Afternoon tea party - California style

“Afternoon tea is a great context for prayer, testimony, and even confession! The old phrase, “Tea and sympathy” really is a good idea for today’s busy world.  – Eras of Elegance”

We aren’t one to celebrate birthdays ourselves but we do like to acknowledge our friends’ “special day,” especially the elders in our lives who have become our mentors and guideposts.

On Sunday we gals had the pleasure of hosting a small tea party to celebrate a woman who is 86 years young.   We invited over a few friends whose lives have also been touched by “the knitting lady.”   We girls wouldn’t be knitters/crocheters had it not been for her – a skill that we have forever and that we can share the pleasures with others.

Not only were we celebrating a productive and blessed life  but it was also a chance to “go posh” for the day and dig thru the china cabinet and blow off the dust from our hand-me down tea and silver sets – all the while muttering to ourselves that “we should REALLY do this more often!”  No, we REALLY should!   Tea parties are fun!

Thanks to the blessings from the garden (which provided much of the food for this party), the tea set and silver from our (now passed) grandmother we were able to throw this party for12 for  less than $30.00 – less than it would cost one person to go out for dinner here in Pasadena.  Talk about savings!  It really pays to grow your own.

For a couple years Jordanne & I worked at local tea shop so we learned all about English High Tea from making sandwiches to setting the perfect table.  When you host a tea party it’s all about the surroundings (ambiance) good, simple nibbles (like tea sandwiches, scones and “sweets”) and decorations especially with edible flowers and herbs.   Teas are not only about pleasing the palate but the senses.  Tea parties  are a perfect time to slow down, enjoy good conversation and step back in time.

Our menu for this afternoon included: egg salad sandwiches with watercress (we were low on eggs so thanks Sherilyn for sharing yours!), cream cheese and herbs (chive, sorrel, tarragon) sandwiches, strawberry bars, carrot salad with citrus dressing, rose petal grapefruit juice (thanks to Farmer Sergio for the delicious citrus) and, of course, tea.  We had some Irish Breakfast bags in our kombucha making tea stash.

How do you take care for widowed or the elderly?

:: Resources ::

How to Host a Tea Party

Host Your Own Victorian Tea Party

Hosting a Victorian Tea Party

Tea Time!

Adding the finishing touches on the sandwich trays

Cream cheese, herb and nasturtium sandwich

Egg and watercress sandwich

Strawberry bars

Carrot and citrus salad

Tea time!

Jordanne starts serving

Beautiful day and setting

Good food and fun

Say "tea!"

Betty enjoys the evening

Hugs for Betty


  1. Mindy says:

    Beautiful ladies! Looks like the guest of honor received your love and enjoyed every second. (Could ask the men folk to remove their caps at the table, eh? The Victorians might be rolling in graves over that part :).)

    • Anais says:

      @Mindy: LOL. I know about the caps. Heck, Justin even wore his infamous camo tee. Guess that’s a California tea party for you – come as you are! 😉

  2. Tim says:

    One of my best friends and farmin’ buddies is in his late 80’s. Every winter he says he isn’t going to plant anything because he’s too old, but blessedly, he always forgets come spring. All the books and websites I’ve read on farming and all the research I’ve done have not provided me with half of the knowledge and (more importantly, wisdom) that I have gotten through my friendship with him and I am a better farmer (and person) for the time we’ve spent together.

    I always remember his winter-time vows to not plant anything when I’m uncomfortable from the NC heat, or up to my ankles in weeds, or fighting bugs or any of the myriad nuisances that plague any gardener. I’m 32 now, buy I’m reminded that there will be a time when my back may be unfit for digging in the ground, bending over, or hauling buckets of water to animals. My hands may get too frail and shaky to plant or weed, and my body may be too tired to work too much in the garden or with the animals. I may get to that point in the distant twilight of my life, but WILL NOT get to that point without knowing that I worked hard, played hard, loved much, helped much, taught much and left something of value behind and made a difference. That gives me a whole lot of comfort when I’m frustrated.


    • Anais says:

      @Tim: What a blessing to have such a incredible mentor and guidepost in your life. Thanks for sharing such a touching story. All I can say is “Amen and pass the seeds!” 😉

  3. Diane@Peaceful Acres says:

    Your tea party sounds so inviting! What a lovely day you all had and what a lovely lady to have friends like you! I try to remember my elderly neighbors also, like hiking through 2 ft of snow to drop off some hot chili and cookies in one of our back to back blizzards this past winter in Maryland. I never knew how much it meant to the loved ones who weren’t close enough to check in. Good for you, especially in a day when most people only have time to look after themselves. Your testimony is warming to me….and your delicious food looks so good!

