Book Reviews

“Fantasy Island:” You are invited to tea!




A few weeks back I wrote about a favorite “Fantasy Island” of mine–the Stampington Studio’s luscious magazines!  Today “De Plane! De Plane” is landing on the island to take us to tea! Never mind that I almost live on iced tea, today we’re doing it up grand and looking at some favorite sources of inspiration as well.

Some of you know that I am writing a series set in two great houses–one in Scotland and one in England. Amberleigh and Shellborne to give their proper names. You can read an introduction here, if you’d like. Obviously, these people take tea time very seriously. Like Queen Elizabeth still does today, the hostess in these homes would measure out her custom blend of either India or China teas and serve beautiful little dainties on the side. Here are the photos I used for one great tea scene at Shellborne.

source 1, source 2, source 3, source 4, source 5


I love tea sandwiches! “Finger Sandwiches,” my grandmother called them. She served them sometimes for bridge.  Smoked or plain salmon, shrimp, cucumber, egg and cress (well, you got me here–I can’t stand hardboiled eggs!). The point is to provide a beautiful little nibblie to go with the tea. An tea wouldn’t be tea without a sweet or two, now would it? A Victoria Sponge? (Remember the movie Calendar Girls? Yep, that’s their cake!) Brandy Snaps? Fruit Cake? (Those last two have prominent roles in my books). Who wouldn’t want to world to just plain come to a halt so these goodies could be enjoyed in a civilized way? Beats a Starbucks run to this coffee-loather, I can tell you. But, hold the milk. I’ve never taken to tea with milk or cream.

ee2725bd1f3aa3de69440b5cb67a61b6 Walter Granville-Smith,  A cup of tea, 1904

Some of my favorite inspirations for tea time come from these two great magazines. (Disclaimer–no “Fantasy Island” is not purely an occasional series devoted to my favorite magazines!)

I give you my word that these are two of the loveliest magazines ever produced! They are a temporary cure for vexed tempers, hot flashes, the vapors or office ennui. The perfect lunchtime pick-me-up that won’t get you into any trouble unless you read them for longer than an hour. The present gorgeous table settings, divine little tea shops, beautifully restored houses and recipes so lovely you want to lick the pages. How can you beat that? And, best of all? The magazines are calorie free! Sorry, I can’t promise the same for the cream and butter loaded yummies.


Lady Edith Crawley and Sir Anthony Strallan before the devastating end

This little gem appeared in one of my feeds–it is only $2.99 for Kindle. Though as a big-time Andith ‘shipper (translation for non-Tumblr afficiandos: I loved the Lady Edith–Sir Anthony relationship) I just read the hilarious recaps in the British papers for the last few series. All the same, that cup Lady Mary had to put down before taking baby George for his five minutes of face time you can bet had properly made tea. Tea bags were not yet a thing. Imagine Carson dangling a tea bag!  Tea at Downton.





Next week, the paperback edition of a recent tea book comes out. I have not had an opportunity to preview it, but it definitely will go on my to-read list. Just looking at it makes me want to re-binge watch Indian Summers or Jewel in the Crown! Darjeeling: The Colorful History and Precarious Fate of the World’s Greatest Tea by Jeff Koehler.



You can read tea-themed mysteries, tea-themed romances, and tea planter romances. You can have morning devotions related to tea–you can even color a tea themed page while you sip your steaming cup of goodness! Personally, I’m impatient to read this new novel–it comes out in September. The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies.

What’d I tell you? Tea time is just Fantasy Island! Brew a pot or dunk a bag and have at it.

Do you enjoy tea? Have you visited a fun tea shop? Do you like to hold costumed Edwardian tea parties? Tell me your tea story in a comment or leave a link to your own tea-related post.

Book Reviews

Let’s Go to a Favorite Fantasy Island of Mine!

4c60b45fef919e454df9ce4ed3ec0a6bAdmit it! You did so watch this show back in the 70s and 80s. Everyone of a certain age knows the signature line “De Plane! De Plane!”

Well, today you’re arriving on de plane for a visit to one of my favorite fantasy islands. We all have our escapes, our “Calgon, Take Me Away!” places in our minds (you got that line, too, I know you did).

This is such a guilty little pleasure I may need a support group. The reason? I cheat. Yes, cheat! I enjoy this particular fantasy island only when I find a very well-stocked magazine rack at a book or craft store. My pleasure?


All images below are from Stampington & Company’s website and I hope they won’t sue me for promoting their products with their photos. I make absolutely no money off this blog.

