A Tea for the Graduate

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     Welcome!  Do take a seat and relax with a cup.  I’ve set out a special tea today to honor a graduate.  Do you have any loved ones graduating from high school or college this month or next?  Is your best friend’s son or daughter about to embark on higher education?  Is your grandson about to enter the workforce?  A tea is a lovely way to honor the grad, and I’ve several unique ways to help send them off on this next exciting stage of life.

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My eldest is graduating from high school in June.  Did you know that many psychologists consider college to be one of the top five stressful periods in a person’s life?  I mainly just recall it being fun, but I do remember my father telling me life would only get easier after college (it didn’t – mainly due to my career choice, it got harder!).  So, if Dad felt the need to say that, I must have experienced some trying times.  Even today, as I look around at all of the young, energetic people about to move into adulthood, everything seems promising.  I can easily overlook the weight of the changes these scholars are about to experience.

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So, I thought it would be a good idea to plan a gathering just for the graduate.  Mine will be a special time to imbue the honoree with some casual, practical gifts, while of course enjoying fellowship and tea!  I’m bringing out the good stuff  — Wedgwood’s Cuckoo pattern fine china.  After all, we’re celebrating quite an accomplishment.  Doesn’t it make a charming tea table?  The cups are pretty inside and out.

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We’ll keep the food simple.  I’m offering moist coconut macaroons, lemon crepe biscuits, and cream cheese crumbles.  I’ve decided the tea itself will be special, and have brewed two pots of Harrod’s Blend 49, a fusion of the best teas from India.

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I’m giving each guest a pretty card and envelope before our student arrives.  Many of these were freebies sent to me by various organizations.  I’m sure you have several lying around your house unused, too.  Now, write down a special message for the graduate.  It can be a word of wisdom, note of encouragement, or amusing anecdote.  Sign your name, stuff them in their envelope, and I’ll collect the cards.  After our guest of honor has departed for school (or the workforce), I will mail the notes gradually, over time.  Every week or two, he or she will receive a welcome message from a friend or loved one.  Snail mail and the artistic card make the well-wishes special and will certainly help dispel any homesickness!

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A personalized mug or cup and saucer will allow our grad a moment to relax in the dorm or apartment.  I’ve chosen a set reflecting the recipient’s birth month.  Go another step and add special tea bags to the cup.  Or better yet, fill a goodie bag with a mix of instant tea, tang or instant lemonade, and spices and place it in the cup or mug.  What can be more relaxing than a brief respite with a cup of tea?  When I departed for college, my friends sent me off with a mug emblazoned with, “Excuse #1 – I’m saving myself for Tom Selleck!”  There, I guess that dates me!

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How about a tiny volume filled with encouraging thoughts.  This slim tome, God’s Promises for Your Every Need, is one of my favorites to give to those embarking on the unknown.  Space will be at a premium while our graduate is away at school, so check out your local Bible bookstore for small books like this one.  You can even highlight the passages you think may be most useful to the student for an extra personal touch!

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Would you like another cup?  Please share some of your adventures and positive experiences after graduation.  I’m sure our guest of honor will appreciate hearing from you.  How about some sage advice?  They’ll like that, too!

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Tips:

  • Plan a tea for the graduate in your life.  Pick a time that is convenient for the guest of honor.  It doesn’t really matter when, as long as you set time aside before they begin the new school year.
  • Be as simple or elaborate as you like.  It’s the thoughtful gestures from the guests that will leave a lasting impression on your favorite scholar.
  • Collect the greeting cards you receive for free in the mail.  Set aside those which are blank or have an appropriate message for the occasion.  Distribute one to each guest and have them write an encouraging note for the student, preferably before the guest of honor arrives.  Squirrel them away and send them to your loved one over a period of time, after they arrive at their new school or situation.
  • Send the grad off with a supply of tea and a personalized mug or cup and saucer.
  • Provide a small volume of encouragement to your graduate where they can look for advice and comfort when life becomes stressful.
  • Give the graduate a pocket calendar.  Highlight the days when you will be praying specifically for them & be sure to record the dates on your own calendar.  This can be a group effort amongst all your guests.  I guarantee your scholar will be most appreciative of the support when he or she glances at the calendar and can see that Aunt Mary is lifting his or her needs in prayer that day!

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Thank you for joining us for this special tea.  I hope you will incorporate some of these ideas with the graduate in your own life.  Please stop by any time!

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COPYRIGHT 2017. VICTORIA BENCHLEY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Spring Has Sprung

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Greetings!  Come in and enjoy a taste of spring.  All around there are signs that winter has given way to a new season.  My wisteria has bloomed and my lilacs aren’t far behind.  Do take a glance out the window to see nature’s glorious display before you settle in for a cup of Earl or Lady Grey.  The Earl Grey is infused with lavender, if that makes your choice any easier.  Fittingly, I’ve chosen Vivaldi’s Four Seasons for our music.  You may have noticed it’s a favorite of mine.

