Saturday, March 18, 2017

Meadow Brook Downton Days: Photo Album (Part II)

As part of Meadow Brook Hall's "Downton Days", Barb's Tea Service presented "A History of Tea and Cora's Story" during afternoon tea on February 23. "Cora's Story" is what we refer to as the Downton Abbey Prequel, an era where  Gilded Age Americans and British aristocracy came together for mutually beneficial unions. In the spirit of such a sumptuous lifestyle, we donned our  best Victorian dresses and, against the elegant backdrop of Meadow Brook Hall filled with handsome guests, our professional photographer, Karri Brantley, captured the event beautifully. Here are just a few of the photos from that special afternoon.

Barb's Tea Service (Barb and Rachel Gulley) present in the Christopher Wren dining room at Meadow Brook Hall

Presenting "History of Tea/Cora's Story" in Christopher Wren Dining Room

 Lynn Anderson, Doreen Raynak, Rachel, Barb, Shirley Moon Koebbe, Donna Kenske, Connie Sonnenberg, Gail Raynak

Having a cup of tea in the Sun Porch

In the Living Room of Meadow Brook Hall

Meadow Brook Hall Sun Porch

Sharing a cup of tea in the Sun Porch 

A wonderful afternoon shared with delightful guests at the beautiful Meadow Brook Hall - amazingly captured by Karri Brantley, of Karri Brantley Photography.

All rights reserved.  No part of this blog, including photographs, may be reproduced in whole or in part in any manner without permission of  Barbara Gulley/Barb's Tea Service.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Dining Tutorial at The Townsend Hotel: Etiquette Program featuring Barb's Tea Service and many lovely guests!

Barb's Tea Service presenting etiquette at the Townsend

Last Saturday, Barb's Tea Service presented a  "Dining Tutorial", second in a monthly etiquette series at Birmingham's Townsend Hotel. As part of the afternoon tea, we presented a short program on proper protocol for a multi-course formal dinner.

During the program, guests enjoy scones and savories.

Guests were treated to spectacular afternoon tea fare:  tasty scones, savory sandwiches and extraordinary mini-pastries all served up with bottomless pots of deliciously brewed tea.

This table had one special  birthday girl. Everyone asked a lot of great questions!

There was a great turnout of absolutely wonderful guests. Two young ladies were celebrating birthdays.

Wonderful group of ladies enjoying afternoon tea together at The Townsend

In the "Dining Tutorial" we discussed the three different toasts that can take place in a formal dinner. In that spirit, we ended with a toast of our own:   "To all the special ladies and gentlemen who attended this month's tea and etiquette program. Cheers to all!"

Special celebration with these lovely ladies and another delightful birthday girl!

We hope you will join us for our next etiquette program at The Townsend Hotel on April 8th! We'll cover "Eating Various Foods" including, oysters, lobster, corn on the cob, shrimp and kumquats. (Don't always play it safe with grilled chicken breasts and simple cake!). For more information, see The Townsend Hotel Afternoon Tea page on The Townsend's website. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Abiding in the Vine: Owosso tea room with vintage charm and good taste

Barb T, Corky Adams, and Barb G. at Abiding in the Vine

There is so much to admire at Abiding in the Vine: charming decor, restored tin ceilings, gift shop displays, delicious and beautifully presented tea fare and, the woman behind it all, Corky Adams.

Abiding in the Vine is a Michigan tea room located in Owosso, a small town about half way between Flint and Lansing. Although its about an hour drive for those of us who live in the Detroit-metro area, I can tell you, it is worth the miles.

Afternoon tea fare is scrumptious and beautifully plated

My good tea friend, Barb Tabb, alerted me last month about Abiding in the Vine. After checking out their website, I knew I had to visit. So, we quickly made arrangements to meet up at this Owosso tea room the first of week in March.

Barbs enjoying afternoon tea in Owosso

Their afternoon tea was wonderful. The scones, savories and desserts were not only scrumptious, but beautifully plated.   I especially loved that one tea sandwich and one creme-filled cookie were heart-shaped.

Heart shaped savories and sweets

Our course started with a fresh salad, followed by scones, a variety of mini sandwiches and a generous dessert plate that included macaroons, lemon bars and cookies.

Our tea started with a fresh salad.

And, of course, each afternoon tea comes with a full pot of your choice of tea. The tea list is extensive, although tempted by many of the blends offered.  I went with my go-to favorite, Earl Grey.

An extensive tea list 

Corky said the inspiration for a tea room came from her grandmother, who would have weekly suppers for the family and always serve it using pretty place settings and serving pieces. Corky worked at tea room/herb farm and hosted several large tea parties at home before opening up a brick-and-mortar of her own.

She found the perfect setting on Owosso's main street -  a vintage building with a ton of character. The tin ceilings and exposed brick walls are a lovely back drop to the glass chandeliers and eclectic array of antique chairs, all painted a uniform, bright white. Corky also has a collection of tablecloths for all occasions. The tea room hosts special events throughout the year, so guests can customize the decor to suit the party.

Vintage charm with tin ceilings, glass chandeliers & collection of antique chairs

Adding to the unique setting, there's a border of retro doors in different sizes and hues that separate the dining room from the kitchen.

Border of retro doors between kitchen and dining room
Abiding by the Vine was also voted number one tea room in Michigan by TeaMap.

Number one tea room banner proudly displayed inside

In addition to afternoon tea, Abiding by the Vine also serves lunch and breakfast Monday through Saturday. There's also a gift shop full of fun items for any tea enthusiast.

Lots of great tea items in the gift shop

Both Barb's give this tea room a collective "two thumbs up!".  Thanks to Barb T. for notifying us about this delightful venue. 

Abiding by the Vine is located on Main Street in Owosso, MI
Abiding by the Vine is open Monday through Saturday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Afternoon tea is $15.00, but if you order between 2:00 and 4:00, it is only $11.00!!  For more information, visit their website at