Sunday, March 6, 2016

IN OUR RIGHT MINDS at DOWNTON





Don't call me now, Downton Abbey is on! 



Today I held my third annual (and maybe final) Downton Abbey tea. I say final because the well-known series is coming to an end this year. Only guests who love the series were invited,  and always one or two new people.  While six of the guests for the 2016 Downton Tea attended tea here in the past, Maureen was a first-time guest.

I've been serving teas in my home for the last 4 years or so, starting in the fall, and serving about 6 throughout the year. I try to invite someone new each month, someone who through personal contact has expressed their love of tea, or who has asked if they could come to tea.


Can you imagine that?  People I don't know are asking to come to tea at my house! I'm starting to be asked if I'm the "tea lady,"  the lady in town who holds tea parties in her home.  Most recently, I was asked how someone might "wrangle" an invitation to come to tea.  I never say no, and add the person to my ever growing list.  It is this list, the constant inquiries, that inspires me to plan another tea. I never planned to be so well known, or that over 85 different people (and as of today, 92) would come to tea in my home.

This is beyond my wildest dreams.  Yes, having a tea room was once a dream, but it was not meant to be.  So without having to invest a large amount of capital, jump through department of health hoops and work seven days a week, year around, I have a tea room of sorts, and I get to do whatever I wish with no one setting limits except myself.  But please understand one thing - this is not a money-making venture.  Serving tea in "my tea room," in my dining room, is an opportunity to share my love of tea time pleasures, delicate linens, fine china, special tea time foods, teas, and so much more, all while giving women an opportunity to leave the cares of the world behind to enjoy an hour or two of respite time with new and seasoned friends.  Becoming the "tea lady" has been a process, and serving tea has become a ministry.

There are so many resources for every aspect of planning and hosting a tea.  My favorites are Tea Time MagazinePinterest, and especially for this tea, the "Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook .



My computer room/office becomes the "cloak room" where the guests can sit and change their footwear and hang their coats.  Today, several of the guests brought an outfit to change into, and because of the snowy weather, needed to hang their snow-covered coats and "wraps" like they were called in our childhood. Because of the icy sidewalks and recent wintery mess, the guests came in the back door and through the kitchen, which is not what I prefer.  I encouraged them to mingle in the living room and get acquainted.


Choosing where each will sit is all about conversation and personalities - and once I've introduced everyone and how I've come to know them, I find a trivial connection that we all have to one another. Today, I found out that six out of the eight of us are paper crafting, card makers. Three of us took a painting class last week together, and two others were also quilters.  But the real surprise was on me, because more than half of them were left-handed!



Two of the left-handers were sitting on an end that worked for them, and one of them quipped, "We're all in our right minds!"  Thus the title of this post. You never know what interesting facts you will learn about someone you thought was a stranger.


This is what brings about conversation and before long, we were recalling our writing styles, Palmer Method penmanship teachers and experiences from grade school, good reads, putting together their outfit for the 1920's era for today, and so many more subjects.


I serve two different teas, with this afternoon's tea being the first time I had served a tea from Plum Deluxe. This month was the first club member package I received. In addition, the founder and owner, Andy Hayes, sent a package of 'Afternoon 'High Tea' White Tea' to sample at my next tea. I waited to taste it with my guests, and we were not disappointed.  I have three or four favorite tea brands, but Plum Deluxe has risen to the top of my favorites!



Downton Abbey and Plum Deluxe - its a beautiful thing!

So keeping with the theme of the day, I shared some Downton themed product ideas like yarn with patterns for collars and shawls that may have been worn by Lady Mary Crawley or the Dowager Countess, "Granny", Violet. We took a quiz on the characters from the early episodes and speculating about how our favorite English series will conclude.

After tasting and enjoying the Plum Deluxe Afternoon High Tea White Tea, I served the first course of sandwiches, according to the cookbook would have been enjoyed by Lady Mary or Isobel, cucumber on white, and salmon on rye.


Every other tea I've served two scones, but this is the first tea that I've baked and served traditional English Scones.  We enjoyed lemon curd and black currant jam, a gift from a guest.



With the scones course, I chose Paris, a fruity black tea with a hint of vanilla, fruit and citrus flavors by Harney and Sons.  I recommend this tea which is one of my favorites.

Besides our love for Downton Abbey, the ladies shared their other favorite Masterpiece Classics and other English heritage books and movies.  The final course included a lemon coconut pie, individual cheesecakes and chocolate no bake cookies (a healthy no sugar version)!  The pie and cookies are found on Pinterest.


Every guest took along a teapot sugar cookie decorated with edible glitter; a chocolate treat; and two tea sachets of Republic of Tea's Downton themed, Earl Grey with vanilla - perfect pairings for their own afternoon tea!

On a cold and snowy February afternoon, fashion, friendship and food paired with teas and delightful conversation, we celebrated everything Downton, and once again dedicated our love for everything English and being Anglophiles.  Here's to you, my tea party guests -  I raise my cup to you and thank you for spending the afternoon celebrating with me!

May your day be blessed in some small way.  Take time for yourself and enjoy a cup of tea!  Thanks for stopping by - please come to visit again. SB


4 comments:

  1. What a beautiful tea you so graciously gave! I enjoyed seeing all the pictures and you look so lovely in your Downton Abby hat!
    Hugs,
    Nancy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Having a theme tea party is even more enjoyable. Thank you for your comments.

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    2. Having a theme tea party is even more enjoyable. Thank you for your comments.

      Delete
  2. What a beautiful tea you so graciously gave! I enjoyed seeing all the pictures and you look so lovely in your Downton Abby hat!
    Hugs,
    Nancy

    ReplyDelete