Tea on an Autumn Afternoon

“Very little is needed to make a happy life. It is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.“————–Marcus Aurelius

I love to host an afternoon tea each and every month. Have you ever hosted such a party? I hope so. Every tea party I host is set in a different location in or around the grounds of my home. In October I always choose to serve in my outbuilding. Why? It’s because this small building at the edge of our property has a wood burning fireplace and entertaining here on an Autumn day makes me feel all cozy, as though I’m far away off in the mountains.

The outbuilding

This builiding is my little getaway place. It has two dutch doors, the five windows you see, baseboard heating and a beamed ceiling.

View of the fireplace

The outbuilding is always a great escape for me. I love to read in the wing chairs or in the rocker that belonged to my maternal grandparents, but now the rocker belongs to me.

So nice to sit and rock

Any time of year I love to escape to this building. Though there’s a house right next door the bushes keep my view out these windows quite private. It’s really a great escape when I yearn to get away, but haven’t the time to go off very far.

A room with a view thanks to the great windows

I love our outbuilding and because I know sharing doubles the joy I’m happy to host my October tea parties here. Of course the building is great for cocktails before a dinner party too. It’s just a fun place. We would’ve never thought to build such a structure, but some previous owners created it and I’m so glad they did.

For this October tea I decided to serve three items – a blueberry tea cake, pear scones ( the recipe given to me by my dear pen friend, Almita) and egg and watercress sandwiches. The party began with a little champagne. Campagne is always a nice touch.

Egg and watercress sandwich
Pear Scones
Blueberry tea cake

This tea party began as we sat before the fire toasting our champagne. We sat, we chatted, we watched the fire crackle and burn, but then we were ready for some tea so off to the table we went. The table in this outbuilding first belonged to my maternal grandparents as the rocker . I was so happy to inherit it. I was happy also to have a good place for it in this building where it could be used and enjoyed by me and others. My grandparents and aunts and uncles who once used this table are now gone, but now the table has new life and new people all around it. It helps me share joy and love with others over tea. Sharing joy and love is what it’s all about, don’t you agree?

My grandparents table set for tea

My mother created the tablecloth. She was so good with a needle as were many of my female relatives. I have fond memories of us getting together chatting and stitching. I still love to knit, embroider and do needlepoint. Do you enjoy needlework too? It’s a lovely art form.

I thought the outbuilding deserved its own set of china so I went off shopping at some antique stores and found this pretty pattern.

The outbuilding china

For tea at an antique table with antique china and antique table cloth I needed to use some antique napkins and I found some in my cupboard. I’m always collecting pretty things for the table. You too?

A napkin with a handmade touch

Every afternoon tea needs flowers and I was delighted to find some orange tea roses which matched the outbuilding china perfectly.

Gorgeous roses

The roses also matched the hair of my “mystery guest”. Look and see Maura’s lovely orange hair.

Me with my “mystery guest” and newest friend

You may be wondering why I call Maura my “mystery guest”? Well, you see, Maura read one of my past tea posts and she left a comment saying she would love to be invited to a tea. I wrote back to her asking where in the country she lived and I was delighted to learn she lived very near to me … so I invited her to this tea. I never actually met her until she came to my door but she proved to be a lovely lady and delightful guest. What is it they say about strangers being angels in disguise?

Of course I had other guests too – my good friends Lori and Joni were invited. Because I had taken a few hundred trips back and forth from the house to the outbuilding preparing for this tea I was very happy that the ladies helped me carry the last of the food to our little party in the ourbuilding.

Friends are the best

There is nothing like afternoon tea. To enjoy tea alone while reading a book or writing a letter is delightful, but to invite others to share in the tea ceremony is double or even triple fun. I certainly hope you are partaking in this simple but most delectable pleasure.

Go ahead. Invite some friends for afternoon tea. You’ll be glad you did.

What better way to suggest friendliness – and to create it – than with a cup of tea? ———————–J. Grayson Luttrell 1930

The Art of Creating Stationery

There’s the Art of Letter writing and there’s the Art of Handwriting, but there’s also the Art of Creating Stationery. There’s just so much art involved in writing letters. It’s wonderful – so creative. We can find papers for sale to use for the letters we write, but what fun to create our own stationery. We don’t have to be brilliant artists. We just have to let our creative juices flow. There’s inspiration everywhere.

We could create a simple sketch describing where we’re sitting as we write our letter or we can focus on a favorite thing, study it, and try to capture it on paper. I happen to love wildflowers so I’ve created a line of wildflower stationery. Here is one of my designs. I like to write a little information about the flower I’ve drawn around the edges of the paper.

I love writing letters on large sheets of paper because then I’m able to form the letters of my words larger too and this helps make my hand writing more legible and attractive.

Showy Lady’s Slipper

But variety is the spice of life so sometimes I create cards 4 by 6 in size and I add blank pages inside so thoughts can flow, not be hampered by a shortage of paper. Who likes a short letter? I tie the pages together creating a sort of booklet.

Sometimes I’ll draw my fountain pen with a hello and a flourish at the top of my letter paper, a few pretend drops of ink to add a fun touch. You see, the most simple ideas can make for interesting papers.

This is a page from the book I wrote, my book of letters, and the art for this particular letter was simply flowers created by pressing my finger into ink pads and pressing the ink onto the paper. You see, you don’t have to be able to draw to create fun designs for your stationery. Creativity comes in lots of forms.

Clipping pictures from children’s books and adding a bit of colored pencil or chalk can create a nice touch for a letter – a little whimsy.

Adding press-on flowers that are purchased can be fun especially if you add a little of your own flourishes around them. There are a lot of great do-dads to attach to letter paper – feathers, dried herbs, flowers, even weeds; You can create collages using articles you find lying around your house – ticket stubs, candy wrappers, colorful designs on packaging, leaves, anything and everything – just arrange them in an artistic manner onto your paper.

One of my standard designs is a simple flower I create on paper.

I create this basic flower design using two ingredients. The stem, leaves and grass are cut from a handmade paper I found in a paper store. The blooms comes from a pack of scrapbook paper containing many sheets of various colorful circles. It’s fun and quite easy to whip up this design and for pennies I can create lots and lots of stationery. The basic design is always the same, but the blooms are different.

A little creativity goes a long way in creating your very own unique stationery. The Art of Letter writing has many components – your handwriting, your stationery and then of course your thoughts – all this shared with others. It’s all Art and it’s all wonderful fun.

So go ahead and buy stationery if you can find it or use plain paper if you like, but don’t miss the chance to exercise your creativity. Dress up that plain paper if the spirit moves you to do so. You’ll amuse yourself and your pen friends will enjoy seeing what you come up with too.

Enjoy!

A Country Inn Nature Day

Ah, Nature

There is nothing quite as refreshing as spending time in nature so on this Country Inn Day I gather up a book or two and head out to the gardens of Stan Hywet Hall in Akron, Ohio.

The entrance to Stan Hywet

I always feel that I’m leaving earth and going off to heaven as I enter the gates of Stan Hywet. With a little imagination they could be the gates of heaven. I enter and leave all cares behind me.

The entrance driveway

I enter slowly with great anticipation.

The Country House in all its glory

But the house is not what I’m interested in today. I do love love country houses but today is a Nature day. I’m off to the gardens. In each garden I shall sit and read for a bit taking in the beauty all around me. Do join me on this outing.

The rhododendrum alley

Years ago the rhodos were huge and glorious but then they became overgrown and it was necessary to replant a new supply. Sad that gardens, like people, get old and pass on. So much of human life can be seen in nature. I walk on and see before me a row of lovely evergreens.

Lush and green

And now on to the sunken English Garden. It’s my favorite.

path to the English Garden

I walk on and enter the stairs which take me down.

The stone work is so beautiful. The statuary enchanting. I come to the door of the garden. The anticipation ….

Entrance to the English Garden

Once inside I find a bench and enjoy my book with the beauty of plants, water, statuary and beautiful stonework all around me.

I could stay in The English Garden for hours but there are so many other gardens to enjoy. I must move on.

My next location for reading

I get comfortable on this stone bench, hard yes, but so beautiful. As I sit here and read I look up and see the lovliest stone balisters.

What workmanship

Eventually I walk forward and look down beyond the balisters at a garden below. There’s a path with lovely stepping stones between the flowering plants.

lovely

Moving on I approach a look out point.

“Beauty is the gift of God” so says Aristotle.

I stop here and reflect for a while. In this setting all cares melt away. Beauty does that for me and for most people, so it is important to place ourselves in beautiful surroundings as often as possible. But now join me in the Japanese Garden.

It is so peaceful here, down many stone steps. You’ve seen the bench where I sit wih my book. People occasioanlly walk by but they are quiet. In the words of Walt Whitman – “I loaf and invite my soul.”

So many paths. Which one to follow?
The remnants of an old tennis court

The residents of this house years ago enjoyed a swimming pool inside the house, but out here they played tennis. They are gone now and the court is almost gone, but not quite. Some poles still exist which must’ve supported the fencing to catch their balls.

Dressed for the game

You don’t have to rely on your imagination to picture the people of the past playing tennis here because there are pictures posted of these privledged folks enjoying themselves. The fashions of the past do look uncomfortable for playing tennis but they were elegant. At times I wish the styles would return “but the tender grace of a day that is dead will never come back to me” so says Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Another path

I keep walking and I see a stream and a romantic bridge in the distance.

Reminds me of Monet’s garden at Giverney, France but I’m right here in Akron, Ohio.

I climb the bridge, look at the fish and toads in the pond below and then walk up, up, and up, to the rolling lawns near the house.

So many stone steps

There is much open space.

I sit on a bench with a view of the lawn and the house.

After some resting and some reading I make my way to the Birch tree allee.

So many Birch trees and with such attractive stepping stones in the walkway.

The path ends at a look out point

What interesting twin construction
The area below

I look down and there’s another area to investigate but first I come upon a large brick drive. It leads to the house. Supplies were delivered to the house using this entranceway.

so many bricks

I keep walking to the cutting gardens

Lin Yutang said, ” Talk of mysteries! Think of our life in nature – daily to be shown matter, to come in contact with it – rocks, trees, wind on our cheeks!” This is exactly what I’m doing on this Country Inn Nature Day. I’m coming in very close contact with nature.

I see a grape arbor in the distance.

charming

I must investigate.

The grapes are luscious to look at and luscious to nibble. Can we ever have too much of a good thing? The designer of these gardens didn’t know when to stop. The gardens keep going and going and going. Now for a walk down some stairs – yes, more stone steps.

down, down, I went


Now to stroll this area. There are more ponds and much more open space to explore, but as you can see these gardens are so much more than plants. There is a great deal of hardscape.

I go way to the back of the grounds to take it all in and this is what I see.

“O world, I cannot hold thee close enough! Edna St. Vincent Millay

I climb back up the many stairs…

Do you notice the flowers set in the stone? Charming.

And I come to the children’s garden. It is a very fun place with fountains that make music and create bubbles. There’s a castle for children to investigate, giant bowling pins for a little game, and a whimsical truck filled with flowers growing in it.

And that’s not all. Next I come to the Greenhouse

and a beauty of a Greenhouse it is too

There’s even a lovely patio beside it – another nice place to sit with my book. And did I mention the Butterfly house?

Beautiful

Inside this building butterflies flit all around you. It’s a very happy place.

Ah nature

There was so much to take in at the gardens here. I shared only a small part of what I enjoyed. I have read that when we observe beauty it becomes us. We carry it with us and express it in the things we do with our lives.

“Think… of the world you carry within you. Rainer Maria Rilke

I reluctantly leave these gardens but the ride home through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park is quite delightful. I pass miles of the most charming yellow flowers growing wild along the road. There were millions of them. I got home and called the park, speaking to a ranger, inquiring what exactly these yellow flowers were and I was told they were called Wing stems.

Earth is crammed with heaven

I’ve had a perfectly wonderful day. I hope you’ve been having wonderful days too. As Henry Miller said, “It’s good to be happy; it’s a little better to know that you’re happy; but to understand that you’re happy and to know why and how… and still be happy, be happy in the being and the knowing, well that is beyond happiness, that is bliss.”


A Country Inn Day is bliss







A Country Inn Nature Day is bliss.

Tea on a Summer Afternoon

There’s something magical about the tea ritual.  Even on the busiest of days simply taking the time to prepare a tray for yourself will calm you down, and then sitting quietly to enjoy that tea will leave you with a wonderfully pampered feeling.  It’s also magical how sharing doubles the joy, so I heartily recommend inviting others to join you for afternoon tea every now and then.

Just as most of us get a boost from the beauty of nature the spirit of an afternoon tea gathering can do wonders for men, women, and even children.  It’s not entirely about the tea.  It’s also about the sharing and the friendship extended to others.


And because I have always been interested in the subject of house and garden choosing a location for each of my tea parties is part of my fun.  On a Summer’s day when the geraniums are blooming nicely in my sunroom and the great outdoors is green and luscious a tea party set in the sunroom seems the perfect place to welcome friends.  Come Autumn, I’ll opt for a room with a fireplace and lots of candles.  Part of the job of hostess is creating the set, a setting to delight your guests.

You don’t have to fuss, but a little fussing is fun.  Whenever I’m out and about I keep my eyes open for little treats to include in my tea gatherings, treats like these sugar cubes.

Aren’t they cute?

And how about this sweet little tea pot vase for just 1 tiny posy.  It’s so pretty on the tea table.  It’s these little details that make the afternoon tea extra special.

When we bother with the little extras that feed the soul and nurture the senses we make space for unhurried conversation and its this conversation which leaves everyone most satisfied.  I suppose food is an expected ingredient too, and it can be fun to experiment with recipes for tea, but to me the food is not the most important thing. Simple cinnamon toast served up with flair, a smile, and sincere interest in others, goes a long way to make the tea party a big success.

But I do have a room full of tea cookbooks, so I do enjoy experimenting with recipes.  At every tea I try at least one new recipe.  For this tea it was Coconut Scones with Pineapple jam.

Coconut Scones

 

Here’s the recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut finely chopped and toasted, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, 4 T. cold slted butted, cut into pieces, 1/4 cup cold canned coconut milk, 2 T. heavy whipping cream.

Process

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, combine flour, toasted coconut, sugar, baking powder, and salt, whisking well.  Using a pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until it remembles coarse crumbs.  Add coconut milk, stirring until mixture comes together. (Dough should be sticky.  If dough seems dry, add more coconut milk 1 T at a time, until dough is uniformly moist.)  Working gently, bring dough together with hands.  Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface, and knead gently 3 to 4 times.  Roll dough to a 1/2 inch thickness.  Using a 1 and 1/4 inch cutter cut scones from dough.  Place scones 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet.  Brush tops of scones with cream.  Make until edges of scones are golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean, 6 to 8 minutes.  Serve warm with pineapple jam if desired.

I also like to serve some sort of sandwich at every tea and a favorite is the Cucumber Sandwich.  There are many different spreads for this sandwich and many different ways to decorate it.

Cucumber Sandwiches

I kept my sandwiches simple-looking this time and my recipe is as follows:

Directions

8 ounces cream cheese, 2/3 packet of ranch salad-dressing mix, 2  tablespoons of mayonnaise, 1 English cucumber peeled and sliced, butter, 1 loaf of white sliced bread.

Blend salad dressing mix, cream cheese, and mayonnaise.  Spread bread with butter. Spread cheese mixture on trimmed and cut out bread.  Place a few thin slices of cucumbers on  mixture and top with second slice of bread. A cucumber slice is used for decoration.

