A Girl in the Garden Tea Party

I LOVE high tea. It makes me ridiculously happy. It is the girliest of parties, requiring floral teacups, pink jams, tiny sandwiches, and outstretched pinky fingers. It is also a great cocktail-type of party to throw, due to the aforementioned tiny sandwiches. Add some champagne and everyone will be as ridiculously happy as I am about tea parties.

There is even an entire book about tea parties, written by Susannah Blake, and I don’t know anything about it except that the cover looks gorgeous. I want to go to there.

A walled garden just begs for tea to be served within it, doesn’t it? A civilized table set amongst the wildness of ivy climbing the walls and flowers growing amok.

There is tea served in the garden in Kamala Nair’s new book, The Girl in the Garden, which arrives in bookstores June 15. And that’s all I’ll say – now you know there is a garden, and tea is poured within it, and you still know nothing about who drinks it or why. Plot twists, you are safe with me!

For book clubs or friends who just want an excuse to get together, a tea party at any time of day would be absolutely lovely. An evening tea party, with champagne and cupcakes, would be gorgeous; or go the traditional afternoon route for a bit of girly weekend fun.

A tea party is easy to put together, also. I quickly searched Martha Stewart and found the yummiest twists on the classics:

And then there are the obvious: cucumber and butter (or cream cheese, or mayonnaise) sandwich, egg salad sandwich, and chicken salad sandwich.


photo by: teenytinyturkey on flickr

For something fun to add to the sandwiches, any of these fancy potato chip appetizers would play on the typical overly fancy foods usually served at tea parties.

Don’t forget cakes or cones with clotted cream and a nice jam or two. You could make the scones (here is one of Martha’s recipes) or I personally feel fine about buying them, if you have a bakery near you that makes them.

Brew a little tea and you’re all set for a grownup tea party and The Girl in the Garden.

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No Kitchen = No Fun

I have been pondering why I haven’t been writing here since I got to Oman. I haven’t particularly wanted to write. I have the strange sense that a part of me has been cut off and left in America, and I’ve somehow lost the dinner party part of my life without intending to.

At least it's pretty here

I hardly cook here. I love cooking for dinner parties because I love thinking about fancy recipes, who I will serve them to and in what atmosphere, and then actually making the fancy meal I’ve concocted in my head. I can’t do that here because I’m staying in someone else’s house, and it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to take over her kitchen. Unfortunately, domestic peace means limiting my cooking to heating up pasta sauce from a jar or making a quick stir-fry. I hate this reason, but it is what it is.

So, I’ve been thinking up ways to inspire myself without being able to actually create any of my ideas. I don’t know how to overcome this little problem except to come up with ways the ideas can be useful eventually.

A friend sent me a gorgeous meditation on creating for the sake of creating, and I highly recommend reading it for anyone who struggles with their creativity – which is all of us, right?  How to Steal Like an Artist

Luckily for me and my need for a purpose before I feel like coming up with fun dinner party ideas, my friend Kamala Nair is coming out with her debut novel, The Girl in the Garden, quite soon. I have already written about it here and here, as I’m sure you’ll all remember and I’m also sure you have all pre-ordered it so you can have it in your hot little hands earlier than than the non-pre-order slackers. Well done. You’re all bi-winning. [Oh what? Charlie Sheen jokes are already old? Nerds!] The Girl in the Garden will be in bookstores June 15, and will be positioned at the front of Barnes & Noble stores starting June 21, which is a VERY big deal, by the way! It will also be featured on the Bookishreadingclub.com site on the Starbucks Digital Network from 6/28-7/12. There won’t even be any books available by June 29! Aren’t you glad you pre-ordered?

Look at how gorgeous her website is: www.kamalanair.com

Parties simply must be thrown around the theme of her book! I’m going to be writing about some gorgeous ideas I have. Well, to be honest, this book is so evocative, parties can’t help but be gorgeous. Book clubs will particularly find these ideas useful, but anyone can use them – you don’t even need to tell your guests about the fictional inspiration if you don’t want to (but DO, because her book is really really good).

I am also getting excited about going to visit my dad and stepmom and stepbrothers soon, and having people to cook for and a kitchen to cook in! So expect some menus related to family home cooking, with a little gourmet thrown in of course.

