A Thanksgiving Tea

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Do come in and get warm.  I’ve got just the thing for that chill!  Settle in and have a cup of my Harvest Blend Tea.  Can you taste the rich spices?  I’ve combined a favorite Chai (no longer available in stores, so I’m hording what I have) with a beloved Orange Pekoe.  I hope you like Beethoven.

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As we barrel towards the holidays, I want to pause and say Thank You to all my readers.  I appreciate each and every one of you!  In the States, we celebrate Thanksgiving at this time of year, remembering our heritage and counting our blessings.  Most gather for feasts and special times of fellowship with their families.

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As Oscar Wilde said, summer collapses into fall.  October and November seem like a blur to me.  2016 is going by faster than I’d like.  The past year has been one of loss for our family, but we still have so much to be thankful for.  I thank God for my children, our health, friends, family, our home, our country, and you, dear reader, along with countless other blessings we’ve received.

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So choose a chair, a cup, and a treat, or two! Please, do share some of the things your’re most thankful for.    

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I’ve pulled out all the stops with my fall décor for this tea. Utilizing ribbons, leaves, and ornaments found in discount stores, I adorned glass candle sticks, giving everything a festive air.  The unusual tea service, in fall colors, proved perfect for the occasion.  The candy corn and Indian corn candles remind me of my childhood (my dad always had bunches of Indian corn hanging from beams in his den!).  I purchased them in a specialty shop.  Store bought cookies, flavored with fruit and nuts, fit the theme nicely.

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Tips:

  • If you are short on time, spend your moments on the décor and purchase the food you’ll serve guests.img_2062resizedcrop
  • Use festive ribbon to tie florist picks, leaves, or themed ornaments to candlesticks, serving trays, or napkins.
  • Keep an eye out for bargains that you can use to amp up your décor.  I bought my themed candles while on a trip and transported them home!
  • Pick a tea or create your own (like I did) that matches the season.
  • It’s a busy time of year, so be considerate when scheduling your event.  Invite your friends well in advance.

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May each of you have a blessed Thanksgiving!

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COPYRIGHT 2016. VICTORIA BENCHLEY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

A Bountiful Fall Tea

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In accordance with the above quote, I’ve made an extra strong brew this afternoon.  Do come in and enjoy a cup (or two) of Ginger Tea from TrueBrit.  It’s a blend of Ceylon and other black leaves mixed with ginger.  I find it delicious!  With the increase in temperatures, we’ll take our break on the porch.

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One of my children will soon be reading 1984 for his English class.  I got excited when I saw it on the required book list.  I’m wondering if it will have the same impact now that the year has long passed and a new generation of readers, unfamiliar with the Cold War, WWII, and largely protected from exposure to tyranny, has come along.  I read Orwell’s classic in high school, sometime around 1980, and found it powerful.  Do you have a favorite book that affected your own young perspective?

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I realize I’m rambling a bit, but has anyone else noticed that tea is just better in England, Orwell’s homeland?  I even prefer the Lipton there!  I returned from my travels this summer with oodles of tea.  That’s how I roll.  My souvenirs consist of tea leaves, tea bags, and a few sweets (those are better in England as well).  So, if you spot any in your local import store, don’t hesitate to indulge.  You might find yourself enjoying the best cuppa ever!  By the way, did you know George Orwell was the pen name of Englishman Eric Arthur Blair?  His sister ran a tea house for a time, and he also lived in India (both adding to his tea pedigree), as well as on the Isle of Jura, Inner Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland.  He died young at age 46 of tuberculosis but lived an interesting life.  He spent time in Paris and Spain, where he was wounded fighting in the Spanish Civil War.

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I’ve kept our food simple today, utilizing cocktail cucumbers and pretzel rolls, along with fresh herbs.  Simple butter cookies complete the table.  I’ve mixed diced honey ham with two different flavors of cream cheese for the fillings.  Everything came together in a jiffy.

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Tips:

  • Keep an eye out for teas imported from England. img_2898resized You’ll want to give them a try.
  • A supply of store-bought butter cookies comes in handy when entertaining.
  • When weather permits, move your gathering outside.  Soon it will be too cold for the great outdoors.
  • Flavored cream cheeses are readily available and add a nice punch to sandwiches or crackers.
  • Check your local grocery for specialty breads.  The mini pretzel rolls I found proved perfect for small tea sandwiches and tasted delicious.
  • Use a melon baller to scoop out soft vegetables.  Stuff with your favorite filling.  Cocktail cucumbers are refreshing and tasty when filled with diced ham and herb-infused cream cheese.
  • Don’t be afraid to include fresh herbs.  They add a great taste to your creations.  Just watch the amount, so you don’t overpower any subtle flavors.

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Thank you for joining me, and do pop by again soon!

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COPYRIGHT 2016. VICTORIA BENCHLEY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

An Autumn Tea in the Library

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It’s that time of year again, my favorite season.  At some point after the kids go back to school, we experience the first signs of fall.  We get a day when the temperature dips into the high seventies and the sky becomes overcast.  We convince ourselves the seasons have changed and hope we’ll be in for some crisp weather.  Usually, the mercury sky rockets the next day and we consider heading to the mountains to experience true autumn.

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We were driving through our neighborhood on just such a day last week when we spotted a man high on a ladder, reaching for his second story eave.  “Look!  He thinks it’s winter and he’s putting up Christmas lights!” we laughed.  My husband cracks the same joke, several times, each year during September and October:  “When you see the Christmas decorations appear on the shelves at Wal-Mart, you know Halloween can’t be far behind.”

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I’ve convinced myself that fall is a state of mind.  With all the back-to-school hubbub, university visits, college applications and essays, not to mention cross country meets, team dinners, choir concerts, etcetera, I feel overwhelmed.  So, I’ve decided to crank up the air conditioner, play some Vivaldi on the stereo (am I dating myself by using the word stereo?), and enjoy tea in the library.  Remember the old board game where players guessed whodunit—Colonel Mustard, in the library, with the lead pipe?  Well, it’s sort of like that, except it’s Victoria, in the library, with a cup of Twinings pumpkin spice chai.

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Now, I don’t really have a library in my home, and the community book depots only allow one to bring in bottled water—so they’re out.  I do have overloaded bookshelves where tomes are stacked every which way, several layers deep.  But taking tea near these would ruin the illusion of peace and calm I’m trying to create.  Just looking at that mess brings on anxiety, and Heaven help me when I need to locate a specific title.

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No, I’ll pick a restful spot where everything’s in order, and I can sink into a comfy seat while I enjoy a quiet cup by myself.  I’ll shut the doors to the office and pretend the clutter and jumble doesn’t exist.  Ah, that’s better.

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I encourage you to find your own special little spot where you can relax with a book or just enjoy some stillness while sipping your favorite tea.  Be sure to use one of your best cups.  Even if you’ve only five minutes to spare, it can be a rejuvenating moment to pamper yourself and clear your head before you’re back at it again.

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COPYRIGHT 2016. VICTORIA BENCHLEY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED