Tea Time

One of the Christmas gifts I gave to my mother was a gift certificate for high tea at a new-ish local restaurant. The Duke House Tea Room is located in a lovingly renovated house on Main Street in Wellsville, NY.  Sister Sue and I bought the gift certificate at a Chamber of Commerce auction around Thanksgiving, with the plan that I would take mom to tea for Valentine’s Day. I made the reservation for last Friday afternoon, then I left work a tiny bit early, drove over to pick up mom, and we arrived promptly for our 4:30pm seating. Well, we arrived, but the gift certificate didn’t. Apparently it is still buried somewhere on my desk at work. ARRGH.  We were seated despite this little snafu, so we have that gift certificate still available for later in the year — Mother’s Day perhaps?

Many years ago in Ft. Worth, Texas my friend Lois introduced me to the pleasures of high tea. I know, I know, one doesn’t automatically think of Cowtown and high tea in the same thought, but I tell you, the Worthington Hotel in downtown Fr. Worth had high tea down to lovely science. We would hang out in the hotel’s open air lobby and sip Chambord or Champagne along with our tea . With those old memories bubbling up, I had high expectations for the Duke House. I was not disappointed.

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A seasonal wreath lends a cozy feel to the front door of the Duke House.

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I love a good chalkboard sign — just the right touch of whimsy.

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We sat next to this cozy fireplace. I need one of these in my life!

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The matching china was so lovely. Wellsville is such a small town, that the proprietor named the china’s previous owner,  as it was purchased at an estate sale. If I had china, I’d will mine to the Duke House!

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The first course was a warm scone. I chose orange and almond. It was accompanied by a spoon of raspberry jelly and cream. Oh.My. This was — hands-down– the best scone I ever ate. Mom chose blueberry. I wanted hers too. Cindy’s DH loves scones. We will score some scones to take to him next time we visit.

The second course was a cup of soup. I chose New England Clam Chowder, mom had the hearty beef vegetable. We devoured it so quickly, that I didn’t even get a picture. Ooops. Warning: never stand between me and a cup of homemade soup. Friendships have been lost over such missteps.

The next course was an onion tart and a fresh green salad.

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I remembered to take a picture before I ate the whole thing.

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A lemon sorbet served as a palette cleanser before the tea sandwiches arrived.

By the time we finished the sorbet, we were stuffed to the gills with English Breakfast decaf and all the other goodies, but the star of the show was about to arrive.

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Tea sandwiches and dessert!

The sandwiches included Egg Salad, Chicken Salad, Tuna Salad and Cucumber Sandwiches (love all of those). The desserts included a linzer torte, a blueberry pound cake and a dense chocolate cake. By this time, we were only able to nibble on a few sandwiches. We had to pack up the rest of it to take home.

I made my mother practice texting with her new iPhone during tea. She now has the ability to record and text every interesting meal she eats. This is a very useful skill at any age, don’t you think?

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Texting the next course.

Luckily, I misplaced that original gift certificate. Now we get to go back sometime soon for “free”.

Potpourri – An Awesome Art Quilt

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to continuously try new quilting techniques.  A local quilt shop offered a class on how to make one of Laura Heine’s floral collage quilts.  Needless to say, I jumped at the chance!

I chose to make Potpourri the giraffe but Laura’s patterns are all stunning!  My quilting buddy, MJ, made Lulu the elephant.  One woman in our class made Freida the fox and another made Purrfect the cat.  We are having a class reunion at the end of March to show off our completed works and I will get pictures of each quilt to share with you.

Below is a picture of Potpourri’s head and long neck.  BUT I’ve decided to rename her “Gracie“.  Can you see Gracie’s eye?  It is the center of a cone flower from one of the many floral fabrics I used.

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I started Gracie by taping the pattern to my kitchen counter — she is a seriously big girl!  Then I traced the pattern onto voile fabric backed with a double sided iron on adhesive.

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Next came more fun!  I had to back all my floral fabrics and grass pieces with more double sided iron on adhesive.  Then I had to cut out many, many flowers.  I was binge watching Chopped on Food Network and just kept snipping away.

Once all my flowers were cut out, I cleared the dining room table and started  placing flowers and leaves all over Gracie.  By the way, rocks work great for paper & fabric weights!  Rocks are always handy when your son is a Geologist and your husband is addicted to rock collecting — but I digress!

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My husband said Gracie’s neck looked like a stack of sliced cucumbers with all those green and pink flowers so I had to do some rearranging!

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I used some really large, bold flowers and then surrounded them with smaller flowers, seashells and paisleys.  This process took me several days but it was so worth it!

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Here is a close up of Gracie’s tail.  Since these pictures were taken, I’ve added more flowers to her back and legs.  It’s kind of addicting — just a little flower here, another one there to add more dimension and texture –it’s not that I’m obsessed with flowers or anything like that!

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I can’t wait to show you my background fabric and Gracie’s final runway look!  Stay tuned for more awesome art quilt inspiration!

True Love on the Menu

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Well, tomorrow is the big day — are you ready for Valentine’s day? I’ve been focused on losing a few pounds and tomorrow, like Super Bowl weekend, my birthday, New Year’s Eve, and Christmas (and every other day of the year) are a great hurdle to cross. You see, I love chocolate. It was my first true love.

Growing up on the farm, it was easy to grab a piece of chocolate cake for breakfast, because I’d already been up for 2 hours performing a bending and lifting regimen that would have made a junior Olympic hopeful proud. Those Holsteins were not going to milk themselves, you know. Sometimes for ‘breakfast dessert’ — it’s a thing, look it up — I’d enjoy a few miniature candy bars from the candy drawer in the kitchen.

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This looks a lot more fun that it was: my friend Linda on the business end of a cow during a “research” visit to the farm. I haven’t seen her in ages. I’m going to Charlotte to visit her in May!

When I got to college, I was a basketball cheerleader with a high metabolism, so the nightly chocolate sundaes in the dining hall provided all the fuel I needed to stay in shape for the season.

 

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That wool uniform was incredibly provocative, now wasn’t it? The turtleneck surely added a certain”monestary” touch, don’t you think? With me is my sophomore roommate. I love her!

In my late 20’s and 30’s I ran marathons — not fast mind you — but I could cover the distance in order to earn the brownies (and the margaritas) at the finish line.

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German Chocolate cake and beer for my 39th birthday, courtesy of my beautiful friend and running partner. Miss her in Texas!

 

I once worked for a start-up company where one of the principles uttered my favorite quote about chocolate. “I’m not sure which is better,” he said, “the look of love  your darling gives to you or the look she gets on her face when you give her chocolate.”

So, although I’m not a huge Valentine’s Day fan, I can fake it for some nice chocolate. My roommate will arrive home from work around 7 pm tomorrow, I’ll try to arrange my face so he can see both looks, whether or not he brings home the goods.

P.S. Many thanks to the gracious Robin Nelson at Craftsisters.com for her advice on blogging and the challenge of quilt pattern making.