I hope you all enjoyed an incredible summer. Mine was a busy one preparing our garden that was part of a Mystery Garden Tour fundraiser in July in support of our community’s botanical garden (175 people visited our garden on a single weekend) as well as attending Pink Days In Bloom fundraising events at local garden centres throughout June and August in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – Atlantic. I feel a little sad that summer is winding down and fall is coming on (although fall is my favourite season), but I’m delighted to be back at my blog and glad you are here visiting with me today. It’s so heartwarming to be able to share with you all about a special tea that happened earlier this season. It took months of planning, but was well worth the result.
On June 8th, a group of fellow breast cancer survivors and supporters celebrated “Pink Tree Day in the Park”. The day was chosen to mark the Centennial Anniversary of our city’s beloved Bowring Park. It also kicked off the Pink Days In Bloom fundraising season, an initiative that has grown from our small community here in Newfoundland throughout Atlantic Canada and beyond. I am very happy about that! Much gratitude to Proven Winners for this beautiful idea and the Invincibelle Spirit Campaign that donates $1.00 from the sale of every pink Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea to the Breast Cancer Research (BRC) Foundation in the United States. I had the pleasure of meeting some of the wonderful and caring people behind the campaign in June 2013 when I was invited to the amazing Spring Meadow Nursery in Grand Haven, Michigan to share with their major growers about Pink Days In Bloom in Newfoundland.
The occasion served also as a reminder of the importance of trees and gardens in our daily lives for healthy and beautiful living. I am thrilled that our city’s mayor, Dennis O’Keefe, and the founding chair of the Bowring Park Foundation, Bruce Templeton, were able to be there to help to cut the ribbon on the bench. Olivia, the sweet Newfoundland, wore a pink flower in her ear. I think she instinctively knew that something very beautiful was going on!
The Pink Days In Bloom signature garden fairies named ‘Pink’, ‘Hope’ and ‘Invincibelle’ joined the ceremony. My friend, Joan, in the white hat helped the mayor to cut the ribbon. Joan is also a survivor and has led a breast cancer support group, Sharing Our Strength (SOS), in our city for over a dozen years. She is a beautiful spirit. Thank you, Joanie, for all that you do every day!
Aren’t the Pink Days In Bloom fairies lovely! That’s Pink in the top photo, then Hope and Invincibelle. Their floral crowns were such fun to make, and I just love the way they turned out! I think the fairies love wearing them, too! Thank you to Erin (a.k.a. Pink), Jenn (a.k.a. Hope) and Kierstyn (a.k.a. Invincibelle) for volunteering with Pink Days In Bloom since the beginning in 2012! And, much gratitude to dear Apryl Stead of White Willow Photography for these gorgeous images. It takes a very special talent to capture the image of a fairy. You must truly BELIEVE!
My husband’s family donated a pink-flowering tree to the park in memory of my mom-in-law. She passed away from breast cancer in November, 2009. She was a kindred spirit and I miss her every day. Helping us to do the planting was left to right: Bruce Templeton (founding Chair of the Bowring Park Foundation), Paula Tessier (Community Relations, CBCF-Atlantic), Dennis O’Keefe (Mayor of St. John’s), my husband and me. The maintenance team at the transit company where I work kindly painted our shovels pink! It was a drizzly day, so tents were generously supplied by Bill Harris Tent Rentals who came through for us in a pinch last-minute and we were grateful to have some shelter from the cool wind.
PHOTO CREDIT: Apryl Stead
The pink-blossoming tree that we planted on that day is a variety of cherry tree and will bloom in springtime. Spring blossoms represent new life and hope for the future. The tree came from Pat’s Plants and Gardens, a participant in “The Pink Tree Project” and the first garden nursery in our province to host Pink Days In Bloom. Pat and I have since become dear friends and I love her dearly. Whenever I get a crazy idea, and I tend to get a lot of them, Pat is always the first to, ahem, ‘volunteer’ her garden centre! Thank you, Pat, for your continued blooming support! Here’s a little about Pink Days’s In Bloom’s “The Pink Tree Project”.
PHOTO CREDIT: Apryl Stead
My awesome new friend Liz Klose made her hat especially for “Pink Tree Day in the Park”! A delicate china teacup and saucer are perched at the very top of this beauty – I mean you, Liz! :-). Even the teacup is filled with flowers! She wore it the entire day and without even needing to see a chiropractor afterwards! Now, that is stamina in my books! Liz is the Director of Memorial University’s Botanical Garden in St. John’s. This year, the Botanical Garden joined Pink Days In Bloom and celebrated Canada Garden Days by planting a pink-flowering plant in support. Friends of The Garden (affectionately known as FOG) held a summer-long plant sale at The Garden in support of Pink Days In Bloom and CBCF-Atlantic. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of plants with pink-ribbon twists inserted in their pots is being donated for innovative breast cancer research and programs. FOG will host their annual two-hour plant sale at The Garden on Saturday, September 6th between 10 am and Noon and will also have a vendor table at our local Some Good Market on September 13th in support! FOG volunteers have been working hard all season long! Thank you!
My co-worker Joan watched the tree-planting ceremony from the warmth of the tea deck. My young neighbour Julie, on the left, later served us tea! Her summer job was working with Red Oak Catering who catered our delicious tea.
PHOTO: Apryl Stead
Olivia, the Newfoundland, is certainly loved! She gets a hug at the end of the ceremony for being such a good girl. Newfoundlands are such gentle beings. They’re easy to love.
The bench and tree dedication was immediately followed by a celebratory Pink Days in Bloom “Sea-to-Sea Champagne Tea” FUNdraiser complete with magnificent musical performances by very talented vocalist Adam Hunt and pianist David Chafe of Newman Sound Men’s Choir. Harpist Vanessa Goodyear soothed our souls with her lyrical harp notes during the meal. The sound equipment was generously provided by Canadian AV Inc. It was so nice of them all!
The elegant décor was a gift from the beautiful Sue Sharpe (By Sharpe Design). Our delightful and humorous guest speaker was Bruce Templeton (Author of “The Man in the Red Suit and soon to be launched “The Man with the White Beard). Both of Bruce’s books are published by Creative Book Publishing and are an inspiring, heart-touching read with an important message: It’s not your presents that count; it’s your presence. A portion of the proceeds from Bruce’s Christmas book sales help vaccinate children in various parts of the world against the dreaded polio disease. For every book sold, three children are vaccinated against polio. I’ve already bought no less than 14 copies of his book “The Man in the Red Suit” and have given them to friends, neighbours, co-workers and family on my ‘good list’ for Christmas. Let’s see, 14 books = 42 children who have been vaccinated! It feels good to know that.
During the Pink Days In Bloom tea, there were pretty park views all around, prizes and surprises, too! We enjoyed a delectable menu prepared especially for us by Red Oak Catering that included steaming pots of tasty teas, fresh fruit salad, a selection of satisfying savouries, tiers of luscious house-made pastries and sweets, scrumptious fresh-baked scones with jam and cream, and delectable English trifle. What a fancy feast! YUM!
And, here’s the really special part: At the very same hour that we were dedicating the bench and pink tree, and celebrating over tea and champagne here in Newfoundland on Canada’s east coast, the incredible staff and friends at the beautiful Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia, on the country’s west coast, planted a pink ‘sister’ tree in their hotel garden and hosted a Pink Days in Bloom Tea of their own in their world-famous Tea Lobby in support of CBCF – BC/Yukon. Monies raised in support of CBCF in each region stay in the respective regions, which is a good thing. The fundraisers help support community programs where we live.
Thank you Rebecca and team at The Empress for all your hard work! And, thank you to Helijet for partnering with The Empress in The Pink Tree Project. Breast cancer survivor Karen Sabourin and her daughter Laurel helped plant the “Tree of Hope” in the Empress Garden! Aren’t these ladies adorable!
This photo just makes me smile! 🙂
Everyone who made a donation in someone’s honour got to write the name of the person on a tag and hang it on The Empress’ new Tree of Hope. Photos of The Empress’ world-famous tea lobby are below. You can see more photos here at my blog post “The Elegant Empress”. I have always LOVED “The Elegant Empress” and now I love ‘her’ more than ever for being part of this initiative.
The Empress’ culinary team outdid themselves! WoW! Look at all those luscious pink desserts!
Guests were invited to sign The Empress’ Book of Hope and write an encouraging message. This is truly a beautiful idea.
Those unable to join us in person for the Pink Days In Bloom tea on June 8th, in either Bowring Park or at The Empress, could still share in the event through a virtual tea. Whether at the office, the kitchen table or by the pool, one could simply pick up their cup in support and pledge online to help fund breast cancer research and community programs. For Twitter lovers, tweets about their tea experience at hashtag (#PinkDaysInBloom) could be seen displayed on a screen outside the Tea Lobby at The Empress. I really liked that idea, too. It helped to bring everyone closer together.
