Sunday, June 26, 2016

Return to Downton, Please Join Me

"Sympathy butters no parsnips." Mrs. Patmore
As I begin my blog post, I am sipping appropriately on a cup of Bates' Brambleberry Tea in my Downton Abbey mug.  Please, do grab a cup and join me!

Thursday, I received an urgent text from a friend, letting me know someone in her party had cancelled for a Downton Abbey tea on Saturday, and would I like to take her place?

Hmmmm.... well, I really have nothing that fancy to wear, but I was certainly interested.  She offered me a dress, I raced over to try it on, and we had a lovely visit as well.

Gail, Patsy, Kathleen, Sylvia, Heather
in Sylvia's parlor. 
Gail & Kathleen
Saturday, I arrived at Sylvia's as 5 of us would be carpooling to Escondido in Southern California.  She looked lovely in her ensemble & I soon met some of her friends.
It took about an hour to get there, but upon arrival we were
greeted by these classic cars, setting the stage for the Downton era.

Our party is complete, as these two joyful ladies arrive in their stylish dresses!
View of The Grand Tea Room Patio {photo from their website}

Entrance { photo from their website}
Gift Shop {photo from their website}

Inviting music beckoned us in.
Our place settings.
{Ring the bell for Carson to bring more tea}

The menu looked most promising.
The lovely Kathleen - BTW: This was Kathleen's VERY FIRST tea party!We start with champagne and tea.
(Alcohol is not really my thing, but the teas were divine).
We chatted about favorite moments and quotes from the show.
Everyone was very impressed by the beauty and quantity of the food.

The shepherd's pies was a clever crowd pleaser!

The scones were a bit dry, but the lemon curd and cream were lovely.  The meringue was very good, and something I had not had before.

Sylvia captured this wonderful panoramic view that gives a good feel of the dining room.

All 7 of us, left to right - Kathleen, Gail, Patsy, Sylvia, Heather, Sue and Sharon.

Decor and shop items.

A sweet little board book I bought to read to The Littles.

Love that it includes prayer.
And also, encourages thank you notes... something that's no longer en vogue with the younger ones.

A fun little teabag rest I bought to give as a gift.

CLICK HERE to visit her web page.
The proprietor shared how the fridge went out Friday night, and our tea nearly did not happen! They worked to fix it, and had to remake much of our food early that morning.  The wait staff was so engaging and kind, we really felt like were "upstairs" :)

Trivia questions were asked by Louisa (pictured above), and prizes were handed out for correct answers.  In addition, goodie bags were given out to all!
I was lucky enough to answer a trivia question correctly.
  The side of the soap pictured above.

Sylvia, being the gracious table hostess that she is, gifted us with these lovely goodie bags and cards.

They also included these hand crafted ornaments.
I don't like to go empty handed, so I shared the lovely story below, printed on pretty lavender stationary, and gave a copy to each lady to ready privately later, in the hopes they would have fond memories of our time together and enjoy some encouragement. 

Tea Time with GOD: The Tea Cup Story

A couple vacationing in Europe went strolling down a little street and saw a quaint little gift shop with a beautiful teacup in the window. The lady collected teacups and she wanted this one for her collection, so she went inside to buy the teacup, and as the story goes the teacup spoke and said:

"I want you to know that I have not always looked like this. It took the process of pain to bring me to this point. You see, there was a time when I was just clay and the Master came and He pounded me and He squeezed me and He kneaded me and I screamed: "STOP THAT!". But He just smiled and said, "Not yet".

Then He took me and put me on the shelf and I went round and round and round and round... and while I was spinning and getting dizzier and dizzier I screamed again and I said, "Please get me off this thing... please get me off!" And the Master was looking at me and he was smiling, as He said, "Not yet".

Then He took me and walked toward the oven and shut the door and turned up the heat and I could see Him through the window of the oven and it was getting hotter and hotter and I thought, "He's going to burn me to death!".

And I started pounding on the inside of the oven and I said, "Master, let me out, let me out, let me out!", and I could see that He was smiling as He said "Not yet". Then He opened the door and I was fresh and free and He took me out of the oven and He put me on the table and then He got some paint and a paintbrush.

He started dabbing me and making swirls all over me and I started to gag and I said: "Master, stop it... stop it... stop it please... you're making me gag". He just smiled as He said "not yet".