All things Stampington & Company



I’ve never said this out loud before…well, ok, I’ve never typed it out loud, if you will, before, either. But my need of Support Group Patrick and a folding chair has mercifully passed with this confession. (And, I bet you got that reference too, right?)  So, allow me to introduce myself:

I’m Lisa and I’m a Stamping & Co fangirl….er…a…zealot….er…. um aficionado? Yes, aficionado sounds good, doesn’t it.

This addiction…um…obsession…er….passion–let’s say passion! I have for the work of Stampington & Co is similar to that I have for for Jeremy Irons or Pierce Brosnon or….well, you understand.




This passion started as they all do, when I was least expecting it. I was a scrap-a-holic back in the day and ran out of ideas. This was pre-home internet, pre-Pinterest. To look at an online gallery I had to drive 10 miles and wait for a library computer. So I occasionally found a few bucks to buy a scrapbooking magazine. I picked up a new publication while browsing. It was GORGEOUS! It was DIVINE! I fell hard. Though it meant my kids had to eat tuna fish for dinner twice in a week and I had to “forget” to send their milk money with them to school, I bought an issue of whichever was the first Stampington magazine.

No man ever got a gleam in his eye from that Bunny Magazine to match the one I got from that magazine. From then on I was skipping lunch once a month to sneak over to Borders and….lust. Yes, it was lust. Yes the Sealbach Hotel was right there, but it was the guilty pleasure of sneeking a …..peek…in public that made it even more exciting.

Over the years, Stampington would draw me in tight again, locking me close, simply by putting out a new magazine. My pulse would race. I’d give up may saved-for lunch at Wolfgang Puck’s to get  the new issue. Bliss! Bliss! Bliss!


We all know what happens in the middle age of a relationship, right? We wear sweats instead of cute short skirts, we get the Mom haircut (another reference you got–don’t try to say you didn’t). So, while the hot, quick looks at lunch time didn’t last, my lingering love did. A few years back I did the Love Dare with Stampington & Co. (At least one of you knows that reference.) No longer burdened with kids to rush home to, but also no longer really doing scrapbook or paper craft, I started slowly wandering back to the magazine racks at the bookstore with the coffee and the comfy chairs. I’d look at an issue and sigh, remembering the happy, early days, when my pulse would race.

(Photo Credit: Hayley Solano) Stampington & Co.



Today I thought Stampington and I were just one-time-paramours who happened to cross paths and say a few polite phrases to each other before going our separate ways in a fog of happy memories. But today, I discovered they have another magazine–one entirely new to me at least, though it is not brand new. Maybe it was the comfy chair and the books. Maybe it was the Eleanor Roosevelt quotes. My heart skipped a few beats regardless of which started the the rush.

It brought it all back–the rapid pulse, the worry about my hair (well, ok, not a minute of life goes by that I don’t worry about curse my hair),  and then, then! in came that desire to own and not merely covet. I thought how lovely it would look lying there on my new IKEA desk. My legs grew rubbery, my skin clammy. But, buying online isn’t satisfying. It isn’t real. You can’t feel the texture and let your senses run wild at the patterns, colors, shading and hues.



There’s a bookstore on the way home. I may have to stop, take a peek and see, just see, if Stampington is still my Fantasy Island of choice–at least for a week night escape. Favorite pictures play in my mind filtered by an artistically draped cheesecloth mosquito net on an antique ring, other images are in sepia tones reflected in a crackle-finished mirror. A collage stops and lingers a while so that I have time to spot the Edwardian beauty behind the pressed rose. Cue the music. Ready Barbara?

Like the corners of my mind
Misty watercolor memories
Of the way we were
Scattered pictures
Of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another
For the way we were
Can it be that it was all so simple then?
Or has time rewritten every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me, would we, would we,
Could we, could we?
Barbara Streisand

Color me Barbara, but  of course, Of Course we could! No, time has not rewritten every line. Every day is a chance to do it all again. Those misty water colored memories are too precious to loose, they must be preserved and protected in an artful way. Plus, it will look great on that new desk with a cat sleeping on it, right? Oh, yes, the title of that new magazine? Bella Grace. Check it out. But, be careful. It could be the slippery slope for you smack down into a full-blown passion for all things Stampinton & Co. Don’t say you weren’t warned…..




Visit my Fantasy Island at the company’s web page or at a magazine rack near you.

Stampington & Company


Fantasy Island is a new occasional series to appear as the whim takes me.