Sunday, September 29, 2019

Birthday Celebration and Afternoon Tea

They say all work and no play makes a person dull, so after working five days this week and spending evenings preparing for my monthly presentation at the assisted living facility today, I took yesterday off to go to Chelsea, MI for a family celebration.  My youngest son and granddaughter, Isabella, have birthdays today - #40 for Jeremy and #14 for Izzy.  

Lori & Dave, and Steve, Sharon & Brooke came to the party too.  It was a fun afternoon with family.  The guys enjoyed watching Michigan State football together, and the ladies enjoyed catching up around the kitchen table.

It wouldn't be a party without ice cream and candles...

And presents.

Lori brought one of Jeremy's favorite desserts - Apple Crisp, and I brought a new recipe that was recently posted on ATAA [Afternoon Tea Across America] Facebook page - Pumpkin Cobbler.  Poor Landon had his taste buds all set for chocolate cake! ;-)  Everyone else enjoyed the apple and pumpkin desserts though, and I promised Landon chocolate cake for his birthday in November.  The easy and delicious pumpkin recipe is below.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix the following ingredients in a large bowl:
1 large can pumpkin puree [29 oz.]
1 c. brown sugar [lightly packed]
1 large can evaporated milk [12 oz.]
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish and pour pumpkin mixture into dish.
Mix together topping:
1 stick butter, thinly sliced
1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1 c. chopped nuts [walnuts or pecans]
Evenly sprinkle dry cake mix over pumpkin mixture.  Top with chopped nuts.
Lay pieces of sliced butter on top of cake mix and chopped nuts.
Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour until golden brown.  Cool and cut into squares.
Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

*  *  *

Izzy will attend her first Homecoming Dance next Saturday, and she modeled the dress she bought for us.

Ellie was excited to show off the "Dorothy" dress that she'll be wearing for Halloween.

*  *  *

Today's program at the assisted living was "The Influence of Flowers."  It was about floral trivia and the important role flowers play in our lives.

I always take the residents a treat, but this month I didn't have a lot of time to get my creative juices flowing, so I ordered a cake and had red rosebuds piped on each piece of cake. I also took lavender black tea.  It was a program they could all relate to and enjoy.

Now I turn all my attention to next Saturday's Downton Abbey tea at The Whitney.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Livin' the Dream

When I was hired at The Whitney on August 27, 2018 [and began work a few days later on September 5] it was a dream come true.  I had aspirations of becoming their Tea Director for eleven years before it finally happened.  While I love making and serving tea to the guests everyday and chatting with them, I've also dreamed about planning special event teas in the great mansion.  What better special event tea could there be than a Downton Abbey tea!  I was so happy when permission was granted for the tea, and even happier when the date went up on the restaurant website and Facebook page last Friday. 

For local readers, go to The Whitney website for details and to make your reservation [] or call the restaurant at [313] 832-5700.  They have capped the event at 30 so don't delay.  Below is the poster that's displayed in the Grand Hall. 

I don't normally work on Saturdays, but they had an Apples and Autumn tea at noon yesterday [part of City Fest], so I went in to make three types of tea, all containing apple cider.  

The tea began with Sparkling Apple Pie served in a champagne flute.  It was a combination of concentrated apple cider, caramel sauce, chai tea and champagne.

The tea served throughout the meal [Scone course, Soup and Salad, and Savories - grilled Pork Belly on Apple Slaw, Apple & Cheese Sandwich, and Seafood Tart] was Gentle Earl Grey brewed in diluted Apple Cider.

The tea with dessert [baked apples slices and ice cream in a pastry tart] was chai tea made with apple cider and rum.  I wish I would have thought to take pictures of the food courses, but with all the busyness it slipped my mind.

Below are the two male servers for yesterday's 16 guests.  I trained Steve [on the left] to prepare the tea on the weekends when I'm not there.  Mary Jones [center] blends all the teas for The Whitney, and she sells her other blends at Detroit's nearby Eastern Market.  She hosted the Autumn & Apples tea.  Ricco is on the right.    

