Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Tea and Tomes: To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee said she wanted to be the Jane Austen of south Alabama. 


Many stories from classic books come to some of us first via the movies - for me, certainly, "Pride and Prejudice" and more recently, "Little Women" (see February's Tea and Tomes) but, surely my very first such introduction was "To Kill a Mockingbird" circa, 1963 at a drive-in movie, sitting in what a five-year old mind thinks is luxury accommodations: a Ford Country sedan station wagon, filled with popcorn, soda, my three older brothers and my Mom and Dad up front.

I don't recall understanding much of the plot from that summer night in a long-gone drive-in show, but I do remember being frightened when the little girl in the movie and  her brother were being chased by something in the woods. Since that first viewing, reinforced by many TV airings of "To Kill a Mockingbird" in my formative years, I became very familiar with the story of Scout, her brother Jem, and Atticus, the sibling's wise and principled father who stood up to racism in a 1930's Alabama courtroom.

To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway


Fast forward to August, 2019,  while visiting my son, Matt, in New York City, Aaron Sorkin's version of "To Kill a Mockingbird" was playing at the Shubert Theater, featuring Michigan native, Jeff Daniels.  Walking by the marquis on our way to dinner our first night in Manhattan, we unanimously  decided, if we could secure tickets, we'd make that our Broadway outing for the weekend.

To our surprise, and great fortune, we did get tickets and, in an AARP-member's idea of "luxury accommodations" we nabbed front-row seats at same-day-order-risk/reward discount prices. Half a century-plus since I first saw "To Kill a Mockingbird" on the big screen, I was experiencing this incredible story up-close and personal, with a greater appreciation of the heroes and villains of Maycomb County, Alabama, but without having to roll down the window to get the sound hooked up.

Front row seats at the Shubert Theater, To Kill a Mockingbird. So great and no need to attach a speaker to the car window!


All of this is my long way of getting to the actual book written by Harper Lee, published in 1960, and yet, until 2020, unread by this tea blogger. Prompted by my daughter, Rachel, who, while we were talking about a bunch of stuff that somehow lead to "To Kill a Mockingbird" and my confession of never actually reading it before, said that if I did pick it up, she would reread it and we could discuss it together afterwards. Motivation accepted. . . and now accomplished!

I’ve often heard that the  “To Kill a Mockingbird” movie is one of the best adaptions of book-to-film, and after reading the three-hundred and twenty-two pages of Scout Finch’s narrative of two  both ordinary and extraordinary years in a small town in the deep south, I subscribe to that opinion as well. But, it's definitely a great read and I highly recommend it - whether you have seen the movie twenty times or the play once. The book brings you closer to the Finch narrative.   Like Atticus often advised his children, Scout forces us to “walk in the shoes” of Tom Robinson, Bob Ewell and Boo Radley. Often an uncomfortable - if not odious - fit, we're given the backstories of the intertwining townsfolk that provides a deeper understanding of the acts of bravery as well as cowardice.

I recently viewed a rare interview of Harper Lee in 1964, four years after her book had been published and two years after the film had been produced. Asked why many great books come from southerners, Lee reflected that there weren't as many great activities like movies or concerts (at the time) to go to  as there were in the north. Without such ready-made entertainments, folks were forced to create their own through great story telling . . . or gossip.  She said she wrote about her particular life, but one that had characters and tales that were universal. She concluded the interview stating "all I want to be is the Jane Austen of south Alabama".  

And, who can argue with that?



Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Adapting to social distancing: Keeping as calm as I can and drinking lots of tea




It's a world of unknown right now and we're all doing our best to pay attention to rules and comprehend the data overload.  What is okay today might not be tomorrow, so aside from being vigilante, mindful, and  helpful, I also have to  remind myself to "keep calm" while the tea kettle spout screams like an angry clap-back on Twitter.

In the semi-isolation the quarantine has imposed on our lives, I've seen where many are, pardon my platitude, making lemonade out of lemons. Family and friends have texted, or shared on Facebook, pictures of a remarkably clean house, books they are reading or TV shows they have been binge-watching. (Like Meatloaf's resounding chorus, my personal experience, "two out of three ain't bad").

March tablescape - small "accomplishments" can improve one's mood.

Last weekend, with appointments wiped out and venues closed, I did find things to do at home that brought me both comfort and joy.  I set out a Spring tablescape (keeping up with my goal of posting one a month!), started another book from my "classics library" ("To Kill a Mockingbird" - see next "Tuesday Tea and Tomes"!)  and sat in front of the big screen TV for several hours. I watched everything my remote control landed on, from an old movie on TCM ("News Hounds" starring local television personality, circa, 1960's -70's, Bill Kennedy) to a more recent film on Prime Video, "Tea with the Dames", featuring Eileen Atkins, Jane Plowright, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith.  But, the latter wasn't the only gem I found on Prime starring Maggie Smith - I hit  pay dirt when I found Season One of "Downton Abbey"!  

Binge watching Downton Abbey - as reassuring and affirming as an old friend.

Although, I'm connected to that Masterpiece drama in some form or another year round, I haven't binge-watched the series in awhile. It's like getting reacquainted with old friends, reassuring and affirming. It's a good place to hang out for a few while the breaking news alerts stir us from our comfort zone.

Aside from providing deep depressions in my living room recliner, I've found other things to occupy my time in this pandemic. When I'm not at my 9:00 to 5:00, I've been "facetiming" with the kids, texting and emailing friends, and, even in small ways, contributing what I can to help our community.  With my  husband, we're  setting aside a few days a week to get carry out (more than we usually do!),  we've given blood to the American Red Cross and we're ordering books from local bookstores that need a boost while their storefronts are closed.  

Dark chocolate, fresh fruit and flowers and a cup of tea:  this weekend's Rx

And, of course, we're trying to stay healthy with long walks in the neighborhood and drinking lots and lots of tea.  Also throwing in  some fresh fruit and dark chocolate (great source of antioxidants!) to balance the comfort food of pasta and. . . well,  more pasta.

It's an eerily strange time in history, where we're secluded yet connected more than ever to so many via social media. To quote our favorite U.S. Congresswoman from Michigan in a recent TV interview, "we're in The Upside Down now" and, as with crises in the past, we do need to - and we will - come together to get to the other side of this, whatever and whenever that will be.  

In the meantime, I'll remind myself with every breaking news update, every notice from family and friends of a temporary job loss or pay cut, every frustration and barricade to life as we knew it - just one month ago! - to keep (as) calm (as I can) and drink lots of tea.  

Oh, and move on to Season 2 of Downton Abbey. . .  

Virtual hugs to all!

BTS is always interested in what friends of BTS are up to, especially during these times. Send us an email, text us a picture  or comment on how you are spending your time. We'd love to hear from you!





Saturday, March 14, 2020

Roaring Twenties Downton Abbey Afternoon tea at The Towsend Hotel


Barb and Rachel Gulley present A Downton Abbey-inspired tea talk in "Roaring Twenties" fashion


Downton Abbey in the Roaring Twenties came to The Townsend Hotel March 1st, reflecting the time period of last year's Downton Abbey movie.  And, like the Crawley family in the feature-length film, The Townsend provided their special guests with the royal treatment (as the always do!).

Barb's Tea Service (Barb and Rachel Gulley) presented "A Downton Abbey-inspired Afternoon Tea" talk which covered the "lifestyles of the rich and famous" British aristocracy from the late Edwardian period to the Jazz Age.  As the Downton Abbey movie revealed, the upstairs and downstairs staff of the English country estates were experiencing not only improved methods of transport and communication, but radical changes in women's fashion where ladies trimmed inches off both hair and hemlines.

Guests were seated in The Townsend Hotel's afternoon tea lobby

The central theme, however, of the Downton Abbey movie, is the visit of the King and Queen to the Crawley estate - a not uncommon practice of the day.  Much preparation went into executing a flawless dining experience for the royals: contracting expert chefs, setting an elegant table and serving it all with a professional staff.  The parallels to afternoon tea at the Townsend are uncanny!



Afternoon tea sweets
Rachel with Afternoon Tea Director, Marsha Clark

















Guests at The Townsend were seated in Birmingham's luxury hotel's tea lobby which features crystal chandeliers, velvety couches and, at the center of it all, the inviting fireplace with a warm and cheery glow that emanates from its glass doors.


Local Downton Abbey fan and guests

A quick poll of attendees found that most of the guests were Downton Abbey fans, but a few came as invitees of those passionate Downton Abbey-ites.  Visitors came from not only the tri-country area, but Canada as well.



Downton Abbey fans from Windsor (Ontario!)


Barb's Tea Service is always thrilled to present a Downton Abbey-inspired afternoon tea at The Townsend. We've done several over the years and typically our dress reflects the era of the current Downton Abbey season. We can tell you, it's always a treat to have afternoon tea at The Townsend whether it be Gilded Age, Edwardian era or Roaring Twenties (both 1920's and 2020's).

A special thanks to Afternoon Tea Director, Marsha Clark and her staff and to Rachelle of Derby Hats by Rachelle for the beautiful headband worn by Rachel.



DA tea in the Gilded Age (2019)



Saturday, March 7, 2020

Downton Days at Meadow Brook Hall: Afternoon tea and talk


Downton Days at Meadow Brook Hall - we've left the Edwardian era for the Roaring 20's.


Last week, Barb's Tea Service presented a Downton Abbey-inspired tea talk at Meadow Brook Hall - our fourth year at this beautiful venue. This year, we replaced our full-length Edwardian gowns for "roaring twenties" fringe and higher hemlines to reflect the times-they-are-a-changing for Downton Abbey.

Replacing long gowns for fringe and shorter hemlines
Roaring 20's at MBH's roaring fire in the great hall



A sold-out event of almost ninety guests, the dining room was filled with Downton Abbey-enthusiasts, many dressed in period attire.

Sold out event with almost 90 guests who received the royal treatment from Meadow Brook Hall's expert staff.


After the guests were treated to a sumptuous afternoon tea, which included both sweets and savories, Barb's Tea Service presented the story of Downton Abbey, providing a quick summary of Seasons One through Six of the television series to land firmly in 1927, the time of  last year's feature-length movie. 


The theme of the movie involves the Downton Abbey residents, both  upstairs and down,  preparing for a visit from the King and Queen of England. Guests at Meadow Brook Hall could relate as they were given the royal treatment from this elegant venue's staff.

Afternoon tea table set with Carson and team precision

Dining tables were set with fuchsia flowers in silver vases and silverware was placed with the precision of Carson and his team. Although a full array of utensils was not required for afternoon tea, we did spot the whole set of serving ware from Matilda Dodge Wilson's collection on display in the hallway, including a fish knife and fork (covered in detail in Twelve Etiquette Essentials: Formal Dining and Tea Time).

Silverware from Matilda Dodge Wilson's collection, with fish fork and knife (for more see BTS's book on dining etiquette)

After the tea talk, guests were given a tour of  Meadow Brook Hall by a team of expert docents, one of whom shared a photo of Lady Edith which could be a twin of Matilda Dodge Wilson, whose portrait hangs in MBH's entryway, in the late 1920's.



Barb's Tea Service was thrilled to see old and new friends in attendance and enjoyed meeting so many Downton Abbey fans!


Barb T and friends!


There's a lot of buzz about a second Downton Abbey movie and, like many of the Meadow Brook Hall guests, we're hoping it materializes. It may indicate what we'll be wearing to Downton Days next year. Hope to see everyone back in Rochester's own Highclere Castle in 2021!


A special thanks to special tea friend, Barb Tabb, for the photos of her group and the dining room!

                                                                Tea time photo at MBH featured in British Tea Magazine





Saturday, February 29, 2020

Tablescapes continue by leap year and bounds!

February tablescape's theme is a romantic tea time with a collection of "united nations" serving ware


For the new year, I declared I would post a new tablescape each month and got off to a roaring start in January, putting to use some lovely family heirlooms that had been packed away for years. I was looking forward to February's dining tableau with a theme of a romantic tea time and, like last month, continuing to bring out the beautiful, but underutilized, serving ware.

Well, like many new year's resolutions, all the enthusiasm of January can get easily derailed by February.   In my case, most of the "derails" were good ones. Wedding-planning events and tea talks kept us very busy. But, throw in a few unexpected events life throws at you  just to remind you that you can't control or plan for everything and February was coming to a quick close without a tablescape in sight.

But, then here comes Leap Year to the rescue. Today, I assembled my romantic tablescape for a tea tete-a-tete. Tea for two - and for 2020 tablescapes, we're two for two!

Aside from the pleasing aesthetic tablescapes bring to a repast, there's just a lot of good memories that come from assembling such an eclectic collection. Antiques next to almost-new-pieces found a common thread in being adorned with tiny pink flowers. The Royal Albert "rose confetti" tea set my husband gave me for Christmas three years ago flanks my grandmother's pink and gold compote dish (Hinode, Japan) which is the perfect place to house colorful macarons.

