Sunday, June 3, 2018

P.E.O. Tea

"The 'art of tea' is a spiritual force for us to share."
Alexandra Stoddard

Last week, my P.E.O. sisters came together to share an afternoon of tea and friendship.
Twenty-four sisters gathered at the comfortable home of Thelma Mck. 

Christine C. brought some lovely hats to share.

She helped set the mood
and soon....

....there were colorful hats scattered about.

How appropriate that Martha H. arrived in a hat of bountiful daisies.
The marguerite is the signature flower of P.E.O..

MaryAnn T. found the perfect hat.

There were many amazing hats that I failed to get photographs of.  Next year for sure.

had a feathered fascinator in her hair.
Somehow, I only got a photograph of her
sparkly sandels.  

Ruth I. sent this beautiful 
floral arrangement for the table.
The colors were perfect with the teacups.
Thank you, Ruth. 
We missed you!

Oh, those teacups!
Aren't they beautiful?
I helped open the ones from Ellen C..
What a lovely surprise each wrapping unfolded to.
Thanks for all who provided tea cups and tea pots.

The savory table.

Cucumber sandwiches
Ham salad sandwiches
Turkey with cranberry mayonnaise sandwiches

The sweet table.

Chocolate-covered strawberries
Pecan squares
Lemon bars
Miniature vanilla and chocolate cupcakes
Thanks to Thelma and Jane W-B for joining me in
preparing the delicious food.

After a time of sipping tea and enjoying tasty treats, 
Linda D. shared highlights of State Convention with us.
This year, we had two Golden Girls to celebrate.
Congratulations to Beth F. and Marilyn E. 
for such a wonderful achievement!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Royal Wedding With Friends

The hats!  I'm always amazed by the hats that attend English weddings (and the Kentucky Derby).  I wondered if there were peacocks, egrets and other plumed birds strutting around minus a few feathers.  In fact, I decided to check this out so I did a Google search and was not pleased with what I found.  We'll not go into details in this post.  I will only say that the hats of today are adorned with far less plumage than those of the past.

My (mini) fascinator had only two white feathers that look like they were plucked from the ground near a chicken coop which was fine with me.  I think the pearls and large diamond made up for the lack of feathers.

Yes, of course I wore white gloves.

Thelma was sparkly (I wish I had photographed her shoes!  But, how does one request a shot like that?)!!

Sue added a breath of spring and, almost, matched the Queen in her color choice.

Jane, our hostess, was in a proper fascinator.  No guest would mind sitting behind her at the wedding.
Our seats were front row.  We didn't have to rise from our beds in the wee morning hours either.  Jane had asked her "smart" television to record the event as seen through the eyes of PBS (no commercial breaks!!).

Arriving at 10 a.m., we were promptly seated and served a delicious coffee cake accompanied by a hot cup of proper English tea.  We enjoyed the commentary by various broadcasters.  There was still much speculation over the wedding dress and the designer.  The wedding cake baker from the U.S. was interviewed as she was preparing to put the final touches on the cake.  The florist was making the final delivery on the flowers.  Everything was happily falling into place--at least as far as we could tell.

A bit after noon, we paused to plate our lunches.  The delicious choices included:

Crudites with green goddess dip.

Deviled eggs.
Take notice of that lovely tablecloth.  
Jane embroidered it when she was in high school!

My plate.
Yes, I had to try everything.
How else could I tell you how delicious it all was?


Wedding cake?
Of course!

The bride was stunning in a simple but elegant dress.
The groom was handsome in his uniform.

One of the most touching scenes for me was the empty chair beside Prince William in honor of his mother, Princess Diana.  I'm actually not a hundred percent sure of this but I'm going with it as fact.

I loved that the bride carried forget-me-nots.  They were her late mother-in-law's favorite.

Loved that the Bishop read from an iPad!!  Loved his words as well.

The young cellist (who had on polka dot socks and his left shoe was untied) was fabulous.

The gospel choir made me want to tap my toes and shout!

In fact, it was a wonderful celebration.  I wouldn't have changed a thing!!

Thank you Jane for inviting
us to the wedding.

It was lovely!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018


When the table is set, one knows the "event" is going to happen soon. Here is our Easter table waiting for a basket of flowers and the food. Oh, and most importantly, the guests. There were no children among the eight of us so no eggs were hidden. It was a good thing since it was very cold and windy outside.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Birds, Snow, Snow, Snow, Birthdays and Poison

The cardinals met this morning.  No, not those cardinals!  The brilliant Northern Orange Cardinals.  There are five of them in this photo.  Every time I try to raise the blinds to get a clearer view, they hastily fly away.  Yesterday, we counted nine of them on the branches and more on the ground.  They were joined by wrens and finches.  They seem oblivious to the lake-effect snow and howling winds!

