Wednesday, August 3, 2011

An Invitation to Tea at Eden

My delightful daughter turned fourteen this week. We are planning to celebrate her birthday in vintage style with a special afternoon tea on Sunday. We have been pouring over past issues of Victoria magazine and googling images of afternoon and high teas for inspiration. After much deliberation we decided to keep it simple and sweet - even down to the invitations. There were so many elaborate cards we could have attempted to make but this was my idea and was inspired by a collection of pretty origami papers that I purchased at a garage sale for just a dollar.

Each square of paper was folded in half to create a rectangle and we ran a seam of glue along three sides to create a sachet. The invitation was typed on the computer and printed out on yellowing foolscap paper and glued into place. A special variety tea bag - Dilmah's rose and vanilla tea in this instance - was carefully placed into the sachet and folded up to create a very special invitation to tea. On the tea label a vintage style sticker with the initial of the recipient was placed over the brand name. It was tied up with narrow ribbon - real vintage ribbon from my stash I have been dipping into for numerous craft projects for the past few years. A sweet little scrap booking sticker holds the ribbon in place. So simple to create using materials we already had in our cupboard.

We have been planning the menu and are going to make simple little egg and cress sandwiches, maybe heart shaped but definitely dainty so I won't be making crusty sourdough for this occasion! We do have fresh eggs from our chickens who are starting to lay again after the cooler days of winter and I have a pot that is overflowing with Lebanese cress which is one of the best performing plants I have ever had the joy to grow. It doesn't seem to die back - just keeps on growing in its sunny spot on the patio. We will also make the same mini quiches we enjoyed at Christmas; eggs, fruit chutney and ricotta cheese combine to make the tastiest little appetizers ever.

Inspiration from the pages of Donna Hay magazine

Simple and sweet also applies to the sweet goodies for afternoon tea. A batch of cupcakes using our favourite chocolate cake recipe - decorating decisions are yet to be made. Perhaps some store bought Viennese fingers or lemon myrtle shortbread. Aldi has quite a range of sweet confectionery - we'll opt for those that have only pure ingredients. I am not opposed to some store bought treats as this is for a special occasion and we want to offer a variety. I don't think you need to make absolutely everything from scratch. We're keeping it simple remember and that applies to how much time we will spend in the kitchen preparing. The birthday cake will be made at home of course and decorated by the resident dessert chef. The birthday girl is having some difficulty deciding on what kind of cake. Chocolate? Banana? Vanilla? I tried to convince her to go with my favourite which is coffee cake (made with real coffee!) but she is not partial to this flavour. I even made a sample cake in an effort to persuade her but she declined. This is a cake for mum and dad to enjoy!

Hoping we can convince the dessert chef to allow us to use her beautiful cake stand for the occasion. This has been purchased for her business at the local markets which is up and running! I'll tell you more about her entrepreneurship in a future post but I can let you know that I am just so delighted that she is using her talents and turning them into a business which I am sure is going to flourish going by the compliments she is receiving from customers. She is also going to be selling a range of dessert sauces and berry condiments on behalf of a local company at different farmer's markets around the region. It's exciting times for our family as my two homeschool graduates launch their own businesses, something I always hoped they would do.

Flowers and fruit will decorate the afternoon tea table. We still have lots of camellias in flower in the garden but the mandarins have all been harvested and consumed so the younger members of the family have moved onto the passion fruit. As soon as they ripen they are handed to mum with a request for them to be cut in half. So much for my plans for making passion fruit conserves.

Here's a few more photos from around my home - simple but sweet finds and acquisitions that I am taking delight in. In our quests to be free from clutter and live more simply, let us not forget that we should still have some little displays around us that remind us of the goodness of God.

A simple and sweet ceramic cross with a Scripture that is one of my family's foundational Scriptures for home education. Isaiah 54 verse 13 'And all thy Children shall be taught of the Lord.' I spotted this in the window of a Christian bookshop. When I saw 'Family' then realized what the Scripture was underneath I just had to buy it to display on my wall.

