My mom, sister and niece visited for a week recently, and of course I held a tea party! I wanted to celebrate my mom's birthday and introduce my family to some of my friends. Plus, the niece is at an age where this kind of thing is really special. She picked the theme, by the way. ;-)
I had so much fun
dreaming up and creating ladybug-themed items for this tea party! It's a perfect theme for the little entomologists in your life, with plenty of room for helping hands.
I knew I had to decorate the red teapot, above. This was a great activity for me to do with the niece. I used Crayola's window markers. (Key learning: Don't put dots where you or hot liquid will touch. I.E., The handle and down the spout.)
I wanted to use my grandmother's Haviland china (blue and white), but I also wanted to play with a strong red and black contrast. I think it worked out very well. The DH (dear hubby) grew the gladiola.
The food was also very fun to design. My niece loves, loves cucumbers and we'd already given my favorite cucumber sandwich recipe a test run earlier in the week (thumbs up), so that was a sure winner for the menu. The recipe is super-simple: Thinly slice and blot cucumbers (peel if you must, but I often don't). Chop fresh rosemary and blend into softened butter. Spread butter on two slices of bread. Add a layer of cucumbers. Make the sandwich, cut crusts and slice into shapes. Keeps well overnight if tightly bound in plastic wrap.
I wanted to use things from the garden when possible. The rosemary is ours, and we have plenty of basil. I also wanted at least one sandwich that would appeal to the grownups. I was pretty proud of myself for coming up with this one.
Toasted baguette, basil (for the leaf), fresh mozzarella (herbed) and half a grape tomato for the ladybug. The almost-four niece didn't eat these, but she sure did think they were cute. Here's another variation
on this theme that my friend Marmalady
sent to me.
Next up, one that was popular with all ages: strawberry cream cheese ladybugs.
I saw the idea for this one on the Internet, but I simplified it a bit. I used cinnamon-raisin bread, cut into rounds. Mom and I smeared the rounds with strawberry cream cheese and added the half slice of strawberry for the head. We scored the cream cheese to give the appearance of wings. These are quite tasty and super-easy to make. A fun one to do with little helpers.
The scones - well, I'll admit it: they were a flop! At least I thought so. The niece seemed to enjoy their taste (she asked for two after I had her taste one out of the oven). I think I overworked the dough. So no pictures...but here is the IDEA that I think will work in the future. Cut the scone dough into rounds, then make a little notch out of one end (to simulate wings). Also cut smaller rounds for the head (quite small), then cut that in half so there is a flat component. My idea was to attach the heads to the bodies, for a 3-D effect, but they didn't stay attached. I'll try attaching with butter or icing or something next time. Any ideas? When I get these to work out, I'll share pictures. ;-)
For dessert, I created these fun ladybug cookies. I used chocolate chip cookies, then iced them around the edges with red. The chips provide the ladybug dots, and the red pulls in the color theme. Fun!
For beverages, I served English Breakfast tea and this Ladybug Punch. It's my variation of a Barefoot Contessa recipe. Add 4 - 6 red zinger tea bags to 4 cups of boiling water. Remove from heat and let steep at least 10 minutes. Cool. Add to that 2 - 4 cups of white grape juice (to taste). Little helpers love to add chopped fruit to this mixture and to stir, stir, stir! Serve well-chilled.
If you have a children's tea in the future, keep this theme in mind! It's very flexible and lends itself to lots of creative and fun foods.