Perfect Day for a Tea Party

It’s a perfect day for a

Tea PartyGuess what I’m doing today (or did I already give it away)?  Something fun!  Here’s your Sunday morning MUSICA for celebration.)  I’m meeting a new person by the name of Betsy Bray.  She’s a Trustee for the Beatrix Potter Society and she is coming to our own Vineyard Haven Library to give a talk entitled “Beatrix Potter, A Woman Ahead of her Time.”  Winter.  Clear blue sky.   Sunday, 2pm (like a matinee).  Library.  Beatrix Potter.  Who could ask for anything more?

Tea party

But more is what I’m getting, because Betsy is bringing along her friend Barbara, plus another associate of the Beatrix Potter Society, their North American Liaison Officer, Suzanne Terry.  Joe and I are going to the talk, then we’re bringing them home (first class carriage, the Fine Romance Van); Betsy asked if they could have a tour of the Peter Rabbit Room (hope they are not expecting grand, if they blink they will miss it, probably have to take them to top of stairs one at a time due to room being under eaves and tiny), and then tea, in front of the fire on this beautifully blustery day.

rainy day

tea in front of the fire

So this morning, the big decisions are being made: what dishes to use and what to make???  The market opens at 7 am and I will be there.  Cake.  Must have cake.  Right now I’m torn between Orange Cake with Pineapple filling, Pineapple cakeOrange-Lavender Polenta Cake, Pineapple upside-down cake (in vanilla sauce), or perhaps even tiny little Chocolate Eclairs — or Milk Cake???  Yikes!  Must narrow this down.  Imagine you are there, which one do you want?   I’m definitely going to make crunchy cucumber sandwiches.  And soft tender little egg salad sandwiches, with tiny bits of minced onion, sweet pickle relish and lots of pepper.  And slices of juicy Honey Crisp Apple.

pink-flowersTea timeFood is always very important, but the coup de grâce for me is, as always, which linens, which dishes???  Playtime!

choosing dishes

Trying to decide between pink or blue dishes . . . think I will go blue.  Thinking not formal.  Too rainy for formal, must be cozy.  Cozy mugs instead of cups and saucers.  I’ll take pictures and show you final layout!

BP People

For sure we’ll have our special guests join the party, they are always so well mannered, nicely dressed, quiet, and they never make pigs of themselves except of course for the one in the blue dress . . .  But I better get going or all of this will be just imaginary!

Have a wonderful day    Downton Abbey tonight!  How’d you like the first one?  We haven’t hashed it over yet.  That’s not like us.


 Sending sunshine!  XOXO

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361 Responses to Perfect Day for a Tea Party

  1. MS Barb Dawson says:

    Oh! Is that embroidery/applique` pattern (on the towel!) available for purchase?

  2. nancy says:

    Did you have a bonfire going in the Peter Rabbit room? That is the cutest
    thing ever. I’m sure your guests loved it all.

  3. Frances Fowler says:

    A ninety-six year old dear friend of the family gave me two books for my 52nd birthday on Saturday, Susan Wittig Albert’s “The Tale of Hill Top Farm” the first in her series of Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter. Although the target audience would be your “young adult” reader, I’m thoroughly enchanted thus far. All that’s needed to go with a bit of reading is some tea. All that is needed for last night’s Downton is revenge!

  4. Roma says:

    Thank you for a happy spark and smile you put in my days. I love your English book and the tour. It has opened up the book of Beatrix Potter by Martha McDowell and the movie Miss Potter and a study of the English Lake District via my iPad to me.

  5. Arlinda says:

    Hi Susan,

    How much I love your pineapple upside down cake. I should have visited the blog on Saturday, I would have remembered. Your pineapple upside down cake would have been a delicious addition and treat to the brunch table. Yesterday was my parents 50th wedding anniversary. All because two people fell in love: 41 people exist. I loved every minute of it. It was overwhelming seeing them renew their vows in the presence of their children, grand children, great grand children, friends, and community.

    I have to make the cake tomorrow as a afternoon treat. I’ll bring it with me to share with my parents as I help them organize and send their thank you notes.
    Thank you Susan!

    XO Arlinda

  6. Victoria Miller says:

    Camping out in the finished new apartment, waiting for mine to be completed and the movers to move me back in. My dear friend, whose name is also Victoria, kindly picked me up and took me to her house to watch Downton Abbey, since there are no TV connections in the new apartments yet. (I only have internet because a neighbor was kind enough to let me share his WiFi.) We had pumpkin pie and wine, which I’m glad we finished early on. Very surprising and shocking turn of events. Although, today I remember some of the finer and delightful things in the story. We’ll have to just wait and see how this latest unfolds.

    Your tea sounds so lovely! Hope you had a most lovely time, and I feel certain you did. I’m sure your little Beatrix Potter characters were delighted to have such an esteemed guest! And I’ve never heard the Paul McCartney tea song; however I missed that, tea lover that I am, I have no idea! Thank you for sharing that one! And for all you share. May your days continue to be made of delight!

  7. Gina DaMetz says:

    I can’t wait to see pictures from this fun Beatrix Potter themed tea! How much fun is that!! I just read A Fine Romance for the second time since I bought it and had you sign it in Wichita!! It’s a book I will read over and over many times! So many neat little details, in the journaling and the beautiful pictures! I have recently become hooked on the PBS documentary of Chatsworth that comes on right before Downton Abbey! I love that it was one of the places you visited and wrote about! Have you been watching that show? So interesting! I love having a glimpse into the world of Chatsworth! Can’t wait for your next post!!!

  8. Theresa Libby says:

    Dear Susan,

    Hope your tea party went well. I am most certain it did!

    I am a new reader and I must tell you how much I am enjoying your blog. I am so happy to have found it. After reading it, I am eagerly awaiting the next! I just got and read A Fine Romance. I loved it so much I am telling all my friends and family all about it and I think my book will be passed around quite a bit! I visited London about 5 years ago now and just love it! I need to go back now after reading your book, for sure!!

    I feel like I have found a kindred spirit!!


  9. Nancy B says:

    Oh, what fun! A Beatrix Potter Tea! I’m already looking forward to seeing pictures of the event. Hope you took lots and will share. 🙂 As for Downton, I really don’t trust that new maid, Edna, is it? She just better stay away from Tom! I do hope Anna recovers. So sad.

  10. deb h says:

    Hi Susan,
    This off the subject of tea…but I just received my 2014 calendar and I have to say I was delighted to see Roy Rogers’ birthday recognized! He and Dale were (and are) such wonderful role models, both living unselfish, cheerful, “live by the Golden Rule” lives. My son, Josh, is a huge fan. He has had a Roy Rogers themed birthday for the last several years but I visualizing this coming to an end as he will be 14 this year. So I asked him if he was going to “do Roy Rogers” for his birthday again this year to which he replied, “Oh yeah, Mom.” 🙂
    Also love Beatrix Potter too (me that is, not Josh) and I’m encouraged to re-do my kitchen in B.P. I am finally finishing a cross-stitch I began about 20 years ago that features all of the characters hanging their laundry on a clothesline. It really is cute, have you seen it? Jemima w/ her shawl, Peter and his coat, etc. Thank you for all of your creative inspiration~deb

    • sbranch says:

      I have seen those, how darling and perfect for any BP room. I always think of Roy Rogers as my first boyfriend. I have a biography of him, he lived a hero’s life both on and off the screen.

  11. I love your dishes and your Beatrix Potter figurines. I have two fun but rambunctious little boys, so there’s not much china around here. Every now and then, when they’re in bed, I brew tea and sip it not from a mug, but from an actual teacup and saucer. I feel so elegant, and I swear it tastes better that way! ….

    • sbranch says:

      I’m sure it does! I remember being in high school and taking a real cup of tea with a saucer into my hideout (my bedroom) and drinking it in front of the mirror! Pure elegance. 🙂

    • Becky P. says:

      When my 3 boys were young, one of them decided to attempt to pick up some of my Beatrix Potter figurines with one of those ratchet extended arm toys. My Peter figurine now has one ragged ear, which I mourned mightily for years. I now look at it with a wistful smile for days gone by when my boys were young and rambunctious. Enjoy your boys….and your quiet tea time!

  12. Paula says:

    Hello, Susan~~

    I was thinking, as I was nearing the end of my second reading of A Fine Romance this past week, how you have endeared yourself, not only to us girlfriends here in the USA, but how you must have endeared yourself to so very many English folk by writing such a heart warming description of their country, culture, creativity and their success in preserving the history of their country by saving so many old homes, farms, lakes, and land. The second reading was even more impressive than the first as I noticed more and more details in the descriptions, emotions, photos and drawings.

    Your tips on driving in England had me laughing so hard! The description of your time in Beatrix Potter’s Garden (the awe of being there, wanting to be a good representative of the United States, yet desiring a flower, etc.) and the emotion it wrought after you were back inside the car, was like reading a suspense story; I was with you in spirit and emotion: laughing and crying!

    Regarding the past two posts:

    Thank you for sharing about Iris. These pets leave big gaps in our lives when they are gone. The comment about Iris being the youngest where she was now, was such a sweet thought–and comforting.

    Your tea party must have been a rare treat for the Beatrix Potter trustees. As the other girlfriends have said, “I look forward to seeing and reading all about it!”

  13. Karen Stefanelli says:

    Hi Susan, what lovely guests and I am so excited for your Tea Party plans …I think I am going to plan one for this coming weekend. You always inspire! I cannot wait to see your table setting….in the meantime I can plan for the rest of the week what I am going to bake. So many wonderful decisions to make. They will love your Beatrix Potter room and your entire house …it is so charming. They will be delighted just like I am!

    Thank you, Karen

  14. Oh No! Did something sad/bad happen? Good Grief! It’s only the 2nd episode… Shhhh! Don’t spill the beans. I must watch!

    Georgie from NJ

  15. Wendy-Lou says:

    Ohhhhhh! All this talk of tea parties gets me so excited ! I am planning and giving two parties with in the next 5 weeks. One is my parents 60th Anniversary . It will be here at our cottage, not too big, not too small, but just right ! There will be 4 children and there spouses, 7 grandchildren, 3 of their spouses, 1 great grand baby, and 1 great grand baby on the way. The great grand babies are my grand babies. The one that is due is due on April 1, maybe she is going to be a little joker! HAHAHA ! Thank-you Susan for the little paper bells and hearts from your store, they will be on the table. Everyone is bring something and we will have a nice little celebration.
    Then I am planning with my daughter and daughter in-law a Baby Girl Tea-Luncheon Valentines Baby Shower. The day after Valentines Day ! We are having such fun planning, how can we have soooo much fun !!!!! I just love things Home made !Thank-you Dear Susan for all your inspiration !!!!!!!!! OXOX I have a wish that you will find someone to make your darling tea strainers again because I can’t keep my eyes off of it every time you post a picture of it, it is just so charming and well Perfect ! Perfect for any kind of tea, fancy or not. I feel that you would sell a ton of them all over the World ! Think of all the tea houses that would have them. Ohhhh, sorry I do get carried away sometimes. I feel you would be selling as many as your book ! Especially all your girlfriends,Now that’s a lot ! Thank-you again for the Love from your heart, it goes out to sooooo many of us, we are truly grateful. OX Wendy-Louise

    • sbranch says:

      Have fun Wendy-Louise, I know you will! XO

    • Diane says:

      Oh, Wendy-Lou, I love the tea strainer from Susan’s A Perfect Tea as much as you do. I’ll go so far as to say I covet it! I’d love to have one of those plus one of the tea bag holders with the pansy on it that is also a part of A Perfect Tea. I know they’re not being made any more, but I constantly have my eye out. I agree that you could sell a ton of them.

      • sbranch says:

        I can understand that you like it, because I do too, I covet it and I already have it. Any minute, because of this conversation, some kitty or wooden spoon is bound to crush it to smithereens, but until then . . .

  16. Liz says:

    Can’t wait to hear how Sunday went – sounds divine. Haven’t watched Downton yet, but have it taped waiting for me. I loved Upstairs, Downstairs so much, and Downton brings that back for me. Just bought “A Fine Romance” for my sister and am half done my copy – savoring it slowly. Last night we were at a local bookstore and there were two copies of Beatrix Potter books – “Jemima Puddle-Duck” and “Benjamin Bunny”. I have the complete set, but snapped them up for gifts. The young man said they had just gotten them in and they were a good choice!

  17. Connie Sue says:

    How perfectly enchanted and charming!!!!!!!

  18. chris consentino says:

    ahhh! tea. some of my first memories are of tea. I was blessed to grow up in an extended family situation…grandparents, parents, two aunts ( my mom’s sisters), my brother and I. at every meal, and many times thru the day…there was tea. and, again late evening. everyone took their tea differently. and, as a wee little girl…I could go to each tea-drinker and “sample”. mmmm. it was fun that none of my friends had. I should have had more tea-parties for them. well, again, as I usually say…thank you. oh! thank you, Susan, for such a wonderful time I’ve had marveling over your tea-party stories and pics. it is my hope that you are much aware of how much of a blessing you are.

  19. Cadie says:

    I wish I could come over and watch Downton Abbey with you! I found myself laughing again at all the funny parts you pointed out! 🙂 xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      I have a best friend who I’ve gone everywhere with since my early twenties, we have great memories, but I LOVED going to parties with her. She was the queen of hashing it over and we had more fun the day after (because of her) then we actually had at the party!

  20. sondra fox says:

    Hi Susan, Do you have a pattern for the bouquet pillow in the Peter Rabbit room, on the bed? If not I’ll try drawing up one. So adorable. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

    • sbranch says:

      No, I’m sorry I don’t — I found that piece of embroidered fabric in an antique store…and every bit of it is French knots!

  21. Alice Lucas says:

    Dear Susan

    I was wondering if you ever went to see Louisa May Alcott’s house? She is one of my favorite authors.
    Sincerely, Alice

  22. Kimberly says:

    Looks like a beautiful tea party!! Just wondered…do you think it matters if you heat your water in the microwave or is it better heated on the stove? Also, what’s the difference between adding sugar or honey to your tea?

    • sbranch says:

      Scientifically speaking (according to experts), heating the water in a kettle is supposedly better. As for sugar or honey, it’s a matter of taste. I like honey because, to me, it has a softer rounder flavor, but Joe, he likes sugar! To each his own.

  23. Leigh says:

    I covet your ‘love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea’ engraved spoon.
    Did you find it in an obscure shop somewhere in England ? If so, did they have any more or do I just sigh piteously evertyime I see it and can only wistfully long for one of my own? Perhaps you could obtain some for your shop? I’m sure they would delight all ‘Downton’ viewers. Then on Sunday nights we can all gather our teasets, stir with our charming spoons and smirk along together when the Dowager Duchess makes one of her famous proclaimations.

    • sbranch says:

      It was a few years ago in an obscure shop right here on the island, and when I went back for more, they were all gone and never seen again. I hear you may find some of them on Etsy?

  24. Holly Lynn Cook says:

    So lovely Susan! Thank you for all the details. Waiting for your blog with such anticipation after the blog of what you might have for tea and what colors. Was very much like waiting for Downton Abbey! Just now able to write a comment

  25. Toni from Sylvania OH says:

    Hi Susan…such delightful comments about your tea party. I’m sure it was DIVINE!

    Just ran across THE NEW ENGLAND BUTT’RY SHELF ALMANAC, illus. by Tasha Tudor. written by Mary Mason Campbell. It is sooooo New England you will just faint! Adorable…feeding Chickadees in January;catching and cooking Shad in April; cultivating roses in June; the wrens nesting in the mailbox; LOTS about tea and on and on and on:-))) On Amazon they also had The B. Shelf Cookbook, same authors, many different styles. These are right up ‘our alley’..Stay warm…near ‘O’ here!

  26. KAREN RUTH from Charleston SC says:

    Hi Susan & Girlfriends, Another fast way to cut up eggs for egg salad is to use a pastry cutter with blades. The job gets done VERY quickly. Try it; you’ll like it!!

  27. Petra Matthew says:

    Good afternoon (here in the Netherlands anyway) Susan. I discovered your blog recently and I love it! It has a feelgood feeling to it. I’m checking everything out and read that you have advertising, which I didn’t see at first. But then I saw that it is very subtile done. That is great. I don’t like sites that have there advertising right in your face. You do a wonderfull job by only taking the products that suit you and putting them in between your writing.
    Something else: I see that Jack cannot go outside because you are afraid. Of what? That he gets hit by a car? I have 2 ideas for you that of course you can throw right out of the window. One is making a big thing of fences outside. (I don’t know the word, just asked my American !!! husband and he doesn’t know either!!!) Like where you keep chickens, you understand? The other idea I pinned on Pinterest and it was a tunnel through the whole garden made of chickenwire so the chickens can walk around but don’t eat anything. Chickenwire is uckly of course but you could also make it from green wire. At least we have that here in Holland. Don’t know if you have it.
    I ordered your book, because I also love England! And lucky for me it’s close by.
    groetjes uit Nederland van Petra!

