London with The Queen Mum

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

 

This week confirmed my suspicion that I was indeed born in the wrong century and quite possibly, on the wrong continent.  My own “happily ever after” began 18 years ago when I met my beloved in England while we were at school, and the beauty of this country still holds a special piece of my heart with a thousand magical memories which we added to this week…..my sweet mother, turning 70, invited her girls to celebrate this monumental birthday with “tea in London”.  I was made for this life (well, aside from the cold!).… The astounding architecture, rich history, romance and relics, pomp and circumstance, those adorable British accents!!…it still takes my breath away!

The plan has been in the works for a year.  Our Daddy sourced a perfect flat in the heart of London to rent for 4 nights putting his girls within walking distance of Hyde park and Oxford street window shopping.  The time flew past, but not a moment was wasted from evening strolls along the Thames River at sunset, to gusty, breezy double decker bus rides, sitting through mass in St. Pauls and gallivanting around galleries.

Being quite the versatile ladies, we spent leisurely afternoons in tea rooms, and visited local evening pubs where we we’d discard layers and warm ourselves by way of roaring fires and hearty food.

After walking home and thawing, we’d don our pjs, pour some wine and prop up our feet for The Crown series – giving substance and meaning to all the attractions and landmarks we were seeing!

Our mother is the queen of tea parties….and the queen of parties for that matter!  It was the tradition growing up that she’d bring a tea tray with rock sugar and a cute creamer pitcher and something sweet up to our bedroom for slumber parties with friends or on birthday eves or when we were sick and bedridden.  That tea tray has served us thousands of times.  How fitting to have a 4 day celebration and see her waited on and treated like the “queen mum” that she is!  High tea was a must!  Check out our review posts on the a charming morning spent at Betty Blythe Tea Room and high society afternoon tea at The Dorchester!

  Because, “when in Rome”!!

Hard to imagine a more extravagant, memorable, enjoyable 4 days with some of the people I love most! These opportunities dont come around every day, so we made the most of every moment and are combing through thousands of photographs. (Kindly indulge me as I download here.) Tho Ive made a handful of stops in London over the years of living here, there and everywhere, this was the first time I felt I properly got to “do” London!

Id say the only low-light was nearly getting my camera confiscated and us kicked out of St. Pauls Cathedral.  Overcome by the beauty, I failed to take note of the dozens of “NO PHOTOGRAPHY” signs posted everywhere! oops!  Yep, that’d be me embarrassing everyone raising a scene in a 300 year old cathedral!   Note to self….must pay better attention!  I was however, not the only one whose camera was a nuisance.  My sister managed to bring our bus screeching to a halt and the driver came huffing up the stairs to the top to scold her for standing and taking photos (which we’d already been doing for 2 days straight!)  Apparently these sisters are a bit camera crazy – but the pictures are worth it!

So thankful for my sweet man who was a single parent for a few days to give me this time with my mom and sisters (Eden’s first night away from Mommy!!)…..and for my daddy who gifted us this stay….and especially for our mother – for the 70 years she’s so intentionally poured into the lives of those around her and the devotion and dedication to her family. If anyone deserved the royal treatment, it was her!  Trip of a lifetime for all four of us!  Sweetest mother-daughter-sister memories!

Our Classical Christmas

Friday, January 5, 2018

The large yellow house with the wide white porch has candles lit in the windows and wreaths hung with red bows.  Beckoning you inside is a pathway illuminated with glowing lanterns and the smell of cider in the crock pot greets you before you step over the threshold.  Vintage Christmas books from my childhood are close at hand by couches where cozy throws invite you to snuggle up under the sprawling 15 foot Christmas tree adorned with huge silver balls and white twinkle lights.
Here the hearth fire is always burning and the coffee pot is never empty and the Christmas playlist in the background enhances the ambiance.  Mother has been at work for weeks prepping all our favorite holiday dishes and stashing away sweets in tins on the sideboard.
The door constantly revolves with suitcases and baby cribs and wrapped gifts being lugged in by uncles and aunts. The squeals of cousins reuniting and thundering footsteps amplify the constant noise as little ones pair off in twos and threes and scamper off to the trampoline or the game room.
Board games are pulled out.  Cookie trays are passed around.  Laughter ensues.
The Santa mugs, the sentinel nutcrackers, the greens gathered in every vase; the duchess of decor has left no corner bare or undressed.  Tables are set with Spode Christmas china and linens and festive centerpieces.
Snack baskets and “pillow presents” grace beds where each person will lay their head tonight.
This….this is what home-for-chrismtas looks like!!