Even more of the birds gathered for my birthday last week.  The weather was the same:  snow and wind shrieking and howling off Lake Michigan.  The Baker had plans to take me out to dinner.  I had plans to curl up under a blanket and read.  It was bridge day, though, and I wanted to play. My dear friends and players had other ideas.  It was, after all, my birthday and they were going to make it special.  My sweet friend, Thelma, decided the night before to make a big pot of soup for us.  She also had spanakopita in the freezer and time to make a delicious chocolate and nut bar cookie.  Andrew drove me from our garage to the Brown's garage.  Then he picked up Thelma and drove her and the food back to the nice, dry garage.  Jane had set a lovely table for our feast.  After many hands of cards, we tucked into that tasty soup.  Thelma called it "everything but the kitchen sink soup".

Yesterday, it snowed from sunup to sundown--a beautiful snow.  It was a perfect day to enjoy a couple of my birthday presents.

"Bitten by Witch Fever:
Wallpaper & Arsenic in the Nineteenth-Century Home"
Lucinda Hawksley

and a lovely new Liberty of London teacup from

Now to sip tea and read about "the fatal story of Victorian home decor".  I've long been a fan of the Arts and Crafts movement and especially like the wall papers of William Morris.

Tucked into the pages of lovely wallpaper designs, are small booklets that give the history of arsenic and arsenic-based dyes.  Thanks Elyssa and Stefan!!

Now I'm headed out to another birthday celebration.  It is one of the perks of having a winter birthday.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Let Them Eat Cake!

"Come said the wind to the leaves one day,
come o're the meadows and we will play.
Put on your dresses scarlet and gold,
for summer is gone and the days grow cold."
A Child's Song from the 1880s

A gaggle of geese, franticly honking, just flew over.  They were headed south.  I guess they were as surprised as I was to wake up to 35 degrees this morning.  This gorgeous tree, just outside our front door, will soon drop those colorful leaves.  The patio fern will have to be brought inside where it hates to spend the winter.  

We had friends over for dinner on Saturday.  The menu was a nod to early autumn.  We started with
Brunswick stew, a dish I claim started in Virginia.  The Baker offered to do dessert.  I gratefully accepted and asked for a southern sweet.  He obliged with a ten layer white cake with chocolate frosting.

No, the crow did not have a crumb of this delicious concoction!

It was a good evening with dear friends.  So dear that we sent each couple home with a few slices of cake for their future enjoyment.  

I love cozy fall evenings with good friends and good food!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Power Breakfast

Unlike a squirrel who can stash away acorns for winter dining, I can't do that with homegrown tomatoes straight from the vine.  Therefore, I am eating them as fast as I can.  Thus far, I have not copied my mother's habit of keeping a tomato and a sharp knife in her purse when going out to eat.  She'd probably correct me by saying she was going out to dine but does one stash a tomato and a knife in their purse for dining?  Mother felt that any meal was enhanced by a few tomato slices.  I agree.  

Sunday breakfast showcased green heirloom tomatoes, scrambled eggs and bacon on a toasted brioche bun.  It doesn't get much better than that!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Irish Soda Bread

One more week of winter and we've had our first, almost-measurable, snow.  There is more snow in the forecast for today and tomorrow.  The bad weather didn't stop the dying of the Chicago River green a few days ago.  I never quite understand why they don't do that on St. Patrick's actual day.  I'm not doing corned beef and cabbage as we have plans to eat out.  I am baking Irish Soda bread.  I've combined a few recipes to come close to my grandmother's delicious loaf.  This is part Ina Garten and part Nanny's.  It is wholly delicious slathered with a little butter and a little jam with a steaming mug of coffee (or tea).

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all whether you are Irish or not!!

Irish Soda Bread

4 cups flour, plus extra for raisins and candied orange peel
5 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 Tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp grated orange zest
1 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup candied orange peel
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper

1.  Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Combine on low speed for 30 seconds.  Scatter the butter in and mix, on low speed, until the butter is crumbled into the flour.
2.  In another bowl, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg and orange zest together.  With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture for about 1 minute or until flour is incorporated.  Combine the raisins and candied orange peel with one tablespoon of flour and then mix into the dough.  The dough will be very wet and sticky.
3.  Liberally flour a wooden board and scrape the dough out onto the board.  Using well-floured hands (I used a dough scraper too), knead the dough a few times and form into a rough, round loaf.  Place the loaf onto the prepared sheet pan and cut an X into the top (not easy with the soft dough--I ended up cutting a rough X with kitchen scissors).  Bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  The loaf should sound hollow when tapped.
4.  Cool on a rack.  Delicious served warm or at room temperature.