I decided to whip up some Scottish shortbread  for my guests as an extra item. This is one of the  tested recipes in  my tea file.  At every tea I usually serve something old (an old repeat recipe) and something new (a recipe I’m trying for the first time). I don’t bother with something borrowed nor something blue. (Smile)

The repeat recipe I prepared for this tea was Scottish Shortbread.

Scottish Shortbread

I don’t mind experimenting with recipes for tea because the bakery shop is just blocks away and if my recipes don’t turn out I can always buy something yummy so my guests won’t starve.  Actually, sometimes I buy something yummy just because.  For this tea it was a raspberyy cheesecake.

Raspberry Cheesecake

With the food all prepared it was just a matter of going out to the sunroom and setting everything up.  Come out with me.

Do sit down.

The scones and cheesecake are set on the end table and a little double decker stand holds the sandwiches and shortbread.

The table is set.

All I need now are some guests

 And here they come!

They settle in.

The tea is poured, the food is passed, and the conversation flows.  Girls just want to have fun and sharing at an afternoon tea is definately my kind of fun.  If it’s your kind of fun too, don’t delay.  Invite some friends over and enjoy a tea of your own making.  You’ll be glad you did.

My friends and I say to you

“Enjoy”!

New Wildflower correspondence cards and stationery

 

I love writing letters but part of the fun for me is creating my stationery.  I come up with all sorts of designs for my letter papers. Some of my designs are quite simple while others are a bit more involved. Whatever kind of art,  the activity is always fun.  It’s a sort of therapy, relaxing, and I can get lost in the creative process.  While concentrating on colors and lines all other concerns temporarily melt away. Hopefully the end result is pleasing but whatever the end result the process is always most pleasing to me.  My letter friends often receive my floral letters.

This is because I love flowers, don’t you? I love growing flowers in my garden.  I love placing flowers in vases on my dining tables and night stand and I love drawing flowers to decorate my letter papers.  I’d love to send fresh flowers to my friends regularly as a way to brighten their days and sometimes I do, but more often I simply send off cards and letters with my floral designs.  I created a line of wildflower correspondence cards in past days and recently I’ve added new designs to that collection.

And because I enjoy writing letters on large sheets of paper as well as on cards I decided to create some wildflower stationery on paper measuring 11 by 8 and a half inches.  Here are three sample designs.

Dense Blazing star

Horn poppy

Whorled Pagonia

The educator in me likes to write a little information about each flower presented, either on the back of the correspondence card or around the edges of the stationery.  For example, did you know the strange long sepals of the Whorled Pagonia are reddish purple and the petals are greenish yellow, except for the lip.  This is a wild orchid usually found in the woods.  There are a number of wild orchids in existence.

So you see besides the enjoyment of writing letters to friends and family the art of letter writing gives me  the opportunity to look closely at a flower and enjoy the artful activity of drawing that flower. It also encourages me to learn about the flowers I draw.  As if that’s not enough, then, by sending my floral stationery to others I’m sharing my joy, and as you know, sharing doubles the joy.  It really does.

With all this going on in my life a walk in the park becomes a special delight for when I spot a wildflower I not only take notice, but I feel like I’ve run into an old friend. I’ve heard you can’t really love what you don’t know so studying flowers, drawing them, and learning about them helps me love flowers even more.

It’s all such fun.

I draw flowers and create all this stationery for my own pleasure but the stationery is available for sale because once again, Sharing truly Doubles the Joy. If interested . . .

Stationery -10 assorted floral designs with an extra blank sheet of paper for each design plus 10 envelopes cost  $20.00 plus $2 for shipping and packaging.

Packages of 10 assorted wildflower correspondence cards – each card containing extra blank pages for long juicy letters and 20 envelopes cost $20.00 plus $2 for shipping and packaging.

To order send check to

But whether you order my papers or not I encourage you to write letters and try creating your own stationery. Letter writing and art play are two very wonderful activities.  You just might enjoy both as much as I do.

