Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Cotswold Cottage in Michigan!

One summer day, after completing my Clara Ford research at the Benson Ford Research Library [in preparation for the tea party I blogged about yesterday], I decided to take a walk in Greenfield Village [the outdoor museum at The Henry Ford] to an authentic 1600's English Cotswold Cottage for Afternoon Tea.  No reservations are necessary.  The cottage is  located at the far end of the Porches and Parlors District.  [There are seven historic districts in Greenfield Village.]

It's the oldest house in Greenfield Village, once belonging to a stone mason and his family.  The limestone farm dwelling was brought from Chedworth, Gloucestershire in the Cotswold Hills of southeastern England.   Built in 1620,  Henry Ford purchased it in 1929 for $5,000.  The house, barn and fences [which were all made from limestone] were taken apart stone by stone and sent by ship to the United States to be reconstructed at Greenfield Village.  It is said to be one of the most picturesque buildings in the entire Village.

The partially ivy-covered cottage is surrounded by English gardens  that  Clara Ford adored.

I couldn't find a specific date when they started serving Afternoon Tea at the cottage, but I think it's been in more recent years.   I had Afternoon Tea there in 2005.   There's a Titanic exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum right now that I plan to see, so I'll purchase a "combo" ticket and visit the Cotswold Cottage  for Afternoon Tea  again and post updated photos.

Afternoon Tea is served on a side terrace of the cottage, with seating at charming umbrella tables,  May thru September. 

In 2005 the price was $8.95 but the current price is $12.00.  

Finger sandwiches were pre-boxed and kept in a refrigerated area of the counter below.   

This was my server.

It's a unique and wonderful Afternoon Tea experience if the weather is dry and not too hot.  It's also an ideal place to take a break and regroup, as Greenfield Village has over 100 attractions to see.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Birthday Tea for Henry Ford

Detroit is known as the Automobile Capital of the World, so it's only fitting that  Henry Ford's 149th birthday is honored on my blog today.

~ July 30, 1863 - April 7, 1947 ~
[Internet Photo]

When I was working at Tea by Three Tea Room, which I wrote about here and here, the owner asked me to coordinate another dinner tea [High Tea] suitable for couples, similar to the Last Dinner on the Titanic. Given our area's automotive history, I decided it would be fun to plan something centered around Henry Ford's birthday. The date was set for July 23, 2005 [a little earlier than his actual birthday] with the theme, "Hats Off to the Past - A Model Tea."

I chose not to focus exclusively on Henry Ford, the automobile magnate and industrialist, but included his personal life with Clara, his wife, who willingly lived in his shadow, always abetting his experiments, listening to his dreams and believing in  his endeavors - well...most of them!  Because of Clara's steadfast faith in him, Henry nicknamed her, The Believer.

Clara Jane Bryant Ford
[Internet Photo]

Putting the program together required visits to the Benson Ford Research Center Library at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan. [A National Historic Landmark complex, consisting of a large indoor/outdoor history museum. It's a must see!]   The research library was a  fascinating experience.   Visits were by  appointment, and information requests had to be made prior to arrival. My belongings [purse, sweater, etc.] were put in a locker. No ink pens were allowed - they provided pencils. And once I put on the mandatory  pair of white cotton gloves they furnished, I was ready to begin perusing the materials that had been gathered for me.

I wanted the menu to  center around any suitable recipes Clara might have liked and/or made, and I was eager to learn if she enjoyed the pleasures of tea. Fortunately, Clara was a saver, which contributed to her informative legacy.  When she died, she left behind menus and programs to every event she ever attended, and countless other memorabilia throughout her lifetime - enough to completely fill the drained,  indoor swimming pool at their Fairlane Estate.  I can't imagine how long it must have taken to catalog everything.   I saw recipes written in Clara's own hand writing, some of which were included in the high tea menu. The files were like stepping back in time and becoming personally acquainted with her.   I discovered she was an avid gardener, enjoyed tea, and loved hosting tea parties - which suited my purposes perfectly since the high tea was going to be held outdoors in Tea by Three's beautiful garden, and portrayed as though it was being held at the Fairlane Estate. Guests were invited to come in period attire [if they wanted to], and a Model A car was on display for photographs.

