When Stephanie was a little girl, any scarf or random piece of fabric would send her into joyful, swirling-twirling dancing. She would be delighted to get a stack of new bandanas in every color for birthdays. We called her our “Scarf Dancer” before we even knew there had been such a thing way back when. She was entertaining and funny right out of the gate, graceful and animated.
One rather dreary afternoon last October, Tredessa and I hosted a tea party for Averi and Gemma and Guinivere. When the music started, the scarves came out. And in Gemma and Guini, Stephanie’s own little girls, I see Stephanie still – silly giggling and jumping and free, rainbow colors and fabric framing her tiny self, dancing merrily, making happy.
The music is Chaminade’s “Scarf Dance,” composed around 1887, perfomed by Eric Parkin.
“Tea! thou soft, thou sober, sage, and venerable liquid…thou female tongue-running, smile-smoothing, heart-opening, wind-tippling cordial, to whose glorious insipidity I owe the happiest moment of my life, let me fall prostrate.” ~Colley Cibber, Lady’s Last Stake (I first read it on the invitation my daughters, Stephanie and Stormie, extended inviting me to tea.)
“Bread and water can so easily be toast and tea.” ~Author Unknown
The Tea, as I understand its’ purpose to be, was merely the opportunity for Stephanie and Stormie to try out as many rapturous recipes on us as possible. Things such as Blackberry Napoleans on shortbread and scones with raspberry preserves or fresh Devonshire Cream, finger sandwiches, and fancy tea cakes were among the wondrous offerings. Then there were the perfectly-brewed teas: Earl Grey, Peach and Chai Spice, to choose from. Luscious chocolate truffles and handcrafted candies awaited us as well. They just cooked and baked and created and delighted us all.
Stormie and Stephanie also took the opportunity to use the mix-and-match dishes and serving pieces they both collect. There was China as old as the 1930’s and pieces from the 40’s and 50’s as well as “vintage” linens from the 70’s mixed with things from Anthropologie’s vintage modern and oh-so-hip wares.
“If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are too heated, it will cool you. If you are depressed, it will cheer you. If you are excited, it will calm you.” ~Gladstone, 1865
Pennants and garlands were sewn from papier and sprinkled about for color and fun. The effect was timeless and frolicsome and playful ~ grown women enjoying a tea party like little girls.
“Another novelty is the tea-party, an extraordinary meal in that, being offered to persons that have already dined well, it supposes neither appetite nor thirst, and has no object but distraction, no basis but delicate enjoyment.” ~Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste
All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes. ~George Orwell, “A Nice Cup of Tea”
“Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. And whoever this ‘Earl Grey’ fellow is, I’d like to have a word with him… ” -Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek, The Next Generation
The Earl Grey was smooth and sweet (without sugar, thank-you very much) and I have enjoyed the Earl on several occasions since the tea. Yes, he was that good.
“Tea with lemon please” ~Jerry Seinfeld
Sandy-the-Dog takes her Tea with two lumps of sugar, if you please.
They just did a great job and we all felt so polite and honored and classy and well-fed.
Thank-you Stephanie and Stormie. I am available for recipe-testing anytime. It was magnificent!…Mom
Two of my sweet, wildly-creative daughters have invited me to tea. The above invitation was mounted on deep purple cardstock and tucked into an envelope and hand-delivered when I returned from Puerto Rico. They’d been devising their festivities. So polite and formal.
Lisa Bierer and I, when we had a little shop in a small city in Nebraska, used to be called upon to lecture on the Victorian custom of Tea and were a resource for those seeking the “finer things.” It may have had some impact upon my young and impressionable daughters for they have been at work collecting vintage linens and old China and planning a lovely tea for a few of us.
I love my girls. I love tea. With great pleasure I accept this invitation. A delightful time is in store, I think.