Be happy and live abundantly

 

Country Inn Days at my favorite Country Inn

 

The Red Lion Inn and I go back a long way, not all the way back to 1773 when it first opened, but back to my single days.  I happened upon it quite by accident as I was driving to Boston. I was on my way to a house where I was renting rooms for the Summer.  The house was in Cambridge.  There I would meet up with friends I knew from Boston University.

I didn’t know a thing about this Inn when I first saw it but I later learned it began as a simple tavern.  During its first 120 years the Inn expanded several times and went by several names, but it always featured a red lion in its sign, and it has been known as The Red Lion Inn since the 1890’s.

The formal dining room
The formal dining room

I remember walking into the Inn back then and straight ahead was this dining room. Someone was at a grand piano playing light classics and I was immediately enchanted.  I took a seat and enjoyed a lovely fruit salad.  That was the beginning of my relationship with this Inn.  I returned many times over the years and very recently I was there again, not for one, but for a few extremely delightful Country Inn Days.

What are Country Inn Days?  They are days where I step out of life’s usual routines and simply enjoy my favorite things.  No matter how good one feels it’s always wonderful to make time for favorite things, and if one needs a little boost, well, you know how that famous song goes – “I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad.”  It’s true.

One of my favorite things are flowers and this Inn has lovely flowers everywhere. There is a feeling of informal formality in every corner.  There are so many places to sit here at the Inn enjoying  a book or writing a letter with a cool drink at one’s side, all in the presence of beauty.  Delightful!

 

Sometimes it is nice to have an action-packed getaway, and a Country Inn Day can involve action and sometimes does, but I love slow Inn Days too, days filled with simple quiet pleasures – dreaming dreams, people watching, chatting with strangers who could become pen friends, taking leisurely walks in the country past old houses, down country lanes and through historic cemetaries.

 

The Red Lion Inn is located in the town of Stockbridge, such a pretty little town with many old charming sites.  There are shops to investigate, a number of little coffee houses and restaurants, and important historic houses belonging to famous people of the past.  These houses are in Stockbridge or in Lenox, the next town over.  I’ll share some of these places with you in another post.

When it’s time for dining there are three options right in the Inn. This is Widow Bigham’s Tavern.  It’s named after Anna Bingham, one of the Inn’s original owners. She is believed to have been the first business-woman in the country. This tavern reminds me of some of the oldest places I love in Boston.

But when in the mood for a little more informal formality I dined in the main dining room, usually by the window, so I could see the flowers outside. This was the room I first dsicovered all those years ago so when I’m here I feel 40 years younger.  It’s funny how returning to places from our past can make us feel we’re back in time.

But on a lovely Summer’s day it’s also great to enjoy a meal on the Inn’s open porch.  I got here early so I could choose a table near the railing.  Sitting here made it possible to people watch all the diners below at the umbrella tables.  I do always bring a book with me when dining alone, but people watching is great fun too.

And here I sit waiting for my pasta meal to arrive.

YUM!

Of course there’s a swimming pool and sauna and all that jazz, but I’v never been one for baking in the sun.  I’m more the porch type of person with my books, letters, pens and paper. But you never know, maybe on one of my visits here I’ll surprise myself and take a dip.

This trip you could usually find me on the porch.  I would come very early in the morning with my coffee.  I remember one man taking the rocker next to me saying, “Isn’t this wonderful?”  I had to agree.

After an hour or two of sipping and writing or reading I’d take off for an outing, then it would be lunch, and around 5 I’d be back on the porch with a cocktail until dinner.  I met a number of very nice people and had quite a few lovely chats.  All this is great fun for a person who likes people, and that’s me.

Of course the Inn has a gift shop.  Over the years I’ve bought all sorts of fun things in this shop – paintings, rugs, shawls, books and this trip was no exception.  I bought 6 Red Lion Inn mugs and two Red Lion Inn cocktail glasses… oh yes, and a Red Lion Inn cookbook.  I’ll enjoy testing lots of the recipes in this book.

Before leaving The Red Lion Inn I spent some time in the patio garden.  What did I tel you about flowers everywhere.  My flowers at home should be so robust.  How do they do it?

