Monday, September 4, 2017

Divine Tea Finds: Downton Abbey Bears and Antique Depot

Lord Grantham, Lady Mary and Mrs. Patmore 

In our second installment of our new blog feature, "BTS' Divine Tea Finds", we found "everything old is new again".

The Downton Abbey television series may be over, but there's much hinted on social media that there will be a new movie in 2018. We do so hope that is true. In the meantime, we're still hanging on to all things Downton. So, when the Downton Abbey teddy bears went on sale, we just had to snap up  a few.

Last month, the ShopPBS online store had an incredible sale on these furry personifications of the Crawley family and their downstairs staff.  These bears come from North American Bear Company, the same folks who make the adorable Muffy VanderBear family, which my daughter Rachel collected when she was young.

Lady Mary next to English Rose tea which "bears" her  likeness

Standing 12" inches tall, these bears are 4" taller than the tiny Muffy collection, giving us that much more to love.

The retail price for each Downton Abbey bear is $74.99. However, last month, ShopPBS offered up some of the  fuzzy cast members at $29.99.  At that price, the hardest decision was which to buy and how many.

Mrs. Patmore comes with her own spoon. She, too,  has her own tea.

In the end, I chose, Lord Grantham, Lady Mary and Mrs. Patmore, which provided the essentials of an aristocratic ensemble:  a Lord, a Lady and a cook.

(The other price I paid was promising Lord Gulley of Glencoe that I would take two boxes of "stuff" out of the house and donate, which I did.)

Lord Grantham with a cup of  Breakfast Blend
The other purpose for my purchase was to have the cuddly characters displayed next to the Republic of Tea's tea tins "bearing" their likeness for all our Downton Abbey afternoon teas. We prepare and serve the teas in the Republic of Tea's Downton Abbey series, specifically Grantham Breakfast Blend, English Rose and Mrs. Patmore's Pudding. These are fun teas in name and packaging and well-received by guests.

At last check, the only bear still available on ShopPBS at this great price is Lord Grantham.

Our other "old" new find, was at one of our favorite antique stores in the whole world. Lucky for us, Antique Depot in Lewiston, Michigan, is just a hop, skip and a jump from our northern retreat in nearby Greenwood Township.

Rachel stands outside Antique Depot in Lewiston, Michigan

Antique Depot is owned and run by Deb K., who manages to make the store look brand new every time we visit. She has a keen eye for design and her displays of vintage china, crystal and assorted bric-a-brac are amazing. Sometimes arranged by color, sometimes by holiday, it's always pristine and appealing.

A "new" Paragon tea cup
Not the usual, but so pretty & perfect for the tea garden

Deb also offers outstanding customer service. You know your visiting an old friend each time you step through the door and she keeps an eye out for what you collect. I'm partial to Paragon tea cups and she'll let me know if she's secured some new ones and where they are in the store.

However, when we stopped in last month, she showed me a teacup that she really liked and thought I would, too, even though it wasn't Paragon. I LOVED it! It's still fine bone china, but it's not my usual Aynsley cup with the gold line around the middle. This one is white cup with delicate blue morning glories bordering the edge of both the cup and the saucer. It is perfect for afternoon tea in my up north tea garden.

If anyone is traveling north and then a bit east of I-75 (Mio/Gaylord vicinity) and wants to experience a wonderful afternoon of browsing beautifully displayed vintage collections, you must pay a visit to Antique Depot. Tell them BTS sent you. Better yet, text me and let's go together!

Bear in mind, everything old becomes new again! These were the BTS Divine Tea Finds for August. We'll be back in a month for more!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Northern Michigan Afternoon Tea is still an elegant affair

Afternoon tea at Pemberly Pines tea garden. with crasher, Glenn.

Rewind without crasher. Enjoying tea time with Rachel and sisters-in-law, Sandy and Cara

Two years ago today,  we were having afternoon tea at Claridge's in London.  Just last week, we were having a similar experience in the woods of northern Michigan.

Two years ago we were having tea at Claridge's. Where's Glenn?

For the past few years, we've been hosting a family reunion at our up north retreat. We're fortunate to have both sides of our families together (Gulleys and Engmans) under one roof for an extended weekend.

Family reunion - Gulleys and Engmans gather for paintball and afternoon tea

We gather together for paintball and, eventually, afternoon tea. In between, there's boating, archery, disc golf, tractor racing and outdoor movie night.

Paintball in the fields of Pemberly.

This year also marked an anniversary:  ten years of Pemberly Pines (we even had a sign made to commemorate the occasion!).

Cousins at the pond, sign commemorating 10 years of Pemberly Pines

To prepare for the afternoon tea, there's more than just steeping the brew and securing scones. First the tea garden must be improved. We groomed the beds and planted flowers and herbs earlier in the summer.


By reunion time, the tea garden had blossomed into a lovely outdoor venue, reminiscent of Claridge's (if Claridge's was "across the pond",  outdoors, in the heart of twenty acres of pine trees and without the trappings of luxurious furnishings and impeccable service).

Pemberly Pines tea garden on the other side of the PPines pond

Although we don't share the fancy linens or crystal chandeliers of Claridge's, we do bring delicious home-brewed tea and fine china. We chose Earl Grey from Palais des Thes (we purchased a few packages of this loose tea at La Boheme, the French cafe in Detroit, when we were there in July).

Brewing the Earl Grey and setting up the tea tray

We brewed the loose tea in Adagio's IngenuiTEA Teapots.  These are amazing and convenient lidded cups that allow you to steep the tea and then release the brew from the bottom.

Adding "roses" to the tea garden with Royal Albert tea set

The china we chose was our Royal Albert  Rose Confetti tea set. It added more flowers to the tea garden!

This year, Rachel and I were accompanied by my two sister-in-laws, Cara and Sandy, and for a brief moment, my brother, Glenn.

It was a most delightful way to wrap up the reunion. The long weekend was not long enough. We're looking forward to next year!