How to Plan a Tea Party (A Guest Post by Alison Walsh, Author of A Literary Tea Party)

This week, a very special cookbook has come into the world: A LITERARY TEA PARTY, by Alison Walsh, founder and cook at Alison’s Wonderland Recipes. Yes, it’s exactly what you think – a collection of recipes inspired by classic novels and perfect for afternoon teas. Alison and I have been following each other’s blogs for some time; and after she invited me to write the introduction for the cookbook, I knew I wanted to have her stop in for a guest post. So here is Alison, with her tips on planning a fun and delectable tea party.

Tea has been my drink of choice since before I was old enough to work the tea kettle, so it’s no surprise that tea parties are my favorite way to socialize. Four years ago, my bachelorette party was a quiet Irish-themed tea party held with a few friends at my mom’s house, and it’s still one of my fondest memories. I’ve hosted a few teas of my own (and a hot chocolate party!) and even wrote a literary-themed cookbook on the subject.

What is it about tea parties that charms me so? For one thing, I love that they’re designed to facilitate rather than impede meaningful socialization. It’s so much easier to talk in someone’s living room over a cup of tea than in a noisy, crowded bar or restaurant. I also love how, despite having a reputation for formality, tea parties can be as fancy or informal as you want (think high tea in an English manor versus a child’s imaginary tea party with plastic cups and teddy bear guests).

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What’s Making Me Happy: April and May 2018

Um…. Hi everyone. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

The short story is, I had to take about 2 months off from blogging here. It was unexpected, to say the least, and I feel badly that I disappeared unexpectedly like that. But don’t we all go through periods when life offline goes a little… well, nuts, and we have to rearrange our priorities temporarily? And now that things appear to be smoothing out, I think I’m ready to make a comeback.

And what an appropriate post to return with, right? I really do love this What’s Making Me Happy series, and for so many reasons. So let me share some of the things that brought much-needed joy and lightness despite the stress of the past two months. Feel free to share what’s made you happy recently in your comments. 🙂

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What’s Making Me Happy: February and March 2018

It’s been a strange two months. Strange in terms of weather here in Massachusetts, since February was milder than average (our temps were close to 70 deg F a few days!) and March clobbered us with four snowstorms in three weeks. Strange in terms of life in general, too. My blogging time has taken a HUGE hit because of work and other things. So if I haven’t replied to your comments yet or visited your blog in a while, I’m very sorry, and I hope you understand why. 😦

Yet, as frustrated as I’ve been, I never cease to find “real-life magic.” So let’s use this What’s Making Me Happy post to highlight that magic, and also to catch up on things.  How’s everyone doing? What have you been up to? Were February and March kind to you? (I hope so!) And what are some of the things that have sparked your sense of joy recently? Like last time, I’ll share three things from each month, starting with…

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What’s Making Me Happy: December 2017 & January 2018

I’m sort of glad now that I decreased my blogging schedule again. Because January was a blur, and not a fun kind of blur. I was buried with work at my day job for most of the month, which cramped my free time to a minimum and zapped my blogging time to… well, zero. :/ But some good things happened in January, too, and I can’t forget or discount any of that goodness.

That’s why I’m grateful for this series. What’s Making Me Happy reminds me of the highlights, fun events, and other recent joys – and after a month that drags you down in some ways, it’s a nourishing perspective to have. This month’s Happy post is twice as delightful, too: I’m covering both December and January, with three joys from each month. And with my slower blogging schedule, this bimonthly format might be the way to go from now on. What do you think?

Let’s start with…

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Lessons and Good Habits for Writing (and Living) Well

Recently my DIY MFA colleague and writing friend Leanne Sowul launched a “Be Well, Write Well” interview series at her DIY MFA column. Each interview explores a writer’s process, habits, routine, and management of their overall well-being. She also tested the questions on herself and shared her answers at her own blog. I liked the overall idea of opening up about how our work and living habits intersect so much that I decided to try it out. (Hope you don’t mind, Leanne!)

So what good wellness habits do I try not to skimp on? What “tools” are essential to my writing process? Does my process change depending on the stage of writing I’m in and/or the time of year? I share these and other answers below, plus a few writerly well-being tips and recommendations for favorite resources on writing and wellness.

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On Breaking Habits, Managing Energy, and Extended Absences from Social Media

There’s a lot of discussion in the writerly blogosphere about the importance of social media, regardless of whether a writer is published. Much of the advice is valid: Social media is a great way of publicizing your work (books, blog, etc.), networking within the industry, and developing an audience. Personally, I’ve grown to appreciate Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest over the past couple years. They’ve either been instrumental with building the blog’s audience and driving more traffic, or helped me connect with other writers, bookworms, and SF&F fans. (In Twitter’s case, it’s been a blessing for both.)

So, why have I been absent from social media lately, apart from Goodreads? It’s not that I’ve given up on it. Rather, the absence began with an intention, then drew on longer for reasons I couldn’t pin down until recently, thanks to a book I’ve been reading and some recent reflection on the “energetic” toll this year has taken on me.
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What’s Making Me Happy: July 2017

Summer has been playing ping-pong with our weather here in Massachusetts. Some days it’s sunny, 90+ degrees Fahrenheit, and disgustingly very humid. Other days it’s rainy and hovering around 70. (Though there have been glorious days in between, often with good timing for my Cape Cod trips. *smiles*) And personally, my month of July mirrored that fluctuation. Without going into detail, it went back and forth between contentedly quiet and productive, to stressful and tiring. 😐

So I’m partly glad that July is almost over, especially since it means the NYC trip is getting closer. (Yay!) It also means that today marks the next installment of What’s Making Me Happy. (Double yay!) So I’m linking up once again with fellow DIY MFA columnist Leanne Sowul and sharing five things that made me smile when I needed it most this past month.

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What’s Making Me Happy: June 2017

June was a weird month. It was busy for the usual reasons (work, writing, two weekend trips to Cape Cod), but nothing out of the ordinary happened, either. Which is fine, actually. It’s nice to have extended downtime between busy spells, and since I’m heading back to NYC in August, I’m taking advantage of it as much as I can. Oh, and I finally finished my GoFundMe photo album of my Iceland trip!

The only downside to June? The increasing heat and humidity. Ugh. I like summer, but not when it’s 90+ and muggy. Makes me ever more grateful that my condo has air conditioning… and now I feel like I’m rambling. (*blushes*)

So, yes, it’s happiness-celebrating time again. I’m linking up once again with blogger / writer friend Leanne Sowul to share my joys during the month of June. (Her post is scheduled for Friday, but you can still check out her blog here.) As always, feel free to share the things that brought a smile to your face in your comments on this post!

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Lightening the Load: The Relief of Springtime Decluttering Projects

For many people, spring is an ideal time to catch up on cleaning (hence the term “spring cleaning”). In my case, I don’t necessarily catch up on cleaning and household chores, since I do both year-round (and, well, when I feel like it…). Rather, I’m bitten by a desire to “lighten the load,” better known as the decluttering and organizing bug.

This year, that bug struck big-time. By that, I mean that I’m still getting rid of what I no longer want or need, even though summer is near. And as a result, this extended spring-cleaning has made me consider my personal habits and what it means to feel “lighter.” It might sound like a strange topic to wax philosophical about, but when the decluttering bug sticks around as long as this one has and leaves you refreshed in the process, it really gives you a lot to think about.
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