Seeing as how we had a tea party for the London 2012 Olympics, I couldn’t very well let the Sochi games go by without doing something! I even found Russian Caravan tea, which was the perfect selection (or seemed like it at the time…I think it may be the most disgusting thing I have ever put in my mouth!)!
My theme was Russian (of course), snowflakes, and blue and white…nice, wintry colors. I got to use my new white tablecloth (with an old blue runner), and our beautiful china. And unscented white tea lights and pillar candles from Target made for the perfect centerpiece:
We has Russian tea cookies:
And a Russian poppy seed bread (which sadly wasn’t very popular):
Meringues (which I actually made correctly for the first time ever!):
Snowflake sugar cookies:
An orange poppy seed cake (Did you know that poppy seeds are actually blue? They fit the theme perfectly!):
English muffins with blueberry preserves:
And fresh blueberries!
I thought that this was going to be really hard to put together, from a menu standpoint. As it turns out, it wasn’t that bad at all!
2013 was a much calmer year than 2012 was, but we were still plenty busy!
In January, I started the new year by rearranging the school room again. This has become a fairly regular occurrence, and I’m not sure that it will ever really be “done.” I had one of my worst kitchen disasters ever, but corrected it a few days later. We enjoyed our final feast of the holiday season. In school, we made an Alleluia banner to (kind of) match the one at church. The entire city of St. Louis mourned the passing of Stan Musial in January, as well.
In February, we celebrated our 100th day of school. I made a big deal out of it, as I always do for a student (this time, Ladybug), in kindergarten. Chickadee celebrated one of her last remaining first holidays…Valentine’s Day. We had a tea party to celebrate. How I love all of my valentines! Our school received a wonderful gift of a microscope, and we had a great time playing with it. I got hooked on Downton Abbey, and the children got hooked on Jem. Chickadee entertained all of us by learning to say “uh-oh,” as well as dropping things intentionally so she could try her new word out!
March was arguably one of the busiest months of 2013, filled with big events. Bunny attended a park district volleyball clinic and loved it. I received a piece of mail from Buckingham Palace. We celebrated Chickadee’s first St. Patrick’s Day with a tea party…my favorite one of the year! Turkey turned ten…we could hardly believe it! We finally tracked down some zeppole for St. Joseph’s Day. Chickadee turned one…it was a big day! We had a snowstorm that will always be remembered as the “Palm Sunday Snowstorm.” We made a Paschal candle on Holy Saturday and (hopefully) started a new family tradition. We had a very blessed Easter, complete with a new Easter bonnet for me.
We started April still celebrating Easter with another tea party. The Cardinals started another awesome season of baseball. We didn’t make it to Opening Day, but we did take the children on their first train ride to Stan Musial Night at Busch Stadium. The blossoming trees were especially beautiful this year! We took lots of pictures and did lots of tree identification. Chickadee started walking unassisted…watch out world! She also had her first ride in a swing. She wasn’t too sure about it at first, but it turned out to be a lot of fun! St. Louis finally got a Lego store, much to our excitement (and to the dismay of our checking account)! We went on a farm tour at Eckert’s, and learned a lot. I finished planning the year’s summer school. We watched with interest as Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands abdicated the throne to her son, Willem-Alexander (one of several abdications this year).
In May, Ladybug turned six, although we had to wait for her big birthday celebration, because Ryan was gone on one of his many business trips (almost two months’ worth!) on her actual birthday. Our Lego store celebrated its grand opening, and we stood in line to be a part of it. It was a lot of fun, and the wait was worth it…unfortunately, it didn’t take the children too long to put all of their sets together! As we do every year, we went to Art on the Square, and this time, bought a print of our town’s beautiful fountain from our favorite artist. I took the big girls strawberry picking for the first time. We had our last day of school for the 2012-13 school year. We used some of the strawberries we picked for our Pentecost tea party. Memorial Day weekend, we made the trip to Kansas City to see the Cardinals play the Royals. Ryan and I started building the Lego Tower Bridge. We finished making a full set of church year banners for our school room.
June began with our biannual (apparently) “Park Day.” We had a lot of fun visiting different playgrounds and splash pads. Turkey started another season of parks and rec baseball. Ladybug lost a tooth for the first time. Ryan and I continued working on the Lego Tower Bridge. I took the children to a “Dock Dogs” competition at Eckert’s, which was definitely a first for us! We also went to Grant’s Farm. We celebrated the Queen’s birthday with another tea party. To celebrate “Beer Stein Night” at the ballpark, Ryan and I went to the Flying Saucer for the first time with a friend. The children and I (minus Chickadee) went to the International Center for the service of blessing for the new KFUO studios. Ladybug was very disappointed to learn that the American Girl doll she’s always wanted was going to be retired by the end of the year (stay tuned…). We went blackberry picking for the first time, and really enjoyed the fruits of our labor!
We were very happy that this July had much cooler weather than last July did. We were able to be outside doing things a whole lot more! We went to Six Flags St. Louis for the first time, and the children had their first experiences with roller coasters. And I remembered why I hate roller coasters! Moose took us with him to “Honor Roll Night” at the Gateway Grizzlies game. We had a fun Fourth of July, and celebrated with an adorable little patriot and a big feast. Bunny and I went out for a Mother-Daughter sushi lunch. Twinkies made a comeback! We went to the zoo, and got to see the very cool new sea-lion exhibit for the first time. Turkey’s baseball team had an unexpected victory in the playoffs, which allowed them to play one more game. Bunny celebrated her ninth birthday. We had all-inclusive tickets to a Cardinals game…a rare, but very appreciated, treat! While we were there, Turkey got beaked! I volunteered at the LCMS convention, and then took the children back to see it in action. We also finally visited the Gateway Arch (although we didn’t take the ride to the top). We celebrated the birth of Prince George with yet another tea party (I’m getting to be a professional at putting those together!).
In August, we went peach picking at Eckert’s. There’s no end of things to do there! We added Lego Big Ben to our architecture collection. Bunny and I went to Star Wars Night at Busch Stadium, and even got to sit in the Champion’s Club. We took another road trip, this time to see the Cardinals AA affiliate, the Springfield Cardinals, play. Ryan and I repainted and redecorated our den/his office. The whole family (but especially Chickadee!), got hooked on Dinosaur Office. We visited the St. Louis Art Museum. All of the older children went back to school, and I made schultüte for them again…I guess it’s a tradition now! We took a field trip to the St. Louis Science Center. Fredbird celebrated his birthday, so we went to Busch Stadium to help him.
September was a big baseball month. I went to Social Media Night, and even won an autographed Jason Motte photo! We also got to see a walk-off victory the night we went to Busch Stadium with Moose’s school. We went downtown to see the fountain at Kiener Plaza dyed red in honor of the Cardinals going to the playoffs. We celebrated Oktoberfest. We took another trip to Eckert’s, this time to pick apples. While Ryan was out of town (again!), the children and I went to the St. Louis Scottish games for the first time. We celebrated Michaelmas with an angelic feast.
Moose brought home a really cool piece of art he made in October. We were back at Eckert’s…this time for pumpkin picking. Even the Lego store caught Redbird Fever. I shared what a day in the life our homeschool looks like. I also rearranged the schoolroom…again…which allowed Chickadee to move in with her big sisters. Red October really started to heat up in St. Louis (before it fell flat in the World Series). I put together one last tea party for the year (number seven!), for Reformation Day.
Things got really busy in November. The children and I (minus Chickadee, again), spent a fun day in Forest Park, looking for leaves and seeds and any other nature items we could find. We even looked at some of it under the microscope! Moose turned eight. Ryan took me to my first-ever hockey game. Chickadee was very excited when we put up the Christmas tree! Ryan and I finally finished the Lego Tower Bridge, complete with mini vehicles assembled by the children. I made my radio debut on KFUO. I also baked a lot of pies for our Thanksgiving dinner. We finished our Thankful Tree for the year. The day after Thanksgiving, we started what I hope will become a new tradition…we spent a few hours as a family, putting together a Lego Christmas Market. I already can’t wait to see what next year’s Christmas set will be! When we finished that, we went down to main street for our town’s tree lighting.
