Monday, December 13, 2010

Miss Betty Monday And The Party's Over (updated)

Miss Betty was absolutely marvelous at entertaining, and unlike yours truly, she almost always did all the food herself.  I am caterer-dependent, but I am completely upfront about it.  I always feel like it's comforting to my guests that they know they are not eating anything I have been responsible for in the kitchen....LOL

Much of our entertaining over Christmas is done in the library....
If I am doing a seated dinner, I will use many rooms, including the library. In this room I will often use Miss Betty's round card tables for the extra seating.  Although the main skirts are different, the top cloths are Miss Betty's original organdy cloths.....very delicate and difficult to iron, but always so pretty!  (The vintage pictures below are Christmas Eve 1972, when Miss Betty put the table top extenders on, set up the tables in our sunroom and had some dear friends for dinner.... ...)

While Miss Betty almost always had seated dinner parties for six to twelve people at home, we tend to entertain larger groups and so often use the dining room table for a cocktail buffet.  This was the set up for Party #4 this season (this past Saturday), a Christmas party for one of my husband's offices.  We used one of our favorite Richmond caterers (A Sharper Palate) and were so pleased with the outcome! 
One of the things A Sharper Palate does, which I love, is place a menu on the buffet table.  I have food allergies and it really helps me to know which offerings have shellfish in them, because you can't always tell (unless you taste....and then it's too late)!
Miss Betty was there in spirit as I set the table, because she and I had the same silver pattern, English King by Tiffany & Co.  Ours is all mixed together now, and I love using it....because there are so many wonderful memories attached to it!  I love mixing it with other silver, too, and often use it with my Reed and Barton Burgundy.  This belonged to my great aunt Helen, who was like a second grandmother to me.  She gave me her silver when I was married, and every time I use it, I think of her. (I will write about her sometime soon, because I know you will love her.  Aunt Helen was never married and lived in the historic family house until she passed away in 1999, a few months short of her 106th birthday. She was awesome!!)
Sunday afternoon after church, we turned things around and reset the table for tea! This set up brought back even more fond family memories, as I used my great-grandmother's tea set and my mother-in-law's punchbowl set. It was a marvelous afternoon with great friends, benefiting a very worthy non-profit.

The food was wonderful....and I actually made a couple of things to supplement the extras the caterer had brought the night before. (Miss Betty's Cucumber Tea Sandwiches and my Classic Preppy Sweet Tea Punch.*)  Although I don't have photos of the food, my additions must have been good, too, because they were almost all gone at the end of the afternoon!
The only thing that Miss Betty might not have approved of in all of this was that I used (very pretty) paper Christmas napkins. For the first three parties, it was all linen, but for parties #4 and #5, I had to opt for paper.....Just couldn't launder any more napkins and face the rest of the holiday season! LOL

Just have a little bit of clean-up left today and a trip to the post office to send the last of the family Christmas presents......

But look what we woke up to!!!!  Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!

* Miss Betty's Cucumber Tea Sandwiches:  Pepperidge Farm Thin White Bread, spread with Chive and Onion Cream Cheese.  Place four thin slices of a peeled cucumber on the bread, both slices of which are spread with the cream cheese.  Cut the crusts off and slice into rectangles.

* Classic Preppy Sweet Tea Punch:  Into a large punch bowl pour one two litre bottle of Canada Dry Ginger Ale, one two litre bottle of tea (the tea you find with the Coca-Cola products is what I use), and one can of pineapple juice.  Add ice (I use a pitcher full of small cubes....) and float slices of lemon on top!  For a more grown-up version of this punch, just substitute champagne for the ginger ale!!


  1. Looks like a fabulous party...the punch sounds yummy! xx

  2. Aunt Helen lived to 106? My goodness! What an accomplishment - my goal is 105.

  3. What a beautiful table of food. I love the walls in your dining room. I like that you have a menu for people who have food allergies or just food dislikes. Thanks for posting the recipe for the cucumber sandwiches. I never thought of using the Pepperidge Farm thin sliced bread. I'll have to try that next time. I can never get enough stories of "Miss Betty".

  4. I love cucumber sandwiches! I've been looking for a good recipe for them for a long time! :)