Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pride and Prejudice: Tea Party Placecards

"If he does not come to me, then," said she, "I shall give him up for ever."
The gentlemen came; and she thought he looked as if he would have answered her hopes; but, alas! the ladies had crowded round the table, where Miss Bennet was making tea, and Elizabeth pouring out the coffee, in so close a confederacy that there was not a single vacancy near her which would admit of a chair. And on the gentlemen's approaching, one of the girls moved closer to her than ever, and said, in a whisper,
"The men shan't come and part us, I am determined. We want none of them; do we?"
Darcy had walked away to another part of the room. She followed him with her eyes, envied every one to whom he spoke, had scarcely patience enough to help anybody to coffee; and then was enraged against herself for being so silly!
"A man who has once been refused! How could I ever be foolish enough to expect a renewal of his love? Is there one among the sex, who would not protest against such a weakness as a second proposal to the same woman? There is no indignity so abhorrent to their feelings!"
-Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

I realize that quote has little to do with place cards. But it mentions tea, and I love that scene. So there.

We wanted to invite you all to a "Pride and Prejudice Tea Party." This post will be the first, and in it I will show you how to make some cute little Tea Party placecards.

I began with a basic shortbread sugar cookie. I didn't want a soft cookie, because it wouldn't be sturdy enough. I cut out rectangles and then sliced off the top two outer corners to make the shape of a tea bag. I baked and cooled these cookies.

and piped it on to each cookie, and left them to harden...

Then I printed out these Jane Austen silhouettes. I made them so that you can fold right down the horizontal middle there and then slice between each silhouette to have a double sided tea tag :)

I used an edible marker to write the guest names on the cookies...

Then I threaded regular old thread on to a needle and gently made a hole in the top of the cookie, ran it through to the tea tag, glued the back and front of the tea tag together, and voila! A cute little Pride and Prejudice Tea Placecard.

Now I will tell you the truth! 
Okay, technically everything I said above is true, but there was a break after I left the frosting to firm up. You see, I have several children. One of them is fond of climbing on counters. She's almost 2. And she loves frosting....

And I had 30 minutes until the party. So after I cried, I just set them aside and told the guests they WOULD have had cute little placecards, but instead I have a cute little baby covered in frosting. 


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pride and Prejudice: Bon Bon Living

"Oh! my dear Lydia," she cried, "when shall we meet again?"
"Oh, I don't know. Not these two or three years, perhaps."
"Write to me very often, my dear."
"As often as I can. But you know married women have never much time for writing. 
My sisters may write to me. They will have nothing else to do." 
~Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice Chapter 53 

Lydia Bennett has the brains of a sea cucumber, but I have to hand it to her on this one:
Married women truly are slammed for time.

It's not that marriage in and of itself is time consuming (unless you count the Phase 10 marathon/feud of 1996 that almost ended up with my husband and I in divorce court).  It's just that marriage leads to babies who lead to LOTS of meals, laundry, carpooling, homework, housecleaning, and diapers.  
So today, as I was simultaneously extracting the toilet water from my carpet and disinfecting the toddler who had dumped it there, I thought of the person who coined the image of "a housewife who sits around all day eating bon bons" and decided that they were single.  Male.  And without kids.

So while I may not have any time to sit around and eat bon bons, I HAVE at least discovered a fast, easy, and crowd-pleasing way to make them.

Here is a recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles. 
(My kids thought they had died and gone to heaven when they tasted these.  And the best part is that these don't use any eggs so that NO one has to die and go to heaven from Salmonella.)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles
(adapted from Taste of Home)

1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups flour
1 cup mini chocolate chips
chopped pecans (optional)
* 1 1/2 cups melted chocolate chips or almond bark for dipping 
Cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add flour and salt alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (optional).  Shape into 1-in. balls; place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Loosely cover and refrigerate until firm.  In a microwave, melt chocolate/candy coating; stir until smooth. Dip balls in coating; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm.  Makes 5 dozen.

And as if these didn't taste good enough on their own, they also look adorable when dolled up with a few sprinkles and swirls. 

I would suggest that you do a taste-test of your own to see how you like them, but we all know you will be too busy making these darlings to actually eat them.  Ah, the rub of "married life" . . .

