If you are an Anglophile, you've probably always dreamed of experiencing a real tea.
And by "tea," I don't mean the substance; I mean the event. A formal, ritualized sort of thing that marks a discernible break in the day. And many cute props. Why don't more Americans do tea? I'm bringing it back.
Or at least, the Dallas Arboretum is. Austinites? It pains me to say this, but the Austin Arboretum is nothing like the Dallas Arboretum. Let me put that more clearly. Dallas Arboretum > Austin Arboretum.
I visited the Dallas Arboretum last week with my mother and sister-in-law, and guys, would you believe that their arboretum is an actual habitat for trees (and many other plants)? I'm just as shocked as you are!
It's so easy to be a smug Austinite, so proud of our city's hippie culture and our love for living things. Especially since we assume the rest of Texas hates nature. But at the end of the day, it's our arboretum that is a big shopping mall -- not Dallas's.
Anyway. When we drove up, I was so taken aback by all the flowers, and duly confused by the lack of Gaps and Starbucks, that I forgot to take pictures. But! We were there to have tea, and by the time we were seated in a gorgeous old mansion, I came to my senses.
My sweet sister-in-law booked this tea for us, my first tea ever. It was served in a few courses, with finger sandwiches, tarts, even a mini gingerbread house. As someone who spent roughly six years of her life studying Victorian England, it was all geekily thrilling.
After tea, we walked around the DeGolyer Home, also at the Arboretum. "But who's DeGolyer?" Eh, I'm not exactly sure. A Texas philanthropist, I gather. (Thank you Wikipedia). Oh, and an obsessive book collector. Which we'll get to in a moment.
This is one of my favorite pictures from our little tour. I took it inside one of the bedrooms -- perhaps these belonged to Mrs. DeGolyer? All I know is, like tea, we should have never abandoned hats.
I wish you could see this Mrs. Clause statue in full. You can make out just a hint of sassiness on her face here, but her body language is totally hilarious. I've never seen a Mrs. Clause statuette (or painting, or Christmas ornament, or any other rendering) like it. She's got a hand on her hip, and is basically saying, "What-ever, Santa." Like she's just so over it, which, 364 days out of the year, she may be.
Can't believe I saw this newspaper clipping in person!
Why is this gingerbread person + stocking oddly foreboding?
OH. This was what I wanted to show you. Sorry the picture's a little bit blurry. This library, where Mr. DeGolyer philanthropist / book worm / collector of sassy Mrs. Clauses kept all of his literature, had two secret panels! Here's one of them. I'm not sure where they led. To a speakeasy? Let's say speakeasy.
Haha. This one was not taken at tea -- this photograph was captured at the opposite of tea, i.e., at a hick bar in Grapevine that night, where Ross and I and a bunch of friends spent New Year's. It should have been terrifying, but ended up being fantastic (note the lei I am wearing). Mostly because of the hick bar's very serious karaoke contingent.