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The floral pattern on this Royal porcelain from Pip Studios certainly fits a spring-themed tea. I love the lively details on this set.  If you’re ever in need of a little lift, check out their cheery website at https://www.pipstudio.com.   You’ll find it a happy place!

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I’ve decided to serve macarons in pretty colors to match the season, as well as these lemon tea cakes.  I hope you’ll try several flavors of the bite-sized confections!  treatsCropSizedI bought these tiny macarons at the store.  Are you adventurous enough to try making them yourself?  I suggest checking out Lisa Maliga’s blog at https://lisamaliga.wordpress.com/french-macaron-baking-adventures for instructions.  Be sure to peruse her older posts for countless delicious varieties (I’m talking blueberry, raspberry, double cherry . . . almost any flavor you can imagine!).  She’s an expert and her creations are truly mouthwatering!  Her instructions and photos walk you right through the process.  Let me know how yours turn out.

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I inherited my love of flowers and gardening from my grandmother, and I can find plenty of varieties to enjoy during the entire year.  I had a lovely rose garden before I began writing.  But there are only so many hours in the day, and tending those beauties took a back seat to my literary pursuits.  However, I’ve still managed to plant some vegetables and herbs and expect to enjoy the tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers in a couple of months.  Luckily for me, my wisteria and lilacs seem to be low maintenance plants and thrive without any special attention.  Have you a garden?  What do you enjoy growing?

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Spring is always a time of change and transformation. Grass turns green, flowers bloom, the mercury rises, insects appear, and birds return.  My oldest son is in the process of choosing a college.  We’ve visited many schools, weighed the pros and cons, compared costs, and still have no decision.  Big changes are on the horizon for our little family.  But that’s what spring is all about.  I’m putting all of that out of my mind for the moment and just enjoying my cup of tea with its lavender tones.  Tell me, what kinds of change are you experiencing?

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Since Earl and Lady Grey are two of my favorite teas, I decided to look into the story behind these blends.  It’s all a bit murky, but Earl Grey is believed to be named for the second Earl, Charles Grey, who was prime minister of England and writer of the Reform Bill of 1832, which brought significant changes to the country’s electoral rules.  It’s thought that he received the tea as a diplomatic gift.  Another theory claims the Earl obtained the tea as a thank-you gift after saving a boy from drowning.  Twinings invented Lady Grey in the 1990s in an attempt to gain a bigger market share in Nordic countries where Earl Grey did not appeal.  The newcomer, while similar to her ancestor, benefits from the addition of orange and lemon peel.  Both teas are flavored with Bergamot oil, derived from a small orange grown mainly in the Mediterranean.

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Many praise the tea’s health benefits. AlternativeDaily.com claims that Earl Grey contains enzymes called HMGF that destroy proteins linked to heart disease and also has high amounts of antioxidants.  Bergamot is considered to give a boost to one’s mood and calm anxiety, probably due to its aromatherapy components (my lavender cup must give a double benefit).  According to JoybyNature.com, high amounts of potassium in the tea help you to stay hydrated.  In addition, the citrus component is believed to boost metabolism and improve digestion, and some state that the tea even contains anti-viral properties.

I can only attest to the lovely aroma and taste of these blends. I think you’ll find a cup, properly brewed, to be a comforting and relaxing experience.  Invite some friends over to take tea.  Follow my tips and you’ll have a lovely tea party to share in minutes, with minimal effort, and a fit way to celebrate this season of change and new beginnings!

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Tips for a Spring Tea

  • Choose bite-sized treats in spring colors for an appetizing selection your guests won’t be able to resist. macaronSized I found the macarons in the freezer section of my big box store.  To make your own, check out Lisa Maliga’s blog at https://lisamaliga.wordpress.com/french-macaron-baking-adventures/
  • Add color to your table with flowers.  If they are picked from your own garden, so much the better!
  • Individual vases with pretty blooms make lovely decorations or gifts your guests will treasure.
  • Be sure not to over-steep your tea.  Allow the proper time for this to ensure a smooth, delicate flavor in your cup.  Follow the instructions on the box in a trial run, then adjust to taste when it is time for the party.
  • Pick a tea pot with cups and saucers that reflect the joy of the season.

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Thank you so much for coming.  I always enjoy taking tea together.  I hope you’ll share about your own favorite blends in the comment section.
Do stop by again soon!

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When you’re feeling sad & blue
And have no clue what to do
Sit down and have a cup of tea
And a hug or two or maybe three
Feel those troubles melt away
And start you on a better day.

 -by Paulette, 1998 ~TLC Creations.

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COPYRIGHT 2017. VICTORIA BENCHLEY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED