Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Tea At London Farms in Richmond, British Columbia

After coordinating the general hub-bub of activity surrounding Broadmoor Baptist Church's Ladies Christmas Tea for close to 200 guests, I was exhausted and in need of some intensive TLC.  Among the little grace notes of the remaining holiday season was a blissful time of just a meagre 60 minutes that I spent at London Farms to enjoy their annual Christmas Tea with two of the ladies from my tea committee: Ruth and Janet.  Unfortunately, dear reader, I was so busy living my experiences that I took no care to record them on digital film, so thus, I have no pictures to share of OUR time there, but believe me when I tell you that it was lovely to the enth degree! Thanks to Google images, I have found some stock photos to share of this wonderful place. As you can see to the left, London Farms is a nineteenth century farm house that has been made a heritage sight for our growing community of Richmond, BC. ( This is lovely shot of the farm taken after a rare snowfall here in Richmond.)  It was at one time, a working farm and the London's were wealthy farm owners who lived in a rather sumptuous home given the times.  The picture to the right is of the formal parlour. The farm house has been made into a museum and  in the area that was once the very large dinning room, the London Farm society serves tea in the summer time and at special occassions during the year like Easter, Valentine's Day, Father's and Mother's Day, and of  course Christmas.  We had the dubious distinction of being the very last party to be served tea this year at Christmas, a pleasure that came with certain perks, as we were each presented with a lovely Christmas cactus when we were leaving, as the farm was closing down until well after the holidays.  How lovely for them to think to give us these delightful tokens before we left.  The other wonderful thing about London Farms is their gift shop which boasts lots of tea related items, as well as homemade soaps, candles, fruit preserves, and handcrafted sewing.  I was able to purchase two very distinctive beaswax moulded candles for a very reasonable price.  They adorned my Christmas table this year and I am sure will give me pleasure for hour and hours to come; all for the priceo f just $4.00 per candle.  What an incredible find.

The tea itself was lovely and consisted of a selection of three home-baked sweets' a chocolate shortbread cookie, a plain shortbread and a delicious square of some sort that I am not able to identify but which tasted heavely!  Also there was an absolutely delicious scones served with butter and jam.  My!   I absolutely COVET that recipe, but alas, they are not about to give it to me; and I suppose I would hardly blame them!   The tea that accompanied the sweets is a blend made especially for London Farms entitiled London Lady.  It is an Earl Grey concoction especially blended by Murchies Tea of Victoria, BC, at least that is who I think makes it.  It is flavourful and delicious and the perfect match to the over-all experience.  If you are ever in our "neck of the woods", I do so hope that London Farms is accepting visitors at that time so you can have the London Farms Tea Experience.  It is truly lovely!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tea Finis!

For my dear Silken Purse's "Tuesday Tea for Two",  I would like to share with you the story and some pictures from my lastesst tea venture.  At 10:30 last Wednesday evening, I packed up the last of my china, my silver service and coffee carafes and headed home from the church after the two-day marathon that was the Broadmoor Ladies 13th Annual Christmas Tea.  Looking back over the past two days I am grateful for the people who stepped forward from every segment of the cogregation, contributing their enthusiam, vigor and expertise to make this event an outstanding success.  The tremendous volume and quality of their work was astounding. 

The Youth group, and the Worship team helped with the decorating of the facility, led by Ruth from the Tea committee and Selma, a congregant who is a gifted interior decorator.  Everything looked polished, tasteful and lovely. The decorating of the tea tables was the responsibilty of individual tea hstesses.  Each hostess set her table with her particular china pattern., making each white-clothed table a unique work of art. My pattern is the ever-popular "Old Country Roses" by Royal Albert.   It was quite interesting to see all the different styles and patterns of china that were represented, each as unique as thier owner! To my knowledge, no two tables sported the same pattern., and I saw some designs I had never seen before, even from among those who had Royal Albert, which I thought I knew quite well.  It just goes to show that life is full of suprises!

The  kitchen ran at peak efficiency as Janet organized the volunteer staff to create eye-pleasing plates  of delectable savouries and sweets.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      sweets.                                                                                                                                                      

Our Gentlemen Servers, (members and friends of the church) looking handsome in their white shirts and bow-ties, were aptly coordinated by Lois, who has taken on this responsibility for several years, and who turned eighty years young last month.  How well they performed, those wonderful servers!  Fritz, assigned to my table on  Wednesday evening, was always there ready to pour copious amounts of steaming coffee and tea and to see to our every tea-related wish.  We were pampered to the ultimate.  My server for Tuesday Night was none other than Dr. John Zimmerman,  retired professor of the Charles Betall Chair of Pastoral Studies from Carey Theological Seminary, and husband of our guest speaker.  

 One of the highlights of this two-day extravaganza was the door prizes, donated by the congregation, and local retail businesses.  Tea Committee member Lorraine, collected wonderful items and combined them to make  lavish baskets, boxes and bags for distribution to eager tea goers on both evenings: eighteen spectacularly bejewelled gifts for each event.  The excitement and hilarity was truly contagious.

The theme for the two evenings was  "Joy".  Drawing from personal experience, Dr. Martha Zimmerman, author, lecturer, and popular conference speaker, shared about the joy of being resuced from hopelessness and despair by God who "in dependable love, shows up on time" in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.  She challenged us to look to Jesus and a relationship with him as our greatest gift in the Christmas season.

Music for Tuesday evening was provided by the Richmond Chorus Ensemble who gave tea-goers  spirited renditions "Christams Kumbayah" and "Sing Noel".  Dressed in thier teal blue sequined tops and black skirts, they blended well, not just musically but also with our theme colours of teal, silver and white!

Wednesday Evening, my wonderful husband Eric,accompanying himself on the impressive grand piano in the church's sanctuary, graced us with his beautifully musical  offerings of "Under the Holly Bough" and "Oh Holy Night".

On both evenings, local crafters set up booths around the perimeter of the room, selling their lovely wares to those who wished to do a bit of no-pressure Christams shopping. Quilted items, homemade soaps, jams,jellies and preserves, jewellry, and more were available for sale, with 10% of their profit  being contributed to the church.  The proceeds from the evening will go to two worthy causes; namely our kitchen renovation fund, and the STEP program for Sans Salvadore which provides housing, clean water, and eduation (to name only a few of it's initiatives) to the porest of the poor in South America.

Kudos to our gifted Mistress of Ceremonies, Heather, who tied the evenings up in a bright, sparkling bow with her gracious manner, radiant smile and quick wit.  She has dazzled us for many years with her ability to draw people into the spirit of the evening. Her welcoming,endearing demeanor and enchanting personality put everyone at ease and enabled us to relax and fully enter into the joy of the festivities. We are so fortunate to have her, both as a part of our organizing team and a member of our church family  Thank you so much, Heather!

I could go on and on.  It truly was a magical night, but needless to say, I was feeling a bit exhausted after all the preparations and the actual event itself.  After all the "hither and yonning" I did finally get the chance for a soooothing, wonderful, aromatic cup of tea, in the peace and quiet of my own livingroom; the perfect place and time to start planning next year's 14th Annual Ladies Christmas Tea!