Tuesday, December 31, 2019

In and Out List for the new year: What's hot and what's not to kick off the roaring 2020's.

Dogs of honor are in, "Cats" the movie is out.

This upcoming year will kick off what may be another decade of "roaring twenties".  In 2020, we'll have a presidential election which, like style décor experts predict in home fashions, there will be little "neutral" territory. Expect a lot from both sides of the aisle, but also a change in how parties come down the aisle - specifically, "bridal parties" for the latter.

Inspired by "Hello, 2020" (Detroit Free Press, December 27, 2019) and the WSJ's "Top 6 Interior-Design Trends for 2020", along with BTS' humble and plentiful opinions, we shine the light on what's in and what's out for the new year.

Add gray tea towels to a white kitchen
Kusmi's first white tea, deliciously in.

In:          Dark blues. Classic Blue and Naval are the 2020 colors of the year. Ahoy, mateys, we'll be back to gray next year.

Out:       Gray - again, although, this time the style guru's mean it. (except for tea towels).

In:         White tea. We're particularly fond of Kusmi Tea's tea blanc.  This is Kusmi's first white tea and it's delicious with notes of rose and raspberry.

Out:      White kitchens - Again. . .  again! But, white kitchen with gray tea towels from Copenhagen, gets you  back "in".

Tiaras, not just for weekends anymore!

Bow ties are in again in 2020!

In:        Tiaras and bow ties! Not just for royal affairs. Great for weddings, home parties or  movie theaters.

Out:    Yoga pants. Except for yoga or the gym.  And, we love Lulu Lemon for that!

The Willard Hotel in DC. Lobby for more afternoon tea

InElection year!  This year we're lobbying for more afternoon teas at The Willard in DC!

Out:  We'll see.   ; )

Downton Abbey cookbook based on 1920's reality TV

In:         The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook. A tome filled with history, pictures and lots of recipes from the other roaring twenties "reality" TV show.

Out:       In the Kitchen with Kris:  A Kollection of Kardashian-Jenner Family Favorites.  Some may applaud the  klever use of the "k" to replace the "c",  but we've been keeping up with these folks since 2007. It's been a recipe for disaster for over a decade.  We say K'enough!

Tiaras for evening wear or DA cosplay

In:         Downton Abbey movie. Rumors are swirling that there may be a sequel! Perhaps a Trilogy:  "The Crawleys Awaken", "The Last Footman", and "Rise of the Tourism".

Out:       The Star Wars Trilogy. . . for now.

In:         Baby Yoda

Out:      Baby shark.  There is no try, only do do do do do do do

First Downton Abbey tea of the year at Meadow Brook Hall

InDownton Abbey teas!  Host one of your own with the aid of the  DA Cookbook OR join us in 2020 for DA tea talks at lots of great venues! Our first DA-inspired tea is this February at Meadow Brook Hall. For future DA (and other!) BTS teas, watch our events page on the Barb's Tea Service website.

Astors still visible  in New York today
Gilded Age exhibit at the Biltmore

In:    Gilded Age teas!  Still in and BTS has a lot of new tales to tell from travels from the Biltmore to New York City.  Stayed tuned to the  BTS website. It's gilded, Jerry, it's gilded!

Out:  No tea talks are out in 2020, only in!

Say "yes" to the dress and dog of honor and "no" to Cats!

InDogs and cats in weddings.

Out: "Cats" the movie. Let's stop it before it trilogizes!

Gilded Age table at Biltmore
BTS will display one new tablescape each month!

InTablescapes captured by iPhones. BTS is committed to one fantastic tablescape a month and we'll upload photos.  Watch for upcoming blog posts!

Out: Phoning-in table settings. With just a few extras, like fanciful, folded napkins or the addition of the fish knife and fork (that is, if you are serving fish!), you send an unspoken message to your guests that they were worth the added effort.

Zen dens and tea garden void of clutter

InZen Dens, Tea Gardens and other designated spaces for meditation and refuge.

