Valentine Tea…

Valentine Tea Party

The kids were very excited about Sunday's Valentine tea party. I was glad to have something to distract myself with; after last week, I needed to think about happier things. Beauty and charm refresh the soul.

I like my white tree, which I think I got for Easter last year; it serves double duty. Strung with silver heart garland (IKEA) and a few pink mercury glass hearts (PaperSource). Little glitter hearts on bamboo skewers by Kavya, who also helped polish the tiny silver vase. I like the multi-shade pink cookies -- start with white, ice, add a little pink, ice, add a little violet, ice, add a little burgundy, ice.

I was going to decorate them further, with mehndi-like lace patterns, but got tired. This will do for this year. I iced these with the dipping method, where you thin the icing with warm water (not too much), and then dip the cookies. Faster than piping them, though a bit messier, since I had to keep scraping off extra icing. :-)

Spray roses are a great deal for decorating your house. This is 1/3 of a $6 bunch; I plan to use the rest elsewhere. Milk jug from IKEA (it comes with a lid, so you can actually use it as a jug if you want.

I thought this was funny for Valentine's -- wine labels Monogamy, Entwine, and Menage a Trois.

Cheerful vinyl tablecloth (easy to wipe off for kid spills) from Target, and the magazine won't stay out there, but I felt I should pay homage to Martha, my inspiration. Yes, she has a staff for everything she does, but still -- I kind of adore her style.

This is new for me -- pickling eggs in beet juice. Last night, I boiled a large beet, cut up, in water; then took 1 c. water, 1 c. apple cider vinegar, 1 T peppercorns, and eight boiled and shelled eggs, and put them all in a tupperware. Refrigerate overnight.

This morning, pulled the eggs out, and they looked like this. Cool!

Sliced in half, they have a lovely pink rim to them, very Valentines-ish. Am going to devil them later (tea party is @ 3). :-)

This is really one of the easiest impressive party things you can do. You can either do the slightly tricky melting chocolate on the stovetop in a double boiler thing, or you can buy the Dolci Frutti stuff at the grocery store (usually right near the fruit) and melt it for 2 min in your microwave at half power, stirring every 30 seconds. And then dip and lay on wax paper, and you have delicious, impressive desserts.

Usually I just do chocolate, but this time, I bought the white chocolate too, and even used food color on the white to make a few pink ones. That went well enough. Sorry the pic is blurry!

But then I tried to do that fancy drizzle thing. Oops. The first layer of chocolate was fine (drizzled off a fork), thought not nearly as even as the store ones. My hand is not steady. The second layer of pink, though -- I'm not sure if the chocolate wasn't liquid enough (could have heated it a bit longer), or if my mistake was using a spoon. Big glops! You might want to practice on a spare sheet of wax paper first to avoid my mistake. I had a fair bit of leftover chocolate.

Still, enough of them came out decently that I could fill my little server. Pretty!

Even close up, the wobbly lines are kind of charming. :-)

The kids have cards to make for school, so we set up a kids-crafting area. (Adults welcome too.) :-)

The crate (from Target, the dollar bins) is full of stickers. Pink tapes from PaperSource are almost too fancy for kids, but ah well -- we'll let them use a bit. I hope they leave some for me. Doilies are always good. :-)

Little buckets also from Target's dollar bins, full of colored pencils, markers, and crayons, in pinks, reds, purples, and greys.

Scissors and glue are a must!

I already had all these stamp pads from my collage work (being an occasional artist means you have a lot of supplies), ditto the fancy papers. I did pick up a few themed stamps, which will hopefully last us some years. That tablecloth is vinyl, so we should be able to wipe down any mess. :-)

Meringue kisses from the grocery store (someday I'll try to make those), and raspberries stuffed with white chocolate chips. (The latter is one of Anand's favorites.)

I got the kids teddy bears for Valentine presents this year; Kavi picked the brown bear, and Anand got the cream one. From Osco, soft and charming.

I have to say, having gazillion pillows and pillow covers and blankets in the closet makes it easy to change out the decor for the various holidays. Also, I am prepared to host all my friends for the apocalypse.

When Kavi say the couch like this, she stopped and said, "Mommy, that's so beautiful!" Thanks, baby. It's nice that you appreciate it. :-)

Allison helped me make the heart on this shirt; you can only see half of it though, due to adorable child.

Anand is exceedingly fond of pink lemonade. He's drank close to his bodyweight in it.

Red valentine salad, yummy if you like bitter in your salad. I forgot the sliced radish that should be in here too. I could have made it even more red if I'd been a bit more careful chopping the red-leaf lettuce, to use only the red part. Recipe here: http://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2012/a-red-salad-for-valentines-day/

Anand eagerly waiting for his lemonade cup to be filled (again).

Along with the lemonade, we had blueberry-pomegranate juice and champagne, to make mimosas.

The grown-ups got to use the wine glasses (pink lemonade and mimosa, respectively).

I'm not sure I understand shaped ice cubes. Once you dump them in, they just look like other ice cubes floating around, no? Is there something I'm missing here?

I asked at the tea shop nearby for a tea that would brew pink. Apparently, anything with hibiscus in it will. This is Todd & Holland's Pink Kasmiri Chai: green tea, cinnamon chips, almonds, crushed green cardamom, cardamom seeds, hibiscus.

The glass teapot was my Valentine's present to myself. :-)

Melamine heart bowl from Target, good size for popcorn. I mixed in some dried cranberries, because I like the salty-sweet combo. And also, Valentines-ish. :-)

With all the sweets, I thought we should have some healthy options. This is just Greek yogurt with strawberries, but the silver servers make it fun.

Stephanie brought these -- love the sweet potato hearts! Also, delicious!

These were really popular, even with people who claimed they didn't like mushrooms. Marinate mushrooms in a mix of harissa, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and oregano, and roast or grill. The harissa really makes it -- a great spicy kick. Full recipe here: http://www.dinnersanddreams.net/2011/10/mushroom-skewers.html

In the background, you can glimpse the leftovers of some Kevin & Kavya-baked cheddar scones, which we served with sliced ham, dijon mustard, and homemade green pepper jelly. Delicious.

I thought these were great, but sadly, we had a lot of vegetarians and/or no-fish people tonight, so a fair number left over. But those of us who eat fish thought these were v. good. Wheat bread with salmon spread and sliced roasted beets. YUM.

Here's the finished version of the pink pickled devilled eggs. Quite popular, once people got over being scared of the pink!

Kavi says it was an awesome party, I love the stencil shirt I made, did you see my heart tights? come back soon, and oh, can I have another chocolate / cookie / candy? Just one?

As we were putting them to bed, Kevin said that he thought they were now both half sugar.

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