Saturday, January 30, 2021

A Winter Tea Luncheon

I always say you meet the nicest people over tea, and today was no exception.  I invited the Executive Director of an Independent Living facility to my house for a tea luncheon.  Even though we had never met before, we were kindred spirits as soon as she stepped inside the front door.  

Debbie is a tea lover and wants to incorporate Afternoon Tea in the activities for the residents at her facility. Talking about tea was something we both love and the time flew by.  She came at 1:00 o'clock and left shortly after 4:00 o'clock, and it was such a lovely afternoon.  I wish I would have taken a picture of her to share, but I'll make sure to do it the next time we get together.  It was fun sharing our tea journeys.  She grew up drinking tea because her parents are from Canada and it was an integral part of their family life.

Below are a few pics of my wintry tablescape and two of the food courses.  The table looks a little sparse when it's only set for two, but my three cousins are coming for lunch on Monday and I'm going to use the same tablescape and serve the same menu.  Why reinvent the wheel when this worked so well!  :-)  The tablescape will be more filled out then.

I used my Blue Madrid Depression Glass made by Federal Glass Co.

First course was Minnesota Wild Rice soup with Corn Madeleines.  Tea was "Snowflake Tea" - a black tea flavored with coconut rasps and almond flakes. 

The main course was Ham, Broccoli and Mushroom Quiche with a Spring Salad.  We were so busy talking I forgot to take a picture of it.  

Dessert was the Earl Grey Tea Cake that I mentioned in my last post, but hadn't tasted yet. It's a dense cake, but good.  Debbie liked it too and asked for the recipe. The London Fog Latte was the perfect accompaniment.  I didn't attempt trying to make any fancy designs with the frothed milk.  I'll leave that to talented baristas.  ;-)

Shifting gears... Do you like to watch cooking shows? A week ago while watching Food Network's Diners, Drive-in's and Dives, Guy Fieri visited Kelly O's diner in Pittsburgh which featured a Polish comfort food - Haluski.  I had never heard of it before, but it looked good and easy, so after the program I Googled a recipe and made it.  My hubby and I really enjoyed it - A head of cabbage shredded and sauteed in butter with onion slices.  Then egg noodles and crispy bacon pieces are added.  Yummy!  Ever heard of it?  I'm not of Polish descent, but I love trying ethnic foods.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Tea Cabinet, Earl Grey Tea and Charcuterie Board

I'm happily preparing for a guest for tea and lunch on Saturday.  My menu is established:  Wild Rice Soup with Corn Madeleines, Broccoli, Ham, and Mushroom Quiche with Spring Salad, Earl Grey Tea Cake garnished with Sugared Walnuts and, of course, tea.  I'm thinking I'd like to serve a London Fog Latte to go with the cake.   I asked my guest if she had any food dislikes, and she said only calves liver. ;-)  Definitely no worries there!

My tea friend, Angela, at Tea With Friends blog mentioned the Earl Grey Tea Cake on Facebook.  It was posted by the New York Times, and sounded like a perfect dessert.  I knew I had enough Earl Grey tea in my tea cabinet.  Do you have a designated tea cupboard or cabinet?  Mine is a repro oak icebox.  

One project always seems to lead to another.  When I went to the icebox to look for some Earl Grey tea, I decided it was time [past time really] to clean it out and put it in some semblance of order.  A lot went in the trash, but a lot was left.

I discovered I had five tins of Earl Grey tea!  It's my hubby's favorite, so I better get busy using it.

I put all the empty tins in a tote and took them to the basement.  I always save the larger ones because they make great flower containers for centerpieces at a tea party.  The photo below shows how I used them at a tea for my aunt's 86th birthday.  A guest from each table took one home.   

The tea will taste better in a neater cabinet. ;-)  If not, at least I'll feel better!  I shouldn't buy any more tea for a long time!

I don't normally serve my guests something I've never made before, but I really wanted to try the Earl Grey cake.  If I don't like it there's always ice cream with hot fudge sauce! Below is a picture of the cake out of the oven.  The recipe makes one 8-inch layer.  The large dark spots are mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, and the lighter specks are loose tea.

The frosted cake below.  I can't wait to try it and will definitely let you know if the recipe is a keeper. 

My new charcuterie tray was delivered today.  The one at Hobby Lobby wasn't food save without a liner so I didn't get it, but I found one I liked even better online at Target.  It's made of Mango wood and is 22" in diameter with a 2" ridge.   I'm so eager to use it.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Sunday Musings

Saturday is our Sunday for the time being while we're sharing a church facility waiting for our new church to be built.   My hubby and I drove by the property yesterday after church service to see the progress.  The building is completely enclosed now and the heating/cooling unit installed so work can be done on the inside.  Brick is going on the exterior and when completed the cedar shakes, light fixtures, and pillars will go up.  Below is a picture taken yesterday.  When the steeple went on it began to look like a church.    

Most everyone knows someone who has [or had] COVID-19, and sadly we know some who died from it.  I personally know two people who didn't survive it, and another whose lungs have been so badly damaged he will be on oxygen the rest of his life.

If you've followed my blog for any length of time you've seen pictures of my friend, Linda.  We met through the tea world and have gone to many tea events together.  Her husband passed away on Christmas Eve morning after being hospitalized with COVID. He was 71 and his passing was unexpected.

As with many COVID deaths, his body was cremated quickly and there was no funeral or memorial service.  I wanted to do something to express my condolences but didn't know what, and a sympathy card didn't seem enough.  There was no charity designated to give money to in his honor, and I didn't want to send flowers to the home because I thought others probably did that.  Then it came to me... a Care Basket.  I'm sharing this because you may know someone who passed from COVID and you've wondered what you could do to express sympathy.

In this instance, Linda is an avid tea drinker and I knew one of her favorite teas is Marco Polo by Mariage Freres in Paris.  The Cultured Cup in Texas sells it so I placed an order.  Then I wanted a commemorative mug for her to drink the tea from, so I searched her Facebook page for a suitable photo of her husband and ordered a mug from Shutterfly.  I filled in the rest of the basket with a candle, chocolates and cookies.  I delivered the basket yesterday.

Shutterfly has a huge selection of quality mugs to chose from and I was so pleased with the photo print on the mug.  Service was fast too.  

After delivering the basket, I realized meals would have been a great option too.  She's still grieving and trying to muddle through all the legal paperwork, so I'm sure homecooked meals would be helpful.  I've decided to do that as well.  I can't minimize the power of prayer support either. Those dealing with grief need others to stand in the gap for them.  Hopefully these ideas will be helpful to you.  

To close this post, I follow the Great British Tea Party on Facebook.  The site recently posted two pictures of cakes in my beloved blue and white colors.  They're almost too pretty to eat!

I've been enjoying Harney & Sons Organic Bangkok flavored green tea in my cup.  What tea are you drinking these days?

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Tea and More!

A short time ago my cousin posted a picture on her Facebook page for healthy banana splits [yogurt instead of ice cream].  The picture looked so good, I decided to give it a try, but first I had to find some banana split dishes.  A trip to a nearby Salvation Army store provided them.

~ Picture my cousin posted ~

Banana Split dishes at Salvation Army for $1.99 each

~ Banana Splits I made ~

I'm not a huge banana fan, but I know they're healthy and this way of eating them is palatable.  I used plain Greek yogurt and flavored it with a bit of almond flavoring. Next time I will try a fruit flavored yogurt. Harney & Sons Citron Green tea was a great accompaniment.

The first thing I made in the Ninja Air Fryer that I received for Christmas was breaded mushrooms.  I think they would be great on a Charcuterie Board.  I've tried two different recipes so far and both were good, but not as crispy as deep fried.  My next experiment will be spraying them with Olive Oil before air frying them to see if that makes a difference.

I'm having three cousins over for a post-Christmas gathering on February 1st and am thinking about beginning our meal with a Charcuterie Board.  I enjoy watching Natascha's Kitchen on Facebook and she recently did a Charcuterie Board demo.   They are so versatile.  I was in Hobby Lobby yesterday [first time since the pandemic shutdown], and saw a lovely board that I plan to get.  Of course, tea will be an important part of the meal too.

I'm also having a lady my son works with over for tea on Jan. 30th.  She's the Executive Director of an Independent Living facility and wants to discuss incorporating tea into their activities program.  Since my Christmas decorations are still up [I'm leaving them up until my cousins come], I decided to do a light blue snowy tablescape.  I bought a pretty lantern at Hobby Lobby yesterday that will be the centerpiece.  I love Hobby Lobby!  Every year when my birthday approaches my kids ask my hubby for gift ideas.  After I got home yesterday I told him if they should ask this year tell them a Hobby Lobby gift card! ;-)  So many lovely things in that store.

I'm still working on the menu, but I'll be serving Snowflake black tea by The East Indies Tea Co. in Lebanon, PA.  It's flavored with coconut rasps and almond flakes, and is so good.  

The Plaid Poinsettia teapot [Grace's Teaware] that I ordered from Replacements, Ltd. arrived by FedEx this week.  It's not the one I ordered in early December that USPS unexplainably lost. I'm glad Replacements, Ltd. was able to locate another one.  It'll be ready to use next Christmas along with the teacups and cream and sugar bowl that I received this past Christmas.

I completed another Shutterfly album this week and sent it off for printing.  I've packed away the pictures temporarily until after my company and entertaining are over.  Below is the cover of the latest album.  It goes up to the time when my daughter was born.  Just 54 more years in photos to go.  I think I'll be scanning pictures and making Shutterfly albums for a long time to come!

What have you been doing to keep occupied this January?

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

2020 Year in Review

2020 was a year none of us will ever forget.  We were all eager for it to end and a new year to begin.  I only wrote 104 posts in 2020 - the lowest number since I began blogging in 2012.  With the lengthy quarantine, blogging activities were limited.  But in spite of the pandemic and all the social and political unrest, there were still some happy memories.  Pour yourself a cup of tea while I review the year from my perspective.

January - I took my sweet granddaughter, Ellie, to Afternoon Tea at Tea Party Castle

February - I celebrated my birthday with a co-worker at The Whitney

And Valentine's Day with my two adorable great-granddaughters, Evie and Juliette

March - Three grandchildren surprised us with a COVID quarantine poster on the front porch

April - Not even COVID could prevent us from celebrating Easter and our Risen Lord!

May - My first Zoom Tea Party with the Royal Park Hotel and Tea Hostess Mary Kuhn

June - A long overdue tea outing to St. Sabbas Russian Orthodox Monastery Tea House

July - The Pink House Tea Room in New Baltimore

And a two week trip out west to North and South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.  We traveled 4,655 miles and made memories to last a lifetime with son, Jeremy, and his family. 

August - My sweet daughter Lori's birthday.

September - First day back to work after restaurants were closed to prevent the spread of COVID.  It was a brief reopening because we were soon shut down again. Facemasks became a part of daily attire.

October - First World Tea Virtual Summit and Whitney Halloween Staff Party

November - I celebrated my hubby's and grandson Landon's birthdays.  2020's Thanksgiving gathering was much smaller due to COVID.  We only celebrated with our son, Steve, and his family.

December - Christmas

As the saying goes, "Out with the old, and in with the new".  2021 lies before us and we ask for God's guidance and blessing.