Then very gently He picked me up again and He started walking toward the oven and I said, "Master, NO!! Not again, pleeeease!!". He opened the oven door and He slipped me inside and He shut the door and this time He turned the heat up twice as hot as before and I thought, "He's going to kill me!!", and I looked through the window of the oven and I started to pound on it, saying, "Master... Master, please let me out... please let me out... let me out!".

I could see that He was smiling but I also noticed a tear trickle down His cheek as I watched Him mouth the words, "Not yet!"

Just as I thought I was about to die, the door opened and He reached in ever so gently and took me out, fresh and free and He went and placed me on a high shelf and He said: "There, I have created what I intended. Would you like to see yourself?" I said, "Yes". He handed me a mirror and I looked and I looked again and I said, "That's not me, I'm just a lump of clay".

He said, "Yes, that IS you, but it took the process of pain to bring you to this place. You see, had I not worked you when you were clay, then you would have dried up.

If I had not subjected you to the stress of the wheel you would have crumbled. If I had not put you into the heat of the oven you would have cracked. If I had not painted you there would be no color in your life. But, it was the second oven that gave you the strength to endure. Now you are everything I intended you to be - from the beginning." And I, the teacup, heard myself saying something I never thought I would hear myself saying, "Master, forgive me, I did not trust you. I thought you were going to harm me, I did not know you had a glorious future and a hope for me. I was too shortsighted, but I want to thank you.

I want to thank you for the suffering. I want to thank you for the process of pain. Here I am! I give you myself – fill me; pour from me, use me as you see fit. I really want to be a vessel that brings you glory within my life."
{Author Unknown}

"HE has made everything beautiful in it's time. HE has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." Ecclesiastes 3:11 

My new sandals, and after tea, Sylvia gifted the
dress to me! Thank you sweet Sylvia.
Cheers to you friends.  I hope you enjoyed having tea time with me today. I believe I need to ring Carson for more tea now. God bless you.

Lady Mary Crawley & Matthew Crawley

Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson on holiday.
Wedding of Carson & Mrs. Hughes

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Lady Unrivaled Book Review

A Lady Unrivaled #3   -     By: Roseanna M. White

 Ladies of the Manor Book#3, 
Roseanna M. White
•:*:•. ENGAGING .•:*:• 

The Cotswolds, Ralin Castle March 1913
Lady Ella Myerston is featured on the cover.  The model beautifully captures the essence of the character, with her sneaky little smile and lovely red hair, though Ella would call it auburn (-smile).
She has such a wonderful outlook on life and is very inquisitive.  She chooses to find joy in the moment, be an explorer of her world, but is also fiercely protective of those she loves, as she proves by trying to unravel the mystery of the Fire Eyes diamonds in order to keep further harm from coming to her family.  I really enjoyed her character from the get-go.
Cayton was a bit complex, but never annoyingly.  His great love of his 9 month old daughter, and his overwhelming desire to become a good and God following man for her sake were both charming and admirable.  Ella does a wonderful job of breaking through his walls, and seeing past his masks.

Paris, France - Kira, the prima ballerina, has made some bad choices in life, and her conscious will constantly remind her of it.  However, it’s a very dangerous game she is playing at, in order to keep her Russian benefactor/boyfriend happy. In fact, so many people in this book play at being spies, certainly someone is bound to get caught, or worse.
Lady Catherine, having suffered a terrible loss in book 2, is barely living, just a waif-like shadow of her former, blustery self.  No longer inclined to be conniving and conspiring for the Fire Eyes with her brother, Lord Rushworth, she simply lets him steer her life.  Lord Rushworth, however, has nothing else on his mind, and is quite determined to acquire them, no matter the cost, dragging his grieving sister from France, to the Cotswolds, where he believes the jewels are.

It was unexpected, and fun to have three pregnant women all due at essentially the same time.  Each woman shows remarkable strength and resilience when push comes to shove.  While there were sad moments, they weren’t overly so.  I never felt them weighing me down.  There were many happy and amusing moments. And there was a bit of danger, which enhanced the story. 

