“Perhaps you would like some tea, as soon as it can be got.” They both declared they should prefer it to anything. – Mrs. Price to Fanny and William in Mansfield Park,

This week on the urban homestead, it’s Jane Austen meets Laura Ingalls. Apparently, the word’s out: the urban homestead is the place for tea!   Jordanne and I hosted another tea party, this time for Jordanne’s friend who’s getting married this month.

Hand me down, second hand, handmade and homegrown.

Once again, we used our grandma’s tea set and china (Jordanne’s motto is “what good are pretty things if they collect dust?”), got out the box of Mardis Gras beads (also from our grandma who lived in New Orleans), went through our fabric scraps that we’ve gotten second hand to add a bit of feminine charm to the arbor and picked flowers from around the yard.

With the majority of the food coming from the backyard and practically pennies spent on decorations (a pink streamer), we turned an ordinary backyard into a dreamy and slightly whimsical setting for less than it would cost for one person to go out to a local tea room for tea.

Living simply doesn’t mean you have to be austere; actually, you gain imagination, learn a new skill(s) and save money too! Too often these days, we let even party planning get into the hands of “experts” and there’s a concept in our society that we have to spend more to have more fun. Or that we have to “go out” to find excitement when you can bring all that home.

Tips From Our Tea Party

Thrifty: make do, use what you have or do without

Upcycle: give something a second life  (check out how we wrapped a present in an old, second hand skirt!)

Garden: grow your groceries

Kitchen: cook, bake from scratch, take a step further and learn preserve the harvest

Crafty & Handy: re-skill, do things yourself

Home: bring the revolution home and have fun

:: Resources ::

How to Host a Tea Party

Host Your Own Victorian Tea Party

Hosting a Victorian Tea Party

On the menu at this Tea Party was cucumber and tomato sandwiches, homemade scones with jam and our famous “fruit pizza” for dessert.

Prep! Cookie crust

Cream cheese & honey "sauce"

Homegrown fruit toppings. Note the kiwis are from a friend.

Fruit Pizza

Table setting

Helping in the kitchen, hand cranking cream. Work those muscles!

Putting on the finishing touches

All set! Ready for guests

Homegrown party favors

Tea time

Tea sandwiches and edible flowers

Sandwich platters, dessert, jams, scones and a present for the bride-to-be wrapped in an old (too tight) second hand skirt!

Good food, good times

Homemade scone & peach jam

The Value of A Simple Life

Do you ever get the feeling that people around you see your back to basics lifestyle as a series of sacrifices?

If you are striving to live a frugal or simple life, you probably already know the motivation for ‘giving something up’ is what you stand to gain.

What have you gained from living simply, frugally or sustainably? What do you hope to gain? What have you traded in and have been the better for it?

How have you/your family focus on what you have and not what you don’t have.



  1. Sherry R says:

    Wow– you did a beautiful job of decorating and the food looks simply great. Now I’m inspired to do something for my family ( well not a tea party. Don’t think the boys would go for that) but do something outdoorsy and simple. You guys are truly an inspiration!!

    • Anais says:

      @Sherry R: LOL. Yep, too girly I suppose! What will you come up for your boys? Keep us posted on your homegrown entertaining project.

  2. karen says:

    What a pretty tea party; made me sit back, take a deep breath, and drink in all the lovliness. Thanks for sharing.

    • Anais says:

      @karen: Thanks, we had fun putting it together… and on the cheap too! Came up with some new ideas in the process!

  3. Lisa Nagurski says:

    Regarding “The Value of A Simple Life”.

    What I gave up for this life is dreading a job I hated going to. I gave up migraines a couple times a week. I gave up knots in my shoulders from stress that no massage therapist could get out.

    What I gained from this life is a sense of peace. I have figured ways to make something from nothing and that accomplishment feels good. I went from making $60,000 a year to nothing yet I feel richer than ever before. I look forward to getting up each day.

    I love seeing what’s growing in the back yard, whether it’s fruits and vegetables, young chickens, ducks or rabbits. I love my life.

    • Anais says:

      @Lisa Nagurski: Great comment. Thanks for kicking off the Value of A Simple Life and sharing what simple living means to you.

  4. Loretta says:

    I love the tea party…absolutely BEAUTIFUL. To have a party planner do that for you would cost a small fortune and would never be as absolutely lovely as what you have done with what you have.
    Striving to simplify our lives is not a sacrifice, it is very liberating. The only things we are really giving up are stress, strife and expenses. The more we actually do for ourselves and the more we make use of what we have, the freer we become.

    • Anais says:

      @Loretta: Love the last line. I may steal that one! You are so right – living a more simple life is indeed the path to freedom!

  5. the cottage child says:

    Wow – how beautiful! My girls (8 and 9) were looking at this over my shoulder and got fired up to help in the garden – now it’s just a few tomatoes in pots, but our horizons were just expanded. Thank you.

