Hosting a Tea for the 3rd year in a row was a little tricky. We had guests who had attended the Tea the previous two years. We also had first time guests.  I wanted the food to be special. However, there were favorites from the past that we just had to include: the Chicken Salad, the Scones with Clotted Cream and Jam, and the Melt-Away Mints.

(You can see our plates from years past here, here, here, here, and here.)

Below is our Tea Party Menu for 2015.

Tea menu

I am sorry to say that I don’t have many “in progress” pictures. Quite frankly, with my poison ivy, I was a little behind schedule in my prep work. There wasn’t a lot of time for photography. Luckily, my husband took great pictures at the Tea!

savory plates

The Chicken Salad was very easy–ha! Someone else made it! Since we have had it every year, I have tried to present it differently each year–in a puff pastry, on an apple slice and now on a croissant. I’m open to suggestions for next year!

savory plate

That lovely little triangle Ribbon Sandwich was a HUGE hit! I was surprised. The Grits Crostini had people begging for more!

Of course, the Scones plate is the overall favorite.

scones

It wouldn’t be a Tea without sensational desserts!

dessert plates

You may have seen my Teapot Cookies when I posted them on Facebook. I dream of being able to decorate fancy cookies. This was my first public attempt. Is that brave or stupid?! They turned out pretty cute, I think.

One of our members made all the Melt-Away Mints. I LOVE those things!!!

The Tiramisu was donated by the Olive Garden-THANK YOU! I cut a regular sized portion into fourths for the perfect sized sample.

Carrot Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting were made a little fancier with the addition of a candied carrot curl. I had seen a how-to for the carrot curls on Pinterest. Not quite as easy as you might think!

The Salted Chocolate Tart with Kettle Chip Crust (of all things!)  was originally supposed to be a salted caramel and chocolate tart. When testing the caramel, I burned it. I don’t mean that it got a little scorched. I mean it was BLACK-all of it! I thought I was going to have to throw away my pan! Oh, the house stank! I figured I didn’t want to have the stress of trying to make it successfully for 100 little caramel tarts. The chocolate was a great alternative. I used flaked salt as a garnish. That was pretty exciting, well, to me. I felt all fancy and chef-y.

The Blackberry Lime Bars were a twist on Lemon Bars we have had in the past. I almost went with Lemon Bars again because I LOVE THEM SO MUCH!!! I decided to branch out a little. The extra expense of the blackberry and lime wedge on top made for a little more tea party glamor!

dessert plate

I was able to make most of the goodies in advance and freeze them-even the teapot cookie! Of course, nothing else would fit in my freezer for weeks.

teapots

Of course we had tea!

English Breakfast Tea

I would have never made it without my kitchen helpers.

tea ladies

Danielle and Kaye did a great job with the making and distributing of the tea. (I don’t know about that crazy person in the background!)

me and my girls

Oh, wait, she’s mine! My girls were a huge help in the kitchen. They are used to the way I boss them around already, so we worked well together. ; )

me and Cathy

My friend, Cathy, was my right-hand-gal! She is used to telling people what to do on her farm. She is a get-it-done type of gal, and I love working with her!

me and mom

Of course, Mom was there to do whatever needed to be done! ( I can tell this picture was taken at the end of the day. I have that “is it over yet” look on my face!)

Have you ever hosted a tea party? What did you serve? I mean besides when you were 6 years old and served air!

Mom and I both sing with Top of the Rock Chorus, the Little Rock Chapter of Sweet Adelines International.

This Spring, we were co-chairmen of our third-annual fundraiser Tea. Mom does all the scouting around for donations, recruiting members to volunteer and securing the venue. I’m in charge of the food.

This year, the Tea was at the historic E.O. Manees House, home of the North Little Rock Junior League. It was a picture-perfect Spring day.

Junior League NLR

E.O.Manees House

Our Tea Party has been at the Harper Alexander House for the past two years.  The caretaker there, D’Arlyn Ball, has all the rooms furnished and decorated beautifully. You can see pictures here.

The Manees House, however, has just a small amount of furniture. That is where some of our volunteers really helped out this year. Mom recruited ladies from the chorus  to decorate tables with their own china, flatware, etc. The result was wonderful! No two tables were alike. From fresh flowers to Wedgewood-everything was lovely! I think the ladies enjoyed getting to “show off” a little as well.

Take a look:

Wedgewood

purple and green table

TOTR centerpiece

quilt and hydrangeas

purple tulip centerpiece

purple table

Fiesta Ware

silver teapot

vintage teacup

vintage floral china

table for two

toille seatcovers

daisies

arranging flowers

hydrangea napkin ring

blue and yellow quilted placemats

yellow roses arrangement

Stay tuned…there will be details about the FOOD coming soon.

 

This Spring has been quite busy!!!

I’m afraid that is a bit of an understatement.

We had snow in early March! That almost never happens here in central Arkansas!

Things warmed up and were pretty nice for Spring Break-well, for a couple of days anyway.

It was in those couple of days that things took a turn for the worse. We had just returned from Tulsa, OK where my chorus participated in the annual regional competition. Since the weather was nice when we returned home, Chip and I decided to work in the yard a bit.

The ground was very soft from all the snow and rain we had in the month of March–perfect for pulling up all those little saplings the birds planted in my flowerbeds.

I really am not much of a gardener. I enjoy pretending to be one, however, saplings continue to grow in my flowerbeds-sigh.

We made great progress, despite uncovering a nest of baby copperhead snakes!!!

A couple of days later, my arms started to itch.

You guessed it…poison ivy.

poison20ivy1a_answer_2_xlarge

Apparently, poison ivy is not my friend. Thank goodness I was at least wearing gloves!

I do know what poison ivy looks like. “Leaves of 3–let them be!”

Poison_Ivy628

However, in early Spring, apparently the leaves were not yet visible. Either that or there were just old vines which had the oil on them.

Oh, I had dug and pulled and yanked all day! There were big piles of weeds to carry to the edge of the yard.

Later that week the itching got worse–so much so that my husband took me to the little walk-in clinic here in town on Sunday afternoon.

The diagnosis was indeed poison ivy. They gave me a steroid shot and a prescription for oral steroids and sent me on my way.

So, that night I did not sleep at all thanks to the steroids and the itching.

Things seemed to get worse, so back to the clinic I went. My arms red, swollen and itchy. Another round of steroids plus an antibiotic this time.

The swelling and redness was so severe that the nurse drew on my arms with a Sharpie to be able to watch for spreading of the infection. Here are some pictures about half-way through the whole ordeal. Trust me this looks GOOD! They nice folks at the clinic told me it was probably cellulitis.

poison ivy arms

poison ivy infection

IMG_2516

The itching from the cellulitis was so intense! I think it was worse than the poison ivy. Of course, taking all those pills was no picnic either.

That Friday was Good Friday. As I lay awake, unable to sleep, trying not to scratch, I was convicted about my “suffering”. There is was Good Friday, the day Jesus Christ suffered a horrible death on a cross for my sins! This changed how things looked to me for the duration of the itching.

I am extremely grateful to have had so many friends and family praying for me during the ordeal. It was very humbling, and I felt very loved.

Be careful out there in your gardens!

88

What do you do on May 4th when your kids are super into things like super heroes and Star Wars?

Make Yoda cookies!!!  (Of course I had NO time to do something like this! What was I thinking?!)yoda cookies “May the fourth be with you!”

I am amazed by some of the fancy cookies I see out there on the Internet. I dream about being able to make fancy cookies like that some day.

I wanted to start out this post by saying, I tried to make some Yoda cookies for “Star Wars” day. 

Then I remembered the words of Master Yoda… yoda quote It’s a learning process, I suppose. You only get better if you practice.

So, I made some Yoda cookies for my kids.  yoda I just cut a circle and kinda squished it into an ovalish shape. Little triangles were stuck to the sides for ears.

Here is the pattern I followed for decorating.  I LOVE Sugarbelle’s cookies-all of them!!!

I love my Silpat baking mat! (No, this is not a sponsored post. I just wanted to share.)

Cookies are easy to remove. No burning. I’ve even used it in the freezer.

 

Source

I’ve had my mat for a while now. It seems like I got it for my birthday or Mother’s Day or something like that. I also have some off-brand liners that I like as well.

My Silpat mat came in a nice little box like the one above. I used the box for storing my mats in my cupboard. I didn’t want them to get gouged by cooling racks and roasting pans.

As time went on, my nice little box wore down on one of the edges and separated completely. (Sorry, no picture of the dilapidated box.) No problem. A rubber band worked great to hold it together.

When the rubber band gave up the ghost, I knew it was time for something different. Sure, I could have used another rubber band. However, by this time, another edge was almost worthless.

Silpat

I remembered that I had an old wax paper box in one of my craft closets. Who knows what I was planning to do with it. I just know it had been sitting there, unused, for quite some time.

After removing the cutting blade, the box was the perfect size for my baking mats!

Woo Hoo!

recycled wax paper box

I did a little happy dance! A free-cycle storage solution! The wax paper box fits nicely in my cupboard, too.

Do you use silicone baking mats? How do you store them?

The weather has been gorgeous for the past few days! Nice weather makes for a very nice Spring Break-sunny and high of about 75°F.

We didn’t have a big Spring Break trip planned, so we are enjoying being at home. We have done a little yard work and a little housework.

This morning Megan and I took a walk. It is always nice to have a walking buddy!

Sneakers

I love the Miller’s Easter flag!

Easter flag with cross

Mrs. Carla’s daffodils are so pretty every year!

Daffodils

Here is another variety we saw in a pot in town.

Jonquils

The pear trees that line Front Street are so pretty–but stinky!

Pear trees

A camera could not do justice to these glowing forsythia bushes.

Forsythia

I don’t know what these little wild flowers are called. My sister and I always just called them Easter flowers. Seems like our yard was covered with these every Easter.

Easter flowers

Spring has definitely sprung here in Central Arkansas! I’m glad I could get out and enjoy it before the pollen gets too bad!

Today’s lunch was “smorgasbord”. Smorgasbord at our house means move all the leftovers from the refrigerator to the counter–cafeteria style.We have it at least once a month-typically either Sunday or Monday. You see, the garbage man comes on Tuesday. This is the perfect time to clean out those containers that have “science experiments” growing in them.

Leftovers

We always have lots of choices.

Everyone goes through and picks whatever he or she wants to eat. We have to eat in shifts though since we all have to wait to use the microwave.

Today, Katie had butter noodles-leftover spaghetti from Spaghetti and Meatballs.

Megan had the rest of the Tuna Stir-fry–stay tuned for that one!

Chip used some of the leftover brisket to make quesadillas.

I picked through the remains of a bagged salad and used up the last piece of fajita chicken.

Everyone was happy!

In an effort to use up even more leftovers, I grabbed a container of fried apples to use for our dessert– Apple Flautas.

There is nothing fancy about these apples. They are just fried apples from a can.

I was almost able to use up the last of the tortillas, too!

Fried Apples

I’ve never made Apple Flautas. I didn’t even bother looking up a recipe. Mom used to get them from Schwan’s when we were kids. Too bad they don’t carry them any more.

While assembling my Apple Flautas, I had a little vegetable oil heating in my pan. Of course, if you have a deep fryer that works great, too.

I spread a little butter on my tortilla, then added the apples.

The canned fried apples were already sweetened, so I didn’t add any extra sugar.  I did, however, add a little cinnamon.

In the picture below, you see that the fruit is in the middle of the tortilla. I realized after I took the picture that that would not work. I turned the plate and scooched the fruit to the bottom 1/3 of the tortilla.

apple flauta

See now why the fruit needs to be on the bottom 1/3?! If it is right in the middle, you don’t have anywhere to go when you are rolling your tortilla.

roll the tortilla

Fold in the sides of the tortilla. This helps hold the fruit inside the tortilla while frying. Yes, do this to both sides. I could only fold and hold one side while I took the picture.

fold in sides

Continue rolling up the tortilla.

rolled tortilla

I placed my rolled apple flautas seam-side down in the hot oil. It seemed like they would hold together better that way.

frying

Cook until golden. Flip the apple flautas over and cook the other side. I also held them on their sides to get the browning all the way around. If you are using a fryer you don’t have to worry about this.

**Note: You need to turn the heat down a little on the second batch. I turned mine down, but I guess it wasn’t enough. With the pan and oil already hot, the second batch browned up A LOT faster. Just so you know!

fried tortillas

Look! Another leftover item from the fridge!

This caramel dip is so yummy!

Caramel is my favorite topping! There is just something about the rich, buttery flavor of caramel.

Marzetti's caramel dip

I added a few more apples on top along with the caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream and a little shake of cinnamon/sugar. I would have used a bigger scoop of ice cream, but we finished it off, too! There was barely enough to go around.

Apple Flautas

There you have it. Apple Flautas! Not bad for leftovers.

Critics’ Corner

Chip: Like an apple chimichanga with ice cream on the side. I really liked it.

Megan: I thought it was really, really good but needed more filling.

Katie: A wrapped up bundle of awesomeness!

 

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