Friday, February 28, 2014

Novelty Teapot

This sweet novelty teapot was gifted to me this past week. So colorful and cheerful, I am pulled to the little flowers that are sprouting from a window box above the door.

The marking stamped on the bottom states '2000 Collectors Series', and was produced for Houston Harvest Gift Products. It will certainly make a fun addition to the growing collection of novelty teapots that grace the shelves in the tea room.     Special thanks to JP.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Strainer Collection Grows

This beautiful silver tea strainer is the newest addition to my personal collection of unique and unusual tea strainers. It was purchased at Coffee and Tea Festival in Oaks, PA from the private collection of Miriam Novalle founder of the T Salon in New York City and gifted to me by my brother in law at Christmas. 

The beautiful cutout detail on the strainer is absolutely gorgeous. It has a small clasp on the inside of the strainer that helps to hold it closed once the tea leaves have been placed inside. This would be the perfect size for an individual cup or mug of tea.

Alas, the individual markings that are on the handle are too miniscule to decipher without jewelers glasses, but it would certainly be fun to investigate to learn a little more about this treasure.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Happy Birthday George Washington!

Today marks George Washington's birthday, and in honor of that celebration, earlier this month we welcomed Martha Dandridge Custis Washington as represented by first person historical interpreter Alisa Dupuy to the tea room for an Afternoon Tea and program. Martha is affectionately considered the First Lady of the United States. We learned about Martha's life as a young woman; she was taught to read and write and figure reasonable well, but also learned the important household responsibilities such as being a gracious hostess and how to set a proper table. She was able to make small talk, and loved to dance. Martha married George Washington two years after her first husband Daniel Parke Custis, a wealthy plantation owner, died of scarlet fever. When she met George Washington, he was a young officer, handsome, well dressed, a foot taller, and rode well.
She knew they were a good match.
We enjoyed a delightful Sunday afternoon in celebration of President's Day. A special thank you to guest Ann M. for the photo collage she created. And a special thank you to Alisa for another interesting and informative presentation in costume.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Winter Storm Advisory - Schools Cancelled

It seems to have become the mantra this winter - snow storm upon snow storm, a polar vortex creating temperatures so cold that school is cancelled, ice storms, and freezing rain causing school delays that become cancellations. So far this winter, we have experienced it all with delays and cancellations becoming the norm. So what do you do on a day when there is no school because of the ice storm, and it also happens to be a day the tea room is prepared to serve afternoon tea, except 90% of the reservations have cancelled that morning because of the hazards caused by the icy conditions? Well, if you live next door to a tea room, and you have middle school friends that are within walking distance, and the temperatures have started to melt the ice, you invite your friends for Afternoon Tea courtesy of your aunt. That's just what happened this week. Angelica and a few middle school friends enjoyed sipping tea, sampling savories, giggling and chatting, with conversation ranging from classes and teachers to discussing names for horses, coupled with even more laughter. What better way to enjoy one more day off from school.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Showcase the Place - Thursday February 20th

Discover the businesses on Market Street in Mechanicsburg, all within steps of each other. This special event takes place this Thursday, Feb. 20th between 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm. Susanna at The Rosemary House and Nancy at Sweet Remembrances are excited to participate in this premiere event. Shopkeepers will take you behind display windows to learn the shop's back stories: where goods originate, the how and the why of the shop's operations. Some will be offering little extras in their shops. Each business will Showcase the Place! Participating businesses include The Rosemary House (free gift here), Sweet Remembrances (order a pot of tea and scones here!), Teal Photography, Cache in the Attic, Altered Edge Couture, 2nd Floor Gallery, and Civil War and More. Stroll Market Street and learn a little more about the businesses that are established here. This special event is coordinated through the downtown Mechanicsburg partnership.

The Rosemary House is giving a package of Herbal Placemats to attendees.

Sweet Remembrances will offer an Individual Pot of Hot Tea and Two Scones with toppings or an Individual Pot of  Tea with 3 assorted desserts (carrot cake mini muffin, mint frosted brownie, shortbread cookie) for $5.00.

So, don't let the snow stop you! It's supposed to be 50 degrees on Thursday.... stop at The Rosemary House to pick up your free gift and browse the gift shop, visit with Susanna and pick up a copy of the new Calendar of Events for 2014, and then swing by Sweet Remembrances for either the Scone Special or the Dessert Delicacies, sip tea, visit with friends, say hello to Nancy and listen to the snow melt.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

Recently I participated in a Valentine's Day card exchange and this is the beautiful assortment of cards and treasures that have been arriving for several weeks. Cards have travelled from Canada, France, and 10 of the 50 states. There were homemade cards, vintage cards, and Hallmark cards all in various shades of red, pink, and white. The tuck-ins ranged from recipes to bookmarks to tea samples, to Valentine stickers. This has been such fun! Hope your Valentine's Day is extra special!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Napkin Folding - a Rose

Here's something fun for Valentine's Day - fold your napkin into a rose! Quietly convey a subtle statement about love with this fun napkin folding technique. In the language of flowers, roses symbolize love.

