A Platinum Tea

For several years, I have been planning this Very Special Tea Party…one to celebrate the Platinum Wedding Anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. We had the tea party on November 10th, because even I’m not crazy enough to try to pull off an event like this Thanksgiving Week, but I wanted to wait until today, their actual anniversary, to share it. I think this may be the prettiest tea party we have ever had!

I wanted to go with a platinum (silver) and white theme for the table. Our china fit the bill perfectly, and I was able to find an inexpensive silver tablecloth (which I’ve wanted for a long time, anyway), to use as a runner on top of our white tablecloth. I added seven candles, (including a pretty grey-colored Yankee Candle) one for each decade of their marriage, as our centerpiece. The addition of my wedding tiara and a double strand of “pearls” completed the look.

The tea of choice was about as classic as it gets: Earl Grey.

We had four kinds of finger sandwiches: roast beef with horseradish and arugula on white bread, coronation chicken on wheat, cucumber and cream cheese on cocktail rye, and heart-shaped lobster salad on wheat:

I added in a few other savory choices: deviled eggs and Red Leicester cheese.

And the sweets. Grape Jell-O, lemon cake slices, chocolate chip scones (in the shape of a double heart!), and the pièce de résistance, a biscuit cake made with McVitie’s Digestives.

Everything was so beautiful!

It was also a delicious meal!

I don’t know if this was our “best” tea party ever (although I do think it was the loveliest), but it may have been the one that was the most meaningful to me. I am so thankful for the beautiful example of Christian marriage and faithfulness The Queen and Prince Philip have modeled and made look so effortless through all of the changes of the last 70 years.

I will leave you with two quotes: One from Prince Philip in a letter he wrote shortly after the wedding, and the second from The Queen on the occasion of their Golden Wedding Anniversary:

“Lilibet is the only ‘thing’ in the world which is absolutely real to me and my ambition is to weld the two of us into a new combined existence that will not only be able to withstand the shocks directed at us but will also have a positive existence for the good.” Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh

“He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim or we shall ever know.” Queen Elizabeth II

A Tea Party Celebrating Julie Andrews

All summer long, we’ve talked about having a day dedicated to a Julie Andrews’ movies marathon. And while we were talking about the movies we would watch, I realized it was the perfect opportunity to also have a tea party! Today was the big day, and it was a lot of fun!

We started with The Sound of Music. It was so easy to come up with ideas related to the movie (even without serving schnitzel with noodles or crisp apple strudel!). We had tea (of course) with jam and bread. We also had our favorite finger Jell-O… in the shapes of drops of golden sun, and snowflakes that stay on our noses and eyelashes (both Ladybug’s ideas)!

Next up were the two Eloise movies, where Julie Andrews again stars as a nanny. This one was a bit more challenging, in terms of specific ideas, although they do have afternoon tea in Eloise at the Plaza. Remember that bread I mentioned before? I decided to focus on the raisins that Eloise always orders for her turtle in the movies, and made cinnamon raisin bread.

After that was yet another Julie Andrews appearance as a nanny in Mary Poppins. We had “crumpets” (fine, English muffins), and of course a spoonful of sugar!

And finally, we ended our marathon with the two Princess Diaries movies, where Julie Andrews makes a rare appearance as something other than a nanny…instead, she’s Queen of Genovia! Of course we had to have the Genovian specialty, pears, (which also served as part of the table’s centerpiece), and string cheese!

To round out our tea party, we went back to where we started, with The Sound of Music, and our favorite things. Orange poppyseed cake, chocolate chip cookies, cheese straws, roltini, and cucumber sandwiches were all requested.

The table looked very nice, too!

This was an especially fun tea party to plan, and may have been my most creative one yet! I already have plans for another afternoon tea in a few months…stay tuned!

Happy and Glorious

Today was the 90th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Of course we marked the occasion with a  tea party!

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We went with a dinnertime party again, which included four kinds of finger sandwiches (cucumber, lobster salad, gouda, and Volpi Rotola, a nice local touch), cheese straws, grape Jell-O, a lemon-lime pound cake, grapes, and everyone’s favorite chocolate chip scones. We also enjoyed one of my favorite teas, Darjeeling.

The table was decorated with yellow carnations and purple tea lights:

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Long may she reign!

Summer Fun 2015

Now that everyone is back in school, Labor Day has come and gone, all of our regular activities have started up again, and Ryan’s sabbatical is over, I guess summer has really ended. But what a summer it has been!

We kicked off our summer at the end of May by going to the Lantern Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Turkey played in his sixth season of parks and rec baseball…or tried to. We had so much rain in the first half of the summer (including a tropical depression that made it to the St. Louis area), that almost half of his games were cancelled, which was a huge disappointment.

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We visited the St, Louis Zoo to see Kali, the zoo’s new polar bear. We were impressed not only with the bear, but with the new exhibit, Polar Bear Point.

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The four oldest children attended a week-long choir camp at one of our sister congregations in the city of St. Louis. They had a great time learning about music, got to go on a few field trips, and decided that they want to join the Kantorei at Hope. Chickadee had a fun time that week having me all to herself!

Tim Horton’s finally opened a store in St. Louis, and we were there on opening day! (This was also the week that Ryan’s sabbatical began!)

This summer in school, we learned about Illinois state history. We went to Cahokia Mounds on the first of our summer school field trips. We’ve been there several times, but there is always something new to learn!

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July was the busiest month of the summer. We started with our traditional, Markel family Fourth of July celebration, which is always lots of fun.

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Bunny went to Camp Wartburg for a week of theatre camp. We missed her at home, but she had a great time!

