Have a cuppa tea, y’all

11 01 2009

At long last…photos from Sue and Barbara’s December 14 Christmas Tea at Sue’s house in Huntsville, Alabama. Sue and Barbara are pictured in the bright green and red polka-dotted aprons that Barbara commissioned just for the event. And before we get started, thank you, Sue, for including me in this special event (and for flying me to Huntsville, too!). It was a pleasure “breaking scones” and getting to know Barbara and your new friends and neighbors in Huntsville. Now stop dawdling and start planning the spring tea!

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Top photo: Sue created the beautiful wreath that graces their front porch entrance. Kitchen duty photos: I attempted to help her make sandwiches but she was so picky with her exacting crust trimming procedures that I happily went back to decorating duty. I may be good at some things, but apparently trimming neat edges on tea sandwiches is not one of them!

Her first decorating assignment for me—I got to decorate her Christmas tree in the living room without any restrictions; she even let me pick out new decorative elements (faux feathers, gold pinecones, glittery sprays, silk poinsettias) from the Trees N Trends store earlier in the morning—I must say, there is nothing more fun than decorating on someone else’s dime!)

Sue knows I prefer decorating to playing in the kitchen. (She’s the one who bought me a handpainted wooden sign to go over the stove. It reads, “I kiss better than I cook.”) Admittedly, I’ll never dethrone Martha Stewart or Paula Deen, but check out some of my past creations at a small dinner party in June, Chocoholic Party 2007, Chocoholic Party 2008 (with more photos and my friend Karen’s yummy cheese straw recipe), and our favorite event, the annual Pesto Fest. The Fall 2008 Pesto Fest was sadly canceled due to incessant rain in our area. This Italian-themed event must be outdoors for the proper ambience. Fiddle-dee-dee, 2009 is another year!

Before decorating commenced, Sue presented several plastic bins of ornaments, tassels, fabric, candles, candleholders, and roll after roll of ribbon for me to play with (an artist must have her supplies, you know!). After I finished glamourizing the chandeliers over the tables, I checked in on Sue’s sandwich-making process later and felt compelled to point out that not all of her sandwiches were visually appealing—she’s pointing to the not-so-perfect ones in the fourth photo. What would Martha think?

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Decorations throughout the house, including the mantel where Sue and Steve displayed their new painting, a gift from me…and a southern holiday greeting on the napkins

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Top photo, left: Barbara makes the rounds, visiting with friends. Top photo, right: Sue in the laundry room, cranking out endless pots of hot water for tea. Bottom photo: Guests mingle at the main table.

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The dessert table was a big draw…especially with Barbara’s original peanut butter and chocolate cake topped with peanut butter cups (as if it needed more sugar!)—I told Barbara she could make a fortune selling that cake! Also on hand…pecan divinity, various cookies, and a chocolate fondue for strawberry dipping. Bottom photo: Sue and Biddy

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Top photo: Billie June and Shirley. Bottom photo: Sue and Barbara present the tea-inspired gift basket to Anita, the winning ticket holder.

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Top photo: Each guest received a beautiful homemade teapot-shaped sugar cookie as a parting gift. Bottom photo, left: Barbara showcases her culinary creations. Bottom photo, right: Lisa and Sue

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Top photo: Rebecca (Cathy’s sister-in-law), Lois (Cathy’s mom), Cathy, and Diana. Middle photo: Barbara, Biddy, Julia and Sue. Bottom photo: Biddy and Julia

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Top photo: Debbie (Sue’s neighbor), Sue and Kari (Sue’s hairdresser). Middle photo: Jenny and Sue (Jenny moved to Huntsville from Virginia about five years ago. Sue actually met her at New Hope Church in Alexandria years ago.) Bottom photo: Sue’s sister Gaye entertains guests.

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Top photo: Diana, Lois, Barbara and Fran. Middle: Gaye and Lisa. Bottom photo: Billie June and Barbara

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Top photo: Laura and Sue’s mom, Wanda. Bottom photo, left: Sue displays one of Barbara’s handmade cookies. Bottom photo, right: I was going to make some small ornament earrings for Wanda and Sue said they needed to be much, much larger since her mother likes wearing flashy jewelry. So Wanda, being ever the willing participant, actually wore these at the end of the party (they’re lighter than they look).

