Monday, April 22, 2019

Easter Memories


"Awake, thou wintry earth --
Fling off thy sadness!
Fair vernal flowers, laugh forth
Your ancient gladness!"
~ Thomas Blackburn


Easter weekend found us traveling to Searcy, Arkansas, to celebrate the holiday with Carson at Harding University. During Spring Sing, an annual competition of social-club shows, he dazzled us while performing with the hosts and hostesses as part of the ensemble.






Mary Ashley's expression pretty well sums up our feelings to be reunited with our favorite college guy. Having all of us together, I could not stop smiling myself!





Joe's parents joined us for this trip, so we were able to introduce them to Harding. It was so special having three generations together on campus.





We were also able to celebrate with sweet Mallory, who is dating Carson. These two dated in high school and were best friends for a while before getting back together this year. She is a freshman at Harding, and we absolutely adore her!





Campus was in full bloom, and the kids patiently indulged me in taking family photos. They know that I look forward to this all year and cherish every image of my chicks! Here are some more of my favorite images from Easter Sunday.

























































"For I remember it is Easter morn,
And life and love and peace are all new born."
~ Alice Freeman Palmer

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas!


With love from the Lesters

Friday, June 29, 2018

A Graduation Tea Party Menu





Sweet friend Mallory's recent high school graduation gave us a wonderful opportunity to plan a celebratory tea party.





Mallory preferred an intimate get-together over a big party, so we were able to seat everyone together in the dining room. Visit this post to see the details of our table for ten.





We began our teatime with chilled cucumber water and a salad of spring greens, blackberries, Parmesan and lemon vinaigrette. Mary Ashley and I took Mallory to Smith-Byrd House in Prattville, Ala., for tea a few months ago, and it was such a special outing. When I mentioned serving their Meyer Lemon Scones at our party, Joe volunteered to pick them up, adding, "Anything for one of our kids." So we enjoyed those fresh-baked treats topped with my homemade Almond Cream and Strawberry Jam. Perfection with a cup of tea!





Our trio of savories included Chicken Salad in Phyllo Cups, Cucumber Tea Sandwiches, and Ham & Swiss Spirals.





Mary Ashley put together our chicken salad cups, and I made our cucumber sandwiches with white bread, an herbed cream cheese and thinly sliced cucumber. For the spirals, I spread flour tortillas with herbed cream cheese; layered ham, Swiss and fresh spinach leaves over the cream cheese; rolled the tortilla into a tight roll; and used a serrated knife to slice the rolls into bite-size spirals.





Dessert was a feast of sweet indulgences, including assorted macarons, Chocolate Pots de Creme and Fresh Fruit Tarts. 





I found the macarons in the freezer section at Walmart and prepared our other two desserts. Keep reading for the recipes!




Shapely votives work well for showcasing a variety of teatime foods. I found a set of 16 at Michael's Craft Store and paired them with this adorable set of Leyosov Demitasse Spoons.



Fresh Fruit Tarts
Showcase your favorite summer fruits!

16 frozen individual pastry shells, baked according to package directions
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened, condensed milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 (8-ounce) container low-fat frozen whipped topping, thawed
Assorted fruits
2 tablespoons peach preserves

1. In a medium bowl, whisk sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice until smooth. Fold in whipped topping.
2. Spoon filling into baked shells, and top with assorted fruits. (We used blackberries, raspberries, and mandarin oranges.)
3. In a small, microwave-safe bowl, microwave preserves on high until melted, about 10 seconds. Brushed melted preserves over tarts, and refrigerate until serving.

Note: Reserve extra filling as a topping for pound cake.




Chocolate Pots de Creme
Served in glass votives, this silken Rachael Ray-inspired recipe is a deliciously decadent teatime treat. 

2/3 cup 2% milk
1 egg
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch salt
Garnish: whipped cream, fresh raspberries

1. In a small pan, heat milk over medium-low heat just until warm and bubbling.
2. In the container of a blender, mix egg, chocolate chips, vanilla, sugar and salt. Remove center from lid, and pour hot milk into container in a slow, steady stream; mix until smooth.
3. Transfer chocolate mixture to a measuring cup with a spout, and divide mixture among five votives, filling each about two-thirds full. Refrigerate until set, at least 8 hours.
4. Just before serving, top with whipped cream and raspberries.



"The little spaces in time created by teatime rituals call out to be filled with conversation. Even the tea itself -- warm and comforting -- inspires a feeling of relaxation and trust that fosters shared confidences." -- Emilie Barnes

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A Tea Party Table Abloom




"There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea." ~ Henry James


Before our precious friend Mallory leaves for college, I wanted her to join us for a special celebration. We share a love of teatime, so her recent graduation gave us a wonderful opportunity to plan an afternoon tea.





Norwich by Royal Embassy set the tone for a lovely, feminine table.




Fresh roses, peonies and hydrangeas echoed the beauty of the china's hand-painted blooms.




Joe's mother found our dining room table and chairs at an estate sale a couple of years ago, and planning this party gave me the motivation to re-cover the seats -- a project I have had on my list for quite a while. Waverly Chantal Vapeur, a flowing graceful floral design, gave me just the balance of elegance and interest that I was looking for.




Instead of designing one larger centerpiece, I spaced out several posies along the table. These low-lying arrangements gave each guest a view of flowers without blocking views of each other.




This soiree gave me the perfect opportunity to pull many pretties from the china cabinet.




This dining room table is a different size than the one we used previously, and I am still collecting linens that work with its long, narrow oval shape. For this event, I definitely wanted a solid white tablecloth. Although this microfiber one from Arlee Home Fashions was not exactly what I had in mind originally, it looked nice and was a practical choice. The polyester fabric is impervious to spills, so that will make for worry-free entertaining -- especially during the holidays when we often have little ones around our table.




I hope that Mallory, along with our other guests, felt blessed by the beauty of the day.




My cell-phone pictures do not do the ambience justice, but there was a sweet glow to our time together.




And a lovely fragrance of friendship -- a sweet blend of roses, fresh-baked scones, and my favorite blend of loose tea.




In my next post, I will share details of our menu, including an easy recipe that has become an instant favorite for entertaining.




Highlighting this side table are a framed invitation and menu. I used watercolor clip art from Digital Paperie for our party printables. I adore these images of macarons and teacups!




And, of course, I never tire of beautiful flowers!




In this stage of life, it is rare for me to host formal gatherings, so I thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity to celebrate such a beloved girl with a tea party. The afternoon was a gift of loveliness, and I hope it was a blessing to all!


"I take pleasures in tea, appreciating it with my spirit and therefore cannot explain why." ~ Sen Joo

Monday, June 25, 2018

A Tea Party for Mallory




Carson and Mallory dated in high school and have remained the best of friends since he left for college. This sweet girl graduated this spring, so the girls and I wanted to honor that milestone with afternoon tea.




We go to church with Mallory, and she is one of our favorite people!




Here is a peek at our tea party, an intimate gathering that included Mallory's sweet mother and sisters. In upcoming posts, I will share details of our tablescape and menu, so be sure to drop by again soon! 


"Perhaps it is while drinking tea that I most enjoy the sense of leisure." ~ George Gissing


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