I hope you enjoy the following photos of our Pink Days In Bloom’s “Pink Tree Day in the Park ” Tea. Some of the photos were taken on The Bungalow’s tea deck. It was a cold, damp day in June but we hardly noticed! The tenting and heaters on the deck made it cozy for guests who sat outside. And, the deck looked dreamy, too, thanks to Sue and her team!
PHOTO CREDIT: Apryl Stead
Isn’t this a superb way to do a seating chart! Many thanks to the lovely Sue Sharpe, By Sharpe Design, who contributed her design services for the tea. Many of the photos were taken by the talented Apryl Stead, White Willow Photography. Thank you, Apryl, for sharing the day with us and helping us to remember every moment through your glorious images!
PHOTO CREDIT: Apryl Stead
Jessica Smith, the amazing floral designer at By Sharpe Design, artfully arranged numerous delightful bouquets like this one! Jessica’s wedding bouquets are simply divine and make me want to get married all over again just so I can carry one of her out-of-this-world bouquets. I do love flowers!
PHOTO CREDIT: Apryl Stead
I love my old Apple Blossom china. It is one of my favourite vintage china patterns. I used what I’ve managed to collect over the years on the tea tables, along with nearly all my pink transferware plus my teapot collection (about 30 pots in all gathered from antique shops, flea markets, garage sales – you name it) and dozens of vintage teacups (about 70 in total, I think). I can’t think of a more inspiring occasion to use pretty delicate china! I never knew I had so many pieces until I started to dig them out of the nooks and crannies of the cupboards. It seems they were just begging to be used! I borrowed the tiered sweet trays from my darling friend Marie who once operated the most elegant tea room. We all miss your teas, Marie, my dear!
This is one of my favourite teapots.
Pots of tea filled with the tasty ‘Empress Blend’ were served at the tea tables compliments of The Empress!
If you’re in the area on November 2nd, I’d love for you to join us at “The Little Christmas Fair”.
Thank you for coming by! I hope you have a lovely weekend. See you soon!
I’m excited to be joining Pink Saturday, Saturday Show Off, Mosaic Monday, Busy Monday, Amaze Me Monday, Mod Mix Monday, Inspiration Monday, Tuesday Cuppa Tea, Tuesdays at Our Home, Inspire Me Tuesday, Teacup Tuesday, The Scoop, A Return To Loveliness, Tea Time Tuesday, Tweak it Tuesday and Tea Time, Wordless Wednesday, WoW Us Wednesday, Wake Up Wednesday, Cottage Style Party, A Return to Loveliness, What’s It Wednesday, The Homemaking Party, Home and Garden Thursday, Share Your Cup Thursday, Thursday Favourite Things, Tablescape Thursday, Feathered Nest Friday , Simple and Sweet Fridays, Show and Tell Friday, Home Sweet Home and What To Do Weekends, and am thankful for all these wonderful blogs and kindred spirits!
Welcome, Dear Friends!
I am thankful you are here on this wintry day and I hope that your week went well. Isn’t it hard to believe that February is here! What a hectic month January was. I am relieved to finally be able to make time to cocoon a little with some of my most favourite magazines.
Isn’t “Victoria” absolutely stunning? It is an all-time favourite of mine published by Hoffman Media. I have every issue since it was first published in the eighties and am thrilled to my toes that a humble little story of mine will be featured in the Chimes section of their March/April issue!!! Can you believe that?!!! It is beyond a dream come true for me!!! Thank you, “Victoria!” I can’t wait…
I just read Tea Time Magazine , another favourite and also published by Hoffman Media. Tea Time will be hosting “An Occasion for Tea” at The Empress in Victoria, B.C. next weekend! Don’t you wish you could join in the fun!
While the kettle is on, would you like to join me in a little armchair travel? For those of you who follow my blog, you might recall I mentioned in an earlier post (Majestic Hatley Park) that my husband and I had travelled across the country from Newfoundland on Canada’s east coast to beautiful Vancouver Island, British Columbia on the west coast a couple of years ago where I attended a work conference at Victoria’s Fairmont Empress Hotel. For years, I had been reading about Afternoon Tea at The Empress and was excited to finally have the opportunity to experience it for myself!
