The Ladies' Tea Guild

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Another Victorian spring activity: making potpourri.

Violets.  Photo: Nikolay Dimitrov.
This is from the February 1860 issue of Godey's Lady's Book:

"A pot pourri, as it is called, if properly made up, forms an elegant and beautiful perfume, though it costs some months to complete.  You should begin it while the violets are in bloom, as they add greatly to its excellence.  There are, however, plenty of flowers that are available.  Get a china jar four or six inches deep, with cover.  Prepare layers of damask and other sweet-scented rose-leaves and buds, also layers of orange-flowers, if you can obtain them, jessamine, lavender-flowers, clove-pinks, sweet-scented stocks, marjoram, orange-mint, lemon-thyme, balm of Gilead, and rosemary.  Have some orris-root sliced, and the outer part of the rind of Seville oranges.  Have also a few cloves reduced to powder, and small quantities of benjamin, storax, and musk, and some bay salt, all in fine powder.  Mix the powders and the salt well together; then put a layer of leaves, as you collect them, into your jar, sprinkling each layer with a portion of the powders, and so proceed till your jar is nearly full;  stir all together now and then, press firmly down, and cover close.  When the cover is taken off in a warm room, a very agreeable scent will be diffused." 
Carnations, or Clove-pinks.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Time-travel with a Jules Verne Steampunk Tea!

A samovar fits the steampunk aesthetic!
Santa Clara will play host to a time-traveling fantasy world this weekend, with the Nova Albion Steampunk Exhibition at the Hyatt Regency.  Why not take your tea travels in a whole new direction with historically-inspired fantasy?  Jules Verne was the original science fiction author, who wrote a collection of novels during the 19th century featuring hot-air balloons, airplanes, dirigibles, and other cutting-edge technology of the Victorian era, with speculations about how these gadgets would affect the world.  The Silicon Valley is one major result of ideas like his, and it can be a lot of fun to combine Victorian aesthetics with modern technology in your home decor, or even just in a really great tea party. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A springtime Victorian craft: lavender "bottles".

The Victorians are known to have been lovers of nature and flowers, as well as decorative handicrafts.  Seasonal crafts for spring often included natural elements like fresh flowers, leaves, ferns, as well as twigs and other found objects from the woods and gardens.  Pressed flowers, growing ferns and greenery in terrariums, and making potpourri are some of the crafts mentioned over and over in 19th century magazines, but a slightly less common one involves weaving lavender stems and flowers into "bottles" or "wands".  This is a slightly time-consuming project, but it's a good one for a rainy afternoon or when you're sick in bed for the day.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Early St. Patrick's Day traditions.

Hore Abbey, Cashel Ireland.  Photo:
By the 17th century, St. Patrick’s Day was still primarily a religious holiday, marked with a special Mass and religious symbolism. Secular celebrations of the holiday fed off of and extended the religious activity, and included processions to the church, which undoubtedly became the popular parades of today.  Instead of wearing green, 17th century upper and middle class Irishmen and women made and wore crosses on badges, probably using the popular Celtic cross, while the lower class residents pinned a shamrock to their hat for the day.  Due to pressure from England to abandon the Irish language and culture, the shamrock was becoming a nationalist symbol for the Irish.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The history of St. Patrick's Day celebrations.

Cross, Rock of Cashel, Ireland.
St. Patrick's Day is one of the most widely-celebrated holidays in the United States.  Many traditions are gleefully kept every year on March 17th, and people often think that the activities and symbols now associated with the day have been part of St. Patrick’s Day from its beginning as a holiday.  However, with a little research, the history of St. Patrick’s Day begins to come to light, and it reveals that many of the things we associate with the day are neither particularly Irish, nor particularly old! 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

3rd Annual Cat Rescue Tea in San Jose
*** Spend an afternoon sipping Tea for a cause… ***

13th St Cat Rescue Tea
Saturday March 19th 2011
Seating at 2:00pm 
$25.00 includes a full afternoon Tea
At a historic private residence & San Jose Landmark

Please join us as we raise money for our very own 13th St Cat Rescue. 

Spend an afternoon sipping tea in an opulent Victorian landmark located in the Hensley Historic District of San Jose

Enjoy a delicious selection of savory Tea Sandwiches, savory treats, Scone with butter, jam and lemon curd, petite dessert, handmade Chocolate, fresh fruit & nut cup. All served accompanied by a lovely selection of Teas.

There is limited seating available, so please reserve and purchase your seats early. We highly suggest that you place your orders as a group (one person purchasing for all in their group, so that we can insure that you are seated together). 

Log onto our donation page to reserve & purchase your Tea seating:

This event is lovingly coordinated by the Friends of 13th Street Cat Rescue. 

Thank you for your support! 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

March Tea and Craft Workshop in San Jose!
Join the South Bay Ladies' Tea Guild for our March meeting.  We'll be making a Victorian tussie-mussie of cute paper flowers! 

Crepe Paper Flower Workshop: we’ll prepare for spring by making a bouquet of paper flowers.  Older children welcome!

Date: March 12, 2011. 2 p.m.
Location: a private home in San Jose.  E-mail the South Bay Ladies' Tea Guild for the address. 
Tickets: $20 (Ladies' Tea Guild members)/$25 (non-members)
Suggested Costume: modern dress. 

Please R.S.V.P. and send your food and supply fees by Thursday, March 10, 2011.  We need to know how many people will attend so that we can make the food and purchase the workshop supplies!  We can accept checks as well as payment through PayPal.  Contact the South Bay Ladies' Tea Guild for more information. 
Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)