Whenever I think of a British high tea, images of Eliza Doolittle and Professor Higgins come racing to my mind. Poor Audrey Hepburn was looking so famished as Colonel Pickering and Higgins were enjoying their… “Then say ‘cup,cup,cup,cup, of,of,of,of’. By Jove, Higgins, that was a glorious tea!”

Visiting different tearooms throughout the U.S. and Canada has always been on HB’s and my itinerary. What better time to enjoy British high tea, than during the inspiring 2012 London Olympic games! We’ve enjoyed this tradition at The Empress Hotel, Ye Olde England Inn,  the White Heather Tea Room and Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island, to name a few. But we have always loved the quiet, dignified ambience of The Grand America Hotel afternoon tea in downtown Salt Lake City.

 The three-tiered silver platter arrived featuring finger sandwiches, scones and the usual scone condiments. The tea sandwiches were delightful. We had ham and cheddar on marbled rye, smoked salmon crepes with horseradish, cucumber olive salad and our favorite… chicken mango on white bread.

As we sat down, we observed a large goblet with an unusual dried pod sitting at its base.  Our charming hostess, Danealle Plascencia, explained that is was a blossom tea flower from China. She added hot water, and after a few moments passed the little pod blossomed into a beautiful and intricate flower with a bright red center, floating in the glass.

Our favorite tea plate has always been the scones with  clotted cream, fresh homemade jam and lemon curd. These  baked sweet biscuits are q perfect fit with a cup of  hot tea. HB chose the herbal mint lemongrass while I enjoyed the fruity chamomile. There is a variety of traditional English teas to select from and several choices of hot chocolate flavors.

When the dessert platter arrived… we were in heaven! The paté de fruits (gumdrops) were raspberry, green apple, and mango. We loved the subtle favors of the citrus madeleines, linzer cookies, and strawberry pistachio gateaux. With no more room for dessert, we boxed up the lemon cream tartlets and praline gateaux. That was a good thing, as we probably would have purchased every one of their praline gateaux, being filled with the most decadent chocolate you can imagine (with a distinctive crunch in each bite)… oh my, how we enjoyed these!

The harpist was excellent, playing soft and gentle melodies… a perfect complement to our peaceful, serene and satisfying afternoon.

We have been frequent visitors to the Grand America and always enjoyed their afternoon tea. This is indeed a special treat any time of the year – but in keeping with the English tradition of high tea, the Grand America did not disappoint.

I would especially like to thank managers Roberto Martinas and Zeljra for attending to all our needs. Service at the Grand is always exemplary.

I’d love to hear any comments. Have you or your family engaged in anything British during these Olympics you’d like to share? 

*Disclosure: Thanks to Grand America for sponsoring this post. The ideas and content are my own.


For the last week and a half, like most of America, I’ve been loving almost every moment of the 2012 London Olympic Games! They’ve been filled with incredible feats and surprises. But, whenever I think of Great Britain, I instantly return to the moment I walked into the flagship Tower Records store, back in 1963.  Right in front of me was a life-size poster with  four bobbing heads – and  “She Loves Me” blasting over the sound system. I instantly bought my 45 and hurried home to play it on my cool GE Solid State Hi Fi! Most of you won’t even know what an old LP or 45 sounds like. To me, the scratchy sound of that record playing is always music to my ears (pun intended). I actually listened to my “Abbey Road” album, for inspiration in writing this post… yes, my hi-fi still works and it’s still very cool. Just ask my grandkids!

 You’ve probably heard about all the girls that went nuts at Beatles concerts – looking like half crazed wild creatures, that passed out and had to be taken back stage and revived. Yeah, I was one of them! Hold on… I didn’t get all crazy and faint. My best friend Marty and I got second row seats at the Beatles concert at the Cow Palace in San Francisco in the summer of ’65. The minute the Beatles began to play we all broke into singing along with them. The crowd went wild; girls came running up to the stage in front of our seats. It was total bedlam. One girl jumped onto the stage and grabbed John Lennon’s hat and then jumped right off.  We couldn’t see because everyone in the front row was standing on their chairs. We were forced onto our own seats, feeling like we were stuffed into a can of sardines – actually more like a gross, stinky men’s gym. Imagine the worst body odor you’ve ever smelled… yeah,  my face got pushed into the repugnant smelling armpit of the guy standing in front of me.

I began to swoon and the next thing I remember, I was backstage. Marty was screaming at me to wake up, and my head started shaking from my half-choking cough after inhaling smelling salts (why do they call them that? They don’t smell like salts at all!). I didn’t think anything could be worse than that armpit! Trust me… smelling salts?… they’re worse!

