Stepheny’s Reflection On A Long Ago Memory.

The back decks on Chicago Apartment Buildings

Since creating a second blog called,, and the same name FB page, my writing time has been spent on that endeavor.  The last consistent posting here was last April during the AtoZ Blog Challenge when I wrote 26 posts on the Glories of Drinking Tea With Stepheny The research was fun and the topic varied. I wanted to say hi and tell you that I do not forget you. I hope this memory leads you on to one of your own.

The Downton Abbey Tea in Greensboro, NC with Friends. 2019

The business of life is the acquisition of memories according to Mr. Carson at Downton Abbey. I agree. The earliest memory I have takes place in the Chicago apartment building where my parents lived for a time. I was old enough to have my own metal stove and refrigerator in my mother’s tiny kitchen.  Apartment buildings in Chicago often have wooden decks and stairs built on the back of them. In this memory, I wandered through the back screen door of nearby tenants who were strangers. It was the first time I was made to feel ashamed or mistaken when these neighbors glared at me and asked what I thought I was doing. Unwelcome, I left, with no words to explain to my mother what had happened. I realize now we all have our ‘Garden of Eden’ moments when we are thrown out into the world to make the best of it or not. 

That world at the moment is a troublesome place where mobs, lawlessness, and other woes exist. The little girl in my memory has grown up. Never were the opening lines of a Wendell Berry poem, The Peace of Wild Things, more meaningful.

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives might be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things


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Z – The End of the 2020 Blog Challenge: The Glories of Tea With Stepheny

Tea – Washington Duke Inn – July 2012


“Ends are not bad things, they just mean that something else is about to begin. And there are many things that don’t really end, anyway, they just begin again in a new way…”
C. JoyBell 

I’ve loved having tea with you. I hope it was worth your while to read about the glories of tea. Even though the #Challenge is over, many things in my life of writing, reading, and gardening go on. I  confess that the Sweet Tea of the South is what I run on.  I lift a glass on this beautiful Spring day in North Carolina to you and yours. I invite you to follow this blog you’ve been reading that contains book reviews and reflections of mine about a myriad of related things. IF you have an interest in architecture, preservation, restoration, and repurposing, visit me at Mainstreetrocky where I spend a lot of time these days. The reason I keep delaying the final edit of a third novel, A Garden of Sweet Disorder.  I will leave you with a few images of our time together this April. Thank you for keeping me company.

In a small village in Finland lives the world-famous artist-illustrator Inge Löök. Inge Look – pseudonym of the artist, real name Ingeborg Lievonen. “I would like people to stop sometimes and not rush headlong so that they can be satisfied with what they have.” It seems to me that one of the holy truths of life is life at the moment. So that the value of the current second is remembered. ”

As a child, Inge lived with her family in Helsinki. Next to them lived two elderly women, who later became the prototype of the real “Finnish old woman” (Aunties series). The artist admits that although the fictional characters look very much like her ex-neighbors, they are much more fun!  I do think these wonderful illustrations look like us having our tea.















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Y – Tea For The Very Young: Part 2

Welcome to letter Y and to this year’s Theme:

 The Glories of Tea With Stepheny

“Would you like an adventure now…or would you like to have your tea first.” -J.M. Barrie Peter Pan

You will understand the long reach for difficult letters like V, W, X, Y, and Z. Poetic license is called for and I embrace that. Therefore, the letter V and Y = Very Young. Part One and Two. I love images of young children having tea knowing how it leads the imagination to all kinds of stories and fun. In the letter post, you saw paintings of children at tea. This time some wonderful photographs. I call them my Pinterest children who are delightful and sweet. I have a four-year-old great-granddaughter, and she loves to dress up. I hope you have children in your life to have tea with. This little child in her pearls and hat is waiting for her tea and cake.

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X -eXtra, eXtra, Read All About It: Tea Hat Fashion Changes

Welcome to letter X and to this year’s Theme:

 The Glories of Tea With Stepheny

“Fashion is a kind of communication

It’s a language without words

A great hat speaks for itself.”








“Take off your hat,” the King said to the Hatter.

“It isn’t mine,” said the Hatter.

“Stolen!” the King exclaimed, turning to the jury, who instantly made a memorandum of the fact.

“I keep them to sell,” the Hatter added as an explanation; “I’ve none of my own. I’m a hatter.” 

                     ― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland 











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W – The Way You Sip Your Tea

Welcome to letter W and to this year’s Theme:

 The Glories of Tea With Stepheny

Retro Tea Time Girl
The Way You Wear Your Hat

The music I grew up with, danced to throughout high school,  college, and beyond, has followed me through the years. Love songs still make me sway in front of my kitchen sink.  Since we have reached the difficult letters  W, X, Y, and Z,  I must improvise. This post is dedicated to my dear friend, John Viccilio who reminded me of the Ella Fitzgerald/Louis Armstrong song, You Can’t Take That Away From Me. You remember the wonderful line….the Way you sip your tea? While fixing a cup of tea, I suggest you use your imagination and dance around the kitchen as the young woman or man you once were. Enjoy!

            Click here -The Way you sip your tea  

Antique Victorian Royal Worcester Tea / Cabinet Cup & Saucer. Blue flower

Elegant Royal Worcester Tea Cup and Saucer Regency Cobalt ..

Lovely yellow ground background with flowers sways all around
Art nouveau in style.

Royal Worcester Engadine Tea Cup and Saucer Daisy Bone China Teacup


A quick story: This pattern was my mother’s. Each piece/ dinner plates, salad plates, serving pieces, each has a different flower as this cup and saucer have a daisy. The value is that it is complete with everything they made in this Engadine pattern. It sets a glorious table. Included are several size teapots.  It has been passed along to my daughter and in turn to her daughter. I hope this beautiful cup and saucer will continue to offer the glories of tea.




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V – Tea For The Very Young Through The Artist Eye: Part 1

Welcome to letter V and to this year’s Theme:

 The Glories of Tea With Stepheny

Jessie Willcox Smith (American, 1863-1935). “Five O’clock Tea”, from “The Child in a Garden”, Scribner’s Magazine interior illustration, Dec. 1903. Watercolor, oil, and charcoal on board


You will understand the long reach for difficult letters like V, W, X, Y, and Z. Poetic license is called for and I embrace that. Therefore, the letter V and Y = Very Young. Part One and Two. I love images of young children having tea knowing how it leads the imagination to all kinds of stories and fun. Pinterest has allowed me to acquire a nice collection of art that captures this time-honored form of play. When looking at these paintings, I am captured by their charm. I hope you will be too.

In A Closed Room-Jesse Wilcox Smith

Jesse Wilcox Smith Artist









Good Housekeeping, August 1924










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U – The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, N.C – Serving Afternoon Tea

Welcome to letter U and to this year’s Theme:

 The Glories of Tea With Stepheny

The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, N.C. serves afternoon tea in the elegant and modern lobby. The fare here includes traditional teatime accompaniments like chicken salad and cream cheese panna cotta sandwiches, buttermilk scones and sweets, tea cakes and macaroons. I have taken afternoon tea several times and enjoyed the entire experience. It is a ‘grown-up’ place in which to be a lady and gentleman. (My way of saying, please don’t arrive in your red sweatshirt, jeans, and tennis shoes. I watched a woman come up the aisle after an afternoon performance at the Carolina Ballet wearing this get-up. I was knocked off my feet. The dancers had prepared a lifetime to perform that day. Out of respect, she should have bothered a little, don’t you think? You will be seated among art and great pottery and glass, out of respect… see what I’m saying?)