Located in downtown Victoria, “The Empress”, as she is affectionately called, overlooks picturesque Victoria Inner Harbour. The Empress is the best known landmark in the capital city and has hosted kings and queens, dignitaries and famous persons. The likes of Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Katherine Hepburn, Shirley Temple, Barbara Streisand, to name a few, have all stayed at ‘The Elegant Empress’.
Just steps outside the hotel lobby you’ll find whale watching, gardens, castles and sight-seeing tours, shops, boutiques and restaurants, the Royal BC Museum, provincial legislative buildings and National Geographic IMAX Theatre. Within a short walk, you’ll discover Chinatown and Antique Row. The BC Ferries terminal is a 45-minute drive from downtown and a 35-minute ferry ride will take you to glorious Salt Spring Island. Go there on a Saturday for the artisan markets.
On the afternoon of our arrival in Victoria, there were crowds of people milling about under huge white tents on the hotel’s front lawn. We were zealously informed by our cab driver that it was rumoured that composer/star-maker David Foster was hosting a benefit dinner at $10,000 a place. Pittance! Lol
PHOTO: Looking from the harbour side toward The Empress, there are vendor tables, ferry tours, foods for every taste, buskers, recreational activities – it’s all here, mere steps from the hotel in downtown Victoria.
After a 14-hour plane-haul from the opposite side of the country to finally arrive at our destination, I felt terribly dishevelled. As we walked into the hotel lobby with our luggage in tow, we were met by a sea of women in the most glamourous ball gowns and eye-catching jewels that I had ever seen! Dolls in diamonds, curls and heels. Suffering from lack of sleep, jet lag and feeling a little dizzy from dehydration, for one fleeting moment I thought that they could have been mermaids straight from the harbour outside! A mirage of sheer glamour. In the following hours and days during our stay, we heard the names of many stars who were reportedly staying at the hotel. A few of my colleagues who were also attending the conference at the hotel, caught glimpses of famous stars here and there (I could tell a story or two). But the biggest star in my mind was ‘The Elegant Empress’ herself! She Em-pressed me most. 🙂
Photo: Victoria Inner Harbour is just steps across the street from The Empress.
DID YOU KNOW? The ceremony of Afternoon Tea at The Empress is over a century-old tradition and her Tea lobby is world famous. Reportedly, in summer at the height of the tourist season, The Empress serves Afternoon Tea to more guests than most hotels in London, England! Can you imagine! That is Em-pressive, don’t you think! 🙂
DID YOU KNOW? The Empress had been owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway long before it was sold to Fairmont. Back in ‘the day’, CPR was building hotels for customers who travelled its railway and ships. Through the years, during and following two world wars, there were business booms and slumps. In the mid-1960’s, The Empress was being considered for demolition. After much public outcry, the decision was made not to tear down the deteriorating old hotel but to give it a cosmetic facelift. Later in 1989, it was “done right” and the iconic building was restored in a major way to its original splendour. Thankfully, for The Empress = Victoria as surely as Big Ben = London, the Eiffel Tower = Paris, or the Statue of Liberty = New York City. The big refurbishment was dubbed “Operation Teacup!” Let’s go into the Tea Lobby and see how ‘they’ did, shall we?
Royalty and ordinary folk alike have enjoyed the time-honoured tradition of Afternoon Tea in the famous Tea Lobby. Art and architecture. Deep and comfy chairs and luxe upholstery fabrics. Fancy-carved tables and vintage tea carts. Antique tapestries and patterned wool rugs. Breathtaking views, exquisite tea and silver tea sets. Live piano music. Good company and lively conversation… All combine to create a memorable tea experience one soon won’t forget.
On the tea menu are signature Empress scones, pastries, sweets and savouries expertly and freshly prepared in-house each day. I wish I had gotten a photo of the carts and delectable desserts piled high on hundreds of multi-tiered trays but I was sheepish about snapping pictures of the food… Lol
“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the ceremony known as afternoon tea”
― Henry James
PHOTO: Waiting for tea to be served in a silver service and regal blue-and-red-and-gold William Edwards fine china… William Edwards has been commissioned to create patterns for His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and The Royal Household. If it’s good enough for the Royals, then it’s good enough for moi! Click here for an extensive Afternoon Tea Menu
DID YOU KNOW? The Empress has her own delicious blend of tea, touted as one of the world’s finest and I surely believe it! What an absolutely gorgeous, tasty, subtle cuppa! After having umpteen delicious cups, I had to ask one of our servers what that blend was! I was thrilled to learn that it was specially created for Afternoon Tea at The Empress and that it could be purchased at the hotel’s gift shop, where following Tea, I went straight away! In the hotel’s signature Tea Shoppe, I loaded up on the pretty canisters of tea along with some teaware stamped with ‘The Empress’ to tuck into my suitcase for the trip home and so I could ‘relive’ the experience whenever I wanted .