December was, as it is every year, crazy. Due to an illness that we couldn’t shake for several weeks, we had to cross a few things off of my to-do list, and Christmas school fell a bit flat. We did get around to all of the important stuff, though, even if it didn’t all quite happen as planned (our Christmas baking this year, for example, got spread out over several weeks, and was still happening after Christmas was over!). Other than the illness, there was one low point in December…Turkey had to have some baby teeth pulled. He was very brave, though, and it was soon forgotten. We went to Christmas on the Hill…it was very cold! That meant that we didn’t walk around as much as usual, but we still saw La Befana, looked at the nativity scenes, and ate salamites! For the first time, we got to walk the Anheuser-Busch brewery at nighttime, and see all of their beautiful Christmas lights. We celebrated Santa Lucia Day, with Bunny playing the title role, and handing out Lussekattes for breakfast. Even though we had looked at Belleville’s gingerbread houses at night after the tree lighting, we went back to see them a little better in the daylight. Of course, we made it to our favorite event, St. Charles Christmas Traditions. We all fell in love with this sweet video of Sweden’s adorable Princess Estelle baking cookies, and Ryan even bought Chickadee her own tiny rolling-pin just like the Princess. To kick off his Christmas vacation, Ryan played video games for 25 hours straight (with some help from the children), to raise money for the children’s hospitals in St. Louis. The children worked hard to prepare for their roles in the Sunday School Christmas program. Ladybug lost a tooth right before we left for church on Christmas Eve! We had a very merry Christmas. For the first time ever, each member of our family received a Lego set (well, Chickadee’s was a Duplo set, but it counts!), but mine was the best…the now-retired Lego Winter Village Cottage. Now I don’t have to worry about what we’ll build the day after Thanksgiving next year! We continued our celebration the day after Christmas, when I made a pork crown roast for the first time for our fancy Christmas dinner. Ryan’s mom and I went on the “Beermaster Tour” at Anheuser-Busch…it was both fun and informative!
Writing this up is always a huge undertaking, but I love the chance to look back at all of the fun things we’ve done over the last year, and wonder what the next year has in store for us! It has been a busy, fun, crazy year, and I am so Thankful for all of the moments with which God has blessed us. I pray that He also blesses your days with joyful, noisy moments!
Happy New Year!
This was a fun week! Since we started our science lesson on the moon, we watched Apollo 13 in school on Wednesday. This is one of my all-time favorite movies, and the children love it, too. Watching the movie on Wednesday also gave me the opportunity to finish baking for our Reformation Day tea party, which we had on Thursday. That was quite an event, and, as always, a lot of fun!
On Thursday, we also spent a lot of time learning about the Reformation. We did another lesson in our Martin Luther workbooks, which we’re almost done with now (the original plan was to finish them this week, but our vacation messed up the timing for that). We also read our favorite Martin Luther storybook. I love that even though we’ve read it every year at least once, the children still pick up new things in the story. We listened to “A Mighty Fortress” in both German and English, but we didn’t sing it ourselves, since we had finished it up last week. Instead, we’ve been working on “For All the Saints,” since All Saints’ Day is today, and we’ll be observing it (and almost certainly singing that hymn), in church on Sunday.
We also got to start on our yearly “Thankful Tree” today. The children really look forward to doing this every year…it was one of the first things they said to me this morning! I’m so grateful that being thankful is important to them, and that they can find so many things, big and small, that they should be thankful for! It’s also a lot of fun to see what those things are, and what things are different and what are the same from child to child!
The rest of the week was pretty standard. Everybody did an excellent job on their math and spelling tests, especially Turkey, who scored 100% on each. Our history and mythology studies collided this week, as we studied ancient Crete and the story of the Minotaur. I love when two or more subjects intersect…it makes learning so much more fun!
Next week, we’ll start easing into our Thanksgiving studies. I’m planning a harvest and thanksgiving related hymn for our memory work, and I think I’ll slip a few Thanksgiving books in the book basket. I love these next two months of homeschool so much!
Today we had a tea party for Reformation Day. The children suggested that I could decorate sugar cookies with Luther’s Seal, but that sounded a little too complicated, so instead our theme was pumpkins, apples, and cranberries; leaves, orange, red, and yellow.
We had a nice variety of items on the table. If you click on the individual pictures, you can find out what everything was. We even got to try pumpkin Hershey’s kisses!
This was our first fall tea party, and it was a lot of fun to plan, especially since this is my favorite time of year!
Well, I guess now that fall has officially begun, summer is really over. We had a lot of fun these last few months, starting when school let out, until the last official day of the season…here’s a look back at some of the things we did!
We visited a lot of playgrounds:
And spray parks:
We saw a dock dogs competition:
We went to Grant’s Farm (twice!):
And had a few tea parties:
We saw a lot of baseball games:
We went to Eckert’s and picked blackberries:
We visited Six Flags St. Louis for the first time:
And celebrated the Fourth of July:
We visited the zoo:
And saw the new sea-lion exhibit for the first time!
