Category Archives: Peggy’s Parties

Summer Tea at Peggy’s

Last week, Peggy hosted a few of us for a summer tea. It’s been so rainy in Chicagoland that we couldn’t sit in the garden, but we sat on her back porch and enjoyed the flowers and the sunshine and the rain from there. I didn’t take many pictures of the food, but we had rhubarb scones, ham and egg salad sandwiches, avocado salad, and strawberry eaton mess (pictured above.) Though, unlike Bon Appetite, Susan made her own meringues which were so delicious!Oh, and Susan brought us each a vintage pin. Mine is a groovy 1970s flower pin. Can you believe in all of my brooch collection, I don’t have a metal flower? It’s so much fun! It was a relaxing afternoon. I haven’t been doing many small group social things lately and this was a nice reminder about how relaxing it can be to sit among just a few people and catch up about what we’re reading, politics, local happenings, and just daily life.

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Scottish Lighthouse Tea

Jackie's Scottish Lighthouse Tea, the partyMy friend Jackie is off to spend a month in Shetland as the artist-in-residence at a lighthouse! She will be spending the month of March working on her art and living in the keeper’s flat. I am crazy excited for her adventure. Last weekend, Peggy, Karen, and I threw her a little going-away party, a Scottish Lighthouse Tea. Jackie's Scottish Lighthouse Tea, the sideboard displayWe started planning the tea back in November and we went a little crazy with the plaid. Peggy has an amazing collection of plaid tablecloths, napkins, and runners that she brought over, along with loads of dishes, a Scottie dog, a lighthouse light, and many more additions to the table. Jackie's Scottish Lighthouse Tea, the tableWe set the table with Peggy’s dishes and a collection of lighthouse statues from my mom’s house. I also made a little banner from twine and plaid triangles and strung it up with two gold garlands I’ve used for a few parties. (All three fell down during the party–womp, womp.) Jackie's Scottish Lighthouse tea, placecardKaren made lighthouse place cards and we added a little Scottie dog shortbread cookie for each setting. Jackie's Scottish Lighthouse Tea, the place settings, vintage green depression glassWe tried to be really careful not to make the table look too Christmasy and I think we succeeded thanks to the addition of the blue plates and glasses and the black place mats. Jackie's Scottish Lighthouse tea, cocktail makingI mixed up a cocktail that was bubbly and tasty. (I’ll share the recipe later this week!) Jackie's Scottish Lighthouse Tea, the toast, sparkling rosé ginger raspberry cocktailWe drank cocktails and ate a cucumber appetizer before we sat down for the tea. Jackie's Scottish Lighthouse Tea, the foodWe enjoyed Waldorf Salad, bacon shortbread cookies, Meyer lemon & almond scones with clementine curd and Meyer lemon curd and Devonshire cream, and two types of tea sandwiches, ham with apricot cream cheese and chicken salad with grapes, thyme, and toasted almonds. (Thanks, Marissa, for the suggestion!) And of course, we drank tea! So much tea that we could have floated away. (We drank Barry’s, which has been my favorite lately.) Jackie's Scottish Lighthouse Tea, the cream puffsFor dessert, Karen made Scottish cream puffs, which were so delicious and really a perfect way to end our feast. It was so much fun and I love that I got to share the party with friends who appreciate all of the tiny details in the planning.

Cheers to Jackie! And if you’d like to follow along with her lighthouse adventures, she’ll be blogging about it here.

P.S. Thanks to Karen for sharing some pictures from the party!

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Book Club Christmas Tea 2015

