Friday, 10 February 2012

Building Community With Tea & Scones

I'm just going to say it: I think our Afternoon Tea was an excellent exercise and success in building community in Halifax.

It's funny. After years of studying politics, development, and post-conflict reconstruction, the term community building became a familiar one to me, dropped frequently into treatises on gender, rebuilding war-torn societies, and, later, in my work on volunteerism. Just one year ago, I wouldn't have imagined this new path my life would take, nor would I have guessed I'd be using such a term to describe an Afternoon Tea Party for (primarily) a group of bloggers.

It's true that community, and opportunities for it, exist around every corner. It's not up to other people to build it for you, but it is a joint venture that needs a ton of investment. I don't buy this every wo(man) is an island stuff. We need each other! Let's just admit it?

Based on my own feelings and those expressed of my guests, then, in a few short hours last Sunday afternoon, a pile of beautiful, talented, interesting women met in my kitchen and connected, shared, and learned. As a result, a sense of community was built, or made even stronger where it existed already. It was a chance to finally meet those people we'd been interacting with online, or a fine excuse to reconnect with others who'd we met only once or twice.

Women + Food = Community. Or at least it can, if harnessed for the good. In my time on this planet, I've found that women can either be the most constructive or destructive forces in other women's lives. Which do you choose?

(In some opening comments at the beginning of our tea, I warned everyone I was a huge sap and infinitely cheesy. If you know me even just a little, then, none of these comments should come as a huge surprise!) 

Some of the beautiful milk and sugar sets my Auntie Phyllis and my (now late) Auntie Sylvia gave me on my 16th birthday.
They've been sitting in a chest for many years, but finally had a reason to come out and play. 

Homemade clotted cream, lemon curd, & apple, pear, plum and ginger jam.

Lemon Curd. My new obsession.

Shelagh's Vegan Chocolate Bundt. 

Cranberry Cardamom Bundt

Chara's chocolate-dipped fruit and cinnamon hearts. 

Kelly's Banoffee Tarts.

Honey Vanilla Madeleines

Eleanor's Peanut Butter Chip Brownies

Asheley's Chocolate Date Squares.

Kathy's Dark Chocolate Almond Cookies. 

Sheena's Almond Cherry Chocolate Biscotti

A tea isn't a tea without some sandwiches!

Just some of my lovely guests!

Needless to say, we had plenty to eat! In trying to host, I didn't have too much time to snap photos (or take 800 of the same dish, as per my usual routine!), so the above are the photos I managed to get in the time I had.

You should check out Shelagh's blog Alice in Paris Loves Art and Tea to see even more photos from our afternoon together. Shelagh is not only a gifted artist, but a talented photographer, too.

Allie (of Allie's Changing Kitchen) has also posted some photos, along with her thoughts on the event, in her post called Foodie Friends + Tea + Choco Mousse

Finally, Sheena posted her recipe for her fabulous Cherry Almond Chocolate Biscotti on her blog Butter Versus Burpees. I'll definitely be making these in the very near future! 

Interested in any of the other treats you see here? Inquire within and I can see about getting my hands on some recipes! 


A heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who came. I hope to see all of your faces again soon! I honestly think it was courageous of you to show up at a stranger's home, in order to meet an entire group of other strangers. I think many of us left this tea as friends - and 'real life' ones, at that. 


  1. This is most wonderful! I wish I could have been there! Great idea and a wonderful way to connect!

  2. I'm so happy that your community tea was such a success! I think you may have started something that will be an annual event in your area.

    You are right when you say that women can be the most constructive or destructive forces in other women's lives and it would appear that all the constructive forces were gathered together in your home. How very lovely1

  3. Awesome ....first time in your space...n i loved it absolutely..following ur visit mine in ur free time :-)
    Valentine Week

  4. And I proudly enjoyed the lemon curd and clotted cream leftovers... AMAZING!

  5. What fun! Leave it to women to oraganize an event like this - men don't know what they are missing! Friendship, gossip, naughty yummy treats - how I love and miss this kind of get-together!

  6. You know my LOVE of a good afternoon tea and I JUST so wish I had been there! It all looks LUSH and I am also a lover of lemon curd too..... gorgeous! Karen

  7. oh my the Honey Vanilla Madeleines wouldnt have surrvived with me if I would have been there.

    So cool, u had lots of fun as I can see! ;)

  8. So glad to know it was a hit! Everything looks spectacular! :)