Don’t you love the cute little patio bar?

My last meal at The Red Lion Inn (this sounds so sad)  was a tasty fish fry with a glass of wine from that cute little bar, then coffee for the road as I made my way from the Bershires into Boston proper. It was a lovely few days here.  I have memories which will last me until I return. But now, simply to close my eyes and remember beautiful things I saw and moments I experienced will be a creative visualization exercise capable of refreshing my spirit whenever refreshemnt is needed.

Until I can return to The Red Lion Inn I will be enjoying lots and lots of my very own County Inn Days back in Hudson, Ohio.  The Red Lion Inn inspired these days and I’m working on a book explaining just how these days work.  The outline for this book was created right here at the Red Lion Inn.

So if you’re looking for a getaway my suggestion is to visit a Country Inn and not just any Inn.

Visit The Red Lion Inn.

Tell them Carol Ann sent you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why not invite a friend over for tea?

Meet my friend Barb

Perhaps you have a friend you don’t see very often because both of your lives keep running in different directions. This is the case with me and my friend Barbara.  Though we live just a few houses away from each other we very seldom have the chance to get together.  These days Barb is always traveling and when she does return home it seems I’m busy with something or other making it hard to connect.

Of course since Barb and I are both letter writers we do manage to keep in touch quite nicely even though we can’t often connect in person.  We do this by sending each other postcards and chatty handwritten letters.  Still, every now and then, not often enough, we do have each other over for afternoon tea.

Ah, afternoon tea!

Do you enjoy afternoon tea?  I sure do.  Though I drink coffee all through the day, when 3 or 4 o’clock comes around it’s time to stop, sit, pick up a book, and enjoy the gracious afternoon tea ceremony. This is a most welcome ritual I enjoy daily, but once a month I love inviting others to join me for tea.

Some months I invite a group of friends over transforming my tea time ritual into a party.  The number of guests I invite depends on where I intend to serve tea that month.  You see, I like to vary the locations for my parties.  If it’s warm weather I’ll serve outside, under an umbrella, on the open porch, or at a table on the lawn.  If it’s cold weather I choose the library, outbuilding or parlor because these rooms have fireplaces.  In between weather suggests all other locations  – the formal dining room or casual dining table or sofa in the living room, or perhaps the sunroom.

Each area suggests the use of different china, linen and food.

Inviting friends in for tea, or for any sort of entertaining, is much like staging a theatrical production.  Setting the scene, choosing the food, flowers, and selecting all the other details is like a great, big, fun, art project.

Since it was a nice warm day but not too warm, and since there was no humidity in the air, nor any strong winds, I decided to serve tea under the umbrella on the patio. A recent rainstorm did do a number on the geraniums in the planter, but perfection is hard to achieve so though I do try to make things nice I’ve given up on perfection and you should too.

I baked an English Lemon Tea cake for my visit with Barbara for I thought an English goodie would be the perfect treat since I was planning to use my English china – my Laura Ashley Tea for Two set.  Of course one can always pop in at the bakery and purchase a tea treat, but a little baking now and then is fun – more art.

I bet you have a dear friend as I have in Barb and I bet that friend would just love to be invited to your home for afternoon tea.  Barb and I had a wonderful, relaxing in-person visit.  Sure, we could’ve met in a restaurant, but there’s something very special about being invited into someone’s home.  To allow people into one’s private world is quite special.  I don’t think this is done often enough.  Since our visit took place in my home I could show Barb the  needlepoint pillows I finished for the living room and the newly painted dining room walls.  Sharing always doubles the joy.

I’m sure letters will continue to flow back and forth between Barb and me for letterwriting is always a super way to share, but so is inviting a friend over for afternoon tea. I had a great time at tea and I’m pretty sure Barb did too.  There’s nothing like having a friend.

I hope you’ll host a tea for two one of these days, then go on to make afternoon tea, alone or with guests, a regular thing in your life.  It’s one of those simple pleasures that makes life sweet.

Don’t believe me?  Try it and see for yourself.