Hello! Please settle in, as we enjoy selections from Bach’s lute suites!
I’ve prepared a tea tray in your honor!
A sweetheart deal implies one of the parties involved in a transaction receives a better than normal incentive or bargain. Unfortunately, we aren’t always wise enough to recognize one of these arrangements.
Remember the classroom excitement that built before Valentine’s Day? Depending on the efforts of our Room Mother, the day could prove exceptional. We all had white paper bags, ready to be stuffed with greetings by our classmates. If lucky, the party included disposable nut cups, filled with tiny pastel candy hearts, pretty doilies, punch, and a cupcake. Oh, how I wish I’d saved those adorable valentine cards! For some reason, my father always provided the colorful notes I would give to others. He’d come home with a package or two, a few days ahead of time. I would add that he also brought each family member luxurious chocolates, a splurge, when the holiday arrived.
By the time I entered high school, we’d moved from Los Angeles to the rural Midwest, a difficult adjustment for a teenager. One year, out of the blue, my dad presented me with two boxes of valentines to give to my friends. My face must have said it all, I’m ashamed to say. Mortified, I complained to Mom, “No one gives these things out anymore!” I can still see the top card of the collection, visible through a cellophane window in the carton. A darling bright yellow duck with an umbrella, trailed by a flock of ducklings, winked at me.
“You don’t have to pass those out. Just toss them when your father’s not looking. It makes Daddy feel good to buy those,” she said, amused, adding, “it reminds him of his childhood.” Oh, how I wish I’d saved those cards!
My college years proved a dry, desert wasteland as far as Valentine’s Day goes. I somehow managed to be single every February. Our family used to laugh when Grandfather mentioned he’d always dump his girl right before this holiday, to avoid having to buy a gift. Now, that didn’t seem so funny. Walking through a dorm lobby stuffed to capacity each year with amazing floral arrangements, meant for others, was no fun, I can tell you!
Fast forward to the first year my oldest son attended school. The big occasion approached, and I could not wait to buy some of those enchanting tokens from my childhood. Imagine me standing in the drug store aisle, horror on my face, discovering only movie and television themed cards! Power Rangers for Valentine’s Day? No thank you! Obsessed, I searched all over town for the real thing. Certainly, someone carried proper love notes for children? Nope. Time had passed me by once again. Depressed, I waved the white flag, and settled on some ugly superhero greetings with a heart-shaped sticker. I included a lollipop to soften the blow. The kids had no idea how gypped they were, having never seen the greetings available in my youth. Oh, how I wished I’d saved those packages my father gave me!
Have you already guessed what I learned from these experiences? I had become just like my dad! Several years after the card fiasco, both my boys had “official” valentines. I determined to provide proper items for these little girls. I may have overdone it just a tad. You can be the judge, but my youngest looks scared and embarrassed in these photos. The girls appreciated their gifts, so perhaps I can justify my temporary insanity.
Looking at these pictures, I feel soooo guilty!
In an attempt to ensure you come away with a special memory, I’ve made tea just for you! I’ve even managed to find some reproduction vintage cards to warm your heart. I purchased these online from Victoria Trading Company. I hope they bring a smile to your face.
What Valentine memories or traditions can you share?
I’ve brewed a custom, strong blend of youthberry and wild orange blossom black tea. This stands up to the scrumptious chocolates. I’ve included strawberries and store bought éclairs, so you’ll feel pampered, as well as ladyfingers sandwiched with raspberry cream. Enjoy!
In my area, ladyfingers are only available around Christmas. I stashed a package in my refrigerator, so we’d have some today. A combination of marshmallow cream, cream cheese, and seedless raspberry jam (made only with fruit, no added sweeteners) makes up the filling. I suggest making a full recipe of the cream (1 package cream cheese + 1 jar marshmallow cream, beaten together with an electric mixer). Set aside the small amount (perhaps 1/4 cup) required to make these elegant sandwiches, and refrigerate the remainder.
In a small bowl, mix a teaspoon of jam and a drop of pink food coloring, if desired, with 1/4 cup of filling. To assemble, spread between two lady fingers. Top with a fresh raspberry. The remaining mixture makes a wonderful fruit dip you can enjoy with your family later.
Pretty pink transferware seems appropriate for Cupid. The cups are Old Britain Castles by Johnson Brothers, which I first spotted years ago in a thrift shop. If I recall, I couldn’t resist the square teapot, an inexpensive Chinese import found at a Cracker Barrel Restaurant (I also picked up the matching sugar & creamer, not pictured).
Photocopy any ephemera you wish to share with others, and keep the originals for yourself! You can still find the real thing on Ebay, although be careful — someone may swoop in at the last moment and outbid you, as happened to me.
By the way, if you haven’t read Saki (see quote, above), locate a copy of The Complete Works of Saki (the pen name of H. H. Munro) to enjoy at your leisure with a cuppa. His writing is so charming, you’ll find yourself richly entertained.
Thank you for coming, Friends. Drop by again soon!
COPYRIGHT 2016. VICTORIA BENCHLEY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED