Lady Pamela's Tea Parlor

Friday, January 23, 2009


The door bell rang. They came. They are here. My heart started to pound as I felt the colour in my cheeks fade as my hand trembled. I cautiously reached for the door handle and opened the door to find my friends, smiling, in anticipation of an evening of socializing .

Have you ever regretted inviting friends over for an evening of conversation? I used to.
Only too happy to extend the invite, but as the hour grew near I felt totally unprepared and unsure of what I had gotten myself into. I didn’t want to live my life in solitare and my husband the ultimate extrovert won’t allow it. There must be a better way!

There are many books and magazines written about entertaining. I love to read as many as I have time for. Some are wordy, others ambiguous, others quite distinct in their directions and most have great photography ( my favorite part) But I don’t resonate with all of their suggestions. I have tried many different approaches to entertaining and experience has taught me that I have a comfort level that doesn’t quite match anything I have read in print or watched on television. Yet I do receive complements from friends from time to time even though I didn’t go “by the book”. My friends don’t seem to care or maybe unaware of “the rules” .

My mother had an idea of what entertaining should be. The Queen of England might as well be coming! Every corner of the house must be clean. I never did see anyone on their hands and knees looking under my bed for dust bunnies or produce a white glove to glide over the top of the china cabinet before sitting down to a four course meal. My mom was a great woman, homemaker and cook in her own right. But, no doubt a product of the 50’s Stepford Wife model. But it had its down side. Something that I would carry into my adult life, that did not serve me well, or my friends for that matter.

As my approach to life has developed over the years, lessons that have been learnt the hard way, most of the time. I have come to appreciate that each of us is wonderfully made and unique. That simple, yet profound philosophy, has coloured how I now approach the art of entertaining.

I think the cornerstone to being a wonderful hostess is to be true to yourself. Let your own personality shine through and be content, even take pride in your one-of-a-kind style. The litmus test is at the end of the evening. How do your guests feel? How do you feel? Everyone should feel relaxed. If the hostess is stressed, her guests will feel it.

So what is a girl to do? K-I-S-S! Keep it stylish and simple. How’s that you say. I try to add a touch of my style to the things I do and to keep things simple or uncomplicated.
It’s now an adventure because I follow my instincts, my free spirit, like a butterfly who lands on the flowers she chooses. Always adding a good measure of fun. You are welcome to follow me along the way.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


These last few days have been c-c-cold! I know winter is suppose to be cold but the Artic air of the last week has brought rosey cheeks to even the palest faces and fingers without mitts sting like the fire you wish to be near!

As I slowly push my feet out from the bedcovers and search the floor for a cozy slipper, (hopefully two), I can think of only one coffee! With my robe wrapped aound me like a sultan's turban I take flight to the kitchen and start that life-awakening brew. Once that has been started I think about breakfast. Cold cereal, well it leaves me feeling cold. So porridge it must be!

There have been times in my life when the instant, one minute porridge has served a purpose. But this morning I will take the extra few minutes to make if from scratch. My version has been named, "Sunday Morning Porridge".

When I was a young woman working the night shift as a nurse my Aunt Nelda would invite me over in the morning when I finished the last of my seven nights. She had just retired from a long successful career of nursing herself . We had a connection that comes from shared experiences, not needing many words. The quietness of the morning being savoured as much as the special porridge.

She always made me porridge. Her creation was ever so smooth, dotted with plump raisins and kissed with cinnamon. I was too tired to watch her method as she lovingly stirred the pot. I just enjoyed the results in those early twilight moments of the new day and her companionship.

As time went on I stopped working as a nurse and she moved into a retirement home and so the early breakfasts together ended, as both of our lives took new directions. But I will always remember those mornings, just the two of us in the newness of the day with fond memories.

After my aunt passed on, I was recounting this cherished memory to my mom and she was the one who told me the origin of the special recipe. On the farm during those cold days of the Depression, porridge was the main stay for breakfast. It was filling and it was easily accessible. You could fill the tummies of 10 childen effectively and cheaply. But on Sunday morning my grandmother would make the porridge with fresh milk from their cows, add a few raisins and a pinch of cinnamom. Slowly stirring the pot and serving it with a bit of brown sugar or molasses.

I was glad to hear the story and my mom's memory of the ingrediants. My mom wasn't as taken with porridge as my aunt and actually had never made it herself. But now I had something to start with and over the years I have created something almost as tastey as my Aunt's 'Sunday Morning Porridge'.

Most of the time I follow recipes but since this one has been created by estimating I will simply pass on the formula I use:


Follow the directions on the package of your favorite oatmeal, large flake or Scottish steel cut oats, same amount. Replace the water with a combination of milk (I like 2%) and water, remembering the more milk you use the more liquid you will need. I think half 2% and half water is a good place to start. Raisins and cinnamon to taste. Place ingredients in a double boiler and cook stirring occasionally, until you have desired texture and raisins are plump. I like using the double boiler because I am too impatient and often would boil the porridge over.
Top with brown sugar, or maple syrup, or your favoite topping.

A tip from Scotland: you can make your porridge in the evening and reheat in microwave or top of stove in the morning.

Now with a warm bowl of (comfort) porridge in your stomach you can put on your winter gear and brave the winds of change.