    • Anais says:

      @the cottage child: Hi there mom and girls. Just love it when we hear the youngin’s get involved in checking out the post here at LHITC. Happy gardening and growing. Good luck girls!

  6. Page says:

    Your photos look lovely and so does the food, can I have the receipe for your fruit pizza please as this looks totally devine.

    Thank you and many blessings

    • Anais says:

      @Page: Thanks. Recipes are coming… hopefully soon! So please stay tuned. Jordanne is hard at work coming up with a recipe sharing network.

  7. Turling says:

    What have I gained? Time. Something money cannot buy.

    • Anais says:

      @Turling: Agreed, time is priceless.

  8. Linda says:

    I have gained a huge appreciation for those who grow food, and wonder how in the heck it is so cheap in the market!
    I have discovered that cooking for someone is just an edible form of love, which has led me to appreciate all the meals my mom and grandmothers cooked that I never gave a second thought to when I was growing up.
    I have learned to appreciate the value of good craftmanship. If one of my crochetted blankets can last 17 years and counting, so should most things. I am willing to pay more for quality products, because I know they will last.
    I have learned to ask myself, “do I really need to buy this?”, and most often the answer is “no”. My needs are fewer – the value of “stuff” just isn’t that important anymore.
    Good food is GOOD, and worth the time to grow it well.
    Time spent doing something productive (working in the garden, hanging the clothes on the line, etc) is time well spent. Time spent vegged out in front of the TV is just not so satisfying anymore.
    Doing for myself makes me feel more competant, self sufficient, in control and less at the mercy and whim of large forces in our society.
    Growing food and doing for yourself is powerful!

    • Anais says:

      @Linda: Great comment, thanks for sharing your journey and what you have gained by taking steps backwards.

  9. kat (kats in the belfry) says:


  10. TEA PARTY | Little Homestead in the City | The Daily Conservative says:

    […] more here: TEA PARTY | Little Homestead in the City Share and […]

  11. Miss Havisham says:

    Absolute heaven.

  12. Genie of the Shell says:

    Lovely! Your party looks luxurious and delicious. I love entertaining with homegrown and homemade things. It’s not just cheaper… it’s better! Fresh, organic food has more flavor, and homemade decorations (and dishes, etc.) are unique and special. That kind of enjoyment can’t be storebought.

    • Anais says:

      @Genie of the Shell: So true!

  13. Ginger says:

    we gave up beauty for ease

    we gave up china for paper

    we gave up linen for plastic

    we gave up dresses for jeans

    we gave us self-sufficiency for tv

    we gave up civility for acquisition

    your example shows us why we want to turn back towards beauty, china, linen, dresses, self-sufficiency, and civility

    • Anais says:

      @Ginger: Oh, I love this quote. Did you come up with it yourself. Sure speaks the truth … taking steps backwards is forward in the right direction. Thank you for sharing and reminding us what’s important.

      • Ginger says:

        @Anais, yes, they’re my words

        • Anais says:

          @Ginger: Great pearls of wisdom, thanks again for sharing.

  14. Ginger says:

    BTW-what is spread on the bread of the sandwiches?

    • Anais says:

      @Ginger: one is cream cheese and chives and the other is homemade sharp cheese spread.

  15. Cindie K. says:

    What a beautiful tea party. From the table settings to the flowy canopy and the food, amazing! You continue to be so inspirational to me. Now…we need to get you all married!!!!!

    • Anais says:

      @Cindie K.: LOL. We hope so too!

  16. Kim (NZ) says:

    So pretty!! My youngest dd turns 10 today, she is having an afternoon tea-party for herself and 4 of her friends. Lots of homemade goodies and she asked if I could serve her homemade lemon squash in “nana’s pretty cups and saucers’.
    I can now also add making cold-compress soap onto my homesteading skills. I am so happy!!

    • Anais says:

      @Kim (NZ): Wonderful, thanks for sharing. Always love hearing re-skilling stories. Imagine the possibilities we have with just our two hands. 😉

  17. Susan says:

    Your tea party posts are some of my favorites.

    One thing you gain from a simpler life is tasty food! *Real* food, not packaged chemicals resembling food. Cheese, not “cheese food”. Orange juice, not water, coloring and high fructose corn syrup.

    You also gain a lot of satisfaction and fun! It’s much more enjoyable to cook a pot of soup yourself than to just open a can. I still get fast food more often than I want to on work days (I need to plan better) but I always feel just a bit deprived when I don’t have something homemade to eat.

    Ginger, I love your comment too. Yes, ease and convenience are the first priority for many people, but at what cost.

    • Anais says:

      @Susan: So true. Real food definitely does taste better, not to mention more satisfying.

  18. Wendy says:

    I love tea parties. I hosted a tea party, complete with fancy dresses and hats ;), for my daughter’s baby shower. It was so much fun.

