Monday, September 19, 2011

"PICKLES AND TEA" ...Teatime Tuesday

I'm into the pickle juice... Oh me, oh my ... What a busy day I'm having!  September, is always a delightful mix of colors and plump fresh fruits and vegetables.  The kitchen itself smells to be pickled and my hands are stained a lovely beetroot red ...


It's time for a break .... On days like today I need some invigorating  yellow to get me through the canning  tasks of the season. I've always been partial to  yellow, which I believe is the most enchanting color in the color spectrum.

Certainly the charm of this "Ansley" teacup, is like drinking a cup full of sunlight ... especially for   someone, who might be a slight bit  "pickled"... or should I say tickled with the aromatic scents of vinegar and spices.

This is a regal  design that someone of royalty could have commissioned, but of course it's only one of a hundred or more , dazzling Ansley patterns. The  saucer is so delicately  rimmed in gold florets and perfectly completed with intricately  connected rose bowers. I alway marvel at those who create such  symmetrical beauty. 

Ansley China  was  produced in the late 1700's,  as a family business that started as one man's hobby. Today it one of the worlds highest quality chinas.

John Ansley, the chairman of a local coalmine in Stokes-on-Trent, England,  had a strong interest in collecting pottery and lustreware and in 1775 started his business in Longton. He used local clay and his own engravings and soon became known as a master potter. His son James successfully maintained the  business .

Funnily enough it was his grandson, John Ansley ll, who took over the manufacturing and introduced a new process. ( This is something I didn't know) He added 50 percent calcified bone ash to the porcelain creating a  stronger and whiter product .... thus the name bone china !!!

It was at this time that Queen Victoria commissioned a set of personal tableware and allowed Ansley China to use the royal family seal in it's logo, where it remains today. The company boasts  recent commissions including  sets for Queen Elizabeth ll and the Prince of Wales. 

 Today, Ansley is still in demand and is now part of the same group that produces Belleek porcelain from Ireland. 

Ok  ... Time to get back to the task ... (Scrub, scrub scrub) ...  Luckily my son loves culinary arts and  has encouraged me to continue into the wee small hours of the morning ... Graham made the brine and I cut up the horse radish and cleaned  the cucumbers... We finished at 12:00 a.m ... No wonder I'm excited to see all  bright  green pickle  jars...  A  job well done  !!! ( Yawn)

Maybe I'll have just one more spot of camomile tea before bedtime !!!

 Goodness , I hear a knock on the door...It's the local ladies  flying  around  on their brooms...They stopped in for an , All Hallow's Eve  chat.  ...Would you like to join us for some teatime   cackling ( ha ha) ... T'is  the witching hour !!!!

Sometimes, I do wonder about this neightbourhood and it's  strange tea brew !!! ( Hee Hee Hee)

Thanks for the visit and ENJOY your last week of summer .

Monday, September 12, 2011

"CHINA ROSES"..Teacup Tuesday #4

" No two roses smell  exactly the same " .. and over the centuries, their fragrance and beauty have heralded the rose, as the most popular flower on the planet.

Numerous  stories  surround the rose including,  "Alice in Wonderland ", "Through the Looking Glass "," Beauty and the Beast, and " The Nightingale and the Rose"...  Empress Josephine Bonaparte  inspired the world's greatest botanical paintings surrounding this flower and Cleopatra entertained Anthony knee deep in roses.

 Is it any wonder that china companies should also herald the beauty of roses on their porcelain cups and saucers... Have you ever counted how many rose decorated pieces of china that you own ?

Just about everything, I own has a emblematic rose on it, not to mention my own name " Roslind" which means, "surrounded by roses"...  "A rose is a rose is a rose." I quess ...  I'm a rose. ( Ha Ha) 

If I had to pick a favorite rose cup and saucer , it would be this one ... A most remarkable thing of beauty, that rests majestically amongst my Royal Doulton figurines. The bell shaped cup is much smaller than one might think and the saucer turns up three times higher than most of my other saucers . In reality, It looks very much like a canterbury bell.

The markings certify, that it's a Foley China Work produced by E. Brain & Co.Ltd., Fenton, which became Staffordshire Potteries from 1903-1963.Just for general interest,  E. Brain , later, took over Coalport China which was the first English Pottery to obtain the famous, "Rose Pompadour" color.

Funnily enough ... This set was a  gift .....Would you like to hear the story? .... Ok !!!!

 One stormy November, I passed an antique store on my way to university... I remember, because it was bitterly cold and in those days, you had to bundled up and weather the storm on foot, to get to classes ...  Even then, I was admiring  fine china and imagining being a " Snow Queen", who might , someday, be able to afford such beautiful things.... but, I had books to buy... Keep walking girl !!!!!

