Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Tuesday Afternoon Tea - A Slow, Sacred, And Personal Advent

Good Tuesday afternoon, my friends, and welcome to Tuesday Afternoon Tea.  I am so glad that you have joined me here today, and I pray that you will leave blessed and refreshed!

This week I felt a bit more prepared than last, and while I still haven't got around to baking anything, Kate and I do have plans to spend some time making some cookies tomorrow, so I'll set aside a few favorites for next week.  This week I opted for my beloved Maple Leaf Cookies from Trader Joes.  You really just can't go wrong with them!  At least, in my opinion anyway.

I decided this week to meet two objectives during my tea time, and I am actually considering **trying** to take time for tea, reading and reflection every afternoon during Advent which is now upon us!

You may remember that I mentioned that I had planned a "Personal Advent", in my post yesterday, and to set aside some time each day to reflect on the meaning of this beautiful season!  We have a family display of Advent candles that we light each Sunday night (I'll share more on that later!), but I wanted something separate and smaller just for me.  I did this last year and it was such a lovely time of personally preparing for the coming of the Savior, and it really helped to center me in the midst of the hustle and bustle that accompanies this time of year.

Last year I just used four little votive candles in glass jars, but this year, with a little inspiration from Monica, I used vintage jello molds and some little white votive candles that I already had on hand.  I then tied a little strip of gingham around each one and put them all on a little black tart plate. I am so pleased with the way it turned it!  It is just lovely! And the best thing is, I already had all of this on hand so putting it together was so simple. Next week I hope to have some fresh greenery to add to it!  I'm planning on trying to get out tomorrow to gather some.

As for the tea, well, this was perhaps the highlight this afternoon!  Last month while Bill and I were on vacation, we spent a couple of hours in Asheville, and I happened upon The Spice and Tea Exchange! The company is based out of Florida, but they have store fronts across the United States. I've actually been to three now, as I stopped in at another location in Gatlinburg, and I've visited the location in Williamsburg numerous times.

But while I was at the store in Asheville, they were serving samples of the most beautiful ruby red tea I had ever seen and it tasted just as good!  It's called Craving Crusher, and I have to share a picture of the loose tea leaves and I also tried to capture the beautiful color, but the picture really doesn't do it justice!

It's a blend of peppermint, hibiscus and white licorice root, the perfect infusion, and did I mention how lovely it is?  It was just perfect, and it's caffeine free to boot!  I set it aside specifically for this season and it did not disappoint!  I like it so much, I'm going to order a few more of the little 1 oz. packages to have through the winter and also as a little Christmas gift.

Once my tea was ready, I made up a little tea tray with the advent candles and a favorite tea mug and saucer.  I actually have four of these and I just love them.  I call them my "breakfast" dishes, since the plates are rather small, but in all honesty, I rarely if ever use them.  For the most part they just sit on a little corner shelf in my kitchen and look pretty.  But I took down two plates, cups and saucers today and I think I might leave them set out on the tray to inspire me to use them and add a little beauty to our breakfasts!

Here is the tea tray with the first Advent candle lit.

I had the lights down, and the lighting in this little basement apartment is not very good anyway, so I apologize that the pictures are rather dark.  I often consider doing something to bring in more light when I am taking pictures, but I usually think about that right about the time I am ready to photograph something.  The fact is, we live in a lovely little basement apartment and it's dark and cozy in here! This is my beautiful life! 

As I enjoyed my tea and cookies, I read a devotional that I've had on hand, Journey Through Advent With Mary.  I've had it for a number of years, but when I tried to find it again to link it, I couldn't remember where I found it. It isn't a book, it was a series I found on a website and I copied and pasted it into a document and saved it.  But, I did find something similar here.  I perused it briefly and it looks good, as well!  Maybe I'll save it to enjoy next year! After the devotional I took a few minutes to quietly reflect upon the words of Lauren Daigle's song, Noel, which is so moving!  It is one of my favorite worship songs to listen to during this season.

For my reading this week I chose The Cozy Issue of Bella Grace magazine, which I have decided I may save for after the first of the year and enjoy it during the deep, cold days of January.  That will be something to look forward to!

I also picked up a little book at the end of the Christmas season last year, Stories for Christmas by Alison Uttley. Heather at Beauty That Moves, first introduced me to this lovely book, and I read a few of the sweet stories in the weeks after Christmas last year.  But since I discovered it so late in the season, I decided to tuck it away and save it to be savored this year.  It's a lovely little book, composed of twelve stories of magic, enchantment and mystery.   Today I read the forward for the first time, and I just love the way it creates such a lovely setting for embarking upon the stories themselves.

"Christmas was the climax of winter for the country people during Alison Uttley's childhood. Ribbon and ornaments were carefully kept from year to year, holly and ivy and other greenery were gathered in the woods for decorations; few presents were bought, for most were handmade, and the traditional Christmas food was cooked or made at home.  It is natural then that many of Alison Uttley's stories should be about the festival and preparations for it.  Many of them begin on Christmas Eve, "that night of mystery when strange things can happen", the night that Santa Claus leaves the far north in a sleigh piled high with presents, drawn by nimble-footed reindeer, to visit the children of earth, and the wild creatures, too; the night when fairies fly abroad as well angels, where there is magic entwined in mystery, when visions may be seen in church, a lonely cottage or dark forest; the night when all creation is united in the joy of the Nativity.  And this joy is everywhere - beside the cottage fire, in field and woods and in the heart of snow itself - the kingdom of Jack Frost"

Such a beautiful reflection of a simpler time in days gone by.  In this season of Advent I hope to try to capture of bit of this simple, slower approach to the season.  In fact, I have supplies sat out as we speak to spend an evening crafting and making a few gifts.  I think I'll watch Little Women, or perhaps Meet Me In St. Louis, which I actually prefer at Halloween, but it is just as lovely at Christmas.

And now, as this post has become quite long!  I'll close. But I wanted to leave you with this image of the first candle of Advent as it illuminates the darkness that surrounds it!  I think it is so lovely and such a sweet symbol of the light that we can shed to those who are struggling in their own darkness, whatever the reason, especially during the holiday season.  I pray that we each would find some small way to share the light and the good news of the Savior who will soon be among us!  The whole world waits in expectation!

“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.” 

 ― L.R. Knost

Until then, my friends, have a blessed evening!

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