book club christmas tea 2015One last thing about the holidays…

Last month, Peggy hosted our third annual Book Club Christmas Tea. As usual, it was a festive event with everyone contributing something tasty. I made this Japanese egg salad, which was delicious. (I take no credit…it’s just a good recipe!) I am not a fan of curry usually, but I really did love this egg salad.Book Club Christmas Tea 2015 3In addition to the egg salad, we had ham salad, cucumber sandwiches, and chicken salad served in little bread boats, lemon cranberry scones and English toffee scones served with lemon curd, cream and cranberry butter, grape salad, toffee pudding, plum cake, and Christmas cookies. (I think that’s everything!)Book Club Christmas Tea 2015 4, cranberry pepper shrub with proseccoI also made this shrub to serve with prosecco. I’d never made a shrub before, so I was a little bit worried, but it turned out really tasty. (Though next time I will crush the peppercorns a bit more because it was lacking the peppery bite.)Book Club Christmas Tea, placecards, Yellow Owl Workshop Placecard stampAnd, because I think every party needs a little paper element, I made these simple place cards out of some red cardstock, my Yellow Owl Workshop stamp embossed in white, and some Jolee’s holly stickersBook Club Christmas Tea 2015 2Peggy’s tables were delightfully decorated, as always. img_7308img_7304We read The Bird’s Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin. It was a perfect read for December when everyone is busy. (Last year, we attempted an Austen novel and hardly anyone finished.) Most of us finished it in one relaxing afternoon while sitting by our trees. And though it was only eighty pages and maybe more of a tale for children, we found so much to talk about, even comparing it to The Dead. I recommend it if you’re looking for a sweet tale to read this December.

So much work goes into planning this thing–especially by Peggy since she decorates, sets the tables, and cleans up after we all leave!–but it is so worth it. We are already talking about things to add for next Christmas!

(And with that, I think I may be done talking about the holidays…for now!)

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Double Indemnity on the Big Screen

Double Indemnity On Monday night, Peggy and I went to see a special screening of Double Indemnity at the movie theater. The film was shown as a part of the Big Screen Classic Events with Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and Fathom Entertainment. They are showing classic movies in select theaters around the country with introductions from TCM’s Robert Osborne (or Ben Mankiewicz.) Robert Osborne, TCM and Fathom PresentsBefore the movie, Robert Osborne shared some history of the movie. Fred MacMurray was very reluctant to do Double Indemnity because he was afraid of ruining his squeaky clean image by playing a murderer. In the end, MacMurray thought it was one of his best roles. And Osborne discussed how the Hays Production Code dictated changes to the script. Has anyone read the book? I just ordered it from the library because I’m curious about the original ending of the book. (No spoilers, please!)

I’d seen parts of Double Indemnity before, but it was such a treat to see it on a huge screen where I could appreciate the darkness and the light in the movie, the facial expressions, and the score. Someone on Twitter* mentioned that he noticed the silences during the movie better. I thought that was a great observation.

Sadly, there were only five other people in the theater with us at Melrose Park, so I hope they continue offering the rest of the series. Next up is a Grease sing-along**, but I am so excited for Psycho in September! (Full line-up is here. I’m sad I missed JAWS last month.)

Have you gone to one of these? Have you seen anything else good in the theater lately?

 

*If you like to watch TCM, the #TCMParty is a fun hashtag to follow if you want to have a Twitter chat during a movie.

**I hate Grease!

Double Indemnity image from here. (The article about women in Film Noir is excellent reading!) Photo of Robert Osborne is mine from the theater.

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Simple Spring Birthday Invitations

cherry blossom, spring birthday invites, washi tape, typewriterContinuing the cherry blossom mail theme…

Peggy and I are hosting a tiny birthday celebration for Karen and Susan in May. I thought I’d try to set a special tone for the celebration by sending out paper invites. There are only four of us, so it was an easy task. Using my trusty typewriter, some washi tape, those cherry blossom cellophane bags, and some 4-bar cards that magically fit inside, I came up with a simple spring design. cherry blossom, spring birthday invites, washi tape, typewriterMy only regret is that I placed the mailing labels over the information. I think they would have been more fun and colorful if I’d left the invitation side blank (as shown above) and put the mailing label and the stamp on the reverse side. That way, the cellophane didn’t even need to be opened. cherry blossom, spring birthday invites, washi tape, typewriterBut I do like seeing the stamp on those washi tape stripes, so all is not lost I suppose.

Sigh…I do love a paper invitation, don’t you?

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Another Christmas Tea

Bookclub holiday tea table settings 3 2014Another book club holiday tea is in the books (hehe) and we’re onto a new year. December book club always falls around winter solstice, so it was rather dark all day at Peggy’s, but hopefully you can appreciate the beauty of the rooms and the table settings in spite of my dark pictures. Bookclub holiday tea table settings 2014We split into two tables, each seen above, and as always the place settings were festive and lovely. Peggy should seriously give lessons on how to set a table because I always feel like mine lack the layering that hers have. She has such a great mix of dishes to play around with, too. Bookclub holiday tea cocktail 2014, ginger sage proseccoWe started the morning with a cocktail–ginger sage prosecco. We found the recipe here and I made the syrup, which is easy and delicious and amazingly useful in other cocktails too. It’s warm and wintry, perfect for this time of the year. Bruising the sage leaf before you float it on top of your cocktail is also highly recommended.

Our menu was very similar to last year’s menu. I made ham salad tea sandwiches again, and they were served alongside pimento tea sandwiches and classic cucumber tea sandwiches. We had two kinds of scones, cherry almond and coconut, served with Devonshire cream, Meyer lemon curd, lime curd and lilikoi curd. And we had Christmas cookies and lemon squares and lots and lots of hot tea. peggys house, bookclub holiday tea 1, snowglobesFor our book this month, we read Emma–our first dip into Jane Austen. Sadly, only a few finished the book (which is rare for us!) so the book discussion was not as long and as deep as usual. But lesson learned, choosing a lighter book in December may be the way to go. After the book discussion, we lingered on in Peggy’s comfortable home and chatted about our Christmas plans, families and other books. peggys house, bookclub holiday tea 2, snowmen on the sideboardI’m looking forward to another year of book club, and more reading in general. I didn’t read as much as I should have in 2014, so it’s time for a fresh start. For January we are reading Ethan Frome. Edith Wharton is a favorite of mine, so I’m looking forward to it. We don’t have any other titles planned for the year, which is a preferred way to go. Last year we planned an entire year ahead and a few of us felt stuck with some of the titles. It’s nice to plan a little at a time, and leave some openings for interesting titles that pop up in the newspaper or recommendations from friends. If you’re in a book club, I’d love to hear how you choose your titles.

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Peggy’s 50th Birthday Party

Peggy's 50th birthdayTaking a break from all the Japan posts to share another party hosted by Peggy…

The “other” Peggy in our book group, Peggy L, is turning fifty this month, so a few of us got together to celebrate, and as usual, (hostess) Peggy outdid herself. The table, the cocktails, the dinner and the dessert were “springy” and amazing. Peggy's 50th birthdayPeggy's 50th birthdayThe table was full of pastels, bunnies, eggs and flowers. The sun was setting, leaving a dark glow in the room, and showing off the pretty pastels perfectly. Peggy's 50th birthdayI made an appetizer of cheese and roasted grapes (I promise to share the recipe soon!) and Peggy made Rossini cocktails. We drink a lot of sparkling wine cocktails at Peggy’s and I love every one of them, but this one–with the bright strawberry puree–was perfect for spring. Peggy's 50th birthdayWhile we were eating appetizers and catching up, we used these sweet vintage cocktail napkins. They were hand-embroidered and each said something different: wipe, dab, pat and blot. Aren’t they wonderful? I love the handwritten script.

We enjoyed asparagus soup and a chicken, cashew, swiss cheese, strawberry salad. Then we took a break from eating to open gifts before Peggy brought out the cake. Peggy's 50th birthdayThe cake, while not a traditional decorated birthday cake, was divine…coconut and Meyer lemon, moist and delicious. Yum. I regret not bringing a piece home.

Thanks for another fun night, Peggy!

And Happy 50th, Peggy L! Enjoy your Irish Adventure!!

P.S. To see other “Peggy Parties” go here.

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Book Club Christmas Tea

book group Christmas teaLast Saturday, we had a Pleasant Home Book Club Christmas Tea at Peggy’s house. book group Christmas tea 2There were so many of us that we had to sit at two different and wonderfully decorated tables at Peggy’s.

christmas tea sandwichesWe enjoyed ham salad (made by me), egg salad, cucumber sandwiches, cherry almond scones, homemade ricotta, homemade lemon curd and homemade Meyer lemon curd (so delicious, I can’t even explain), Christmas cookies, champagne cocktails, tea…my tiny plate above was the first of many. Christmas Tea at Peggy's 3After we ate, we moved into the sitting room and talked about our book–The Cat by Colette. (By the way, The Cat deserves its own blog post sometime in January.)twilight at Peggy's houseIt happened to be the Winter Solstice, so we got to enjoy Peggy’s beautifully lit sitting room as the sun went down. It seriously is Christmas heaven over there…so many twinkle lights!

Thank you to Peggy for another wonderful Christmas time!