Turkey played in his fourth season of baseball:
We celebrated some birthdays:
And had fun at VBS:
We volunteered at and/or visited the LCMS convention:
And toured the Gateway Arch for the very first time!
Bunny met a few famous people, who happened to be married to each other!
We went on a few road trips:
Ryan and I repainted the front room of our house…it looks so pretty in blue!
We visited the Art Museum:
A new school year began:
We toured the Science Center:
Some of us were just cute!
Did I mention baseball?
I worked hard to make this a fun summer, even though, as always, we didn’t go on a vacation. It’s going to be hard to top this amount of fun next summer!
Today I finally got The Perfect Afternoon Tea Recipe Book, something I’ve been wanting to have for quite some time. Between the cost (being a nice, large hardcover with beautiful photographs, it’s was a little expensive), and a time when it appeared to be out of print, it took over a year for me to get it. I can’t wait to try out some of the recipes in it, but in the meantime, here’s some inspiration from the tea parties we’ve already had!
Other Themed Parties:
I’m sure there will be many more tea parties in our future…next, I hope to do something fun for fall!
I tried this recipe on a whim last week for our tea party, and I’m so glad I did. It’s delicious, not too heavy, and was enjoyed by everyone, which makes it the perfect addition to our tea party rotation. I’m sure you could turn this into a lemon poppyseed cake if you so desired…I could also see adding an extra tablespoon or so of poppy seeds to the batter, if you wanted it to be heavier on the poppy seeds!
- 2 tablespoons poppyseeds
- 1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
- 3 cups cake flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
- Orange glaze (recipe below)
In a small bowl, soak poppyseeds in milk for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 325. Generously grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter until smooth, gradually stir in sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in orange zest, vanilla extract, and poppyseed mixture. Stir in flour mixture and orange juice alternately in three additions, beginning and ending with flour. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Remove from oven and cool 15 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan and invert onto a cake plate. Spoon orange glaze over warm cake.
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice
In a small bowl, combine sugar and orange zest. Stir in orange juice until smooth. Spoon over warm cake.
I had promised the children that we’d have a tea party to celebrate the birth of Baby Cambridge (the future King George), but since Ryan was out-of-town last week, we decided to wait until he could join us for our celebration!
I didn’t have as cohesive of a theme as usual…I threw in a little blue (for the baby boy), with the table runner, some Ghirardelli chocolates from Ryan’s trip, and the variety of tea (Bigelow English Teatime, in a lovely blue box), but I didn’t do anything with blue foods.
For the most part, we just enjoyed some of our favorite tea party foods, with a new item thrown in (that was so popular, it will definitely become part of the permanent collection!)…an orange poppy-seed cake!
We had our standard scones:
And cucumber sandwiches:
We had coronation chicken for dinner last night, so we enjoyed finger sandwiches made from the leftovers:
Dried apricots and Cotswold cheese from England:
Thumbprint cookies and shortbread:
And, of course, finger jello:
It was a fun way to celebrate the birth of the future King of England!
Yesterday, we had a birthday tea party. Whose birthday was the cause for the celebration? Why, the Queen’s, of course! Her official birthday, marked by Trooping the Colour, was on Saturday, and we decided to make a long weekend of it, and keep the party going for tea!
The them for the event was purple (the color of royalty), and crowns (obvious). I also threw in a little bit of green for an accent color, because it just looked so nice. For decorations on the table, we had purple Hershey’s kisses, candles, and purple carnations in a pretty English gin bottle that I’ve been saving for a few years to use as a vase. The tea of choice was Darjeeling, partly because it’s one of my favorite teas, and partly because it comes in a purple box!
We also had coronation chicken finger sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches and some nice reddish/purplish grapes.
It all made for a very fun birthday celebration!
I know it’s a week late, but…we had our Pentecost tea party, that I had originally planned to actually have on Pentecost Sunday, a few days ago, but at least it was in the same week! I worked with a theme of red, and, since it’s spring, strawberries (which are conveniently also red!).
We had lots of fresh strawberries we picked ourselves at Eckert’s:
And strawberry muffins, made with more of the fruits of our labor (literally!):
We also had red jello, not strawberry, but cherry, to mix things up:
Since lemons go so well with strawberries, we had my favorite lemon shortbread:
We also had chocolate chip scones, just because:
Some English muffins:
And a variety of toppings, including a special strawberry-peach jam:
The tea of choice was Constant Comment, partly because it’s one of my favorites, and partly because it comes in red packets!