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Pride and Prejudice: A Note of Thanks

"My dearest Lizzy will, I am sure, be incapable of triumphing in her better judgement, at my expense, when I confess myself to have been entirely deceived in Miss Bingley's regard for me. . . . I do not at all comprehend her reason for wishing to be intimate with me; but if the same circumstances were to happen again, I am sure I should be deceived again. Caroline did not return my visit till yesterday; and not a note, not a line, did I receive in the meantime."  
~ Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice Chapter 26

Everyone loves a thank you note.  There is something magical about a handwritten and sincere declaration of thanks.  Somehow seeing gratitude penned to paper makes all the thought or work or money or time spent on someone's behalf worth it. 

Of course, I say all of this as a complete hypocrite.  

For the hundreds of people that attended my wedding almost 20 years ago, I think I only managed to send out 10 thank you notes.  Yes, 10.  I know, I know.  I'm a horrible, ungrateful, miserable person with the self-discipline of a sloth.  If I could go back in time and change things, I would.  (While I was at it, I would also change my wedding dress, colors, and makeup.)  But I can't.  So the only choice I have now is to learn from my mistakes.

Well, this week was an opportunity to prove my thank-you-note-writing mettle.  It was teacher appreciation week at the elementary school.  I don't know about you, but I can't think of anyone who deserves a thank you note more than a teacher.

However, after spending ample time in my kids' classrooms this year, I also knew that this thank you note had to pack a real punch.  34 eight-year-olds in one classroom can be brutal.  Heaven knows I'm not up to the task.  So I decided to augment my thank you notes with chocolate.  (Which, really, shouldn't ALL thank you notes come with chocolate?)

I went to my favorite little cupcake bakery and grabbed two of these.  They are called "Lil' Devil Cupcakes."  They are dense devil's food cake cupcakes filled with cream and then topped with mounds of smooth buttercream.  Oh yeah.

I then attached a note to the top with colorful ribbon that read:

For you . . . 
Because we know being a teacher is no "cake walk"!
Thank you for all you do!

I'm sure it didn't make up for all the sass and silliness and smells that my little darlings have brought into the classroom, but at least I tried to gratefully acknowledge their teachers.

It's more than I can say to all those people who gave me the salad spinners, the waffle irons, the crock pots, and the cookbooks almost two decades ago.  Wherever you are, dear gifters, I thank you.

Sharing at . . .


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Pride And Prejudice: A Cure for the Common Cold

Had she found Jane in any apparent danger, Mrs. Bennet would have been very miserable; but being satisfied on seeing her, that her illness was not alarming, she had no wish of her recovering immediately, as her restoration to health would probably remove her from Netherfield. She would not listen therefore to her daughter's proposal of being carried home; neither did the apothecary, who arrived about the same time, think it at all advisable. After sitting a little while with Jane, on Miss Bingley's appearance and invitation the mother and three daughters all attended her into the breakfast parlour. Bingley met them with hopes that Mrs. Bennet had not found Miss Bennet worse than she expected.
"Indeed I have, Sir," was her answer. "She is a great deal too ill to be moved. Mr. Jones says we must not think of moving her. We must trespass a little longer on your kindness."

-Jane Austen, "Pride and Prejudice," Chapter ix

We were so excited. SO EXCITED for Pride and Prejudice month. Then everyone got sick. Everyone.

Just to be clear: our absence from blogging has nothing to do with the common cold. Both of our families seem to have licked a Walmart bathroom floor, or at least you would think that's what happened from the rounds of illness we are passing about.

My husband's job is one that requires talking all day. He can't talk right now. So he called in, and I made him this tea. He looked at me surprised, and remarked, "This is actually good!" He drank it all and 6 hours later requested more. It really works, and it tastes delicious.

If you are near a store that carries Twinings Lemon Ginger Herbal tea, just go get it. It's just as good, and it's easier. If you don't, here you go:

To 2 Cups of boiling water, add: The zest of 2 lemons, and about 1 inch of ginger root (I shred all of that). Let steep for 5 minutes. Strain and add about a tablespoon of honey, and squeeze in a half of one of the lemons you just zested. Check the sweetness, and enjoy!

Honey is a natural cough suppressant, and the rest of it is so soothing and lovely. This is also a perfect tea for morning sickness, due to the ginger.

Now go be healthy! We hope to be partying like it's 1813 before you know it!!
Yeah I know, I am a dork.

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