Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Take time for tea!

The cards are sent, the presents are wrapped, the cookies are rolled-sugared-and baked, the pies are cooling and the preparations are done. The turkey will be stuffed tomorrow. Take time for tea!
May your holiday be blessed with the joy of family and friends, good health, and great happiness.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Creative Crafting: Decorate a Manger

Earlier this month we held a class to decorate a Christmas manger using a variety of 'once loved' mangers that had perhaps been tucked away in the attic a bit too long. With a variety of fragrant herbs and spices, we decorated the mangers to give them a fresh look.

Cinnamon sticks, Star Anise, Rose hips, Rosemary, of course, little orange peel pieces, safflower, bay leaves, fragrant oregano, thyme and lavender and just a few pistachio shells and acorn caps for added interest and texture.
Sheet Moss or Sphagnum moss provided a great base layer for this project. We used it on top and inside the mangers. We also used some dried grass as a "filler". 

Working on plastic we simply buttered applied tacky glue with popsicle sticks and added the big parts of sheet moss and the grasses. Then on top of that layer we added more tacky glue and the fragrant herbs. Most people put the herbs on in patches here and there along the top of the manger and inside. But one woman mixed her herbs all together in a large bowl and put the mixture all across the top.
Either way they turned out lovely.

Orange safflower was used to highlight the baby.
 Notice the mossy patch work roof and Cinnamon Stick posts with Star Anise at the top.  The herbs and spices will be very fragrant for years to come. 
We wish you tidings of great joy this holiday season!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Advent Calendar

This year, while unpacking the Christmas decorations, I decided to put this vintage German advent Calendar on the refrigerator door and count down the days until Christmas. Tucked behind each little door is a sweet picture.
Mostly animals, sometimes a toy soldier, a little bird house or candy cane, it's a simple pleasure from a simpler time.
And hidden behind the door for today was this colorful teapot. Just perfect!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Pine Cone Candle Ring

Our winter time craft this year was a pine cone candle ring. We used a large variety of pinecones gleaned from walks in the woods. We also save peach pits, and tucked in cinnamon sticks and some rose hips as well. The large variety of cones is what makes these candle rings so special. The base is a plate or a flat clear plastic serving tray works well too. But the secret is the adhesive.

To make a really long lasting candle ring (our mother's is 40 years old!) use Vinyl Adhesive or back in our mother's day it was called linoleum paste. The paste type adhesive really snuggles into all the nooks and crannies of the pine cones and once it is dry (in 10-12 hours) it holds tight! And dries clear! We placed an old tin can to mark the spot for the candle, otherwise it's very easy to make too narrow of a center.

This lovingly crafted pine cone candle ring will grace your table for years to come!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

FestiviTEA Menu

After everyone created their Pinecone Garland, the craft supplies were stowed away, and the Holiday Tea began. Our guests order their tea flavors before they begin the craft so that we can prepare them while they are crafting and have the tea ready to serve as soon as the craft is completed. The first course featured an Apple Cranberry Salad with Romaine lettuce that was topped with slivered almonds, craisins, freshly sliced apples, Romano cheese, and a cran-raspberry vinaigrette.
The sandwich plate consisted of a Ham Salad Sandwich with a Christmas tree cutout, a petite Broccoli and Cheese Tart, a Cucumber and Radish Sandwich in the shape of an ornament, Sliced Chicken with Cranberry Gran Marnier Conserve, and Sliced Pear and Walnut Sandwich on Raisin Bread with a honey drizzle. The Scone course included Traditional English Cream and Cranberry Orange Pecan Scones with fresh fruit and toppings.

And the dessert sampler included a Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Brownie, Petite Pumpkin Cheesecake, and a White Chocolate Peppermint Cookie. Oh yum! The holiday teas continue throughout the month of December. Our Take Tea! Take Joy! special event is this coming weekend. The kitchen staff is in full swing preparing for another tasty weekend!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Pinecone Garland Craft Class

One of our most popular classes every year is the Holiday Workshop and FestiviTEA. At this special event we create a simple and ideally not to0 messy craft and after that is done we whisk away the crating supplies and set the table for tea right before their eyes. We have been doing this for years and have quite a list of crafts we have created. We never repeat a craft or a menu, it is fresh and unique every year.