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The How Green Was My Valley Tea

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I didn’t disappear last week…I spent all day Thursday and Friday reading the most lovely book, How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn. It was the March choice for my book group and we celebrated it with a green-themed tea at Peggy’s house. We all contributed a little something, but as usual, Peggy went above and beyond baking up a storm and choosing the perfect linens, dishes and flowers to set the mood. Seeing the daffodils throughout the room really made it feel like spring, even though we all came in our winter coats on a chilly grey day.

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Peggy made a leek, bacon and goat cheese frittata, rosemary pistachio scones, homemade lemon curd and citrus cranberry pull-apart rolls. Bobbie brought chicken salad cream puffs, Peggy (we have two Pegs!) made Irish soda bread, I made homemade ricotta and we enjoyed English breakfast and Highland Toffee teas along with mimosas. It was a tea to end all teas…so much deliciousness in one place!

We indulged and chatted and then spent a good part of the afternoon talking about the book…we always talk about the book. (We aren’t one of those book groups who just gets together to drink wine and gossip.) Everyone wholeheartedly loved How Green Was My Valley. It captivated me for two days, and over those long afternoons of reading, I had to remind myself to slow down and soak in the beauty of Llewellyn’s writing…

I keep reading several passages from the book over and over again. (I need to take it back to the library, but I can’t let go yet!)

There is good a cup of tea when you are feeling low. Thin, and plenty of milk, and brown sugar in the crystal, in a big cup so that when your mouth is used to the heat you can drink instead of sipping. Every part of you inside you that seems to have gone to sleep comes lively again. A good friend of mine is a cup of tea, indeed.”  [from chapter sixteen]

There is a lovely smell with tweed. Good it is, and honest, of the earth and of humankind, and a pleasure to wear, and always a friend to you. I had a brown tweed, the colour of a ploughed field in the pebbly soil, when leaf has been put down about three months before, and grass is just poking through, barely to be seen, but there. That, and a grey, the colour of spring rain, and almost as soft to the touch.” [from chapter twenty-two]

Throughout the book I was lulled into the comfortable arms of Huw’s memories growing up in a big family with strong and tender parents…and the book is peppered with tales that are sometimes shocking, sometimes horrifying, sometimes hilarious…very real for the turn of the century in a South Wales mining community.

I absolutely loved the book and I love that we chose to read it this month. It couldn’t have been a more perfect choice for a morning tea at the arrival of spring.

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Christmas Tea

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Christmas is catching up with me…I have cards to finish, all of the wrapping to do, some last minute gifts to get and I was reeeally hoping to hand-make a gift or two. But work, the bathroom and other obligations keep taking over…and there has been some fun mixed in there, too…and clementines…about 500 clementines.

One of the fun things was book club on Saturday. We read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Have you ever read it? I hadn’t. Of course, I was familiar with the story. I think I’ve seen every version made and I am slightly ashamed to admit I’ve seen quite a few made-for-TV re-makes (Susan Lucci as Scrooge, anyone?) But reading the book was a new experience because of Dickens’ writing…it brought a more colorful picture of Scrooge’s overnight transformation to my mind than anything I’ve ever seen on TV or in the theater. And I have to admit, in such a busy month it was a pleasure to read something so short…especially considering next month we are reading The Count of Monte Cristo (which is more than 1000 pages!)

After book group Peggy had a few of us over for a Christmas tea. I wish I had taken more pictures (this phrase will be written on my grave!) but the photo above shows the festive table.

For the tea, Peggy served chicken salad and homemade egg salad sandwiches, homemade scones with homemade clotted cream, homemade lemon curd, homemade ricotta, homemade tomato jam and for dessert, homemade almond shortbread. She went overboard, in the best of ways…every bite was amazing and I drank so much delicious tea that I thought I would float away. After we ate we sat in the sitting room and enjoyed the twilight as the day faded into darkness. Peggy’s home is covered in Christmas cheer. She has a gorgeous assortment of Christmas dishes, ornaments, wreaths and lights–hundreds of twinkle lights! Being in her home put me in the mood for Christmas. Not in a let’s-go-shopping kind of way, but in a let’s-curl-up-on-the-couch-with-a-cocktail-and-enjoy-the-lights-of-the-tree-and-think-about-how-good-life-is kind of way…which is exactly what Naoto & I did when he got home from work on Saturday night.

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