December 12, 2019

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Terry's tales from Willowbrook Manor

A Pilgrimage to Tea ~
Hello Again!

Thank you for joining me! The last Willowbrook Word came to you on Thanksgiving day. (Do you remember?) Because of work schedules, the Gifford family dinner was postponed to the Saturday after Thanksgiving, so that left me with Thanksgiving day totally free! I decided to have a pilgrimage to enjoy tea in a foreign country and, I was delighted with what I discovered.

On a quaint street in Abbotsford, BC, I found a darling house nestled between two commercial buildings.  It is the Ivana Tea House, and it holds a story as warm and welcoming as the tea that is served inside. 

Ivana's Tea House makes you feel like you have stepped out of the hustle and bustle of life and into a quieter time.

The tea house has the feel of yesteryear with artful displays of teacups and pots in every nook and corner of the place.

The first 'wow' was my discovery of beet soup!  I have never experienced it, and I found it so good that I would have stayed there all day just for the soup! Each savory sandwich and homemade sweet was a taste sensation, and I loved the feel of the antique silver.  I wondered, as I spread clotted cream onto the melt-in-your-mouth scone, what history the knife would tell me, if it could speak of its journey to Ivana's Tea House.

I stayed for several hours and watched as tea guests came and went.  I took this picture in a quiet moment.   It is obvious that Ivana and staff have special connections and friendships with their tea guests.    

I chose Ivana's Tea House when I was looking for a place to go on Thanksgiving because of the focus she places on handwritten letters.  She invites guests to enjoy taking time for old-fashioned correspondence, penning words on paper and sending them through the mail. She provides lovely cards and stationary with envelopes stamped with an array of postage for both local and international mail.  The best part is the ambiance Ivana creates for letter-writing.   I love what I read on her web page: "Our Tea House is made from the passion for history, traditions, tea, good food, and good manners.  Our mission is to bring you back to your grandma's living room; mom's kitchen; father's writing room - a place of safety and comfort, a place where you can feed the soul as well as the body."

So I spent my Thanksgiving  at Ivana's Tea House enjoying delicious tea and writing love letters to my children.  I brought with me darling pictures of each child from when they were little to include in each letter. All in all, it was a wonderful way to celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving.  

When I paid for my tea, I met Ivana.  She is a lovely, gracious lady with a charming accent and lovely brown eyes.  As we visited, I commented on the warmth of her tea house and asked about the history of it.  She smiled and said that her son had asked her to ok a craigslist purchase (something car-related), and she clicked on the wrong link, ending up on a page with a business opportunity.  The building, as I understood, was a retail store that she saw had the makings of an adorable tea house.  She felt the opportunity came to her, and she stepped up to create a wonderful place for people to enjoy the gentle tradition of tea. 

She gifted me one of her adorable honey holiday cookies.  Each one is a delicious work of art.  They are featured in Victoria Classics magazine 'Holiday Bliss' edition.  

You will want to make your own pilgrimage to Ivana Tea House, and soon! Ivana told me that her tea house will eventually not be there.  The quaint house is slated to be torn down.  I was stunned and asked if she would move her business.  She shook her head and said that you can't recreate the feeling of what she has just anywhere, that it takes a special building, and she has not been able to find one.

So I'm sharing her business card with you, because a day's jaunt to Ivana's is one way to treat yourself, your friends and your family to something extra-special.  


A Gifford Thanksgiving ~
As I mentioned earlier, our family celebrated Thanksgiving on Saturday to accommodate work schedules.   It was a great family time!  Someone told me  once that my role as 'mother' is to train the kids so that I eventually I work myself out of a job.  Well, I have to say that when the family gets together now, the kids do the cooking!  Addy put together an amazing dinner and had everyone help in one way or another.


We took the e-bikes out on their maiden voyage with a family ride!  We went to the grocery store to get last-minute dinner ingredients and took the long way there.  It was chilly, but we bundled up and loved the sunshine.  We had so much fun riding as a family on e-bikes.  I LOVE these bikes! 

Tis the Season to Start Singing ~

Bringing the joy of song to friends and neighbors during the holiday season through caroling is a time-honored tradition.