Quite a number of these ladies have been attending every year for 6,10 even up to 18 or 20 years. This was our 26th year for this event! 
 This year we made a charming pinecone garland. The ladies were given a choice of 9 spruce or white pine cones and 20 sparkly Styrofoam balls (in either red, gold or silver) purchased at the local craft store.   They all got a yard and 1/2 of wire and 2 yards of matching ribbon. 
Creating the craft was simple.  They were to lay out the pattern.  Large cones in the middle and smaller cones on the ends. We suggested two balls (or it would be super cute with beads, too) between each cone. Simply push the wire through the Styrofoam balls and then wrap the wire around a cone and then push the wire through the Styrofoam balls and wrap the wire around a cone and keep repeating. The last step is to tie the pretty ribbons on the end. We made a 3 foot garland which fits across a door or window perfectly. It was fun and pretty and after all their hard work crafting........we had a tea party!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Stocking Stuffers!

Aren't these the most adorable stocking stuffers!? They are a chocolate candy bar that has been wrapped in white paper. Colorful sock tops have been attached for the hat with a little piece of embroidery thread tied in a bow. A scrap of material makes the whimsical scarf and then those clever faces are drawn on each little snowman.

Someone had fun with the wide variety of faces and expressions that each little guy has! They simply make me smile. These were purchased at a local craft sale at an area church earlier this year. I don't have enough to stuff every stocking that will be hanging on the mantle, but the littlest kids will certainly find one in their stocking! Shhh, don't tell them!

They're almost too cute to unwrap!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Tea Sampler

The holiday gift box from my Japanese pen pal included a beautiful floral arrangement that she put together herself in lovely shades of purple and mauve. There was also a burgundy hanky and this sweet pinwheel tea sampler. It's always such fun to open each individually wrapped gift to discover a new treasure.

All the writing on the reverse side of this cleverly packaged tea sampler is written in Japanese, but there is no problem reading what each little triangular box contains. Inside each pie wedge is a single securely wrapped pyramidal silken tea sachet. We'll have fun sampling this assortment of teas.

                                                                   Thank you, Micky!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Oolong Tea

Recently, my pen pal from Japan sent me a gift box full of surprises that included this unique handcrafted plaque. Mikako (Micky), created this plaque that spells out 'Nancy' in Japanese characters. What a clever one-of-a-kind gift! Thank you, Micky.

Also included in the gift box was this package of Oolong Tea.  With the label completely written in Japanese, Micky sent along basic directions for the preparation of this tea. The Oolong Tea is conveniently premeasured in oversized teabags. She said to pour 1 liter - 1.5 liter of  boiling water over the tea bag and to let it steep for 10 - 15 minutes. Alternately, if you want to cold brew the tea, cover the tea bag with water and wait 2 - 3 hours before drinking. We've been enjoying this cold brewed tea on a daily basis!

After tossing a bag in the pitcher, filling it with water, and allowing it to steep overnight in the fridge, we have a delicately flavored oolong tea to enjoy throughout the day. The naturally sweet nutty flavor associated with oolong tea can be savored with each sip. Oolong tea is said to increase the metabolism and aide in suppressing the appetite thus leading to weight loss. It certainly can't hurt to drink this tea on a daily basis!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Deck the Halls!

'Tis the Season! The tea room has changed from quiet blues to the traditional red and green décor of the holiday season. All of the floral tea cups have been safely stowed and the holiday themed cups have been put into full service. The holiday parties are in full swing, and in between the Afternoon Tea events, there are several craft classes taking place in the tea room, too! There is a hustle and bustle all about!

Santa décor can be found in several corners! This little collection of wooden Santa figures makes me smile! Of course, the culinary Santa collection can be found right inside the main entryway.

The holiday season brings such joy to many! Special thanks to Marilyn for the handcrafted 'joy' plaque - a gift in August for my birthday - bringing joy year round!
 Here's a partial view of the annual tea themed tree - my favorite! I love having this in the tea room for the month of December. Each little treasure is tea related in one way or another.

                                       Looking forward to enjoying A Cup of Christmas Tea!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

First Holiday Tea of the Season!

We celebrated the beginning of the holiday season with our Annual Holiday Tea scheduled for the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. The tea room is decorated in red, green, and gold with tabletop trees and two of the dining rooms. The seasonal china has been put into service, and the holiday celebrations at the tea room are in full swing! Once our guests selected the tea flavors for their table, service began. The menu started with a Cranberry Pecan Salad with a Raspberry Vinaigrette. The salad was topped with toasted pecans, Feta cheese, thinly sliced red onions, and Crasins.

