Sunday, June 30, 2019

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Solitary teatimes and making space for Beauty

If you expect perfection or nothing,
you will always end up with nothing.
Edith Schaeffer

"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be
useful or believe to be beautiful."
William Morris

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. William Morris
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I have to admit that most days when I want a cup of afternoon tea, I run water through my single serve Keurig to heat it and drop a teabag in before the water even enters the mug.  Which is contrary to everything I believe about tea time.

However, there are days that I need the Beauty of a proper tea time even when there is no one else around to appreciate that it takes a little more effort.  If I have planned ahead, there will be a package of favorite cookies in the yellow pantry, ingredients to make a quick sandwich (cut into quarters for proper affect), and perhaps some cut up fruit or veggie on the side.

I pour hot tap water into either my yellow four cup teapot or the smaller two cup teapot, both of which reside on the microwave for a quick reach, and let it sit until the tea kettle sings and the hot water is poured out... the whole tea leaves or tea bags are added to the pot and the water from the tea kettle is poured over them.  It really doesn't take all that long if you think about it.

I have a collection of beautiful teapots that I have rarely used because they are mostly six to eight cup teapots.  I do keep them for "company" but they are also displayed to view their beauty at all times.  As are most of the teacups collected over the many years.  It was Emilie Barnes original book about tea time that started me on this journey, as she inspired thousands of others during her lifetime.

I thank her.  My husband does ummm... not.  Maybe because my love of teacups is only possibly surpassed by my love for washi tape.  Thankfully, both can be very inexpensive.  Most of my teapot and teacup collection is from thrifting or were gifts.

If I have the choice between plain and pretty, I much prefer even the most practical of items to be pretty.  When I went to a recent appointment with my insurance agent to see about supplemental insurance, my Social Security paperwork was in a beautiful file folder.  I had won a set of them on a blog giveaway long ago.  The receptionist couldn't get over how pretty it was.  I added Beauty to her day, too.

I have the extra pens and pencils on my desk in a tall-ish pewter mug, paper clips and alligator clips are in a short pewter mug, scissors and similar office items are in a bone china mug that says "Mother" that I bought at Goodwill long ago, there is a "bouquet" of basil in a tall floral bone china cup, and my plain planner has washi tape added at the beginning of each new week.

Even my functional throw away items are better if they are pretty.  I have a frustrating inability to chose tissue boxes.  Yes... I stand in front of the Kleenex displays at the store way too long, deciding on the prettiest box for each room.  At the moment, my very favorite is the Meijers brand of tissues with lotion added due to its' lavender artwork on the box.  When you must have tissues near by during cold and allergy seasons, it helps if the box is pretty.

It was one of my book-mentors who wrote a Truth that changed my way of thinking oh so many years decades ago.  I can't recall if it was Emily or Edith or Alexandra or other ladies I learned from but one of them said you should never just plop jars of condiments on a table. It takes a minute or two to make the table look pretty by transferring them to small bowls.  I would say (from experience) an exception is when one is eating outdoors and when serving hungry teenagers!

I do know that it was Edith Schaeffer who wrote that one should take the time to eat from a pretty plate and light a candle even when eating alone.  I often light a candle in winter when reading but I cannot recall ever having lit a candle when eating alone.  I do, however, use a real plate.  Paper plates are left for picnics and when lots of people are eating a meal other than Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas.

As much a I love Beauty, sometimes I look at my favorite dishes and wonder why I bother since for multiple reasons, I do not have people over very often for a sit down meal these days.  Why do I still purchase a pretty cut glass serving bowl for 99 cents or a vintage cake stand for a few dollars at thrift stores?

Why do I keep my tea party "stuff" when no one I have tea parties with live close to us, anymore?  I recently sent a few tablecloths to charity, knowing I will not use them but I kept a couple of favorite tablecloths that are used only when the table is fully extended.  Why bother?

I bother because holding on to Beauty means there is always Hope for the future.  It is having faith in possibilities.  

Why is it that we seem to think that Beauty is to be enjoyed only when others are around us?  Or saved for a special day that never comes?  What does that say about how we think of ourselves when we know we were created in the image of God, the Master Artist?

I just recently washed my small collection of vintage tablecloths and refolded them before putting them back in the drawer where they are kept.  I try to do this once a year even if I have not used them because I remember what the lovely linens my mother-in-law had put back "for good" looked like when that box was opened.  The linens all fell apart.  It seems one should use their good stuff at least once in awhile to preserve them.