Here are the blend ingredients as written on the tea canister: Top seasonal quality tea from Kenya, South India, Assam, Sri Lanka and China. Here’s what it looks like in the cup. YUM! No cream or sugar needed…
The bottom of the canister reads: “Since its opening on January 20, 1908, The Empress has respected one of Victoria’s greatest traditions by serving Afternoon Tea in the magnificent lobby of the hotel. Sitting under a portrait of Queen Mary in front of the Tea Lobby’s two fireplaces, one can view Victoria’s Inner Harbour where the “Thermopylae”, fastest of all the Tea Clipper Ships, once anchored.”
I am down to my last canister (apart from one that I am saving for a dear friend). Sigh. I am excited to know, though, that it can be ordered from the hotel shop or at http://www.fairmontstore.com.
PHOTO: During ‘Operation Teacup’, the Tiffany-style stained glass ceiling of the Palm Court was uncovered behind wood. The beauty of the roof was thankfully restored and guests now can enjoy its sparkling light on the marble foyer at weddings and special functions.
PHOTO: Victoria’s Parliament buildings look beautiful at night from Fisherman’s Wharf. Their silhouette outlined in white lights creates a magical effect as the evening ‘blue hour’ approaches…
PHOTO: Captain James Cook (1728-1779) stands forever bronzed in confidence along Government Street as he looks upon The Empress with his back to Victoria Inner Harbour.
The inscription at the base of the statue reads:
“After two historic voyages to the South Pacific, Cook was cruising the waters of the Pacific Northwest on his third and final voyage with his two ships, Resolution and Discovery. He was searching for the Western exit to the legendary Northwest Passage. In March 1778, they put into Nootka Sound for repairs and to trade with the native people. With him on the voyage were Mr. William Bligh as Master of the Resolution and Midshipman George Vancouver.”
The Empress is synonymous with Victoria. Many say “she” is the city’s heartbeat and speculate that The Empress is what brings people to the Island. One thing is for certain, residents have an emotional attachment to The Empress. For many, she holds special memories of their most celebrated occasions in life. Vancouver Island with its resplendent beauty and relaxed pace, yet vibrant energy, is an ideal place to escape. We loved it!
The photos below were taken of some of the “Bling” displayed in the windows of the gift shops at The Empress.
The well-kept grounds of The Elegant Empress are captured below:
It was fun ‘digging out’ these old photos and reminiscing…I hope you enjoyed your visit! Before you go, I’ll pour you up another tea in one of my prized cups – this one was given to me by my cousin Eva. It was shipped all the way from Virgina Beach in the United States to Newfoundland, Canada! It is a souvenir cup of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Thank you, Eva!
My friend Eric gifted me the glorious white china teapot with creamer and sugar bowl and half a dozen matching teacups! I just adore it. It sits on my kitchen counter and I use it every chance I get! My friend Maria created these beautiful and delicious snowflake cookies, perfect for snowy days! Thank you all! 🙂
Wishing you a beautiful new week ahead,
I am happy to be joining the party at Inspirational Monday, Make it Pretty Monday, Tea Time at Rose Chintz Cottage, Tea Time Tuesday and Friends Sharing Tea, Teacup Tuesday, The Scoop, Inspire Me Tuesday, Wordless Wednesday, What We Accomplished Wednesday, WoW Us Wednesday, Wholehearted Wednesday, What’s It Wednesday, Blissful Whites Wednesday, Cottage Style Party, Time Travel Thursday, Thursday Favourite Things, Home and Garden Thursday, Share Your Cup Thursday, The Homemaking Party, Simple and Sweet Fridays, Fridays Unfolded, Show and Tell Friday, Feathered Nest Friday, Anything Blue Friday, The Charm of Home, Fabulously Creative Friday, Frugal Friday, Shabbylicious Friday, Be Inspired, Tickled Pink, What To Do Weekends, Pink Saturday, Bouquet of Talent, Show Off Saturday, One More Time Sunday, Seasonal Sundays and Oh The Places I’ve Been.