Take a large square napkin and fold it into a triangle.
 Beginning at the wide top edge, fold the napkin over and over and over, stopping slightly over half way. These two loose ends will form the leaves for the rose so it's important to have just the right amount!
 Then, starting at the farthest right hand side, tightly roll the entire napkin towards the left.
 This is the trickiest part, when you can't roll the napkin any more,
tuck that last bit of edge into bottom of the roll.

 Stand the rose upside down, and pull the 'leaves' out, each going opposite directions.

 Turn it over, and voila, you have a beautiful rose napkin!
 A very special thank you to Betsy for sharing this creative napkin folding technique with me! Our Valentine's Day teas will be extra special this year.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Family Adventure!

Costa Rica is a place for adventure.  Driving in CR is an experience all of its own..... considering the number of unpaved gravel and dirt roads we were on, we are thankful for paved roads!
 ATV's fun to hop on and drive. Cedar was in his element!
Master zip lines over the jungle,  one leg of the zipline we did was half a mile long!

 Horseback riding, through pastures and water crossings.
 Hiking down to waterfalls (and then hiking back up the hill).
 Tin can target practice. Did we mention Cedar was in his element?
Horseback riding up the mountain and back down.
 and hanging bridges through the rain forest, too. 
This was truly a family adventure, with all four Reppert sisters (husbands and kids, too!). Thank you for following along with us as we journal this special vacation and feature the rich culture and exciting adventure that Costa Rica offers.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Casa Primo

Our final night was spent at this boutique hotel, Casa Primo in San Jose.  This featured personalized service and breakfast in the morning.

Although a little too chilly for us to take a swim, we did enjoy the outdoor spaces.

 Lots of common sitting rooms and fresh flowers adorned the clean property.  We loved the Spanish flavor of the lodging, too.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Living Large

We rented a lovely home for a portion of our Costa Rican experience. Light and airy with a beautiful pool and view.

We had lots of sitting areas, inside and out.
With lots of little  touches of flowers on the table or tucked in a corner.

And our private chef!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Villa Vanilla 'Foodie Tour'

After the guided plantation tour at Villa Vanilla where we enjoyed the aromas of tropical spices and the lush greenery of exotic ornamental plants and orchids, we ended up in this elevated pavilion overlooking the rainforest where we would sample a delicious assortment of gourmet treats that featured the spices; chocolate, Ceylon cinnamon and vanilla, that we had just seen growing.

Our tour guide and foodie host served us an assortment of treats from Vanilla Bean Ice Cream to Oatmeal Cocoa Nib Cookies, Spicy Chocolate Allspice Cookies, and Hot Cinnamon Chocolate.

Spicy Chocolate Allspice Cookie
1 c. + 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
3/4 c. melted butter
1/2 c. whipped butter
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 c. flour
1/4 Tbs. salt
1/2 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 Tbs. baking soda
1 Tbs. Ceylon cinnamon powder
1-1/2 Tbs. Vanilla extract
1 Tbs. Allspice powder
Blend all ingredients. Bake 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

 Oatmeal Cocoa-Nib Cookies
1 c. butter softened
1 c. sugar
1 Tbs. vanilla
2 eggs
2-1/4 c. flour
1 Tbs. each baking powder and ground cinnamon
3/4 Tbs. baking soda
1/2 Tbs. salt
2-1/4 c. quick cooking rolled oats
1 c. chopped cocoa nibs
Blend all ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
The foodie tour ends at this pavilion where you had the opportunity to purchase large fresh Vanilla Beans, 100% pure Costa Rican Vanilla Extract, powdered cayenne pepper, peppercorns, Cocoa Nibs and more. Since we enjoyed the Oatmeal Cocoa Nib Cookies, I purchased several bags of the Cocoa Nibs, which are cracked and roasted cocoa beans. The packaging states they are good for the heart, bones and arteries. It suggests you enjoy them as a plain snack for a rich energy boost or simply sprinkle on your favorite granola or cereal. Add the cocoa nibs to a smoothie, or substitute for nuts, adding them to cookies and baked goods, or toss into a salad. The delicious chocolate fragrance has me simply sniffing them!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Villa Vanilla, CR

One of my favorite excursions on our trip to Costa Rica was to Villa Vanilla, a small farm focused on growing quality spices in a fully sustainable manor.  This farm grew a diverse variety of Vanilla, Chocolate, Tulsi, Peppercorns, Tumeric, Ginger, Ceylon Cinnamon, Chili peppers and more.
 The drying rack features white peppercorns, turmeric and chili peppers.  In the wet season they dry inside on racks heated by a wood fire.

Ceylon cinnamon bark being harvested the outer bark is scraped off and composted, the inner bark is the cinnamon.  The left over wood is stacked to burn in the wet season.
Their compost facility,  they judge the temperature of the compost pile, with an old machete inserted deep in the pile.  If they pull it out and it is too hot to hold, it is ready.


Vanilla Beans


Hibiscus Blossoms, for tea
This farm emphasized beauty in farming in addition to organic sustainability. This is a log resting on its side and then planted with epiphytes and bromeliads. 
 To increase the biodiversity the crops are not planted  in rows but mixed up so that if there is disease it can not spread quickly from one plant to another.
The farmers have also found that the ornamentals will show disease first so the farm is interspersed with many lovely flowers both for their beauty and as an early warning signal.