A compilations of A Return To Loveliness posts from A Delight Life.


As I was preparing this book review, I happened to receive the latest issue of Victoria Magazine. The 2012 March/April issue features beautiful articles on the city of Charleston, SC. Also, available is Victoria Classics – Teatime Bliss. Within this issue you will find over ‘75 recipes, elegant tablescapes and tips for the delecate art of tea’. Together, with Laura Child’s latest chapter in the Tea Shop Mystery series, I could not imagine a more pleasing collection of reading material to while away these waning days of winter.

The Agony Of The Leaves

It is springtime in Charleston and we find our intrepid heroine Theodosia Brownley, proprietor of Indigo Tea Shop,  taking a moments breather from catering a grand opening event at the Neptune Aquarium.

Theodosia is transfixed by the tranquil scenery behind the tempered glass of the large Ocean Wall when she notices something out of place, bobbing around in the water among the sea creatures and sea vegetation. 

Theodosia’s startling and personally troubling discovery sets in motion events with a chorus of characters surrounding this disturbing event.

Readers of The Tea Shop Mystery books become familiar with the cast of characters set in the romantic, steamy backdrop of Charleston, a place filled with old families, old money, gossip and lots of intrigue.

The agony of the leaves is an expression describing the dance tea leaves make as they ‘give up their essence in the teapot’s steaming water’. Similarly, Theodosia will swirl and dance through the steamy waters of evidence, clues and questionable characters pertinent to the mystery set before her in this 13th tale in the Tea Shop Mysteries written by Laura Childs.

This tale of mystery and intrigue is well played out within the setting of one of the country’s most enchanting cities. Laura Childs takes you on a memory trip if you’ve been to Charleston or taps your imagination with the well-described people and places as she brings to light the charm of this historic city in the Deep South. 

This is my first go round with Laura Child’s Tea Shop Mysteries and I am hooked! I can’t wait to go back to the beginning and to discover the development of these excellent characters and to learn even more about the art of tea time. 

Laura Childs weaves within her stories her love of and her incredible knowledge of tea and its history. Not only this, but Laura Childs also shares with you recipes to some of the very many savory and sweet offerings served in the Indigo Tea Shop.

I have chosen to serve Laura's Peach Pecan Bread along with cream scones, lemon curd and fresh fruit to be accompanied by Assam tea by Ahmad Tea, London. My husband loved the bread.
 I appreciate your visit and I hope you take a moment to explore Laura Child's, 'The Agony of the Leaves'. This wonderful book will be available March 6. You can order this book through her website or through Amazon. 
Laura Childs is the New York Times best selling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries and Cackleberry Club Mysteries.

Love Letters

After my parent’s death, my siblings and I went through the things stored in my parent’s attic. In an old black military trunk alongside my Dad’s Navy uniform were bundles of letters tied with ribbon. During the several months my Dad was out to sea my parents would keep in touch through letters.

When I saw these letters, to me they seemed sacred. These were private thoughts and wishes shared between two lovers.

Someday, I am sure we’ll get together to read these letters. 
But, for a while, we’ll hold them dear.

For Centuries, correspondence bearing a familiar handwriting and perhaps perfumed with a signature fragrance were anticipated sending the receiver to a private corner to take in the words from the heart of another.

One of my favorite books is a compilation of love letters from Stonewall Jackson to his wife Anna. 'Beloved Bride', shows the tender side to a man known for his ‘iron will and stern self discipline’. Stonewall Jackson was a man of deep abiding faith in God and maintained tremendous integrity.

Despite being in the deep throes of war, Stonewall Jackson made time to write long, tender letters of his love and devotion to his wife, Anna.

This would be a lovely tea time read and a wonderful book to share with sons as an example of a strong, Christian husband.

I too have kept all the cards and letters my husband has given me over the years. They’re stored in boxes and tins in my wardrobe. Perhaps someday, my children will go through these letters and see the deep abiding faith in my husband and be comforted by the deep love we share for one another.



To Mom and Dad – I miss you very much.
To my Dearest, I thank God for you and love you deeply.

Roses – Messages of Love

'Wait not till tomorrow; Gather the roses of today'

-Pierre de Ronsard

Come, join me in a lovely cup of Rose Tea - 
a blend of rose petals, valerian root and citrusy herbs - while we
contemplate the queen of flowers - the rose, heirloom roses
and some of the history of the Language of  Flowers.

No wonder the rose is considered a messenger of love.
 In the 19th Century there were over 6,000 different kinds. 
According to Thomas Christopher, 
author of In Search of Lost Roses,

not all these roses were available at a given time, but still, a century ago gardeners took for granted that they would have access to roses of all sorts of sizes and colors, from tiny five-petalled roses very little from the wild species, to huge, petal-packed puffs as much as six inches in diameter’.

