Monday, December 28, 2015

2015: A Retrospective

Where did 2015 go?!? As 2015 draws to a close, I'm jumping on the year-in-review bandwagon.

 So let's look back at this year's memorable experiences at Tea in the Valley!


Thank you all for stopping by my little corner of Blogland throughout 2015.
I'm always grateful for your visits and comments and I wish you all a Happy New Year!

I'd also like to thank the lovely hosts of the parties that I join each week:

Monday, December 21, 2015

Cup of Christmas Cheer

At a recent visit to the local mall, I spotted the most adorable thing...

A pair of Arctic hares enjoying a cup of tea outside Santa's cabin. Too cute!

 'Tis the season for enjoying copious amounts of tea!

 Earlier this month, I hosted a Christmas tea party with my relatives which gave me the opportunity to use my holiday teawares.

I used two of my Christmas teapots: Spode's "Christmas Tree" (left) and Maxwell & Williams "Baubles" (right).

My "United Nations" of teacups with holly and ivy and poinsettia patterns:
Lefton - Japan (top left); Blue Bird - Canada (top right); Duchess - England (bottom left).
I didn't have enough seasonal teacups so I also used my Bareuther Waldsassen - Germany (bottom right) set which I thought looked Christmassy...

Last week, we had our last tea social of the year at the office.

I brought in my Maxwell & Williams "Baubles" teapot and mugs.

The Christmas sweets brought in by my co-workers.

At a friend's afternoon tea party this past weekend, I enjoyed sipping my tea from the Royal Albert "Yuletide" teacup.

Wishing you a Blessed Christmas Season!

Monday, December 14, 2015

A Visit to the Official Hometown of Santa Claus

Back in July 2010, my friend and I backpacked through Scandinavia and had a unique "Christmas in July" experience.

We took a 12-hour overnight train from Helsinki to Rovaniemi--the capital of Lapland (Finland) and the official hometown of Santa Claus!

Our cozy sleeping compartments on our "Polar Express".

To my surprise, Rovaniemi looked a lot like northern Ontario!

From Rovaniemi, we took an 8-km bus ride to the Santa Claus Village where we crossed the Arctic Circle!

"The Arctic Circle is the line north of which the sun never sets at least one day in summer and never rises for at least one day in winter." (Source: Santa Claus Village sign)

 Manger scene

At the Santa Claus Main Post Office, one of the postal elves stamped our postcards with the special Arctic Circle postmark. The Post Office can also hold your cards and parcels  and mail them just before Christmas.

Photo courtesy of my friend
Unfortunately, photography was prohibited inside Santa's Office so we didn't capture any images of our visit with Santa. 

To see photos of the Santa Claus Village in winter, click here. You can also view the SantaClausLive Inside Cam between 9 am to 7 pm Finland time (1 am to 11 am EST).

During our 2-day stay at Rovaniemi, we tried out some Lappish cuisine.  Reindeer meat is a staple food in Lapland. You can learn more about Lappish food culture here.
At our hotel, we dined on sautéed reindeer with mashed potatoes and lingonberries (top). 
At the cafe by the train station, we had reindeer pizza (bottom).
Sorry, Dasher, Dancer and Prancer!

At the time of my trip, my teaware obsession collection had not yet started, so I didn't look for tea-themed ornaments or Santa teawares at the Santa Claus Village. Since 2010, I've amassed a modest collection of Santa teapots.

Earlier this month, I acquired this miniature Santa teapot by Fitz and Floyd...

...and "Santa's Flight" by Fitz and Floyd.
I loved the detailing on the teapot such as the handle listing the names of the good boys and girls!

This teapot was gifted to me last Christmas by a friend.

The first Santa teapot in my collection was a thrift store find a few years ago.

I hope Santa is good to you this Christmas!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Rocking Around the Christmas Tree

When I moved into my own place, my parents gifted me with a purple tinsel, fibre optic Christmas tree. The 3-ft tree was a little tacky but I loved it anyway!

2012 Tree
I started collecting tea-themed ornaments in 2012. 

2013 Tree
In 2013, I had enough teapot and teacup ornaments to have a tea-themed tree.

2014 Tree
By 2014, my collection of tea-themed ornaments had grown so much that I bought a bigger tree during the Boxing Day sales.

2015 Tree
This year, the purple tree was moved to the kitchen and decorated with personalized ornaments, vintage copper cookie cutters, and cute ornaments that I received from local and blogging friends.

2015 Tree
 My new 6-ft green tree went up in late November.

These ornaments were gifted to me last Christmas. 
My friend couldn't find any tea-themed ornaments so she converted a children's tea set into ornaments for me!

I purchased these teapot ornaments from a fall pottery sale a few years ago.

I found these whimsical teapots and teacups at Kitchen Stuff Plus back in 2013. 
They remind me of the tea set from Beauty and the Beast.

These glass teapots from Target are some of my all-time favourite ornaments.

The Wedgewood (top) and Royal Albert (bottom) ornaments were gifted to me by my mom.

The new ornaments that I've acquired (so far!) this year.
The glass Santa teapot, white glittery teapot, and white with pink roses teapot were all from the Merry Farms' Christmas store. The customized teapot was from Always Christmas at Niagara Fallsview. The grey teacup was printed by a 3-D printer (you can read more about the 3-D teacup here).

Monday, November 30, 2015

A Victorian Christmas in Dundurn Castle

Every year, Dundurn Castle--Hamilton's Downton Abbey--is decorated in Victorian style for Christmas. Built in the 1830s, the 40-room mansion is now a designated National Historic Site of Canada. 

Photo courtesy of the internet
In 2013, I enjoyed the Victorian Christmas display at the historic castle.

The display of transferwares in the kitchen.

I need one of these tray tables in my bedroom! 

I also coveted the secretary desk in the sitting room.

A sprig of mistletoe hanging by the front stairway.

The dining room was beautifully decorated in cedar boughs, ribbons and dried flowers.

The Drawing Room featured a Victorian table-top tree. 
The costumed interpreter explained that the ornaments on the table were part of the gift exchange on Christmas morning. Interestingly, the Christmas gifts were not wrapped...perhaps the parents waited until after the children went to bed to bring down the presents?

One of the children was the lucky recipient of this miniature tea set.
If you'd like to see Dundurn Castle when it's not decked out for the holidays, you can take a virtual tour here.
Another Christmas tradition on my bucket list is to attend Canada's oldest tree lighting ceremony in downtown Dundas. Unfortunately, I missed this year's ceremony again. D'oh!

November was a busy month at work, but we made time for a tea social where we enjoyed some sugar cookie sleigh ride herbal tea.

Since the popular tea Advent calendar by David's Tea is too pricey for this frugal gal, I decided to create my own! I'm not particularly crafty so I was thrilled when I found this HUGE stocking Advent calendar with generous pockets at HomeSense last year.

I will be enjoying 24 days of tea while I countdown the days to Christmas!