It’s June and that means it’s the season for strawberry picking! There are so many local farms here on Long Island with pick-your-own strawberries and fresh picked strawberries always seem to taste so much better than anything you can buy in a store so I look forward to strawberry season all year long! Recently, I was talking about how much I enjoyed picking strawberries with a fellow Jane Austen fan and the conversation quickly turned to the scene in Emma where Mr. Knightley invites his friends and neighbors to enjoy a day picking strawberries at his estate. The plan was to spend the morning picking strawberries and enjoying the grounds and then have a light tea indoors. I’ve always found this idea charming and wished I could join in the party. But since I haven’t found a way to step into a Jane Austen novel yet, I decided to do the next best thing and plan out my own day of berry picking and tea.
Strawberries, and only strawberries, could now be thought or spoken of. — “The best fruit in England — every body’s favourite — always wholesome. — These the finest beds and finest sorts. — Delightful to gather for one’s self—the only way of really enjoying them.” – Jane Austen, Emma
First, I put together the perfect outfit for a day of strawberry picking with Emma Woodhouse, Mr. Knightley, and all their friends. I wanted something nice and cool for the outdoor portion of the day but still nice enough for the tea party afterwards. I found a sweet, summer sundress in a cheery red print and paired it with sandals, a summer hat with a strawberry red bow, and an Emma Woodhouse Bangle Bracelet from the C. S. Literary Jewelry Etsy shop to create a lovely, summer outfit, perfect for a wonderful day at Donwell Abbey.
Once I had my outfit picked out, I needed to plan the menu. I found the most delicious Long Island Strawberry Tea at my local tea shop, a light green tea that is perfect for a summer’s day like today, and I scoured Pinterest for some yummy strawberry recipes to try. I found one for a Cream Cheese Strawberry Banana Bread that looked delicious and decided to try it. The results were two loaves of decadent banana bread with rich bits of strawberries scattered throughout – perfect for my strawberry themed tea party!
If you enjoyed strawberry picking with Emma and Mr. Knightley, you can
This weekend, we hosted a bridal brunch for my sister, Lynne and her fiancee, JoAnna. It was a lovely event and it seemed like everyone had a wonderful time so I thought I would share one of my favorite recipes from this weekend’s festivities.
I discovered this recipe for an Apple Berry Salsa at a Pampered Chef party that I was invited to and it was love at first bite! One of my favorite things about June on Long Island is that you can get some incredible fresh strawberries. In fact, if you have the time, you can drive out east and pick your own berries at one of a million farms. Rob and I did that a couple of years ago and we ended up with a really nice weekend drive, some great photos (like this one), and a bunch of incredibly sweet berries to bring home and enjoy.
So I am always on the lookout for good strawberry recipes to try and this fruity salsa is one of my favorites. It’s quick and easy to make, doesn’t require any cooking and goes great with fruity drinks like mimosas or sangrias which makes it a wonderful choice for a summer brunch or tea party.
Apple Berry Salsa
2 med Granny Smith apples
1 cup strawberries — sliced…
1 or 2 kiwi fruit — peeled and chopped
1 small orange
2 tbsp packed brown sugar
2 tbsp apple jelly
Cinnamon Chips (I use Stacey’s Pita Chips) for dipping
First, peel the kiwi, core the strawberries and wedge the apples. I use my Pampered Chef Manual Food Processor (which is also awesome for fresh bruschetta) to chop the apples, strawberries, and kiwi into small chunks. Add the brown sugar and apple jelly to the fruit mixture. Zest the orange, add that to the mix, and then squeeze some juice from the orange over it all. Mix gently. You can eat it right away but, believe me, it really comes into its own if you give it a chance to chill and blend flavors in the fridge. It even tastes great the next day so you can make it ahead of time if you need to. I serve it with Cinnamon Chips for dipping.
It’s so hard to believe but Thanksgiving is only a week away. We had a late start to Autumn here on Long Island. The Autumn leaves are just starting to hit their peak and, while I am already hearing reports of snow from folks in other parts of the country, we are just starting to get a nip in the air. Truth be told, it feels more like October than the end of November but my calendar assures me that it’s time to break out the turkey and cranberry sauce.
In the past, I’ve made a bread cornucopia for a Thanksgiving table centerpiece and filled it with sliced veggies and dip. This year, if I can find the time, I think I will make these adorable pumpkin rolls and assorted breads and use the cornucopia as a holiday bread basket. Either way, it’s been a bit of a long year for me and I am looking forward to having a nice holiday meal with my family. Soon it will be time to talk about Black Friday – Small Business Saturday – Cyber Monday and all of the holiday madness that comes before Christmas arrives but this week, but for now, I want to enjoy the holiday we have in front of us, instead of skipping ahead to Christmas.
If you haven’t heard, I am having a Thanksgiving Giveaway and will be giving out a $25 gift card to my Etsy shop. To enter, go to this post on my Facebook page and share a photo or a poem or a piece of artwork, anything that expresses what you are giving thanks for this year. Entries are due by midnight tomorrow and a winner will be randomly chosen the day after.
And on Friday, I am having my Annual Thanksgiving Sale. Every year on the Friday before Black Friday, I say “thank you” to all my wonderful customers and friends who support and encourage me with an exclusive 40% discount on everything in my shop. Available only to the folks who have signed up for my mailing list, this sale is my biggest event of the year and a great opportunity to pick up a little holiday treat for yourself or get wonderful holiday gifts for all the book lovers on your shopping list. My Thanksgiving Sale is a one-day event and the coupon code for it is going out in this week’s newsletter so don’t miss out! If you haven’t already, please sign up for my newsletter and then be sure to visit my Etsy shopon Friday, November 21st.
Today is National Sandwich Day and while most people think of things like ham, tuna, or the ever classic peanut butter and jelly, whenever I hear the word sandwich, I think of dainty little finger sandwiches served with a fresh pot of tea. One of my favorite things to do, especially as the weather gets chilly like it has, is to enjoy high tea at my favorite tea room or to host a little tea party of my own. And so, with Thanksgiving coming up, I have been toying with the idea of having a harvest themed tea to celebrate the season. With this in mind, I thought it was only fitting to share a recipe that goes beautifully with tea – especially any kind of blend with apple or pumpkin spice flavors to it. The people that created it call it by another name: Turkey Cranberry Appetizers, but here in my family it’s known as the Thanksgiving Sandwich.
I first discovered the Thanksgiving Sandwich on Pinterest and made it for a tea party I was hosting for my family. It was a huge hit and was the first thing to disappear from the trays of tea time dainties I had made. Severed warm, it made a nice bridge between the chilled finger sandwiches and the hot, out of the oven scones, I had served. It is made of sliced turkey – either leftover from your Thanksgiving meal or from the deli counter – shredded Swiss cheese, dried cranberries, and refrigerated crescent roll dough and couldn’t be easier or quicker to make. And, as my niece observed, it tastes like a Thanksgiving dinner – minus the Pumpkin pie – rolled up into a sandwich. The only modification I made to the recipe was to increase the amount of cranberries I put in it. I really loved the tart sweetness they gave the recipe but you can adjust things to your tastes really easily.
This time around, I am planning on pairing the Thanksgiving sandwich with my favorite Apple Rum Cake and some pumpkin spice scones that I picked up from the Infuse Tea Bar table at the Women’s EXPO for a nice tea time version of Thanksgiving dinner. I am still on the lookout for more harvest – themed tea sandwiches and goodies to serve so if you have a recipe that you would like to share, I would love to hear it. Leave a comment and let me know what sort of Autumn time treats you like to serve for tea.
P. S. If you are planning on hosting your own Thanksgiving tea, be sure to check out my Tea Lover Charm Necklace and Girls Tea Party Necklace. Both of these charming tea necklaces can be personalized with a teapot charm in a range of colors and birthstones, including a golden brown topaz – great for celebrating the Autumn season and November birthdays. Visit my Etsy shop today.
It’s rather bleak outside my window. It’s cold and rainy, like it has been for several days now, and the weather is starting to get to me a little. Fortunately, I have a secret weapon to help me fight the rainy day gloom because after I finish writing this post, I have a pot of homemade chicken soup, and a re-read of a great book waiting for me. And as a little extra treat, I am planning on having a pot of tea, and a piece of this Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Maple Syrup Glaze for dessert.
