Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Afternoon Tea

"When you have flowers, books, and tea, you are never alone."
Alexandra Stoddard in Tea Celebrations

When I read this statement by Alexandra this past week, I knew it was my inspiration for Sunday Afternoon Tea today.  There is a reason she has been among my favorite writers for a very long time (even if she can get a tad on the "spiritual" and definitely not evangelical side... she is a kindred spirit). :)

My ponderings this week had already been about the concept I've written about quite often... the home as Sanctuary.  As I was stressed with increased traffic and heat "in town", I would feel the relaxation driving country roads toward home.  Peace returned miles before walking in the door as I passed pastoral settings of harvest-ready crops, horses, red barns, sheep, and the lushness of a late summer forest.

It seemed almost everywhere I went from the doctor's office to the grocery, people were stressed and strained. How good it was to walk through the front door of my smallish-ish house in the country, not only to feel the air conditioning but to be embraced into an environment that... like no other place in the world... has everything which makes me feel cozy.

When the heat returned making working in the garage difficult, I found myself puttering around the house accomplishing little jobs here and there.   Teacups were repositioned in the china cabinet, a few pictures switched on walls, labels (finally) placed on pantry jars, and vegetables became centerpieces on a table.

Just the process of placing home-dried rosemary, thyme, and Italian oregano into prepared vintage canning jars... handwriting their names on labels... and placing in the yellow pantry... brought contentment.  Basil, which had accomplished its' appointed task after two weeks, was removed from vinegar followed by a curious (but tiny) taste... oh, yum.  The decision was made at that moment that another "batch" of basil vinegar must be prepared while the herb was abundant.  How satisfying to pick basil and work through each step of preparation.

I wonder at times if society in general is missing the very things we've been taught have no value, those tasks which take time and bring about that which combines to create Sanctuary at home... chopping vegetables, sweeping the floor, sorting papers, copying recipes, rocking a child to sleep, slowly perusing grocery aisles as one thinks of ways to utilize items on clearance, finding the perfect skillet to make one's work easier for a couple of dollars at a thrift store... hours invested whose payment comes in contentment and not cash.

I realize quiet days in a house filled with antiques, vintage accessories, and lots of books would not bring sanctuary to all.  My friend, Jewels, (to whom I am known as "her pig" after gifting me with comparison to Wilbur in Charlotte's Web) loves her rather noisy house full of lots and lots of children.

My son's on-campus sanctuary contains two roommates and a hodge podge of furniture squeezed to accommodate all of them... but looks good after a busy day of classes.

But for me... Alexandra's quote proves quite true.  I am never alone when I have a beautiful cup filled with a favorite tea, flowers, and lots and lots of books.  For I am surrounded by God's beauty and gifts and the peace He has provided in the form of home... a place we can all make ours whether a room or a mansion.

Picture: Nostalgia Mini:


John'aLee said...

That is a great picture you posted. Your porch header reminds me of the old porch I used to have out in the middle of the desert by Las Vegas. I would spend hours out there reading and writing.
Alexandra Stoddard has been one of my favorite authors for over 20 years now. Her book "Daring to be Yourself," changed my life. Helped me to get out of a bad marriage.
Thanks for your inspirational blog!

Rita said...

My daughter and I both spend time in our homes making them a place to come away from the world. A place for comfort and things that we enjoy. There is no clutter in my living room. I do have my favorite magazines next to my chair in case I get a moment to browse one. I am gaining a collection of devotionals that so improve my life and attitude. We both like to eat out and like to cook so we eat out frugally when we can and enjoy homemade food as often as possible. My daughter freezes cookies and cookie dough. So the snacks are handy. Chocolate chip cookies are good frozen and peanut butter cookies smell wonderful baking in the oven.
This is what will bring us peace when there is none to be found.
Have a good day.

Tracy said...

I am a lover of books, too. And I also enjoy being outside (when it's not too hot) taking in the beauty and wonder of God's creation...His magnificent Masterpiece. Enjoy your Sunday! :)

KJ said...

What a lovely post! I've been pottering in amongst your archives, enjoying your musings. And today's post is particularly resonant, as I've just written a post about using family traditions and recipes to provide a little bit of home for two of my cousins and my brother this lunchtime.

The Plesures of Homemaking said...

What a lovely post Brenda! Just reading it makes me feel cozy. You and I love to do the same things. All those little puttery things bring such sweet contentment to me.

All of Alexandra Stoddard's books are so inspirational. As are Tracey McBride's - I haven't found a currently published author that comes even close to either of them.


freetobeme - Anita said...

I told my granddaughter, Sydney, that I go to your tea party every Sunday afternoon. Of course, she pictured the tea parties I have with my granddaughters! But thanks for the thoughts you generate with your Sunday Afternoon Tea. You are a friend, in deed.

Frair John said...

Lovely. I've been working towards being a solitary Religious (kinda like a Hermit) for some time now, and what you describe is the sort of Spiritual home making I aspire to in my life.

Vicki in UT said...

Beautiful post. I love being in my home, you are right that home can be a sanctuary, and that is immeasureably valuable.

Kay said...

Thank you for this Brenda. I, too, look forward to turning out of the city onto the country roads and thrill at the sight of my Farm Home when I turn in the drive.
I love to watch the light change as the sun shines through the windows on 3 sides of my home.
My enclosed front porch is My favorite place & I am so looking forward to my early mornings out there (once it cools off).
Alexandra Stoddard is one of my favorites also. I've been rereading her books for the past 20 years.
Just, make mine Coffee with cream, please. ;o)

Mrs.Rabe said...


I know what you mean when you speak of leaving the city and becoming more peaceful as you drive in the country toward home.

I grew up in So. California and while living there enjoyed it greatly. Once I had married and lived away...after visiting, I knew I could never go back permanently. I longed for the country, the open spaces, growing things that were not part of a postage sized manicured lawn and flower bed!

Those things have a beauty of their own, but there not for me!