Literary Dinner | Persuasion
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Since we live a bit farther apart now (seriously we were so spoiled living 4 minutes from each other all those years!), our routine has been thrown off-kilter, so we've been slowly setting into a new normal. We're back to getting together weekly, and with winter hanging on by a thread, we're slowly coming out of our hibernation and feeling our moods lifting and motivation returning. On the final day of spring break, we gathered up our little ones as the sun broke through, and agreed we could attempt an impromptu afternoon tea for our buddy read of Jane Austen's Persuasion.
Persuasion was one of the books that Anne recommended to us on our episode of What Should I Read Next, and we have been waiting for a while to bring it to life. Between a new baby, weather, and holidays, the timing never seemed to quite align. On a mild spring day last week, we were deep in conversation about books, the blog, and life, when somehow we ended up discussing Persuasion again. As the conversation started to gain steam we suddenly stopped, looked at each other, and thought...do we want to do an afternoon tea for Persuasion? Right now? Could we do it, we wondered? "Maybe-- let's try," we said! After all, what's the worst that could happen?
While we often have a solid plan as well as Michaela's arsenal of home decor to style our dinner parties with, we were at Rikki's that afternoon, so we spontaneously rifled through her eclectic mix of vintage, hand-me-down, and rustic feeling decor to pull this one off. Our goal has always been to ensure our dinner parties are an easy, achievable thing that we do and hope to inspire others to do. While sometimes we pull out all the stops, we wanted to make sure we could still pull one off without a planning process or any additional expenses. We both took off digging through Rikki's cabinets and gathered up items that matched the concept in our heads.
This afternoon tea was based on the general feel of the novel. Unlike many of Austen's heroines who are rich, outgoing, or spunky (or all three, *ahem* Emma), Anne Elliot is decidedly less flashy. She's a much more reserved woman; she likes to read and quietly observe the various uncouth behaviors of those around her. Her intelligence and wit make her fun to follow, and though she is a quieter heroine than Austen's others, her spirit is just as fierce underneath. Anne resents her father and sister for living garishly and outside of their means, so we wanted to pull together a tea that felt much more true to what she would like: comfortable, relaxed, and homey, but still in that polished English country style that Austen's novels exude.
From leftover birthday cake, homemade brownies from earlier in the week, and savory scones loaded with herbs from the garden we whipped up on the spot, a delicious tea party took shape. The tea pot came from Rikki's mother-in-law, the table runner used to be her grandmother's, the vintage books were her mom's, the eggs were laid by her chickens, and the greenery is all from her garden. Some linen tea towels along with pretty bowls and platters completed the scene.
We sat together at the picnic table with our pot of tea while our kids ran around soaking in the sun, and resumed talking about all things Persuasion, books and dinner parties. Even Ms. Speckles came to pay a visit, hoping, no doubt, to find some treats!
The whole afternoon felt so simple and fresh, and reminded us why we started doing these things in the first place. There is such a simple joy in taking a little extra care to set a beautiful scene for a long conversation with a good friend. We think Anne Elliot would approve.
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