TEA FOR TWO

Cathy Warren

I live on a street that was empty of houses less than 4 years ago. With all the new construction there have been new people moving in regularly. About 10 houses were finished in the first year and it was easy for us to meet one another one at a time. But then about 15 months ago I realized we had a few new families that not everyone knew. So I began what has now become a tradition of a newcomers party for the "new" lady of the house. The first one back in March of 2001 was small enough to do a sit-down luncheon for 10. By the time we did the next one it was a bit larger and was for a lady who worked during the week. So that one was a Saturday morning junk-food breakfast. Bring on the Krispy Kreme's and Cinabons! From late December to early February we had two new ladies arrive, and hence the idea of "Tea for Two."

For the tea party, I planned a menu that used the recipes for the cucumber sandwiches and the "mouse pads" from the book, Sandy's Tea Society. What I did was to set up four tea "stations". Each station had a different kind of tea (Apple Cinnamon, Mint, Lemon Zinger, and Earl Grey) and a complimentary treat. I used little teapot placecard holders to identify each flavor of tea. At one station I had the Earl Grey with petite pita bread stuffed with chicken salad. At another station I had the Lemon Zinger with little pudding or yogurt cups topped off with fresh berries or kiwi slices. The main table had the mint tea with petit fours and the apple cinnamon tea was paired with lemon bars and a nutty brownie type treat. The cucumber sandwiches were served on various types of bread cut into the shape of teapots (from a cookie cutter). I made sure there was fresh flowers throughout the house and at each tea station, and I also had scented candles throughout the house and some nice music in the background. For a tea party it was probably rather casual because I knew from experience they'd all end up in the kitchen anyway and decided to just go with the flow and set it all up in there.

As the guests left, I handed them a little white box tied up with a pink ribbon to take home. I had made up the little "mouse pad" treats; enough for each hubby and youngster on the street. So when the ladies went home they could bring a little bit of the welcoming spirit with them to share with their own families. It might have been a "ladies only" affair, but this way we didn't leave out the rest of the neighborhood. This proved to be a huge hit.

In the outline for writing about a tea party on the website it asked me to tell how the tea party touched my heart and what I did to make new friends or strengthen existing friendships. This was both simple and hard to put into words. I did this because I tried to put myself in the shoes of the new ladies on the street. I have moved enough to know what it feels like to be the "new kid on the block." I also know it would have meant so much to me to first of all, be made to feel special in my new neighborhood, and then to have the opportunity to be a part of the group and to see everyone together. And now we have done this enough that the ladies on the street really seem to enjoy the opportunity for a time to visit with one another without kids, dogs, phones, etc. interrupting us! This event made me realize that perhaps this was more than just a little fun thing. Perhaps it means that we truly are reaching out and reaching back trying to recapture some of those warm, wonderful feelings of yesteryear when neighbors actually knew one another.

CHICKEN SALAD

I bake some nice boneless chicken breasts or tenders and finely chop in my food processor. Drain a can of crushed pineapple. Combine chicken, chopped celery and crushed pineapple to your liking. Add mayonnaise to get a nice texture and stuff into pita pockets.

EASY WON TON TARTS

Use won ton wrappers found in the produce section of the grocery store and push them into mini muffin tins. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes then fill with any of the following:
~ Vanilla yogurt and assorted berries and other fruits, garnished with fresh mint.
~ Chocolate pudding with whipped cream, garnished with toasted almond slivers.
~ Vanilla pudding sprinkled with sugar and garnished with fresh raspberry for mini creme-brulees.


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