Sunday, May 3, 2015

Mother's Day Tea Inspiration

Do you enjoy taking all the inspiration that's out there, whether it be in books, magazines, movies or TV shows (can you say 'Downton Abbey'?), or historical places, and recreating and interpreting that in your own home?  I certainly do-- and my Mom enjoys this kind of thing too, so I thought I would create a Mother's Day Tea for the two of us-- based on one of our favorite Mother's Day activities, which is to go to the Huntington Library Tea Room.  

High tea, low tea, cream tea, light tea... I've done a quick read-up on the history of traditional afternoon tea in preparation for our tea celebration, and found that here are many different types of teas.  

A tea-scones-jam-cream Tea ('Cream Tea'), a tea-scones-sweets Tea ('Light Tea'), a tea-savories-scones-sweets-dessert Tea ('Full Tea')-- according to this website, all of these are considered 'low' or afternoon teas if they are served in the afternoon on low tables (i.e. coffee tables) near sofas or chairs in drawing rooms.  

Note, 'savories' typically means little finger sandwiches.  I'm not sure what the distinction is between 'sweets' and 'dessert'--possibly one or the other includes trifle?  Sounds good to me, I love trifle-- although I did not make trifle for this post, since it is a time consuming dessert to prepare...anyways, back to the subject at hand...'High' Tea includes all the same things, but is served in the late afternoon or early evening on dining room tables (hence the term 'high').  

There is a long laundry list of rules and protocols for how to prepare tea, how to serve tea, how to hold the tea cup, what to do with your fingers (pinkies up and held at a tilted angle), how to stir tea, how to drink tea (never slurp)....In bygone days, ladies wore elegant tea gowns....People had gorgeous silver and fine bone china tea sets.... Tea was, and still is for many, an occasion.

Creating an 'occasion' is what I tried to do with the tea celebration I'm featuring here in this post.  I tried to incorporate many of the key elements that we look forward to every time we go to the Tea Room at the Huntington, including the beautiful setting (the Tea Room is located in a lovely little structure that overlooks the rose and herb gardens on the expansive grounds of the library/museum--click here to see what it looks like) and a yummy tea buffet.  If we are lucky, we get a table by one of the tall windows that looks out over the gardens, and for a little bit, I can imagine what it would be like to live on a grand estate surrounded by acres of rolling, pastoral landscape, peopled with Greek and Roman sit in my rose enjoy a little tea celebration surrounded by my favorite pink roses.....

I tried to recreate some of this in my own home....

I believe what the Huntington Tea Room offers would be considered a combination of a Cream Tea and a Light Tea, with a decidedly Californian twist, for their menu not only includes the standard tea items, such as tea, scones (with whipped cream, jams, and lemon curd), a variety of little sandwiches, and various pastries, but also various cold salads, fruit, and a selection of cheeses and spreads (including hummus) to go along with several different types of nice crackers and breads.  While I can't recreate the impressive setting, I can certainly bake up a few tasty treats........including lemon bars...

...cream scones with dried cranberries....

I made these shortbread sandwiches using store-bought shortbread and ganache (so simple and easy make, click here for the recipe)....

I brought out my red transferware.....

......along with some of my silver pieces and roses from my 'rose garden', to create a charming tea for two.

The advantage of creating this kind of celebration at home is the opportunity to make it personal with your own things and photos......this is my Mom as a young woman...this photo was taken in 1943, when she was 18 or 19.

I started this little tea inside in the afternoon on my coffee table (a 'Low Tea'), and then moved outside to my front patio, by my overgrown rose bushes (I suppose this would be considered a 'High Tea' since it now sits on a higher table).  I loved the soft colors and the gleam of silver in the late afternoon sunlight....

Everything was pretty in an entirely different way the next morning.......

Colors were a little brighter and more vibrant.....

For the record, we actually ate this tea in the late morning...which technically isn't the proper time for a traditional tea.  But I've never been a stickler for tradition, and, after all, that is one of the joys of doing this kind of thing in your own home... you can do whatever suits you best.  I confess, I had coffee, not tea, with all these little goodies since my brain requires lots of caffeine in the morning.

I must thank my devoted staff for all their assistance during the creation of this post. Dolly did her best to help throughout by persistently getting in the way, and both she and her sister Rosie (who hid timidly inside when this photo was taken) were very diligent about cleaning up any crumbs that fell to the floor.  

My happy little trip hazard.

Thanks for visiting!

Linking to the following this week....

Best of the Weekend at Ms. Toody Goo Shoes
That DIY Party at DIY Showoff
The Scoop169 at Cedar Hill Farmhouse
Amaze Me Mondays at Dwellings
Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch
Inspire Me Tuesday at A Stroll Thru Life
Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style
Bouquet of Talent at Life on Lakeshore Drive
Party in Your PJs at the Cookie Puzzle
Lou Lou Girls Fabulous Party at Lou Lou Girls
Share Your Style at Common Ground
Tweak It Tuesday at Cozy Little House
Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop at Ducks 'N a Row
Foodie Friday & Everything Else at Rattlebridge Farm
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Home Sweet Home at The Charm of Home
Your Turn to Shine at Canary Street Crafts
Idea Box Thursday at Mila's Little Things
Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home
The Inspiration Board Creative Party at Carolyn's Homework
Inspiration at Live Laugh Rowe
Tea Time Tuesday at Rose Chintz Cottage
Summer Entertaining Link Party at HomeGoods


  1. Your tea looks absolutely scrumptious! Thank you for sharing :) I found you via the Scoop! Have a lovely week :)

  2. Oh my goodness!! What a lovely setting for tea!! So much to love! The red transferware-silver-and roses are breathtaking-and your yummies look divine!! Thank you so much for sharing at The Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop! I'm definitely pinning!!!

  3. what an absoutely wonderful tea setting! Love all the attention to detail and your lovely transferware, so pretty!!

    1. Thank you Debra! And thanks for visiting!

  4. This is so pretty! I love your tea setting and some of the history you shared.

  5. Beautiful setting and beautiful photos - so many details to linger over. I'd like to invite you to share this on The Inspiration Board. I'd love to share your creativity.

    1. Thank you Carolyn! Thanks for inviting me to join The Inspiration Board-- I just linked up a few minutes ago.

  6. I’m loving this! Pinned and tweeted. We appreciate you taking the time to party with us. I hope to see you on tonight at 7. Happy Monday! Lou Lou Girls

  7. What a beautiful vignette you created, both indoors and out. Absolutely stunning!

  8. Okay I am featuring this at HSH This week! Just pure beauty!! Loved it! Thanks for sharing at HSH!

    1. Sherry, thank you so much for featuring me!

  9. What a beautiful posting! I adore red transferware and it is my favourite to collect. Your tea is gorgeous and I enjoyed all your attention to detail. I love the use of your silver with the transferware. I have been hosting tea parties for years and if you ever feel inclined to join me, I'd love to have you. Thanks for sharing all your pretties and tea treats with us. Have a lovely day.


    1. Thank you Sandi, and thanks for inviting me! Yes, red transferware is my favorite too (especially the pink-ish and raspberry shades of red).

  10. What a gorgeous setting to enjoy a little afternoon tea. A beautiful tribute to your very elegant mother. The transferware and silver are stunning.

    I often get inspiration from magazines, Pinterest and of course Downton Abbey. Such a lovely series. Too bad it will be ending soon.



    1. Thank you Janet! Yes, it's too bad they couldn't have continued Downton Abbey for a few more seasons.

  11. What an absolutely gorgeous tea! I love the beauty of your silver paired with the softness of the transferware, it's exquisite. Lovely tribute to your mother as well! Just sublime!

  12. Lovely post. I'll take Tea anytime. Your goodies and china looks really good.Love Red Transfer china.
    Visiting from Sandi's Tuesday Tea Time.