As I mentioned in my April Newsletter, this month’s tablescape was dedicated to a Tea Party at Sadie’s house. My absolute favorite part about setting this table was pulling out all of my mother’s heirloom pieces. In a lovely way, it felt as though I was inviting great grandmothers, great aunts and cousins to join us…not in a creepy ghost way, but in one that celebrates and remembers the ladies in our family who came before us, shaping us into the women we are today.
When Sadie’s first cousin once removed (is that right, Mom??), Betty Rutledge, hand painted this lemonade set, I’m sure she never imagined I would be writing about it in the 21st century and publishing pictures of it for all of you to see and enjoy. If you look closely at this picture, you can see she signed the name Rutledge next to a cluster of grapes.
Sadie’s dining table was transported from Missouri to Texas in the early 1850s in a covered wagon. The table and accompanying buffet made it’s home at the Drummond Farm (where Mimi grew up) until my mother brought it to her home over 100 years later. Although it typically holds two leaves and seats 8, for our Tea Party we removed the leaves and turned the table into a square, then covered it on the diagonal with a square cloth that was a wedding present for my parents. This spread was a gift from Isabel, Sadie’s pen pal from Scotland. They began writing eachother in the 7th grade, and still do to this day!!! Isn’t that amazing??
The lace and soft purple thistles of the spread bring the ideal amount of elegance and color to the table while allowing the china and service pieces to remain the focus. For the centerpiece, I gathered 3 different size, shape and color tea pots–from my collection of about 10–and filled them with yellow daffodils and blue iris. (Shout out to my KKGs!!)
Sadie inherited a gorgeous set of Monticello china by Lennox from a relative, and it is one of my favorites to use this time of year. The square salad plates are especially unique, and the aqua, pink and gold pattern combines fresh Spring-y-ness with lovely femininity. Sadie’s sterling, Rosepointe by Wallace, sat nearby. A Monticello platter held a variety of iced cookies (from get this–Trader Joe’s!) while a porcelain basket held scones with the same grocery origins. Finding favorite ready-made foods makes entertaining much more simple if you aren’t an experienced hostess. Of course there is always something to be said for homemade snacks, which is why my Lemon Basil Parmesan Crisps sad proudly at the Tea Party Table.
Hand painted lemonade and hot chocolate sets sat on the table as well for guests to enjoy additional types of beverages. Try my Almond Tea or Neiman Marcus Spice Tea. The only newer pieces on the table were the tea pot, sugar bowl and creamer that I received at my wedding. Using heirloom tableware is such a special and appropriate addition to a Tea Party because the theme travels back to days past when tea time was an important part of daily routines.
On the nearby buffet, a sterling silver tea set that belonged to Brian’s grandmother sat–my MIL let me borrow it for this photo shoot!! The set is engraved, and even has a matching biscuit tin where we served biscotti.
Although I set our table for a buffet-style Tea Party, you could easily have a sit down lunch by setting individual places with the same china.
Years ago I found a lovely book called Afternoon Tea , which definitely came in handy when planning this tablescape. When you come across one, make sure to pick up a little book on entertaining. They usually provide so much inspiration, recipes, rules etc…which are so helpful in planning your next party. Tea Party, that is.
-ciao for now-
photo credit: Patrizia Montanari