I remember learning a big lesson that day, one that I have thought of often since then.  Do not save the good stuff for a day that may never come.  Get out the good china for dinner on Monday nights (if any day needs to be treated kindly, it is Monday).  Wear your favorite dress to shop for groceries (women always dressed to go shopping when I was a child).

I have learned to use the collection of sprinkles on cupcakes even if it is no one's birthday.  I'm still learning that it is okay to purchase grocery store flowers for myself, instead of waiting for someone else to send them.  (Why is it that so many men are averse to buying flowers because they "just die"?)

It has taken a lifetime of reading books by my favorite mentors and talking to like minded friends for me to truly believe we are meant to be surrounded by Beauty.  It is part of our DNA in the Kingdom of God.  Not to be worshiped or coveted or to complain when we do not get what we want... but to enjoy the gifts provided by the Maker of the Beauty.   Maybe that Truth will take root in all of us.

Mentioned in this Blog Post 
If Teacups Could Talk original artwork... here.
If Teacups Could Talk revised artwork... here.

I love all of Emilie Barnes books but the above book is what started most of us loving tea time.  She has many other books about tea as well as homemaking.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate links.


Kim said...

Thank you for this lovely reminder. I was gifted If Teacups Could Talk years ago and that started my own journey into the art of tea. I was blessed to hear Emilie Barnes speak and had her sign my book. It is a treasure! I love taking time for tea. I do have a hard time buying myself flowers, but my daughter does it often. I think I will start this soon...perhaps tomorrow when I go to the store! Have a blessed day.

Vee said...

Probably never going to serve condiments in pretty little dishes unless it’s a holiday meal, but I understand the concept. Pretty tissue boxes with lotion have become very important around here lately! I have a tissue box in every possible corner so I don’t have to go looking for one or go very far. Brenda, have you ever considered doing a table setting each week as a way of sharing your many treasures with me?, course I mean EVERYBODY, not just me. I love sweet dishes and vintage linens, but then lots of gals do. Oh, you are NOT going to believe this...I wore a dress all day today just because I could. No one saw me, but I enjoyed wearing my pretty linen blue dress.

tealady said...

Funny you mentioning Emilie Barnes, I also became addicted to teacups and all things tea because of her. I have every one of her books, gift books, etc. All 100 or so. Beautiful post reminds me that I need to have tea time more often, I use to but things have been really busy with moving and all.

Elizabeth said...

Enjoyed these thoughts...wishing you more of such times of finding ways to include beauty...that of course, obviously being in the eyes of the beholder...most men not in that catagory. Well, my hubby is an engineer...functional is the word for him. He has learned to put up with SOME of my "doings"...whether appreciated or understood by him or not.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you. When I was single I often served my solitary meals on my Royal Albert with silverware etc.

Mama Squirrel said...

I like teapots too.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

You KNOW that I LOVE this post! It is one of the reasons that Stephanie thinks we are the same person!

I am drawn to beauty, and I trust that I've influenced my kids too. The ones at home are just teenagers, and would always prefer paper products because they are quick and easy and less dishes to wash! Though my Sarah, has a heart and eye for beauty, too.

Love to you, Brenda!

Anonymous said...

What a nice idea. Even a bunch of daisies doesn't cost much and they really brighten up a room.
If you have any teapots you aren't using, they make a cute vase for smaller flowers.

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

I so agree with all these ideas! But I must point out that those of us who wear glasses which we clean with kleenex should not use the type of kleenex with lotion added regardless of how pretty the box! I made that mistake once!

Heather said...

I too am a lover of beautiful things! It took a while for my husband to understand why I had to have the pink iron that cost a little bit more, or ..... 😁

I too love Emilie Barnes and her wonderful wisdom on beauty. One of the best pieces of advice that I gleaned from her was to use the pretty dishes, tea stuff and table cloths with your children all through their growing up. I have lost a few things over the years and most of my table linens are stained, but all of my children appreciate and love beauty.

Such a beautiful post Brenda!

The Journey said...

What a wonderful reminder, we tend to get in a rush and not use our pretty things. Yes those empty- pretty kleenex boxes even make pretty embellishments for cards when we are finished with them. We have to think outside the box. Linda

Cheryl said...

We are kindreds here, Brenda! Long ago, I started using my lovely things. What good are they if we or our loved ones never receive pleasure from them?

Beauty is a gift, whether it is a beautiful sunset or a pretty place setting (love Vee's idea for you!) or clean sheets or a pear-scented candle. I think our Father gave us the appetites for such things as we give Him thanks for it all!

Little Penpen said...

I love girly pretty things too. :-))

Joy said...

“if any day needs to be treated kindly, it is Monday.” 💜