Sunday, May 18, 2008

Brownies Excel in Table Etiquette and Manners Class

When one receives a referral from a guest at a previous event, it's always a pleasure and a compliment. Imagine how even more special it is when that particular guest is only six years old!

Megan of Brownie Troop 3250, had attended Barb's TEA Shop's "Teddy Bear Tea and Etiquette Class" in the Fall of 2006 through Rochester, Michigan's after-school enrichment program. She was an enthusiastic participant even in Kindergarden, so BTS felt quite honored when Megan's mom called to schedule a Table Manners Class for their Brownie Troop, on Megan's recommendation.

Last month, BTS held that manners class for fifteen Brownies in the classroom-turned-restaurant in Rochester Hills. The Brownies learned not only by demonstration, but by actually performing the tasks themselves. This Brownie troop mastered proper place settings, the correct way to cut meat (with fun melon slices!) and what to do with the roll on one's bread plate. The young ladies practiced placing their flatware on their plate in the correct place to signify when they were done and what to do with their napkin should they need to leave the table for any reason.

This was an interactive class where the girls brought their own experiences and questions into the discussion. They were eager to test their table skills with their "kool-aid tea" and modified 3-course meal. At the end of the mock restaurant experience the girls were rewarded with cookies, a diploma and a teddy bear calendar.

BTS received a note in the mail last week from this very special Brownie troop. They put their training to use at a fancy restaurant in town and we're pleased to report, they excelled in their manners and earned their etiquette badge to boot! What a wonderful accomplishment for an amazing group of young ladies.

Congratulations to Brownie Troop 3250 and thanks for inviting BTS to be part of the fun!

Barb's TEA Shop offers a variety of tea and table manners classes for children. For more information on a customized program for your group, contact BTS at or call us at 248-840-4356.

Megan at the Teddy Bear Tea.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day - Traditions Old and New

Hello Friends!

Today, in our household, "tea time" just got a new look. For Mother's Day, my husband, presented me with the latest in tea-making technology - the "three-in-one hot beverage center". Although, it doesn't allow for the eagerly anticipated high pitch alarm of the tea kettle coming to a boil or the charm of having tea served from a lovely china pot, it does deliver a pretty darned good cup of tea - in less than a minute. And, loose tea at that. (Let's fasten our tea snob belts folks, we're in for a startling ride!)

Since my husband is also responsible for loading Pride and Prejudice on his GPS so we could listen to it on our leisurely drives up north (see Austen-tacious blog, March, 2008), could a tea brewing revolution be far behind? I have to admit, when I first saw the box, I was apprehensive. What next - tea bags and hot tap water?!! But, no, quite the contrary. This is a wonderful device and, even though I'm enamored with the whole tea preparation ritual, I have to say, instant gratification is not hard to take.

So, today, among my many treasured gifts, was a family-sponsored tea time all to myself. While my kids were grocery shopping and tidying up, I began to explore my new tea maker. I carefully removed my new filter basket and measured in a heaping teaspoon of Lady Earl Grey tea (taking heed at the manual's stern warning not to exceed the FILL line) and filling up the water reservoir drawer for just a cupful. In a few short seconds, a hearty flow of tea was dispensing into my tea cup. With no need to wait any further, I dashed off to the study with my "instantaneous tea" and a couple of walnut clusters quickly snatched from my Mother's Day cache. Could tea time get any better?

Perhaps at age 50, one gets more philosophical, or maybe because the extra few minutes I shaved off prep time today could be exchanged for meditation, I thought how, like our conceptions of the ideal afternoon tea can change, so can holiday celebrations. Mother's Day this year is a perfect example. I was fortunate to have my whole crew here breifly this morning, but because my one son had to work today, we're one short for dinner. However, since he is a waiter at a cafe uptown, he suggested we come up and meet in "his section" for dessert. We've got the family, food and a table and chairs. All the ingredients are there, just a little twist on the placement. Like my new tea brewer, it's all going to blend together just fine.

So, today, we can all take a moment and remember our favorite "Ladies", our mom's. I spent many wonderful - and extremely unceremonious - tea times with my Mom where we talked about the kids, politics, the newest book read or my latest travails at work - but the subject was always secondary to the time spent together. Tea brewed fast or slow, tea carafe or tea pot, screaming kettle or dripping water, it doesn't matter (although no styrofoam cups, please!). It's just the perfect accompaniment to any long chats with mom.

With that, dear friends, I bid adieu as it is dessert time and we're heading uptown for a brownie sundae. I'll fasten my tea belt, but it may be a little tight on the ride home.

Happy Mothers Day!!!!