Friday, October 21, 2016

Lavender orange spice tea

Happy Friday (and this totally counts as a timely post for this week--a whole day and twenty minutes still left in the week!). Tonight's small post is really "Waterford part II--the tea inspired pictures!"

So going back to a couple of weekends ago and the Waterford fair, I saw a purple tent with goods from Renaissance Lavender, a lavender farm in Lovettsville, Virginia (located in the same county as Waterford).

Many of the teas looked good, but my interest was spiked by the combination of lavender, oranges, and spice.

The tea was delicious and was surprisingly perfect for fall.  The spice brought to mind many of my favorite autumn teas, with just a hint of dried orange peel, and the after hint of floral lavender.  Simply wonderful!  Then again, I have yet to meet a lavender black tea I don't like.

The tea also reminded me of a lovely tea party that Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage had a couple of years ago in October mixing purples and orange, so...

(I'm not sure what I was thinking when I took this picture cutting off part of the plate...I guess I tried?)

And now to pull in a bit of the Aldie post (also in Loudoun county) with my "highland" bouquet with dried lavender sprigs,

Ah, the days may be sullen and sober,
The nights may be stormy and cold;
But, for him who has eyes to behold,
The violets bloom in October!
~Elizabeth Chase Akers Allen (1832–1911), "An Autumn Violet," c.1866 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Waterford Fair

This past weekend I traveled back to Loudon County, Virginia to the 72nd annual fair in Waterford, Virginia.  Waterford, which was established around 1733, is a National Historic Landmark district. 

As we wondered past the beautiful old homes,

a few, like one below called Old Arce, were open for tours.  The main part of this home was built in the late 1700s, then added onto in the early 1800s in the Federal Style. 

The home was filled with the owner, Brian Whelan's, art, which made for a vibrant tour with the mix of the historic features of the home, including 18th century furniture he and his wife had collected, and the modern brilliantly colored art.  See his website here, if you are interested in checking out the artwork.  This picture was over the fireplace in the dining room and was gorgeous in person!  

But I digress.  Some homes were Victorians,

and other log cabins.

We passed the second street school, which was built in 1867 to serve as a school and church for Waterford's African-American community.

Some houses had beautiful flowers,

which made for a pretty walk for everyone, including some in period clothes!

We also stopped for a bit for some music at the corner store,

before stepping inside

where in addition to all sorts of jams, fruit butters, and baked goods, I was excited to find tea, this time from a West Virginian blender, the Larkin Company.  Waterford is located pretty close to the West Virginia line.

(Pumpkin pie might have traveled home with me)

But the Waterford fair was more than just a historic homes tour and a walk through its lovely historic core--it was also a large craft fair that basically took over the town.

Some wares were for sale in tents,

(A whole selection of lavender teas from Renaissance Lavender farm in nearby Purceville, Va.  One of these might have come home with me too)

others in old outbuildings or barns

(All of these figurine were made from old vintage chocolate molds by Vaillancourt Folk Art)

(I loved these Halloween santas!)

and yet others in this historic mill, dating before 1830.

There were reenactors,

Wagon rides,

antique farm equipment

 and all sorts of food, including a wine and beer garden with Loudon County libations.    I might have partook ;).

The day was just a little cool, and it was definitely looking and feeling like fall!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Historic Aldie Mill

Ceud mìle fàilte

Welcome!  I'm so glad you join me today at Historic Aldie Mill in Loudoun County, Virginia.  This two hundred year old gristmill was built between 1807 and 1809 by William Cooke under an indenture contract with Charles F. Mercer, a lawyer, Virginia legislator (including to the House of Representatives), and military officer.  Mercer had built a house for himself across the street from the plot where he had obtained the right to build a mill, and called his home Aldie Manor after Aldie Castle in Scotland (to celebrate his Scots heritage).  The small town that grew up around the mill also took the name Aldie. 

Now my visit wasn't to get my grain ground for flour, but to attend an Outlander Scottish themed tea party!  I was very excited about this tea and its program--I can definitely say this is my first time having tea in a 200 year old mill!  When we walked up to the mill we were greeted by a bagpiper, which was a fun surprise.

Tea was in the first flour of the mill.

Unfortunately for blogging purposes, when I walked inside the building most of the guests had already arrived, so I could not get a good picture of the entire table until after the tea had finished, but even in the aftermath you can see the plaid centerpieces and remaining plaid napkins and the mum centerpiece.

Now, just a bit on Outlander.  Outlander is a series of books by Diana Gabaldon about an English WWII nurse (Claire Randall/Fraser)who traveled back in time to 18th century Scotland, where she meets and falls in love with Jamie Fraser (see below...yum!).  There is currently a TV series based on these books on Starz.

Anyway...tea!  Below was my pretty teacup with a picture of a lady inside.  Surprisingly, I forgot to turn it over like I normally compulsively do to see who made it.

We were served two teas from a local tea blender, Dominion Tea, in Purcellville, Virginia.  I actually hadn't heard of them before--I guess a road trip is in order to their Tasting room!  One tea was Highland Maple (delicious!) and the other a Ceylon.

Next, the food.  First we were served, Mrs. Fitz's Cranberry Scones on tartan plates.  (Mrs. Fitz is the housekeeper of Castle Leoch in the Outlander series, where Claire and Jaime lived when Claire first traveled back in time).

In between courses, we played a trivia game, all based on Outlander of course.  I have only seen most of the first season, so I didn't even bother, but my aunt ended up winning the game!  After scones and a few trivia questions, out came the tiered tray:

Savories:  Dougal MacKenzie Salmon Bites, Jenny's Tomato & Cheese wraps, Scottish eggs, and Ian's favorite chicken salad (all named for characters in Outlander)

Followed by our first dessert course:  ginger cakes (delicious), shortbreads, and Jaime's chocolate whiskey truffles. 

And then our second dessert course--Claire Fraser's pumpkin & spice bread.

Now that we were fed, the next part of the program started--a presentation about conflicts between the Scots and English in the 1700s, starting with a brief history of the Stuart monarchs, the Jacobite uprising, and culminating in the Battle of Culloden in 1746, all of which was an important part of the Outlander series. 

I'm a big history fan, so I enjoyed this presentation, and it even stirred some long forgotten facts learned when I took a class in Stuart England in college.  He even mentioned a connection with Virginia--at the time a big colonial trade partner with Glasgow.  There was also a shout out to William and Mary (where I went to college), so I was sold :).

But we weren't done!  We went to the upper level of the mill, where the Aldie Horticultural society had set out a large selection of flowers so we could make bouquets. 

First a presentation on arranging

Then on to the flowers.

There was a huge assortment of flowers and other random clippings, from leaves to berries to wildflowers.   There were also herbs (like rosemary) to add for scent, as well as dried lavender.  We were meant to feel like we had wandered into the hills of Scotland, collecting random flora.

After a quick stop at the ribbon station to pick a pattern to wrap around the edge  of my bouquet,

I had my own Highland bouquet (with Virginia wildflowers).

A few more pictures of the mill:

The mill was continuously operated from 1809 through six generations of William Cooke's family.  Below are different Aldie Mills labels.

The mill was restored in the 1980s, and is not one of the best preserved mills in Virginia--and it is still a working mill!  Here is one last picture of the water wheels:

(picture from the Historic Aldie mill website, it was a bit yucky out, so I did not walk around to the back of the building).

You could really tell the organizers went above and beyond with this tea and all the effort they put into making it so much fun.