  4. Anais says:

    Here’s an interesting article via the UK Telegraph

    We have lost the habit of caring for our elders

  5. Laura @ Getting There says:

    How beautiful! I love having small-scale tea parties with my children, but someday I’d love to have a “real” Victorian-style tea party for the older folks I know. Thanks for the links!

    P.S. That food looks incredible, especially the strawberry bars! Yum.

  6. Heidi says:

    What a beautiful afternoon! I love tea parties and aspire to throw one as lovely as yours looks in the pictures.

    A dear friend of mine is homesteading in New Zealand and thus unable to visit her Nona and Pops on a regular basis. Though they live about 45 minutes from me, I try to make it over there with homemade treats like bread, tomato sauce, pickles, and frozen home cooked meals. I just whipped them up some soup made with veggies from my garden. They like the company as they don’t get many visitors and I like to hear their stories about the enormous garden they grew every year back in the day, the home cooked Italian and Portuguese foods that they used to prepare with their mothers, and the way their suburban town looked when it was full of small farms and orchards. Nona has been absolutely indispensable with advice on growing veggies and preserving, not to mention all the canning jars she has thrust upon me. Nona and Pops aren’t in the best of health and it is hard to bear witness to formerly vibrant, energetic folks slowly losing their independence. I only hope that my occasional visits bring something positive to their lives.

  7. Mel says:

    Oh, this is absolutely ADORABLE. Elegant, sweet, fun. I love your garden area, BTW.

  8. Chris says:

    Here on Cape Cod we have the blessing of Jean Iversen, Founder and President of the Cape Cod Organic Garden Club. Jean is 88 years young, a Certified Organic farmer that sells her produce at her little farmstand, Kelly Farm on Rte. 6 A in Cummaquid. I purchased this Group Viewing copy of the DVD in 2009. Jean gave her blessing to have a viewing at our little garden or should I say “farming” club, viewed Homegrown Revolution in October 2009. To say that everyone was just blown away by this informative, inspiring and uplifting DVD was an understatement! I, also, gave a short introduction about the history of the Dervaes family (self-taught, 20 years experience, the small amount of tools needed, the Dervaes family amending of the soil and composting efforts, etc.). I spoke so passionately about you guys, that folks thought I knew you personally! I WISH!!!! Someday I hope to make it out to one of your CA events when home circumstances free hubby and up from personal commitments that prevent us from traveling that sort of distance.

    Here’s more on Jean for anyone that is interested:
    She put’s us all to shame!

    We are so blessed to have access to people like Jean and your website and webstore resources (Freedom … LOVE MY SEEDS! and Peddler’s Wagon). I’m still “offgasing” sunoven as we speak, but I love it! It’s so coolio! Ollas are working out fantastic too. I hope to purchase more as I kill more lawn to make new growing beds.

    • Anais says:

      @Chris: Thanks for sharing this story about this wonderful lady! We hope that get to meet you one day! Actually, we (Jordanne rather) has put up a website so that folks can “book” speaking engagements or presentations. Check it out at

      Happy growing!

  9. Chris says:

    PS .. Not sure the link went through, but just “google” Jean Iversen and you should easily find the Cape Cod Online article.

  10. Chris says:

    oops .. sorry about that. please edit that to google .. Jean Iversen Cape Cod August 23, 2009 … article will pop up.

  11. CE says:

    You set a beautiful table and the food looks so cheerful and beautiful, not to mention delicious. Just what you would expect for a high tea.

    • Anais says:

      @CE: Thanks, setting the table was such fun. Nice to get things all purty once and awhile. 😉

  12. Tamlynn says:

    OK, you convinced me to try nasturtiums again. I planted them a few years ago, and they come back every year in my veggie garden. I tried one blossom plain once and didn’t like it. Today I put some on a cucumber sandwich and it was delicious!

    • Anais says:

      @Tamlynn: Nasty’s can pack a peppery bite eaten plain, but as you found out, certainly compliments cukes and even cheese!

  13. Tamlynn says:

    Oh, forgot to say I am still leery of eating squash blossoms.

    • Anais says:

      @Tamlynn: LOL. I wouldn’t wanna eat squash blossoms just by themselves but batter them up and fry them in some oil and they become a whole ‘nother food called YUMMY 😉

  14. Shauna says:

    About 10 years ago I realized that I never used my fancy dishes, so I made a habit of Sabbath dinners. Even if it’s just Macaroni and Cheese, we do china and crystal, and make it a special day. At least once a month we invite extra families or friends and make it a special time for our favorite people.

    • Anais says:

      @Shauna: Thanks for sharing that story about your dishes. Our family too uses the “special” dishes for Sabbath dinner. Like sis says ” no good having them if you don’t use ’em.” She makes a good point! 😉

  15. REAL FOOD, REAL SIMPLE: Weekly Meal Wrap Up | Little Homestead in the City says:

    […] Breakfast – grapefruit from Farmer Sergio Lunch – garden tea party! […]

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