other is #6, "the huntsman" and "the find".  

Several of the things on the menu are very easy for children to help make.  The puppy dog tails are from edible play dough.  The children can shape the tails while you are busy making some of the other items.  They love to cut out the round shapes for the worm sandwich.  And painting the bread for any sandwich is loads of fun.
Turn them loose with a paintbrush and several dishes of tinted milk.  The bread toasts to a lovely bright color.

How about a better look at some of our tea treats?
Little Porker Scones
These were made from my usual scone recipe.  Little triangles were added for the ears and rounds for the nose.  Currant eyes help our little porkers see.  I have also cut scones with various cookie cutters to fit my theme.

Wormy PB&J
I stood the round sandwiches to form the worm's body.  A cherry tomato, chives and hummus make his head.  He is crawling through a bit of parsley.

Boyish Sandwiches
Grilled cheese is always a favorite.  The snail roll ups have chive antenna, but the vinegar in the pickles cause them to wilt quickly.  Save it for the end of your tea prep.  I use a toothpick to poke them into the pickles.  Our bugs have a cheese and cracker base.  I use whatever the child likes, depending what is available in my fridge.  Our sailing sammiches are filled with tuna salad.  The cheese is held up with toothpicks.  

Every little boy's favorites
I usually plate the desserts separate from the sandwiches and bring them out when the healthier things are finished.  Worms and dirt is always on our menu.  The mud pies are no bake cookies.  The racing bears have a brownie base with gummy saver wheels and cherry tic tac lights.  Strawberry bugs have mini chocolate chip spots, a grape head and licorice legs.  Apple race cars are an apple slice with a couple grape wheels on a toothpick axle.  Peanut butter based edible play dough is made into puppy dog tails.

The handy little aluminum tiered dish was a Goodwill find.  It had the dingy and dull aluminum look.  Lots of elbow grease and Mother's Mag & Aluminum polish brought back the original shine.  (Well maybe not original, but a bit better than it was.) My husband commented that he used that polish on his car tires.  So another "guy" element at our tea party.  I love how the dish folds for storage.  Wish all my tea things would do that.  (Be sure to wash it really well after polishing.)

To help keep our little ones entertained at tea, Tinkerbell has been known to make an appearance.  She can only show up on "sunny days".  Little ones have to be very well behaved, napkins in lap, sitting up straight, elbows off table, and talking quietly.  She is so shy she usually flits in and out.  She helps remind little ones of proper tea behavior.  Just in case you have never met Tinkerbell, she reflects the sun from a nearby window with your spoon.  Sometimes it takes a bit of practice to make her fly across the ceiling.  The face on a watch will also work.  One cloudy days I have been known to keep a little flashlight under my napkin.

We hope you enjoy tea time with your favorite little guy!

I hope my children/grandchildren look back on today
and see a mother/grandmother who had time to play.

There will be years for cleaning and cooking . . .
for children grow up, while we're not looking.

Sips and Smiles,

Friday, March 29, 2013

Pickwick Society Tea Room and John Deere

Miss Priss and I visited the Pickwick Society tea room in Illinois, on our travels to Iowa.  The tea room is on the corner of Hickory and Kansas streets in historic Frankfort.  (Be sure to visit the general store across the street and the Old Plank Trail Tavern down the street.)

First Impression:  Ample parking was available along the street.  We were greeted as we entered the tea room and shown to our table.

Tea Room Setting:  The tearoom is bright and cheery.  The corner location provides windows along most of the two front walls.  Tables are available in a couple of rooms.  Lots of tea items are displayed in cabinets and on shelves for purchase.

The Table:  We sat at the front of the shop.  Fabric tablecloths in various patterns covered the tables.  Each place setting had a different tea cup. 

Tea:  Octavia whole leaf teas are prepared properly and served in a pot with a cozy.  I chose Organic Citrus, which was wonderful. Their menu offers 47 choices - black, oolong, green, white, rooibos, yerba mate, herbal and iced.  Other beverages are also available.  (The lemonade was fresh squeezed and delicious.)  

 Menu:  Many tea options are available.  They are named after characters in "Little Women."  I indulged in Marmee's Full Tea.  Lighter options are available, as well as a lunch menu and children's menu.
 Tea Tidbits:  Our first course was a vegetarian lentil soup.  
Followed by the arrival of our tier.  On the bottom is their signature sandwich, Laurie - which is a chicken salad with cranberries on a croissant, Beth - egg salad on pumpernickel, veggie, asparagus quiche, spanakopita, and a lime margarita sandwich.  The middle tier held the cinnamon scones with raspberry jam and mock clotted cream, banana bread with lemon curd and cucumber sandwiches.  Our sweets were raspberry thumbprint cookies, chocolate mousse tarts topped with a fresh raspberry, mint chocolate chip biscotti, cherry rugelach, pomegranate and white tea shortbread and a coconut cupcake with raspberry filling.

Entertainment:  Soft vocal music was playing in the background.

Gift Shop:  Many items were available throughout the shop.

Price:  $26.50 (reservations are requested)

 Isn't this an adorable way to display a teacup!

Miss Priss visited four John Deere factories in Iowa. She saw how tractors, combines, sprayers, cotton pickers and engines were made and assembled.  Did you know that the John Deere colors symbolize the farming seasons, green for planting and yellow for harvest? 

And she kept herself entertained during the drive by listening to her book on tape and conducting a tea mint taste test.

Minteas by Tea forte were very refreshing.  They started off with a lime, lemon, cocoa, cinnamon (which turned to clove) and gingery/pear flavor.  Very quickly they became minty with just a hint of the other flavor.  The original flavor returned, after the mint dissolved (which takes two minutes and 49 seconds) and lingered for quite some time.  They are available in (according to my preference) lemongrass yuzu, lime mojito, matcha chai, cocoa mate and ginger pear.  All three tearooms where I have seen these say they like the ginger pear and it is their best seller.

May your tea journeys take you exci"tea"ing places!

Sips and Smiles,

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Priscilla travels to Iowa

The highlight of the trip was meeting Donna and her family!  We were so busy visiting, that I didn't take many pictures and what I did take are not very good.  Please accept my apologies.

When we arrived at Longview Farms, Donna greeted us at our vehicle and escorted us to Miss Spenser's Tea Room.  We were given tours of our rooms and soon after were sipping our welcoming tea.  Donna served us in the tea room, although most guests are served tea in their rooms.  What a treat!
Our Table
But let us show you around a bit!  

If I lived closer, I am sure I would visit often!

And now for the goodies. . . 
Our tiered server was filled with yummy scones.  Grapefruit curd, orange marmalade and mock devonshire cream were on the table.  One of our boys devoured the chicken salad and the other the cucumber sandwiches.
Delicious and Beautiful

Mint brownies and chocolate covered strawberries were the perfect sweets to go with our orange tea.

We relaxed in our rooms for a bit until dinner time.  We felt right at home dining with Donna and her family.  Dinner was delicious and my boys can't wait for me to make her lasagna and salad dressing!  We visited, the guys discussed farming and us girls our children.  Before we knew it, the clock was signaling bedtime.  Donna was kind enough to pack our breakfast since we had a very early departure.  (The pumpkin chocolate chip muffins were delicious!) We headed back to our rooms.

I felt bad because I forgot Priscilla when we went to dinner.  When we returned to the room, we discovered she hadn't minded at all . . . 
She had made herself some tea . . .
Warmed herself by the fire . . .
There were too many movies for her to choose just one . . .
She made herself a snack . . .
Enjoyed a good book . . .
Took a nap . . .
And freshened up a bit before we returned!
I can not thank Donna and her family enough for all the hospitality they shared during our visit!  It was so nice to spend time with another family so similar to our own.  

We just want to thank you
For the time you gave,
The sharing of your talents
In the beautiful gifts you made
For you have blessed so many
And blessed the Lord above
For using your gifts to bless another
Reflects the Father’s love.

© By M.S.Lowndes

Sips and Smiles,

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A teapot walked into a bar . . .

Well, Priscilla was actually carried . . .

In Friday, March 15th's post, I said I would explain how I discovered LouAnn's Tea sPot.  During our wanderings in Wapakoneta, we first stopped at the Neil Armstrong Space Museum.  Priscilla played with the hands on exhibits,
Landing the Lunar Module
looked at the real moon rock,

and admired the space suit.

She visited with the ladies at the desk, who shared a few other highlights of their town.  They thought she would enjoy the antique mall downtown, which is housed in the old opera house.
Steps in the "Antique Mall"
She crawled on this table to get a better look at the balcony.
Balcony of the Opera House
Naturally, she visited with the folks at the counter, who suggested she stop at the Alpha Cafe.  So she walked (was carried) down the street to the cafe/tavern.

She made her way to the back of the cafe where she found an old fashioned lunch counter.
Priscilla with Lipton Tea
Friendly Priscilla visited with the owner's mother, who shared the history of the bar.  Her father was a partner in the business, but eventually bought out the other owners.  The bank next to them wanted to enlarge and bought the building.  They moved the back bar, which was built in 1893 by Brunswick Balke Collender Company of Cincinnati, across the street to the new location.  
The carved white oak back bar is 24 feet long.  Only three back bars of this size were built by the Cincinnati company.  One burnt and the other is in Arizona.  

We talked about tea and she told me about the new tea room that had just opened in town, LouAnn's Tea sPot.

So another chapter in the Priscilla saga is finished.

Sips and Smiles,

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

TeaHaus in Ann Arbor Michigan

Another tea room visit was on Prissy's itinerary.  This time we headed to Ann Arbor, Michigan, a college town.  TeaHaus caters to the varied residents of Ann Arbor.  Their menu offers afternoon tea, as well as lunch items.  Many options for special diets and food allergies are available.

First Impression:  TeaHaus is located a block off of main street in Ann Arbor.
Tea Room Setting:  Eight tables that seat four people fill the restaurant side of the TeaHaus.  The gift shop offers several stools at a counter facing the window and a comfy seating area.

The Table:  We were seated by the front window and enjoyed watching the people passing by.

Tea:  Over 180 loose leaf teas are available.  The tea was properly prepared in unlimited pots.  Priscilla and I enjoyed four different teas.

Vietnam Yen Bai
Russian Samovar
Assam Mokalbari
Japanese Gyokuro
Menu:  A full English tea is offered with reservations, as well as a smaller version, a cream tea and various lunch items.

Tea Tidbits:  The first course is a soup.  We had a mushroom soup infused with Puehr Tea.  I loved the little lidded dish.  Shortly after we finished the soup course, our tiered server arrived.

Mushroom soup infused with Puehr tea.
Tiered Server
The savory items on the bottom were a brie and apricot crostini, chicken salad with black sesame seeds and mandarin oranges, peppered salami with herb butter, traditional egg salad and a traditional cucumber sandwich.  
The middle tier held two scones with four spreads.  The traditional scone is from her Grandmother's Welsh recipe and it melted in your mouth!  The other was a pear and cinnamon scone.  The spreads included clotted cream, a berry compote, orange marmalade and lemon curd.  All were very good and offer options for specialty diets.
The top tier held the sweets, a French macaron with a champagne and elderflower reduction filling, Earl Grey dark chocolate truffle, lavender shortbread, and a green tea matcha petit four.

Entertainment:  Soft contemporary music played in the background.  The front table enables people watching.

Gift Shop:  The gift shop features the wall of tea, as well as many contemporary teapots, cups, mugs, and tea accessories.
These tea infusers made me smile.
Many tea items and the comfy seating area.
Price:  Afternoon tea is $25, but there are many other items on the menu.

Extras:  A binder at the tea counter describes all the available teas.  It lists the type of tea, name of tea, description and ingredients (including country of origin).  They offer tea by the cup to go, as well as this yummy sweets counter.

And have you ever seen a "Fairrium"?

Many herbs and teas are used in her menu items.  It is nice to enjoy tea on a plate as well as in a cup.  The owner, as well as her staff, were very knowledgeable and happy to make suggestions.  Priscilla and I had a wonderful afternoon tea.

Of course Priscilla wanted to visit the University of Michigan.  We drove past campus and on our way home she spotted "The Big House".  She insisted on a photo!

On the long drive home, she spotted some Canadian Geese.

May your cup of blessings always be full!

Sips and Smiles,