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Top photo: Sue with her lovely neighbor, Sandy. Middle: Cathy, Lois, and Rebecca. Bottom photo: a partial group photo

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Top photo: Wanda, Barbara, Sue and Gaye. Middle: A gathering of tea-cozy-covered teapots. Bottom photo: Quick! What else can you do with a tea cozy? Allow me to introduce you to Laura and Mary Ingalls and their uppity friend Nellie Oleson.

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When Michael and I were vacationing with Sue and Wanda in the Pacific Northwest last fall (see multiple postings about our funfilled trip here and here), Wanda mentioned that she had always wanted a “smooth cake.” (I knew she meant a fondant-covered cake.) Sue told Barbara about Wanda’s desire and the day after the tea party, Sue drove over to Barbara’s house to pick up a “smooth cake” she had made especially for Wanda. (Now that’s pure southern hospitality in action, y’all!) In the photo above, Wanda shows off her “smooth cake.” Take notice that she’s wearing a fun engraved bracelet that reads, “Does this bracelet make me look fat?—a gift from a friend. (You can buy that cute bracelet here. Warning—it’s not costume-jewelry priced…and $25 for shipping a resin bracelet? Hmmmmm…)

And finally, just in case anyone is interested—I was born in Selma, Alabama. The city is best known for the Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights marches that began in 1965.

Something that Sue’s guests and new friends might not know about her—when I first met Sue in 2003, she was working on a tea-inspired page-a-day calendar and was having a not-so-good experience getting it designed. (Sue was my neighbor, just a few houses away—I met her when I called about the community’s garden-open-house event). The calendar was a project produced by her company, Tea Memories. Since I’m a graphic designer, I volunteered to help her with the project. It was fun to design and produce and we became the best of friends during the process. I found mention of the 2003 and 2004 calendars on www.teaandcoffee.com (scroll down to the 4th entry and read about the project).

Sue has returned the creative favor numerous times by serving as a most professional model for photographs for publications and magazines I design. Below are shots I did this past spring for Hearing Loss Magazine, a publication of the Hearing Loss Association of America.

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© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


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6 responses

11 01 2009
Betty Ferguson

Loved looking at the tea party pics…as always, good job, Cyndy. You and Sue are blessed to have one another. God Bless You, Betty

11 01 2009
cindydyer

Hi Betty!
Thanks for the comment. Hope you and Ken can join us for this year’s Chocoholic Party!

12 01 2009
Hershel Dyer

Cindy, if you folks enjoyed this bash even half as much as these photos and this narrative indicate, then y’all (a bit of Alabama-speak there) had a memorable get-together, a virtual happening. Thanks for the posting — it’s the next best thing to being there.

A special note for Sue’s mom: Wanda, those earrings are the perfect match for that NAUGHTY pin you’re wearing. You rock!

Incidentally, in using that exclamation point I violated a long-standing personal rule — it’s a Christmas present just for you! (Oops, I did it again! And again! And . . . . . )

14 01 2009
Barbara Gibson

Cindy,

You are an amazing woman!!! I enjoyed meeting and getting to know you so much at the tea party. I can see why Sue loves and talks about you so much.

Thanks for all your hard work at the tea party. The pictures are so good. I can’t wait to email the pictures to my friends that did not get to come to the tea party. I also wanted to thank you for my earrings. I got alot of compliments on them.

I think you need to come on down to Huntsville, AL to live. Since you were born in Selma, AL., you are already a southern bell. We could turn the city upside down. Ha! Ha!

9 02 2009
Donna Kuhnau

Cindy:
I am trying to reconnect with Sue Cummings (a dear friend of my daughter Tamara, who passed away 3 yrs ago) When Sue moved I lost her address and email address due to computer problems. My daughter Twila found Sue in your blog.
If you could help me connect with Sue it would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you and God bless your day.
Donna

9 02 2009
cindydyer

Hi Donna,

I just sent you Sue’s contact information via e-mail. I had the pleasure of meeting your daughter, Tamara, about 4-5 years ago. She fixed dinner for Michael, me, and Sue at Sue’s home. The salad had a mushroom-based salad dressing (I don’t normally like mushrooms!), and I thought I’d be daring and give it a try. It was wonderful! It’s funny, but every time I think of Tamara, I think about that new experience trying something with mushrooms! Oh, and I remember she was tall! And especially that Sue was very fond of her, too. Sue will be very happy to hear from you. I just called her and told her I gave her contact information to you. She’s looking forward to hearing from you.

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