Monday, April 22, 2013

Bonkers for Burlap!

For the past year or so, I've been watching my favorite bloggers and decor gurus use burlap with such style and grace! I've dabbled a bit, I admit it. I love the texture and color it adds. It can go from rustic to shabby chic in a flash, the versatility is just mind blowing!

When I needed to pull together some quick napkin rings I instantly thought of burlap! Here's where I started and oh, the fun I had searching my stash for decorations!

I started with a paper towel tube, cutting it into 2" rings. It was easy to cover the cardboard rings with the burlap using a low temp glue gun. I hid the raw edges by folding them towards the inside of the ring, but you may want the look of the raw edges for your theme.
After the ring was covered in burlap, which comes in many colors now too, the fun is just beginning!
I went through my button collection and adorned my new burlap napkin rings with pretty cameo buttons. You can also buy some pre-made scrapbooking trinketts, like the flowers pictured above. Instant glamour! The fab burlap ribbon shown above came with the black pom-poms! It took my breath away and I splurged on a whole roll of it!
I can't wait to use these on my next tea table. 
**I've been honored by the editor of The Tea House Times!** 
You can view my napkin ring craft project in the May/June issue, check it out here!

If you have a favorite burlap item or project, please do share it on my pinterest board, and comment below so we can admire it :)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Teacup Tuesday is coming up roses!

I'm back and having a little fun today! After a busy busy month helping my son complete his Eagle Project I needed to enjoy one of my favorite pastimes-admiring teaware! I've been checking out the lovelies over at Artful Affirmations "Teacup Tuesday" and decided that I want to play too!
This is one of my favorites, the chintz pattern and happy yellow just make me smile. It is holding a few dried roses and sitting on top of my desk, just there to be admired. 

                  Happy Teacup Tuesday!

Don't forget to admire the other teacups!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Do my teacups have to match?

The age old question, "To match or not to match" is always asked!
When I'm feeling whimsical, light- hearted even I tend to get out all the pieces and mix and match, using a chosen color palette to unify and make the tablescape work together. I think that's the key to making it work, zeroing in on a particular color.
Tea cups mix or match

When the mood is a celebration or has a theme, I love to pull out all the stops and lay a balanced table setting of one pattern. I use flowers and napkins to add interest, or give the eye a place to rest.  I also make use of the "rule of 3" more when the focus is placed on one china pattern. 
Do you have thoughts on this age old dilemma? Of course, I'll keep hunting the tag sales and collecting while I wait for your comments!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tea Party Cookies- for the birds!

I'm sure that you've noticed all the beautiful bird's nest products in the home magazines! In fact, they tie in nicely with my tablescape theme, "Birds of a Feather Sip Together" using our Anniversary Tea Cozy Collection.
My recipe file was going through my head when I suddenly remembered some adorable & tasty cookies that mom had made for Easter when I was just a chicklet. :)
Birds nest cookies
These are so easy and fun! Yes, they can be messy, but isn't that part of the fun with the kids!
Bird's Nest Cookies  
1 5 0z can Chow Main noodles (we used La Choy) 
2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels or light cocoa candy melts (we used Wilton)
36 small blue,yellow and green jelly beans (we picked these to go with our theme, you may do so too)
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or waxed paper. Melt  chocolate pieces using microwave or double boiler method. Mix in noodles slowly so they do not break. Scoop out cookies, drop onto parchment lined sheet. Form each into a small bird's nest. Place 2 or 3 jelly beans in center before chocolate dries. Let cookies set for 1/2 hour before serving. makes 12 -16 cookies.
Imagine a pretty Easter or Mother's Day tablescape with  lots of spring flowers and bird's nests! 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Time for Tea! A Correspondence Tea Party

The Art of Afternoon Tea can transport you to a wonderful world of bliss and tranquility. Everyday moments become a celebration when tea is included!
 Spring ushers in a time of renewal as Mother Nature inspires us with her beauty. She beckons us to throw open the windows and enjoy the rebirth of the trees, and flowers around us.
Take a cue from this inspired renewal and set aside 15 minutes each week to enjoy a “Correspondence Tea”.
You may like to have a few items on hand each week:
·        1 cup of tea  (Herbal Tea is a nice reminder of the beauty of Spring)
·         1 Teacup Cozy (to keep your  tea warm while you write)
·         2  lemon shortbread cookies to nibble
·         1 pretty note card & envelope
·         1 pretty postage stamp
·         1 friend’s name and address
Find a comfy chair and pour yourself a spot of tea, preferably near a sun drenched open window, and revel in these 15 minutes of pleasure. Consider renewing a friendship by offering the gift of a letter. Or perhaps, the birthday of a dear one is approaching and well wishes are in order. A few choice sentences can bring a smile to both the writer and recipient.
Enjoy tea and your friends each week. There is great pleasure in both!

“A friend is a gift you give yourself”  Robert Louis Stevenson
One of my favorite books on this subject is "The Gift of a Letter" by Alexandra Stoddard

Friday, March 8, 2013

Hello March and a Giveaway!

I am thrilled to be back blogging after taking a few weeks off to launch our company's 6th Anniversary, New Cozy Collection and Spring Catalog! Phew, it's been busy here!
I just adore this new Cozy Collection and all the tablescape possibilities. Birds are a big decorating theme still and there are some really cute ones out in the stores to help you put a nice centerpiece together!

This pattern is so versatile. The green background can set off a nice St. Patrick's Day table, and the pink and green color scheme will inspire a pretty Easter brunch! Of course, I think it will be a knock out all year long! The photo above is a scan of the fabric to show it's true shade of green. The photo below is how it looked on a snowy day in my breakfast room, the green had a soft blue shade to it that day! Isn't it fun how lighting can set off colors differently?

I'm so excited to share this collection in honor of our Anniversary that I want to give a Teacup Cozy Set and Tea Napkin away! What do you have to do? Just two things! Post a comment here on how you would enjoy winning this cozy and then post a comment on my FB page. Yes, that's it! I know how busy you are, but I'd love to meet you and find out a bit about you too. So I thought this would be a great way to do it and to reward you for it :)

I'll randomly draw the winner in a week so you can have it in time for a pretty Easter table! Cheers!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Valentine Tea Time with your Sweetie

The Art of Afternoon Tea can transport you to a wonderful world of
 bliss and tranquility. Everyday moments become a Celebration when tea is included!
Let's enjoy tea with our favorite Valentine(s)!
Nothing says I love you  like the sweet offering of *Breakfast in Bed* !
Treat your Valentine to this divine indulgence and  you will reap the rewards!

The night before plan your offerings and make it easy and enjoyable.
Gather a nice tray or wrap a baking sheet in Valentine paper.
Check your cupboards for doilies, heart shaped or red and pink accessories and dishes.
Plan a menu that reflects the taste of your Valentine.
Will a newspaper be consumed with gusto or perhaps a good book?
And don*t forget the pretty flowers so that you can enjoy the moment too.
For breakfast might  I suggest:
   *Heart shaped waffles and sausage patties ( a cookie cutter and frozen waffles are perfect)
   *Fresh strawberries sliced thin will add a nice touch of color, Red!
   *And a pot of your favorite tea with a Tea Cosie to keep it warm while you enjoy each others company

Prepare a feast for the eyes and heart with simplicity and gratitude.
Happy Valentines Day, we appreciate you!
I'd love to hear about your tea time plans for the weekend! What will you be serving?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The making of a great Scone

You and I both know that when you think of a pot of tea the vision of the perfect scone is right there next to it. When you head out for afternoon tea with a friend or dear sis, you crave that moist flavor-packed treat to nibble on as you sip and chat.
How do you get that perfect scone when baking from scratch isn't your thing? When after years of raising kids, you are more suited to Sandra Lee's methods than Martha's. 

When I launched Set to a Tea, I knew the first order of business was to find the perfect scone mix to pair with all the wonderful teas we were serving to our tea tasting guests. The mix had to be easy! It has to be simple, needing only one ingredient added and most importantly, created a yummy moist scone.  I am pleased to say that all was found with our gourmet mix!

Of course, there are some tips I've gathered over the years and even a couple of tricks too. What better way to share these and help you create the best scone ever, than a quick video? So pull up to your kitchen  island, put the kettle on and sip back with my 6 part series on "In the kitchen-Scone Making"

Please do let me know what your favorite scone flavor is, which tip help you out and if you still have a question, post below. I just adore all your feedback :)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Taking comfort -Tea & Toast

Taking comfort in Tea & Toast

There's nothing like a good cup of tea! And then when you add a couple of slices of toast and jam............