Regarding tea, Clara wrote in her 1912 travel journal to England: "Tea in Bristol... tea in Devon... stopped at the inn for tea... and in London we were invited to tea at the townhouse of Lady Astor where we met Queen Mary and King George V."

L-R: Me, Cheryl [tea room owner], Reader's - Kerri, Judy and Steve

Heedless of their wealth, Henry, Clara, and their son, Edsel, traveled across the country in their own "Tin Lizzie" as though they were small town tourists. 

Henry had a weakness for afternoon tea which is not surprising given his Irish roots, the fact that he was a big proponent of prohibition, and Clara's appreciation for tea.    He definitely had an inquiring mind at a young age.  The story is told that one day he plugged the spout of his mother's teapot and sat it on the hottest part of the wood-burning stove.   He quickly learned the results of his actions when the teapot burst into many pieces, splashing hot tea everywhere! 

During the entertainment portion of our event, the guests had fun singing a little ditty I found in my research to the tune of In the Good Gold Summer Time:

In the good old summer time,
Oh! Wasn't it just fine,
To sail along in the pouring rain
Through mud and slush and slime.
But don't you care for we all got there,
And that's a mighty good sign
That Ford cars are the best of all,
In any old kind of time!

Below is a photo of the invitation our guests received [postcard size, printed back to back]. The same Fair Lane Michigan Historical Site marker was used for the program cover as well.  Research provided names of Henry and Clara's family members and close friends who would have been guests at their galas, and those names were assigned to our attendees. They were introduced during the program.   Some of the distinguished guests were:  President Herbert Hoover and his wife, Lou; Sir Percival & Lady Catherine Perry; D.W. & Rose Flint; Ernest & Marion Liebold; Eleanor Clay Ford [their beloved daughter-in-law]; Miss. Martha Berry [founder of Berry school near Rome, Georgia]; and Lady Astor.

As for the menu... after Clara read the book, Gone With the Wind, and saw the movie, it became her favorite, so I paired movie titles to menu items.  [Sorry, we were so busy we forgot to take photos of the plated food.]

O'Hara's Salad with Soy Bean Sprouts [Henry was big on Soy Beans]
Tara Plantation Cream Chicken with Wild Rice [Clara's favorite way to prepare chicken]
Dixie Pudding [Sweet Potatoes]
Mammy's Green Bean Almondine
Scarlett's Pineapple Muffins
Melanie's Strawberry Ice Cream
Ashley's Devil's Food Celebration Cake [Devil's Food Cake was Clara's favorite]
And, of course, lots of Tea!

Henry's fascination with the soy bean began in the 1930's.  He once said, "A good cook can prepare a twelve-course meal from soybeans if she knows how."  And Henry did, indeed, host meatless, multi-course banquets featuring soybeans, but I withheld that pleasure from our guests! ;-)  Henry was definitely ahead of his time regarding health and fitness.

The tables were accessorized with blue since it was Clara's favorite color, and fresh flowers enhanced the dining tables as was Clara's customary tradition. A small imitation bird was at each place setting [a favor], symbolizing Henry & Clara's favorite past-time - bird watching and Ornithology.

Henry and Clara were very fond of the theatre, so I put together a script and a Reader's Theatre provided highlights of the couple's lives for the evening's entertainment.

L-R: Kerri, Steve [my son], and Judy [all drama students when they were in college]

Shortly after Henry & Clara celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary in 1938, Henry was asked how he managed to stay married so long, to which he replied, "Pick a good model, and stick with it!"

Our program concluded with the reading of the poem "Good Night" adapted from McGuffey's Third Grade Reader [Henry and Clara were very fond of McGuffey's Readers], and the song that all  Henry and Clara's old-fashioned dances ended with:

Good night, ladies!
Farewell, gentlemen!
So long, everyone!
We're going to leave you now!

*  *  *

Today I'm joining Antiques and Teacups for Tuesday Cuppa Tea.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Last Day in Memphis, Tennessee

My Tuesday, July 17th  flight back to Michigan wasn't until 6:10 p.m., so we spent the afternoon doing a few fun things in downtown Memphis.  First we had lunch at the Trolley Stop Market which opened in June, 2010.  Located at 704 Madison Avenue, it's a farmer-owned and operated market - which means quality, fresh food.

The Orleans Trolley Stop is across the street from the market, hence its name.

