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

What We’re Watching–Documentaries and Other Educational Films

I have shared a lot of different reading lists over the years, so I thought it was about time I shared a different kind of list…this time of the documentaries and educational and fine arts films we’ve watched, either to coordinate with our school work, or to learn something entirely new! (I didn’t include Doctor Who, even though it was originally created as an educational program to teach history, but it is also something we regularly watch!)


The British Monarchy

Other British Documentaries

The Space Program



Miscellaneous (Including travel, fine arts, and American history.)

Animated Shows

Over the years, I have found it really helpful to have some trusted films covering various topics and suitable for different grade levels that we can watch to supplement what we’re learning in school, or to give me a break from teaching school on the rare occasion that I’m sick. A lot of the time, we even end up watching something from this list just for the fun of it in the evening or during the weekend! What educational films do you like to watch?

Queen and Castles

Her Majesty the Queen has celebrated two big events in the last year (becoming Britain’s longest-reigning monarch last September, and turning 90 today), and for both events, we’ve had a tea party to celebrate. Of course, I had to dress for the occasion, and so both times, I’ve worn the most appropriate item of clothing in my closet…my pink castles Jenny skirt from Pinup Girl Clothing. I’ve also added my replica pink flower brooch to the outfit both times…it’s very appropriate!


There’s something about the combination of a gorgeous skirt and a happy event that makes these some of my favorite outfits ever!

Happy and Glorious

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



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:


Long may she reign!

“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!


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):



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


Chocolate chip cookies:


And an orange poppyseed cake:


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


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


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


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!

Royal Dressing

So, you may have heard that today, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II surpassed Queen Victoria as Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. This is a big deal, and as is the case will any special occasion, I wanted to wear a special outfit. I deliberated a bit over my options. Jewelry was easy…my (fake) pearls and a replica of one of The Queen’s most famous brooches, the Williamson Diamond Brooch (although mine is set with Swarovski crystals instead of diamonds!). I considered wearing my Pinup Girl Clothing Amanda dress, as it is in the colors of not only the U.S. Flag, but also the Union Flag, but then I realized I had something even more perfect in my wardrobe for a day celebrating Her Majesty…my pink Jenny castle print skirt!



I also had a moment seeing this outfit today. I’m overweight…that’s obvious. Pictures don’t lie. And so while I have nice clothes, and put together many nice outfits, usually I think to myself, “I would actually look pretty if…” and the end of that sentence has something to do with some amount of weight loss. But today, I looked at myself, and simply thought that I looked pretty. Period. No if, no when, no maybe somewhere down the line.

Now, I know there are people who would say that an overweight person can’t be pretty. Period. A daring few might even say it to my face (although I wouldn’t recommend it!). But they’re wrong. Women can look pretty, be beautiful even, at any weight. I’ve heard it said before, but I think maybe I didn’t truly believe, not about myself anyway, before today.

So, this was a monumental day for The Queen. There is no question about that…we witnessed history being made by Her Majesty. But, in a much smaller way, it was also a monumental day for me!

On Queens and Vocation – Sisters of Katie Luther

Today is a monumental day in England, as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II surpasses Queen Victoria’s record as longest reigning British Monarch. As American Lutherans, we may not recognize her as our Head of State or Head of Church, but we can learn from the example she has set in the last 63 years, seven months, and three days (and counting), as she has lived out her Christian vocation in a way that is rarely seen so publicly. The Sisters of Katie Luther kindly indulged me, and allowed me to write on this topic on this historic day:

Today, September 9th, 2015, Queen Elizabeth II surpasses Queen Victoria’s record as the longest-reigning monarch in British history. Why should we, as Americans who have no queen, or as Lutherans, who do not answer to the head of the Church of England, pay attention to this, or care about it at all? Does it even matter to us? I think it matters a great deal. Why? Because the Queen, more than any other modern person I can think of, not only understands the concept of Christian vocation, but lives it out fully, every day of her life.

Source: On Queens and Vocation – Sisters of Katie Luther

Vivat Regina Elizabetha!

2015-16 School Year–Week Two

It may only have been our second week of the new school year, but it was awfully busy!

We have now started all of our regular subjects except history. Since Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will be overtaking Queen Victoria as the United Kingdom’s longest reigning monarch this coming Wednesday, we’ve been learning all we can about the current queen. So far, we’ve been watching every documentary I have about her and her reign (and there are quite a few!), and we’ll also be looking through some of the books I have about her and the royal family in the coming week, as well.

While Ladybug’s math lessons have all been review so far, Turkey and Bunny have jumped right into some new concepts, in addition to review. They’ve learned about absolute numbers, and have been working with addition, subtraction, and multiplication with both positive and negative numbers. I’m afraid it might be a very long year in math!

We are doing two different literature studies at the moment. Ladybug is working on Farmer Boy, and although she has workbook activities, Turkey and Bunny still have to listen to the story. And while they work on their assignments for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Ladybug has to listen in to that story, too. So far, both books have been popular with all of my students!

On Friday, we went on a special field trip. The children wanted to learn about Asia as their special subject this year, and The Magic House was hosting a “Children’s China:
Celebrating Culture, Character and Confucius” exhibit, so I decided we better go check it out before it was over! The children really enjoyed it…here, they’re in the panda reserve area of the exhibit…more details to follow!


I hope to have our full curriculum list up soon. In the meantime, I’ll elaborate more on the rest of our subjects in the weeks to come!

Quote of the Day

I’ve shared part of the speech which was given by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion of her 21st birthday, when she was still Princess Elizabeth, in the past, but as we approach the historic date of September 9th, when the Queen will overtake Queen Victoria as the longest reigning British monarch, I think it bears repeating:

To accomplish that we must give nothing less than the whole of ourselves. There is a motto which has been borne by many of my ancestors – a noble motto, “I serve”. Those words were an inspiration to many bygone heirs to the Throne when they made their knightly dedication as they came to manhood. I cannot do quite as they did.

But through the inventions of science I can do what was not possible for any of them. I can make my solemn act of dedication with a whole Empire listening. I should like to make that dedication now. It is very simple.

I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.

But I shall not have strength to carry out this resolution alone unless you join in it with me, as I now invite you to do: I know that your support will be unfailingly given. God help me to make good my vow, and God bless all of you who are willing to share in it.

Trooping the Colour

Today was one of my favorite days on the British royal calendar: Trooping the Colour. This is both a military ceremony, as well as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s official birthday. I love the pomp and ceremony of this event, from the carriage procession, to the soldiers on parade and the Queen reviewing them, to the family balcony gathering (including the debut of Prince George of Cambridge in the same outfit his father wore at his Trooping the Colour debut in 1984), and the flypast, especially the magnificent Red Arrows. Such a fitting way to celebrate the birthday of the Sovereign!