The weather outside is frightful

But it wasn’t that long ago when temperatures were warm enough to have one last afternoon tea on the porch. With covid I knew I’d need to open all the porch doors so the air would circulate and that’s just what I did. Amazing how the setting can change so drastically when you live up north.

Here we have the sunroom in December with frosty windows and a partial view of snow everywhere.

But not that many weeks ago the porch was the perfect place to safely enjoy tea with friends.

Why do I enjoy afternoon tea so much and why do I go through the trouble of preparing tea parties for my friends? One obvious reason is sharing doubles the joy. I love being of service to others in this way. Of course my tea parties are on hold now that it’s Winter in covid times – no indoor dining, but I continue to enjoy my daily tea ritual with my “dead friends”. What are “dead friends”? They are interesting people of the past. I get to know them as I read thier biographies. A little imagination really helps when one is living through a pandemic.

But today I will share my last Autumn tea party with you. I invited three lady friends

They all came bearing gifts which I really appreciated.

For this tea I decided each place setting should have its own tea pot so each person could choose the particular tea they most enjoy.

Recently I had enjoyed a Country Inn Day in the town of Medina, Ohio and there I stopped at a tea house for a bit of lunch. I brought Gladys Taber along via her book. Do you know this lady? I love her.

Yummy lunch and after my tea I browsed in the gift shop of this tea house and purchased a dozen tea strainers which I was anxious to use – one reason I wanted everyone to have their own tea pot at this next party. I think these tea strainers are very pretty. What do you think?

Could there be anything more elemental than a cup of tea?

Of course I needed to prepare some food for my guests and since I had recently enjoyed a chicken croissant with a broccoli salad I decided I would serve this at my tea.

I always make some kind of scones when I host a tea. There are so many different recipes for scones. I’m always trying new recipes. They’re all pretty good. Today’s scones contained raisins. I serve different toppings for the scones at each tea party. This time it was raspberry jam and lemon curd.

Before my guests arrive I get busy in my butler’s pantry setting the plates all in a row so I can fill them in a systematic manner. Then when the party begins I have little work to do. I can function as just one of the guests and that’s probably why I host tea parties. I like to attend tea parties. I enjoy these events just as much as my guests – maybe even more.

Every one of my teas is a little different. Sometimes I fuss a lot with tricky recipes, but other times I keep things simple. It depends just how much free time I may have and an afternoon tea can be quite enjoyable even if it’s the most simple event. Fancy food can be fun, but the really important thing is the friendship.

On one of my Country Inn Days when my husband and I went off to the Spread Eagle Inn in Hannoverton, Ohio I happened upon a new little shop and found these very sweet English china flowers to hold placecards. I’m always looking for pretty little things to use at my tea parties. There were eight different china flowers each in a different color – so pretty.

Sometimes I bake a dessert but not always. Most of us have lovely markets nearby which carry all sorts of goodies so you see even if you don’t like to cook or bake you have no excuse for never hosting an afternoon tea. Just drop by your local market and pick up a few tasty treats to serve your guests. For this tea I bought a darling little cake just big enough for four.

I did whip up some butter cookies too just because…

After our tea we settled in some comfy cushions on the porch and talked for a little while longer and my afternoon tea party came to an end. I’m anxious to host another tea, but it won’t be happening until the pandemic is over. Won’t it be great when that day finally comes? So stay safe, enjoy your own daily afternoon teas and use this time to plan for the teas you’ll be hosting when the covid virsus is no longer a threat. A tea party is a wonderful thing. So civilized.

A Country Inn Day Summer Luncheon

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Any time of year is the right time to welcome guests to The 1853 Jeremiah Brown House, but when my work schedule slows down in Summer I’m even more ready to entertain.  On Country Inn Days I sometimes like to imagine I’m the  Innkeeper of my old house.  I take great pleasure in getting the place ready for guests – fluffing, polishing, preparing the menu and planning the agenda so my guests have a pleasant visit.  Yes, it’s a bit of work but very delightful work.

It’s fun looking through my cookbooks to choose the recipes I’ll be serving. It’s also fun reviewing my china and linen cupboards.  What items haven’t  been used lately?

I just love to collect pretty things, don’t you?  But what’s the point in having pretty things if we don’t put them to use.  I think we should use our pretty things every day, but sharing them doubles the joy.  Sharing is like that.

Depending on the weather or my mood I’ll entertain guests in various rooms and settings.  I also like to move guests around through the course of a visit.  Variety is the spice of life, right? So as I plan the food and the serving pieces I also plan an agenda for where we’ll do what.  A very short visit works well in one location, but if guests are to be with me for a longer period of time I think it’s fun to move them around a little.

So all this goes into the planning of any sort of event at The Jeremiah Brown House.

For today’s Summer luncheon I decided to start things off with coffee and pastries in the formal dining room.  I’ll use my antique cutwork placemats which look pretty against the dark wood of the table.

I’ll also use my Laura Ashley china.  It’s the Clifton pattern. Rather than bringing the coffee, tea and pastries to my guests I decide to set up a buffet in the Butler’s Pantry and let guests help themselves.

And here it is !

Because this food is meant to be just a little nibble before the main luncheon is served I’ve presented only two items.  They are . . .

Cinnamon Coffee Cake

and Cheese Strudel.

The cheese strudel is always a big hit at my gatherings so in case you might like the recipe here it is –  quick and easy.

Cheese Strudel

Ingredients: 2 pkgs. Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, 2 pkgs. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, 1 c. sugar, 1 egg yolk, 1 tsp. vanilla, (2 Tbsp. warm milk, 1 c. powdered sugar mixed together for the glaze).

Process: Beat cram cheese, sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla together.  Spread one tube crescent rolls in a 9 x 13 inch pan.  Pinch perforations together.  Spread cheese mixture over dough.  Unroll the second package of rolls, placing them on top of cheese mixture (you may pinch the edges together).  Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.  Brush on the glaze immediately after removing strudel from the oven.  Refrigerate.

The buffet is ready as is the table.  Now for the guests . . . and here they are!

Marilyn and Evelyna

Marilyn and Evelyna

and

Connie and Jackie

Connie and Jackie

See the bright, happy smiles on girls who want to have fun. These gals are a few of my wonderful friends. Girlfriends are the best!  They’re in the right place for a fun day too because as host I will do my very best to make everything as pleasant and delicious as possible for them.  After all, that’s my job as Innkeeper, isn’t it?

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The girls make their way to the Butler’s Pantry and they help themselves to the goodies I’ve prepared.  At this point I can transform myself from Innkeeper to just another Inn guest – at least for a few minutes. That’s the magic of a Country Inn Day.

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Happy guests, chatting away.  I pour myself some coffee.  Yes girls, I’m coming to join you.

But after a while I excuse myself because I have to get ready for the next stage of this visit.

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