The Memphis Area Transit Authority [MATA] has a total of 35 trolley stations/stops that are located on three lines - Main Street, Madison Ave. Loop and Riverfront Loop.   The  heritage streetcar system uses authentic vintage trolley cars.

In the photo below the Main Street trolley is approaching our station.   We paid the $1.00 fee to board the trolley for a 45 minute ride through historic downtown Memphis and along the mighty Mississippi River.

After our trolley ride we went to the Flying Fish Seafood Restaurant for a glass of iced tea and key lime pie.   The Flying Fish is said to serve the best fish in Memphis.  It's located on S. Second Street, across from the Peabody Hotel parking entrance.

This key lime pie tasted as good as it looks!

I couldn't resist taking a photo of this sign that was posted in the restaurant.

Cousins Kaye and Vickie

It was a wonderful trip I'll never forget, and as Bob Hope used to sing, "Thanks for the Memories!" 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Memphis Adventures Winding Down

On Monday, July 16th, our group was diminished to five when Debbie and her mother left for their homes in Louisiana.  But there was one more tea room for us who remained to visit,  The Woman's Exchange of Memphis.

It was founded in 1885, but was known as the Crafts Exchange then, marketing  the handicrafts of the needy.   In 1935, the name was changed to The Woman's Exchange, and it has continued to grow into a thriving, non-profit organization offering items from more than 800 consignors.   It has been at this present location since 1962.  Volunteers staff the tea room and gift shop, which is open Monday through Friday.

Their featured tea of the month [Strawberry] was for sale in the gift shop.

Their posted menu for the day...

This cute antique stove named, Hazel, was in the server's area.

We were seated in the sun room.  By the time we left there was a long line of people waiting to be seated for lunch.  They do a thriving business.

My cousins, Valerie & Vickie [sisters] and their mother [my Aunt Ruthie]. 

I ordered their soup and sandwich combo - potato soup and chicken salad sandwich with homemade bread and butter pickles, potato chips and strawberry iced tea.

And for dessert... chess pie.  Yum!

My purchases from the gift shop were this cookbook and...

A Mary Englebreit tea-themed plate and spreader.

I didn't purchase the framed, embroidered piece below, but I photographed it because I liked what it said.

From the tea room we headed over to the Antique Gallery in Bartlett, TN - another antique mall. 

Antiques and tea go together, which is why this antique mall has a tea room located inside.  It's not open for food service on Mondays, but we were allowed to browse inside the dining area because many items were for sale.   I saw plenty, but had to resist.

Isn't the dining area lovely?

Tomorrow will be my last Memphis post.   I hope you've been enjoying arm-chair traveling with me!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ongoing Memphis, Tennessee Adventures

Following church on Sunday, July 15th,  we went to the Audubon Shopping Center where the Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn outlet stores were located.  Vickie spotted a book in Pottery Barn entitled Princess Tea - parties and treats for little girls.  It met the criteria of  fitting in my suitcase, so a copy came home with me.   It contains eight theme teas which can easily be adapted to adult tea parties as well.  

Another day we visited a fashion accessory import store - jewelry, purses, hats, scarves, boas - you name it - where I found a rhinestone tiara [pictured below] for my granddaughter's upcoming tenth birthday.   She'll love it!

Memphis is said to be the BBQ capital of the world, so we went to Corky's for a delicious BBQ dinner.   Corky's has been voted #1 for 24 years in a row by Memphis Magazine.

Their Onion Loaf [battered, golden fried onions, shaped like a loaf of bread] started us off.

Then came our BBQ pulled pork dinners.

There were desserts to pass - I think a chocolate brownie was one of them, but I don't remember what else.

Vickie drove by Sun Studio where Elvis and other famous singers recorded, but we didn't tour Graceland.  I was more interested in visiting tea rooms.  Priorities, you know!  ;-)

[Internet Photo]

Then it was home for an old-fashioned Sunday afternoon hymn sing, and watch the final DVD in the Anne of Green Gables trilogy - The Continuing Story.   We gathered 'round the piano and I put my rusty fingers on the keyboard to play songs I hadn't played [or sung] in many years.  What fun!  We sang the favorite hymns of our grandparents, my dad, and others who've passed on, which made them a part of our family gathering - at least in spirit.   Do you have a favorite hymn?

Memphis vacation continued...