I made a decadent Valentine’s rose tea for the winter treat boxes: decaf English breakfast, Guittard cocoa rouge, Penzey’s vanilla (beans for steeping AND double-strength extract), rose petals. Delicious, and since it’s decaf, you can indulge in the evening and still slip into sleep filled with luscious dreams…
The Last of the Launch Party Photos
I think this is the very last of my launch party photos, so I will stop incessantly plugging Lori Rader-Day‘s _Death at Greenway_, but it’s really a lovely, literary book, and it would also make a perfect holiday present for many parents and parents-in-laws — if they can’t go on a vacation to England, they can at least visit Agatha Christie’s house on the page.
Read it, and then come back and tell me how much you loved it. A mango-passionfruit mimosa makes a wonderful accompaniment, of course, but a spot of tea would be even more appropriate. Perfect for the gloomy autumn days that are now descending on Chicago… (we really got very lucky with the tea party weather!)
I’ll always encourage you to support your local bookstore, but if you’re planning to shop on Amazon already, if you buy it through this link, the SLF gets a tiny little nonprofit percentage too: https://smile.amazon.com/Deat…/dp/B08F7S2DCP/ref=sr_1_1…
An Excuse to Show Off
I had forgotten how much fun it is to show off the house and food and decor, until I had an excuse to do so for Lori Rader-Day‘s launch party for _Death at Greenway_. (Which I *keep* wanting to call Greenaway instead, but that is wrong.)
It was particularly nice, in a way I’d forgotten about after 18 months of pandemic, having total strangers coming through and exclaiming about how much they loved the house. I love Serendib House to bits, of course, but it’s not a standard sort of decor (my sort of medieval / industrial / South Asian / fantastical blend), and I’m always a little surprised when other people like it as much as I do.
My favorite comment was from one woman who said that everywhere she looked, there was a cool little ‘scene’ to take in. I admit, that’s something I work at!
Oddly, I think my ADD kind of helps in a way — I recently saw a reframing of ADD as not a deficit of attention, but rather an *oversupply* of attention — people with ADD, our brains notice EVERYTHING. That feels accurate to me.
On the home decor front, I really notice clutter, and find it distressing and distracting, so my first almost automatic step is to move through a room straightening it up. It’s hard to keep on top of that with family around, so it’s not usually quite as clear as I’d like on a daily basis — when I lived alone in Salt Lake City, my home was spotless, magazine-ready all the time. (Of course, it was much smaller, so easier to stay on top of, and I was also broken-hearted and miserably lonely most of that time, so I don’t actually want to go back to that…)
Once the space is clear, though, I love to compose little vignettes on mantels, counters, etc. Plants and wee creatures and stacks of attractive books and bits of unexpected art and seasonal touches, etc.
It’s a balancing act — I want just enough that it looks composed and attractive without tipping over into feeling cluttered (to me — everyone sets that at a different place, I suspect). I ALSO want our home to feel natural and liveable, so Kev and Jed and the kids can move comfortably through the space and put down books and coffee cups without worrying about messing something up.
Sometimes that’s a challenge, especially day-to-day. I spend a lot of time reminding the children to pick up blankets and put them back on the couch, and sometimes, Anand’s trail of crumbs on couch cushions is enough to make me want to scream a little. (He is learning how to use the Dustbuster. We’ll get there.) The kitchen island is a constant staging area, being covered with stuff, then emptied, then covered again…
But for a party, we clean up, dress up, and show off.
Tea From Agatha Christie’s
You thought I was done with the tea party photos, didn’t you? Almost. At the tail end, Lori raffled off all kinds of goodies, including tea brought all the way from Agatha Christie’s home in England. V. cool.
Maybe It’s Time for Another Soup Exchange
The plan was to set up all the tea and food inside (it just seemed a lot easier, given all the fragile china, the need to boil water for tea, not needing to worry about keeping bugs away from the table full of food, etc.), ask people to wear masks when in the house getting their food and beverages, and then come out to the garden for the tea party, where they could be unmasked. Our town has pretty high vaccination rates, which helps with feeling like this was a reasonably safe activity to host.
It worked REALLY well, and made me feel like with a little forethought, I could’ve done a lot more entertaining this past year. We had gorgeous weather on Saturday, very lucky, and even though I now have a heater on my front deck, and a firepit in the backyard, there probably will soon be some limits on how much people are willing to hang out outside. We’ve had snow on Halloween some years!
But I’m hoping for another month of decent weather, so I can get in some good socializing before the snows descend and we hunker down for three months.
Maybe it’s time to host another soup exchange. Everyone brings soup to share, takes some away so they have a variety for the winter (ideally soups that freeze well), and we also have some hot here, with bread, for people to try while chatting outside. I think if people don’t mind using mugs as well as soup bowls, I probably have enough for thirty or so…
Pictured: egg salad sandwiches, curried mushroom sandwiches, my Star Trek captain’s tea set (a surprise Christmas present from Kevin a few years back, much loved), mimosas (your choice of mango, passionfruit, or mango-passionfruit, mixed with either prosecco or non-alcoholic ginger beer), someone’s utterly charming bicycle near my cemetery, and a nice big red pot full of tea that Lori brought all the way from Agatha Christie’s home of Greenway!
A Weakness for Wicked Smart and Snarky Bad Boys
Kavi and her friends, Emma and Dani, hard at work. Apparently, they got into quite an argument later on, because Kavi likes Dean (Gilmore Girls), and Emma and Rose (not pictured) emphatically do not. They told Kavi she doesn’t get to have an opinion yet, as she’s only partway through season 2.
I admit, I am with Emma on Team Jess. I have a weakness for wicked smart & snarky slightly bad boys.
Summer treat tea blends
Making Forsythia Tea
Harvest blossoms, pour boiling water over, let sit overnight to cool completely, strain.
Once you have the flower tea, you can boil with sugar to make a simple syrup for drinks and desserts, or add honey to make forsythia honey, use pectin, lemon juice, and sugar to make forsythia jelly, etc. and so on.
A Little Addicted
Um, I might be a little addicted to designing tea towels now. Help. Take this Procreate program away from me…
But really did want Autumn Logophile to complete the set with the Pumpkin Curry and Two Cups patterns. They’re going to be nice hanging in my kitchen all together.
(Have ordered proof, so will be available on Spoonflower and in my shop once they process that.)