Maybe it’s the time of year or maybe I just had pumpkins on the brain because of the Pumpkin Decorating Contest we are having, but I have definitely been in the mood for something pumpkin-ish for a while and this coffee cake definitely hits the spot. It was fairly easy to make and has been a big hit with everyone here. I particularly liked the maple syrup glaze drizzle as it really gave this cake a extra punch of flavor that my sweet tooth thoroughly enjoyed. My only issue with the recipe is that it gets a little dry if you let it cook even a little too long so if you make it, be sure to check it early and often to catch it before it reaches that point.
In the meanwhile, I am always on the lookout for great pumpkin recipes so leave a comment with your favorite pumpkin recipes
Today is Hobbit Day and the start of Tolkien week so I thought it would be nice to celebrate the occasion in true Tolkien style. In the Fellowship of the Ring, Bilbo and Frodo celebrate their joint birthdays with a big party and invited all their hobbit friends so I am doing the same, with great Hobbit costume suggestions, Middle Earth inspired music and decor, and of course, great Hobbit treats and recipes.
Hobbits also celebrate their birthdays and other special occasions by giving gifts (as oppose to receiving them) so I am observing that grand hobbit tradition by giving a 15% discount on all Lord of the Rings and Hobbit jewelry in my Etsy shop.
What to Wear
The first thing you will want to do is get all dressed up in your very best Middle Earth attire. The good news is, that with Halloween just a few weeks away, your Hobbit Day outfit also doubles as an awesome Halloween costume and if you are as much of a sci-fi / fantasy geek as I am, you can also wear your Hobbit costume to conventions too! Of course, there is a lot of information on the internet about dressing up as specific characters but for a party in the Shire, I love the idea of a basic hobbit look.
This Etsy shop has some amazing Hobbit costumes for men. My favorite is the Gamgee but I am particularly predisposed to love everything even remotely related to Samwise Gamgee, my favorite character in all of Middle Earth.
For Little Hobbits:
What could be cuter than baby hobbits? One of my favorite parts of the Fellowship of the Ring movies was the part during Bilbo’s party when he was recounting his adventures to all the adorable little hobbit kids so I made sure to scour Etsy for the best little kid Hobbit costumes. I found some great options at this Etsy shop, especially for little boy hobbits but I just fell in love with these outfits:
(FYI, Ciche Mom also has great geeky onesies for kids of sci-fi / fantasy fans, including some amazingly cool Doctor Who and Firefly onesies.)
Hobbit – y Finishing touches:
For a great Hobbit costume, you are going to need a pair of Hobbit Feet. I found this great tutorial on how to make your own Hobbit Feet here. Complete the look with hobbit ears, a cloak, and/or a pipe. And for all the would-be Bilbos and Frodos out there, there is also this awesome reproduction of their sword, Sting from Funny Farm Toy Barn.
Dwarves, Wizards, and Elves:
Of course, you don’t have to be a hobbit to get in the spirit of Hobbit Day. Gandalf is always invited when the Baggins throw a party. Thorin and his company of Dwarves can be very merry company, especially for impromptu gatherings and then there are elves, rangers, shieldmaidens and ents who are all very welcome indeed. Check out this cool Thorin Oakenshield costume by Folk of the Wood Crafts. (They also have some really cool options for a Kili costume too!)
Setting the Mood
Now that you are all dressed up, you need to set the mood with music and decorations! In terms of decor, rustic, homey touches are the best for Shire parties but you can also add little shout-outs to the books with some great LoTR inspired signs and decorations that I found on Etsy. Of course, for a hobbit – themed party, you can’t go wrong with a sign that says:
Then again, “Speak Friend and Enter” has a nice welcoming feeling to it (as long as you can guarantee a Balrog-free evening for your guests) or you can add a touch of Hobbiton ambiance with this incredibly cool Prancing Pony Inn sign:
Then you need some music. Tolkien’s books are full of scenes where his characters burst into song so no true Hobbit Day celebration would be complete without music. Of course, the soundtracks to the films would be great to have in the background at your Hobbit party but I am particularly partial to Don’t Go Drinking with Hobbits, an album of fun LoTR – inspired music by Celtic musician, Marc Gunn, perfect for singing along to the next time you are hanging out at the Prancing Pony.
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world