OutClutter Seriously, when was this ever in?  I keep waiting. In trend lists over the years it always shows up as "out". If it ever gets to be trendy, my home office space will be ready!

Multi-purpose pillows can light up your life.

InMulti-function pillows.  If a pillow is going to just sit on your sofa most of time, make it functional as well as decorative. We're quite fond of this moose-and-woods themed pillow that lights up the way to the couch.

OutMore than six, four, two decorative pillows on a sofa. Either your guests are forced to sit on the edge of the sofa to accommodate the pile up or they toss the stuffed menagerie on the floor.  Only exception, if the pillows offer more in the way of services, like lighting up or providing current football scores.

In:  Etiquette. Once again, good manners never go out of style! May we suggest BTS' "Twelve Dining Essentials:  Formal Dining and Tea Time".

Out:  Not knowing where to place your fish fork and knife!

Midwestern good-bye, complete with hand-on-doorknob talk and many hugs

InMidwestern Goodbyes.  No one escapes quickly. Like a tasty, muli-layered dip, there are seven stages ranging from "welp" to "hand on doorknob conversation".  And, like Olaf, we're a fan of warm hugs inbetween.  My daughter shared this "recipe" with me last year and I loved it so much, my sister-in-law made it into a wall hanging., Oh, yah, this is how we say farewell to any guests as they are trapped in the hallway on their way "out".

Out:  In a Midwestern good-bye, any "out" is going to last awhile, so you might as well hold off starting the car just yet.

As we see 2019 out, we want to thank all of you who stop by and visit us here at the BTS blog or who've come to see us at our teas (or both!) and have shared your friendship as well as a cup of tea. We know you've got the car started and your hand on the doorknob, but we're not letting you go without a warm hug and a cup of tea-to-go!

Happy, happy New Year from Barb's Tea Shop and we're so looking forward to sharing our tea adventures with you in 2020!

Happy New Year from Barb and Rachel of BTS!

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Love is brewing: Somebody's getting married!

Engagement party where coffee, tea and love is brewing!

Somebody get some flowers, somebody get a ring, somebody get a chapel and a choir to sing, somebody get an organ to play . . .

 'Cause somebody's getting married today!

That "somebody" is my daughter and tea biz partner, Rachel and her fiancé, Sean.  And, although the wedding isn't today -  it will be in the fall of 2020 - we did kick off the event with an engagement party last month.

Sean and Rachel are the somebodies getting married!

When my children were little, (Rob, Matt, and the bride-to-be), we had the soundtrack album from the movie "Muppets Take Manhattan". There's a song on that record, played on a turntable (wasn't vintage yet), that seemed to dominate the playlist, "Somebody's Getting Married". It was a favorite to dance to. We have videos of our three youngsters (approximately 6, 4 and 2, respectively) "dancing" (i.e., mostly running around) to this tune sung by the Muppet cast at the wedding of Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog.

Rob, Rachel, cousin Marti, and Matt, circa Muppet's album dancing days

I share all of this because when Sean proposed to Rachel back in June of this year, (in Yellowstone National park), the tune "Somebody's Getting Married" reeled back at warp speed from my memories. I thought of my now-engaged- twenty-something daughter when she was as toddler, in the family room, shifting from one chubby little foot to the other, head cocked to the left while her brothers ran in circles to the backbeat of the Muppet's choir.

Fast forward to November, 2019, and my husband, Chris and I hosted a "Desserts and Bubbly" party to toast the engaged couple. We had sparkling wine, TOST, and, of course, a coffee and tea station, where "Love was Brewing".  (No event is complete without tea!).

Over cupcakes, doughnuts, brownies, chocolate-covered strawberries, s'more cakes, pumpkin tortes and nanaimo bars, guests toasted the young couple's engagement and upcoming wedding. 

Bridesmaids, photo bombed by wedding officiator and godfather, Ed.