Scriptural Reference: I was pleased to see faith beautifully woven into and throughout this story.
Beginning of book, and again in Ch. 24 -  “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” –Romans 5:5

doily-covered tea cart
image found on Pinterest & traced back to
Tea Moment: Ch. 12 “The tea room wasn’t nearly as grand as the ones in London to which she was permitted to slip away unchaperoned – no orchestra, no dancing, no high-arching windows. But it was lovely, all fair, bright colors and copious amounts of light, …The waitress headed their way, wheeled cart before her and a casual smile upon her lips.  Conversation halted while the girl set out their teapot and sugar and cream, the tiered tray filled to bursting with sweets.

I definitely recommend this book. (5 stars)

As the winner of a contest (Yay me!) held by the author, I received an Advance Reading Copy for no compensation from BETHANY HOUSE PUBL.  Some final edits were still in progress after I received my copy, but the author tells me they were merely typo corrections (smile).  My opinion is my own.
Read: 06/10&11/2016

SERIES: Ladies of the Manor
The Lost Heiress –  Book #1 – 2015
The Reluctant Duchess – Book #2 – April 2016 CLICK HERE to read my review
A Lady Unrivaled – Book #3 – September 2016

Until next time, blessings and a cup of tea

Thursday, June 9, 2016


photo credit (used by permission) / Jamie Lapeyrolerie
Click HERE to order or read book description.

A Herringford and Watts Mystery
by Rachel McMillan

Several things about this book grabbed me right away. 1) It’s not too overwhelming in size, so a perfect little summer read. (and as I have said of these books before, I LOVE the covers).
2) I LOVE FONTS – I’m actually rather obsessed with them, so to see a fun, scrolly (cause that’s a word, right?!) font displayed at the beginning of a letter from Jem’s parents as well as Chapter #s puts a big ol smile on my face. 3) There are silhouettes & pretty designs throughout the book! Another smile, and yet another reason I prefer delicious paperbacks over eBooks!  4) The author puts footnotes throughout.  Who does this in fictional stories?  It’s like she’s passing us secret notes in class!  Super fun!

September 1910, Toronto, Canada: told in 3rd person, (unlike the eNovellas).
The story opens with the murder of a beautiful young woman found at the Elgin Theater, and our lady detectives are determined to help solve the case. One of my favorite things about this story, was Ray DeLuca’s journal.  Getting to know him in a very personal way, and what ends up happening because of it (avoiding spoilers here), was heartwarming. 

Excellent Picture of these Lady Detectives: Ch. 2 – “Jem realized early in her acquaintance with Merinda Heringford that attempting to solve a crime as an amateur and a woman meant leaving any semblance of pride or dignity behind.  She became all too familiar with hiding her attractive feminine traits – her soft curves and curls – under the dirty, mangy tweed folds of her flatmate’s nifty disguises.”
Amusing Quote: Ch. 2 - “I have to return the reporter’s coat,” said Jem. “Though I suppose if I take it off, half of Toronto will notice I have no pants on.”
Faith: (faith is lightly sprinkled in this book). – Ch. 2 “She breathed a prayer for the rain to hold off and to avoid detection, at which Merinda smirked, scolding her friend for conversing with an invisible God.”
Ch. 15 – “Women in the Bible didn’t sit at home braiding mats for the men in battle.  They went to battle too.  Look at Deborah. Look at Esther.”
Ch. 19 – “God is going to speak to you no matter where you decide to meet him.”
Tea Moment:
Who recognizes this famous
Ch. 7 – “Jem cleared her throat, inviting Gavin to sit in the armchair as she settled onto the sofa.  Mrs. Malone arrived with the tea service, which featured assorted dainties arranged to ornament the tea.  Jem pinched a fairy cake and licked the icing.”

Crokinole (Board Game): Pg.10 ok, so I totally had to google this, and in case you don’t know either, here’s what it looks like.
Click for More Info.
this board was appropriately made in Canada :)

This author is very approachable through her FB page:

I purchased this from CBD.  Overall, I would recommend this book to a friend.
5 stars
© 04/01/2016 Harvest House Pub., 219 Pages
Read: 6/08/2016 Reviewed: 6/9/2016

Others In Series:
*A Singular & Whimsical Problem – (eNovella) 12/2015 click for my review
*Of Dubious and Questionable Memory(eNovella) 5/31/2016 click for my review
*A Lesson in Love and Murder 9/1/2016 

Hugs and a cup of tea,