Monday, June 29, 2015

Roses, nostalgia, and tea

This weekend I was feeling a bit nostalgic, so I decided to share my very first tea set.  It just so happens to have roses,  which are the flower of the month for June.
I've always liked tea parties, so my grandmother gave me this set when I was a child so I could have tea parties of my own.
It is unnamed and made in Japan by Sango China.  It originally belonged to my great-grandmother, and then my aunt took the set with her to college so she could serve her friends tea, and finally it came to me.  I am one plate shy of having a full service for 6, but four was plenty for tea parties with my parents, sister and me (although one day I would like to get one more plate to finish the set). 
It is obviously well used and loved, with a couple of nicks here and there, but it is definitely special to me even without the gold and fancy of the rest of my bone china--and the roses are beautiful!
My grandmother also made me an apron, which I wore for every single tea party, because of course you have to dress up for tea!
I loved hot pink, so she found this fabric (with rows of roses among the pink stripes), and trimmed it in eyelet, and ruffles with two little pockets in front to hold important things.  She even made it adjustable so it could grow with me--I can still wear it to this day. 
As I child, my mom and I always made muffins for my tea parties, so for this party I made muffins with fresh strawberries. 
And a little visitor joined us for tonight's tea:

 Who wouldn't like to drink afternoon tea
Out in the garden just like me?
With the song of a bird, and the hum of a bee,
And the sunflowers looking all eyes to see.
The little girl's stirring her tea so sweet;
Tea in the garden is such a treat,
With a cool breeze blowing and not much heat--
And doesn't the tea tray look
charmingly sweet?
Victorian nursery rhyme by Kate Greenaway 
Here I am pouring my dad (always a good sport) tea.  I was 10 in this picture, and I'm wearing the apron my grandmother gave me.  I always served a Celestial Seasonings berry tea (usually Strawberry Fields, which I'm not sure they still make).  And there are the muffins in a little brown basket! 
Thanks so much for joining me on this little trip down memory lane.  I'm linking to these tea parties this week:
Bernideen's Friends Sharing Tea 
Rose Chintz Cottage's Tea Time Tuesday

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Brunch at the Depot

It's pouring outside right now, so I figured this was the perfect time to pull out my last "archived" post to share at the tea parties this week. 

Last month I visited Warrenton, Virginia to try a restaurant that I haven't had the chance to visit yet for brunch.  Claire's at the Depot is located in Warrenton's former train station, originally built in 1852 and updated in 1908.  I really enjoy visiting repurposed buildings, especially ones that have been made into interesting restaurants!

We ate inside the restaurant, in what was obviously an addition, but they did a beautiful job connecting it to the older building.

Claire's by the Depot is known for their lunches and brunches, so when my neighbor suggested coming here, I immediately said yet.  What made it even better is that the restaurant brought out a basket of complimentary scones for the table.
(These lemon cranberry scones with lemon poppyseed butter were right up my alley!)
As I had only been back from France a couple of weeks at this point, I immediately ordered Claire's quiche special--which on this day had a delicious blend of crab meat and leeks. 
(Of course I ordered tea too.  They brought out a whole tea chest to choose from).
My neighbor ordered the western omelet, which she said was delicious.
It's the touches that bring home the theme that really thrill me with these types of restaurants, and this one was no exception.  I walked out to the pretty outdoor eating area and saw this:
(An old caboose!)
And since I have now reached the end of this delicious brunch, I'll say good night and refer you to the tea parties I am joining this week:
Bernideen's Friends Sharing Tea 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Lavender farms and teatime

Happy Tuesday tea parties!  This week I wanted to share my visit this past Saturday to Seven Oaks Lavender Farm in Catlett, Virginia, followed by a lavender themed tea.  I'm so glad you could join me!

The lavender fields are still pretty small here, but they have English and French lavender varieties.



 I visited with a couple of friends, one of which brought her baby.  He was really excited (as was I to be truthful) to see the bunnies they had on the farm.

After walking around and cutting a few flowers, we headed to the tent set up for refreshments.   
They had lavender mint iced tea, which was delicious and refreshing!  We then wondered back down to the little shop on the property,
which had a whole bunch of teas inside for sale--all different blends with lavender!

There were all sorts of beauty products too, including this lavender and honey green tea butter.  I think I would prefer to drink this combo (without the butter lotion part) then put it on my skin!

There were also lavender flavored goodies in the shop, which inspired me to take one of the new lavender teas I bought and have a small tea party, with my Royal Albert lavender rose set of course!