Our Holiday Dinner Caroling Concert has 8 seats available.  Join us us for an evening of fine dining and festive music. More information can be found on my website.  Click the button below.
Reserve your table for our Holiday Dinner Concert

Mom and Me Gingerbread Tea ~

There is nothing more scrumptious as adorable kids making delicious cookies with twinkling lights and holiday music in the background!  We made some yummy memories at Mom and Me Gingerbread Tea this year.

Cinnamon apple tea and gingerbread are a festive taste combination, and we enjoyed them while the cookies that we cut out baked in the oven.  

Then we made gingerbread-men Christmas tree ornaments using ric-rac and old buttons, placing a picture of each child on the back of their ornament to remember the the holiday celebration. 

The white boxes are full of fresh-baked cookies, frosting and sprinkles that each child took home to have even more cookie-decorating fun at home!
Give the Gift of a Tea Experience at Willowbrook ~

People are talking about Willowbrook! Invite that special someone be part of the conversation by giving the gift of a unique tea experience. From English Tea, to scenic and historic tours on e-bikes, to glamour camping, Willowbrook has something splendid for the ones you love this Christmas.
Order a Tea and Tour gift certificate

Thank you for coming to Holiday Tea ~

Holiday Tea brought mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, girlfriends and large groups of friends to my home to enjoy English tea together.  I take pictures of each table of guests to print and place in my guest book, so I can have names together with faces.  After a busy day of hosting guest, I love sitting with a cup of tea, and looking through the names and faces of everyone who came to my home that day for tea. 

I only post pictures when I get permission and I have a few to share!


Maddy came with her mom, Megan, and shared a mother and daughter time  having tea at Willowbrook.  I especially loved it because Megan came to my home as a teen with the youth group from our church for a wedding gown fashion show years ago. I watched as time brought her to marry my oldest son's friend, Mike.  Maddy is the oldest of three darling children, and when she was four, I was her sunday school teacher.  She was extremely shy and didn't want to talk to grown ups.  I felt pretty special when she took time to talk to me.  She wouldn't really 'talk', she would more, like, wave at me to lean down so she could cup her hand to my ear and whisper what she had to say.  We have had a special bond ever since.  So, when she came for tea it was especially dear to me. She is not so shy anymore, and I told her to watch and take note, and maybe when she is a teenager she can help me serve tea to the guests that come to Willowbrook. Thank you, Megan and Maddy, for coming to tea.  I have another memory to treasure.

I operate my teas 'by reservation only' so that I can always be prepared for the number of guests that come to Willowbrook. I typically close down the online reservations the night before, but I always bake a few extra sweets, and it was a good thing that I did on Saturday!  I forgot to close the reservations, but luckily I thought to check because I had an impromptu group of 10 book a tea time.  They were the last group for this year's Holiday Tea and were so much fun. I called them 'the grand finale,' and they said I could use the group shot of them in front of the Christmas tree in my newsletter, so here it is!

I want to express a heartfelt thanks to all of you who came to celebrate the season with Holiday Tea.  I loved having you!
Teacup Time ~

This favorite teacup is perfect for the season.  It has a beautiful story behind it.  Many of you know my middle daughter Kjaisa and how she paints geometric patterns on walls and ceramics.  Several years ago, she was at a craft fair selling her ceramics, and after two days with no sales, she was very discouraged.  She had just met a fellow, and I was delighted to hear that he showed up to hang out with her.  Recently, I learned from him that he had gone up to a stranger and had given him some cash and asked if he would purchase something from Kjaisa's booth.  It was her only sale.  That was the beginning of a beautiful connection.  Last year, when Kjaisa and Brandon were faced with having to split time between his folks and hers, I suggested his parents come and join us for the holidays.  And they did!  Mary Lou and Mike flew out from their ranch in Pennsylvania, and we had such a great time getting to know them.  They gave me this Christmas teacup.  To me it is a symbol of the goodness that life brings as kids grow up and expand our family, widening our circle of wonderful people to love. This teacup is a treasure.

Mike, Mary Lou, Kjaisa and Brandon. Christmas 2018.

If you have a favorite teacup, please share the story and a picture of it with us!
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That is it for this issue!
Thanks for reading all of it ~

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This will be the last newsletter before Christmas and I send you all the warmest holiday wishes.  

Until next time!

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