Pleasure of Tea and Friends

Our Tea Party Table

Lisa Lewis
West Pittston, PA

The first meeting of the "Pleasure of Tea and Friendship Society" in West Pittston, PA gathered March 24, 2002 at my home. We live in a Queen Anne Victorian home circa 1870 and our house is filled with family antiques and heirlooms. One woman said, "It was like stepping back in time!" It was a tremendous pleasure and blessing for me to open my home to my dear friends and host our tea titled "Beat the Winter Doldrums."

I have been planning my ideas and getting my house ready with all the decorations since January. I even went so far as to paint my front parlour a warm sunny yellow to make it more pleasant! I sent each lady an invitation I made with a teapot and teacup stamped on the front with matching envelopes. In it I wrote, "I invite you to join Sandy's Tea Society with me. Our tea society will be called The Pleasure of Tea and Friendship. I request the honor of your company. I realize that you are very busy and your time is precious to you, mine is too. Won't you consider investing an hour or two in yourself? I would love if you could join us! Every woman needs a little break and pampering now and then! Please R.S.V.P. I am looking forward to seeing you!"

Sixteen of of twenty women responded yes. I was so thrilled and excited!! To make some new friends, I invited several moms I have met at school functions that I found love tea and Victorian things. Iam looking forward to getting to know them better. To strengthen my existing friendships I not only included friends that I see on a regular basis but ladies I haven't seen in awhile from my previous Bible study group. How great it was to fellowship with them again. We were hugging each other with joy as they came through the door. These women are like sisters to me and I was so glad they could be a part of our group. I absolutely get the greatest joy out of having people in my home to serve them. Jesus came to serve, and I want to follow His example. I love to make people feel special - because they are! That is why I wanted to do this.

I chose a spring theme for our tea and had fresh and silk spring flower arrangements throught the house. When the ladies arrived, they were greeted by a basket of silk spring flowers hanging on my front door, which I made (like a May basket).

We began our meeting with introductions. I asked each to say her name, town where she was from and tell us a favorite hobby. Then we played a little "icebreaker" game to get the ladies to learn something about each other. They wrote five little known facts about themselves on index cards. I read the facts aloud and we had to try to guess who it was! I was a lot of fun. Next, we played a game where I awarded the winner an antique looking pin. I asked them to write down how many types of flavored teas they could think of. I told them we would see who the real serious tea drinkers were. The ladies really enjoyed the games, they put everyone at ease.

Afterwards, we had our refreshments. Several women brought their favorite dessert, which included petits fours, sweet breads, tea cookies, and fresh strawberry pie with whipped cream. I served several flavored teas, Chai being the favorite. I made chocolate walnut fudge and homemade chocolate truffles (the mint chocolate was incredible). Both are very easy recipes that tasted like I spent all day in the kitchen. Also, strawberry swirl cheesecake. The ladies' favorite was my cream cheese mints, which I put in molds shaped like teapots and teacups. I found the molds in a store that sells candy-making supplies. (I plan to use the molds to make chocolate teapot/teacup lollipops for a mother-daughter tea for my oldest daughter, Megan).

I have several old china sets that I mixed and matched for the place settings that belonged to my great-grandmother. (She would have enjoyed the tea party, she taught me to appreciate tea when I was just a little girl!) A vase of fresh daffodils was our centerpiece. A heart sticker was placed under one of the tea saucers to win the door prize, a copy of Emilie Barnes' book, "If Teacups Could Talk." My friend who won just started a little cottage bakery business and she was thrilled to see all of the wonderful recipes and ideas. I was tickled that she won. I decided to do the games and door prize gifts, which were not expensive gifts, but very nice, simple to do and something special for the ladies as an encouragement. I also used teapot cookie cutters to cut out teapot shapes from wallpaper sample books to make place setitng favors. I glued magnets on the back of these and personalized each one with each lady's name. Again, inexpensive, but cute, a nice rememberance of our party.

We had such a wonderful time that the ladies did not want to leave. The tea society is a perfect way for me to extend hospitality and make my friends feel special while giving them a break. Most of us have several young children so it is a precious treat for all of us. I loved doing it.

My wonderful husband took the children for the afternoon so I could do the tea party. He thinks it is an excellent idea and hopes more women will embrace the idea and join the tea society. One of my friends e-mailed me after the party and said, "I can't remember when I had such a good time connecting with other women" thank you so much for all the work and effort you put into doing the whole tea party for your friends. I look forward to our next tea! It was such a blessing and it really boosted by spirits. It made me realize how much I miss taking the time to do things that are important to me. Thank you again! This letter of thanks blessed me tremendously and I wanted to share it with you to encourage you that the tea society is making a difference in women's lives. I never imagined a tea social would appeal to so many, but I am thrilled that my friends just love the whole idea.


CREAM CHEESE MINTS
3 ounce cream cheese, room temperature
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
4-6 drops Lorann brank Creme de Menthe candy oil flavoring (available at Walmart or candy supply shops)
Granulated sugar

Mix cream cheese and confectioners' sugar together. Start with 4 drops of flavoring and then carefully add flavoring and color as desired. Knead until pie dough consistency is achieved. Add sugar to make softer or decrease sugar for a firmer consistency. Take a small pinch and roll into a ball then roll in granulated sugar. Set on waxed paper or press into a candy mold if desired. Remove excess from mold and unmold at once onto waxed paper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

QUICK AND EASY WALNUT FUDGE
3 (6 ounce) packages semi-sweet chocolate chips (3 cups)
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
Dash of salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In microwave, combine chips, sweetened condensed milk and salt in a 1 quart bowl. Cook on 100% high power 3 minutes. Stir until chips melt and mixture is smooth. Do not overcook, chocolate will burn. Stir in vanilla and walnuts. Mix well. Spray an 8 x 8 inch glass pan with non-stick cooking spray (Pam). Pour chocolate mixture in pan. Do not refrigerate, fudge will harden at room temperature - about 4-6 hours. Store loosely covered with foil at room temperature for easier cutting.

INCREDIBLE CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES
3 cups (18 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For chocolate min truffles omit vanilla and add ? teaspoon Lorann Creme de Menthe flavored oil for candy

Coatings: Finely chopped nuts, flaked coconut, chocolate sprinkles, colored sprinkles, colored sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted powdered sugar, or tube frosting. In large saucepan melt chips on medium-low until melted, or microwave in glass bowl on high (100% power) for 3 minutes with sweetened condensed milk. Remove from heat. Stir until smooth. Stir in vanilla extract for regular truffles or creme de menthe oil for mint chocolate. Pour into medium bowl. Cover and chill in refrigerator 2 to 3 hours or until firm. Pinch small pieces and roll into 1-inch balls. A melon ball scoop works very well too. Roll balls in desired coating and/or decorate with frosting. Place on cookie sheet. When finished coating, store in a tightly covered container in refrigerator. Take out of refrigerator at least a half-hour before serving.


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