Monday, February 26, 2024

Wonderland Tea

Earlier in the month we attended the Wonderland Tea at The Willows at Ashcombe Mansion, in Mechanicsburg where they say 'Let's make some Magic'. The 1891 Victorian Queen Anne style mansion has had three owners over its long history. Most recently purchased in 2017, it has been transformed into a destination wedding venue. In addition, a few themed afternoon tea events have been held here, including the Wonderland Tea this February.

The tables are set up throughout the mansion from the Crystal Dining Room to the Moser Dining Room to the Parlor where we were seated. Reservations are taken on-line, and you are able to select where you would prefer to be seated. 

The tea selections included English Breakfast, Early Gray, Country Mint, or Apple Pear. A pot of hot water is brought to the table, and each guest is provided a strainer filled with their tea of choice. Hand crafted coffees and cocktails, or hot chocolate are available at an additional cost. A glass of Champagne was included with the tea.

A menu card on the table lists the tea time treats on the tiered tray. This tea included Smoked Salmon on Pumpernickel, Avocado Toast Bites, Chicken Salad Croissant, Cucumber Fingerlings and Quiche Petite. There was a French Toast Muffin cup served with maple syrup and a Classic English Scone served with clotted cream, lemon curd and blackberry Vanilla jam. The desserts included assorted Petit Fours, and a Macaron Medley.

Alice and The Queen made their appearance visiting each table in the various dining rooms throughout the day, sharing a little banter and offering a moment for photographs. After tea, we were invited to explore all three floors of the mansion, via the winding Victorian-era staircases, admiring the stained glass windows and the fabulous decor in each room. It was indeed a magical way to spend a mid winter afternoon.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

A Valentine's Day Celebration

Happy Valentine's Day! After a two month hiatus, the tea room was a place for celebrating love and friendship. Decorated with a few vintage candy boxes, and place settings with red rosebud napkins, paper hearts, and candy chocolate hearts, the scene was set for an afternoon tea party.

Once tea orders were taken and cups filled with tea, the first course was served. Loves Me, Loves Me Not Herbed Spinach Dip with assorted veggies, crackers, and a turnip shaped heart was served in a petite red cup with small white hearts.

Sandwiches included Be My Valentine! Puff Pastry with Cucumber, Radish, Tomato and Sprouts, Forever Yours Ham Salad Heart's Delight Sandwich, Sweet & Sassy Herbed Party Sandwich on Rye, My True Love's Flavortop Muffin with Pastrami, I Love You Berry Much Strawberry Chicken Salad, and Kiss Me Quick Petite Feta filled Phyllo Cup. Lots of hearts in various sizes and forms adorned the plate.

The scone course included Love me Tender Traditional English Cream Scone (in the shape of a heart) and a Hugs & Kisses glazed Double Chocolate Chip Scone. These were served with Be Mine! Sweet Cream and Strawberry Rhubarb Jam alongside Almond Cream Filled Sweetheart Strawberry and I Only Have Eyes for You Chocolate Topped Strawberry.

The dessert plate featured a Rose by any other name is just as sweet White Cake with a pink rose, Chocolate Lover's Petite Chocolate Cheesecake, and Cupid's Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Heart. A few jelly bean hearts were on the plate as well. Happy Valentine's Day!

And in the evening, our family celebration always includes a Cheery Cherry Cake. A yummy layered white cake frosted with a smooth creamy icing and topped with sweet cherry pie filling. Our annual treat.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Weft Weaving

Weft is a hidden destination in downtown Mechanicsburg that offers studio space and basic instructions for personal weaving sessions. The intimate studio holds eight Saori looms, imported from Japan. Owner, Nelly Smith has the looms already set up with the threads, so as soon as you step foot inside, you are invited to select your starting color/thread, and after a basic instruction, you are set loose to begin weaving. 

 In weaving, weft is the definition for the crosswise threads on a loom over and under which other threads (the warp) are passed to make cloth. There's a bit of coordination with working the pedals and weaving the threads back and forth, pulling the loom towards you, but not too tight. Once you have the basics, the design practically creates itself.

Susanna arranged for a private weaving session when family was visiting over the holidays. We all found a seat, a loom, and our initial color, and fell into the rhythm of the loom.

Multiple colors of thread and additional cloth pieces of varying textures were available throughout the studio. So many choices!

When you reached the point where you felt your project was complete, it was time to remove the weaving from the loom and tie off the strings. This took a little more patience, but it is what finishes the project. The antique iron helps to hold the piece in place as you fiddle with the final strings, making clusters of knots along the top and bottom edges.

No two pieces alike, but our instructor did say that similarities between family members and their project usually pop up, and in our case, we had many pieces that featured a range of purple hues.
We were all pleased with the results of our 'wabi-sabi' weaving session. 'Wabi-sabi' weaving is a freestyle weaving technique where there are no mistakes, only beauty resulting from the imperfections.