The Dale Chihuly Blown-Glass Sculpture -The Centerpiece of the Collection

It was a special occasion when some of my lady friends and I made our first reservations for lunch soon after the Umstead Hotel opened. It had been widely publicized that a significant collection of paintings, sculptures, and pottery had been installed throughout the hotel and grounds. We were especially interested in the hotel’s large collection of pottery. Ben Owen III, a third-generation artist from North Carolina’s distinguished Owen family of potters, is widely represented, as is Mark Hewitt, a potter from England who lives and works in Pittsboro, NC. The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary blends art and nature at every juncture to make this 2010 AAA Five Diamond Award-winning hotel a lovely destination.  There is art from other parts of the world including accent tables designed in Italy. You will enjoy this visual delight. Check availability for tea when making plans. I think you will thank me for this suggestion. Enjoy!




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T – Three Tired Stand For Your Tea Food

Welcome to letter T and to this year’s Theme:

 The Glories of Tea With Stepheny


Put a three tired stand on your shopping list or rethink the one you have. Mine is nothing fancy from one of the box stores like Linens and Things. It sits on my kitchen counter. I leave three blue Spode plates on display and I tweak it for holidays. I add ribbon and  Christmas balls, Easter bunnies and eggs and grass. In Summer it might hold peaches or fresh tomatoes. But tea time it holds the traditional tea finger foods. I  hope you enjoy having tea with me today. Pick the cake plate stand of your choice. Enjoy!




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S – Mystery Series Set In Tea Shops

Welcome to letter S and to this year’s Theme:

 The Glories of Tea With Stepheny

“I prefer cinnamon twists over scones because they’re easier to eat while I’m reading. That’s my main priority when it comes to food. Other people are obsessed with calories, nutritional value, antioxidants. I look at food and wonder: Can I eat that without having to put my book down?”
― Ellery Adams, The Secret, Book, & Scone Society

Laura Childs: Tea Shop Mystery Series… Theodosia Browning owns a Tea Room in Charleston.  (Series in order below) I have read the first two, maybe three of this series thanks to a friend who loaned them to me. Because I love Charleston and tea shops, I enjoyed the setting for these ‘cozy’ stories. This post is dedicated to Mary Jo Williamson, who loaned me the books and hosts the most beautiful themed tea parties with delicious tea food that she makes from start to finish.

Tea with any book is recommended but addicted to English mysteries as I am, a cozy mystery series is fun for lighter reading. I like to read a series in order regardless if they stand alone. The characters grow and change, things happen! While entertaining ourselves at home, give these tea shop mysteries a try. You can thank Mary Jo for her discovery and passing it along.

1 Death by Darjeeling 2001  
2 Gunpowder Green 2002
3 Shades of Earl Grey 2003
4 The English Breakfast Murder 2003
5 The Jasmine Moon Murder 2004
6 Chamomile Mourning 2005
7 Blood Orange Brewing 2006
8 Dragonwell Dead 2007
9 The Silver Needle Murder 2008
10 Oolong Dead 2009
11 The Teaberry Strangler 2010
12 Scones & Bones 2011
13 Agony of the Leaves 2012
14 Sweet Tea Revenge 2013
15 Steeped in Evil 2014
16 Ming Tea Murder 2015
17 Devonshire Scream 2016
18 Pekoe Most Poison 2017
19 Plum Tea Crazy 2018
20 Broken Bone China 2019
21 Lavender Blue Murder 2020

Other tea mysteries you might like to check on.

Sandra Balzo: Maggy Thorsen Mystery Series… Maggy, and ex-PR executive, owns and runs the Uncommon Grounds coffeehouse in Wisconsin.

Lynn Cahoon: Tourist Trap Mystery Series… Jill Gardner owns the Coffee, Books, and More store in California.

Laura Childs: Cackleberry Club Mystery Series… The café is owned by single women (good friends) who not only sleuth but also provide a nice little book corner and a knitting shop for their patrons.

Amanda Cooper (aka Victoria Hamilton & Donna Lea Simpson): Teapot Collector Mystery Series… Sophie Taylor works at her family-owned Victorian Tearoom in New York.

Yasemin Galehorn (aka India Ink): Chintz ‘n China Mystery Series… Emerald O’ Brien owns the Chintz ‘n China Tea Shop and she happens to be a psychic.