Eclectic collection of china from around the world sharing a common thread of pink floral decorations

Today's white luncheon plates, framed in small rosebuds, also belonged to my grandmother and she loved these dishes. They belonged to her friend's mother and, after she passed away, the plates were gifted to my grandmother. These sat like trophies on her pantry shelf.  When I was little, I remember going to that pantry to snag a few forbidden sugar cubes and look up at the colorful gallery of cups, saucers, bowls and dishes. These plates were made by C.T. Altwasser, a porcelain company in Silesia (a region that is now part of Germany, Czech Republic and Poland).

To round out my United Nations tablescape there were two floral tea cups from England:  one,  a Rosina pattern cup that my mom bought me while we were "antiquing" locally over twenty years ago and the other, an Ansley bone china cup that I treated myself to at the Antique Depot in Lewiston just a few summers ago.

Thanks to Leap Year, I am not only  on course for my monthly tablescape, but this extra day allowed me to spend a delightful afternoon curating both serving dishes and memories.

Seems the solution to meeting deadlines is to add an extra day. Too bad it only comes once every four years. . .

Happy February 29th!!





Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Tuesday Tea and Tomes: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. (Don't wait for the Zombie edition!!)



If there's anything I've learned from movie adaptations of classic literature it is that, good, bad or awful, they do introduce a great book to a new generation (think "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies")  - or, in my case, a fine novel to an "okay boomer".

Although family and friends have recommended it as "their favorite book", it wasn't until Greta Gerwig's recently released "Little Women" movie, that I finally moved "Little Women" the book to the top of my reading wish list. I asked for the Louisa May Alcott tome for Christmas and my daughter, Rachel, granted that wish and placed a newly minted copy in my Christmas stocking.  (Such an appropriate time to receive it, as the book begins on Christmas day for the March sisters.)

It is large book, consisting of 500 pages, but it's a quick read and a page-turner. Written originally for the "young adult" market, this tale of four sisters in New England, circa Civil War era, has broad appeal in it's everyday-ness of sibling relationships and that journey that takes most of us from young "id" to adult "ego".

Many of us are acquainted with the March sister's names -  Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy - and if not so familiar with the storylines (and without giving away any major spoiler alerts to those who, like me, waited a long time to read this!), at least have a vague notion that one sister is pretty, one is a writer, one is frail and one is a bit selfish.  Certainly, that describes any nuclear family - or, for that matter - any one of us at some point in our lives.


A favorite book for some,  but I had to wait for the 2019 movie to get this on my reading list.

There are morals to the stories and inspiring tales of independence, but, at the core, it's a tale of family relationships, unvarnished in spite of polite manners and "good breeding".  Who can't identify with splurging on frivolities, like Amy's limes or Meg's extravagant dress, without thinking of the consequences? Who hasn't seen someone else get the special reward deigned to be yours and retreated, like Jo, for a good cry and some self-pity?

Of course, for this Janeite, there's definitely parallels to be drawn between Austen and Alcott. Both women wrote best about the society's they were a party to, although often on the periphery of the genteel society.  Each made money from their works, a practice not always met with approval, especially for Jane Austen's time. And, both women remained independent and single by choice. Again, somewhat radical for the 1800's.

I am now down the Alcott information-gathering rabbit hole, which started with Wikipedia and launched a few biographies purchased on-line. And, of course, I'll see Greta Gerwig's Little Women movie with, what appears to have, modern-day sensibilities.

Good, bad or awful, the recent theater release got me to where I needed to be. If you haven't read this classic - or need a refresh - I highly recommend spending some time with the March sisters and their "coming of age" tales. Please don't wait until "Little Women and Zombies" comes out before taking action!

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Megxit leaves Royals a bit "harried": People, chefs and Royal-philes weigh in on Meghan and Harry


 This Royal-phile/"source", armed with Harry and Meghan souvenirs and People Magazine, weighs in on Megxit.


In 2020, England will not only exit the European Union, but experience the exit of 2018's most celebrated union of Royal and Hollywood. Brexit and Megxit:  both filled with angst, controversy, divisiness and, maybe just a bit of "isn't this over yet?".


