Finally time for lunch. I had grown quite thirsty on our Moss Mountain Farm tour. I was starting to get a little hungry, too.

Our tour group was led into the barn for lunch.

barn

Each reserved table was set with lovely white roses.

white roses table arrangement

We sat with some nice folks from Little Rock, Conway and Fort Smith, AR as well as Atlanta, GA.

The barn holds some of Allen’s paintings from his Squash series.

squash paintings

It felt pretty fancy for a barn! If only I could get our shed cleaned out, I’d have a place just like this. HA! Okay, maybe not JUST like it.

barn lighting

I love how  antique farm tools were used as decoration.

antique farm tools

Lunch was a bed of fresh, mixed greens topped with tomatoes, cucumbers, and grilled chicken.

salad with grilled chicken, grape tomatoes, and cucumbers

I have a confession to make. I don’t like tomatoes. Tomato sauce, salsa, tomatoes cooked in soups I’m okay with all that. Well, as long as they are chopped up really small. I think it is a textural thing. When the plate showed up with all those beautiful tomatoes I got a lump in my throat knowing I was going to have to eat them. I tried not to turn my nose up too noticeably. Here I was, a food blogger, at a fancy farm! I’m supposed to love all vegetables, right? Sorry.

I decided to be a big girl and try my first grape tomatoes. Guess what–I kinda liked them! There was not as much slimy surface as on a slicer. I found them to be a little on the sweet side. Believe it or not, I ate almost all of them! I must say, I was proud of myself.

grilled chicken

I also felt like I HAD to eat my salad before I dug into my dessert!

pie

Buttermilk Pecan Pie with fresh whipped cream!

Here’s a closer look. Try not to drool on your screen, please.

buttermilk pecan pie

YUM!

As we finished our dessert, Laura, our guide, answered questions from the crowd while we waited for Allen to arrive from Little Rock.

We stepped out on the drive for our meet and greet time. Allen is such an expressive person, it is hard to grab a good picture of him.

chattiing with P. Allen Smith

I looks like he is telling us a fish tale here. More than likely he is telling us about his chickens and their “poultry palace”.

P. Allen Smith

Next, it was time for photos and autographs in the gift shop.

Mom and I still had to see the chickens, roses, and vegetables in a matter of about 30 minutes! We made a dash to be first in line. Fortunately, Mom had made her cookbook purchases when we first arrived at the farm.

Moss Mountain Farm gift shop

Mom with P. Allen Smith

We zoomed down to the end-of-the-earth to see the chickens.

They were chickens.

Poultry Palace at Moss Mountain Farm

It was interesting to see all the different varieties. It was dark, so that made it difficult to photograph.

rooster

red, white, and black

poultry in black and white

farm baby

I liked the chickens. I just was anxious to see the Rose Garden before our time was up.

We trudged back up the hill toward the rose garden. Allen was finished with autographs, so we stopped for one more picture. Earlier, I had only taken pictures of Mom. I decided I wanted one too.

Looks like navy gingham was a good choice!

with P. Allen Smith

 

On to the roses!

The gardens on the back side of Moss Mountain Garden Home are just lovely. They called the area we toured next something specific like the South garden or something like that. For the life of me I can’t remember that name. Whatever it was differentiated this garden from the vegetable garden and the rose garden. I’ll share those with you soon.

Here is a view of the back of the house. I love the two-story screened porch.

screened porch

In this photo we are standing on a path between the Summer Kitchen and the Art House. (I failed to take a picture of these.) These facilities were not part of our tour, but we were allowed to peek in the windows.

Here is one of the water features on the property. If you squint at the middle of the picture you can see the Arkansas River. Remember, it was overcast the day we went.

garden fountain

The plants and flowers were lovely. I really enjoy touring gardens. I think I like it because I have a bit of a brown thumb. Seeing someone else succeed in that area is inspiring.

A couple of years ago my friend, Cathy, gave me some herbs to plant. I actually had success! I even planted more this year. There is hope for me yet!

Being the “green” gardener that I am, I am not 100% sure of all the names of the plants. I tried to look them up on the internet. You know, if it’s on the internet it must be true! wink wink

I believe this is called Allium. I really like the height and shape of these. The looked great in the kitchen.

allium

Lamb’s Ear always remind me of when my oldest was little. We would often stroll around the neighborhood after dinner trying to wear her out for bedtime. One of our neighbors had Lamb’s Ear around the mailbox.  Megan would always have to stop and pet the fuzzy leaves.

lamb's ear

The pink roses with the purple “whatevers” layered in front was stunning.

pink and purple flowers

This is Mrs. Big Fig, the huge fig tree in the middle of the path.

 

fig tree

I never knew this is what asparagus looked like in the garden!

asparagus

The lilies in my yard are no where near this tall.

lillies

There was a large variety of irises. I love the smell of irises. For some reason the smell reminds me of the taste of those marshmallow candy eggs we used to have at Easter when I was a kid. You know, the ones no one but Dad liked? Maybe the association has something to do with hunting Easter eggs while irises bloomed in the yard and I chowed down on candy! Dad wasn’t actually the only one who liked those things. The yellow ones were my favorite.

orange iris

purple iris

yellow iris

More irises around another water feature.

rock fountain

Some of the plants were ones I had never heard of or seen before…

…like Nicotiana. What a unique looking flower. I almost looks like a sea urchin.

nicotiana

Smoke Bush was a new one to me, too. I understand the textural difference in the landscape. However, I found myself wanting to bring this one into sharper focus for some reason.

smoke bush

I don’t know the name of this flower. It was just so tiny and cute, I had to include it.

tiny flower

Our guide showed us the way to the Rose Garden and Vegetable Garden, so we could tour on our own after lunch.

On our way to lunch, we visited the swans, Fred and Ethel. I saw on the P. Allen Smith Facebook page the other day that Fred and Ethel will be proud parents soon.

You can click on the gallery below to see these pictures better.

 

On to lunch–thank goodness!

rock wall

How about you? Do you have a green thumb or a brown thumb?

Are you a Master Gardener or a novice gardener?

 

Finally time to tour the home!

The welcoming foyer’s buffet table hosted three silver bowls filled with apples.

I was immediately reminded of this verse-even though the apples are green, not golden.

Proverbs 25 v.11

Our lovely guide, Laura, Allen’s personal assistant, led us into the front living room.

our guide

We were here for about 30 minutes learning all kinds of things about the home. Allen’s green, sustainable living philosophy was carried out in every aspect of the home. Attention to architectural history made the house feel much more than a decade old. Laura gave us some background information on Allen’s family and education as well as his current endeavors.

Front Room

Allen’s love of painting can be seen throughout the home.

After our introduction to Moss Mountain, we were given time to explore indoors.

Duncan sent us on our way.

doggie

Mom and I decided to start at the top and work our way down.

rug-covered stairs

I loved the casual runner stapled to the stairs leading to the upper floor.

The view wasn’t bad either!

double.indd

Four beds plus a reading/working/playing area would surely be a treat for guests.

fun attic space

The master suite was on the level below. Elegant meets quirky in this “hat rack” in the bathroom.

hatrack

The mirrors in their dark frames looked very nice against the pale blue wall. Heaven help me though! I wanted to straighten them so badly!

wall of mirrors

The use of “real” furniture in the bathroom was a nice touch.

My pictures of the bedroom and reading nook didn’t really turn our that great. You will just have to plan a visit of your own to see them!

butterfly collection

Just off the library area was the sleeping porch. Ahhhh!

sleeping porch

Do you see the tub there behind my Mom?!

sleeping porch with tub

Okay, here is a better picture.

copper tub

Wouldn’t you just LOVE to hang out there a while, gazing out at the Arkansas River?

Ahhhh!

On to the guest room.

headboard with fabric and nailhead trim

peonies in the guest room

There is a great view of the 300+ year old tree from the guest bathroom.

300 year old tree

As we headed back to the main floor, I snapped a couple more shots of the entry table. The symmetry is so appealing.

symmetrical entry table

The ottomans under the table look great! They are nice to have for extra seating if necessary. The orange with the green apples and silver bowls makes quite a statement!

ottomans under entry table

The kitchen was outfitted with beautiful Allium from the garden.

fruit and flowers

Unique kitchen lights–

kitchen lighting

Porch dining–

porch dining

Some of our picture taking was cut short when we found our tour group was already headed to the garden!

curved settee

I couldn’t resist one last shot–Mom on the curved settee.

See you in the garden next.

After cramming our sneakers in our  purses and our boots on our feet, Mom and I were ready for our Moss Mountain tour!

Mom at Moss Mountain Farm

One other thing I wish I had added to my purse was a bottle of water. Consider taking one when you go–lots of walking.

Our instructions were to arrive at 10:30 for the 11:00 tour.

We were a little unsure what we were supposed to do once we got there. We followed the crowd to the gift shop area. Of course we had to take some goofy pictures.

gift shop 2

gift shop 1

 

The chickens were happy to pose for us.

chickens

chicken

 

After perusing the gift shop for about 15 minutes, we decided to ask one of the ladies wearing a name tag what the plan of action was. (You can only take so many chicken pictures.)

She motioned toward the vegetable garden and the sheep pasture as she told us we were free to roam until 11:00.

We kicked things into high gear in order to cover as much ground as possible. We were both grateful for our boots as we trekked across the wet field.

Moose, the donkey, was not nearly as cooperative for his photo shoot as the chickens had been for theirs!

Moose the Donkey

 

The little garden house was so cute! It was a wire frame covered with burlap. I wish I could have seen it when the daffodils were in bloom!

burlap house

I remember seeing  on Facebook back in the fall how Allen covered the little house with pumpkins.

burlap and wire house

 

Joyce’s House was featured in Southern Living not too long ago.

cotttage

 

It was getting close to time for the “official” tour so we had to head back. We did do more self-guided touring after lunch.

The Barn is where we had lunch-more on that later.

barn

 

In front of the garden home is this beautiful 300+ year old tree. Don’t you like the lights strung up for a party?

tree over 300 years old-Moss Mountain Farm

 

While the house is only about 10 years old, the crew did a nice job making it look as if it had been there 100 years or more!

side of the house-Moss Mountain Farm

 

The yellow “knock out” roses near the house were incredible!

knock out roses

 

You never know who you will run into at Moss Mountain Farm. I met Ceri, a fellow ARWB food blogger. at the blog conference I attended last year. She and her friend, Vanessa, drove down from Fayetteville, AR that morning.

RecipeDoodle

 

Next up…inside the house!

For my birthday this year, my Mom promised to take me to tour P. Allen Smith’s garden home at Moss Mountain Farm.

sign

I have had the opportunity to meet and miss Allen several times. Click here.

Having seen my blogger pals talk about going to Moss Mountain on many different occasions, I was very excited to finally get to go for myself!

I didn’t exactly know what to expect from the tour. I knew there would be lunch and a house and chickens. I had no idea what the “dress code” for such an event was.  I decided to consult my ARWB friends for advice.

I’m going to Moss Mountain Farm tomorrow. It’s my first time. How should I dress?

  • Debbie Horton Arnold-Is it for one of their luncheon/tours?
  • Stephanie Crampton Buckley-Cute and comfy. Comfy because there’s a lot of walking around and cute because you will take a lot, and will want to be in, photos.
  • Sarah E. White-Rain boots since it will be muddy?
  • Debbie Horton Arnold-Cute but not dressy. I’ve worn nice jeans, cropped pants, and slacks before. Always with shoes you can walk around in a yard and garden with. (no heels) I hope you have a beautiful, fun-filled day. It’s a beautiful place. Take an apple for the donkey:)
  • Peggy Cox Bayer-Thanks, y’all. For my birthday my Mom bought us tickets for the luncheon/tour. We are just now finding/making time to go. Pray the rain holds off!
  • Peggy Cox Bayer-Thanks for the “donkey tip” Debbie Horton Arnold
  • Paige Ray-You ladies have fun today!!
    After all of that I was even more perplexed!
    That morning I thought I had the a perfectly cute and comfortable outfit picked out for the day. The weather man was calling for rain, so I knew rain boots were a possibility.
    light blue gingham with floral skirt
    Cute enough–but I felt all fidgety in the skirt for some reason. Perhaps a different skirt was the answer.
    light blue gingham with denim
    No. This just was not right.
    Then I remembered a springy green dress.
    green dress
    I wore this to take the kids to school. It really needed to be ironed. My white sneakers were not so white. I WAS GOING TO A FARM! WHY DID I WANT TO WEAR A DRESS?!
    purple gingham
    Next up was my purple gingham shirt with jeans. Jeans would be much more comfy if I ended up wearing my boots. That was it! I would wear my Converse sneakers and take my boots.
    Wrong!
    Don’t you HATE those days when nothing seems to be the right outfit?! UGH!
    I was running out of time AND patience. I knew the next outfit had to be “it” whether it was or not.
    I needed something on my arms because I tend to get cold. Apparently I was in a gingham mood, since I had already tried two gingham shirts.
    A gingham jacket was the winner! (I picked it up for 50¢ at Goodwill last summer.)
    gingham, converse, rain boots
    Hooray! Decision made. I wore the sneakers and threw the boots in the backseat.
    gingham jacket with converse

    As soon as we parked the car, my cute little sneakers went into my purse and on went the boots.
    I didn’t know if I would need to change shoes to go inside or not.
    stuffing shoes in my purse
    So, here is how I dressed to go to Moss Mountain Farm.
    arriving at the farm
    Jeans and rain boots turned out to be the perfect pairing for the day. No, they didn’t make me leave my boots at the door. I hauled my sneakers around unnecessarily. I was glad to have a jacket though.
    Stay tuned for more about the actual trip.
    Oh, in case you are wondering, I took all those clothing pictures days later. I wish I had actually taken a picture that day.  My bed looked like my closet exploded. I was not really planning to include a fashion post with my Moss Mountain adventures. However, when I relayed my fashion dilemma to my husband later that day, he got a huge kick out of it. I just thought y’all might, too!

Shortbread cookies are no stranger to a tea party. Add a little cocoa powder and this simple, unassuming cookie goes from wallflower to star!

Okay, that may have been a little dramatic. We are, after all, talking about a cookie.

I did amp up these chocolate shortbread cookies a little by making my own cookie stamp just for the occasion!

I experimented with stamped cookies about a year and a half ago. Click HERE to see that experiment.

Can you tell what I used to make the stamp?

tea time stamp

Alphabet Pasta!

I just glued the letters onto a piece of cardboard–in reverse order and backward! I even made a little handle with stacked pieces of cardboard.

For some reason the “M” was a little thicker than the other letters. It did the best after baking. Perhaps because it smushed into the dough deeper. Some of the thinner letters were a little tricky to read. I think people got the point though.

chocolate shortbread cookies

The recipe is very easy.

I used Martha’s recipe from her Cookies Cookbook. Well, I didn’t follow her recipe exactly. She calls for drizzling the shortbread with melted white chocolate. That obviously wouldn’t work with my fancy stamped cookies. It sure sounds yummy though. I may have to try that next time.

 

martha's cookies

 

Chocolate Shortbread

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt (DO NOT leave out the salt. I used Kosher salt. That little bit of saltiness with the sweet was delicious.)

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 300˚
  2. Pulse all the dry ingredients together in a food processor. Add butter and vanilla, and process until it all starts to stick together.
  3. Shape into a ball. Roll out on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut however you like. I used a garnisher that had a wavy edge to cut my cookies into small sticks. I did a bit of experimenting to get the size just right for my stamp. I even trimmed some off after I stamped because I just thought they looked too wide. Go with what you like!
  4. Bake on parchment paper. I’m terribly sorry, but since my cookies were so small, I just guessed at how long to bake them. I crammed a bunch on my baking stone because I was lazy and didn’t want to make 800 batches! Martha’s recipe says for  3 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch cookies to bake for 20-25 minutes-until firm to the touch. I’m thinking I checked mine at 10 minutes. Sorry, I just don’t remember how long they took. I had just baked so much! I had flour for brains!

They turned out great–however long I baked them! They were very yummy!

I neglected to get a good picture of the cookies after they had baked. You can barely see the corner of one on the picture below.

stamped tea cookie

table setting

After preparing Tea Party food two years in a  row, I have discovered why people go to tea parties–THE DESSERTS!

dessert tray

Of course we had savories.

And it just wouldn’t be a tea party without scones.

scone with clotted cream and jam

But the desserts….oh, my, the desserts!

 

tea party desserts

I’ll start on the lower left and go clock-wise.

Cream Cheese Mints

Raspberry Almond Tea Cakes

Fresh Fruit with Honey Lime Dressing

Chocolate Shortbread Cookie

Cream Cheese Pastry with Lemon Curd

Triple Chocolate Mousse

I did have some helpers. My sweet friends, Donna and Kaye, did such a fabulous job with the tasty Cream Cheese Mints last year. They were recruited to make them once again. I don’t trust myself making them. They are so good! Here is the recipe they used. They are addictive–you’ve been warned!

The Tea Cakes were pretty easy. I made a basic pound cake using almond flavoring rather than vanilla. I baked the cake in a 10×15 inch jelly roll style pan on parchment paper. Then I baked a second one for the top layer. Seedless Raspberry Jam was slathered between the layers. A little melted vanilla Ready-to-Spread frosting and a fresh raspberry on top finished off each piece. I liked the ease of letting the frosting drip down the sides.

Here is the Honey Lime Dressing recipe Danielle used. The little glasses are just plastic shot glasses from the Dollar Tree.

Chocolate Shortbread is very easy. I’ll be telling you more about that in another post soon. Stay tuned! (If you fill out the email subscription on the side bar, you will be sure to not miss it!)

The recipe for the Cream Cheese Pastry wasn’t hard, just time-consuming. I went to the trouble of making tiny little pie weights and everything. I don’t know that they were really necessary. The pastries freeze very nicely. I made them in advance and thawed them the day of the party. I used store-bought lemon curd. Lemon Curd is not hard to make. Buying it ready-made at the store sure saved time!Dickinson's-lemon-curd

The Triple Chocolate Mousse was…well…not easy…especially making 100! I am really bad about having grand ideas that are somewhat over my head!

dessert plate

I found the recipe here. The gal on this post is a pastry chef, y’all! Me? I have no training-at all! I just try hard things!

I really wanted to make the triple chocolate mousse. I made if for my family for Valentine’s Day. Boy, am I glad I did! Over on the original post, she used nice stainless steel ring molds. Since I didn’t have those, nor did I have money to purchase 100, I thought perhaps a tomato paste can would work. Well, not so much. The ridges in the can held the mousse in place, making for a difficult release. Plus, I was impatient to get the desserts out of the cans! Plus, they probably needed to thaw a bit more. On my trial run I poured the mousse and cake (I cheated and used a boxed cake mix.) that didn’t go into tomato paste cans into a square baking pan. I thought I’d see if slicing the mousse into triangle servings would work. No, this did not go well. The cake part was too thick. Oh, I forgot to mention that there was a disaster of some sort with the chocolate layer that made it hard as a rock. It might have had something to do with the fact that I bought the wrong kind of chocolate-bittersweet! Thank goodness I tested!

As the time for the tea got closer and closer, I got more and more nervous about making the Triple Chocolate Mousse. I decided to get on the computer and look for some suggestions. Lo and behold good old Martha Stewart had a similar recipe. Martha used parchment paper around the cake and taped it into a collar, then piped in the mousse. Well…I tried it. See, you freeze the dessert after each layer is added. The tape turned loose after being in the freezer. I had to go back and staple each little collar.

So, I had my 100 Triple Chocolate Mousse made, with the right kind of chocolate, and in the freezer with their little parchment paper collars stapled around them. The day before the party I my friend, Kathy, suggested I take one mousse out of the freezer to see how it does thawing. Thank goodness it did just fine.

The day of the party was a bit crazy, as you can imagine.

I transported the everything to the Harper Alexander House. Into the fridge with the mousse to begin the thaw. They should have been thawed close to party time. I panicked! They were not as thawed as they should have been. I took them out of the refrigerator and placed them on the counter. Well, I guess I jumped the gun a little. By the time we started plating the food, the mousse were tricky to handle. There were a couple that crashed over on the other desserts. Thank goodness Cathy and Danielle were helping me in the kitchen! Cathy shoved that fruit cup against the mousse and it saved the day!

No one knew any different!

I think everyone enjoyed the yummy desserts!

 

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