Saturday, March 12, 2016

Celebrate Romance Every Day: SOS Aloha 6th Anniversary (Part 2): An Old Fashioned Tea Party

There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea. - Henry James

Last week, I shared how I discovered romance books in the Netherlands (link).  Following our NATO assignment, my family moved to Fort Meade, Maryland. I worked part time, enabling me to volunteer with the Officers' Spouses' Club.

In January 2007, Fort Meade celebrated its 90th Anniversary - the spouses' club polished its silver for the gala.  This inspired the post commander to suggest the spouses' club host an Old Fashioned Tea Party. As the Vice President for Social Events, I took the reigns to execute her idea.  I recruited spouses of senior officers to host tables using their own tea sets. They took it one step further to create themes:

- Bal-TEA-more table hosted by an Army spouse as Wallis Simpson, a native of Charm City)
- Scotland Forever hosted by a Navy spouse who lived in Alba
- Boston Tea Party hosted by an Army spouse from Bean Town
- The Best Damn Scones table hosted by a Canadian spouse
- Children's Tea Party hosted by an Army spouse with a miniature tea set

Duchess of Bedford
Public Domain (link)

As my friends embraced the themes, I researched the history of afternoon tea.  From Historic UK (link),

Afternoon tea was introduced in England by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, in the year 1840. The Duchess would become hungry around four o'clock in the afternoon. The evening meal in her household was served fashionably late at eight o'clock, thus leaving a long period of time between lunch and dinner. The Duchess asked that a tray of tea, bread and butter and cake be brought to her room during the late afternoon. This became a habit of hers and she began inviting friends to join her.

I named Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, as the honorary hostess. As a fan of historical romance, I was familiar with English titles and sought to educate the other spouses. I located a "brief run down" of English titles from romance author Jo Beverly (link). I contacted Jo to ask her permission to reprint the article for the tea party. Jo not only gave me permission, she also donated two books to giveaway. Jo's generosity inspired me to invite romance authors from the Washington Romance Writers (link). I was over the moon when many accepted my invitation, including Binnie Syril Braunstein, Diane Gaston, Sally MacKenzie, Cathy Maxwell, Mary Jo Putney, Tracy Anne Warren, Hope Tarr, and Rebecca York. I also invited Kathryn Falk, Lady of Barrow and founder of RT Book Reviews - she took the train from New York.

I encouraged the spouses to dress the part by offering one raffle ticket for each "vintage" item, including  hats, gloves, pearls, and "must haves" in a purse, such as compact, atomizer, and linen handkerchief.  My appeal was too successful that I had to limit spouses to 10 raffle tickets - they were all decked out for the occasion!

Finally, one of the spouses researched the genealogy of Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, and discovered she was a distant cousin of General George G. Meade, the civil war hero and namesake of the post.  It was fate!

This event demonstrated that readers want to connect with authors, laying the foundation of my blog to come.

General Meade, third from left, in 1863
Commanders of the Army of the Potomac
Public Domain (link)

I am giving away a book choice from my convention stash.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  What is your favorite flavor of tea?  Mine is Chamomile.

2.  Comments are open through Saturday, March 19, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, March 20.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Check out the Old Fashioned Tea Party in the Fort Meade Soundoff at this link.

Next week:  SOS Aloha's 6th Anniversary (part 3):  Andrews AFB, RT, and RWA


  1. I prefer just plain, ordinary black tea. With a dash of milk thank you.

  2. Earl Grey tea is my favorite!

  3. What a wonderful idea for the base anniversary. I miss the creativity and enjoyment of the activities put on by base wives. The monthly coffees and luncheons brought out good participations and let everyone run with their ideas. You certainly scored with the wealth of authors available in the area or at least close enough to participate. Too bad they didn't do something similar while my husband was stationed at Andrews AFB. Of course with the pace of life in the DC area, id didn't participate in activities on base as much as I had at other assignments. I am enjoying your anniversary blogs.

  4. What a wonderful post. This was a great idea. I'm more of a coffee drinker but when I do drink tea, it's usually a strong black tea.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  5. Not a tea drinker. Only coffee

  6. peppermint for me. Your event sounds like it was wonderful!!! Thanks for sharing the details!

  7. I like mine very natural, I just drink black tea. Very soothing

  8. I am not a tea drinker but like to go to tea parties as I can have my coffee and enjoy the sandwiches and desserts.

  9. What a wonderful post! It is amazing how things work out so beautifully sometimes.
    I like unsweetened iced tea. I drink it all the time :D

  10. I too am usually a coffee drinker but in the last few years I've been enjoying tea more. I always have it in Chinese restaurants. I like to experiment now but can't say I have a particular favorite as yet.

  11. I really only drink black tea (PG Tips), with milk and and sugar. Thanks for such a lovely post, and I loved seeing all the vintage items.

  12. I have to stick to decaf teas and enjoy Earl Grey & some of the flavored teas such as Peach and Black Raspberry.

  13. I've always like a strong black Irish tea - that's what my grandmother always had. But then I heard Dame Judy Dench loved Assam tea, so I tried that - it's lovely!

  14. I like raspberry, peppermint, or chamomile tea the best.

  15. What a tea party! That had to have been so much fun and rewarding to see the turnout...especially with everyone dressed up!

    My current favorite is made by Harney & Sons, a black tea blend called Hot Cinnamon Spice.

  16. I like black teas such as English breakfast, Earl Grey, etc...

    Looks like y'all had fun!


  17. I don't drink tea I'm a Milo lady lol

  18. I like plain old Lipton.
    Karen T.

  19. I enjoy a variety of teas, especially lemon or orange spice tea.

  20. Raspberry tea

  21. That was a very fine day in all ways, Kim! I was so glad you made it happen, and that it gave me a window into the military life.

  22. For ice tea - regular black. Hot tea, kinda depends on my mood. I drink a lot of orange tea and peppermint teas but I also love Earl Grey.

  23. I don't drink a whole lot of tea. Sometimes I have tried the sleepy time vanilla tea before going to bed.

  24. I love Peppermint tea but I also love trying all different kinds of teas