Monday, September 30, 2013

Cristy Bennett's Peacock Jewels and Fancy Feathers Tea

Saturday [September 28th] I had the privilege of traveling to East Lansing to attend my 11th tea hosted by Cristy Bennett.   If you've been a follower of my blog for any length of time, you'll remember that I've blogged about Cristy's previous tea parties which date from April 2011 to the present. She always seems to out-do herself with every theme, but her peacock theme is my all-time favorite.  I have given her the title of 'tablescape artist.' Instead of painting on canvas, she artistically creates on tabletops!  

This tea was extra special because it was a birthday celebration for my dear friend, Lori's, daughter-in-law, Lisa.   Lisa got to select 10 guests to attend this tea, and I was honored and blessed to be one of those 10!

Lori has been planning the birthday celebration for months.  She's such a thoughtful mother-in-law.   Long before the date of the tea approached I received a "Save the Date" card in the mail, and when it got closer to the time I received an actual invitation.

It was a picture-perfect fall day for traveling to East Lansing.  Below is a picture of the ladies just before going inside Cristy's house.

Below is Lori, the beautiful lady who gifted Lisa and her guests with such a lovely tea party. Her outfit even coordinated with the theme!

Once inside, our eyes beheld the beauty below, and the pictures don't do it full justice.  

Cristy made a personalized keepsake menu for every attendee, which also served as our place card.

Beautiful peacock blue teacups.  

The  fabric below began Cristy's vision and inspiration for the tablescape.

Cristy is photographed below, and is dressed to coordinate with the theme.  Her lovely mother, Lila, is sitting at the dining room table in the background.  Cristy decorates the entire first floor of her house to coordinate with the theme of her teas.  For this tea she even included new living and dining room curtains!   Absolutely amazing!

Below is Lisa, the birthday girl.

Three generations - Lori, Lisa, and Courtney

We're all in our places with bright smiley faces.  Let the tea party begin!

First a toast with Sparkling Apple-Cranberry Juice

The first course was Vermont Cheddar Cheese Bisque with a Peacock Blueberry Scone and a Harvest Apple Scone.  Note the china with peacocks.  I saw some of the dishes several months ago at Marshall's and T.J. Maxx, but Cristy got hers at Macy's and they're still available. They're called 222 Fifth Dinnerware in case you want to rush out and get some. They're beautiful!

The main course was Chicken Broccoli Dill Braid, Mushroom Stuffed Roma Tomatoes, Autumn Apple-Cranberry Salad, and Triple Cheese Truffle with Crackers.

The dessert course was Chocolate Toffee Teacup Trifle, and it was delicious!

Since the peacock is the national bird of India, one of the teas served was a second flush Darjeeling. Soooo good!

Now for a quick tour of Cristy's first floor all decked out in the theme, beginning with the pillows on her couch.

~Antique Secretary~

~ Closet Door Wreath~

~Antique Buffet~

~China Cabinet in Dining Room~

~Top of another China Cabinet~

~ Lamp Table~

Even the bathroom carried out the theme!

The walkway leading up to Cristy's front porch contained arrangements of some of the flowers that adorned the tablescape, and were our favors to take home.

Lori and I on Cristy's front porch.  I should have made a peacock fascinator!  ;-)

What a fabulous day!  Special thanks to Cristy, Lori and Lisa for providing such wonderful memories.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday Reflection...

This past Thursday I had the privilege of beginning a Bible/discipleship study with my third oldest granddaughter, Brianna, who turned 17 last June, and is a senior in high school.  I'm so excited about spending time in God's Word with her, and learning from each other.

I ordered a study book highlighting teenage girls of the Bible, but it didn't arrive in time, so I put together a brief study of the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

[Internet photo of what Mary might have looked like.]

It was the custom of girls in Israel during Mary's time, to become betrothed and married at an early age.  Therefore, it is believed Mary was between 12-14 years of age when the angel, Gabriel, appeared to her with the message that God had chosen her for the virgin birth of His Son, Jesus.

The first thing Brianna and I noticed is that God selected someone very 'unsuitable' in the eyes of people to be mightily used by Him.  Mary was young, poor, and very ordinary. However, God knew she possessed the qualities of trust and obedience, so He bestowed unmerited favor on her.

I'm grateful God often uses ordinary people to fulfill His plans and purposes, aren't you?  I love the verse I Samuel 16:7  "...The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."  

In the midst of Mary's fear and uncertainty of what the future would hold, she responded to Gabriel, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said."   No ifs, ands, or buts about it!

The scripture that Brianna and I chose to reflect on all this week is Luke 1:37 - Gabriel's words to Mary:  "For nothing is impossible with God."

Our human capabilities are limited, but how encouraging to know nothing is impossible with God!

We left each other with the prayer that God will make us women like Mary, who will bring Jesus into our world by sharing the 'good news' of His love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

May God bless your week!

Friday, September 27, 2013

A New Tea Angel

Ever since my tea and blogging friend, Linda, at Friendship Tea blogged about the Jim Shore tea angel she acquired in Boston this summer, I've been wanting one to add to my collection. I found one listed on E-bay last week for $15 [plus shipping], and the seller said it was brand new, and still in its original box.  I used the "buy it now" option so no one could bid against me. The angel arrived in today's mail.


Here she is with her "sisters."  They're now a family of six, with hopefully more to come.

Thanks for telling all of us in blog land about her, Linda!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Happy Fall!

Even though fall officially began at 4:44 p.m. last Sunday afternoon, September 22nd, this is my fall greeting.  [Better late than never! ;-)] 
The days are cooler and shorter now, and the trees are beginning to change color.   Mother Nature instinctively knows when one season ends and another begins.

Fall always makes me want to bake pumpkin bread, so I  baked up three loaves yesterday. Don't you love the aroma of bread baking in the oven?  I'll share the recipe with you at the end of this post. It's a family favorite.  My daughter and daughters-in-law make it too.

We love Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice, Cranberry Autumn, and Apple Cinnamon Teas at our house during the fall months, as well as a pumpkin tea from another vendor.  What is your favorite fall tea?  I enjoy making the teas in my Chatsford 6 cup teapot with infuser basket, and it's the perfect color for fall.

A favorite fall teacup.   

Pumpkin Bread Recipe

2/3 cup shortening
2 2/3 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 can [15 oz.] pure pumpkin [not pie mix]
2/3 cup water
3 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2/3 cup chopped nuts
1 [12 oz.] package chocolate chips [mini or regular size chips]

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two large loaf pans and 1 small loaf pan.  In large bowl cream shortening and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in eggs, pumpkin, and water.  Gradually add flour [to which leavening and spice ingredients have been added] and mix well.  Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.  Pour into pans and bake for about 70 minutes or until inserted cake tester comes out clean.

Recipe will make 6 or 7 miniature loaves which are perfect for gift giving.  Reduce baking time for miniature loaves.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Garden Walk and High Tea

Yesterday afternoon my girlfriend, Lori, and I headed 40 miles northwest of our homes to attend a garden walk and high tea in White Lake, MI.  It was a beautiful afternoon - 65 degrees, and not a cloud in the sky.  Perfect for walking a garden!   Below are half of the ladies who attended the 4:00 p.m. event.

Our hostess, Susie [pictured below], formerly owned a nursery and gardening center with her husband, and their love of gardening is evident.

We began at the pool room where hors d'oeuvres were served.

The eating area was at the far end of the pool on the other side of the half wall.

A fabulous orange crush punch, bar-b-qued bacon wrapped shrimp, and tomato-garlic bruschetta were served.

Lori and me, wearing the fascinators we made last Friday at the workshop.  See close up here by scrolling to the end.   Our intent was to coordinate with our outfits for this event.

Jennifer was in attendance along with another one of her table purse hooks.  She said she owns several.

Queen Elizabeth doesn't have anything over on her!  ;-)

Linda [wearing the yellow fascinator] was the founder and former president of the tea club which many of these ladies belong to.  I was a member in 2002-03.

Now for the garden tour...

Doesn't this look like a beautiful English garden?

I was reminded of the phrase, "You are closer to God in a garden than anywhere else on earth." Susie has many angel statues in her gardens, so it was, indeed, heavenly!

Me in the garden, wearing a faux rose! ;-)

The high tea was held in this beautiful glass sun porch overlooking the gardens.

Entrance to sun porch.

High tea began a slice of Anise Bread, with exquisite Butter Roses.

Followed by chilled Strawberry Soup.  Notice the beautiful garden-themed tablecloths which Susie made.

The main entree was Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Roasted Potatoes, Squash, Purple Cabbage and homemade Applesauce, served buffet style.  Everything tasted as good as it looks!  The freshly brewed loose-leaf tea was Orange Vanilla Creme.

Dessert was chilled Peaches and Blueberries.  Yum!  I switched to Apple Cinnamon Decaf tea for this course so I'd be able to sleep last night.

Susie made the Sour Cream Twist Pastries.  Actually everything was homemade by Susie. What did she charge for this delightful and magical evening?  Just $18 per person!  

Ladies enjoying the high tea.  Some wearing hats and fascinators...

...and some not.

Beautiful leaded glass peacock in the sun porch.

Thanks for a lovely afternoon/evening, Susie.  Everything was superb!