~ The Autumn & Apples tablescape in the formal dining room. ~

Simultaneously, the Saturday Brunch was in progress in the Grand Hall and a Bridal Shower in the Receiving Room.  You can see the formal dining room through the large opening on the right.  The opening to the left is the library.

I thought I was going home right after the Autumn & Apples tea, but was asked to stay on through the 2:00 o'clock Afternoon Tea.  My spirit was willing to work 6 1/2 hours non-stop, but my feet weren't too happy!  ;-)

Did you watch the NBC special 'Return to Downton Abbey - A Grand Event' last Thursday?  I did.  If you missed it, you can still watch it at NBC's website.  I just finished watching it a second time.

I've been having fun getting out some of my Downton Abbey memorabilia.  The teacup is from my 2015 visit to Highclere Castle which you can read about here, and the mug is from my visit to Byfleet Manor, the house that was used as Dowager House.  You can read about that Afternoon Tea visit here.

I hope to see you at The Whitney's Downton Tea.  Please make sure to speak to me.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

A Downton Abbey Tea in Ohio

Yesterday, Saturday, September 14th, my girlfriend, Lori, and I traveled to Maumee, Ohio to attend a Downton Abbey tea at Clara J's tearoom.  How did I not know about this lovely tearoom just 90 miles away until now?

It was a beautiful day for our hour and a half drive.  Our seating was for 1:30 p.m. An earlier 11:00 a.m. seating was sold out.

We arrived about 15 minutes early, and to our delight saw two friends standing out front visiting with two other ladies.  Teresa and Rebecca [left two ladies] went on the Southern Teatime Getaway in May of 2018, and it was great to see them again!  

~ Entrance to the tearoom ~

The girl above the mantle [photo below] is Clara Jaessing Keller in her 1914 confirmation picture.  She studied Culinary Arts at Baldwin-Wallace College and eventually opened a restaurant in Maumee called Stuckey's.  She is the deceased aunt of the tearoom owner who named the tearoom in her honor.

The second seating was well attended, but not sold out.

~ My place setting ~

There were three selections of tea [two tisanes and one black tea].  We chose the Dowager Violet Grantham blend - a deep purple herbal with notes of lavender and citrus.  It was very good.

We were served a warm Apricot Scone with Devonshire Cream and a spot of Strawberry Jam to go with our tea.

Throughout our tea a gentleman played soft music, some of which was the theme from Downton Abbey.

A lot of detail was put into this tea.  Pictures of Downton Abbey cast were situated around the room to remind us it was a Downton Abbey tea.

~ Our tiered server for two ~

~ Lori and Me ~

The top two tiers pictured on my plate are as follows [6:00 o'clock position]: Traditional Cucumber triangle on White Bread with Butter and Cream Cheese seasoned with Dill; Two triangles of Spinach and Strawberry Slices on Marble Rye Bread spread with Orange Marmalade; Pate a Choux, filled with Smoked Salmon Mousse;  Mushroom Palmier with chopped Button Mushrooms, Red Onions, Garlic, Rosemint & Sherry.  It was topped with Mrs. Patmore's seasoned Cream Cheese; and lastly Fig, Prosciutto & Goat Cheese on Wheat Bread with Chives.  Everything was delicious!

Desserts were Chocolate Teacup filled with Chocolate Mousse; Lemon Tart with Sugar Cookie Crust, toasted Meringue, and Candied Lemon Zest; and Battenburg Cake - Pistachio and Rose Cakes with Strawberry Jam wrapped in Almond Paste.  In the center was a Watermelon slice in the shape of a teapot.  Yum!

Our favors were a Harney & Sons tea bag, honey stick, and a return coupon.

After our tea meal we looked around the tearoom.

Lots of hutches filled with teawares.

Then we made our journey back home.  It was a delightful afternoon, and I highly recommend the tearoom if you're ever in Maumee.   The town is very quaint with a large antique mall if you want to make a complete day of it.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Downton Abbey Movie

My hubby and I went to an early showing of the Downton Abbey movie last night, and loved it!  I laughed, cried, and enjoyed every minute.  If you liked the television series, you'll love the movie.  It was so nice to see all the cast again, and King George V, Queen Mary, and Princess Mary's appearance was a special highlight.