It can make the worst cold better. The toughest day relaxing. Those five minutes of peace everlasting.
What memories does this conjure up for you? Did Nana make you tea and toast?  Was there a blizzard outside your door the last time you did this for yourself?
Take care of yourself today. It's a lovely winter day, with a crispness to the air. Put the kettle on, the bread in the toaster. (Find your jam in the fridge, don't squirt on the kids messy jam!) Use the prettiest tea cup and plate you own!   Go ahead and use a pretty napkin too! Do the things you'd do if the Queen was to stop in for a chat! Bless yourself with a nice cup of tea and yummy toast.

Cucumber Sandwiches, need I say more!

In part two of my Elegant Afternoon with the Earl tea party, I wanted to review how easy it is to pull together a yummy menu!
Let's take a look at what I have here: top level, cucumber sandwiches cut into triangles
                                                    lower level: cranberry orange scones, pumpkin loaf,    
                                                    Madelines, blackberries, grapes, and strawberries

Notice, they are all easy finger foods! Everything on the lower level can be purchased at the grocery store ahead of time too, (Okay, I'll let you off the hook this time with the scones, but you KNOW how easy scones are, right!?)
Now for the tea sandwiches, I have to admit, I'm a sucker for a great cucumber sandwich! Nothing says tea time to me like this sandwich, although I am always up for a new idea or flavor of sandwich!

Over the years, I've had dozens of cucumber sandwiches, some more elaborate than others. Some open faced, some not. What's my preference you ask?

Here is what my daughter and I consider to be the Best Cucumber Sandwich! Easy to make and share!

Justine's Favorite Cucumber Sandwich

1 Loaf Pepperidge Farms White Bread "Very Thin"  (only 40 calories per slice and perfect for this)
1 container Boursin Spreadable Cheese -Herb flavored
1 wedge soft cheddar cheese to slice
1 English cucumber

Layout bread on cutting board and spread each piece with a light coating of Boursin Cheese-
Next cut cheddar cheese into thin slices and place on top of Boursin Cheese, on half of the bread slices 
Cut cucumber into thin slices, but not paper thin, you want to taste the cucumber. 
Now on the other half of the bread slices, the ones without the cheddar cheese, place cucumber slices. One layer only and enough to cover the bread.
Make sandwich out of two slices-one with the cheddar cheese, one with the cucumber
Trim off the crust
Cut in half diagonal, then cut in half again for total of 4 triangle tea sandwiches. Scrumptious!

Easy tea sandwiches, easy tea treats with a dash of panache from the silver server spells an 
"Elegant Afternoon Tea with the Earl" 
Just add a nice pot of Earl Grey tea, or Paris Market Day (which is a variation of Earl Grey)
for a wonderful tea time!

Do you have a favorite cucumber sandwich recipe? We'd love to hear about it! Feel free to share it here or on FB or Pinterest! My mouth is watering already :)

Monday, January 7, 2013

An Elegant Afternoon with the Earl

The countdown has begun and I am preparing my tea party to celebrate the return of Lord & Lady Grantham of Downton Abbey! Yes, like millions of people around the world, I have become obsessed with the upstairs family and downstairs staff.
Season three premiers tonight, and after a long crazy week of family illness, packing and working, I settled in to putting together a simple afternoon tea. I wanted to relax and enjoy a friendly atmosphere of conversation, tea and food.
If the Earl could have joined me, I would try to console him over the loss of his fortune, remind him of his devoted wife, get some details of the upcoming wedding and find out if he really is ready to shake hands with his new son-in-law the ex chauffeur.

Pulling a tea party together for a friend can be a fun and easy thing to do. My mantra is use what you have and decide on a theme that will help you get it together!

My tea party theme is simple elegance and silver, a traditional nod to our favorite Downton Abbey characters.

First things first, pretend your home is your favorite "Homegoods" store. Walk around the house and grab everything that catches your eye and will work with your theme! You can edit from the stash later!
I grabbed the silver tea set and my silver tiered server. They just spoke 'elegance' to me.

Then I grabbed a floor length table cloth and an organza table runner, giving me the simple cream color I was looking for.

Remember, I said that a tea party should be easy to pull together? Spontaneous even! That means you don't always have to go all out when setting the table, especially if it's just tea for two.

I used my small round table and put a taller plant stand behind it. This kept the table area small and intimate, easy to carry a conversation and to serve tea and treats.

What tea did I serve? Well, Earl Grey of course! In honor of his Lordship :) Check back on Thursday for more about the menu and tea served at my "Elegant Afternoon with the Earl" tea party.