Here's flowers for you;
Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram;
The marigold, that goes to bed wi' the sun
And with him rises weeping: these are flowers
Of middle summer
~Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale
 A couple different desserts to choose from for today's tea:
Lavender earl grey cupcakes I bought at the lavender farm,

and lavender and lemon shortbread cookies.  I'll share the recipe for these cookies later this week.

Thanks for joining me for tea this week at the tea parties below:
Bernideen's Friends Sharing Tea 
Rose Chintz Cottage's Tea Time Tuesday

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Tea Caddy

I actually have a few posts backlogged because of the two week France posts, so now we are going back in time to May 17th, when I had tea with my mother and aunt at a new(ish) tea room in Berryville, Virginia called the Tea Caddy.

Berryville is in the Shenandoah Valley in the Appalachian Mountains.  I've actually been to the town before for tea at a bed and breakfast (see my Rosemont Manor tea post here), but I was really excited (as always) to try a brand new tea room!

(Telephone booth in the entryway)

(View of the room from the entrance)

There were a couple of larger groups in the main part of the tearoom, so we were shown to a small table in the window.

(The chandelier over our table had a teapot in the middle and the lights were in teacups!)
(They had gold chargers under each place setting, very pretty!)
The menu:

We got the Duchess of York, which came out on a three tiered tray:

(Curry chicken salad, egg salad, cucumber)

(scones, with clotted cream and jam.  I really liked how they served the clotted cream and jam in fancy demitasse cups)

(shortbread cookies, macaroons, tiny cherry cheesecakes, meringues covered in chocolate, and small brownies)
I just realized I skipped the tea!  I got the Shenandoah Blue blend (it seemed appropriate).  This black tea had blueberries and cornflower blossoms.   

Finally a couple of other pictures of the tearoom, which incorporated hats as a decoration on many of the tables.

I'm sharing this post on the tea parties below:
Bernideen's Friends Sharing Tea 
Rose Chintz Cottage's Tea Time Tuesday

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Neapolitan fairy cakes

As promised, here is the recipe for the Neapolitan cupcakes!  I wasn't that fond of the cupcake itself--I thought it was a bit too dense.  Most of my taste testers liked it, though, and it is something different, so who knows!  I definitely like this idea, but I might try a lighter cake mix next time. 

Neapolitan cupcakes
3/4 cup butter, softened
6 oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 extra large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups cake flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Line 2 (12 cup) muffin pans with paper liners (preferably a light color that you can see through).  I also always spray baking spray on a paper towel and grease the top of the pan just in case the cupcake rises too far (I'm not a good judge of how much to fill the cups).
2.  In a large bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, and sugar.  Beat at high speed with an electric mixer until fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla. 
3.  In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Gradually add flour to the butter mixture alternating with milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. 
4.  Divide batter in half and beat cocoa powder cocoa powder into one half.  Spoon chocolate batter into cups, filling 1/3 full.*  Spoon vanilla batter evenly over chocolate, filling about 2/3 full.
5.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
*For my cupcakes, the chocolate ended up being most of the cupcake even though it looked from the outside that they were even.  I would probably put less chocolate in than vanilla.
So, we have the chocolate and vanilla part of the Neapolitan, the only thing left, is the strawberry!  This frosting was delicious!  I would definitely use this frosting recipe again.
Strawberries and cream frosting
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup strawberry jam
2 tsp strawberry extract
1 (8 oz) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 cup confectioner's sugar
In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese and butter.  Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.  Add strawberry jam and strawberry extract, beating well until smooth.  Beat in whipped topping and confectioner's sugar.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A fairy's tea party

Each fairy breath of summer, as it blows with loveliness, inspires the blushing rose.

~Author unknown
I thought I'd start my return to normal posting by sharing this year's fairy garden!  I've made some changes from last year's version (which you can see here if you are interested).

Flittering among the leaves
and dancing past blooms,
laughter like wind chimes
on the breeze,
yet never seen. 
But brew a pot of fragrant tea,
and a garden fairy
may join you for a cup.
There is an extra chair if you would like to have a seat?
A couple of frog princes have already arrived.  One can always hope!
Maybe a treat too?
(I'll share the recipe for these Neapolitan cupcakes later this week)

Come away oh human child,
To the waters and the wild,
With a fairy hand in hand
For the world's more full of weeping, than you can understand.
~Yeats, "The Stolen Child"
I'm sharing this post on the tea parties below:
Bernideen's Friends Sharing Tea 
Rose Chintz Cottage's Tea Time Tuesday