So there you go. For the next month or so, look out for Girl in the Garden-themed recipes and party ideas. I can’t wait for you to all read it, and then you’ll really understand the ideas and all be desperate to throw gorgeous parties full of glamour and mystery and definitely some romance for good measure.

Life Temporarily Taking Over


Extremely accurate rendering of my desk

My life is becoming crazy busy for the next few weeks, so unfortunately there’s an equal and opposite reaction on BB&B and posting will be slow for a little while. I promise to come back with a lot of interesting new ideas and adventures, as I will be traveling soon and am so excited to tell you all about it!

In the meantime, I’ll be thinking of more elaborate ways to celebrate Kamala Nair’s debut novel, Girl in the Garden, and will have menus, recipes and design ideas coming soon. {See my original ideas here}

Girl in the Garden just got a glowing blurb from the amazing author Thrity Umrigar:

Kamala Nair has crafted an evocative, passionate, tragic novel about love, loss and the terrible cost of family secrets. An impressive debut.
–Thrity Umrigar, bestselling author of The Space Between Us

Did I mention Girl in the Garden is coming out June 15? Did I mention that it has a Kindle edition, if you’re into that sort of space age technology thing? Did I mention you should pre-order it at its amazingly low pre-order price?

You should. Click here.

The Girl in the Garden – First Review


When she first got her book deal about a year ago, I wrote about my friend Kamala Nair and her fantastic novel, The Girl in the Garden. It was so fun to come up with a dinner party themed on the book.

Here is the synopsis from Publisher’s Marketplace: “Kamala Nair’s THE GIRL IN THE GARDEN, the redemptive journey of a young woman unsure of her engagement, who revisits in memory the events of one scorching childhood summer when her beautiful yet troubled mother spirits her away from her home to an Indian village untouched by time, where she discovers in the jungle behind her ancestral house a spellbinding garden that harbors a terrifying secret.”:

The book just got its first review, and it’s great! (As it should be, obviously.)

An excerpt from the review:

I loved the whole setting in India.  Because Rakhee was born and raised in Minnesota, everything seen through her eyes seems exotic and unusual.  The seeming unfairness of some of the cultural aspects was a bit disturbing, but not unrealistic.  I really enjoyed Rakhee’s relationships with her cousins (especially Krishna, who was close to her age), and the way the characters were portrayed made it easy to tell them all apart (something that’s often troublesome when there’s more than one of a specific type of character, such as aunts, uncles, or cousins).

As we get closer to the publication date – June 15, 2011 – I’ll be writing more about how book clubs can entertain with and use the theme of The Girl in the Garden.

Payback Time: Two Themes That Are a Little Too Literal

And for the last Payback Time post, I have two themes. Both put the principles of Rule #1 and Payback Time literally into action – with food, instead of stocks.



1. Do-it-yourself dishes. Because you know what’s right for you better than anyone else does. Just as you take care of your own money, put your meal together yourself exactly as you like it!

  • Lettuce wraps
  • Hot dogs
  • Tacos
  • Burgers
  • Salad

2. Use ingredients from companies that you have bought or would buy. Once you’ve been investing for a while, you will be aware of the quality companies in the food industry. Buy food from them. Make any dishes you prefer, as long as it is from companies you think are worthy of owning.

This is more of an advanced theme, as you’ll have to have done the legwork to find companies you support, but for a Rule #1 investing club it would be a great way to discuss food industry companies. Have fun with it!

Payback Time: Green

OK, so maybe you’re not feeling going with super-inexpensive simple food or spending tons of time and money on gourmet ingredients. Fair enough. My third Payback Time theme is the most incredibly obvious one, but also pretty fun: Green. For money.



I know.

But come on – a money theme is awesome! It’s like St. Patty’s Day without the shamrocks or the hangover! (Though green beer would be really kitschy and theme-appropriate, so I’m not against it.)


Throw yourself into the obviousness and use green tableware, string some Monopoly money as a welcome banner, and  slip a dollar sign ring on your lovely hand.


It will let the universe know that you’re ready for true wealth.

How do you make green beer? I thought you might ask that.

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