The week after she got home, Bunny celebrated her 11th birthday. The celebration included a trip to the spray park and a bunny cake, of course!

A few days after that, we left on our first-ever Markel family summer vacation/road trip. We visited Bowling Green, KY, Atlanta, GA, and our main destination of Charleston, SC. Even though there were a few bumps along the way, it was more fun than I could have imagined, and we covered all the vacation bases–family, food, baseball, history, architecture, and the beach!

Back home, the girls and I went with Grandma to American Girl Night at Busch Stadium.

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We also drove to Kaskaskia, IL, to see the location of the first Illinois state capital and the Liberty Bell of the West.

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August saw a bit more road-tripping. First, a drive to Vandalia, IL, to tour the oldest existing Capitol Building in Illinois.

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We also drove to Springfield, IL, to visit the Lincoln Home, the Old State Capitol, and the current Capitol Building, as well as a few other locations.

Moose went back to school…he’s in the fourth grade this year! Still not ready to say goodbye to summer, though…

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Turkey, Bunny, and Ladybug also went back to school. Since Ryan was still on sabbatical, though, I still wasn’t convinced that summer was done.

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We had a fun time taking Little Luther with us on all of our travels!

Ryan and I even found time to build not one, but two Lego modular buildings!

Moose got to miss a day of school for our field trip to The Magic House, where we learned what life is like in China, and did a lot of other fun things, too.

That same day (and the day after), we also drove down to Carbondale for a college women’s volleyball tournament.

And just last week, we celebrated the historic reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with a tea party!

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We traveled this summer…a lot. We visited not only spray parks, but pools and the beach, as well.

Most of all, though, we spent a ton of time together as a family, creating memories that I hope will last several lifetimes! It was a more amazing summer than I could have imagined, and I’ll never forget it!

“Long to Reign”–A Tea Party

In honor of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II surpassing Queen Victoria as Britain’s longest-reigning monarch today, we had a tea party…the rare dinnertime tea party!

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The stars of the meal were the finger sandwiches…four different kinds! In addition to our favorite cucumber sandwiches on cocktail rye, we also had coronation chicken on very thinly sliced white sandwich bread, gouda cheese with garlic mayonnaise on a thinly sliced French baguette, and turkey and cranberry sauce on wheat bread:

We also had several sweets…Ryan even got us a Cadbury chocolate bar with the Royal Warrant on it! Our standard chocolate chip scones, in the shape of crowns (with strawberry jelly and whipped cream for those of us that think scones are too dry on their own):

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Grape finger Jell-O, also in the shape of crowns:

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Chocolate chip cookies:

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And an orange poppyseed cake:

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The tea of choice for our celebration was Darjeeling…I hear The Queen drinks this kind every morning!

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I thought the table looked very pretty in white, gold, and silver, with a few purple accents:

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Just for fun, after our meal, Ryan and I toasted The Queen. Vivat Regina Elizabetha!

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The Queen will never know about the party we had in her honor, but I put just as much effort into it as though she would be joining us, and we all enjoyed celebrating this monumental day “with” her!

A Tea for the Princess’s Birth Day

Back in 2013, when Prince George of Cambridge was born, we had a tea party to celebrate the birth of the future king. It was a lot of fun, and when we found out that the Duchess of Cambridge was expecting her second child, I promised the children that if it was a girl, we would have another tea party to celebrate. You can imagine how excited they were to learn that Princess Charlotte of Cambridge had been born over the weekend!

I tried to find as many pink foods as I could this time around, including crown-shaped sugar cookies and Jell-O jigglers, strawberry wafers, princess goldfish crackers, Ghirardelli raspberry chocolates, and even English Breakfast tea in a pink box. We also had crown-shaped chocolate chip scones, English muffins with strawberry preserves and mock Devonshire cream, cucumber sandwiches, and bacon, brie, and date mini muffins. In addition to our standard candles and flowers, we even had a Lego depiction of the royal family (courtesy of Bunny), in our centerpiece!

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The children said this was one of their favorite tea parties, and I was glad for the excuse to celebrate with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (even if they don’t know we’re rejoicing with them)!

An STL250 Tea Party

I know I’ve run pretty far afield of what constitutes afternoon tea, but I wanted to do something special for St. Louis’ 250th birthday. I decided to go with some famous St. Louis foods, and a lot of fleurs-de-lis to celebrate St. Louis’ French heritage. Our soundtrack for tea was also a nod to St. Louis: Chuck Berry’s The Great Twenty-Eight.

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The tea of choice for today was French Vanilla. It was the best I could do in tying it in to the theme somehow, just because it has the word “French” in the title. I did consider using the 1904 World’s Fair connection with iced tea, but it is November, after all!

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I made a Gooey Butter cake, which is one of St. Louis’ most well-known baked goods:

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And toasted ravioli, another St. Louis favorite:

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We also had provel cheese, a St. Louis anomaly that I actually kind of like, and Volpi Roltini, which is prosciutto wrapped around mozzarella, from the meat market on The Hill:

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I made finger Jell-O in the colors of the St. Louis city flag (red, yellow, and blue, although I ended up with a cool rainbow effect where the colors blended), and shaped like fleurs-de-lis:

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And our favorite chocolate chip scones, also shaped like fleurs-de-lis:

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We also had finger sandwiches, shaped like, you guessed it, fleurs-de-lis:

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This was a kind of challenging tea party, because the theme was so different, but it was also really fun finding another way to celebrate St. Louis’ birthday that’s also unique to our family!

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