Thomas took note that in the beginning of the 20th Century, nurseries consolidated and rose producers were reduced to a few giant firms limiting themselves only to the best sellers.

Wild Ginger

While restoring a garden in New York, Thomas discovered a garden plan that included a number of roses with names he was not familiar with. Thus began his search for Lost Roses and the encounter with people and organizations out to preserve historic roses found in old cemeteries, farmhouses and old towns.

'Roses outlive both houses and gardeners. Keep your eyes open 
whenever you find yourself any place time has passed by'.

To imagine the long hours searching and then identifying 
heirloom roses, to me is truly a labor of love.

"For the flowers have their angels... For there is a language of flowers. For there is a sound reasoning upon all flowers. For elegant phrases are nothing but flowers."
Christopher Smart – Jubilate Agno

Over the years, many authors have written and listed the language of flowers. Two women are credited with introducing the language of flowers to Europe, seigneur Abry de la Mattraye and Lady mary Wartley Montagu. 

The language of flowers originated in oriental countries for instance Turkey. Initially, they were not intended as they sometimes were used, for a romantic purpose. As best can be surmised, the language of flowers was for the purpose of memorization. The name of the plant or flower was associated with another with similar sound –

"Its spirit consists not, as might naturally be supposed, in the connection which fancy may trace between particular flowers and certain thoughts and feelings. Such an idea never entered the heads of the fair inventresses of the oriental language of flowers. 

They have contented themselves with merely taking a word, which may happen to rhyme with the name of any particular flower or fruit, and then filling up the given rhyme with some fanciful phrase corresponding with its signification... Thus, for instance, the word Armonde (Pear) rhymes among other words with omonde (hope); and this rhyme is filled up as follows:  Armonde - Wer banna bir omonde;" (Pear - Let me not despair.)."

The book Le Langage des Fleurs by Charlotte de Latour has been credted to be the harbinger of an abundance of language of flowers books. Thereby a number of the lists created agreed whether they originated from France, England and America.
'I sent thee late a rosy wreath, Not so much honoring thee,
 As givit it a hope that there It could not withered be'. 
-Ben Johnson

We are the beneficiaries of such rich history, the propagation of flowers, of roses, the creations of gardens and the ascribing names and meaning to all flowers. Today, we view the language of the rose, especially a red rose – as a message of love. Whether initially intended as in the several Languages of Flowers books, I’ll take the romantic view and meaning any time.

Wishing you the most Delightsome day,

Wardian Case

Some of the most wonderful discoveries came bay way of happy mishaps. That is the case with the Wardian Case.

In the 1800’s London physician Nathaniel B. Ward pursued a passion for collecting insects and plants. One such plant was the fern. These ferns were susceptible to the harsh conditions of the polluted air in London due to industrialization. 

On one excursion, it is recorded that Nathaniel Ward collected the chrysalis of a moth and placed it along with soil, fern spores and grass in a sealed glass. 

Six months later, Nathaniel Ward discovered that the fern and the grass had thrived growing within this enclosed container.

Intrigued, Nathaniel experimented with sealed and glazed containers and ultimately designed several with specific instruction as to material – such as wood that would resist mold and decay as well as metals that would not rust.
This discovery transformed the transportation of exotic plant materials by ship all over the world. Whereas plants would suffer and perish under harsh sea conditions – under glass and over time using Wardian cases – plant material would thrive and survive their journey. 

Today, we can be thankful for the Wardian case in bringing to us the wide variety of indoor plants we enjoy as well as bringing exotic plants historic garden.

Planting a Wardian Case by Martha Stewart

Wardian cases became the rage in the Victorian era where homeowners were now able to grow their beloved ferns as well as develop an adoration for growing orchids. Many styles were typified by their fancy ornamentation.
The precursor to terrariums and landscaping in miniature, Wardian cases are a boon to gardeners ,who during the winter months, yearn to watch the beauty of the growth and blossom of their plants – to bring indoors and to prolong their gardening experience.

Along with teatime – caring for one’s indoor plants – reading is a marvelous winter pastime. I am thrilled to share that I have been asked to review the book, Agony of the Leaves by Laura Childs

A fan of mysteries, I was intrigued by the combination of tea, tea houses, recipes and the South referenced in these books. Laura has written a series of Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries and Cackleberry Club Mysteries.

I am using my beautiful botanical Kent Pottery teapot

and my Lenox Rose teacup.

My book arrived today, so with a lovely cup of Tazo Refresh tea, a warm cozy chair and blanket – I plan an enjoyable afternoon loosing myself in this book. I will share with you very soon more about Laura, her books and my review of Agony of the Leaves.