Parties


Welcome sign

Welcome indeed!

The group I sing with, Top of the Rock Chorus, hosted our 6th Spring Tea the Saturday before Mother’s Day.

As our event has grown, finding just the right venue has been a challenge for our non-profit checkbook! I think we hit a home run this year though!

Our Spring Tea this year was held at Faulkner Lake Orchard, just outside of North Little Rock, AR.

sign

Faulkner Lake Orchard is a working farm. They have a you-pick-it area. There is also a general store full of freshly picked produce, canned items and local honey.

General Store sign

General Store

honey

produce

The farm was just so peaceful and relaxing. I plan to go back sometime when the trees are in full bloom. There are a few pictures on their website showing different events in the orchard. It makes a beautiful setting for a wedding.

peach orchard

rocking chairs

cypress trees

peach trees

peach

The peaches were not quite ready while we were there. Faulkner Lake Orchard hosts a huge peach party in July. They will have food, fun activities for the kids, peach tea and peach ice cream all for FREE! Mrs. Karen said to get there early!!

Speaking of Mrs. Karen…

Ms. Karen

…she was the sweetest lady! Karen Martin is the owner of Faulkner Lake Orchard.  She was so laid back and happy to help however we needed.

parking lot shuttle

She even provided a shuttle from the parking area to the main event center for our guests.

Stay tuned! I have lots more to share with you from this year’s Tea.

My chorus, Top of the Rock, recently had our 4th Spring Tea. Mom and I once again co-chaired the event. This year the Tea was at the historic Albert Pike Masonic Center in downtown Little Rock on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon right before Mothers’ Day.

We had 120 guests–the biggest crowd yet! We will plan for even more next year!

Tables were decorated by members of the chorus. We gave the ladies free-range as far as decorating goes. You’ll see a variety of themes–from Christmas to farm to jewelry. Mine is the one with the yellow tulips!

Click on each gallery below to see the pictures better.

You must have some fancy food to go on those fancy plates!

Here is the menu we served:

Tea Menu2016

I had fabulous help in the kitchen, as always!

Some of the men from Accapella Rising, the Little Rock men’s barbershop chorus, helped us with the serving.

We had a FABULOUS vintage fashion show. A friend of Mom’s from high school, Wanda Cook (aka The Coca Cola Lady, be sure to check out this article from a few years ago) provided the fashions. Top of the Rock provided the models! Wanda has displayed her collection at Red Hat conventions, women’s luncheons and other events. She was so generous to loan her collection to us for the day! The fashion show was a HUGE hit! The models really got into character and made the clothing come alive.

Of course there had to be some singing!!

It looked like everyone had a good time!

A big thanks to my husband, Chip, for taking all the photos! He took over 500 pictures and walked over 11,000 steps that day!

 

I finally had a cookie exchange!!!

I have wanted to go to one or have one for a long time now. Read this.

Since this summer and back-to-school was so carefree–haahahahahahaha!–I decided this was the year to have a cookie exchange.

Had I lost my mind? Possibly.

I invited all the ladies from church because I knew they would love me even if there was dust on my end-tables.

Not everyone could come, but we had a pretty good turn-out. Some of them had never been to a cookie exchange either!

cookie friends

I had fun getting ready for the party.

teacher vest

I even wore my “teacher” vest I made when I was an elementary school teacher in the ’90s.

vintage school books

Old school books and a pencil “vase”

bake

Don’t you love these vintage flip cards?! More below.

back to school napkins

I found these adorable notebook paper napkins in the $1 bin at Target several years ago with the intent of having a back-to-school cookie exchange! Can you believe it?!

send

I provided some recycled Sister Shubert aluminum pans for the ladies to haul their cookies home.

gab

Gab–we did LOTS of this!

pray

chalkboard

We filled up this giant chalkboard with our kids’ names and schools. Some shared verses of encouragement. At the end of the night we spent time praying for the students as they were starting school.

chalk

For some reason my colored chalk only showed up white. I guess it was the cheap kind.

I asked the ladies to bring an appetizer as well as cookies.

I made these spinach balls. It was a recipe from  library cookbook. Sorry, I don’t remember the name of the book. Really, I’m not sorry. These looked cute but didn’t taste all that good. And the cute part was MY idea.  The spinach balls had Stove Top stuffing in them. Guess they just tasted a little too processed.  I thought the pretzels were a cute idea and made the spinach balls finger-friendly. As time went on, however, the pretzels got soggy. Points for cuteness. Negative points for flavor and sogginess. I’m not making THAT recipe again!

spinach balls

spinach dip

Thank goodness Nicole brought her yummy Spinach Dip!

guacamole

Jami made yummy guacamole. She brought it in a Tupperware bowl, so she tried to fancy it up with the napkins. We all laughed pretty hard at her!

sliders

Tammy brought these amazing ham and cheese sliders. I’ve made these sliders before but not like Tammy’s. She put soy sauce and brown sugar on the top. OH MY WORD! So yummy!

Now for the cookies…

peanut butter cookies

oatmeal cookies

salted caramel shortbread cookies

chocolate chip

variety of cookies

Someone already had labels on these cookies.

white chocolate chip oatmeal

flu fighter cookies

The little cookie name plates were left-over materials from a project similar to this one.

Some of the cookies were store-bought, which was just fine. All of the cookies were delicious!

I’ll have to check back with the ladies about the recipes. I’ll be sharing the recipe for my cookies, the Flu Fighter Cookies, soon.

What a fun time! We may have to do it again sometime.

 

 

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.

 

Hooray! Time for college football!

I love fall–the back to school and eventual changing of the leaves. Nothing says fall in the South like a good college football game.

Last year I bought these fancy Jell-O molds.

The shaped jello was a huge hit.

Today, while awaiting the start of the Razorback game, I decided to conduct a little experiment: how would candy melts do in my jello mold?

The result: GREAT!

football treats

I had just a few red candy melts in my pantry-12 to be exact.

After heating the melts in a baggie in the microwave, I was able to cover 9 razorback wells.

I put the red candy in the pan then whacked in on the counter several times to get it to settle into all the cracks and eliminate bubbles.

Hog candy

You can see that the red part is not very thick. I used vanilla almond bark to fill in the rest of the mold. Since red and white are the Razorbacks colors, this worked great!

Remember to whack the mold on the counter again for the second color, if you use a second color.

Razorback candy

I was a little scared to try to get the candy OUT of the mold.

When I first tried to pop them out nothing happened. So, I stuck the pan in the freezer for a couple of minutes. They came out without any problems. I did not grease the mold.

These would be ADORABLE on top of cupcakes!

You can get other college molds here.

Have fun with these adorably delicious treats!

Wooo, Pig, Sooiee!

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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