I took some photos of movie-goers in costume.  It was a drizzly, British-like evening, so kudos to them for braving the weather in costume.  Roaring 20's attire prevailed.

An introduction recapped the six seasons of the television series which was nice, and then the movie began.  So grateful I got to visit Highclere Castle in person in 2015.


I won't give any spoilers, but the movie [in my opinion] was so good I plan to see it again.  

I've changed my mind three times about what I'll wear to The Whitney Downton Abbey tea, and have finally settled on a more elegant outfit as opposed to a Roaring 20's look.  My tiara arrived in the mail last week. 

For local readers, watch The Whitney website and Facebook page next Wednesday, the date the Downton Abbey Tea is supposed to be posted.  They won't take reservations until it's posted, so please don't call early.  City Fest is still in progress and they're waiting for a lot of the events to be over before publicizing the Downton Abbey tea.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Ladies' Homecoming Tea

After a hiatus from coordinating Afternoon Teas for the ladies of my church and their friends, I got back into the groove and scheduled another one that took place yesterday, Saturday, September 7th.  I called it a Homecoming Tea because I knew summer vacation activities were over and ladies were back home and settling into the fall season.

The place was Sycamore Hills Golf Club - a lovely venue I've used several times.  Hopefully, the next tea will be in our brand new church facility.

Jerry and I arrived at Sycamore Hills a few minutes before 11:00 a.m. to get everything ready for the ladies arrival at noon.

Sycamore Hills had the sign in the foyer to direct our ladies to the right room.

I did a Paris themed tea for our ladies in 2009 at a different venue, and called it Springtime in Paris [it was held in May].  A teacher in our congregation taught French and had taken students to Paris several times, so she told us about all the sights in the 'City of Light.'  Since ten years had lapsed and I still had the Eiffel Tower centerpieces, I decided to go with a Paris theme again, only this time I used Julia Child for the program.  She lived in Paris from 1948 to 1953, and it's where her culinary career and love of French cuisine began. 

My sweet girlfriend, Lori, arrived early to help put the finishing touches on the tablescapes. I bought a large picture frame so my hubby could use it to take photos of all the ladies when they arrived.  The ladies had fun with it.

I got the pink Paris top [below] eons ago and finally had the perfect occasion to wear it!  ;-)

Pink and black was the color scheme, and inside the pink and black nylon bags at each place setting was Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers - Julia's favorite snack food.

My daughter-in-law, Sharon, granddaughter, Brooke, and Sharon's mother, Sheena.

Two ladies came wearing a hat [the other one isn't pictured].  Karen even wore glove.  I loved it!

You can see the ladies had fun with the picture frame. 

Sycamore Hills was great to provide the French menu I gave them.  I made the tea - French Caramel Creme Brulee - and the meal began with a cup of delicious French Onion Soup.  Julia did a PBS French Chef program demonstrating how to make it, and, of course, it's in her cookbook.  It was also her last requested meal before she passed away.  

The main course was a Chicken Salad Croissant and a mini Quiche.

Dessert was a Cream Puff [French choux pastry] filled with Vanilla Ice Cream topped with Hot Fudge Sauce.  I only had a taste of mine because while the ladies were eating theirs I changed from my Paris outfit into my Julia Child outfit for the presentation.

~ My girlfriend, Sandy, and me ~

This was my fifth presentation about Julia, so I felt pretty confident talking about her life. Each time I tweak it a bit so it's not identical, but nobody at church had ever heard me speak about her, so it wouldn't have mattered.  Lori and Sandy heard the very first presentation I did about her in 2015, but Saturday's had a lot of new and different information.

The tea was well attended [50 ladies], and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, so I went home happy and thanking Jesus for His blessing on the afternoon.

The post about the 2009 Parisian Tea can be viewed here.  It took place before I started blogging in 2012, but I included it after the fact.