My husband might be the luckiest man on the planet: I have no expectation from him on Valentine's Day.
Never a fan of Hallmark- and Hershey's-prescribed holidays, while I appreciate a Valentine's Day greeting, I'm really not interested in him buying me something out of a sense of responsibility or obligation or because culture dictates it. That being said, annually for the past 14 years, he has given me a wonderful gift--
with the special women in my life--
friends and family and mothers and daughters--
at our annual Valentine Tea Party.
I guess I can blame it on my mother-in-law, after all it was her idea; back then, I could never have imagined how much this tradition would eventually mean to me. There have been years I thought would be my last (like when I was seven months pregnant, suffering from pneumonia, had to reschedule, then dreaded it since Valentine's Day had passed...), now, I hope to continue this tradition for life.
For fun, I'd love to share a few highlights from this year's party; click the pictures to embiggen, or in some cases, there'll be a companion photo linked ~
It's always been a treat to design each year's invitation, and a challenge to come up with something new and fresh. I love the simplicity and elegance of this year's invite.
My mother-in-law, Sarah, began this year's event like she has for as many years as I can remember: warmly welcoming our guests and reading the intro from "An Invitation to Tea". It sets the perfect stage for the day!
The food--oh, my--it's absolutely glorious! Sweet Sarah prepared EVERYTHING because we have to travel five hours to get there!
Strawberry-Spinach Salad (but it actually has blueberries and other lettuces) with Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing, sprinkled with toasted pecans.
I applaud Sarah for providing such healthy fare--strawberries and cherries. She gets a standing ovation, however, for drenching them in chocolate! My mother-in-law is very wise.
Sarah's Cranberry-Chicken Salad might be the best in the world (shhh! Don't tell anyone but the secret ingredient is honey). Apple muffins were a perfect companion to our brunch.
The younger cousins had the option of homemade waffles with mounds of whipped cream and strawberries; rather than raspberry tea or hot tea most of them chose raspberry lemonade with a cherry cheerfully sinking to the bottom of the glass.
The chocolate rolled cake with cream filling was almost too pretty to eat. Almost...I'm not crazy.
We spend a fair amount of time encircled around the table, engaged in conversation and laughing a lot. With preschool and elementary-aged cousins, extending "table time" can be a challenge. This year magic was woven through reading aloud Tea for Ruby (Paula Wiseman Books) by Duchess Sarah Ferguson. In a word DARLING! (a must-buy if you have little girls!) Each person read a page as the book was passed around the table--even the youngest girls were able to pick up the repetition of the words "The Queen", and they LOVED getting to participate and read with grown-ups!
There's so much more to share; if time permits in the coming days, I'll be sure to tell you more! (And...please...in the meantime, I'd love to hear YOUR Valentine's traditions, even if they happen to be of the romantic variety!!)