Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Tea Party from Long Ago

All this talk of Tea Parties got me to thinking about ones we've had in years past so I found this album page from 1997. The Teens were about 4 and 6 years old here. Notice how Teen1 has her pinkie out whilst she chats with Teen2. And check out the hats and pearls. It's all just too cute.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tea Party

The Tea Party was positively delightful! One of the most important things about a tea party is to use fancy dishes with everything stacked high, so we got out cake plates and pedestals for serving. We also got out all different tea cups; there was Spode Tower Pink, Noritake Grandeur, Johnson Bros Summer Chintz, Noritake Parkridge, several different Royal Albert Old Country roses, and three Limoges patterns of which I only know one; Clover Leaf. You can see more of my dishes here. And we used dainty old cloth napkins from great grandmother's collection.

We used three different tea pots (you can see more here) and three different teas; Earl Grey, Peach, and Raspberry. And we went through two pots of each tea! But first the guests did a craft project; decorating hats with silk flowers and ribbons.
Then they posed for a group photo and played a little croquet.

And petted the cat. I guess we have a cat now since this one has been hanging around for about two weeks and we've been feeding it.

Then we got the tea brewed and the food on the table and the girls gathered round. We had made cucumber sandwiches, egg sandwiches, watercress sandwiches, and radish sandwiches. The hardest part about these tiny sandwiches is finding the "thinly sliced" bread. We found unsliced brioche loaf and thinly sliced whole wheat bread at Teen1's store. The brioche was a little soft, but after slathering it with butter it got a little firmer.Basically the bread is buttered to keep it from drying out, then topped with sliced cucumbers and radishes and sprinkled with snipped chives. The egg sandwiches start with buttered whole wheat bread, get dressed with a little mayonnaise with curry powder and minced onions, and are then topped with thinly sliced hard boiled eggs. The watercress sandwiches have equal parts watercress, cream cheese, and butter whirled in the food processor. That is spread on whole wheat bread and topped with tiny slices of cherry tomatoes and watercress garnish. There were nine of us and we made about eighteen of each of the large sandwiches, and thirty six of the watercress sandwiches, and we ate ALL of them. Oh my!

We also had fresh strawberries

and tarts. The tarts start with a short paste dough which we pressed into tiny tart molds with our fingers and baked the night before. Then we filled them with ready made lemon curd (I have made it from scratch, but not this time) and topped them with fresh fruits; strawberries, blueberries, and kiwi. You can find my recipe here. On the top pedestal is pound cake which we sliced and cut into cute shapes with a small cookie cutter and then topped with whipped cream and a raspberry. Those were heavenly and looked so pretty on that red transferware platter.

We also made cupcakes and stacked them on pedestals.

and here are more tarts on silver pedestals

because it's all about the sugar, isn't it?

Now, would you like one lump or six?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tea Party Preparations

We are having a Tea Party tomorrow and today was all about the preparations. Not only did we get out feminine dishes and linens, but we shopped for groceries started preparing the foods. We are making fresh fruit tarts and egg sandwiches,
and pound cake rounds,
and cupcakes.
We will also be serving scones with clotted cream, strawberries, three different kinds of tea, and Elderflower cordial.
All this was the idea of Teen2. You know her; she is my Halo playing, anti-dress, anti-makeup, tomboyish daughter. I honestly don't know what has come over her, but I think she may be turning into a girl, because she wants everyone to wear dresses and hats, and eat tarts and cucumber sandwiches, and drink tea and play croquet. Will wonders never cease?
We will let you know how this Tea Party Amongst The Oaks turns out. Stay tuned...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Daffodil Hill

Last Sunday we visited McLaughlin's Daffodil Hill near Volcano, Ca. The newspaper article reminded us and we'd been wanting to go for a long time, so we rounded up the family and headed out after lunch. We drove up Highway 88, turned north at Pine Grove, went through Volcano, and continued on up Rams Horn Grade to the garden.

I had been to Daffodil Hill many years ago as a teen, but the Lord of the Manor had never been. And of course, Teen1, Teen2, and the Muffin had never been either. It did not disappoint.

Paths wander through several acres and thousands of flowers. There is a picnic area, so you could bring your lunch and make a day of it. Or you could just wander and take photos of the flowers. Or just sit on a bench and rest amongst the beauty.

There were several varieties; small ones with orange cups...

big ones with huge orange cups...

and the classic yellow ones.

Some were just opening...

while others were wide open soaking up the sun.

I really liked these ivory ones with pinkish cups...

but these tiny yellow ones were adorable too.

Whichever you prefer

daffodils are truly beautiful and seem to shout


The garden opened April 19th and is at its peak now, so if you plan on going, you'd better hurry. They are open 10am to 4pm, seven days a week until the bloom season is over. Click on the link at the top of the post for more information.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Classic Yachting

We had the privilege of going out on a classic yacht last evening. The boat was built in 1926 and belongs to a young friend of ours. We recently redid the nameboards - rerouting and gold leafing - and don't they look stunning?
I happened to be out at the marina this evening and went to check on Florencia's progress. The owner mentioned trying to find a crew to go out to "Tuesday Nite Tacos" at Windmill Cove. Being old river rats, I instantly volunteered my family, called them, and within an hour we were chugging out of the marina.

Here is our intrepid Captain at the helm. He has collected various accessories appropriate to the era of his yacht. I think it's wonderful that he is so dedicated to the preservation of this old boat, and marvel that a 19 year old could appreciate the subtleties of decor along with the necessities of a sound hull and reliable engines.

We had a marvelous time relaxing on the afterdeck, enjoying the views, eating tacos, and remembering a time when WE were the young kids on an old wooden boat.

Enjoying happy times aboard a yacht {not quite} Amongst The Oaks.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mosaic Monday Signs of Spring

The weather is starting to warm here and we are hanging linens out in the sunshine, watching the ferns unfurling, enjoying the antics of birds, and inhaling the scent of wisteria. Life is good.

I am joining Mary at the Little Red House for Mosaic Monday.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Blog Muggle?

Blog Muggle n: a person who is totally unaware of blogs and blogging

click to see entire photo

Ok, TravelBug, I get the message. I have been a total Blog Muggle lately and I'm sorry. Things seem to be back to normal in my little corner of the world. Well as normal as my corner gets anyway. So I should be able to resume normal blogging now. Let's start with what's been happening here Amongst The Oaks.

The wistaria is starting to bloom right on schedule. We are hosting Easter and I'm hoping it still looks good for the party. You can see more wistaria photos here and here. I have inhaled the intoxicating scent many times in the past few days and it is wonderful. I usually stick my nose into the first flower that opens and I am always amazed at the power of one tiny flower. I wish I could share it with all of you.

The yellow rumped warblers are making their annual visit here Amongst The Oaks. They descend upon the oaks in large numbers, chirping and flitting nervously, and then in about a month, they are gone. This morning I happened to see several in the bird bath and managed to get a few photos.

And the Black Phoebes are back too, building their nest on our front porch. It's over halfway done so we should see some eggs in about a week. They always build it on that electrical box that we use for the Christmas lights. We remove it every fall and they rebuild it every spring. They are again pulling fibers out of my flower baskets to use in their nest, but I don't mind.

click to see entire photo
And the lilac is starting to bloom too. Isn't this gorgeous? I just love love love lilac. I'll make a huge bouquet of it later and bring it inside. I think one reason I love lilac so much is because tit only blooms once a year and that makes the flowers more precious.

Teen1 recently bought this window box for her window. She planted parsley, coleus, lemon thyme, stock, marguerite, and cineraria in it. Isn't she cute?

So that's what's been happening here Amongst The Oaks. Sorry I've been gone so long. Hope to visit you all again soon.