Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Love Affair with Afternoon Tea {Tips on Hosting an Afternoon Tea}

Afternoon tea is one of my favorites get-together theme during the holidays. Whether I am expecting a couple of guests or a dozen, I go all out in preparing the table, the food and of course the teas. To me, sipping warm delicious teas among friends is always an affair to remember.

Just because the tradition of afternoon tea is associated with elegance and royalty, some are intimidated to host afternoon tea at home. Let me put out a disclaimer : I am not a tea connoisseur. But thanks to my love of teas, visits to traditional tea houses, and reading tea books and magazines, I developed a love affair with this beautiful tradition. Allow me to share some helpful tips when hosting an afternoon tea.


I prefer to serve an afternoon tea from 3:30 - 6:00 PM. That will give me and my friends enough time to enjoy the feast and catch up on the "stories of our lives".


When flowers are in bloom during spring and summer, the garden would be perfect for an afternoon tea party. During the colder months and depending on the number of your guests, the set up can be done indoors : the dinning room, family room or receiving area {parlour}.

Table Set-Up

My rule is keep it simple and elegant. As much as possible use what you already have in your stash or get your creative juices working and make your own center piece arrangement, napkin holder, etc.

Must Haves:

  • Tea cups and saucers - do not worry about not having a matching tea service. Mixing and matching what you already have and maybe some purchase from your local thrift store, flea market and garage sale can create a beautiful shabby chic design.
  • Small Tea pots - I always have at least three on hand. This way, I can serve at least three different kinds of teas with ease. Again, it doesn't have to be matching with your tea cups.
  • Loose-leaf tea steepers
  •  Serving trays with one or two tiers. These are not only practical to serve your savory and sweet treats but the height also add elegance to your table setting.
The Spread

There is no really hard and fast rule when it comes to food. However, a traditional afternoon tea comprises a layer of savoury finger sandwiches {cucumber and cream cheese, egg salad, ham, and salmon}, a layer of cakes and/or sweet pastries or petit fours and a layer of scones.

I also love to included out of the box treats like pulled pork in mini puff pastry shell and chicken Waldorf in mini crispy wanton {recipes to follow}.

The key is being creative without spending too much time in  preparing the spread. Remember, you want to spend your time with your friends on the table instead of  the kitchen.

The Teas

More than the food, the kinds of teas I will serve my guests is my priority. As much as possible I serve only loose-leaf teas that can be brewed individually via tea steepers or in a pot. Remember, the water must come to a complete boil to really extract the real tastes from the tea. Also, steeping  is important and for each tea there is a proper steep time. 

Generally, black teas take longer to steep that green teas {4 minutes for black teas and 3 minutes for green teas}.

For my afternoon teas, I normally served three kinds to accompany the scones. the savoury sandwiches and the sweet treat. Like a tea pairing if I may call it. In this day and age, quality loose-leaf teas are sold in reputable stores - from the simple English breakfast tea to the more exotic tea blends. Personally, my usual tea parings would be :

Scone Course
Vanilla bean scones {find related recipe here}
Honeyed Mascarpone cream
Tea pairing : African rooibos tea

Savoury Course
Cucumber with lemony cream cheese sandwich
Egg salad sandwich
Chicken and walnut salad on mini crispy wanton
Tea pairing : Green tea with jasmin and lavender flowers

Sweet Course
Petit Fours
Tea pairing : Ice wine tea

Don't forget to put cream, sugar, lemon and honey on the table for those who prefer them.

This & That

Add more personal touch to your afternoon tea gathering by making a simple place card with a little note for your friends. It makes a nice conversation piece that your guests truly appreciate.

Alcoholic beverage like Bellini or Champagne also makes your afternoon tea an affair to remember.

Enjoy! That what tea afternoon is all about!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

All is calm .... all is {b}right

The morning after a snowfall is always a sight to behold. I love it when we were living in the suburb. Now, I love it even better here in the countryside. The stillness of  of the fields covered in white is calming to the soul!

The the midst of calmness, I can hear the soft whisper of cold breeze in the air ... and from a distance I can see home where the promise of warmth is waiting.

All is calm ... all is {b}righ!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

DIY {Do It Yourself} | Table Napkin Rings

Four of my dear friends came over this weekend for an afternoon tea. While I was preparing my tea cups and other tea paraphernalia the night before the intimate get-together, I realized some of my table cloth napkins and rings are still in moving boxes stored in the workshop. Instead of rummaging the boxes, I went to my craft room and make table napkin rings.

