I'm so proud of my fans! It was not only a fun event, but everyone really came up chumps so far as participating, chatting, and enjoying themselves.
Because of Rina and the convenience of the venue, and the fact that I volunteered my local friends who did all the work (poor things, this AND getting eviscerated in print) this kind of event unlikely to occur outside of the bay area.
So I thought I might provide some thoughts and ideas on how to throw your own Parasol Protectorate Goodbye Tea Party.
We used my Mum's lace tablecloths and some brocade ones provided by Rina. In a pinch, you can often buy cheap lace curtains from the linen section of your local thrift store, they work great. Paper doilies went under the treats, and cloth ones were spread about for added decoration. (I picked these up from a thrift store in Ohio in college.)
I suggest going with a theme rather than obsessing over matching everything (ours was "spring"). The idea is to create a theatrical atmosphere, not a perfect victorian recreation. Ask your friends, if they own them, to bring parasols, even for an inside event, then use the parasols to decorate as well.
Kung Fu Parasol!
I have a vast teacup collection from over the years. I just pick them up, odd and unmatched wherever I can. They've served in several steampunk tea rooms and the occasional garden party but spend most of their time in storage. My tea mistress prefers to make pots of tea, so I also scored several huge teapots from Marshalls one year, which we use for larger events.
Generally speaking, one or two teapots will do the trick, so long as you don't mind refilling regularly.
Here's a checklist of utensils you might need:
- Tea Pots
- Tea Cozy
- Cups & Saucers
- Milk Jugs
- Sugar Bowl
- Tea Spoons
We provided a wide range, but for a smaller gathering, just one caffeinated and one decaffeinated is perfectly acceptable. This is one area wherein the Hostess may choose her favorite and impress it upon others. We had English Breakfast (and decaf), Earl Grey (and decaf), Lady Grey, Green, and a selection of tisanes.
I always suggest going with all finger food. It's hard enough to mill about with a teacup in one hand without adding a plate to the mix. Unless you have sufficient seating, having small bite sized nibbles people can eat easily, or can balance on the edge of the saucer is best for this kinds of events. Also consider a good even mix of sweet to savory.
Here is what we had . . .
- 4 kinds of Petite Queesh (2 meet, 2 veg)
- 4 kinds of Tea Sandwiches (pea leaf & dill cream cheese ~ couldn't find cress, egg salad ~ AKA egg mayonnaise, cheddar & chutney ~ AKA cheese & pickle, and cucumber)
- Fig stuffed with goat cheese & prosciutto
- Scotch Eggs with homemade Chutney ~ as seen in Blameless
- Digestive Biscuits
- Lady Fingers & Clotted Cream
- Petti Fours (Kipling's finest)
- Flakey Rosettes
- Marzipan (homemade dipped in dark chocolate)
- Shortbread (homemade)
- Shortbread (Walker's)
- Candied Orange Peel (homemade)
- Assorted wafer cookies
- Ginger Snaps
- Treacle Tart & Devonshire Cream
An Note ~ On Treacle Tart
So it is an ill kept secret, and inside joke, Gentle Reader, that Alexia's love of treacle tart only serves to highlight my own loathing for the desert. Don't get me wrong, I have a terrible sweet tooth inherited from my mum, but treacle tart pushes my limits. It is, in a word, vile. Nothing but sugar and crust.
However, Kitty's tarts were the best I have ever eaten, serve with clotted cream if possible, or real whipped queen (flavored with vanilla and lemon zest but not sweetened) if you can't find clotted. They were quite lovely, so I asked her to send the recipe my way in case any of you would like to try making them yourself.
Here is the recipe our Treacle Tart Mistress Kitty used. She obtained golden syrup from her local Indian grocery store, which is a good place for British dry & frozen goods (with the exception of tea). If there's nothing local, she says you can get it online.
She says, "It's worth it to buy real Lyle's golden syrup, as no American syrups have the same taste, and you'd otherwise have to make your own. I may have used a bit more lemon juice than the recipe, as I juiced it into the bowl & it was a juicy lemon. I don't think you can go wrong over lemon-ing a treacle tart, though. To get mini tartlets, I used a Norpro Mini Cheesecake Pan, which is fantastic."
So that's all for now. I do hope some of you will throw your own party and please post a link to pictures, or post them to the Facebook group. You know I adore seeing them, I really do. Nothing is more exciting to me than the idea that my books might have inspired tea parties. Because nothing is more wonderful.
I promise I will post an actual recap of the events of the tea. Including signing photos, pictures of some of the amazing costumes that turned up, not to mention Tunstell's trousers. Also I owe you a recap of Passion & Prose. I talk about the outfit I wore to the tea, here, and the one for Passion & Prose here.
GAIL'S DAILY DOSE
Your Moment of Parasol . . .
Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
PROJECT ROUND UP
Deportment & Deceit ~ The Finishing School Book the Second: Working rough draft.
Derailed by Book Tour.
Etiquette & Espionage ~ The Finishing School Book the First: Release date Feb 2013. In production. Have seen initial cover mock-up and it is stunning!
Manga ~ Soulless Vol. 1: Printed volume avaible in some bookstore now! (Have seen cover sketch for Soulless Vol. 2 (AKA Changeless) and it is beyond fabulous!)
Timeless ~ Parasol Protectorate Book the Last, official release March 1. Some stores have already shipped.
Prudence ~ The Parasol Protectorate Abroad Book the First: Release date fall 2013. She's started waking me up in the middle of the night with ideas.
BIG FAT SPOILER ALERT! Really, DON'T READ THE BLURB ON AMAZON if you haven't read the other books first!
I had fun doing this guest blog, plus lots of pictures. All about what I do when I'm not writing.
Quote of the Day: