Sunday, February 22, 2015

Afternoon Tea

For most of the week, weather prognosticators have been scaring the pants off Colorado citizens with dreadful warnings about the impeding snow storm that was on its way. It would begin Friday afternoon with rain and freezing stuff, and white stuff. "Be prepared," they cautioned. After the weather guys were done with their gloom and doom, the news reporters took over with dire warnings and to-do lists to be safe and warm and wise. Look. Born and raised in Colorado; it snows here. While we do boast of over 300 days of sunshine, Colorado does have some bad weather.  The roads get icy. The wind blows. The snow flies.

Why I remember the blizzard of '75 late in March when I was about to deliver my first daughter. . . . . Anyway. This morning it is 10 F degrees with about 4 inches of snow on the ground, not the 10-22 that they were predicting. Yes, it is cold, but I am warm and toasty inside. And more snow is on the way, so the weather guys promise. Chile for supper.

My friend and former colleague at the university decided that we should have Afternoon Tea for our dear friends still manning the battle front teaching freshmen how to write decent essays, offering a bit of respite from the grading, conferencing, and the daily grind that we, both retired, really do miss. (But not that much. )

We divided up the duties. Sharron out did herself. She spent a greater part of her childhood growing up in England and Scotland in a military family, so for her the components of Tea were important.

She baked the scones, three times. I sampled. Tasted good to me. Are they too dry? Will they crumble? She would ask. I don't recall ever eating fresh baked scones, mamma's biscuits, yes, but not traditional English scones fresh from the oven. They were delicious, I assured her. While she made the creme anglaise for the fresh fruit and lemon curd for the scone  (other delicacies that I had never had), I sent hubby to Whole Foods, the organic super market, to get Devonshire cream.. I will just say the the creme anglaise was heaven. It tastes like really rich, homemade vanilla ice cream custard just before it goes into the ice cream maker.

I made my orange pound cake and heart and butterfly cookies.

Thursday I bought two very skimpy bouquets of tulips and daffodils to practice my floral design. We decided that between the two of us we had enough white pitchers for a variety of flowers arrangements.

 I returned to the store on Friday and went home with an armload of tulips, daffodils, small pink carnations, and baby's breath. Spring is still a ways a way, but the super market has the most wonderful display of gorgeous spring flowers. Who can resit, especially when one is planning a party? Good excuse to splurge on the flowers. Sharron bought a large bouquet of roses and baby's breath that I used to place small arrangements around the house. While I adore the daffodils and the tulips, I think I really like this little vase of baby carnations and baby's breath.

The foods became the center pieces of the Tea, but the dishes deserve a mention, too. They came from a variety of places. The little square sandwich plates to left were my grandmother's. She held garden club and entertained a number of other groups, as women did back in the late '40s and and '50s. I have had those little plates along with their punch cups forever, and I've used them a lot instead of paper plates for girls' graduations and birthday parties. Sharron proudly brought out her grandmother's delicate china and pieces from her husband's family, too. 

The tea pots were mine. One is Lenox that I found in an antique store. I then purchased the little serving set with the tray, sugar bowl, and creamer to complete the set online from a website called The other tea pot, barely visible, I found at at thrift store. Nothing special. Just a pretty little tea pot with a pink rose.

The table was set, the water heated, and the ladies arrived. I  wish I had taken more photos, but it wasn't my home, and some are not real keen to have their pictures plastered all over Blogland. 

We had fun planning, and baking, and decorating. With such busy lives, working women often don't have time to just sit and enjoy a quiet moment with friends. We didn't talk shop too much, but it was comforting to know that our friends are true and sweet and appreciated a bit of a time out. In America we don't have that gentile custom of afternoon tea, so it was a special time for us and we were so happy to serve our friends. 

And Then the Drive Home

We had a lovely time. Several ladies didn't make it, but we will have another afternoon tea just before finals, perhaps when it really has warmed up. The promised snow did arrive, those big, fat, heavy flakes that floated gently to earth, blanketing everything, including my car. Sharon's husband and granddaughter kindly swept the snow off. 

The storm had finally arrived, but not with the fierceness that weather guys had predicted. The roads iced up as wind swept the snow across them. 

I had bit of a drive home, but my all-wheel-drive SUV delivered me safely to the door. 

The Morning After

There always is the morning after the party. Hubby was in for treat for breakfast. 

We had beautiful flowers, fresh fruit, and French toast made from his favorite bakery fresh cinnamon twist bread. I skipped the maple syrup this morning, using instead the Devonshire cream. We won't be eating like this every Sunday, but I think we should at least have fresh flowers. 

Hurry up Spring.

We have a busy week ahead. I've not mentioned the kitchen remodel project looming in the near future. We have done some looking, but have not finalized anything yet, so this week I hope to have countertops picked out along with the tile for the back splash. I, of course, will share all of the details when the times. 

Friday the baby chicks arrive. The Head Gardener has ordered 8. You will get to meet them next week. 

And so a new week begins. Make sure to swing by Lavender Cottage to join Judith for Mosaic Monday. It'll be fun. 

I hope you stay warm and safe and wise as this awful winter weather covers a good part of the country. Colorado does know bad weather; however, our storm here is rather mild compared to what those in the East are enduring. We will keep up our Spring Vigil, knowing that the sun will come out and the the tulips and daffodils are not far behind. 

Have a fabulous week and thanks so much for taking to stop by the Garden Spot. 


  1. Your orange pound cake sounds delicious for that wonderful tea.

  2. Your tea looks wonderful! How nice of you two. I can't wait to see the chicks.

  3. Ann, Tea for friends is such a good idea. It's nice to collaborate on a project. Thanks for sharing. Sylvia

  4. It looks like a very English occasion, delightful!

  5. Your table and flowers arrangement look lovely. The french toast sounds yummy, what a wonderful tea. Have a happy day and week ahead!

  6. What a joy to see so many flowers on the tables, an awful lot of snow outside, spring inside.
    That must have been fun having an English tea with friends. I love scones and we have exactly the same bottles of Devonshire double cream in our shop in the village, funny.
    Wish you a nice week!

  7. Oh how lovely - no wonder your guests enjoyed their afternoon tea. It all looked delicious and so it should after all the time you spent preparing it. Shame about the snow situation I thought that maybe you had finished with winter - sadly, not. Oh well. Keep warm and keep positive - spring is just around the corner.

  8. You two ladies did an outstanding job of hosting your afternoon tea. It's nice to be treated special for an event like this and the food and dishes have created a welcoming table.
    I bake scones at least once at week as they've been a staple in my family for as long as I can remember but there's usually only butter or marmalade that comes out to put on them.
    Don't you find we're just going back to the winters we had growing up? Lots of snow and cold, an accepted season back then but making the new generation panic as they haven't been used to extreme weather until now. :-)
    Thanks for linking to Mosaic Monday Ann, I'm excited to see the new baby chicks!

  9. Glad the weather wasn't as dire as they said it would be....and what a stunning tea. You did a lovely job with the vases...breathtaking.

  10. Your tea table looks delightful Anne. Love your colourful flowers and your delicious looking treats. Hope the snow will melt soon and you will have spring flowers too!

    Happy week! Stay warm!

    Madelief x

  11. The table looks beautiful! How nice to spend time with your old co workers. And how handy to have a English lady who knows her teas!

  12. Beautiful table and tea! Breakfast the next morning was really a treat.
    Visiting from "Mosaic Monday"

  13. If you had a checklist, it must have looked like this: Table setting... lovely. Flower arrangements... lovely. The foods... lovely. Meeting the friends... lovely. The breakfast next morning... lovely!
    Thank you for this beautiful and cheerful post, Ann!
    Spring is on its way! :)

  14. What a fab tea with pretty flowers and lovely looking goodies to eat. Hope the snow isn't too bad! Looks cold. We've missed most of the snow where I live. However the northern top of ireland has had a fair bit this year.

  15. Ann, I can't tell you how much I enjoyed every single detail of this little 'chapter' titled, 'Afternoon Tea', as it reads like a novel, set in sunny but cold, Colorado, with you and Sharron as our protagonists. Loved all the preparations, from the flowers to the pound cake and the history of the crockery, and your photos of the event make it utterly enchanting! Thanks for sharing and saving us a seat!


  16. I have those same square dessert trays with little cups. I sometimes also use them for veggie snacks - the cups make a perfect container for a little veggie dip and of course the tray has lots of space for the tiny tomatoes and celery sticks, etc.

    The table is delightful - the flower bouquets are charming. I like the idea of lots of little bouquets added around the house.

    Your breakfast table looks wonderful - and so glad you made it home safely. Can't wait for the next tea.

  17. The family heirlooms you have used are wonderful treasures. I love it when we use anything from past's almost as if we honor them by doing it. And bring back wonderful memories.

    Oh and scones...and clotted cream, I'm drooling badly over here.

    Did you know that you can easily make your own Creme fraiche? I will have to remember how to make it because you have made me yearn for it. It's wonderful over fresh strawberries, and scones.


  18. I found your blog via Jen at Muddy Boot Dreams. She has the most wonderful followers and we usually share a lot of the same interests. I'm loving your blog, Ann.

    The tea looks fabulous, what a treat I'm sure it was for many. I think we should all start doing afternoon tea more, it's a lovely way to pamper ourselves and enjoy like company.

    I'm in Illinois and our weather has been terrible as well. 27 inches of snow just during the month of February. And it's the second coldest February on record. Somehow we survive...maybe it's those dreamy thoughts of spring!!

    Thanks for a great pick me up...I'm off to put the kettle on! :)

    Jane x

  19. uhm...that looks so pretty and so delicious. What a lovely treat to have on a snowy day.