We’ve spent more Christmases out of the country than at “home”, and we’ve made our own memories and created new traditions as our family grows and our life has led us down distant roads.  But, the nostalgia and sentiment of the season always leaves me a bit “homesick” at this time of year and this Christmas was beautifully memorable and fun to take our Eden home for the holidays for the first time!!

Grateful.  Just so grateful for family.  For siblings who are my favorite people.  For the beauty of 4 generations gathered.  For cousin-best-friends for my children.  But most of all for the reason we celebrate!!
Grateful for Emmanuel
…God with us.

Grandmoni and Grandenny

Eden and his buddy cousin Roman

Everyone loves Uncle Adam

Christmas Eve

Christmas nightgowns from Santa

Obligatory Christmas Morning photo

Aspiring artist and her artsy aunt Katherine

Our lil drummer boy LOVES his drum

Cousins and 97 year old great-grandpa!

Siblings and spouses

 

Columbia City Ballet and The Nutcracker

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

We wanted to share one of the annual highlights of our Christmas season…
The Nutcracker is a timeless tradition beautifully carried on through the Columbia City Ballet in which this company (artistically directed by the highly acclaimed William Starrett) just celebrated their 50th year anniversary performance of The Nutcracker.   A Broadway-like production of the Christmas classic!  This is Columbias Koger Center for the Arts longest running production and boasts a full professional cast, set, costumes and choreography!

We began our afternoon at a Nutcracker Tea, hosted in a grand ballroom at the Koger Center where attendees are treated to a lavish spread of cakes, cookies, spreads and cheeses.

Tiny tea cakes and cheese straws, cupcakes and gingerbread, fruit and finger sandwiches, and hot tea, punch and beverage options.  Tables are laid with assorted mis-matched porcelain tea cups lending to fun conversations and showing off chosen cups and varied vintages.

Young attendees learn to “take tea” like little ladies!  From the youngest tiny dancers, to the moms and grandmothers, this is a girls day out no one will soon forget!  You cant imagine the fun my sister Katherine and I had spending the afternoon with my 5 girls all glitzed and glammed up for high tea and a ballet!!


Chair covers, real linen table cloths, color themed tables and bedazzled centerpieces made for a classy celebration and set the tone for a spectacular afternoon.

Gigi was wide eyed as pageant girls in their stiletto heels and sparkly tiaras waited graciously on our tables and hosted us attentively.

And when principal dancers made appearances to sign autographs, the girls were in awe!!  Gigi and Evie made rounds getting signatures from the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Snow Queen and other Nutcracker starlets.  Company dancers patiently answered their inquisitive notions such as “do pointe shoes hurt?” and “are those your real curls?”  The Columbia City Ballet teas (of which there are more to come!) provide attendees with a “backstage pass” experience in which the veil is lifted and young girls get a peek into the beauty and dedication of meeting real-life-dancers!

As tea concluded, we made our way to the theatre to find our seats.  Ive seen the Columbia City Ballet Nutcracker performance many years and it never disappoints!!  But this year, their 50th anniversary celebration, was exceptional!  A real live unicorn stole the show and fresh creativity abounded with set, staging and choreography.  We feasted our eyes on the the sweet soiree as dancers retold the timeless story.  Spanish chocolate, Arabian coffee, Chinese tea, candy canes, gingersnaps,  Neapolitan ice cream, and of course the Sugar Plum Fairy performed by the talented and illustrious Regina Willoughby who takes the stage this year for her final performances before retirement as a legend!

The Columbia City Ballet thrives on the hard work and dedication not only of its talented dancers, cast and directors, but also from the unparalleled devotion of its volunteers.  Looking for a way to invest yourself in 2018?  Consider becoming a volunteer and supporting the arts through giving time to the Columbia City Ballet!!  The company boasts a full performance schedule for the 2018 calendar year.

Upcoming performances: 

Information about Midsummer’s Night Dream

Information about Bod & Movement Explored

Information about Cleopatra

Information about Off the Wall

Ticket Booking

***There is a similar FAIRY TEA coming up on January 27th at 1:30 pm in collaboration with A Midsummer Nights Dream ballet performance!!  Book your tickets now for another unforgettable mother-daughter girls-day-out!
Contact Katie Watson with questions: 803-397-1156
Or order tickets to the performance and request a setting at the tea HERE.***