My design inspiration came from this table runner in our dinning room.... the subtle but elegant colour combination and the white snowflake on burlap canvass are just perfect for the table setting I have in mind.


6 strips of Burlap { 2 1/2 inches width x 4 1/2 inches length per strip}
6 white buttons
6 small snowflake wood chips
frosted faux tree branches (I took some from our Christmas tree decor bought from Dollar Store)
Paper towel tubes ( cut 6 pieces - 2 inches in length per piece)
Glue gun


1. Tore a couple strings off of each side of the burlap strip to create fringe
2. Wrap the burlap strip around the paper towel tube
3. Using a glue gun, attach both ends of the burlap strip.

4-6. Embellish burlap ring with frosted faux tree branches

7. Glue snowflake wood chip on top of the assembled tree branches
8. Using a strand of the burlap, tie a simple knot on the button.
9. Finish the napkin ring by attaching the button on top of the snowflake wood chip.

If I may say, I really like the way these rings turned out. I can use it throughout the Holidays and because of the snowflake embellishment, these napkin rings will be present on the dinning table this coming winter season!

Linking with : Simple Saturdays Blog Hop Show & Tell Friday

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Taming a Kitten : Meet "Muning"

I first saw her {or him - well I don't know yet so lets just say she is a female} on September 17 {my hubby's birthday} curled up on our front porch. From afar I was debating if it was a small raccoon or a ball of grey yarn. It was definitely not a yarn because I don't knit so it must be a raccoon! Then she sensed my presence and turned around, saw me then ran and hid under the porch. It was a kitten! A beautiful grey with black and white highlights kitten!!!! Oh those wide round eyes - it was love at first sight for me so I tried to call her for several minutes she but didn't come out. I left a bowl of warm milk on the porch and I went back inside patiently and quietly peeking from the glass door to see if she's coming back.  

It took several minutes before she came out from her hiding place under the porch and nervously drank the milk. At first she was trying to figure out what the white liquid was but decided to have at it when she tasted it.  After her meal, she saw me staring at her and she hid again. From the glass door, I saw that she has to tag on her neck.  We are surrounded by farmland and our nearest neighbor is at least a kilometer away and I know for sure that they don't own a cat, much more a kitten. Hubby and I assumed that she got lost and somehow found her way here at home. Since then, we have been feeding her with cat food {appropriate for her age} and milk every morning and before we retire at night and we would watch her from the glass door {like proud parents looking at the nursery glass widow}while she eats her food. 

It's been a month now and she gained weight! She now knows my voice {I will meow and she will answer back} and will not run like she did in the past as long as she knows that we are behind the door. She would play with me on the glass window but will hide if I try to get out. I am dying to hold her and keep her inside the house. I want to gain her trust the natural way {without trapping her, which according to the vet is very traumatic for the kitten}. I will patiently wait for the day when she realize we meant no harm. We just want to love her and care for her. We want her to know that her name is "Muning"!

I would love to hear from you on ways how can we can gain her trust sooner. Winter is coming and we want to keep her warm and comfy inside the house.

Linking with : Tilly's Nest

Monday, October 20, 2014

DIY {Do It Yourself} | Fall Centerpiece

Fall colors are at its peak here at home. Almost all of our maple trees are now dressed in bright red, orange and vivid yellow.

I wanted to bring the colors and leaves inside the house so I made these inexpensive fall center pieces yesterday while waiting for my hubby to come home {he's been working for almost 48 hours training nurses and hospital staff on Ebola virus infection control}.

Project #1:

You need:
Small serving tray {use whatever you have in your kitchen}
8 small pumpkins
Fall leaves from the backyard {choose different vibrant colors}
Scented candle jar {again use whatever you have at home, I used my Bergamot woods scentend candle from Bath and Body Works Fall collection}
Ceramic bird figurines {optional, or use any figurines you have : owls, birds, ducks}

Easy Peasy:
1. Place the candle jar in the middle of the tray
2. Put pumpkins around the jar.
3. Embellish with fall leaves and bird figurines.

And voila ....

Project #2

Yuu need:
Small round wood tray {I bought mine from a thrift shop for $1.50}
Mason gar {or any vase}
Bunch of fall flowers
2 small pumpkins
Fall leaves from the backyard

Easy Peasy:
1. Arrange the fall flowers in a mason jar.
2. Place the mason jar on the round tray.
3. Embellish with pumpkins and fall leaves.

As I always say, the kitchen is an excellent source of  materials to decorate our home. It also won't hurt to go outside and bring some of  nature's wonders inside!

Have a fantastic week!

Linking with : Tilly's Nest

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