The sandwich plate featured Tarragon Egg Salad on whole wheat bread, Orange Hazelnut Sandwich Rounds topped with a Mandarin Orange, Apricot Poppyseed Chicken Salad Triangles, Carrot Cake Tea Sandwich on Raisin Bread, Sun Dried Tomato Basil Pesto in a Phyllo Shell, and a Cucumber Canapé with Lemon Pepper Aioli garnished with a petite toasted Christmas tree.

Scones, always fresh from the oven, included Traditional English Cream and Lemon Pecan served with Sweet Cream, Lemon Curd, and Raspberry Preserves with a touch of fresh fruit.

 And the dessert medley included a White Cake with Cherry Topping, Miniature Chocolate Cheesecake with a holly leaf garnish, and a Gingerbread Cookie.

Oh what fun!

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Lenox Village Tea Room Tea Pot

Safely tucked in the curio cabinet amongst a varied assortment of tea related collectibles is this pretty porcelain Lenox Village Tea Room Tea Pot. Offered in 1991 along with the Lenox Spice Village Collection in the Victorian home design and retired in 1994, it was from my mother's collection.

The beautiful tea pot in soft shades of pink and blue with four dormers replicating old Victorian homes matches the smaller spice jars which I also have, but they are not on display. Alas, there just isn't enough room in the cabinet!

Special thanks to Ray and Eileen, volunteer gardeners and longtime friends of the family for finding the matching creamery and confectionary (milk and sugar) containers. Eileen spotted them at a yard sale and remembered that I had the tea pot in the cabinet. She gifted them to me at our end-of-the-season gardening night. What a surprise!

The matched set is now on display along with a wide assortment of tea time collectibles!
In this month of Thanksgiving, today I give thanks for thoughtful friends!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Happy Birthday, David!

Birthdays are good for you.
Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest.
~Larry Lorenzoni
Wishing you the very happiest of birthdays!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Downton Abbey Inspired Tea - Winterthur, DE

We recently journeyed to Winterthur, DE to experience the Downton Abbey tea they are presenting in conjunction with the Costumes of Downton Abbey exhibit. We visited the costuming exhibit earlier this year with a Rosemary House traveling herb seminar, but on a crisp Fall Sunday, we returned with family to enjoy the afternoon tea.

Each guest had their own individual 'Tea for One' pot. There was a wide assortment of tea bags on the table, and once seated, the wait staff filled your tea pot with hot water. A petite cup of warm Cream of Cauliflower and Stilton Soup was served as the first course. You were invited to serve yourself at the buffet table when you were ready
  Service was quite efficient with two buffet tables. The menu was quite extensive with a nice variety of sandwiches. The sandwiches included Crème Fraiche Egg Salad on Poppy Seed Brioche with Sweet Pea Sprouts, Smoked Gouda & Pimento Cheese Roll Ups with Arugula, Buttermilk Semolina Tea Sandwich with Goat Cheese, Walnut & Roasted Pepper.

Spinach & Hazelnut Stuffed Mushrooms, Crumbled Sausage & Roasted Vegetable Tartlettes with Fontina, and Mushroom & Brie Strudel with Sun Dried Tomato Aioli.
 Lemon Cucumber Shrimp Sandwich with Chive Cream Cheese, Brandied Crab Salad on a Rice Cracker with Scallion and Charred Corn, and a Skewer of Mozzarella and Cherry Tomatoes with Basil Pesto. Oh my!

And here it is... on the plate. What a variety of sizes, shapes, flavors, colors, textures and more!

The scone course featured Raspberry & White Chocolate Scones and Buttermilk Raisin Scones to be topped with Whipped Butter, Lemon Curd, Orange Marmalade and English Country Cream.

Teapots were refilled as needed, and the opportunity to revisit the buffet was ever present. But with a host of desserts as lavish as the sandwiches, it was time to sample dessert!
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries, Du Pont Chocolate Mousse Tartlets, Chocolate Dipped Macaroons, Petit Fours, Berry Mousse Sugared Pastry Horns, the wonders never ceased!

Oh my! So happy to have spent this Sunday afternoon indulging in such a wonderful array of culinary delights!