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R – A Recipe For Scones

Welcome to letter R and to this year’s Theme:

 The Glories of Tea With Stepheny

Fragrant Orange English Scones

Makes 10- 2.5″ scones.

Note: Kensington Palace Scones are originally made without any orange zest or glaze. If you aren’t into the orange flavor, make them plain and they are just as delicious (and most authentic) this way!


{Orange Scones}

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp baking powder

2 tsp grated orange rind

1/3 cup non-hydrogenated shortening (I used Spectrum brand)

1/3 cup unsalted butter

1/3 cup whole milk

1 egg, beaten

bench flour

{Light Orange Glaze}

2 tsp grated orange rind

1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar

1 Tbsp orange juice


fine grater/zester

food processor

large mixing bowl

liquid measuring cup


work surface

2.5″ round cookie cutter

rolling pin

half baking sheet

parchment paper

cooling rack with a baking sheet underneath


1.) Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F. Measure out the butter and shortening. Cut butter into 1/4″ cubes and place on a plate. Spoon shortening into 1 tsp chunks and place on the same plate. Place plate with butter and shortening in the freezer to chill for a few minutes.

2.) Place all dry ingredients into the food processor and pulse a few times to combine ingredients. Add 2 tsp of orange rind, and pulse one more time. In measuring cup, measure out the milk, then add egg and beat until the mixture is thoroughly mixed.

3.) Remove butter/shortening from the freezer and add it to the food processor with flour. Pulse the fats with the dry ingredients several times until you get pea-sized pieces of the fat covered in flour. Dump this mixture into a large bowl, then gradually add in liquid mixture with a fork until you get barely mixed shaggy dough.

4.) Dump the shaggy dough onto a work surface scattered with bench flour. Knead the dough ball 8-10 times. For the final kneading, fold the dough entirely onto itself.

5.) Roll dough out to a thickness of 1″. Use a round cookie cutter to punch out rounds. Use bench flour on rolling pin and cookie cutter as necessary, to stop the dough from sticking. Place dough rounds on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, at least 1″ apart. Bake scones for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

6.) Make Light Orange Glaze. Mix powdered sugar, 2 tsp of orange zest, and orange juice together in a small bowl. Set aside.

7.) After removing scones from the oven, place on a cooling rack with a baking sheet underneath. Spoon glaze over scones. This glaze is for flavor and not looks. It will seep into the exterior of the scone, giving the scones an extra boost of orange freshness. Serve scones warm, with generous amounts of jam and cream.

Adapted from Kensington Palace Scones recipe in Bruce Richardson’s The Great Tea Rooms of Britain.


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Q – Quotations With Your Tea and a Good Book

Welcome to letter Q and to this year’s Theme:

 The Glories of Tea With Stepheny

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

C.S. Lewis

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” 

Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

“Writing is a job, a talent, but it’s also the place to go in your head. It is the imaginary friend you drink tea with in the afternoon.” 

Ann Patchett, Truth and Beauty

“Rainy days should be spent at home with a cup of tea and a good book.” 

Bill Watterson, The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book

“My hour for tea is half-past five, and my buttered toast waits for nobody.” 

Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White

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P – Old Posters About Tea

Welcome to letter P and to this year’s Theme:

 The Glories of Tea With Stepheny

I love old posters. Pinterest has allowed me to collect many things I otherwise couldn’t. I fall out over old London Underground Posters, Book Jacket Illustrations, and Travel Posters for England and Italy. Knowing I was going to write about the glories of tea for the #Challenge, I started collecting the following hoping you would enjoy them too.

“In little more than a hundred years”, writes poster expert John Barnicoat, “it has come to be recognized as a vital art form, attracting artists at every level, from painters such as Toulouse-Lautrec and Mucha to theatrical and commercial designers. They have ranged in styles from Art Nouveau, Symbolism, Cubism, and Art Deco to the more formal Bauhaus and the often incoherent hippie posters of the 1960s.”


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