    As for what we’ve gained by simplifying our lives, I’m not sure you have the patience for me to enumerate all of the positive benefits we’ve seen in our lives. The most important, though, has been the sense of coming together between my husband and me. It’s made our relationship closer and stronger, because we have this very common goal, something tangible – our nanofarm here in the suburbs – and our goal is to, someday, not have to work outside of our home and to be able to support ourselves here. As a result of simplifying our lives we have a greater sense of purpose, and we feel like we’re actually doing something, something important and worthwhile, rather than just getting through the day in a hurry to get to the next.

    • Anais says:

      @Wendy: OOOOH, would have loved hats. Too bad I didn’t inherit or know someone who had fancy hats we could borrow. Think the girls would have liked playing dress up! Great insight on the value of simplicity. Thanks for sharing. I think when folks take steps to merge off the freeway of modern life onto a simpler path the benefits are endless. Thanks again for sharing your journey. Wishing you all the best.

  19. anita says:

    Dear Anais and Jordanne,
    Simply stunning.
    You didn’t need Martha Stewart and 50 of her assistants to create this blissful scene.
    Just what I needed to brightened my cold winters day in Melbourne.
    Popping the kettle now.

    • Anais says:

      @anita: Thanks, so glad you enjoyed our pictorial post. The tea party was fun. Yep, all we needed was our imagination and time to rummage thru all the stuff folks have given us over the years. We find it hard to throw things away, never know when they may come in handy. The girls loved putting on the mardi gras necklaces. Too bad I didn’t “inherit” or know of someone who had a lot of fancy hats – cuz I think that would have been fun to put them on! 😉 Here’s to tea time and brightening your day.

  20. mary says:

    What a wonderful post and pictures. But what I really like are your questions at the end.

    I KNOW others see us as “poor” because of all the little things we do – and DON’T do. I garden, shop at thrift stores, cut hair for all six of us, sew, cook from scratch, hang up laundry and so on [and on, and on]. My relatives especially respond to us as poor and are sometimes condescending. But – I know the real truth: we have a wealth beyond measure. We gave up credit card debt two years ago and now thrive in our frugal lifestyle. Our “sacrifices” mean that each of our children is learning animal husbandry on our urban homestead – instead of learning how to play video games. I “sacrifice” a lot of time to homeschool my children in order to give them the kind of education we feel is best. Our kids are also learning life skills taught in the context of real experiences – like repairing equipment, entrepreneurship, saving for things you need, making do with what you have, basic home maintenance and repair…etc.

    I could write so much more about what we have “given up” over the years. I have no regrets for the choices we have made. When I heard my 16 year old son say “I wouldn’t want to live any other way” – I knew that we have gained more than we left behind!

    • Anais says:

      @mary: Hi Mary! Thank you for the positive comments. Sounds like you have a purposeful and beautiful life. Thanks for sharing what simple living means to you. Not to mention how proud you must be have one of your kids jump on board. That’s GREAT!

  21. Alice says:

    Do you ever get the feeling that people around you see your back to basics lifestyle as a series of sacrifices?
    Of course they do in the beginning. Later they see that we have things that they don’t. We get though the hard times better than they do. Now they are wanting to know how we do it. One young lady I worked with was getting married. When I asked her what she needed she said,” I need to know some of the things you know.” I took 3X5 cards and wrote out things for her. Just hints as I thought of them. I then placed them in a binder for her and a gas card as they were traveling to another state to live. It was the most looked at and read gift of the party. Many more asked for copies.

    If you are striving to live a frugal or simple life, you probably already know the motivation for ‘giving something up’ is what you stand to gain.
    It is all attitude on my part. If I look at it as giving something up I will not be happy. It is a big adventure for me. I love the things that come up everyday. I can do this and am a better person for it.

    What have you gained from living simply, frugally or sustainably? What do you hope to gain? What have you traded in and have been the better for it?
    As for giving up: I have gave up headaches, high blood pressure and blood work numbers that made the DR grab pen and pad to order pills. I am healther now than ever and no pills for me. Fresh air, pure water and good food cure many things. The benifits of exercise from gardening and feeding the animals.

    How have you/your family focus on what you have and not what you don’t have.
    I have a paid for house and plot of ground to do with what I will. I have better health, I am happier now than before. I have Blessings untold.

    • Anais says:

      @Alice: What a wonderful wedding gift idea. Thanks for sharing that and your thoughts on the value of a simple life. It seems that there’s more gained in taking steps backwards! You have a wonderful positive attitude and that’s really important asset to have. Many blessings to you and all the best on your simple journey

  22. Victoria says:

    Your tea party looks wonderful! I too love to have tea parties. Might I ask how you attached the curtains to your overhead arbor? That just makes it look so much more inviting. It looks like a good time was had by all.

Leave a Reply to Victoria Cancel reply