A Last Fruits of Summer Tea

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Come in!  Our summer travels are over, my oldest is safely ensconced in college, and I’m ready to celebrate this slower season with an Indian Summer Tea.  TeaCanSizedPlease, help yourself and tell me what you think of the berry trifle flavor.  Do you like Spode’s Blue Chintz pattern?  Unfortunately, it’s no longer in production.  To find old discontinued china patterns, check out Replacements Limited at http://www.replacements.com .  I especially enjoy perusing their Vintage Finds pages.

 

 

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My summer seems a blur and I cannot believe October is in full swing.  One of our sons graduated from high school, and from that point on, I cannot remember much!  Oh, the trip to the Midwest when we caravanned in three cars — that I recall.  If you’ve read my bio, you know I enjoy a good road trip.

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Keeping everyone together over hundreds of miles proved no easy task.  We had one speedster (my-soon-to-be college freshman), a moderate driver (my husband), and a slow moving lover of Route 66 (my brother).  The Mother Road fan took us on a detour through an ugly, industrial section of Flagstaff, Arizona.  Yes, Flagstaff has at least one unappealing area.  We were hungry and short tempered, but everything turned out all right in the end.

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Speaking of hunger, please sample the fresh herb tea sandwiches, strawberry rhubarb pie and chocolate dipped strawberries.  I grow my own herbs in pots just outside my kitchen, so these were a breeze to put together.  Have a seat and enjoy!

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We stayed a few days at the Grand Canyon.  Miraculously, a cabin at the Bright Angel Lodge became available.  I’ve visited the Canyon many times and it’s always spectacular.  Both my boys hiked down to Indian Gardens with my brother while my husband and I played on the rim.  Did you do anything special this summer?

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My tea stash has grown to epic proportions.  Part of the reason is that kind people keep giving me tea!  Not a bad problem to have, right?  I’ve discovered many ways to store these gifts.  Aside from stacking boxes in my pantry, I often utilize pretty ceramics — as long as they have an airtight rubber ring attached to the lid, like the ginger jars featured here.  These work well for loose leaf teas.

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If you’ve got a cool dry spot, a pretty glass chest like the one I found at World Market makes a lovely display case.  By the way, these items sold out quickly from my local store!

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Of course, the wooden chest (a present from a sweet friend) is still a wonderful solution for sealed bags such as these and also provides a smart way to offer your guests their choice of brew.  Pretty airtight tins also make a colorful storage option for your stash.  What do you think of this unique cabinet I spotted on the Facebook page of Tea with Charlotte & Lucy?  Is it a doll house or a place to keep tea accoutrement?  Either way, it’s adorable!

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Recipe:

Herb Tea Sandwiches

Several slices of bread, frozen
1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
1 Tablespoon heavy cream
2 Tablespoons Fresh Herb of choice (I chose basil), chopped.  Watercress is also a great option.

Cut frozen bread into desired shapes with sharp knife or cookie cutter.  Set aside & allow to defrost in Ziploc bag.  Beat together cheese and cream.  Gently stir in herbs.  Spread on one side of bread shape.  Form sandwiches.  Serve.  Makes 12 tea sandwiches.  NOTE:  bread shapes can be prepared in advance as can herb spread, if refrigerated.  Assemble before your guests arrive.blogscan050REsized

 

Thank you for joining me.  May your transition from summer to fall be peaceful and glorious!

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COPYRIGHT 2017. VICTORIA BENCHLEY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

A Victorian Valentine Tea

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Welcome!  Do come into the kitchen where I’ve prepared a place for tea.  Are you ready for Valentine’s Day?  How has 2017 been treating you?

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I’ve always thought celebrating on February 14th provided a lovely break in the winter during the long stretch between New Year’s and Easter.  After a pause from the string of parties, commitments, and gatherings  from October through January 1st, I’m ready for Valentine’s Day!

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Saint Valentine’s true identity seems lost to time, although it is widely agreed that he was martyred for his Christian faith during the 3rd century.  Tradition says he performed a miracle when his jailer’s blind daughter received her sight.  Before his execution, he supposedly left her a farewell note that said, “From your Valentine.”  Known for performing secret marriages, he remains a symbol of love to this day.

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I’ve chosen to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day this year with a Victorian-themed tea table.  Utilizing multiple shades of pink, I’ve created a girly tableau, complete with metallic blush chargers, lace tablecloth, and a vintage silver plated tea service.  I added the pink tulle, studded with tiny rhinestones, for a touch of glam.

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I stumbledlabelsize upon some of my favorite chocolate biscuits the other day, and I wanted to share them with you.  I first experienced these delights on a ferry between France and England.  Made in Belgium, they’re called crepes.  Delicious silky milk chocolate robes individual layers of fine, wafer-thin cookies — folded like a tiny blanket … perfection!  I still cannot figure out how they make them.  Also, I’ve included some bakery-made short bread treats decorated to resemble those tiny message hearts we loved as children.  Cranberry tarts, along with vanilla and dark chocolate custards, complete our sweet treats.

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By chance, I discovered a new tea that I’m obsessed with.  I’ve decided to serve it today, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  Tazo’s Orange Chiffon Black Tea is a delicious blend of orange, vanilla, earl grey, and butter cream.   Its delicate flavor is superb!  We received the tin of bags as a gift, so I have to discover where to source it for myself!

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For gifts, I’ve dressed up inexpensive small boxes of chocolates with heart-shaped doilies and ribbon flowers.  Because what would Valentine’s Day be without chocolates?  Bright pink polka dot ribbon, trimmed with a die-cut wooden sparkly ornament, serves as a napkin ring and small present for my guests.  Reproduction Victorian cards add the final touch to the theme.

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Thank you for joining me.  I wish each of you a beautiful Valentine’s Day filled with love, chocolate, and tea!

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COPYRIGHT 2017. VICTORIA BENCHLEY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED