Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Front Room - Highest Shelf

When you walk into the front room of the tea room, your eyes are directed to this high shelf that spans the length of the wall.  It features a display of tea around the world.  Starting on the left there is a vignette devoted to England, the center theme is tea in the orient, and on the far right, the red white and blue of America.
Each individual collection is comprised of an assortment of tins, memorabilia, trinkets, and treasures accumulated over the years at yard sales, gift shops, or received as gifts.
England, with a backdrop of a towel purchased in Harrod's on a long ago visit to England, has a little section on the left devoted to the Royal Family.  The antique tin of Queen Elizabeth II is a souvenir from her commemoration in 1953.  Tea tins, biscuit tins, and teapots that feature Big Ben, the London subway map, and a sweet little English cottage complete the scene.
The tribute to the Orient has a sweet cloth from my Japanese pen pal as the backdrop and features many of the gifts she has sent to me from Japan. On the far right are lacquer matcha bowls, complete with the little wooden spoon used to measure the powdered green tea, and the bamboo whisk to gently stir the tea to the desired frothy consistency.

The backdrop for the tribute to tea in America features a tea towel purchased in Colonial Williamsburg with a nice assortment of teapots.  Tetley tea, Betsy Ross Tea, and White Rose tea tins in red white and blue subtly salute the nation.

Monday, July 30, 2012

In the Middle Room

In the middle room of the tea room, this set of shelves graces one side of the wall, while the Hershey collection is gathered on a shelf that extends across the rest of the wall.  Whimsical teapots, several Cardew collectible tea pots, the mystery writers desk and the vintage sewing machine (both marked Cardew Design, Made in England), and other fun teapot shapes and designs are tucked on these shelves.  There is a small collection of children's teapots, and a few fairy themed pots also.  Lots of detail and design to discover while standing in front of the shelf.
 In addition to tea, we love chocolate, too!  Antique candy molds and Hershey memorabilia round out the very top shelf.  Assorted cocoa tins complete the collection.

This colorful vignette features Alice in Wonderland.  The large and small teapots, both colorful and cheerful,marked as Cardew Classics were designed in England but crafted in China and Indonesia. The sweet little teacups and saucers, packaged in the round Alice's Teaparty Tea Set box, were purchased at Tuesday Morning, an eclectic shop that routinely changes inventory.  I can always find something to purchase when I stop there!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

House Cleaning!

This past week, everything came down off the shelves.  Everything.  Years ago, these beautiful oak shelves were constructed by my father.  He built the shelves that line two separate walls in the tea room, plus the oak surround on the fireplace.  He was very proud of his handiwork, (and indeed he should be) and I'm fortunate to reap the benefits as they provide excellent housing for all my tea  themed stuff!  But, it all came down for house cleaning!
I loaded the tearoom tables with stuff, piled high.  Years and years of accumulated treasures.  We eliminated some things that didn't really pertain to tea and no longer had a purpose.  And we rearranged everything.

There's a new look in the tea room.  Still a lot of stuff, really, fewer things, but still a lot!  Over the next few days, I'll share some of the pretty new vignettes that grace these beautiful oak shelves.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Homemade Coleslaw

With our family picnic the other day, we enjoyed a batch of homemade coleslaw using local organic cabbage.  So much better than the grocery store pre-made slaw!
3/4 c. mayonnaise
1/8 c. pure maple syrup
1/8 c. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
cabbage, finely chopped or shredded, about 4 cups

Whisk together dressing ingredients.  Combine the dressing with the cabbage.  Add any additional ingredients for color and crunch!  This time I added raisins, chopped green pepper, and a handful of pecans.  Add any other veggies, fruits, and/or nuts you might have on hand.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Chocolate, Moist, Easy to make, Tasty, Fun to share!  All these traits describe this Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake.  And with zucchini in season around here, and in abundance, it's a fun way to utilize some of the harvest.

 Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake
3 c. flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
4 eggs
3 c. sugar
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted
1-1/2 c. oil
3 c. grated zucchini
1/2 c. pecans
1/2 c. (heaping) mini chocolate chips
confectioner's sugar glaze

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine first four ingredients together and set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs.  Gradually add sugar.  Add chocolate, and then oil.  Mix in dry ingredients, and blend well.  Fold in zucchini, pecans and chocolate chips.  pour mixture into greased and floured bundt pan.  Bake for 70 - 75 minutes, or until cake tests done.  Cool in pan, on wire rack, for 15 minutes.  Remove from pan.  Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar, or frost with icing glaze.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mrs. Bridges Pantry, CT

We enjoyed an afternoon visit to the charmingly British tea room, Mrs. Bridges Pantry in Woodstock, CT. The sign on one of the outbuildings announced the goodies to be found inside. 

Individual tea orders were taken from an extensive list of loose leaf teas or tea bag teas, from PG Tips to flavored blacks, greens, and herbals.
For starters, a thick and flavorful tomato Florentine soup.

The afternoon tea included a choice of sandwich, either egg salad, chicken salad, curried chicken salad, cucumber, or ham & cheese.  You received a full sandwich cut into four and served as shown. Since several of us ordered the afternoon tea, we mixed up the sandwiches at our table so we could each try a different triangle.

In addition to the afternoon tea option, guests are able to order from the menu, such things as spaghetti on toast, meat pies, bangers and mash, definitely offering a little 'slice of Britain' in this rural Connecticut area.

Our afternoon tea ended with a choice of warm, pre-sliced scones (lemon ginger, cranberry orange) served with a dollop of cream and lemon curd.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Destination - Rhode Island

All those tea rooms and fairy festivals lead up to the ultimate destination, fun in the sun at the beaches of Rhode Island.
Beautiful blue skies, sand between the toes, splashing, laughing, paddle boarding and more... always a fun get away.

 Until the bold seagulls quickly snatch a sandwich from the hands of an unsuspecting 5 year old.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Passiflora Tea Room & Herbal Shoppe

The following day, our lunch stop was at Passiflora in New Hartford, CT.  This combination tea room and herbal shoppe was a fun stop for most of us.  Herbs and Tea!  Of course!  Not a traditional tea room but more along the lines of a cafe, they offer local organic ingredients with vegan and gluten free options.  Their tea list is amazingly extensive, and their cafe menu varied and delicious.

Large clear glass mugs held a lovely medium-bodied Kenya Milima black tea with a slight fruity taste, a spicy Masala Chai, and delicately sweetened Hot Chocolate.

Ordering from the daily menu posted on a large black chalkboard, luncheon specials included a roasted red pepper hummus panini, a very tasty gazpacho-like tomato soup, a sweet pepper frittata with beautiful fresh salad greens, strawberries and balsamic vinaigrette, grilled cheese medley of Swiss, provolone, and Havarti.
Their motto, Eat Locally,  Eat Wholely, Eat Thankfully, isn't hard to accomplish when they serve such delicious combinations of wholesome local organic fresh fare.
For dessert, we sampled gluten free mint brownies and Earl Grey lemon squares, both quickly devoured before even thinking about taking a picture.  Trust me, they were yummy, too!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

New York Faerie Festival

One of our vacation destinations included a stop at the New York Faerie Festival located in Harpursville, NY, just across the PA/NY border.  This festival venue, in rural New York, is tucked in among the rolling hills and hollows along a trickling spring.  As their website announces, it provides an escape from ordinary reality into magical play. 

Our group of teenagers and budding teenagers weren't quite ready to make that transformation, but the rest of us enjoyed the magic!
One of the first vendors we spotted was this booth featuring herbal teas, artfully blended and available for sampling, Herbal Turtle Teas.

Fairies, wizards, unique creatures could be found at every turn.
The Enchanted Wagon consisted of a slowly lumbering turtle with a gypsy wagon on its back.  Every inch of the wagon had something fun to discover.  Puppets, windows, secret doors, all captured your attention.  Asking questions elicited a response from the gypsy within.  Simply, Fun!
The Bridge Trolls (Martin & Carl Bridge and tribe) captured the attention of the youngest in our group.  Kindred spirits?  Perhaps.  He looks at ease with them now, but at first there was a bit of trepidation.  Once he successfully played 'Whack a Troll', he magically transformed into one of them.

Our day ended much too quickly.  Heading to our next destination, leaving the magic and returning to ordinary reality.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Maid's Quarters

Heading north, we stopped at The Maid's Quarters B & B and Tea Room in Pottsville, PA.  A charming 1829 country Victorian inn, this historic and tranquil bed and breakfast is located in the heart of town.  In addition to the responsibilities of owning a B & B, Allyson, the innkeeper, will prepare afternoon tea by reservation for private parties of up to 25 people.  Our clan of 7 happily sat down to enjoy afternoon tea.  There were six varieties of hot teas and 2 types of iced tea to choose.

A plate of Cranberry Scones and Poppyseed Scones was the featured first course, served with cranberry butter and lemon curd.  This was then followed by a platter of assorted petite sandwiches which included ham salad, egg salad, and a herbed sandwich with capers on dense pumpernickel.  We discovered that our family is not too keen on capers, but the other sandwiches were all quite popular.  How can you go wrong with egg salad?

The main entree featured a variety of choices: spinach frittata, turkey Waldorf salad on croissant, chunky tomato soup, chilled strawberry soup, or cranberry feta salad. 

Shown here is the spinace frittata and the cranberry feta salad, both very tasty!

And for dessert, raspberry almond bars, chewy chocolate cookies, and cookie and cream cheesecake.  Fun!
We enjoyed our visit but were anxious to pile back into the van and continue to head north with a stop at a Fairy Festival and another tea room (sort of) before our arrival at the Rhode Island beach house.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Stop to Smell the Flowers, and/or....

...to admire the teapots.
This pretty little collection of teapots was on display in one of the three (yes, three) tea rooms we visited during our annual summer vacation to Rhode Island.  We had fun!... more to come.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Highlawn Bed and Breakfast

 The Highlawn Bed and Breakfast in Berkeley Springs, WV was the second night of our B & B getaway. A very Victorian style Bed and Breakfast, Highlawn spoke of its herb garden, so that was how we selected the Highlawn! 
 This was the little garden on the porch which was conveniently located just outside the kitchen door within easy reach of the chef.   All the breakfast courses included fresh herbs and edible flowers.

This planter of 3 different basils also had a "Bloody Dock" plant.  Most docks, like yellow dock or burdock are such an invasive weed, I have been afraid to try the bloody dock.  But Sandy, the owner of Highlawn loves it in salads and she served it with our egg dish.  David and I both agreed it is a tasty green, not sweet but not bitter either and such interesting foliage.

 The first course of breakfast.  Fresh fruit, yogurt, pineapple juice and apple crumb bundt cake.