    • sbranch says:

      Lucky for you Petra … and so nice to meet you! Yes, I’m worried about cars when it comes to my kitty Jack. He’s a little bit wild and I think he would run all over the place if I let him. Where you keep chickens, like a chicken coop? As for advertising, I’m not all against it, but there is hardly any on the site. I don’t like it either, but I can definitely see why people have it. Have a wonderful day!!

  28. Donna Wilder says:

    Hello Dear Susan,
    I can’t thank you enough for introducing me to the works of Gladys Taber!! After reading The Book Of Stillmeadow I sang out, ” Gladys Taber~~where have you been all my life???!!!” She was a woman after my own happy domestic heart( much like someone else I know~~with initials S.B.!!!! Hmmm, who could that be???) When I finished The Book of Stillmeadow I became obsessed with reading everything “Gladys!” I ordered Still Cove and just received the Stillmeadow Cook Book. I’m in the process of reading it cover to cover and may just steal the theme from “Julie & Julia” and cook, bake or can every recipe in the book!! The first thing I’m going to have to make is Herman Smith’s Ginger Mold. It was her favorite dessert and the thought of tasting something that she so enjoyed makes me feel connected to her in a way that only an old past down recipe can do! So now comes the best part of all~~~of course I just had to become a “Friend of Gladys Taber!” I went on her website and… OMG~~~JOY OVERLOAD~~~MIRACLE OF MIRACLES~WHO DO YOU THINK IS GOING TO BE THE GUEST SPEAKER AT THE GLADYS TABER REUNION IN JUNE????~~~~YOU,YOU,YOU DEAR SUSAN!!!!!! I am so insanely happy I can’t even take it!!!!!!!!(and a million more exclamation points!!) You have been such an amazing inspiration in my life and to have the opportunity to thank you in person (AND AT STILLMEADOW OF ALL PLACES) just fills me with such gratitude and happiness!!!! So thank you again Susan! I’m counting down the days until we meet so I can give you a great big hug and maybe even a delicious ginger mold too!!!xo

    • sbranch says:

      How wonderful that you will be there Donna! I’m so happy you’ve discovered Gladys, she is so special. Did you know (my claim to fame) she and I have the same birthday? Made me so happy to learn that! See you in June!

  29. Joy Manier says:

    Well, I feel like I’ve met a group here of “kindred spirits” as I’ve read through Susan’s blogs and your replies. I grew up in the 1950’s and I can remember my brother, sister and I sitting on our sofa in front of the t.v., breathlessly waiting to watch Roy Rogers; I long to visit England, and read most anything written by S.W. Albert, especially her mystery series of Beatrix Potter; I love all the kitchenware, linens and recipes featured by Susan. But most of all, I am a tea lover of almost 5 decades! So I loved hearing the tea song by Paul McCartney. There is also another song, sung by Peter and Gordon, called “Sunday for Tea”; one version on u tube is even accompanied by some adorable clips from the old “Avengers” t.v. series that some of you might remember. If any of you are able to check it out, I hope you enjoy it!

  30. Catherine L. Rootness says:

    Susan…..More than a year ago I tried to order my FIRST Beatrix Potter from your website. I think it was a cat (perhaps Tom?). I recall that it was about $90+ dollars. I’d read previously about you “collecting” them since the days of your youth and I, too, thought them adorable.. Alas, when I tried to place my order, you had no more. I put them in my “memory bank”. A couple of weeks ago we attended a grandson’s hockey game in southern Minnesota. We were early for the game so had a chance to peruse an antique shop where I found Tom Kitten and Tabitha Twitchett at a LOW price. My collection has been formed. There are 19 more figurines in the same store so if it would quit snowing and the 40-50 degree below zero wind chills would stop, we’ll get back there. Thanks for exposing me to my next collection!!!

    • sbranch says:

      They are so hard to find these days, Catherine, lucky you! … run back to that store asap! But I have to say, there is something fun about doing it slowly, one at a time and taking your time to do it. Be sure to read the bottoms of the figurines so you know where they are from. After a while you will get to know the “good” ones from the others — however, good is always in the eye of the beholder so if you love it, then that’s all that matters.

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