There was still pandemonium backstage. Marty grabbed my hand and before we knew it, we were with a handful of kids watching in awe as John Lennon was getting his hair cut – right in front of us. We had to stifle our desire to scream and act like idiots because no one knew we were standing there. That took a ton of control for a couple of 16-year-old girls! Later we heard a rumor that once John’s hat was taken, Beatles manager Brian Epstein decided that John’s hair was way too radically long, hence the haircut. Funny  how in just a short few years, the musical “Hair” would hit mainstream USA… protest marches against the Vietnam War would be occurring in every major city…  and Haight-Ashbury and the hippie movement would be synonymous with the now-famous ’60s. I lived it… I loved it…I will never forget it!

John Lennon’s hat (I wonder what became of it)

For my birthday in 1992,  Marty gave me a book that I now treasure because just as she wrote in the inside cover,  I will always have “warm fuzzies” when remembering that time in my life.  Marty’s gone now, a victim of cancer… but, each time I see this book…  I smile!

 I did make my first trip to the U.K. in the summer of 1966. I loved London; it was exciting and wonderful! Harrod’s, Twiggy, double-decker buses, WC’s (that had me confused!), Picadelly Circus, Big Ben, the London Bridge, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey… it was all fabulous. But sadly, Liverpool wasn’t on our itinerary!

Have you been to London? What about standing in front of the Colorstream Guards (the ones with the tall, black, bearskin two-ton hats) making crazy faces and trying to make them flinch…they didn’t flinch then and they never will! I’d love to hear about your experiences…  and Team USA… keep bringing in those medals!


my munich olympic experience

by jani on July 30, 2012

Almost forty years ago, on August 28, 1972, we watched proudly as our U.S. men’s swim team took gold, silver and bronze in the men’s 200 meter butterfly at the Munich Olympics. To watch as all three American flags went up was a defining thrilling moment. After the race we briefly visited with my former coach, Sherm Chavoor. He was there as Mark Spiz’s coach and a member of the U.S. swim coaches. My dad was a charter member of Arden Hills Swim and Tennis Club in Sacramento, California and helped fund the building of its facility back in the early fifties. Sherm was ruthless when it came to coaching, but he knew how to build champions. He was a great coach but ironically, as my dad said, “He couldn’t swim a lick!”

Jumping back to 1972… after we watched the magnificent sweep of the 200-meter ‘fly, we left Munich for Zermatt, Switzerland and didn’t even hear about the terrible Munich Massacre until we returned several days later. It was hard to wrap my head around the possibility of terrorists jumping the fence of the Olympic Village, holding the Israeli athletes hostage and killing eleven. We then found out that Spitz, Sherm and several of the other Jewish athletes and coaches were flown home immediately after the terrorist attack for fear that they too may be a target.  Spitz won seven gold medals (a record that stood for 34 years) yet was unable to attend the closing ceremonies. It didn’t take long before Mark Spitz was hitting the sport magazine covers. He  decided to go pro pro, which at that time meant no more competing in Olympic Games. Since then the rules have changed and pro atheletes can now compete.

Below is a memory collage – the upper right photo is of Sherm Chavoor escorting Mark Spitz home to Sacramento just after the Munich Massacre. The upper left corner is a photo of the young swim team Sherm worked with in August, 1954; my sister and brother were among the teammates.  The Arden Hills Swimming and Tennis Club’s Junior Olympic team, of which I was a member,  is on the lower left. I love the Time cover photo of Spitz swimming the butterfly. He remains an icon in the world of competitive swimming!

If someone asked me in 2005 if I’d ever swim again let alone walk, my answer would have been in the negative. I was walking (or trying to) on a broken hip for a little over four years; the doctors somehow missed this until I went to the Mayo Clinic. After finding out why I was dealing with 24/7 pain and that indeed my hip was broken, I began a year of research. I found that the optimal surgical procedure is the anterior method. I will post more in depth on this subject, as you readers may have moms, grandmas or someone else close to you who needs a replacement… more men and women are needing new hips at younger ages due to sport related injuries.

I scheduled my hip replacement surgery for April of 2009. As a former swimmer, I dreamed about the miracle I might have one day and returning to this beloved sport. My first trip back in a pool was two months after my surgery; I was just barely able to make four 25-meter lengths then had to quit. I built up my time and even began using flipturns. It was then that  I realized my left hip needed to be replaced as well. So in September, just six months after my first surgery, I was back in the hospital having my  second replacement. By December, I was swimming a mile. And in the summer of 2010, I competed in my first Masters Race in three events. I won my age category!

The above photo is obviously not an Olympic athelete. But for me, competing in a swim meet was huge!  I’m so grateful that I have a body that can work well in water. It keeps me happy and healthy when I do this routinely!

The Olympics are a great motivating force. They’re motivating me and I hope they are you. I’d love to hear about any Olympic stories you’d like to share!