Tuesday, December 31, 2019

New Year's Eve

It was so nice to wake up this morning and not have one single commitment on the calendar. We didn't have a white Christmas, but we woke up to a light dusting of snow today.

My hubby and I went out to breakfast and then went to see the 11:30 a.m. showing of Little Women.  It was very good.

I received a surprise package in the mail yesterday just before I left for work.  The friend who sent it is SO creative.  I could hardly wait to open it, and knowing her schedule recently I was touched by her thoughtfulness.

Inside was a package of Ceylon Gold White Tea by teakruthi - a tea purveyor I've not heard of before.  The sleeve around the tea said it's a special type of 'gold tips' white tea.  It's harvested from a young tea bush before the buds open, then dried in natural sunlight.  It's a pricey tea.

A note tucked inside the package said it was a gift of 'fantasy' and a very special tea experience!  Rubens Hotel at the Palace in London [a five-star luxury hotel] offers a Ceylon Golden Tip Afternoon Tea for £500 [or $662.37 US currency] for a three cup pot!  The white gloved service weigh the delicate tea with precision on scales; then each tip is placed into the silver teapot individually with golden tweezers.

[Photos courtesy of Rubens]

My creative friend enclosed a small box with a pair of white gloves and gold tweezers so I can create the 'fantasy' of sitting back in The Rubens overlooking The Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace and pretending I'm there.  I've enjoyed reading several articles about The Rubens since receiving this package.  I wasn't familiar with the hotel previously.

I'm saving this special tea for my first tea of 2020, and will think of my very dear friend!

The snowman Christmas tree ornament in the above picture was one of the gifts from my Secret Santa at The Whitney.  The box of chocolates is almost gone, and to bring a smile to my face she enclosed a box of knee-highs - the method I use to steep large amounts of loose-leaf tea at the restaurant.  

We're showing our age because my hubby and I will stay in tonight to watch the Waterford Crystal ball drop in Times Square ushering in the New Year of 2020 and a new decade.  I saw a New Year's comment on Facebook that I liked:  "What will the new year bring?"  "365 new possibilities!"

 ~ Pictures from my 2012 New Year's Eve post ~

Happy New Year and may God bless you!  How comforting to know He will be with us  throughout the new year - whatever it holds.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Holiday Happenings

On December 26th our grandson, Brandon, and his wife, Venessa, invited all of his immediate family [plus Jerry and me] over for dinner.  They were so happy to host everyone in their new home.  The temps were in the high 40's - low 50's so Brandon took advantage of the unseasonably warm temps to grill outside.

Brandon, Venessa, and Charlie, their Shih Tzu 

~ Jerry [Great Papa] and Evie ~

Evie opening one of her Christmas presents.

~ John and Tiffany [our granddaughter and her husband] ~

Lori and her sweet granddaughter, Juliette [my daughter and great-granddaughter].

Juliette was just too tired to party anymore!  

John and Tiffany gave us a beautiful family picture.

It was a lovely evening with family.  The only one missing was granddaughter, Marissa. Thank you, Brandon and Venessa for your wonderful hospitality!

On Sunday after church I headed over to the assisted living facility for their monthly tea party.  12 residents attended.   Shore Pointe always decorates so beautifully at Christmas and this year they focused on Cardinals.

Some were perched in the tree and others were in gilded bird cages.

I didn't take any pictures of the residents, but I took a photo of the treats I gave them which coordinated with my topic, Traditions That Make Christmas Meaningful.  

Did you know that Germany has had more influence on Christmas customs than any other country?  Christmas trees, Kugel ornaments, Gingerbread Houses, Stollen [fruited yeast bread], Candy Canes, Advent Calendars, Nutcrackers, and some of our beloved Christmas Carols.

I gave each of them a Little Debbie Christmas Tree cake, and Candy Cane.

Almost every country has their own version of Santa Claus.  Here are just a few:  
Father Christmas - England
St. Nicholas [Nick] - He was born in modern-day Turkey but is celebrated 
                                                             in many European countries.
Sinter Klaas - Holland
Kris Kringle - Austria/Germany
Tomten - Sweden and Finland
Pere Noel - France

I also gave them each a Chocolate Santa Claus.  Since toasted rice was mixed in the chocolate they were called Crisp Kringles [a little play on words by the manufacturer].

I made my last urn of tea for 2019 at The Whitney today.  We had 62 guests for Afternoon Tea.  I'm off now thru Thursday - no alarm clock tomorrow, yay! ;-)  When I return on Friday it will be 2020 and I'll be starting the New Year off by serving 32 guests Afternoon Tea - a fun way to begin the New Year!  January is National Hot Tea Month.

How have you spent these last few days of 2019?

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Christmas Day Recap

Christmas Day was low-keyed for my hubby and me, and very relaxing after much hustle and bustle.  

Our son, Jeremy, sent a couple of pictures taken at their house on Christmas morning. Thankfully, Ellie is on the mend.

A toy pizzeria was on her wish list from us, and she told her parents it was her favorite gift.  Samantha [her mother] said she had eaten at least four large pretend pizzas!  ;-)

In the afternoon I worked on my presentation for the monthly assisted living tea at Shore Pointe, which is this Sunday, Dec. 29th.

Our grandson, Brandon, and his wife, Venessa, came over around 5:00 o'clock to visit for awhile since they were unable to be with us on Christmas Eve.

When they left, Jerry and I watched my new DVD Downton Abbey movie that I received as a Christmas gift before calling it a night.

Thursday and Friday [as well as today] were work days at The Whitney, serving 160 guests Afternoon Tea.  I'm ready for a slower pace.  ;-)

I received a few surprise gifts before Christmas Eve arrived.  A surprise package came in the mail from my friend, Linda, containing a tea cozy, personalized key chain, and a teapot sugar cookie. Thanks, Linda!

My co-worker, Steve, gave me a 2020 Teapot Calendar.

My girlfriend, Lori, gave me a year's subscription to Tea Time magazine - my favorite magazine!  Thanks, Lori!

My sweet neighbor brought over a plate of goodies: sugared pecans, almond pound cake, a gourmet caramel apple, and a cute tea strainer.  Thanks, Lorraine!  The pecans were to die for!

Do you like fruit cake?  Have you ever made one?  My hubby loves them, but I can easily pass them up.  I confess that in my 53 years of marriage I've never been inspired to make one, but I remember my mother and mother-in-law making them.  When I was grocery shopping for my Christmas Eve dinner I saw them in the store and purchased one for Jerry. It was actually quite good when accompanied with a cup of tea.

Here's the gifts I received on Christmas Eve:  An Upstairs & Downstairs book of Highclere Castle, a DVD of the Downton Abbey movie, and a Barnes & Noble gift card.  I can hardly wait to have time to sit down with my new book with a cup of tea in hand.

~ A Christmas tea set from Williams & Sonoma ~

A tin of tea from Great Lakes Tea & Spice Company - Roasted Almond Delight

A spa package of scented bath crystals and a candle from sweet Izzy.

A pair of slippers and a gift card to Chico's - one of my favorite stores.

A gift basket of edible goodies including a restaurant gift card, and a soft comfy throw from Kirklands.

And last, but not least, a holiday sweater and slacks from Talbot's [another favorite store], money to go shopping, and a devotional book from my hubby.

But the BEST gift of all is God's gift of His Son, Jesus!  Following close by is the gift of a wonderful family and friends.  I am SO blessed!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Christmas Eve Recap

I hope you had a Merry and Blessed Christmas!  We did at our house.  As has been our tradition since the early 1980's [when my mother-in-law passed the baton to me to continue the Christmas Eve family gathering] everyone arrived around 3:00 o'clock.  Well almost everyone - granddaughter Ellie had the stomach flu so Jeremy stayed home with her.

With working 12 days straight at The Whitney, I was so behind this year and didn't get my tree decorated until Dec. 23rd - cutting it very close to the wire!

Usually I serve dinner buffet style by setting up a long food table in the family room, but this year I decided to serve my family restaurant style in courses and even though we aren't Italian, our meal was.

We began with homemade creamy Minestrone soup, followed by a garden salad [Olive Garden style with their salad dressing and croutons].  The next course was a side of Spaghetti with meat sauce, and the main entree was Chicken Cordon Bleu, Green Beans, and Corn Pudding.  I bought Italian bread and bread sticks from the local Italian bakery. Dessert, served later in the evening, was our birthday cake for Jesus - a Cassata Cake and a chocolate cake [the grandkids favorite].

Izzy and Papa in their red buffalo checked tops.

~ Jerry and Me ~

~ Landon, Samantha and Izzy ~

~ Sharon, Brooke and Brianna ~

~ Steve and Sharon ~

Steve, Sharon and Girls.  It's been nice having Brianna home for three months, but she leaves Sunday morning to head back to Nashville to begin another semester of her graduate studies.

I have to brag on her talents - below is the drawing she gave her mother for Christmas.

~ Lori and Dave ~

After dinner, Izzy read the Christmas story from Luke's Gospel.

Then it was time to open presents from youngest to oldest.  Landon LOVED his 'Comfy' blanket/hooded sweatshirt from Brooke and Brianna.  Izzy got one too.

~ Brooke ~

~ Lori and Dave waiting their turn ~

Being the oldest, Jerry and I were the last ones to open our gifts.  I'll share my gifts in a separate post.

After gifts we had dessert.  Lori made a tray of decorated sugar cookies which we enjoyed in addition to cake.  Then we played games around the dining room table.  Everyone stayed until around 11:00 o'clock, and then our house suddenly fell silent and Papa and I settled in for a long winter's nap! ;-)  It was a very fun family time together, but we definitely missed Jeremy and Ellie.

Today [Thursday] is a work day for me so I'll be heading off to The Whitney after enjoying four days off.   Christmas Day next post.