Saturday, May 30, 2015

Mother's Day: Past, "presents" and future

Six years of celebrating Mother's Day at Goldfish Tea
On Mother's Day we continued with our annual tradition of meeting at Goldfish Tea. This Royal Oak tea room, with its comfy seating, amazing tea and tasty fare is the perfect place for a family gathering and we've been spending our second Sunday in May here for the last six years.

Azaleas, orchid and charming tea bag card.

This year was really a look at past, "presents" and future. Starting our afternoon at Goldfish, we filled up on sweets, savories and pots of Keemun tea. I was the recipient of an enviable treasure bath consisting of an azalea tree bursting with beautiful, bright pink blossoms (Blumz does great work!) from Matt,  and a delicate, very pretty orchid plant housed in an adorable porcelain tiny teacup, courtesy Rachel. Also, a precious tea bag-themed card that is destined to be framed.

Tea Leaf Reading Kit

From Rob, I received a peak into the future - and a whole lot of fun - with a Tea Leaf Reading kit (TOPS Malibu). It has been a lot of fun learning more about this ancient art. I'm often asked about it at tea events, so I was anxious to see what it's all about. For more on this cool kit and what it takes to read tea leaves, please check out Tea Leaf Reading: Meditative, Creative and Fun in The Detroit Examiner.

Partial city view from Matt's balcony
That sums up the future and presents, but the visit to the past came later that afternoon.  Matt recently moved into an apartment in downtown Detroit and he took us all down for the grand tour after tea. He's in the heart of the revitalized city and from his balcony you can get a glimpse of Belle Isle, the Detroit River (if you squint), Ford Field and the Michigan Building. The latter was not only one of the film sites featured in the movie "Eight Mile", but once the home of a credit card processing center where, as a young graduate student/assistant-to-the auditor, I met my husband, Chris, a six-year "veteran" of the business and systems programmer at the senior age of twenty-six.

 Michigan Building where it all began
That was over thirty-three years ago (having just celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary this week) and we hadn't been back to that building in three decades. After soaking in the amenities of Matt's place, we took the elevator ride down to the lobby and made a short jaunt around the corner to the Michigan Building.

Not much had changed in thirty years except it was clearly less occupied. Chris and I were deja-vu-ing in a setting that was a bit surreal. Did Mr. Peabody just hearken us to 1983 in the WABAC machine? Hard to imagine us being that young, let alone thinking that some thirty years after meeting, one of our children would be living across the street.

That would have been one cup of tea leaves to have predicted that!

An enjoyable Mother's Day of past, presents and future.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

BTS Featured Artists Series: Home sewn decor from Renae L.

Beautiful table runner with tea-time theme

Custom table runners, towels, trivets, cozies and placemats - these are just some of the items that my friend, Renae Leggieri, can create for you. You can custom order based on size, colors, patterns and themes. Of course, I am a fan of the tea-themed merchandise!

I am introducing a new feature for Barb's TEA Shop Service blog and putting a spotlight on artists and crafters that I know and whose work is amazing. After writing about my sister-in-law, Sandy, and her knitting earlier this year, it occurred to me that I am blessed with a network of creative women whose talents I admire. I'd like to share these artists and crafters with you as well.

I love this fabric and just happened to have cups to match!

Renae started her sewing business last year. She quilted for a hobby, but quickly found that she was getting requests for items she made for personal gifts, such as towels and trivets.

You'll be taken with the creativity and attention to detail.

Fancy stitching and pretty ribbon trimmings add to artistry

Although I have two table runners suitable for the fanciest of tea parties,  Renae has items perfect for holidays and everyday use.  Check out these trivets that would be great for all your summer holiday entertaining.

Red, white & blue theme is great for summer parties. 

In addition, Renae crafts bowl cozy/wraps. They can be used as a decorative feature or for functional hot pads when heating up items in the microwave. (Set of 3 sizes, 15", 12", 10". Mix & match sizes for what works for you. $30 set.)

Bowl wraps functional and decorative.

Table runners start at $15.00, if quilted, prices start at $20.00.

For more information, contact Renae at

Table runner keeps surfaces safe from drips while adding charm and whimsy to tea time

And, next time you are over for tea, check out my new table runners!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Hey Barb's TEA Shop, you just completed 5 tea events in 4 months, what are you going to do next? We're going to Highclere Castle!

We're going to Downton Abbey

Five tea events in the first four months of 2015 and we couldn't be happier. We're also treating ourselves to a trip across the pond to visit the "real" Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle - although we've got a few months before we start packing.

Our events were held at three different libraries and two at the The Townsend Hotel.  Would it surprise anyone that over half the tea affairs were inspired by Downton Abbey?

Rang in the new year at White Lake Library

We rang in the new year at the White Lake Library with a Downton Abbey-inspired evening.  A chilly January evening was warmed by introductions from librarian Denise Harris-Fiems and English Rose tea from  Republic of Tea's Downton Abbey collection.

February at Baldwin Library
One month later, we were at The Baldwin Library in Birmingham, for a Downton Abbey-inspired afternoon tea with librarian Kathryn Bergeron, who decked out tables with linens and beautiful red roses. Rose (aka Rachel) served guests three selections from Republic of Tea.  Scones, curd and cream came from The Townsend Hotel.

Tables set for fun corporate event on Valentine's Day at the Townsend 
Speaking of our favorite luxury hotel, we spent our Valentine's Day at a corporate event held in the Townsend's tea lobby for an absolutely delightful group of women. We presented our Tea Etiquette program while guests dined on a scones, savories and bottomless pots of Harney tea.

Downton Abbey Afternoon Tea at the Townsend
In April, we were back at The Townsend for a Downton Abbey afternoon tea. The hotel's tea lobby was transformed into a stunning Edwardian-era dining room where the Crawley family would feel right at home. Rose-Rachel and I so enjoyed presenting to and conversing with all the guests - some of who joined us in dressing in period attire!

What's Cooking with Barb and Loretta
Rachel sets up for tea tasting portion at West Bloomfield Library
We finished the month at the West Bloomfield Libary as part of their  popular "What's Cooking" series. Good friend and library committee member, Loretta Harris, joined us in greeting and serving to 80 guests. We presented, "Beyond the Tea Bag: Tea History and Tea Tasting" which included a matcha tea demonstration. Teas featured for our sampling included Ito En, Socra Tea and Elmwood Inn. Also featured were teas from Chazzano and Light of Day.

It was great to see some guests at the library who we saw less than a week before at our Townsend tea!

So, what does one do after all that - go to Highclere Castle, of course! That is the Disneyworld for those of us caught up in the Edwardian-era Masterpiece mini-series. .

Will be back with even MORE stories to share with our fellow Downton Abbey enthusiasts and ready for all a whole new line-up of tea events. Stay tuned and hope to see you at one of our teas soon!

To read more of these events, check out all the details in The Detroit Tea Examiner.