It hangs alongside a vintage style postcard advertising a certain brand of chocolate. I love the fact that it states 'From British Pastures' - yes, that's me! I love little decorator touches that reflect my heritage! Displaying postcards in clip frames is a very inexpensive way of dressing up a wall. I'm always looking out for postcards which have reproductions of old adverts.

I love books that celebrate the simple pleasures of a life at home and these are two of my favourites. Geraldene Holt's 'Diary of a French Herb Garden' is just delightful, you can almost smell the fragrance of the herbs as she gives a month by month account of her time in France restoring an ancient walled garden in a medieval village. It all sounds so exotic doesn't it but you know what? I am excited by the fact that this famous food writer began writing about food after selling her home made cakes on a country market stall. I can't wait to tell you all about my daughter's little venture now!

You don't have to move to France to establish a garden or write about food. 'A Year of Slow Food' by David and Gerda Foster is an Australian book. Another 'year in the life' of an ordinary family who are content to bloom where they are planted and describe the pleasure they derive from growing their own food and eating it. This book is a real life story, another month by month account from which you can glean practical advice, recipes and inspiration. I have borrowed this book from the library on several occasions so was thrilled to spot it surrounded by crime novels and thrillers at a recent garage sale. Another dollar well spent. As I've mentioned before I much prefer reading real life memoirs and sometimes the best ones are about every day life - growing vegetables, harvesting herbs, baking bread and planning for family celebrations.

Her birthday cake from last year. Simple, sweet and stunning!

When I am short on ideas about what to share at my blog and think that people will not want to read about my ordinary life at home I am suddenly jolted by a little reminder that a contented life at home makes for inspired reading which is why I am inviting you to join me this weekend as I host this simple but sweet tea party for my delightful daughter. Come join me next time when I share about our celebration. I will do my best to capture the moments in words and pictures and hope that you will be inspired by them!


tylasnan said...

Thank you Ann, invitation gladly accepted. My stepdaughter will be turning 35 next year and wants to have an old fashioned picnic with old fashioned clothing as well. Her friends are all very enthusiastic about the idea. Also Happy Birthday to your Delightful Daughter!
Cheers, Karen near Gympie.

Unknown said...

Hi Ann,
Hope you have a lovely vintage tea- it's my favourite way to entertain.
Thanks for the book mention I have now reserved it- we are on the lookout for some Australian Gardening and cooking books to purchase, so am borrowing from the library to compare them and find the best one to purchase.

Pam said...

Oh good, you are posting about the tea party. I am enjoying it already. Tell your daughter I am voting for the vanilla cake... I think I am in the mood because my daughter just made one. Last yea's cake was beautiful. What is the border of that cake made of? I am excited to read about the new ventures of your older two. Sounds really exciting.

I have to agree that reading about the contented everyday life at home is some of my favorite reading as well. It helps me establish the wonder and beauty of those simple things in my own life with such satisfaction. I would love to read your book recommendations, and will have to see if I can find them or have the library order them. It is nice to read about how people got started down the road to what the do. It inspires and comforts me when I read about the ordinariness of extraordinary people.
Much Love,

Joolz said...

What a lovely party it will be - so elegant.

I made the DG cupcakes last weekend for my sister's birthday and everyone commented on them being so moist and chocolatey! I haven't had a flop yet!

Best wishes to your daughter for a great tea party!

Cheers - Joolz

Renata said...

I'd love to come!!!

Sounds like you're going to have a lovely time ~ I look forward to seeing the pictures! I love your little cross decoration ~ I wouldn't have been able to pass it by either.
Hope you have a great day

Katy said...

I look forward to hearing about the celebration!! :)

A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

Ann I always love hearing about your goings on's....And this occasion sounds very sentimental and special indeed!....I think it is a great party idea,I had a friend recently buy a heap of old lace and floral hats and she used those for her little guests to wear! Awwww so cute! Scones I hope will feature. Look forward to hearing of your Other Daughters little buissness...


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