Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Tea and Testimony Moment

There were many things I knew, from a very early age, that I would absolutely never do. Deep sea diving. Getting married. Having children. Well, I was right about one of them. So far, anyway.


So now, being married with children, I have been exposed to entirely new and foreign worlds. One of them being Moms' groups. I was first wrangled into one by a former co-worker's wife who happened to have a newborn daughter at the same time I had Edie. It was a very informal group, all first time moms, all needing an outside activity. Then I was invited to a more formal group, known as MOPS, by that same former co-worker's wife. (She's a bit of a connector, you see. Over half of our MOPS group is there because of her!) I was hesitant about joining. I envisioned arts and crafts by the boat load, exchanging meat loaf recipes, and gossip sessions revolving around what idiots the men in our lives were.

As it turned out, it has been a very pleasant surprise to be a part of a group of women who are all in similar places in life (we all have small children), though with different backgrounds and roles (some are stay-at-home moms, some work part- or full-time, some grew up in California, some - like me - are transplants), and who are just as interested as I am in meeting new friends and asking for and sharing advice on the ever-changing landscape that is family life. The arts and crafts are almost nil (Hallelujah!), recipe exchanges are warmly welcomed by all (30-minute meals, anyone?), and the topics of conversation revolve around life in general, not male-bashing in particular (Hooray!).

For the second year, I have been involved in the annual Tea and Testimony night where we indulge in an evening tea and listen to a guest speaker. This year's menu included:

Menu:

Refreshing cucumber sandwiches (see recipe below)

Waldorf salad sandwiches (see recipe below)

 

Gluten-Free Strawberry and Spinach Salad (recipe by Gluten Free Goddess)

Fruit Platter

Gluten-free cake

Dessert platter







Our tea was provided courtesy of American Tea Room. We chose no or low caffeine options because it was an evening event:



Decaf Earl Grey - I love this blend because it has all the full-bodied loveliness of its caffeinated counterpart, the light, citrus-y bergamot scent, and it works well with milk and sugar. (And yes, I brought sugar cubes!)

Lemoncello - You either love rooibos or you don't. Many of the moms loved this caffeine-free discovery that has hints of lemon, orange, and caramel-vanilla. And it smells just like its namesake!

Immortal Green - Always a favorite, this Japanese green tea with peach is very lightly caffeinated and is perfect for sipping hot or cold.

And as a special treat, American Tea Room provided its Bento Box Red Tea Collection as a door prize, which was given to our very special speaker.

 
The best tea moments are those that are shared, and the 30 women who gathered for this special evening had plenty of sweets, savories and sips to share, courtesy of the team of women who prepared the tea spread. Thank you to Dot, Megan, Rebecca, Julie and Sara for your culinary magic! As you can see, the result was happy Mamas!

 
 
The evening wrapped up with a guest speaker. This year, our speaker was extra special, in that she was one of our own group who had survived the kidnapping - and recovery - of her oldest son. Hearing her story and recognizing God's grace in each moment of what could be every mother's worst nightmare was incredibly moving and encouraging.  We were extremely blessed to be able to learn from what she and her family have been through. Thank you to SC for your words of strength and wisdom.

Whether you are a mom, a sister, a daughter or a friend, take some time to bring the special people in your life together over a cup of tea. Enjoy the conversation. Enjoy their presence. Enjoy a tea moment!


Additional Recipes

Refreshing Cucumber Sandwiches
Ingredients
1 – (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 medium cucumber, peeled, and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
8 white sandwich bread slices
Preparation
1. Spread cream cheese on each slice of bread
2. Layer cucumber slices evenly on 4 slices of bread
3. Sprinkle dill lightly on remaining 4 slices of bread
4. Assemble sandwiches
5. Cut crusts from bread, using serrated bread knife (gentle back and forth sawing motion), discarding crusts.
6. Cut sandwiches diagonally into quarters. Store cucumber sandwiches in an airtight container for up to 1 hour before serving OR
 - Place slightly damp paper towel over the top of the sandwiches before placing the airtight lid on container for up to 12 hours.


Waldorf Salad Sandwich
Ingredients
Salad:
3/4 cups walnuts (or pecans) coarsely chopped
3/4 cup Granny Smith apple, finely diced
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 stalks of celery, finely diced
2 scallions finely sliced
Salt to taste
Dressing:
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
Preparation:
1.      Prepare dressing in small bowl and put in refrigerator to chill.
2.      Prepare remaining ingredients and place in larger bowl.
3.      When ready to assemble sandwiches, pour salad dressing over other ingredients and combine well.
4.      Butter 8 slices of whole wheat bread.
5.      Spread salad in a quarter-inch even layer between 2 buttered slices.
6.      Cut crusts from bread, using serrated bread knife (gentle back and forth sawing motion), discarding crusts.
7.      Cut sandwiches diagonally into quarters. Store sandwiches in an airtight container for up to 1 hour before serving OR
 - Place slightly damp paper towel over the top of the sandwiches before placing the airtight lid on container for up to 12 hours.