Met and interviewed Harry's uncle in 2014
Last summer, had tea  in NYC - same as Meghan 

As to the latter regarding Harry and Meghan, we are most assured that there's so much more to come. As a "royal-phile" who has visited both Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace, personally interviewed Harry's uncle, Lord Charles Spencer, as well as chef to both Queen Elizabeth and Princess Di, Darren McGrady, had tea at Manhattan's Lauderee, where Meghan met up with gal pals last year and, as one who has poured over numerous English history books as well as last week's People Magazine, I'm ready to get into the public forum of the Megxit bruhaha and opine as a my own self-appointed "source".


Visiting Kensington Palace in 2011 with daughter, Rachel

It seems such a short while ago - and that's because it was less than two years ago - that the marriage of Harry and Meghan had many of us transfixed to the royal wedding television coverage (oh, and I'll add here, that some of us were on television to discuss the television coverage) .


On Fox 2 News - part of The Townsend Hotel Royal Wedding Celebration, 2018


It was union of movie star Beauty and princely Beast, reminiscent of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainer's  celebrated wedding over sixty years ago. A beautiful American actress marries a Royal - but "fast forward" to 2020, and this bride and groom are a cheeky sort, independent and not embracing the will of the "firm".

What does all of this mean? Titles are stripped, but a "transition period" is being worked out with Buckingham Palace's, CEO.  According to the Queen's statement, issued January 13th, while she and the family are supportive of Harry and Meghan's desire to create a new life, she also acknowledges,  "these are complex matters for my family to resolve. . ."  (And you thought political debates at your Thanksgiving family dinners were tough. . . !)

In front of the home of "the firm" with husband Chris, Rachel and son, Matt, 2015

One of my favorite citing's from last week's People Magazine article "Harry and Meghan Walk Away" is from royal biographer, Ingrid Seward.  She observes that this crisis is unlike any other the royal family has encountered in modern day. For the first time, a prominent royal family member is walking away not amid scandal!

(That reminds me, I forgot to add to my royal-phile credentials, "Binge-watcher of The Crown". The Royals come from a long line of sensational, scandalous behavior. Not-so-long ago, the Queen's sister was prohibited from marrying a divorced man, but extra-marital affairs were accommodated. To modern-day sensibilities, that's not only incredibly hypocritical, but down right absurd.)

Royal Chef, Darren McGrady not a fan of Megxit

Royal Chef, McGrady feels Meghan is self-centered and manipulative. In a series of tweets on Twitter, he states not only would Princess Di be furious with Harry, but that she thought him a bit of a flake.  One tweet states: "I remember Princess Diana in the kitchen at Kensington Palace talking about her boys - 'William is deep like his father. Harry is an airhead like me'".

A bit saucy, but this is from a man who specializes in sauces.

Maybe tides will turn for Harry and Meghan once a new royal personality emerges that's  even more controversial. As a recent article in The Atlantic points out, Kate was not initially viewed so lovingly. Early on, she and her sister Pippa were referred to as the "wisteria sisters - highly decorative, terribly fragrant and with a ferocious ability to climb".

As for this royal-phile, I feel that while the royals are truly the epitome of the greatest accomplishment of  their life being achieved by "accident of birth", there is really something fascinating about those less-than-one-percenters who live publicly like a fairy tale, but privately like the most outlandish scripts of "Days of Our Lives".

Happier times for the young couple. Well wishers from our cruise staff on the Queen Mary

Is it a having-ones -wedding-cake-and-eat-it-all-too mentality for Meghan and Harry to partake and embrace in  all the pomp and circumstances of a lavish, expensive and highly public marriage ceremony only to eschew some of the strings that come with serving as a part of the royal family?  Yes, I think it is, but I also understand that the press and the firm can be ruthless, unkind and treacherous. (and full disclaimer - I had a lot of fun and did quite well as a benefactor of Meghan and Harry's nuptials).

Wedding souvenirs. Tea, biscuits and People will help!

Currently, we're a house divided - my husband gives the marriage one more year and I think they'll hang for awhile. Not sure if it will be happily ever after, but, with my souvenir mugs and biscuit tin and next week's People Magazine, this "source" will be sure to stay vigilant on the watch!



Monday, January 20, 2020

January is Hot Tea Month: Warm up with some tea facts and make some tea plans!



Hot tea month - perfect time to warm up with a cup, although the tea garden in January can also serve it up iced!