Everyday ... I passed the shop and eventually, got up the courage to enter in ... You know, it's always best to  stay away from temptation, however, being young, I had the curiosity of a small kitten ... 
Infact, it was like belling the cat, ding, ding, the brass bell, heralded my arrival  and all the little  china mice cups and saucers surrounded me... BING BING... I felt like "Alice", in the garden of the talking flowers, only they were chattering  teacups. ( I have quite an active imagination) so PLEASE bear with
 me !!!!
In the Chapter, "Garden of Live Flowers ", in " Through the Looking Glass ", a talking  rose tells  Alice, " You're beginning to fade, you know .... and then one can't help one's petals getting alittle untidy ! "

Quite frankly , I did look a  blustery sight, quivering and dripping wet snow all over the wooden floors of the rustic establishment ... no matter, for the old storekeeper was ever so kind, " May I help you, she asked ... "No, I'm just looking," I replied. "Well take your time, Dear ", she said, then turned, paused and asked if I would like a cup of tea. ...  WOULD I !!!!!

The rest of the story is history.  I began frequenting the little shop every week-end, admiring china and having teatime chats with Mrs. Sparrow on a regular basis.

Time passed and on the last year of my university sojourn ... I  stopped over to bid a fond farewell to the the sweet, elderly Mrs. Sparrow, who fondly returned a hug. She presented me with a small package wrapped in brown paper that was tied with string.... Sometimes the best things come in the smallest packages .... Don't you agree !!!

Yes...You've probably quessed that the gold filigree of this farewell cup  intertwines  it's leaves and roses  into my heart, as one of my most sentimental teatime memories. DID I deserve such a beautiful gift !!!! 
( I'm not sure )

Certainly, I will forever cherish the  teatime laughter and chats, in the back of the old curiosity shop with Mrs. Sparrow... For instance ... Did you know that ....  "  It takes 60,000 roses to make an ounce of attar of rose ".... "a tax was once levied on roses" ...  ' Roses are an aphrodisiac "  ...   AND ... " roses love garlic".

 " What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet ."
'Romeo and Juliet'

Thank You for stopping by to smell the roses,this Teacup Tuesday,  now I hope you will join me in a refreshing cup of, " ROSE PETAL TEA "  ... Collect the petals to be dried before the flower unfolds. Use two heaping teaspoons per cup of boiling water.... Steep for a few minutes and  ENJOY !!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


" Red sky at night , Sailors delight, Red Sky in morning. Sailors take warning " ... 

Five  minutes to sundown ... I just had to capture the beauty of the evening. It was a Pandora's box type of sky, that transported the heart and soul into the imaginative  realm of childhood...  How well I remembered, painting the skyscapes on the  murals in my Grade 3 classroom... What fun !!!!

 For sure, I wasn't the only budding, young artist that had ever attempted to recreate the glory of a sunset with crayolas or tempra paints ...The Japanese have been scribing and duplicating the delicate balance of nature on their porcelain and ceramics for centuries...

Often, hidden in the dustiest corners of the old curiosity shops, are these handpainted artisan cups and saucers from Japan, or they may even  be from  China ... I'm not sure of their origin, since there are no marking ...which may mean  that it is  pre-1900's.  I was once told that, as a  general rule,  " the older  and more genuine the item, the less chance it has of being marked."


Meito china is a popular  Japanese brand, that was founded in 1908, by former Noritake engineer Kotero Asuki... although most of the china bears the backstamp Meito, many decorative handpainted pieces, such as my cups, have been traced to either a pre-dated time prior to  the ' Occupied Japan ' era or to the forefathers of this company.

I'm not an art dealer, nor am I overly concerned with the identifying marks of the porcelain. To me, "the beauty is in the eye of the beholder", and I admire ceramics that have, what we sometimes call.
 " the artists' touch "!!!

One can only imagine the artisan choosing the color palette for this porcelain .... surely he/she was influenced by mother nature.  I often feel that these cups and saucers bring purpose of existence into the teacup world. I think of them as not merely vessels of sipping but as  instruments of bonding one world to another or one tea lover to another.

While the artists' vision is a more subdued orange, than my pink sunset, it still maintains a reverent passage and compatible scope of sharing... It is a gift of time passing !!!

I love the gentle sweeps of the paint brushes on this saucer ... I love the feel of the cup in my hand and I love, how the light filters through the fine, translucent  porcelain.

These little cups are not perfectly symmetrical and the artwork varies according to the brush stroke of their creator . Certainly, this set is not a collectors' dream, as they are not opulent nor grand. I call them my little country bumpkins!!! ( Ha ha) 

Yes... When the sun begins to go down on a warm autumn night, they are the  friendly little cups that share the  comfort of teatime, nestling me quite nicely into the last chapter of Jane Austens', "Pride and Prejudice".   Don't you just love that " Mr. Darcy "!!!!