Family and friends brought well-wishes and advice. Some brought gifts wrapped in robin-egg-blue boxes wrapped with white satin bows and some passed along family heirlooms.  A special in the latter category was a padded hanger, embellished and customized over the years, from Sean's grandmother who received it from her grandmother. It's purpose is to hold the wedding gown and what a special job that is.

From Sean's grandmother, the heirloom wedding hanger to hold the bridal gown 

The wedding details are still being worked on, but the bridesmaids, (cousin Marti is one!) and best men have been secured (including the "running dancers", Rob and Matt), the officiator selected (my brother and Rachel's godfather, Ed), day of coordinator aka "HBIC", Sandy,  (Ed's wife and Rachel's godmother) and the venue has been reserved. 

Somebody's getting married and the mother-of-the bride can hardly wait!

There will be a lot to do in the upcoming months, but what fun will be had for this joyous occasion.  

To quote the Cookie Monster, "Me can hardly wait!"  

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Say cheese! Dessert tea served up fresh at Eli Teas

Cheese tea, an intriguing concoction of tea and liquid cheesecake

There's always something new and different brewing at Eli's Tea Bar and a visit to the Birmingham shop last week with my daughter, Rachel, found us sampling  "Cheese Tea".  It's sweet and tasty and served up cold.

Cheese tea is an intriguing concoction of tea and liquid cheesecake mix, which Eli - who was behind the counter when we arrived - told us is made fresh daily in the shop.

Rachel and Barb of Barb's Tea Service stop in for hot and cold tea and scones

It's very sweet, so it makes a great dessert. My tea preference is usually hot, strong and dark, but I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. It took a sip or two of introduction, but I acquired a liking to it quickly and drank the full cup.

Even though it's more sugary than savory, I still paired it with one of Eli's delicious scones and did not regret it.

Christmas blend makes a great stocking stuffer

Another new item for the season, Eli brought out their Christmas blend tea:  Butterscotch Rose Xmas Tree.  Although I didn't sample a cup, I did take in its delicious aroma. This would make a delightful holiday stocking stuffer for the tea enthusiasts on your list.

To try cheese tea or other great treats at Eli's, visit their store at 108 S. Old Woodward in Birmingham or check out their website Eli Tea Bar.

Always something new on the menu at Eli's

Monday, December 9, 2019

Afternoon tea at The Townsend Hotel is always a special event!

Barb's Tea Service talks afternoon tea etiquette at The Townsend Hotel this month.

Last Tuesday, The Townsend Hotel in Birmingham,  along with Barb's Tea Service, welcomed L'Anse Creuse Community Education Trips and Tours for afternoon tea. A special event for a very special group!

Part of the L'Anse Creuse Continuing Education Trips and Tours enjoying afternoon tea at The Townsend.

Also in attendance, special guest, Rachelle Willnus, of Derby Hats by Rachelle, who brought in a beautiful sample of fascinators for display and sale (!). 

Rachelle W. brought a beautiful variety of fascinators for sale.

The tea fare, which included an orange cranberry scone and pumpkin praline tart, was as beautiful as it was tasty.  Herbal and Earl Grey teas rounded out the menu and the service was, as always, excellent.

Delicious afternoon tea fare included an orange cranberry scone and a pumpkin praline tart.

Barb's Tea Service presented an "Afternoon Tea Etiquette" tea talk as part of the program. 

More of the L'Anse Creuse guests enjoying afternoon tea at The Townsend.

After the tea event, guests toured the Townsend and had the opportunity to purchase Barb's Tea Service tea books and Rachelle's fascinators.

Dorothy and Faye
BTS' books for sale

A wonderful afternoon tea for a wonderful group, all coordinated by Nancy K. of the L'Anse Creuse Community Education Trips and Tours.

For more information on afternoon tea at The Townsend, check out The Townsend's afternoon tea page!

Barb G. with Nancy K. at The Townsend