January is the perfect time for Hot Tea Month:  cooler outside temperatures welcome a tasty warm-up in a cup and - it being the start of the new year with resolutions -  an opportunity to lay out some tea plans to "ink" in our calendars.

But, before we get too far into the future, let's take a  look at past and present in the world of tea.

According to The Tea Association of the US, the estimated value of the tea industry in America is "nearly $13 billion - up almost $11 billion since 1990."  While we drink that in - and that's a lot - a few other "tea-bits" to consider with respect to tea consumption in America:

  • US is the third largest tea importer, after Russia and Pakistan
  • On any given day, half our country's population drinks tea
  • Regionally, the South and Northeast have the greatest number of tea drinkers
  • Approximately, 75 - 85% of tea consumed is iced tea
  • Eighty-seven percent of Millennials drink tea (this group is okay, says a Boomer!)

Reasons for this upsurge in the past three decades is largely attributed to health benefits and lifestyle changes


87% of Millennials drink tea, and that's okay with this Boomer


So, if the tragectory continues, and we here at BTS are sure it will, we have some suggestions for planning out your "tea year" during "Hot Tea Month":

  • Try a new tea room
  • Visit a favorite tea room and write a new or updated review
  • Text an old friend and set up a tea date
  • Set a tea table at home with your own heirloom/vintage tea pots, tea cups and assorted accroutrements 
  • Make a fresh pot of loose leaf tea and start a new book

Full disclosure, we've already got these on our calendar. We'll update as we check off our list.

If any readers would like to share one of these activities with a picture, please send to barb@barbsteashop.com and we'd love to share them on our blog.

In the meantime, Happy Hot Tea Month!


Sunday, January 12, 2020

January Tablescape: Vintage heirlooms debut after years in storage!

Fine Irish linen, Waterford, silverware and heirloom china, some unused for over sixty years!


Sterling silver, Waterford glasses, Irish linens - they're not just for staying in storage anymore!

In my last blog on trends for 2020, I noted tablescapes were "in" and that I'd post a new tablescape every month. To maintain at least one New Year's resolution, I'm keeping up with the start of that commitment today - and with a tablescape that kick's off another resolution I've promised myself to honor:  using those fancy items that wait for a "special occasion".



Almost-quarterly-gourmet dinner club enjoy great food, accoutrements

This weekend, we entertained good friends for a delightful repast, it being our turn of the almost-quarterly-gourmet-dinner-club. Although I'm the only one of the five members who isn't a five-star chef, my contribution/passion is setting a fine table.

It being a new year and with my goal to give old things a new beginning,  I put to use items never or rarely used, including an Irish linen tablecloth and Waterford crystal glasses, sixty-six and thirty years old respectively!

The tablecloth was a wedding gift to my husband's parents, over sixty years ago, and my mother-in-law gave it to me, still in the original box, at least twenty years ago. Apprehension to use something so delicate and in pristine condition, as well as time spent for proper upkeep, held me back. But, it's bringing joy to no one, tucked away in a closet.

Family heirlooms need to get out more!


Also marking its debut outside the china cabinet, were six Waterford crystal wine glasses my friend, Loretta, purchased on my behalf when she went to Ireland over thirty years ago. For three decades, these sparkling vessels sat behind glass, bearing their trademark green sticker. But, it was time for them to come out of the closet as well.

In addition to the newbies, I also curated my grandmother's gold-trimmed dinner plates and my mom's silverware for the table. They, too, need to get out more.

Bringing out the old and dear does come with a cost, however. The Irish linen tablecloth -after a quick spin in the "very, very delicate" setting on the washer with a splash of Woolite - caused me to spend almost two hours of "vintage pressing" with a steam iron.

The silver, china and crystal were all hand-washed and dried, adding another hour-plus to tablescape prep. Oh, and polishing my mom's brass candlesticks took a few minutes more.

I should add, too, that the dinner my husband cooked, was amazing! Swiss fondue, followed by sous-vided carrots, roasted potatoes and venison seared in bacon fat were worthy companions to the heirloom serving collection.

Dinner menu worthy of any tablescape!


Tablescape timetable, net results:

  • Ironing Irish linen tablecloth:               two hours
  • Washing crystal and china:                   one hour
  • Polishing silver and brass:                    one hour
  • Joy in sharing family treasures:           memories that last forever

Ring in the new year with items that never get old: good friends, good food and beautiful tablescapes!