Wednesday, August 13, 2008

MHA Victorian Tea in Hutchinson Kansas

I have tons of wonderful photos of people enjoying the MHA (Mental Health America of Reno County) Victorian Tea this past Saturday. This is one of our major fundraisers each year. Greg took photos for me and captured so many great moments.

When people come in the door, they stop and register for a drawing and find out where they're seated. Phyllis, who's closest to the camera behind the table, has worked almost every tea with me. She has become quite the expert.

Our mission is to encourage positive mental health and it's not difficult to see that is definitely happening during the tea. People have a good time.

My friends, Teresa and Susan, were having fun.

Susan drove down from Valley Falls, and brought our friend, Cynthia from Horton with her. I'm guessing they would get the prize for most distance traveled.

It worked out that I had an extra place at the MHA's table, and so Teresa got to sit with Susan and Cynthia, which was great. We've all been to tea together in Hiawatha.

Precisely at 3 p.m. we open the doors so people can look at the tables before tea starts. They are all decorated by different businesses, organizations and individuals. I'm going to show each one. The variety is amazing.

I'll start with the MHA table I did. My theme was Lavendar and Lace.

All That Jazz did a table again this year. They are creative gals. Their theme was daisies.

Carrie Lynn's Flowers did a really elaborate table with a Tea Party on the Beach theme.

Altrusa did a table again this year. Their colors are blue and white...

Shanna Soukup, a former board member, did a table with a butterfly theme.

Absolutely Flowers did a table with help from Andrea Ewert.

Andrea also did the Thanksgiving Table for the Hutchinson High Counseling Center.

The Hutchinson Recreation Commission Elmdale 50+ program did a beautiful table titled, "Gather Me The Rose."

Nancy Murry did a table for Friendship Force that was a 12 Days of Christmas theme.

The Kansas Underground Salt Museum did a table with - appropriately enough - a salt theme.

We are very fortunate to be able to hold our tea at Grace Episcopal Church in Hutchinson. They have been so incredibly gracious in letting us use their facility for the past three years. It is a wonderful setup and they're very generous to host us. I'd like to say a public thank you to the staff and congregation there for their kindness.

Our menu is different each year, although there are some standards I always have. This year it was:

Tea Menu

Sandwiches and Savories
Cucumber Sandwich
Tuna on multi-grain Bread
Egg Salad on Wheat
Carrot Chip
Calla Lily design with herb mix
Pimento Cheese on Rye
Tomato Boat

Bread Course
Scones with Clotted Cream
(from Metropolitan Coffee)
Pumpkin Bread

Sugar Cookie
Ginger Cookie
Orange Cake
Lemon Curd Tart
Chocolate Cupcake

We plate the food in the kitchen on clear plastic plates, then we sit those on top of people's china. That way we never have to touch the china people use to decorate the tables. I don't want to take a chance on breaking anything as it's often people's family heirlooms.

Precisely at 3:30 we start tea and begin bringing out the food and the tea. Board members and volunteers help make it all happen. Here Andrea and Sheila are preparing. Also helping Saturday were Hazel, Nancy and Gary - as well as bunches of volunteers.

We had wonderful entertainment this year. Sheila Lisman, a local writer, read some of her work. She had everyone laughing hysterically more than once.

She did one piece about hats, which was very appropriate because we had the Red Hot Lady Bugs joining us for tea.They were incredibly gracious ladies.

My friend, Sondra, came for tea...

and brought her neighbor, Kay.

I'm so fortunate to have great board members who help with the tea in multiple ways from finding people who want to do tables, to pouring tea and cleaning up, and everything in between. Gary Hughes even frosted the sugar cookies that morning and then came back to pour tea.

Sheila poured tea, too.

I love this photo of Joyce Nelson. She was seated at a table with Daisies as the theme, and look at the band on her hat. I had no idea what she was wearing when I made the table assignments, of course. To top it off, she won the prize at her table, which included some dishes with daisies on them.

Mary Hildebrand is the queen of her red hat group. You can tell by the little crown nestled into her hat.

Nancy Murry made the scones and also helped pour tea.

Sonja came with Juanita Bacon. I really like both these ladies.

My friend, Jan, was able to come, too...

Andrea and Linda were having fun... even before things got underway. Love that!

Marcella and Scarlett came for tea.

All in all, people had a good time. At least they seemed to.

I really enjoy that we create a memorable experience for people, but it does wear me out. I cook all the food except the scones. And, this time I bought the mini-eclair. It's a lot of work to cook that much food for 60 people - 62 this time - but I do love the look of it all on the plate. I'm still in love with those mini pumpkin bread loaves.

And, all those little touches that make the event work take time and energy. But, if you don't take care of the little details it's not a well done event. I think I mentioned these little vignettes a few days ago. It's those little things that become significant in their whole.

If I could figure out how to make it so I'm not the only one working on those little details it would be much easier. But, oh my goodness, I have so much help. The Volunteer Center gets a lot of volunteers for me. Amy came and helped on Saturday, and board members jump right in. Not to mention Greg taking photos.

We also had help this year from Zoomdweebies Tea Bar in Wichita, Kansas. They donated the tea, and it was wonderful. We had many comments from folks about it.

They're also offering a 15% discount to MHA folks through the end of the month for orders through the website. Just put in MHA as the discount code. It was delicious and I really appreciated their donation. We serve a large quantity of tea. We have served as many as 400 cups of tea. I'm adamant about keeping the cups full.

I brewed it this year using a concentrate formula so the water was freshly boiling when it was served. Here's the recipe I use:

Tea Concentrate
for 100 Servings:
1 gallon of boiling water
2 cups loose tea

Make the tea and let cool to room temperature, strain at least twice and then pour into sealed containers and store in refrigerator. Use 2 tablespoons of tea concentrate for each cup of tea, filling the remainder of the cup with hot water. So, if you're using a six cup teapot, that is 3/4 cups of concentrate into the pot, then fill it the rest of the way with hot water.

I implore you, please, learn how long to brew the particular tea you are using so you can do it properly. Don't over-brew or it will be bitter. And strain multiple times with a tea strainer, not a kitchen strainer.

If you're using multiple teapots, you'll need to figure out how many cups each one holds so you'll know how much concentrate to use. This is where that algebra will come in handy!

I was really fortunate I had a couple of volunteers who took this job to heart and did it perfectly this time.

Some of the volunteers were talking about me before we opened the doors - not in a bad way. I, who am not a detail person at all, turn into a stickler for every little detail at tea. It's everything - from how the plates are put together (all identical), to how they're placed on the table (cucumber sandwich at the guest's belly button), to how we have to be very quiet in the kitchen so we don't disturb people at the tables near there, to every teacup handle being at 4 o'clock, and every chair being an equal distance from the tables.

I'm convinced all of those little details are what create a memorable event. We gave people an opportunity for relaxation and bonding - two things that are definitely good for mental wellness.

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Linda Jennings said...

Lovely! You certainly did a lot of work on this tea and it shows!!! Congratulations on a successful and fun event.

Patsy Terrell said...

Thanks, Linda. I'm still recovering a bit, but it was a wonderful event.

Rosemary said...

What great photos, and lovely tablescapes! Everyone looked so happy! Kudos Patsy!

Patsy Terrell said...

Thanks... It is lovely to look at all those smiling faces. We're in the business of positive mental health and tea seems to encourage that! :)