Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Hide-Away Moment

Some of my favorite words of wisdom from my Grandma Betty were, "No one's looking at you."

This was intended, I believe, to calm the overly self-conscious teens or young people within her reach, and give them a dose of reality. We are not, in fact, the center of the universe. Everyone else is so consumed with the same worry that no one's looking at anybody - they're just worried about themselves!

As school begins and there is that anxiety of kids wanting to fit in and worried that they aren't wearing the right thing or their hair isn't done the right way, it makes me want to roam random hallways of junior highs and high schools with a bull horn shouting, "No one is looking at you! You're all JUST FINE." Probably wouldn't go over very well.

Despite the truth that no one, in general, is looking at us, the growing reality is that SOMEONE is looking at us at all times. A few weekends ago, the Man o' The House discovered that had a photo of our house on their web site (even though our home is not for sale). The alarming part was that the photo was taken from a slightly aerial view of the alley side of our home (we enter our garage from the alley). Not only was our garage door open at that moment, but the photo had been taken on the day we were cleaning out our garage and staging all of our goodwill items at the mouth of the garage to be loaded into our truck and carted off.  Any casual browser on that website will have no doubt in their minds that we are a family of hoarders. Awesome.

That same weekend, we were visiting a friend's house where we all went to their neighborhood swimming pool. While our two families were enjoying the pool, along with one other couple from the neighborhood, we all heard a faint buzzing sound and realized that a drone was hovering way above us - directly above us - for a full minute. Why? I have no idea. But it was unsettling. When we got home from our outing, we discovered our neighbor test flying his own drone and the neighbor kids were running after him as though he was the Pied Piper.

One day I'm living in a normal world, and the next day I'm living amongst drones.

The next day, I flew out to Houston to teach a seminar, and when I landed I had just enough time to escape to my favorite Texas oasis, McHugh Tea Room. Kim McHugh and her staff were waiting for me, and somehow knew I was in the mood to hide away.

I was escorted to a reserved table tucked away in a corner where I could feel secluded but also have the best view of the house. From my private perch, I could look at the bench made from Kim's grandparents' headboard with a view of the outdoor patio beyond. I could quietly observe the mother and daughter enjoying a special afternoon tea together.

I could soak in the wall of black and white celebrity photos all sipping a cup of tea, and inspect and admire the beautiful hand-crafted chandelier made of glass tea cups. All the while, enjoying perfectly brewed tea and Miss Billie's mouth-watering afternoon tea recipes.

Kelly, my most gracious and accommodating server, started me off with an Irish Breakfast Tea, the perfect thing to give me some pep back in my step after a long morning of travel. The tea tray was brought out shortly thereafter, and though I tried to conduct myself with the best of manners, I'll admit I devoured the Bold Blue scone (infused with Kim's True Leaf Bold Blueberry tea blend) as though I had been raised in a barn. It was too delicious.

Next were the tea sandwiches that have this incredible magic of being both dainty and hearty. I particularly enjoyed the chicken salad with the red and green grapes, as well as the Southwest influenced open faced sandwich. I don't know what all was in there, but the savory bites were finger-licking good!

And then, of course, the desserts. Irresistible. I'm not typically a fan of desserts with nuts in them, but Miss Billie's Pecan Pie bite falls into an entirely different category. Made with local Bellaire pecans, it is a bite of heaven. As a testament to this truth, one of the local farmers traded 5 lbs of shelled pecans for the delivery of just one of Billie's pecan pies. Worth its weight in gold, I'm telling you. Then there was the snickerdoodle cheese cake bite and lemon bar. There are no words.

I did get to enjoy a few minutes of chatting with Kim about the success of the tea room. She opened her doors 2 years ago this month, and I was curious about what was the most surprising part of her business. She said that when she opened it, in her mind it was about the tea. What has happened, though, is that it's about people gathering together. The tea and food certainly keeps people coming back, but it's how people feel comfortable gathering together in this tea room that surprises and delights Kim the most. And I get it. It's a place I want to spend time in.

I wrapped up my hide-away moment with Organic Cherry Sencha. Smooth, with a light sweetness, I felt ready to face the world once more and not think about the Someone's or No One's who were or were not looking at me.

Thank you, again, to Kim, Kelly, Billie and the entire team that makes McHugh Tea Room such a special place.

To Visit:

McHugh Tea

5305 Bissonnet St, Bellaire, Texas, 77401

Lunch Served Daily 

Monday - Saturday 11AM–5PM Closed Sundays

No reservations needed for parties of 4 or less
Reservations appreciated for all parties on Saturdays

Afternoon Teas Served Daily 

Monday - Saturday 2PM–4PM*

Reservations required for all parties
2 person minimum, 12 person maximun
*last reservation taken at 4 pm

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